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theHandpuppet's Journal
theHandpuppet's Journal
October 23, 2014

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.’

October 20, 2014

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.

October 16, 2014

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.

October 16, 2014

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.

August 24, 2014

ESPN's Outside the Lines report: Victims of Inaction

TRIGGER WARNING: I watched this ESPN segment in its entirety this morning. Some of the material in the video, which consists primarily of interviews with the victims, may be too upsetting for some viewers. Please take that into consideration. Having said that, I would highly recommend watching this report.

Victims Of Inaction
Schools' failure to investigate sexual assault allegations made against athletes likely violated federal law and led to more assaults by the same man.
Video link: http://espn.go.com/espn/otl/story/_/id/11381416/missouri-tulsa-southern-idaho-face-allegations-did-not-investigate-title-ix-cases

Accompanying articles:
Athletic Departments Handling Sexual Assault Cases: Never A Good Idea

Sexual Violence on Campus: How Too Many Institutions of Higher Education are Failing to Protect Students

August 19, 2014

Gift is just the latest victim of "corrective rape"

This is an ongoing horror for lesbians in South Africa. For more on the subject of "corrective rape", follow these links:

The Horror of “Corrective Rape” in South Africa
By David Rosenberg

'Corrective' Rape in South Africa: Targeted Violence Against Homosexual Womyn
by Udoka Okafor

Horror of South Africa's 'corrective rape'
By Nkepile Mabuse, CNN

July 31, 2014

The tally for July and why I will not back down

Today's news that a 15 year old transgender child in D.C. was stabbed in the back during a disgusting hate crime should serve as a reminder of why we still fight. Why I will not back down. Why I will not play nice. I don't want a pony -- I want basic human rights and dignity for all my LGBTs brothers and sisters. For the LGBT kids who will be be beaten, bullied or left homeless. For the transgender child who will be attacked just for riding the bus. For all the women and men who will be fired from their jobs, denied employment, benefits, marriage. For every LGBT person who's not safe to walk the street, for those who are tortured and imprisoned. For every LGBT living with guilt and shame because they've been told being gay is a sin, an abomination. For every LGBT who will commit suicide because they feel life is hopeless.


NM Woman Allegedly Beat and Sexually Assaulted Teen Daughter for Being Gay
Thursday Jul 17, 2014

A New Mexico woman has been arrested for allegedly physically and sexually abusing her 17-year-old daughter for being gay. Local officials have enhanced the charges because they say the incident qualifies as a hate crime. KVIA 7 reports.

According to the Dona Ana County sheriff's office, the incident began when Magdo Haro became upset upon learning her teenage daughter was gay. Haro allegedly attacked the girl with a shoe and threatened to use a plunger on the teen to make her feel what it's like to have sex.

Investigators report that the girl said that her mother gave her three chances to prove that she wasn't a lesbian. Haro was angered by seeing her daughter in a baseball cap and demanded the attend church with her grandmother and refrain from wearing boys clothing...

...According to investigators, the girl also said she was forced to undress in front of her mother "show her she was a woman, and not a man." Her mother also allegedly demanded she perform sex acts on herself....

Teen convicted of attack on gay Detroit hairdresser at Motor City Pride festival
July 23, 2014
DETROIT, MI -- Christin Howard, a 20-year-old Detroit hairdresser, was beaten by a mob during the 2014 Motor City Pride festival, a gay pride celebration.

One of his attackers, a 16-year-old, on Wednesday pleaded guilty in Wayne County's juvenile court to assault with intent to commit great bodily harm Wednesday, according to a statement from the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office.

Video of the incident taken by a witness showed Howard being attacked by, and attempting to fend off, up to at least five attackers -- he says there were eight -- along the Detroit Riverwalk during the annual Motor City Pride festival on June 8.

Howard said the teens and young men made homophobic slurs, threats of violence and derogatory comments about his long hair he turned around and was attacked.

Howard endured multiple injuries, including bruises and a fractured finger....

Police: Attack on 2 women after S.F. gay pride rally was hate crime
July 1, 2014, 2:31 PM

San Francisco police say two women who were attacked by five men after attending gay pride festivities were victims of a hate crime..

The group of men approached them about 5:25 p.m. near Mission and 9th streets in the south-of-Market neighborhood, he said.

"These two women were just minding their own business, walking home, when they were singled out by these suspects and attacked," he said.

The men yelled gay slurs at the women and then began kicking and punching them, he said....

Rob Ford Supporters Attack LGBT Demonstrators At Ford Fest: VIDEO

About six demonstrators protesting what they called Ford's homophobia turned up at Thomson Memorial Park in Scarborough, holding signs that called for the mayor's departure from office.

