Thursday, February 2, 2012


Jezebel digs deeper to uncover the potential motives behind the Susan G. Komen Foundation's pathetic, cowardly decision to give into the crazy anti-women's health lobby:
The Susan G. Komen Foundation's official line is that they didn't end their relationship with Planned Parenthood in response to relentless bullying from pro-life groups, but because the family planning organization is currently under investigation by Congress. They have a rule, you see, that bars them from contributing to organizations that are under investigation at the local, state, or federal level.

Interestingly, this brand new rule that suddenly appeared in the books of the Komen Foundation just so happened to coincide with a Congressional investigation launched by a Republican legislator, who himself was pressured by the pro-life group Americans United for Life. And last year's assault on Planned Parenthood also coincided with the addition of a vocally anti-abortion ex-politician to the ranks of Susan G Komen For the Cure.

Karen Handel, who was endorsed by Sarah Palin during her unsuccessful bid for governor of Georgia in 2010, has been the Foundation's Senior Vice President for Public Policy since April 2011. During her gubernatorial candidacy, she ran on an anti-choice platform, vowing that if elected, she'd defund Planned Parenthood.


She even promised to eliminate funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings provided by the organization.

How curious! A person with what looks like a personal vendetta against Planned Parenthood joins the ranks of an organization that provides funding to Planned Parenthood, and soon, that organization "defunds" Planned Parenthood. But surely this couldn't be about Handel's personal feelings. According to Komen, this is about rule following. Protocol.
Amanda Marcotte with a great take-down of Komen's actions (h/t Ale):
The existence of breast-cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood has always been a thorn in the anti-choice side. Most of Planned Parenthood's services are related to the choice to be sexually active — contraception, STD screening and treatment, cervical cancer screening — making it easy to write off those services as unnecessary if you follow the strict abstinence-only prescription the Christian right has for women. Breast cancer, however, can strike the lifelong virgin, the married woman who only has sex for procreation, and the dirty fornicator (i.e. the vast majority of American women) alike. Because of this, anti-choicers have tried to create a rift between women's health advocates who focus on breast cancer and those who focus on reproductive health concerns below the waist. Today, they had a victory with Komen's act of cowardice.

No matter how much anti-choicers wish otherwise, it's not feasible to create an approach to women's health that separates good girl concerns from bad girl concerns. For instance, many women land in gynocologist's offices seeking contraceptive services and cervical-cancer screenings, and doctors use that opportunity to teach the art of breast self-exam. As noted in my previous post on the Santorums' pregnancy troubles, even the world of the hated abortion provider and the much-vaunted obstetrician can't be so easily separated, as the latter is often called upon to have knowledge of pregnancy termination in case of a medical emergency.

In the end, the grant money is less important than the symbolism of Komen buying into the conservative myth of good-girl health care vs. bad-girl health care. In reality, women's health care can only work if it's comprehensive health care. Komen has already been under serious scrutiny by those who argue that the organization cares more about shoring up their image than making real progress in the fight for women's health, and with this move today, they proved their critics right.
But with ridiculous product tie-ins like these, how could anyone say no to Komen? (h/t/ Wifey and Ale)
Of course, people are encouraging folks to donate directly to Planned Parenthood, or other great organizations. Sure, not having women die in back alleys is great. Giving women who otherwise couldn’t afford lifesaving breast cancer screenings and breast health education is great too. But the truth is, I don’t know if I have the budget for any donations, because then I would have to dip into my monthly allotment for Susan G. Komen products. And I’m not sure I am prepared to take that radical step.

How could I live without The Foundation’s “Promise Me™ Eau de Toilette? It’s:
An alluring floriental fragrance that combines classic elegance with a modern twist. Introduced with breezy aldehydes and sparkling citrus notes, the initial impression is fresh and uplifting. As the fragrance becomes one with your skin, the floral bouquet blossoms in the heart, revealing sensual femininity. The background lends warmth and opulence, enveloping the scent with a long lasting trail.
Actually, I probably should live without the perfume, since, as Breast Cancer Action explains, the perfume has chemicals that are “a) categorized as toxic and hazardous, b) have not been adequately evaluated for human safety, and c) have demonstrated negative health effects.”
And I can’t do anything without these amazing pom pom tipped gloves. OK, maybe I can’t do anything with my hands when I wear them but the number of compliments and high fives I get when I wear them makes it soooo worth it.

