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Gender: Female
Hometown: Ohio
Home country: USA
Current location: West Virginia
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 19,964

About Me

Cantankerous by nature, aspires to a genteel misanthropy. Interests include carpentry, organic gardening and sustainable living, history, genealogy, astronomy and paleontology, visual arts, lgbt activism. Caretaker for a brace of Scotties and several ungrateful, rescued cats. Addicted to watching sports and cheers for perennial losers. Education: I suppose, though some might think an MFA doesn\'t really qualify as such. Partnered for 24 years to a saint. Just lucky, I guess.

Journal Archives

The terrible toll of mixing religion and medicine in Ireland

I posted a thread to Women’s Rights & Issues group concerning a newly published article about a horrific birthing practice in Ireland and the victims who are just now coming forward.
See: http://www.democraticunderground.com/11384995

At the time I posted that thread I was completely unaware of the practice of symphysiotomy, a barbaric medical procedure outlawed many years ago by most countries but which continued in Ireland until about 1980, thanks to the Catholic Church’s insistence that women bear as many children as possible.

Since I posted that thread I have been reading up on the subject. Be warned – most of the stories you will read at these links are ghastly. If this doesn’t enrage you, if this doesn’t make you demand an end to the meddling of religion in medicine, if this doesn’t shame Ireland into granting full reproductive rights for women even in the face of fierce religious opposition, nothing will.

The following articles appear in The Irish Times…

Here’s one small excerpt and I deliberately chose one that was not too gruesome for the unprepared reader:
De Valera said, ‘I’d like it [the baby] to come on naturally.’ I was almost a week at home, I was small, and the baby was getting bigger and bigger. I went in again – they induced me. ‘I normally do a Caesarean section,’ De Valera said, ‘but because you are such a good a Catholic, I’ll do a symphysiotomy, you’re a Catholic family, you’d be expected to have at least ten – if you have a Caesarean, you can only have three. And, as a Catholic, you need to go through the pains of childbirth – if you had a Caesarean, you wouldn’t. The baby is as big as yourself – why do small women marry big men? I’ll have to stretch your hips and straighten your pelvis. I’d no idea what a symphysiotomy was.’

Posted by theHandpuppet | Thu Oct 23, 2014, 11:47 AM (7 replies)

I'd agree with you

It is not in the interest of those who exploit Appalachia for workers to have alternatives. If they create an economic situation in which the only choice is to descend into a black hole and dig coal, all the better for them. For example, the 2nd biggest employer in WV (aside from mining-related jobs) is Wal-Mart.

This job-poor economy is nurtured by a number of factors and one of the most glaring, as you've pointed out, concerns the schools and lack of access to higher education. Right now there's a crisis for schools in eastern Appalachia. As mining jobs disappear, so do the schools and the money to fund them. It's a terrible situation described in another thread I posted:

As families flee coal country, schools struggle

PIKEVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Enrollments in eastern Kentucky public school districts are falling as the region continues its economic struggles amid a declining coal industry.
The issue has a direct impact on school funding. The largest factor determining how much money a public school gets from the state is its average adjusted daily attendance....

Both the state and federal governments are complicit in this national disgrace. Buried in the back of some newspapers you might trip across stories such as this one:

Kentucky govt. diverts economic development funds from Appalachian counties for basketball arena

Or find statistics such as these:

Some would argue that this is because of shortcomings of the people themselves, and would point to money that has been sent to the region to help Appalachians (e.g., Payne, 1999). However, the ARC reported that “the region receives 31 percent less federal expenditures per capita than the national average” (ARC, 2011, p. 4). As a result, “Appalachia has been unable to take advantage of programs that could help mitigate long-standing problems due to a lack of human, financial, and technical resources, geographic isolation, disproportionate social and economic distress, low household incomes, and a declining tax base” (ARC, 2011, p. 4).

These problems continue to compound themselves as mining-related jobs disappear without decent-paying jobs to replace them. Further, I see no indication there exists a national will (or even a regional one) to solve the complex and dire situation facing Appalachia.

