Little Red Ribbon-Hood: July 2008: Archives

July 19, 2008

Bush Administration To Define Contraception As Abortion? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Polispeak

As if it isn't bad enough that we've had to endure nearly eight years of George W. Bush, he has chosen his final months to enact one of his most intrusive policy initiatives. It seems that the president has decided to redefine abortion to include contraception. The plan would be enacted by the Department of Health and Human Services and cloaked as an attempt to prevent discrimination in government funded endeavors.

The explanation being offered by the president's operatives suggests that the goal is to insure that those individuals who have religious objections to abortion or the distribution of contraceptive products cannot be terminated from employment. Unfortunately, the administration wants to ignore the fact that such practices are already prohibited under current federal law.

From ABC News:

The draft proposal from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which began circulating around Capitol Hill earlier this week, would withhold government funds from health-care providers and organizations that don't hire people who refuse to perform abortions or provide certain types of birth control.

Current federal law prohibits health-care providers and organizations from discriminating against people who won't provide abortions or birth control.

The Bush administration's new draft proposal would require these agencies to certify in writing their compliance with the law before getting funding from HHS.

Critics say the proposal would limit women's access to birth control, arguing that it includes "an overly-broad definition of abortion" and that in order to receive government funding agencies might have to hire employees who won't perform every-day job responsibilities due to their personal religious beliefs.

The Health department released a brief statement arguing that it's looking into various options in an effort to enforce anti-discrimination laws.

"Over the past three decades, Congress has passed several anti-discrimination laws to protect institutional and individual health care providers participating in federal programs. HHS has an obligation to enforce these laws, and is exploring a number of options," the statement reads.

The White House declined to comment.

This is the same administration that has long argued that hate crimes legislation, intended to specifically deter violence against the LGBT community, is unnecessary. So when it comes to measures to bolster the safety of gays, existing laws are sufficient because they already provide penalties and punishment for these crimes. However, when a handful of Christians want to refuse to provide contraception to a rape victim, the Bush administration thinks special rules are warranted.

I guess I've finally figured out what the president meant when he stated he was a compassionate conservative. He meant he had compassion for conservatives...and to hell with everyone else. Pardon my disgust, but the self-proclaimed uniter is a garden-variety divider.

Fortunately, a number of Democrats have spoken out against this potential rule change.

From Reuters:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Bush administration plan to define several widely used contraception methods as abortion is a "gratuitous, unnecessary insult" to women and faces tough opposition, Sen. Hillary Clinton said on Friday.

The former Democratic presidential candidate joined family planning groups to condemn the proposal that defines abortion to include contraception such as birth control pills and intrauterine devices.

It would cut off federal funds to hospitals and states where medical providers are obligated to offer legal abortion and contraception to women.

"We will not put up with this radical, ideological agenda to turn the clock back on women's rights," the New York senator told a joint news conference with New York Rep. Nita Lowey, also a Democrat, at Bellevue Hospital.

"Women would watch their contraceptive coverage disappear overnight," said Clinton.

A copy of a memo that appears to be an Department of Health and Human Services draft provided to Reuters this week carries a broad definition of abortion as any procedures, including prescription drugs, "that result in the termination of the life of a human being in utero between conception and natural birth, whether before or after implantation."

Conception occurs when egg and sperm unite in the Fallopian tubes. It takes three to four days before the fertilized egg implants in the uterus. Several birth control methods interfere with this, including the birth control pill and IUDs.

"If enacted, these rules will make birth control out of reach for some women. That's a sure way to guarantee more unintended pregnancies and more abortions," said Anne Davis of Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health.

Without doubt, this is another back door effort to impose the religious beliefs of George Bush and his minions...and to begin the process of putting an end to funding for Planned Parenthood and any other organization remotely construed to provide abortion services. When George Bush suggested that he opposed Roe v. Wade, but didn't think the country was ready to take that step, he was actually telegraphing his intentions to undercut abortion through other means. Only then, when access is virtually impossible (unless one is rich and has a daughter in trouble), would he seek to overturn the long standing Supreme Court ruling.

Frankly, as awful as this may sound, I've come to see many evangelicals as arrogant and pompous manipulators. Always scheming to find the means to instill their values as the law of the land, they have little regard for the beliefs of others...and how could they since their ideology is utterly intransigent. At the same time, they often excuse their indiscretions or dismiss them as part of their own period of darkness. What they rarely recognize is that the demons they fear reside within. Railing against pornography, sex on television, comprehensive sex education (inclusive of contraception), homosexuality, infidelity, and adultery is simply the demonstration of an external response to their own internal urges and inclinations.