And I’ve been saving up for my for my pink M&P9 JG Smith and Wesson gun! It’s not just because I love guns, or because approximately 700 American women are shot and killed by intimate partners each year. It’s because Smith and Wesson donates a portion of its proceeds to the Susan G Komen Foundation! This is actually THE perfect product for Susan G Komen, because nothing says “anti-life,” more than a gun? Well, maybe the Susan G Komen Foundation.
And some more from Salon on the sketchiness of Komen, and how this action just represents a long line of selling-out by the organization:
It’s not that Komen is some questionable, Wyclef Jean-esque mess. It gets high marks from both the Better Business Bureau and Charity Navigator. Yet this is an organization that has repeatedly come under fire for its extravagant promotion of itself as an organization dedicated to a “cure,” when only a small portion of its expenses go to, you know, curing cancer. Komen itself cops to portioning just 24 percent of its funds to research – and 20 percent to fundraising and administration. For an organization with reported revenues of nearly $350 million, that’s still a lot of money for research. It’s an awful lot for itself, too.
Yet Komen remains pretty damn territorial around that whole “cure” thing. In a 2010 story for the Huffington Post, writer Laura Bassett pointed out that, according to Komen’s own financial records, it spends almost “a million dollars a year in donor funds” aggressively going after other organizations that dare to use the phrase “for the cure” – including small charities like Kites for a Cure, Par for the Cure, Surfing for a Cure, Cupcakes for a Cure, and even a dog-sledding event called Mush for the Cure. Let me just give you that number again. A million bucks a year. Robert Smith, better watch your back.

Komen has also, in its relentless pursuit of ubiquity and corporate sponsorship, aligned itself with more dubious product placement than a “Jersey Shore” marathon. It has a whole online store encouraging visitors to “purchase with purpose to end breast cancer forever,” where you can buy “silicone bling watches” and “Passionately Pink” ribbon-shaped cake pans. And because you’ll have to root around for the numbers, you can spend extravagantly on candles and “spirit gloves” without knowing that merely “at least 25 percent of the retail sales price … will go to Komen to help support … research and community programs.” Twenty-five percent of that $4.95 dog leash? Why, that’s more than a whole dollar!

Komen also famously outsources its merchandising. It’s teamed up with the likes of KFC for “Buckets for the Cure” – because nothing says you care about women’s health like a big vat of fried chicken. Komen has additionally sold a pink-hued “Promise Me” perfume that contains several toxins – including galaxolide, a synthetic musk that critics claim is a hormone disruptor. Komen has promised to reformulate the scent this year, but as Uneasy Pink calculated last spring, that’s still a lot of questionable chemicals to buy when roughly only 3 percent of the purchase price will go to Komen’s oft-invoked “cure” anyway.
Mother Jones chimes in, as well, (h/t Andy), while Ale's friend Irin Carmon explains why it is that the radical right hates Planned Parenthood so much:
The right’s hatred of Planned Parenthood requires some logical inconsistencies, to put it mildly. It means constantly accusing the nonprofit organization of greedy profiteering, even while fantasizing over how stripping Planned Parenthood of federal funding for health services might shut its doors. It means professing to hate abortions but doing everything possible to deny access to contraception — from trying to keep Planned Parenthood from getting Title X funding to opposing comprehensive coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act, for which Planned Parenthood was a key lobbyist.

As its important support for the expanded access to contraception underscores, Planned Parenthood’s “mission” is pretty simple: providing comprehensive healthcare to women, which it does more than anyone else in the country. No federal funding, except in extremely limited cases, goes to abortions, and not all Planned Parenthood centers provide abortions, but the fact that the organization refuses to capitulate to abortion foes and pretend that abortion care isn’t a women’s health concern is part of what rankles. It clearly drives the right crazy that an organization with this approach has the scale and resources to not only help actual women make fertility decisions, but also have some leverage with the current administration — enough to prevent the Republican House from shutting down the entire government over Planned Parenthood funding early last year.
Actually do something about this ridiculousness:
If you're pissed off, show it with your dollars—even if you can only part with a few of them. And afterwards, be sure to tell the Komen Foundation where your money went.

Donate to Planned Parenthood. The obvious choice is to compensate for what Planned Parenthood has lost. The organization received $680,000 from Susan G. Komen last year alone, and virtually every dollar was used for breast exams. That leaves a gaping hole in their funding. Help fill it here (and make sure to mark it "for breast cancer screenings").

Support a breast cancer organization with some integrity. Not every organization will sell out women's health to please anti-abortion rights legislators. Some anti-cancer advocacy groups make their feminist messages explicit and central. Breast Cancer Action, the National Breast Cancer Coalition, and the Women's Community Cancer Project are three that have genuinely feminist roots.

