Sunday, August 26, 2012

Rape, Republicans, & now Zika Virus: Their Rape Ideology & Todd Akin Ignorance

This morning (August 2012) I was listening to the Sunday political talk shows and found myself getting more and more angry.  Last week we were treated to the spectacle of Republican Todd Akin declaring that women victims of "legitimate rape" had some magical means of preventing a pregnancy from occurring.  Even though the immediate instinct of most raped women is to quickly rinse out the invading sperm, at least if they are fortunate enough to have the rapist run off quickly; a conservative site posted a figure of 5% as the percentage of rapes that result in pregnancy.  Of course, many victims are raped repeatedly, and held prisoner for longer periods of time, or beaten unconscious.  Thus they cannot exercise this most immediately effective means of preventing pregnancy.

The conservative take on this 5% figure was that this was a very low rate of pregnancy and thus tended to confirm Todd Akin's ignorant science ideas.  I was so ticked off reading this I decided to do a Google search.  There I found a figure of 36,000 rape pregnancies a year, of which one half were terminated.  Regarding the important issue of how many unprotected sex acts result in pregnancy, I could find no specific figure.  However, a statistical analysis of estimated unprotected sex acts per year per couple, the average number of days per month a woman was likely to be fertile, and similar factors resulted in a figure of 3% to 5% probability of a single unprotected sex act producing a pregnancy.

Thus, it appears there is absolutely NO statistical basis for imagining some unknown protective means a rape victim can use to stop implantation by an alien invading parasite.  Since it appears pregnancy rates actually might be lower in non-rape situations, Akin's remarks are without foundation.  Perhaps rapists favor younger women who do get pregnant at a higher rate per act than do older women.  Also if a consenting woman does NOT want to get pregnant, she can always say no, or use a condom.

It is bad enough a MAN running for Congress could be so ignorant of basic science, but we also must look at the issue of what constitutes "legitimate rape". He has tried to apologize for this statement by explaining he meant rape by "force and violence."  However, Paul Ryan, Todd Akin and other Republicans attempted to include a provision to limit abortion to forcible rape in a proposed Federal anti-abortion bill to rewrite the Hyde Amendment.  This also suggests they think a 10 year old being raped by her "loving" father or uncle would be likely to fight to the point of bruises and broken bones.  Or that a 28 year old man has the right to seduce a physically developed 13 year old girl.

 Now (August 2015) an interesting chart of  various  Republican politicians' statements on rape has been posted.  These choice statements range from sincere statements that "a rape child should be considered a 'gift' from God," to the cute statement, "that when rape is inevitable you should relax and enjoy it."  Regarding this current election cycle see the 2012 quote from current Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum  "The right approach is to accept this horribly created, in the sense of rape, but nevertheless...the gift of human life, and accept what God is giving you."  I'm sorry, but if God is giving such "gifts", to quote a friend, "If God would do that to unborn babies, I might believe in him, but I would NOT WORSHIP him."  See also Ron Paul's statement there.

[In March 2015 we are now seeing Republican ideology at work to sneak the Hyde Amendment into a bill to protect women from sex slavery and trafficking.  They are trying to use this abortion prevention law to interfere with spending of a special dedicated fund to help women. This fund is made from fines against traffickers, NOT FROM TAXPAYERS as many are being led to believe.  How can they be so incredibly callous as to withhold funds from girls and women who may be escaping from a terrible situation but carrying the spawn of a criminal and rapist.  Of course, to Republican men it appears that any male seed, however tainted, is more important than a rescued girl or woman.  They are also using the controversy to withhold approval of an eminently qualified female candidate for Attorney General.  In April 2015, Loretta Lynch was finally confirmed by the Senate.  Although in this article the delay was attributed to the immigration issue.

[March 2017] - Amazingly, Mexico City has begun a highly creative program to shame men into changing their behavior that is insulting to women.  In addition to the evocative "penis seat" described at the above link, a video experiment is being conducted.  This involved installing cameras that would take tight shots of male buttocks and displaying them for all to see.  A number of men are shown in the video expressing disgust and embarrassment.  Recently unveiled print ads show guys giving women lascivious looks with slogans like "this is how your mother gets looked at every day."

