Bringing Men and Women back together...before it too late. An exploration of why men have come to manage the world, why they do such a terrible job of it, and what we can do about it while there is still time. Religion, politics, media, art -- are all grist for this mill.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Stop Gonzalez Appointment

I'm writing this to add my voice to Daily Kos :: No on Gonzales: "With this nomination, we have arrived at a crossroads as a nation. Now is the time for all citizens of conscience to stand up and take responsibility for what the world saw, and, truly, much that we have not seen, at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere. We oppose the confirmation of Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General of the United States, and we urge the Senate to reject him."Go to the original post to see which bloggers have signed up so far.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Bush's Plan to Iraqify Social Security will hurt women most

This is an issue that will hit women worse than men, as explained in the following letter. If you want to have Social Security preserved for yourself and your loved ones, I suggest you write a letter TO YOUR MEMBERS OF CONGRESS. Bush is unlikely to be responsive, although you can always send him a copy, too.

The Social Security "reform" plan is another case of "Iraqification"--rushing in to tackle an alleged problem (Social Security is NOT going broke--that's a lie), with a hidden agenda to fatten the pockets of Bush's supporters (Wall Street bankers & stock brokers, in the SS case), more people dying (the impoverished elderly having to choose between medications and food), and a greater financial burden (we the people will be left holding the bag, with increased national debt and decreased personal financial security).

Please pass this message along to everyone you know who is likely to care and to be impacted, either directly or indirectly, by this new scheme.

Washington D.C. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and 35 women
Members of Congress sent a letter to President Bush to express their
concern that women would be disproportionately hurt by privatizing
Social Security. FYI the text of the letter follows.

January 12, 2005
President George W. Bush
The White House
Washington, D.C. 20500

Dear Mr. President:
We are writing to express our deep concern that the views of millions of
American women were not adequately represented at your event to promote
Social Security privatization yesterday. Any privatization proposal will
have real consequences for real people, particularly women, who will be
disproportionately hurt by the kinds of drastic changes privatization
would entail. We, as women Members of Congress, will fight to ensure
that the economic security of women is not sacrificed in a rush to
restructure the Social Security system.

As you know, women comprise the majority of Social Security
beneficiaries, representing almost 60 percent of all Social Security
recipients age 65 and over. Women are also less likely than men to have
pensions or retirement savings to supplement their Social Security
checks. Without Social Security, 52 percent of white women, 65 percent
African American women, and 61 percent of Hispanic women over the age
of 65 would live in poverty.

Privatization would significantly reduce a number of current-law
protections that help women liveout their retirement years in dignity.

First, Social Security helps level the playing field for women by using
progressive benefit formula that provides a greater benefit to those
lower earnings, as is the case for women who on average earn less than
their male counterparts and who also tend to have fewer years in the
workforce. Privatization would replace this progressive benefit
structure with private accounts based only on a worker's contributions
the account.

Second, recent press reports suggest that your Administration favors a
privatization plan that includes "price indexing," which would reduce
Social Security's progressive benefits by up to 46 percent for future
retirees. These benefit cuts are the equivalent of asking today's
seniors to
live at a 1940s standard of living.

Third, Social Security benefits are not eroded by inflation because
Social Security has an automatic cost-of-living adjustment. In contrast,
there would be no guarantee that private accounts would allow seniors to
keep up with the cost of living in retirement. Inflation protection is
particularly important for women, who generally live longer than men.

Fourth, Social Security provides benefits that cannot be outlived, while
retirees would have to carefully manage their withdrawals from private
accounts and could easily outlive their balances. This is an especially
significant risk for women because of their longer life expectancy.
A woman's monthly income would also be lower than a man's with the same
account balance, because the woman would have to make a finite amount of
funds stretch over more years of retirement.

Fifth, Social Security provides automatic protection for widows, without
any reduction in the level of her husband's own benefit. That is, Social
Security pays a benefit to a widow equal to 100 percent of the
benefit prior to his death. This benefit does not require a reduction in
the husband's benefit, as is the case in private pensions. This
protection could not be duplicated with private accounts, as the account
would be the only source of income for the couple while both were alive
and then for the widow, after the husband's death, necessitating a
reduction in income for the couple in order to assure income for the
surviving spouse.

Finally, Social Security assures economic security for women who care
children or dependent family members by providing benefits to spouses
and survivors. With an individual account, a worker would have to
sacrifice part of her own benefit in order to provide income to her
dependents. Social Security, as family insurance, pays benefits to all
of a worker''s dependents without reducing the worker's own benefit.

