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Ebola Is a Conspiracy to Cull Africans? ZMapp Only Used on White Americans?

August 11, 2014

Sure, conspiracy theories often sound wild. They sound of desperation, of fear, of panic, and so it fits that the current African scourge of Ebola meets the criteria of conspiracy theories. Adding to that, ZMapp, an experimental drug from a small California firm, seems to have helped cure two white American missionaries but has been denied for treatment of black African patients.

Even President Obama has weighed in on the drug dispensing discrepancy, declaring that he will “stick with science” and not offer a drug to Africans that is still in experimental stages.

Notice that Obama doesn’t offer the science for why the ZMapp drug supposedly worked for the two Americans and why it shouldn’t be given to people in Africa should it be paid for by African officials. Perhaps it is too costly for African governments whose infrastructure in its health care sector have “collapsed” as the Liberian government stated.

Regardless of the explanation for why Americans could get an experimental drug and Africans can not, people have begun to invent their own reasons, namely conspiracy theories. Why not? Apparently the outbreak has been traced, in its infancy, to a 2-year old infant. Reuters claims that the virus is transmitted by animals. How that transmission occurred with said 2-year old has not been disclosed.

Add to this list of treated with ZMapp, now a priest from Spain. It’s too early to find out how his condition is progression. I read an argument that the African population can not be allowed to give consent if they are so ill that they don’t know the medication they are ingesting; however, none of those treated with ZMapp thus far have been only mildly ill–they have been deathly ill and so maybe couldn’t have given consent.

Should the small pharmaceutical firm that developed ZMapp be required to give it away? It is a monoclonal antibody serum, and it was produced in small quantities, after giving it only to monkeys before the missionaries. If it looked like the United States was accused of experimenting on Africans infected with Ebola by giving them the serum, would possible lives saved outweigh the international costs of giving experimental drugs to people for whom the disease has ravaged but no clinical trials proved its safety?

African officials have, in fact, requested to try ZMapp on those sickened in Africa, but were denied reportedly due to lack of drug dosages manufactured:

The health minister of Nigeria had asked the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for access to ZMapp, a serum made by San Diego-based company Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc.

However a CDC spokesman was forced to turn down the request, saying that “there are virtually no doses available.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the world’s leading immunologists and the director of the US National Institutes of Health, added that, according to the manufacturer, it would take two to three months to produce even “a modest amount” of the drug.

A cynic might claim that the manufacturing company stands to make lots of money should it be able to produce more the ZMapp drug. The WHO is scheduling a meeting with medical ethics panels next week to determine the best manner of dispensing medications.

ReutersEbola Virus Graphic


I Thank the World Every Day for Ruth Bader Ginsburg–See Her Talk Hobby Lobby Decision

July 31, 2014

Let me just say that I love Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She is my hero. She makes me happy, hopeful, and is one of the few bright spots for me in the legal landscape of the United States that is patriarchal. She is proof of longevity. She is proof of hope. She is tough and smart, and I love that woman’s brain. When I am upset, I read something by Ginsburg. Some people may read Mark Twain, and I have, and I smile. His social critiques are hilarious. Some people may read bout daffodils, lonely fields of them. Some people may read stories about Chicken Soup for the Soul variety. I read Ginsburg. She is always fighting for equal rights.

When I want to feel good about the direction in which humanity is heading, I read Ginsburg. When I want to read about someone standing up for the smaller person, I read Ginsburg. When I want to read about someone who has had the courage to stand up to bullies, for years at a time, I read Ginsburg.

Ginsburg’s Hobby Lobby dissent is a much-talked about decision. I have read bits of it, savoring it the way someone would a great novel, but in her discussion with Katie Courtic (See Katie Couric interview with Ruth Bader Ginsburg here regarding Hobby Lobby dissent.), Ginsburg openly states that she does not believe the male justices, with whom she dissented, understand the import of their actions.

“Do you believe that the five male justices truly understood the ramifications of their decision?” Couric asked Ginsburg of the 5-4 Hobby Lobby ruling, which cleared the way for employers to deny insurance coverage of contraceptives to female workers on religious grounds.

