Nov 172009

16-Year Old Got Life Without Parole for Killing Her Abusive Pimp

After years of prostitution and sexual abuse, when she was 16 (it s tarted when she was 11), (Sara) Kruzan snapped: She killed GG (her pimp), was arrested and convicted of first-degree murder. Despite attempts by her lawyer to have her sentenced as a juvenile, the judge described her crime as “well thought-out” and sentenced her to life without parole.

“My judge told me that I lacked moral scruples,” she recalls, a term she did not know the meaning of.

Tennessee Magistrate refuses more than half of domestic violence warrants that come before him

Law enforcement sources in Dickson County said Genella refuses more than half of the domestic violence warrants that go before him. To put the numbers in context, the I-Team compared his record to domestic violence arrests in Davidson County. Last year, police asked for more than 4,000 domestic violence warrants. The I-Team didn’t find a single one refused by the judicial magistrate.

 November 17, 2009  Posted by on November 17, 2009 Comments Off on Injustice
Nov 162009

This is a HUGE change in policy and as noted below is in line with international recommendations.  I have written numerous times questioning the advice to have a mammogram every year after age 40 for all of the reasons mentioned in this article and also because radiation even in small amounts always poses a risk, particularly since not only does it increase your risk of getting cancer but also because that risk is cumulative, so no matter how little you are  exposed to with one mammogram, it is added to your existing exposure load.  Please read this very important article in its entirety.

Excerpted from a  report by the AP:

Most women don’t need a mammogram in their 40s and should get one every two years starting at 50, a government task force said Monday. It’s a major reversal that conflicts with the American Cancer Society‘s long-standing position.

Also, the task force said breast self-exams do no good and women shouldn’t be taught to do them.

For most of the past two decades, the cancer society has been recommending annual mammograms beginning at 40.

But the government panel of doctors and scientists concluded that getting screened for breast cancer so early and so often leads to too many false alarms and unneeded biopsies without substantially improving women’s odds of survival.

The new guidelines are as follows:

  • Most women in their 40s should not routinely get mammograms.
  • Women 50 to 74 should get a mammogram every other year until they turn 75, after which the risks and benefits are unknown. (The task force’s previous guidelines had no upper limit and called for exams every year or two.)
  • The value of breast exams by doctors is unknown. And breast self-exams are of no value.

As I mentioned above,

International guidelines also call for screening to start at age 50; the World Health Organization recommends the test every two years, Britain says every three years.

This is a significant step to more rational breast care and hopefully a shift away from the profitable over-treatment of this disease at the expense of looking for the causes.

Addenda:  Breast Cancer Action has an excellent analysis of the changes and does a thoughtful and thorough job of addressing some very legitimate and understandable concerns:

Some people will be upset because their breast cancer was found on a mammogram that would not have happened under the new guidelines. Some people will be confused because they don’t understand what the downsides could possibly be to the early detection of breast cancer.

One thing to keep in mind is that mammograms are a medical intervention, and, like all medical interventions, they have benefits and risks. The benefits have to do with finding some cancers early enough to effectively treat them so that fewer women die of breast cancer. The risks are these:

  • False negative results (mammogram reads as clear, but there is breast cancer present)
  • False positive results (mammogram shows a problem, but biopsy reveals that the problem is not cancer). False positive results result in unnecessary biopsies, increased anxiety and stress, and physical scarring
  • Cumulative exposure to radiation. (Radiation is one of the few known causes of breast cancer. All radiation exposures accumulate in the body. Our bodies do not eliminate these exposures.
  • Diagnosis and treatment of cancers that are not life threatening at the time of diagnosis and will never become life threatening if untreated.

What is not well understood is that “early detection” doesn’t really mean what we’ve been lead to believe, which is that finding breast cancer early is the key to survival. It’s not that simple.

 November 16, 2009  Posted by on November 16, 2009 1 Response »
Nov 162009

As bad as the Stupak Amendment is, it is quickly becoming clear that major media distortions of the impact of the Amendment are part of the problem.  As Jodi Jacobson notes on RHRealityCheck,

An article by Kathleen Seelye in today’s New York Times titled “In Congress, a Predicament for Abortion Supporters,” can now be added to the growing list of media analyses that fail to accurately portray the implications of the Stupak amendment should it become law.

In addition as Kelli Garcia of the National Women’s Law Center points out, a recent column by EJ Dionne i the Washington Post also gets it disturbingly wrong,

The Stupak Amendment is not, as Dionne argues, a compromise or a minor change to the status quo. As NWLC Vice President for Health and Reproductive Rights Judy Waxman detailed in an earlier post, the Stupak Amendment will greatly limit women’s access to abortion coverage and will deny many women the ability to purchase such coverage using their own money.

Clearly, getting the impact of this amendment fully and truthfully understood, let alone fighting it, is going to be an uphill battle and it really points to the urgent importance of supporting women’s advocacy groups and independent women’s media.  I urge you strongly to make RH Reality Check and the National Women’s Law Center’s Women’s Stake websites a regular part of your news gathering.  Share the links, make sure your friends know what is truly at stake.

