Category Archives: politics

Do yourself a favor….

Take nine minutes out of your day and watch this video. Then think about it. And react

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Guest Blogger: Emily Clemetson

September 30th 2010 V.I. Day

On September 11th 2001 this country was rocked by a horrible act of unjustifiable terrorism. We engaged in open warfare with the people of a nation that harbors terrorists. George W Bush promised to hold those individuals accountable. The State is Iraq, and the people were the enemies of freedom and liberty who attacked us with blatant ruthlessness and even greater cowardice. Almost a decade later this great country is victorious! We set out to annihilate the enemies of freedom and we have done so. What’s more we did it with class, we did it with tact, we did it with the consideration for the welfare of all; women, children, elderly, religious groups, etc. Furthermore, by openly engaging the enemy with class and dignity and most importantly respect for humanity we have come full circle from the manifest destiny principles that this country was founded upon.

Our mission as of 2003 was for our combined armed forces to destroy the enemy utilizing all prescribed rules of engagement. Our tactics were to close with and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver and close-combat. In addition to our infantry doctrine we attempt to win the hearts and minds of the people who similarly want to eliminate terrorism and inhumanity. Over seven years later we have all but fully accomplished our mission. We have trained, supplied and empowered a people to fight their own battle and sustain themselves against inhumanity. We currently have fewer than 50 Marines still operating in Iraq today, and our focus has shifted to Afghanistan. To summarize: we won. No matter how you look at it, the mission we started with has been accomplished. Forget about anything politicized, forget your personal feelings of George W. Bush and his regime, we won and we won with class. We are Americans and we defended the freedom of those who did not have it.

It’s my blog, so….

I am going to post this pic of Greg Gould and Aurelio Tiné:

They got married this weekend. I thought I would use my blog to announce it. Because New Hampshire’s Union Ledger refuses to post their marriage announcement.

Even though gay marriage is legal in the state of New Hampshire.

So screw you, Union Ledger.

Guest Blogger: Christie Jenkins

Boldly Breaking Through

A woman has been catching eyes and turning heads on the Bestseller list and in Vogue. Fatima Bhutto a twenty eight year old Pakistani woman who is at the heart of the politics in Pakistan and stolen the hearts of many admirers. Her book Song of Blood and Sword: A Daughter’s Memoir, has been released and shares Bhutto’s family history; a history that is violent, cruel, but also passionate, with the relationship between her and her father at its core.

What makes Fatima Bhutto such an inspiring figure is that she is able to rise in a country that is famous for silencing women. She comes from a family that has formed some of the most corrupted governments but also has broken walls (her Aunt was the first woman elected as Prime Minister in a Muslim state). Her Father Mir Murtaza was assassinated in 1996, and Bhutto refuses to remain silent about who she thinks is responsible, she does not play into the fear that has kept so many on their knees, instead she has pointed fingers and stood up for what she believes and knows to be true. She is truly an inspirational figure!

I first came across Bhutto in surprising place, Vogue magazine in an article entitled “Dreams of her Father” with a sub heading “Brilliant, beautiful, and outspoken, Fatima Bhutto adds fuel to the feud within Pakistan’s warring dynasty…” I was intrigued and quickly unraveled news reports, interviews, and reviews surrounding her books and her life. She is on a mission to help her country and those that need it the most, even though every time she goes home her life is at risk. At the end of the interview in Vogue, Bhutto states:

We are a rich country. We have gas, oil, resources, but because of endemic corruption we are forced to beg for help to take care of people who need it.

She has organized and supported many programs aimed at helping her people, and she does this knowing that her government and members of her ruling family have aided in ending the life of her father, grandfather, brother, and Aunt. I felt that this was a woman who should be known and read and reflected on, for she is a force that has overcome millions of obstacles and expectations in order to help serve her countrymen.

Guest Blogger: Emily Clemetson

The Woman behind HeLa Cells

The first line of immortal human cells to be grown in culture was the HeLa cells.

The name “HeLa,” came from the first two letters in the first and last name of the patient they were taken from. Since the cells were simply referred to as HeLa cells very few people know that the cells were taken from a woman named Henrietta Lacks in 1951 without her knowledge.

Dr. George Otto Gey, a physician at Johns Hopkins Hospital, had been trying to keep cells alive in his laboratory but was unable to do so until he removed and cultured cervical cancer cells of Henrietta Lacks. These cells were crucial for the development of the polio vaccine and a key part in understanding cancer, viruses and the effects of the atom bomb. They also helped lead to important advances such as gene mapping, in vitro fertilization and cloning.

Henrietta came from a poor African American family and lived on a tobacco farmer in Turners Station, Maryland with her husband, also her second cousin, and their five children, Lawrence, Elise, David, Deborah, and Joseph. Elise was deaf and dumb; she eventually died in a State Hospital. Henrietta’s family didn’t learn about her cells until more than 20 years after her death and even then no one explained to them what it meant for their mother’s cells to still be alive when she had been dead for so long. When they were told that Henrietta’s cells had been cloned they thought that somewhere there were hundreds of their mother walking around. They were worried that scientists were hurting her when they used her cells in experiments and sent them into space.