We welcome efforts to strengthen and improve Social Security, but we
believe privatization would do neither. Privatization would eliminate
protections vital to women under the current Social Security structure,
and it would substantially weaken the financial status of the Social
Security Trust Fund by draining trillions from it to fund the private

Private accounts on their own do nothing to improve the financial health
of Social Security. They are not a solution to Social Security''s
long-range financial imbalance. Indeed, even without any changes, Social
Security will be able to pay full benefits for almost fifty years,
to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, and even after that, the
system will be able to pay approximately 80% of benefits.

We have time to develop a bipartisan consensus on the best kinds of
improvements to Social Security that would strengthen, not dismantle,
this vital and effective system of assuring economic security. Thank you
for your attention to our concerns. We look forward to engaging in an
ongoing dialogue.

House Democratic Leader Member of Congress

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Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Secret Service: Christian crosses are dangerous weapons

According to Religion Today, a conservative Christian web site, recent communique from the United States Secret Service suggests that crosses are now considered a dangerous weapon and, as such, are banned from the U.S. Presidential Inauguration celebration. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition applied for a permit to demonstrate at a certain location along the presidential inauguration parade route. The Christian minister says he was granted the permit but, at the same time, he received a letter of guidance, including a communication from the U.S. Secret Service that astonished him. The letter contained the Secret Service's directives to the National Park Service in Washington, D.C., about security measures for the Inaugural Parade, including information about items that would be prohibited. The Christian Defense Coalition spokesman says this is the first time in U.S. history that the government has labeled crosses as weapons and banned them from the public square. His organization is asking the Secret Service to reconsider its equation of the Christian symbol with objects of force and violence. The Christian Defense Coalition is calling the Secret Service's specific banning of the cross rank discrimination and "religious bigotry and censorship" in its worst form, as well as a violation of the Christian demonstrators' First Amendment rights.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Federal Rape Response Protocol Ignores Emergency Contraception

Jessica Azulay of the News Standard reported that a coalition of women’s rights groups and advocates petitioned the Justice Department last week, demanding it amend recently released guidelines on the treatment of sexual assault survivors. The 130-page National Protocol for Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examinations is meant as a suggestive guide for medical professionals and law enforcement as they conduct examinations and care for survivors of rape. Yet, as women’s rights activists point out, the document does not provide information about emergency contraception for women who want to prevent pregnancy resulting from rape.

In a letter sent last week to the Justice Department, 206 national, state and local organizations along with 71 individuals -- many who work with sexualized violence survivors as counselors or health care providers -- asked that the Protocol be amended to include a thorough discussion of options for and counseling about pregnancy prevention.

In the brief section entitled "Pregnancy Risk Evaluation and Care," the protocol instructs care providers to discuss the probability of pregnancy with female patients, conduct a pregnancy test with the patient’s consent and discuss treatment options. Though the document advises that assault survivors’ "often overwhelming and genuine fear" of pregnancy "should be taken seriously," the protocol merely suggests that care providers "discuss treatment options with patients, including reproductive health services."

Late last month, Gail Burns-Smith, former director of the Connecticut Sexual Assault Crisis Services and one of numerous experts who the Justice Department consulted during the Protocol’s development, told Knight Ridder news service that a discussion of emergency contraception did appear in earlier drafts. She said she did not know who, if anyone, opposed it.

At least some of the groups that are petitioning the Justice Department believe that the omission was politically motivated.

Gloria Feldt is the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the nation's largest voluntary reproductive health organization, which operates nearly 850 health centers nationwide, providing reproductive health care and sexuality education to women and men. "It is outrageous that the ‘comprehensive’ protocols do not mention emergency contraception," she said in a press statement. "This is a blatant example of politics taking precedence over the emotional and physical health needs of women."

Meanwhile, some socially conservative groups are content to leave the wording of the Protocol as is. "I think it's very smart not to put that in the guidelines," Dr. George Isajiw, the anti-abortion group, Physicians for Life, told Knight Ridder. Isajiw said that he believes emergency contraception is "a dangerous drug that’s not doing any good" and that it can cause an abortion. "As a moral principle, a woman has the right to defend herself against an aggressor. But she doesn't have the right to kill the baby."