“I would have to say no,” the 81-year-old justice replied. Asked if the five justices revealed a “blind spot” in their decision, Ginsburg said yes.

The feisty leader of the court’s minority liberal bloc compared the decision of her five male peers to an old Supreme Court ruling that found discriminating against pregnant women was legal.

Hold them blameless, for they know not what they do…

She openly implies that men and their religious beliefs do not have the right to force those rights onto the women who work for them, to control a woman’s sexuality to that degree simply because she is their employee:

“I certainly respect the belief of the Hobby Lobby owners,” she said. “On the other hand, they have no constitutional right to foist that belief on the hundreds and hundreds of women” who work for them.

Can we all just take a moment to cheer for Ginsburg? I am going to smile the rest of the day. Thanks, Ginsburg…

Texas Same Sex Marriage Ban: Are Married Men With Vasectomies Considered Divorced In Texas Because Sex With Them Won’t Produce a Child?

July 30, 2014

For a state that denies the responsibility for taking care of reproducing migrants, it’s funny that their argument in support of same sex marriage goes back to the premise that sex is for having children only. We should only have sex if we want kids? That ship has sailed. In fact, that ship is a ghost ship, the ship that never was. Women used crocodile dung, of all things, to prevent pregnancy. That is old school, as in ancient Egypt. Birth control is not new, neither is the idea of having sex without conceiving, so why does Texas feel the need to undo thousands of years of tradition, the birth control tradition, and determine that sex must lead to conception.

Heterosexual sex, is the only sex the state of Texas will recognize, because it causes pregnancy? So a couple that conceives a child together is then considered married in Texas because they participated in heterosexual sex that led to pregnancy? What about the couples who participate in heterosexual sex with the intent to conceive but don’t know that one or both is infertile? Are they still married?

This  concept is startling in its breadth, in its arrogance, as if the last two to three thousand years of history have been covered with a blanket, one that we must be smothered with by the Texas legislature. How odd that sex is the only part of the discussion with marriage. Has no one read the posts about spreadsheets of excuses about sex? The state of Texas has not, apparently:

Because same-sex relationships do not naturally produce children, recognizing same-sex marriage does not further these goals to the same extent that recognizing opposite-sex marriage does,” the brief said.

Of course recognizing same sex relationships won’t necessarily produce children as a form of recognizing marriage, but do we stop recognizing marriage after menopause, after a man gets a vasectomy? If a man gets a vasectomy, is he then considered divorced by the Texas legislature because sex with him won’t result in a child? Maybe once a couple hits 60 years of age, they are considered divorced because they can’t have biological children anymore. So marriage is only a baby-making machine, not a legal contract? Or the contract is only legal if the marriage is currently capable of producing children? Because most gay couples retain the ability to produce children, with outside assistance, so are couples utilizing IVF divorced in Texas, too, because they have problems with procreation?

Technically is marriage based only on the sex act? Are heterosexual couples having sex married only while having sex with the intent to conceive? Are they married while a woman is labor and giving birth but separated after the baby is born so that more heterosexual sex with the intent to conceive can be perpetrated by different partners?

If we are basing the concept of marriage in Texas on the ability, pure biological ability to conceive during a sex act, then gay couples should only be denied marriage if they are found to be infertile. Marriages of couples past the procreative ages should not be recognized, and gay couples that can biologically conceive should be recognized. Infertile couples in Texas should be considered divorced, as should any couple who doesn’t wish to have children. Sure sounds like a stable family arrangement for Texas, doesn’t it? Thanks, Texas, because your arguments make everything so much more clear… Misogyny much?


Blurred Lines–Feminist Take For Those Who Want To See Men In Underwear

July 28, 2014

While some may feel that this video takes things too far, I am not sure it takes things far enough. I would have preferred to see the men truly nude. In fact, why not put full male nudity on display like Will Pharell and Robin Thicke did in their rendition of “Blurred Lines.” It’s no surprise that Robin Thicke, a man who blatantly exploited younger women’s breasts to promote himself in a way he was unable to do himself has found himself newly single. Every female partner enjoys misogyny from the men in her life, no? Half-hearted pleas to an audience instead of his wife do not a reconciliation make. (Check out proof of that with the “Arnold” and his numerous affairs.)