Help the women the Komen Foundation has ignored. Awareness isn't enough—some women just can't afford breast cancer screenings. Women of color and poor women will be hurt most by the foundation's decision. Donating to places like the African American Breast Cancer Alliance or Black Women's Health Imperative will help these women get the medical attention they need.

Prop up a pro-choice, pro-woman organization. A strike against Planned Parenthood is a strike against women's health in general. If breast cancer is too specific a cause for you, donate to a women-centered organization that provides crucial sex and health information, like Our Bodies, Ourselves or the National Women's Health Network.

Support your local women's clinic. Planned Parenthood is the most ubiquitous group of health clinics in the country, but there are other local women's health clinics that provide breast exams, and they're likely struggling even more. Places like the Chicago Women's Health Center or the Cedar River Clinics could really use some cash, too. Or donate to your local abortion fund—access to a safe abortion may be more of a political lightning rod than breast cancer screenings, but it's no less essential.
 Lying liars in the high-stakes world of college rankings (h/t Katelyn):
[S]everal colleges in recent years have been caught gaming the system — in particular, the avidly watched U.S. News & World Report rankings — by twisting the meanings of rules, cherry-picking data or just lying.

In one recent example, Iona College in New Rochelle, north of New York City, acknowledged last fall that its employees had lied for years not only about test scores, but also about graduation rates, freshman retention, student-faculty ratio, acceptance rates and alumni giving.

Other institutions have found ways to manipulate the data without outright dishonesty.

In 2008, Baylor University offered financial rewards to admitted students to retake the SAT in hopes of increasing its average score. Admissions directors say that some colleges delay admission of low-scoring students until January, excluding them from averages for the class admitted in September, while other colleges seek more applications to report a lower percentage of students accepted.

Claremont McKenna, according to Robert Morse, the director of data research at U.S. News, is “the highest-ranking school to have to go through this publicly and have to admit to misreporting.”

This year, U.S. News rated it as the nation’s ninth-best liberal arts college.

In what seems like a typical case, uranium mining vies with indigenous ways of life in Nunavut:
The Inuit are split on the wisdom of large-scale uranium mining in their territory, with some saying their communities desperately need the economic development, while others are concerned about the environmental fallout from the industry. With a population of just 30,000 mostly Inuit people living in a territory the size of Western Europe, Nunavut — which contains a sizeable part of mainland Canada as well as most of the country’s Arctic Archipelago, extending nearly to the North Pole — remains the largest undisturbed wilderness in the northern hemisphere. Though some mining roads exist, not a single road connects its 25 communities. As a result, some of the biggest caribou herds in the world — ranging in size from 65,000 to more than 400,000 — migrate freely.

Scottie, other Inuit, environmental groups, some scientists, and the country’s environmental agency, Environment Canada, are concerned that a mining boom in parts of Nunavut will interfere with the calving and migration of caribou, which already are experiencing stress from a warming Arctic climate. These groups also worry about contamination from uranium mining, especially given the history in northern Canada of mining companies abandoning their mines and performing little, if any, environmental cleanup.

“What happened in the past is a concern,” says Ramsey Hart, who works for Mining Watch, an environmental watchdog based in Ottawa. “With uranium especially, we’ve seen prices rise and fall dramatically in relatively short periods of time. What happens to these open pit mines and roads and tailings if the mines are no longer economically viable? And what happens to caribou? Their numbers in the Arctic are already down dramatically.”

Dahlia Lithwick on the impact on courts (not just SCOTUS) that a Mitt Romney victory would have:
For anyone considering the 2012 election’s importance to the future of the American judiciary, one fact stands out: next November, Ruth Bader Ginsburg will be seventy-nine years old. If a Republican wins the presidential election, he or she may have an opportunity to seat Ginsburg’s successor, replacing the Supreme Court’s most reliably liberal jurist with a conservative. That would mean that the Court—currently balanced almost elegantly between four liberals, four conservatives, and the moderate conservative Anthony Kennedy—would finally tilt decisively to the right, thereby fulfilling Edwin Meese’s dream, laid out in his famous 1985 speech before the American Bar Association, of reshaping the Court around one coherent “jurisprudence of original intention.” Meese, who was then Ronald Reagan’s attorney general, wanted nine conservative constitutional originalists on the Court. He may soon get his wish. A 2008 study by Richard Posner, a federal appeals court judge, and William Landes, a law professor at the University of Chicago, examined the voting records of seventy years of Supreme Court justices in order to rank the forty-three justices who have served on the Court since 1937. They concluded that four of the five most conservative justices to serve on the Supreme Court since 1937 sit on the Supreme Court today. Justice Clarence Thomas ranked first.