Reproductive rights threatened in 19 states

A report released today by the News Standard shows that states are increasingly restricting women’s ability to choose abortions and birth control and many would move to ban abortion altogether if the Supreme Court lets them. Published annually by a national women’s rights organization, NARAL Pro-Choice America, this year’s edition of Who Decides? The Status of Women’s Reproductive Rights in the US, shows that if the Court withdraws its support of abortion rights, nineteen states will likely ban abortions.

The report rates each state on reproductive care rights afforded to women and looks at the makeup of the state’s legislature to determine the likelihood that anti-choice legislation would pass, were it deemed permissible under the US Constitution. It also documents abortion-restricting laws already passed or nearly passed in some states. According to the report, only Connecticut, Maine, New Jersey and Washington have decidedly pro-choice legislatures and governors.

Religious Right claims Planned Parenthood distributes defective condoms on purpose

The Family Research Council's News Alert recently charged that Planned Parenthood's condoms were rated last in a recent Consumer Reports birth control rating (which FRC deplored) because PP distributes defective condums on purpose, presemably to cause more unwanted pregnancies that will lead to more abortions. The alert said"...

"FRC News Correspondent Wendy Christian gets the facts from David Bereit of the Coalition for Life on Planned Parenthood's distribution of defective condoms and whether that effort is a part of their "planned" philosophy. Its all on this week's Washington Watch Weekly. Click on the link below to find a radio station in your area!"

Once again the religious right proves it is neither religious nor right. But what can you expect from a gang of women-hating religious bigots?

Friday, January 14, 2005

Anti-choice crowd says abortion is the problem with Social Security

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 /U.S. Newswire/ -- American Life League (ALL) takes on the role of whistleblower with a forthcoming ad telling President Bush (news - web sites) that he can protect Social Security (news - web sites) by curing abortion. The advertisement steps up ALL's effort to educate federal leaders about the societal devastation spread by abortion.

The full-page ad, which will run in tomorrow's Washington Times, addresses Mr. Bush directly because of the recent media coverage about his concerns with the failing Social Security system.

The ad explains that since 1973, more than 50 million babies have been killed in the womb. "Those are the very babies that, today, would be living, working -- and paying into Social Security," said Judie Brown, president of American Life League. "However, the national plague of abortion has eliminated those contributors from society."

The ad challenges the government to pull its multi-million dollar annual subsidy of Planned Parenthood (news - web sites), the nation's largest abortion provider, and other abortion-promoting entities. "The government is largely responsible for the Social Security crisis," said Brown. "They have continued to fund abortion giants, such as Planned Parenthood, which aid in the destruction of human life. With this ad, American Life League is blowing the whistle on the failed government program of funding abortion."

Brown added, "It is not difficult to see the strong, direct connection between the Social Security problems and abortion. We have killed off our children, who are no longer here to provide for us in the future. Until we can stop treating human life like an indispensable commodity, we will never see an end to the Social Security crisis. We must cure abortion -- now!"

Monday, January 10, 2005

Have a Miscarriage, Go to Jail

HB1677, or the “Report of Fetal Death by mother, penalty” bill is simple. If you are a woman and you have a miscarriage--not an abortion--away from a medical center where such things are automatically reported, this new bill would require you to report the miscarriage to the police department. If you don't, you'll face up to a year in prison -- with all of the potential dangers of rape, HIV, and beatings -- plus a hefty $2,500 and a job killing jail record. The full story at Democracy for Virgina. This is a very dangerous bill for women everywhere.

An email campaign launched to deter Cosgrove's anti-women bill elicted this response:

"I am Delegate Cosgrove and I wish to respond to your website and the allegations that have been made by those who have emailed and called my office. The intent of House Bill 1677 is to require the notification of authorities of a delivery of a baby that is dead and the mother has not been attended by a medical professional. This bill was requested by the Chesapeake Police Department in its legislative package due to instances of full term babies who were abandoned shortly after birth. These poor children died horrible deaths. If a coroner could not determine if the child was born alive, the person responsible for abandoning the child could only be charged with is the improper disposal of a human body.

The requirement for the twelve hour notification timeframe comes from the method that a coroner would use to determine if the child had been born alive or dead. After twelve hours, it becomes next to impossible to determine if the child was alive due to decomposition gasses that build up in the body.

My bill in no way intends that a woman who suffers a miscarriage should be charged for not notifying authorities. The bill in no way mentions miscarriages, only deliveries. However, after discussing the bill again with our legislative services lawyers, I have decided to include language that will define the bill to apply only to those babies that are claimed to have been stillborn and that are abandoned as stated above.