Posted by theHandpuppet | Mon Oct 20, 2014, 07:57 AM (1 replies)

Helping People in “Coal Country” as the Nation Divests from Carbon

Recommended read!

Helping People in “Coal Country” as the Nation Divests from Carbon
Written by Rick Cohen
Friday, 03 October 2014

In the wake of increasingly successful divestment actions aimed at carbon-producing industries, coal has turned into the new tobacco. While even natural gas mining has its vocal supporters despite the dangers of fracking, the supporters of coal are shrinking as the “clean coal” touted by candidates of both political parties looks more and more like an oxymoron.

But what about the people who live in coal country? What is happening to them as the institutional investors withdraw their assets from the companies topping the Carbon 200 list? As institutional investors including foundations pull their assets out of coal, are foundations and others dealing with the impacts on the populations of Appalachian communities and other places?

AP writers Adam Beam and John Raby wrote last week about the closing of mines in Eastern Kentucky and West Virginia, historically one of the poorest regions of the U.S., and the shrinkage of their public school populations. Because school funding typically tracks school populations, the loss of students due to families moving out of coal country means that schools in places like Pike County, Kentucky, and McDowell County, West Virginia are hard pressed to provide quality educational programming or even stay open. Beam and Raby reported on children in these rural communities facing longer and longer bus rides to and from school.

“Except for moving, there’s not a lot that can been done,” they write, and that’s part of the problem. Many people are fleeing coal country because of the lack of jobs and opportunity. As major national philanthropies cut back on or eliminate their rural grantmaking programs, the message, subliminal or otherwise, that some foundations are sending to these rural families is similar: If you want to improve your lives, pack up, get a bus ticket to a big city, and move.... MORE at link provided above.
Posted by theHandpuppet | Thu Oct 16, 2014, 11:20 AM (1 replies)

Appalachian transition: Why coalfield residents need to help themselves diversify their economy

Another excellent piece by one of the very best journalists covering Appalachian issues. I hope everyone will take a few minutes to read it. Cross posted from Appalachia Group.

The Charleston Gazette
Appalachian transition: Why coalfield residents need to help themselves diversify their economy
October 15, 2014 by Ken Ward Jr.

It’s been about 15 years ago now. I was at an environmental journalism conference, attending a lunch session about climate change that included representatives of some of the big national and international environmental groups, along with a few industry people and some scientists. The environmental groups were, of course, rightly making their case — as they continue to today – that urgent action was needed to deal with carbon dioxide emissions

This was a long time ago and I was younger and probably even dumber than I am now. But I tried several times to engage these folks about what they thought a national climate policy should include in the way of economic, educational, or other help for coalfield communities where any mandated reduction in greenhouse gas emissions would almost certainly mean a significant decrease in about the only kind of good-paying jobs around.

Well, you would have thought I was from Mars. I mean, some folks were reasonably arguing that they were environmental groups. It was their job to work to protect the environment, public health and all that stuff. Their role in the process wasn’t to develop economic transition policies. They weren’t against those things necessarily. It just wasn’t their passion, and they didn’t think it was their job. But some folks were more hostile to my queries. They lectured me about how evil coal-mining was, and how they just didn’t understand why anyone in West Virginia wouldn’t welcome a complete end to the practice. Those folks had never been here. They certainly hadn’t been to a coal mine. They never came out and said so, but I certainly walked away feeling like they didn’t really care much what happened in places like Logan County, W.Va., as long as they got some sort of climate policy enacted.

I’ve been replaying those discussions a little in my mind this morning, and looking back at a piece that David Roberts wrote for Grist called, Should the feds bail out coal miners? The piece was a follow-up to an earlier post he wrote called Democrats: Coal Country is just not that into you.... MORE at link provided above.
Posted by theHandpuppet | Thu Oct 16, 2014, 08:43 AM (13 replies)
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