Scientist also began using Henrietta’s husband and children in research without their consent. During the 1950s it was all too common for scientists to experiment on African Americans for research. When scientists wanted to discover the effects of injecting the cancerous cells into a human they didn’t hesitate to use African Americans as well as extremely poor people in this research.

It’s rare that we sit down and think about the origins of some of the most important tools in medicine. More often than not we take for granted the medical advances that have been made and we don’t think about the research and experimentation that made them possible. The story of Henrietta Lacks gives us insight into how some of these medical advances were made possible.

Guest Blogger: Courtney Notte

During the August 2010 election, Australia’s political focus shifted from policies and agendas to petticoats and perms. Unlike the coverage of previous elections, news reports of verbal sparring between party opponents, heated exchanges in the chamber and cheap pot-shots at the opposition during press conferences on the steps of parliament took a back seat to the fact that the leader of one of the political parties, a candidate for Prime Minister, was a woman, Julia Gillard.

Never before has political reporting I have witnessed involved a timeline depicting the changing hairstyles or evolving fashion sense of a nation’s leader. The closest Australia’s press had ever come to any form of fashion reporting was making fun of the tracksuits our former PM John Howard would don for his regular walks around Kirribilli House. It was a different story for Ms Gillard though. Not only is she a woman, she is an unmarried, childless woman living with her male partner (who is a hairdresser), a self-declared atheist and a redhead to boot. Her male opponent – new Coalition leader Tony Abbott – was a Catholic former seminarian, a father of three, and a conservative. The press had a field day.

I don’t want to get into politics, but rather how the election triggered an almost primitive response in voters and commentators alike. Labor versus Liberal became man versus woman (or beast if you’ve seen Tony Abbott’s ears). Though neither Gillard nor Abbott inspired much faith in voters or commentators, Abbott was crucified or congratulated for his policy, Gillard for her Prada. Did the focus on Gillard’s gender detract from the conviction of her political standpoint? Maybe not – she was elected after all (though a marginal number of votes decided a hung parliament). Will the focus on her fashion trivialise her new position of power? That remains to be seen.

In the interest of full disclosure, Abbott didn’t manage to completely avoid peoples’ fashion radar, although that may have been his own doing…or should I say daring…

It was 90 years ago today…

This is a clip from the movie Iron-Jawed Angels. In it, Hilary Swank plays suffragist Alice Paul who is force-fed through her hunger strike against women being denied the right to vote. This is a tough clip to watch—just a heads up:

This should be a tough clip to watch. Keep in mind that the Miranda Rights that we receive today—“You have the right to remain silent”—was far from being introduced to our legal rights. So imagine being arrested for protesting. In the U.S. Against not being able to vote.

Imagine having no voice in keeping your children in a divorce. Or having your own bank account. Or a right to an education. Traveling on your own. Shopping. Choices about your health care. Getting access to health care. Choosing where to live. What kind of job to have. Choosing the option of working.

I could go on here. Get the picture? All of these things that women take for granted on a daily basis is accessible to us because of these women that fought for our right to vote. That right was given us 90 years ago today when the 19th Amendment was signed into law. Thank you, ladies.

ah. Prom Night.

I am really struggling with this one.

Have you been following the story of Constance McMillen and her prom?

Last month, this chick—a lesbian—wanted to bring her girlfriend to her high school prom. You know, that right of passage for the American teenager?

Well, when news went out that students could only attend prom with opposite sex partners, Constance got with the ACLU and sued the school board. So this brilliant school board from small-town Mississippi decided to just cancel prom.

Now aren’t they progressive.

The court ruled in favor of Constance but did not require the school to hold the prom. Prom was still canceled.

This made some pretty big news. Constance shows up on Ellen:

Yeah, she makes news. Big time. ‘Cuz folks, this is news. It’s big fucking news. ‘Cuz it’s 2010. Like, really.

Constance gets support from various sources who see the stupidity of this whole action by the school board. She receives a $30,000 scholarship and an offer for a summer internship. Rightly so. ‘Cuz coming forward like this is a pretty big deal for an 18 yr. old. I don’t imagine life in high school has been too pleasant for her.

As part of the understanding with the court, parents of Constance’s classmates agreed to throw a prom for everyone that could attend, one the school board had nothing to do with. And they did. Hold a prom. A “fake” prom. That was attended by Constance, her girlfriend and 7 other people. While across town, the “real” prom was going on. The one Constance was not invited to.

Not easy to hide the “real” prom once it happened. ‘Cuz students from Constance’s school posted their prom pictures all over Facebook.

I am almost not shocked by the actions of the school board. When this story broke, it was yet one more example of how institutions mistreat those in the LGBTq community. What got me, what really made me feel the impact of this whole story is the parents planning this whole “fake” prom. Do you realize the input that had to go into keeping this secret from Constance? That is some covert planning. With a mission.

What kind of parent does this? Takes part in this? How is this good parenting?

And the end result of this fantastic parental upbringing, of course, is how well their children have turned out. At present, they have started a Facebook page fan page called “Constance quit yer cryin.”

I am posting a screen cap here since I expect this fan page will come down shortly. ‘Cuz people are pissed. Well, people outside of small-town Mississippi:

It just baffles me the ability we have as humans to humiliate and hate. Over something so damn simple. It’s a prom. A damn high school prom. What should have been nothing but a fond high school memory for all these kids has turned into an international clusterfuck of American ignorance.