I would never inflict the type of emotional torture on a woman who has suffered such a traumatic event as a miscarriage by making her notify authorities of her loss. I would also never impose criminal sanctions on a woman who has gone through this loss. And I am confident that the General Assembly of Virginia would also not pass such a terrible imposition on a woman. My mother experienced several miscarriages and I have other friends who have been devastated by losing their children through miscarriages.

While this constitutes some back-away from the bill, but not enough to completely protect women who suffer miscarriages, it is still a dangerous precedent. Women -- Virginia women in particular -- should email Cosgrove and tell him they are watching, and then monitor other state's legislatures as it is virtually guaranteed that if this bill is successful in Virginia, it will pop up elsewhere. If Conservatives realize that they cannot sneak this past women, they think twice about proliferating it.

Friday, January 07, 2005

Ban Republican Marriage

Too good to pass up. The Democracy Store is offering bumper stickers reading "Ban Republican Marriage ... hate is not natural. Buy several and put them cars in an exurban shopping mall or church parking lot.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Working mothers face stricter employment standards

Women might have broken the glass ceiling and entered the board rooms but despite the gains women have made in the workplace, working mothers still have to match up with stricter employment standards than childless women, a new study has found.

Researchers at the Ohio State University found that in general, parents were less committed to their jobs and less available at work compared to those without children. One surprising finding was that the participants actually set lower employment standards for fathers than they did for men with no children, and for mothers. See full story here.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Clear Channel runs contest with breast enlargement as the prize

Radio giant Clear Channel Communications Inc. ran a Christmas contest in which stations granted breast enlargement surgeries to women in four cities. In the "Breast Christmas Ever" contest, 13 women were awarded the procedure after writing essays to the stations explaining why they wanted larger breasts. A Tampa station claimed to receive more than 91,000 entries. San Antonio-based Clear Channel said it had nothing to do with the contest and that it was a decision by local station managers to hold the promotion, which was aired on Clear Channel stations in Tampa, Jacksonville, St. Louis and Detroit.

The contest has drawn the ire of both the National Research Center for Women & Families and the National Organization for Women. NOW has urged its supporters to file complaints with the Federal Communications Commission against Clear Channel and its stations. While neither women’s group is alleging the breast surgery contest violated decency standards, they are complaining the contest promotes potentially dangerous surgery and leaves its winners with no legal remedies should the surgery go awry. Under the rules, winners must be at least 18 and sign a waiver protecting the company from all liability claims.

"I try not to be judgmental about whether a large radio station should be giving away free toys to children instead of free breast augmentation," said Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Research Center for Women & Families, a health advocacy organization.

First reported in the by VICKIE CHACHERE,The Associated Press.

Gap between women's and men's wages widens

The National Association for Female Executives says its 2004 Salary Survey found that full-time female employees earned 76 cents for every $1 earned by male peers, down from 77 cents in 2002. Last year, women earned an average of $10,000 less than men at the identical American job, adding up to $400,000 less earned over a woman's professional work life, according to the National Association for Female Executives (NAFE), which today released its annual Salary Survey. Some highly educated women face even larger wage gaps. Women anesthesiologists earned $64,000 less than male colleagues did; women scientists doing medical research earned just 71.3 percent of their male peers' income. Even women who have attained the top positions in their field fare no better. CEOs, directors and managers in fields ranging from advertising to health care management consistently make less than their male counterparts for doing the same work. Reasons for the gap range from sexism in the workplace and "pink ghettos" of lower paid jobs, to women taking more time off for child care, to the higher proportion of men in sales (excluding residential home sales) where large commissions boost income.

See story for details of the survey.

Excellent string on Bush ideology and empire

Check out The Left Coaster for an excellent set of articles and comments on why the Bush Administration does not listen to facts or consider evidence or even the wishes of its constitutents. It believes it is now the empire ordained by God and what it says is reality, including issues of women, sex, marrige, foreign policy.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Catholic Church to launch abortion battle in Australia, curtial abortions

The Catholic Church will for the first time directly establish a counseling and support service for women contemplating abortion as the church mobilizes to lower abortion rates and rekindle public debate, according to the Sidney Morning Herald. This is not surprising to Australian women who have long fought a very sexist society in Australia. They were also not surprised, but they were dismayed, when fundamentalist Christians and Catholics won enough seats in Parliament to join with Conservatives to take virtual control of both houses of the Australian government. The new coalition immediately began to use its new power to curtail women's rights, especially reproductive rights. So......for US Blue state refugees and vacationers, try New Zealand and skip Australia.