 November 16, 2009  Posted by on November 16, 2009 Comments Off on Media Distorts Impact of Stupak Amendment
Nov 132009

Wouldn’t you know it– while we silly feminists have been agonizing about the impact of the Stupak Amendment after Nancy and the Cardinals did the C Street Shuffle at the Saturday Night Congressional Jerk I mean Dance Off it turns out that if we really want to keep our reproductive rights, all we need to do is get a job at the RNC or the anti-choice group Focus on the Family cuz their health plans cover, wait for it, ABORTION.  Really.

I don’t even know why this surprises me.  The entire health care debate without end has been one long-winded exercise in stupid.  From the get go the sad thing is that what passes as discourse has suffered from the same malady as the abortion issue–a deeply flawed frame.  In the case of abortion, the minute the word ‘choice’ and the phrase ‘pro-life’ became the descriptors, the discussion we should have been having about women’s reproductive rights was gone.

As for health care, we have had all manner of false flag buzzwords–public option, triggers, yada yada everything centered around the cost of premiums totally losing sight of the fact that health care is a human right, not a commodity that needs to be delivered in a way that keeps pharmaceutical companies and insurance companies afloat  so they will keep funding our elected representatives.  Our health care system is ill, it is a disgrace and it is an affront to human decency.  Ditto our Congress who, with very few exceptions have apparently had frontal lobotomies and seem to be suffering from some painful form of spinal disintegration.  What part of just fix it could possibly not be clear?  The answer of course is apparently the whole damned thing and until we insist that Congress get their little patooties (I leave it to you to decide what part of the anatomy you feel that should describe) pointed in the right direction and back on topic, our health care is going to remain in critical condition.

One of the most galling aspects of the Stupak Amendment is that after months of dithering, pontificating, waffling and other forms of ass covering that pass for political debate these days, Stupak happened in the 11th hour before a Saturday vote leaving reproductive justice advocates doing a lot of WTF-ing.  I am still deeply shocked that the Democratic leadership that has been so unable to use its majority position to act decisively could all of a sudden simply decide that women’s reproductive rights could just cavalierly be thrown to the Blue Dogs for the sake of the last 3 votes.  It is just breathtaking even though it has come to light in recent months that our current system has been shafting women on many health care fronts for quite some time–higher premiums, maternity care, etc.  As I  noted last week, even high risk state insurance pools have been discrimination against women.

But what is the deal with Pelosi making a last minute concession of this magnitude to the Catholic Church? Wendy Norris sheds some light on why this isn’t just a matter of the Catholic Church playing the abortion card on a moral basis, it is also has a  huge stake in the financial ramifications of the health care legislation,

The justifiable anger at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for lobbying on the Stupak-Pitts amendment overshadows what is possibly the bigger motive for the Vatican: the billions of dollars at stake for the church’s hospitals.

The scale of the church’s involvement in the rapidly growing $2.5 trillion dollar American health care industry is staggering.

Abortion may be safe, it may be legal.  But if it isn’t affordable, it is de facto not available and that is detrimental to women’s health and an unacceptable compromise, as is the premise that the health of corporations or the Catholic Church trumps  that of people.  For additional commentary on this  issue, please also read,

 November 13, 2009  Posted by on November 13, 2009 Comments Off on The Nighmare Of Coat Hangers Revisited
Nov 122009

From Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA):

The women of the world are demanding a paradigm shift that ensures their participation and leadership on decisions that affect their very survival and that of their families and communities,” said Lorena Aguilar, Senior Gender Advisor for the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), on the occasion of the UNFCCC negotiations currently taking place in Barcelona, Spain, ahead of the Copenhagen session this December.

A team of women’s organizations and gender experts from around the world representing the Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA) has been following the UNFCCC negotiations since the Bali Climate Change Talks in 2007, providing technical assistance and training to government delegates on the gender aspects of the Bali Action Plan building blocks of mitigation, adaptation, technology, and finance. As a result, the negotiation texts contain the first ever language on gender equality and women—including 43 references in the texts earlier this year, and 8 references in the current “non-papers”. The Barcelona session is critical for retaining key references, particularly the recognition of women as agents of change, the prioritization of vulnerable groups, the active participation of all stakeholders, and a commitment to gender mainstreaming.

The climate change convention is the only major environmental agreement from the 1992 Rio Earth Summit that does not address gender inequality. Winnie Byanyima, Director of the Gender Team at United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), noted, “If we do not address the importance of gender in the climate change debate, we will be responsible for the death and impoverishment of millions of people—many who already suffer extreme poverty, hardship and indignation.”

Cate Owren of Women’s Environment & Development Organization (WEDO) and the GGCA Advocacy Team added, “This is an historic time for gender and climate change. We’re very inspired and positive that something will emerge from Copenhagen, and that it will be gender-sensitive.”

The GGCA will attend the Copenhagen COP, continuing to work with the many supportive Parties on gender-specific text; raising awareness and networking with UN, intergovernmental and civil society organizations; and launching new initiatives by bringing high profile women leaders to speak at a side event and commissioning two major performing arts events.

The GGCA is a joint initiative of 13 UN agencies and 25 civil society organizations working to ensure that climate change initiatives and decision-making at all levels are responsive to both women and men.”

For further information, please visit Global Gender and Climate Alliance (GGCA).

 November 12, 2009  Posted by on November 12, 2009 Comments Off on Demanding A Paradigm Shift That Ensures Women’s Leadership And Participation In Climate Change Discussions