At the same time, they assume that everyone else in the society suffers the same affliction...which leads them to believe that legislation is needed to prevent us from doing what we're apt to do absent laws and punishment.

The following video is an example of this mentality. Joe Sweeney is a candidate for congress in Arizona's 7th. district. Note that his view of sex is that it's a function of "genital drives" that needs to be bridled through the marriage contract and in deference to a higher authority. The construct he describes is consistent with the actions of the Bush administration. In other words, at the core of this ideology, it's acceptable to prohibit the government from participating in any action that can be deemed to promote sex for any reason other than procreation.

Tagged as: Abortion, Contraception, Department of Health and Human Services, Discrimination, Evangelicals, George W. Bush, Hate Crimes Legislation, Hillary Clinton, Joe Sweeney, Planned Parenthood, Procreation, Religion, Same-Sex Marriage, Sexuality

Daniel DiRito | July 19, 2008 | 8:45 AM | link | Comments (2)
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July 17, 2008

HIV's Achilles Heel Discovered? genre: Do Not Resuscitate & Little Red Ribbon-Hood


Over the years, I've grown accustomed to regularly reading about the latest findings in HIV research. Early on, it was the only glimmer of hope in the environment of certain death that surrounded the disease. In recent years, the findings have enabled those infected to live relatively normal lives...albeit still vulnerable to the clandestine efforts of a clever virus.

Every now and then, I come across a study or a piece of research that titillates my hopes that science is on the verge of defeating the disease. A new article at Science Daily is just that. Yes, I'm always excited to read about the success of a drug still in trials or the discovery of a compound that shows great treatment potential. Unfortunately, such findings rarely offer the kind of hope found in this latest discovery.

According to this new report, a group of scientists believe they have found a site on the virus that offers the potential to permanently disable the virus in the body...rendering it incapable of infecting the cells of its host. Were that possible, the ramifications are mind boggling.

The Achilles heel, a tiny stretch of amino acids numbered 421-433 on gp120, is now under study as a target for therapeutic intervention. Sudhir Paul, Ph.D., pathology professor in the UT Medical School, said, "Unlike the changeable regions of its envelope, HIV needs at least one region that must remain constant to attach to cells. If this region changes, HIV cannot infect cells. Equally important, HIV does not want this constant region to provoke the body's defense system. So, HIV uses the same constant cellular attachment site to silence B lymphocytes - the antibody producing cells. The result is that the body is fooled into making abundant antibodies to the changeable regions of HIV but not to its cellular attachment site.

Paul's group has engineered antibodies with enzymatic activity, also known as abzymes, which can attack the Achilles heel of the virus in a precise way. "The abzymes recognize essentially all of the diverse HIV forms found across the world. This solves the problem of HIV changeability. The next step is to confirm our theory in human clinical trials," Paul said.

Unlike regular antibodies, abzymes degrade the virus permanently. A single abzyme molecule inactivates thousands of virus particles. Regular antibodies inactivate only one virus particle, and their anti-viral HIV effect is weaker.

"The work of Dr. Paul's group is highly innovative. They have identified antibodies that, instead of passively binding to the target molecule, are able to fragment it and destroy its function. Their recent work indicates that naturally occurring catalytic antibodies, particularly those of the IgA subtype, may be useful in the treatment and prevention of HIV infection," said Steven J. Norris, Ph.D., holder of the Robert Greer Professorship in the Biomedical Sciences and vice chair for research in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the UT Medical School at Houston.

While this research is still in its infancy, it is an indication of the cumulative benefit that can emerge as a result of prior studies of the virus and its function. Optimistic though it may be, I suspect that progress of this nature will at some point, in the near future, begin to dismantle the advantage the virus has held for nearly three decades. I would equate this protracted battle to defeat HIV with one of my favorite expressions, "Everything is shit until it isn't."

In other words, our perceptions can be inaccurate due to a reliance upon past history. Regardless, the ongoing absence of a definitive victory over the virus doesn't preclude the fact that one may be just around the corner. While projections are typically based upon prior experience (appropriately), probability tells us that time and research are apt to eventually close the knowledge gap and reveal a major finding capable of overcoming the advantage the virus has long held.

History is filled with examples of this phenomenon of unrevealed progress just waiting for that critical moment of substantiation. This discovery could be such a transformative moment. Let's hope so.