[April 2017] - A creative female Texas state legislator has introduced a bill to fine men for their "masturbatory emissions."  This bill, is her satirical response to the many anti women's rights and reproductive interference bills being introduced in the Texas legislature by men.  It should cause lively debate in the committee which normally discusses abortion related bills.

In the late 1990's a significant drop in murder rates and other crimes was noted.  It was suggested that legalization of abortion in 5 states in 1970, and the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion nationwide  in early 1973 was the main factor.  This detailed May 2001 article in The Quarterly Journal of Economics concludes it was an important factor.  In 2008, Fox News attempted to explain why this detailed analysis was wrong.  Their article concluded, "Even if abortion did lower crime by culling out 'unwanted' children (a conclusion derived from flawed statistics), this effect would be greatly outweighed by the rise in crime associated with the greater incidence of single-parent families that also follows from abortion liberalization.  In short, more abortions have brought more crime."
     The conclusion that abortion rights have brought more crime is ridiculous considering that crime rates have continued to drop significantly.  Nor does the Fox News (Republican's go-to news source) article provide any useful charts and statistical analysis.  This 2008 article is an early example of the Republican lie machine at work.  FactCheck in July 2016 has several charts showing what a lie the 2008 article was.  Some major cities, including DC, have had significant murder rate increases since 2014, but there are those who attribute that rise to publicity regarding stupid and malicious police killings and the rise of the"black lives matter" movement.  More timid policing has been suggested as a factor too.
     President-elect, Donald Trump has exaggerated this temporary increase as the FactCheck article points out.  Someone should tell him that if he succeeds in following through with all the abortion restrictions his far right backers propose, some day he may have to explain why his administration had much higher crime rates than did the Obama years.  On the other hand if his reaction turns out to be much more aggressive policing, we may see a far higher rate of deadly police shootings.
Here is a significant quote from an article outlining the way Republicans highjack laws that are sold as helping women, which are then used to hurt them even more.  Sickening!!

"...'The same Gospel that compels us to war against sex trafficking compels us to address sexual immorality in all its forms.'  That, of course is the main point.  Religious crusaders against sex trafficking say they're against trafficking--but really, they're against sex.

Trafficking is the "tip of the wedge," where evangelicals might make common cause with liberals and feminists.  But ultimately, the wedge includes pornography, sex work, homosexuality, sex for pleasure, abortion, contraception--anything that might be construed as "sexual immorality."  That broader agenda is evident in the way...laws have been written and enforced, and in the way the religious anti-trafficking movement has cast the struggle."]

[Nov. 19, 2016]  In the light of the Trump victory, we need to be aware that changes forced on  "Obamacare" and Planned Parenthood will have many consequences.  This link on sexually transmitted diseases shows the danger budget cuts because of the Recession, have had on disease rates.  With Republican attacks on existing sources of health care these rates will only get worse, and as the article points out the resulting health care costs are far greater.
     Also of great interest is the "rape" case against President Elect Donald Trump, which will be heard in court this December (too bad it wasn't held before Nov. 8).  There are many links to this story at Google, but I picked one from the British media, considering they might be more objective.  Apparently there are two witnesses to this attack on a 13 year old.
[Now in January of 2015, Republican Brian Kurcaba, of the West Virginia House of Delegates, has weighed in on this appalling subject.  “Obviously rape is awful,” Kurcaba said. “What is beautiful is the child that could come from this.”  This quote was connected with a fight to limit abortion to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy with NO exceptions for rape and incest.  There are many insightful and useful comments at this site:  Hopefully WV voters  will make sure he never reaches the national stage.  The comments point out some states even allow jailed rapists visitation rights.  I wonder how Mr. Kurcaba would feel about raising the child if his wife were raped, plus forcing her to provide visitation rights to the rapist?]
Apparently the Federal bill would have denied Federally funded medical help for victims of drugged rape, statutory rape, and the like. Force and violence has to include the woman fighting hard and showing evidence of being beaten into submission.  It is not enough to make a rational decision if a knife is held to your throat, or a gun displayed with a statement that you will be shot if you resist, that perhaps the wisest course is not to resist.  The question can be raised, "where is the knife, where is the gun and did you know if it was loaded or not??"  This form of a glib approach by Republicans to the whole subject of rape was personified in 1990 by Texas Republican gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams who wisecracked comparing bad weather and rape:  "if it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it."  Democrat Ann Richards had been behind by 11 points, but ended up winning by 2 points.