Despite it’s disgusting use of women, the song “Blurred Lines” has been played on the radio and has been on “the charts,” demonstrating that to other men, misogyny is, unfortunately, always in style. Personal life aside, Robin Thicke offers nothing attractive in his song to women–how many women like to be serenaded with lyrics like “you the hottest bitch in this place.” Shakespeare he is not, oh that he was and we might have better music.  That said, some women have created a response to “Blurred Lines” that is angry, but not quite vulgar enough for my tastes. See what you think.

I wished it had pushed the envelope further, but it’s a start. What do you think? I think it’s definitely time for some “Defined Lines.” Let’s take the creepy old perv, Robin Thicke, out of the equation, and what do you get?

Want to Make More Money? Increase Global Reach? Hire More Women, Like Norway Requires

July 24, 2014

This isn’t new, but it’s worth repeating in the news world, that Norway was one of the first countries to require female representation on the boards of all of its public companies:

Norway’s law requiring at least 40 percent of public limited company board members to be women has made the panels more professional and globally focused, the head of its largest domestic-focused investment fund said on Monday.

In 2003 Norway became the first country in the world to impose a gender quota, requiring nearly 500 firms, including 175 firms listed on the Oslo bourse, to raise the proportion of women on their boards to 40 percent.


Sounds a bit drastic to the draconians here in the US who might feel that this sort of play could be heavy handed, and if we were to quote the Old White Men’s Club, that there might not be enough qualified women to act the part. Guess what though? Having women on the boards turned out to be a huge advantage. Companies took more time to recruit, to focus on a better search, a more thorough search for board members and actually expanded the expertise in their firms.

“You had to look more thoroughly to find females. This started a more professional process,” said Svarva, who is also the head of the corporate assembly and the election committee at Statoil, the largest company in the Nordics.

Another effect has been that nomination committees have looked outside Norway’s borders in the search for suitable candidates. “Boards have become more global,” she said.


This program has been so successful that more countries in the UK copied the winning formula for success–hiring more women:

Norway introduced a 40% quota for female directors of listed companies in 2006, to come into force in 2008, it was a first. Non-complying firms could theoretically be forcibly dissolved, though none has in fact suffered such a fate. Since then gender quotas for boards have been imposed in Belgium, Iceland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain (though with less severe sanctions: non-complying firms must generally explain in their annual reports why they fell short and what they plan to do about it). The European Commission is considering imposing quotas across the EU. Malaysia has imposed a 30% quota for new appointments to boards, and Brazil a 40% target, though only for state-controlled firms. The governments of several other countries, including Australia, Britain and Sweden, have threatened to impose quotas if firms do not appoint more female directors voluntarily. So why are gender quotas becoming more common?

Quotas are common because there is still so much gender bias in the workplace that is unfounded. To counteract that, quotas have been instituted to try to break gender stereotypes. The Economist article, from which I quote above, elaborates on this succinctly:

Oodles of research demonstrates that women are evaluated less positively than identically qualified men when applying for stereotypically male jobs, such as leadership roles. One study found that a commitment by hiring committees to shortlists with at least 25% women helped to remove anti-woman bias.

The study also found that there was a bias against women expressing any signs of anger or showing a sense of self promotion. Strangely enough, the study also showed a hiring preference related to perfume or cologne scents, that stereotypically masculine scents were preferred: “Masculine-scented perfume favored the hiring of both sexes.” If our lizard brains are focusing on scent rather than performance, what chance do we have to change these dynamics?

There is reason to believe that sudden change in leadership roles and dynamics creates lasting change:

Over time, advocates of quotas hope that a sudden large increase in the number of women in leadership will change attitudes. They point to the results of a law passed in 1993 in India that reserved positions for women in randomly selected village councils. A decade later women were more likely to stand for, and win, elected positions in those villages that had by chance reserved positions for women in the previous two elections.