Tagged as: Abzymes, AIDS, Disease, Gay, Health, HIV, LGBT, Research, Science, Science Daily, Virus

Daniel DiRito | July 17, 2008 | 1:32 PM | link | Comments (0)
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July 16, 2008

A "Dole" Drubbing - A Resounding NO To "Senator No" genre: Gaylingual & Little Red Ribbon-Hood


For years, Jesse Helms blocked measures intended to provide care and assistance to homosexuals suffering from the ravages of HIV. In true Helms backasswards bravado, he often insinuated that the only way such legislation would pass would be over his dead body. gets even better! Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole, in her infinite vacuity, thought it would be appropriate to rename the Presidents Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) after the recently departed 'Senator No'. Yes, Dole apparently felt that Helms' late-in-life for AIDS funding to assist Africa (no apology to America's gay community ever materialized)...should net Helms the posthumous honor.

Since Helms implied that gays would only receive government support over his dead body, there is a reason to celebrate the passage of PEPFAR. Simply stated, at long last, the dead bodies of thousands of gays can rest in peace knowing that PEPFAR was passed without being renamed after Jesse Helms...and it passed...poetically...over his dead body.

Now in my way of thinking, this entire situation is about accolades and assholery. When it comes to AIDS, Helms has no right to the former. Should there be any doubt, let's just say that's a big N-O. On the other hand, I think Senator's Helms and Dole are deserving of a resounding Y-E-S when it comes to confirming their effectiveness in exhibiting the latter.

All ranting aside, today the Senate passed PEPFAR by an overwhelming majority.

AIDS Action applauds the Senate for overwhelming, bipartisan passage of the Lantos/Hyde U.S. Global Leadership Against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Reauthorization Act (S 2731), which reauthorizes the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). The organization particularly commends the lifting of the statutory requirement that bars travel and immigration to the U.S. by HIV positive non-citizens. Also noteworthy are the mention and recognition of HIV prevention, care and treatment needs of men who have sex with men (MSM) and the removal of the directive requiring that 33% of prevention funds be spent on "abstinence-only until marriage" programs.

"The lifting of the travel and immigration bar removes the blemish on the United States leadership on HIV and AIDS. We are especially pleased that this discriminatory law has finally been repealed."

AIDS Action urges prompt and timely final passage of the legislation and urges the President to sign the Lantos/Hyde bill.

Given Helms' endless efforts to scorn gays, the removal of the ban provides a measure of bittersweet reproach of Helms and the many others who sought to use HIV as a means to vilify the gay community. Fortunately, the decision to sit on their hands and ignore the deaths of thousands cannot be undone...not even by the mindless actions of Elizabeth Dole. Perhaps she'd be better served to practice legislative abstinence? On second thought, if it's as effective as the Bush administration's abstinence-only approach to HIV, I suspect Dole would end up in trouble in no time.

Tagged as: Abstinence, Africa, AIDS, Bigotry, Death, Elizabeth Dole, Gay, HIV, Jesse Helms, LGBT, PEPFAR

Daniel DiRito | July 16, 2008 | 7:15 PM | link | Comments (0)
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July 12, 2008

Lay Your Hands, Lay Your Hands On Me - Faith Healing? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood

As you watch Todd Bentley shout bam, bam bam while laying his hands on his followers, you can't help but think of Emeril Lagasse tossing in a few extra garlic cloves into his latest culinary creation to transform it into a mouthwatering miracle.

Then again, perhaps that's the perfect analogy for what Todd Bentley does...a mix of entertainment and showmanship that is apt to taste good while it's being consumed. Unfortunately, while it may be fun to watch and partake, there is little reason to believe that anything miraculous is actually happening.

Such is the nature of faith healing and the exploitation of those who are in desperate need of hope. The following two videos are from an ABC report detailing Todd Bentley's ministry and his background. When it's all said and done, Todd Bentley is enriched financially and the masses receive an intangible infusion of bam, bam, bam...whatever that may be. I could be wrong, but I just don't see how this is a fair exchange.

ABC On Todd Bentley - Part One

ABC On Todd Bentley - Part Two

Tagged as: ABC, Exploitation, Faith Healers, Illness, Religion, Scam, Todd Bentley

Daniel DiRito | July 12, 2008 | 9:58 AM | link | Comments (0)
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July 11, 2008

Teen Pregnancies Rise: How About Those Abstinence Programs? genre: Hip-Gnosis & Little Red Ribbon-Hood & Uncivil Unions


I'm not sure what it will take for our government to admit that abstinence education isn't working. Fortunately, George Bush will soon leave office and we can hope that the next president will restore science to its proper place and put an end to the myth that purity pledges are an effective means of birth control.

In the meantime, a new government report shows that the teen pregnancy rate rose for the first time in 15 years...a testament to seven years of relegating comprehensive sex education and contraception to the back burner.