Even more disturbing is that Ryan seems to be against most forms of birth control.  You would think someone who wants to reduce abortion would want to encourage women to plan for wanted pregnancies.  People who recognize our planet is under severe pressure from population growth, including Green Party members, realize it is a highly ethical and moral stance not to produce excessive numbers of children, and especially unwanted, unloved babies.  Here is a particularly ugly story of a religious country forcing an 11 year old girl to bear the child of her rapist stepfather.

What is it about "pro-life" (let's call them anti-choice) people that so many seem to want to force others to reproduce as much as possible??  Yet many of these same people are very pro- military and pro-hunting which tends to be anti-life.  They are also very active in their efforts to destroy Planned Parenthood even though only 3% of Planned Parenthood activities are associated with terminating pregnancies.  They don't seem to care about the other 97% of health care so many women especially poor women need.  Also, although many are against government interference, in this case they want to use the government to promote their agenda.  I guess part of their agenda is the production of "cannon fodder."

[2/9/16] - How will Republicans respond to the Zika virus.  This mosquito borne virus already seems to have caused hundreds of infants in Brazil to be born with shrunken heads and brains (microcephaly).  Now infected people have been found in the US and it also appears to be spreadable by sexual activity.  Ilyse Hogue, President of NARAL Pro-Choice America has started a petition to Republican president frontrunner candidates Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump.  She urges these candidates, who each come from states where the Zika virus has been detected, to support universal contraceptive coverage and women's access to to the tools to delay pregnancy if so wished (such as provided by Planned Parenthood, which Republicans are trying hard to destroy).  She points out that millions of American women don't know whether it would be healthy to become pregnant with the spread of the Zika virus--and they deserve to have the ability to delay a healthy pregnancy.  She says each of the GOP frontrunnes has attacked universal contraceptive coverage in the past.Click here to add your name to this petition, and then pass it along to your friends.
 "U.N.: Zika-affected nations must increase contraception access," USA Today, February 5, 2016

[11/30/15] - This just in, Republicans are not the only ones making outrageous rape statement.  The first lady of Zimbabwe has publicly implied that girls who wear mini-skirts in public deserve to get raped.  Her husband, meanwhile, is using the United Nations to promote his anti-gay agenda.  He says that even Satan is NOT gay.  On the other hand their legislature appears to be moving to require castration of rapists.

[1/10/17] - I have just seen an email urging support to prevent Mike Pence from passing a law that would enable parents to electroshock their minor children to cure them from homosexuality.  Researching this concern I found this article claiming Pence said Conversion Therapy enabled him to get married.  In light of the controversy regarding Pence, Conversion Therapy, and electroshock for minors, The New York Times published this 11/30/16 article regarding their findings.  Given the overall Republican attitude toward women and the helpless, it pays to remain alert, especially since the Trump election.

To top it all off,  the draft of this year's (2012) GOP platform calls for a constitutional amendment banning access to abortion, making no exceptions for women who have been victims of rape or incest, or when the life of the mother is at risk.  They are even using the Constitution to justify this "cruel and unusual" amendment.  There are at least a few sensible blue state Republicans who do not favor including this provision.  Let us hope there are even more sensible voter who will reject this moral insanity promoted by the GOP.  [Actually in January 2015, a revolt of GOP women stopped the new GOP majority from pushing such stupidity.]