Since gender quotas have been implemented, representation of women on executive boards has increased; however, women have yet to make it to the role of CEO:

In Thursday’s Personal Journal, Christina Zander points out that none of Norway’s 32-large cap companies have a female chief executive, even though 41% of directors are female. Less than 6% of general managers at Norway’s listed companies are female.

The theme that gender equality at board level fails to trickle down to executive roles is known, but the example of Norway is interesting because its quota system has been in place for such a long time.

One could say that there is no downside to hiring more women, and that would be true, but is there a downside to quotas for hiring women? If one were to look at the Nordic region, one might say that there is a downside to hiring quotas–no female CEO’s are present:

Members of the U.S. Fortune FT.T +1.30% 500–not under a similar quota system–are more apt to appoint women to chief executive. And so are Norway’s private companies, which have far fewer female directors but a far greater number of women leaders (18% of private-company board members are female, 15.1% of general managers at these companies are women.)

And this isn’t just a Norway problem. In Finland, where female board participation is highest, none of the Nordic nation’s 27 biggest companies have women as CEOs.

The trend, in fact, permeates the entire Nordics. Sweden, Denmark and Iceland have sparse female representation at the top. “The cork is still in the bottle,” Sydbank SYDB.KO +1.34%’s Karen Frøsig, one of the few female CEOs in the Nordics, told The Wall Street Journal. She’s not a fan of quotas, but she suggests policy makers continue to keep the issue in focus.

Just 3% of the 145 Nordic large caps have a female CEO, compared to 5% of Fortune 500 firms.

Of course, it’s easy to say that quotas are the problem, when in fact, gender bias is the problem. The quotas were put into place because of such extensive gender bias. It’s not quotas, but it’s discrimination that is the issue at forefront. Maybe the Nordic region needs a quota for CEO’s.

Top pay for female CEO’s still focuses on traditionally female venues: cosmetics, retail, and cosmetics and retail…

The top compensated female CEO in the US is for Avon Products, a cosmetics company, Sheri Mc Coy. Ursula Burns is the CEO of Xerox,and Indra Nooyi is head of Pepsi Co. Rosalind Brewer is CEO of Sam’s Club. The trend is toward retail products, but we do have a CEO of IBM, Virginia Rometty, here in the US. Top pay for female executives went to Oracle Software CEO, Safra Catz. Of the top five paid female CEO’s, three out of five were in retail niches, like Victoria’s Secret. So, yay, women get to be CEO’s. Boo that it relates to women’s underwear promotion; however, perhaps with more women at the top, the trend will continue. One could look at it as an example that the buying power still sits proportionally with women, as long as underwear are the items bought.

I can’t forget the tech companies though. First time I thought I would say it, but thank goodness for Oracle and IBM. These companies are a welcome break from lacy underwear and nubile recently post adolescent advertising campaigns. Quotas, maybe, but how about focusing on the success or the income related to hiring more women. Finances don’t lie. Let’s study how diversity increased income, the bottom line. It’s clear that it does for some companies, so why not study that?



“I Don’t Care If the Federal Government Is Telling Me To Buy My Employees Jack Daniels or Birth Control…”

July 23, 2014

“…What gives them the right to tell me that I have to do that?” Startling egomania aside, or comments about how the government tells everyone what to do, so begins a tirade by Michael Potter who objects to the birth control mandate. With this tirade, it doesn’t sound as if Michael Potter’s “religious” exemption has anything to do with religion whatsoever, and more to do with doing what Michael Potter wants in true egomaniac fashion. This concept of the depth of religious authenticity in the religious exemption has not gone unnoticed by other commentators:

In at least one of those cases, the sincerity of the employer’s religious objections is open to question. That shows why allowing a broad “religious” exemption from a federal law can be atrociously bad policy.