Kennedy, who is ranked tenth in that study, will be seventy- six next November. If a Republican successor of Obama gets to replace both Kennedy and Ginsburg, it’s fair to predict that the Roberts Court may include five or even six of the most conservative jurists since the FDR era. Following the ideological disappointment that was David Souter, Republicans have been spectacularly successful in selecting and confirming justices who consistently vote for conservative outcomes. Indeed, the replacement of moderate Sandra Day O’Connor with Samuel Alito may have produced the most consequential shift at the Court in our lifetimes; in a few short years O’Connor’s pragmatic legal doctrine in areas ranging from abortion to affirmative action to campaign finance reform has been displaced by rulings that would make Edwin Meese’s heart sing.

Just because we're a right-to-work state doesn't mean that the insane Teabaggers who run this state aren't willing to even further curtail the rights of labor:
The bills include a total ban on collective bargaining for Arizona’s public employees, including at the city and county levels. The move would outpace even the tough bargaining restrictions enacted in Wisconsin in 2011 that led to massive union protests and a Democratic effort to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

“At first glance, it looks like an all out assault on the right of workers to organize,” Senate Minority Leader David Schapira (D) told TPM on Tuesday. “And to me, that’s a serious problem.”

The bills were crafted with the help of the Goldwater Institute, a powerful conservative think tank in Phoenix that flew Walker to the state for an event in November. Nick Dranias, director of the institute’s Center for Constitutional Government, told TPM he sees Walker as a “hero” but that Wisconsin’s laws were “modest” compared to Arizona’s measures.


[I]n another break from the Wisconsin model, the restrictions would affect every type of public union, including police and firefighters.

Arizona is a right-to-work state, which gives unions a much smaller role there than in states like Wisconsin. But laws still currently give labor groups a place at the bargaining table to negotiate pay and other benefits for their members. All of that would change under the proposed rules.


Dranias said the measures were inspired by Wisconsin but were more modeled after legislation passed in Virginia about 30 years ago. He said the goal of the measures wasn’t to ban public unions from Arizona but to make them seem obsolete.

Speaking of lunacy in Arizona, we're on our way to allowing loaded guns on campus. In classrooms. Yeah, that's a great idea, says ASU president Michael Crow:
The bill (SB1474) to permit guns on campus is a misguided attempt to increase school safety without a shred of evidence to support the assumption that schools are safer if students are armed.


Can you imagine a crowded college lecture hall in which one student pulls a handgun and fires a shot, then a dozen more students, untrained in the use of firearms and how to handle potentially deadly situations, all pull out their guns? Innocent people would be caught in a deadly crossfire of panicked students firing in every direction. And what does the SWAT team do when it arrives? How do they know which of a dozen or more armed and possibly firing shooters is the bad guy? Or do they take out everyone with a gun?

There are places where guns are not conducive to public safety. Schools surely must be on that list.

A nice reminder from Alex Steffen on the point of democracy.

After the WSJ thoroughly embarrasses itself with yet another climate denial piece, they manage to publish a bit of reality in response.

Is the UN going Malthusian?

Drinking reclaimed wastewater: the technology exists, but people aren't quite ready to accept it.

A slideshow of rivers running dry.

Let's not forget that the GOP's anti-science lunacy actually extends to supporting invasive species.

Protect our shorelines.
From gang member to sociology professor.

Odious, immigrant-hating Kansas Secretary of State Kris Koback didn't invent self-deportation, as he likes to believe; the honor goes to a character and organization created by comic artist Lalo Alcaraz. The NYTimes offers further background.

Idiots in Indiana. Though they've got nothing on the idiots here in Arizona.

Unconstitutional idiots in Indiana.

Former slave to master: a delightful kiss-off.

More salutes to Philip Glass:

Check out the fantastic new album from Kayhan Kalhor, who Brooklyn Rider cellist, Eric Jacobsen, informs me is also an absolutely wonderful human being.

Speaking of Brooklyn Rider, here's their recording of the final movement to Beethoven's absolutely sublime String Quartet No. 14 in C♯ minor, Op. 131 — from their excellent upcoming album “Seven Steps,” soon to be streaming on the NPR website, then available for digital sale online (and already available as a physical disc on their current tour, but one that needs your support via a Kickstarter campaign):

Wifey's Happy Link Of The Day: Muppets vs. Fox News.

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