Monday, August 6, 2012

Obesity Epidemic, Diabetes, Sugar, Fat and "Obamacare"

The other day I was astonished to hear TV health promoters declare it has recently been discovered that sugar is a toxic poison, and we should avoid it as much as possible.  Dr. Robert Lustig, Dr. Oz and others have worked hard to bring to our attention the dangers of the typical American diet.  However, any suggestion that the dangers of sugar is a new and amazing discovery completely ignores the long history of this controversy.  There is now strong additional scientific proof of what has been known and/or suspected for more than half a century.  Anyone wishing to learn more should Google their disease of choice--diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. and sugar effects on that disease.

[11-10-15]  Scientists are finally getting serious and plan to urge world leaders at their upcoming G-20 meetings to take concrete action against the seriously bad health effects of eating too much sugar.  Sugar would far better be used to produce ethanol, and keep all but bad corn to be used for food instead of ethanol.

[1-7-16]  A recent study suggests that obese fathers may have poor sperm quality and also predispose their offspring to problems related to diabetes.  This study was done on mice and will be followed up with humans.  Forty-six year ago when we contemplated reproducing, both my husband and I went into "training" 6 months before trying for a pregnancy.  We ate the best food we knew, stopped any drinking, etc.  Both sons are strong and healthy, and neither has had more than one cavity.

[5/30/16]  Unfortunately there has been an increase in the cost of "Obamacare" for several reasons in a number of states.  This article and map provide more details.

[6/1/16]  Another important health factor that if corrected can save billions of dollars is smoking.  This article emphasizes $63billion in potential savings by achieving a 10% reduction in number of smokers plus a 10% reduction in amount of smoking.   This site also has an informative map showing heavy smoking or light smoking states.

Whereas some of the diseases in the first paragraph can be influenced by our behavior, others are the result of exposure to unidentified toxins decades ago.  A mesothelioma law firm or asbestos lawyers can provide some financial help for the people with asbestos lung cancer developed by working in boiler factories or ship yards.  It is less certain that mere exposure to asbestos in homes has caused much disease in home owners.  On the other hand new dangers are appearing or being identified even with  foods commonly considered healthy.  An important issue is that of GMO foods.  The long term medical effects of these genetically modified foods on human health and fertility have not been adequately studied. Already some disturbing effects have been reported.

On the environmental front, a spill of Canadian tar sands oil from an Enbridge pipeline in the Kalamazoo River is costing over $1billion in clean up costs.  I was recently told that people in the area of the spill are now dying from toxic effects.  Then there is the Lake Megantic oil tank car crash and explosion which has cost 47 lives.  This oil seems to have been western ND Bakken Shale oil which can have high levels of flammable, corrosive, poisonous and explosive hydrogen sulfide vapor.  Once burned Enbridge has now requested permission to refuse transport of some shale oils.  If the asbestos lawyers run out of clients, the Keystone XL Pipeline, fracking and toxic oil accidents should provide much future business.

During the 1930s, exciting pioneering research was being done.  Dr. Francis Pottinger studied the effects of various proportions of raw and/or cooked meat and milk fed to cats.  The conclusion was that at least for cats, a diet of 1/2 raw food or more was needed for successful health and long term reproduction.  Pottinger style long term studies are needed on GMO foods.  Dr. Weston Price traveled the world and studied and photographed primitive people both in their original state, and after they had been exposed to western diets for a number of years.  He determined that before the introduction of refined western foods, these people were generally healthy (regarding degenerative disease) and had excellent teeth and bone structure.

Other researchers have concluded that it takes about 20 year for the western diet to begin causing degenerative diseases in primitive peoples. Personally, I try to eat at least one half my food raw and avoid sugar and refined grains.  I am currently experimenting with a raw food diet. Here is a link for preparing raw vegie and fruit smoothies.  Recently a family of 4 decided to experiment with totally eliminating all added sugars to their diet by only buying products without them.  Here is their experience and the benefits it brought.