So comments an LA Times writer that goes on to question the decision to allow a religious exemption to follow a federal law a blatant “legal” policy. Unfortunately, good ole Michigan makes headlines again with asinine comments making headlines with Eden Foods head, Michael Potter, issuing an anti-government tirade that has followed him:

The most interesting case, however, was brought by Eden Foods, a Michigan “natural foods” firm. Its Catholic owner, Michael Potter, claimed in his lawsuit that “participating in, paying for, training others to engage in, or otherwise supporting contraception, abortion, and abortifacients” offends his “deeply held religious beliefs.”

The appeals court that rejected his motion for an injunction against the mandate was skeptical. Potter’s real position, it suggested, resembled more “a laissez-faire, anti-government screed.” The evidence came from an interview Potter gave last year to Irin Carmon of Salon, in which he stated:

“I don’t care if the federal government is telling me to buy my employees Jack Daniel’s or birth control. What gives them the right to tell me that I have to do that? That’s my issue, that’s what I object to, and that’s the beginning and end of the story.”

This hint that Potter had merely swaddled an anti-government rant within a “religious” blanket illustrates the main problem with Justice Samuel Alito’s majority opinion in Hobby Lobby: it takes claims of religious scruples for granted.

Thank you, Michael Potter, of Michigan, of course, for making all Michigan business people sound like Minutemen Militia supporters carrying our swashbuckling armories with us.

For a court that is supposedly separate from religion, the mainstays of the Federal Supreme Court sure worship at the altar of religion any time it seems convenient to thwart a federal law they just applauded a mere few months ago. Please see my post on the virtual senility of this the Federal Supreme Court in this…

The problem with offering a religious exemption from federal law, aside from the fact that there generally is no religious exemption from federal law, see examples such as: no religious exemption for committing murder, no religious exemption from paying taxes, no religious exemption from dealing drugs  or importing illegal aliens as a professional smuggler…etc., ad nauseum. Really, there is no religious exemption for following federal law, so why did the Federal Supreme Court just create one? Is this a smack back at Obamacare? If it were, then the court could have simply found the law unconstitutional on religious grounds. It’s a sloppiness in legal approach that is so troubling, and this religious blanket approach pretty much negates the federal law if one so much as claims any sort of religious belief:

There’s no evidence in the record of Tuesday’s cases that the lower courts conducted any inquiry into the sincerity of the business owners’ religious claims or beliefs. Alito’s majority opinion Monday certainly didn’t offer any guidelines for validating what he established as a qualification for exemption from the ACA mandate.

In a case involving the Gilardi family, owners of an Ohio produce firm, Judge Janice Rogers Brown of the Washington, D.C., circuit appeals court wrote in a 2-1 decision overturning the mandate that “this case is not about the sincerity of the Gilardis’ religious beliefs, nor does it concern the theology behind Catholic precepts on contraception. The former is unchallenged, while the latter is unchallengeable.”

But why should that be? If the only requisite for an exemption from this important mandate is a religious claim, why should it not be subject to challenge? Otherwise, how do we limit the exemption only to those with genuinely religious scruples?

Here is the problem with a federal court involving itself in religious disputes: now the United States Federal Supreme Court has become the gatekeeper for religious exemptions, the arbiter of religious beliefs. How ridiculous is that??

It’s frightening that our highest federal court in the nation has taken to determining the extent of religious beliefs in this country and their breadth into our most personal lives, the sexuality of women, the performance of a business, the payment of healthcare. Can anyone deny evidence of a Christian Sharia law in the highest Federal Supreme Court of the United States? Perhaps the Federal Supreme Court will next require virginity tests for marriage because of religious beliefs? Purport the mass expansion of female genital mutilation, because this, too, is argued to be a religious belief. Look next for the Federal Supreme Court of the United States to task itself with taking on morality of women in deeper breadth and detail, because our highest court has spoken from the pulpit.