From Fox News:

Between 2005 and 2006, the number of teenage girls between the ages 15 to 17 having babies rose by more than 5,700 to 138,920, from a record low of 133,138, according to an annual report on the health and well-being of children and teens published by the Federal Interagency Forum on Child and Family Statistics.

The 4 percent increase in the teen pregnancy rate is cause for concern among health professionals.

"This is one of the key indicators for the health of the teen population," said Edward Sondik, director of the National Center for Health Statistics, during a conference call with the media. "Not only does this affect teen health at this point, but their health and well-being for the next 20 to 40 years, and the health and well-being of their children."

Now I'm sure the religious right will do their best to refute those who will undoubtedly claim that this report provides evidence that abstinence only education is a failure. Unfortunately for the wingers, the report offered another key piece of information that may make it rather difficult to hold the line on the benefits of abstinence.

While teen pregnancy is up, the percentage of teens having sex has remained stable for the past few years at 46 percent, according to the report.

So here's the bottom line. The same number of teens are engaging in sex, however more of them are getting pregnant. Care to venture an explanation? Clearly, as I've long argued, teens, in predictable numbers, will continue to have sex regardless of promising to abstain...and when they do so absent comprehensive sex education, inclusive of contraceptive measures, the number of pregnancies is certain to increase.

Fox News, in a move that once again shows their propensity for bias, chose to add the views of one of their contributors in an effort to offer an alternate explanation for the rise in teen pregnancies.

Teen pregnancy has been a hotly debated subject in recent weeks with the birth of 17-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears' daughter and reports that a pact among Gloucester, Mass., teens may have resulted in the pregnancies of 17 high school students.

Dr. Keith Ablow, a psychiatrist and FOX News contributor, said the recent reversal in the trend of declining teen pregnancy is a grave concern. He said young people, especially girls, are looking for ways to connect with themselves and others in an "increasingly technology-driven world." One way to do that is to have a baby.

"It's not pretty and we really need a public health response that's very vigorous to counteract this," he said. "Ultimately, the gravest long-term consequence is that we have babies being nurtured by mothers who really can't provide them with what they need.

"And that's really a self-centered act. You've basically declared that it's all about you. Those people who are [acting] in this way may be the worst role models."

Oh yes, the rise in teen pregnancy is the fault of Hollywood and girls who are self-centered. In other words, my child would remain pure if it weren't for bad role models and selfish sluts. I guess that means that mom and dad are helpless to protect their children from cultural influences that are sure to overwhelm the values parents have instilled in their children.

I hate to break the bad news, but there's a problem with this logic. You see, we have that little issue of the constancy of the percentage of teens who are having sex to contend with. If recent culture is to be blamed, why aren't we seeing a larger percentage of teens engaging in sexual relations. Could it be that the desire to engage in sex, an innately constant construct of human nature, isn't all that susceptible to external influences...including the religious exhortations of parents and politicos who have likely chosen to forget their own sexual experimentations?

The study offered one other statistic that caught my attention.

From The Washington Post:

Another disturbing trend is the increase in violent crimes and homicides committed by adolescents, Sondik said.

"Homicides increased in 2005 for the first time since 1993," Sondik said. "In 2005, the firearm homicide rate also increased for the first time in more than a decade."

Adolescents aged 12 to 17 who committed violent crimes increased from 14 crimes per 1,000 in 2004 to 17 per 1,000 in 2005. This is still a substantially lower rate than was seen in 1993, when there were 52 violent crimes per 1,000 adolescents, the report stated.

So while the religious right rails against contraception and abortion, teens are harming each other with increasing frequency. In other words, these people are willing to spend time and money opposing sex education, contraception, and abortion while seemingly appearing tone deaf to teen violence.

Why is it that Focus on the Family and the Family Research Council aren't up in arms about teen violence? Why aren't they pushing their followers to vote for one politician over another based upon their respective plans to address teen violence? If all life is precious, why isn't the same energy being expended to protect the living?

I'll answer my own question. Well, sex sells...which means issues related to sexuality (orientation and promiscuity)...are cash cows that bring in the donations. It also serves to assure religious leaders and the GOP that they have a captive constituency. Besides, addressing violence might require a consideration of gun control...and that doesn't sell well with the Guns, God, and Gays gang.

Tagged as: Abortion, Abstinence, Contraception, Fox News, George Bush, Religion, Religious Right, Sex Education, Sexuality, Teen Pregnancy, Violence

Daniel DiRito | July 11, 2008 | 12:24 PM | link | Comments (0)
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