After WWII, the rise of corporate food companies and their influence in government and on academia began to be felt.  Dr. Frederick Stare, Harvard nutritionist, became notorious in some circles for his promotion of sugar and sugar containing products like cereal.  His nutrition department received large contributions from industry.  Fighting these trends were people such as Michael Jacobson of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and Frances Moore Lappe whose well received Diet for a Small Planet (1975) showed how to reduce consumption of meat by mixing grains and legumes with complementary proteins.

CSPI is still making the good fight for the peoples' interest, and Anna Lappe the author's daughter has continued to write to alert the world to our need to eat more wisely.  For those who don't know, the amount of land/food needed to raise beef, chicken, and hogs can be from 5 to 10 times the land needed to grow wheat, corn, rice, beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc which when unrefined and properly mixed supply a complete amino acid complement.

Now, however, we have a new problem.  Dueling diets have proposed severe reductions of fats, carbohydrates, or calories, or eating patterns like "The Mediterranean Diet".  As early as 1972, Dr. Robert Atkins had proposed a diet based on reduction of carbohydrates.  The most intensive phase of his diet, The Induction Phase, requires eating no more than 20 grams of carbohydrate a day.  Then as one approaches one's target weight, you gradually add small amounts of carbs until you find how much you can actually eat without regaining weight.  There is much information through Google on all phases of his diet, as well as newer editions of his books with more recent data and recipes.  Significant amounts of research have confirmed his initial conclusions about the excellent health benefits of his diet approach.

Here is a link to an extensive YouTube video on the science of sugar/carbohydrate metabolism and general health.  It is titled:  Sugar: The Bitter Truth.  Below it are extensive comments by people who are not convinced, and people who really believe that limiting carbs has helped their health and weight.  There are also other interesting experiences and insights offered.

A recent report of a new experiment shows that weight reduction can significantly reduce the need for surgery like knee replacement.  They first experimented with a 5% weight loss and were so encouraged by the results that they continued the experiment with a 10% weight loss target.  Here is the complete story.

I have tried Atkins' diet on two occasions and found the weight did come off quite nicely, and I did NOT feel very hungry or deprived.  I have also found that under stress the craving for carbs has increased and weight has crept back on.  Here is an interesting link about diabetes with many comments on personal experience with diet, diabetes and other health issues.

After studies by others comparing the low fat, low carb, and mixed diets, it was determined that the greatest weight loss was with the low carb diet.  There is only one problem.  If you agree with the Lappes that animal protein production is hard on the earth, then following the Atkins diet for a lifetime will not help.  Also, so far as sugar consumption is concerned, we would be far wiser to use sugar cane for ethanol production, and use most of our corn to help feed the hungry of the world at reasonable prices.  Many people rev up their energy every day with coffee.  However, while one or two cups a day may be OK, three and more can have a negative influence.  Here are a number of ways to start your metabolic motor in the morning while avoiding excess caffiene and sugar.

Unfortunately, the foods that the Lappes recommend have a significant carb content. Having thought about this problem from a "Green" perspective, I am going to try the following:  do the Atkins diet until I reach my weight goal, then gradually switch over to predominantly vegetable protein sources with plenty of fresh and mostly low carb vegetables, a little bit of fruit and almost no sugar.  The above link lists carb counts of veggies, fruit and berries.  Strive to eat no more than 20 grams of carb a day for several weeks, then gradually add about 5 grams a week until you reach a level that maintains your desired weight.  Hopefully, along with more exercise, this will do the trick.  I will also experiment with a mostly or all raw food diet for a while and report back.

Another significant concern is the implementation of the new Obama Health Care initiative.  Unless we all do our part to stop poisoning ourselves with the diet the food industry spends so many dollars trying to persuade us to buy, the suggested savings from preventive care, will not happen.  Our economy will suffer, and so will we and our pocketbooks, because we are too lazy, or greedy to make the dietary changes that will save us, our country and our planet.

We must all help fight the Medical/Pharmaceutical/Charitable Industrial Complex.  Many of us are aware that big Pharma is a major lobbyist for drug use.  However, medical societies and illness charities for Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease and others also work to promote medical interventions rather than use common sense and the good things the earth has always produced for us.