Discrimination is Unchristian–Religious Corporations Want to Control Women

July 17, 2014

In an op-ed proving that Christian women have more sense than their conservative male counterparts, Katheryn Pogin effectively delineates how Christian principles actually promote equal treatment of all people, a definite teaching of Christ, arguing that discriminating against others is a distinctly unchristian enterprise. Hobby Lobby’s “win” in the Supreme Court, that it doesn’t have to provide birth control, by a court who agreed that the law they declared Constitutional is now unconstitutional less than a year later, is definitely confusing. At best, the Federal Supreme Court looks wishy-washy, undecided, weak; at worst the Federal Supreme Court looks confused, aging, as if the institution itself is incapable of understanding its own rulings and so must refute them nine months after it issues them. We appear to have a Federal Supreme Court in the throes of advanced Alzheimer’s disease.

One might assume that the Christian-right would applaud this age-onset version of judicial dementia, applaud that corporations are still allowed to control women’s sexual behavior, act as voyeur and observe sexual practices amongst women and approve or deny them, as if in paternalistic pursuit of a teenager. (Not, that I would argue, that is appropriate either, just amply socially representative.)

Kathryn Pogin eviscerates the idea that corporations playing God in the game of morals is a Christian endeavor:

Make no mistake: This is no victory for the freedom to exercise Christian principles. Though employers like Hobby Lobby are now free to deny women access to contraceptives through their employer-subsidized health plans on the basis of religious objection, they will be violating their own purported Christian principles if they do. While Christians are not compelled by their faith to engage in religious practices that impose upon the freedoms of others, they are compelled — by their belief that all persons, men and women, are created in the image of God — to oppose discrimination.

Pogin also points out that these corporations, with the Federal Supreme Court’s senile blessing, act as a means of economic coercion to control women’s sexuality, their behavior, on a level that supersedes that of any other form of institutionalized moral codes:

This suggests that the legal challenges are not merely aimed at allowing corporations to abstain from facilitating behavior they deem immoral but instead are seeking to effectively prevent women from engaging in that “immoral” behavior by keeping financial barriers for women, and administrative barriers for the government, in place.

This is economic coercion. Opponents to the contraceptive mandate have insisted that women remain free to purchase whatever health care services they choose, but this is woefully insensitive to the reality that low-income women and families face. For these women, there is a very large difference between what is available to them for purchase in principle and in effect.

In essence, our Federal Supreme Court has just approved the first version of Sharia law, enabling the larger society to issue an opinion and control women’s sexuality through a religious mandate. If the United States government is truly separate from its religious arm, truly secular, it should not concern itself with religion, period.

Hobby Lobby makes money off of contraceptives in its investments, investing in companies that manufacture birth control products, but then claims that contraceptives are morally offensive to its employees. How is it Christian to be duplicitous? Pogin asserts that this is not Christian behavior:

This kind of economic coercion is distinctly at odds with Christian principles. There is only one incident described in the Christian scriptures where Jesus is represented as employing coercive force, and it was not used to prevent people from engaging in sin. It was used, instead, to prevent people from dishonoring God by exploiting religious practice for personal gain. The gospels describe Jesus’ reaction to those who sought to profit from the Passover pilgrimage to the temple as fierce: “And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.’” This is where corporations that claim their operations constitute religious practice of the Christian faith ought to take note.

Hobby Lobby offered coverage for some of the contraceptives it now claims its religious faith forbids it to have any association with, until shortly after the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom asked it if it would be interested in filing suit. The company continues to profit from investments in the manufacturers of the “objectionable” contraceptives through the401(k) plan it offers its employees. Recently, Hobby Lobby has faced legal trouble for false advertising. It has built a fortune, in large part, by selling goods manufactured in China, infamous for its poor labor conditions and related human rights violations. These are the practices of a corporation that will emphasize the Christian faith of its owners when convenient and profitable, but set that faith aside when it would be costly to do otherwise.

The principles of Christianity were not founded on economic principle, but on the belief that equality under God was the most guiding principle. It seems that so-called Christian companies have forgotten that guiding premise of Christ’s teachings and have replace their almighty God with the almighty dollar.

English: Picture Of Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral cont...

English: Picture Of Ortho Tri-Cyclen oral contraceptives with Ortho Dialpak dispensers (photo taken by self). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


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