"He needs to be held accountable," said Poe Liberado, who faced loud jeers from Ford fans. "His buffoonery is dangerous, his positions are dangerous and he needs to be taken seriously."

The mayor's supporters, however, weren't pleased with the anti-Ford sentiment, with a number of individuals getting into verbal confrontations with the protesters.

At one point, a few Ford fans grabbed the signs being held by the protesters, tore them up, and threw them on the ground, stamping on them in the process. One man claims to have been assaulted. Toronto police said they are investigating the matter....

Gay Man Attacked with Glass Bottle in Oslo After Being Asked if He is Gay

Keith Brooks-Bekkestrom was attacked in a park in Oslo, Norway by two men who approached him on a bench and asked if he was gay. Brooks-Bekkestrom sais he was confused about why they asked him but replied 'yes' when they did.

The two men then proceeded to attack him and when he fought back to defend himself a third man approached and struck him in the head with a bottle. Another man who was in the park with his family came to help and the attackers fled, according to media reports.

The man helped Brooks-Bekkestrom wash his wounds in a fountain and call police.

Said Brooks-Bekkestrom to Norwegian media: "They had to sew a deep wound, so I have a pain in my head. They had to sew over my eye, and I have a wound on his arm. I do not feel safe here anymore, it will take some time."....

Video: Ukrainian gay club attacked in violent neo-Nazi attack
8th July 2014

A video has emerged of the moment 20 neo-Nazis burst into a gay club in Kyiv.

The attack took place two nights ago at the Pomada club, and follows the cancellation of the city’s pride event.

In the video, clubbers are hurried into the building by a bouncer as the thugs approach from out of sight...

...The attackers punch and kick their way through the door before being beaten back and fleeing for reasons that are unclear.

Athens' police officers attack gay couple for holding hands
Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Written by Sabine Brix

Two men in Athens have reportedly been attacked by up to ten police officers for holding hands.

George Kounanis and Harry Vassilakis objected to verbal abuse from the officers which reportedly led to the attack, with claims one of the policeman grabbed Mr Kounanis' hand before shoving him against a wall. He was told "this is what real violence is," according to the publication Lifo.

After calling an emergency helpline, the men were then referred to Athens' police headquarters...

..."We feel as if we're in a psychological maze. We feel totally helpless. We feel harassed by those who are supposed to protect us."

Police arrests following vicious transphobic attack on Soho drag queens
Elliot Herman
10 Jul 2014

Police in London’s Soho have arrested two men following a vicious homo/transphobic attack on Old Compton Street last night.

Drag artists and members of the performance collective Familyyy Fierce, Maxi More, Ruby Wednesday and Pretty Miss Cairo were walking home when they witnessed two men verbally abusing a young drag queen on the street.

‘There were quite a lot of drag queens out in London,’ More told So So Gay, ‘because it was famous London drag queen Dusty O’s birthday. We saw a guy being very loud and obviously drunk, hurling aggression at a young queen...

...Describing her attacker as ‘ginger haired’, More, who was not wearing drag clothes but still in make up, described how the man instead set upon her: ‘I have long hair which was tied in a top knot; he grabbed my hair, dragging me around for around three minutes while punching me in the head before police arrived and pulled him off. All the time, his friend was standing nearby, pulling him away but without much conviction....

Gatineau riverfront robbery gay bashing: Cops
By Danielle Bell, Ottawa Sun
Monday, July 14, 2014

A 51-year-old Orleans man, and another man who was thrown into the river in a violent robbery in Gatineau last week, are believed to be the victims of a "gay-bashing."

"He kept screaming, 'I know what you're doing here,'" recalled the man, who did not want his name used.

"He's attacking me, punching me, he's pushing me down. When he attacked me he was in this rage.'"

Gatineau police confirmed Monday that investigators do believe it was a hate-motivated crime, targeted against their homosexuality....

Canterbury thugs Landon Bruce and Jonathon Proctor jailed for assault after random attacks on innocent people in city centre

Two yobs who carried out “random and unprovoked” attacks on innocent people have been branded an "unacceptable blight on Canterbury".

Drunken jobless railway worker Landon Bruce and shop manager Jonathon Proctor, both 21, were jailed after leaving three people nursing injuries – including one victim losing his front teeth.

The pair – who were out in the city centre with a gang of youths in September last year– also attacked a man who was with a group handing out leaflets ”because they looked gay”....

And that, my friends, is just a sampling.

June 28, 2014

What’s the Matter With Eastern Kentucky?

There are any number of DU groups to which this article could have been posted but because the conditions outlined in this article could apply to many areas of Appalachia, I decided to post it here. If you feel this article would be appropriate for another group please cross post because this is a discussion that needs a wider audience.

The New York Times Magazine
What’s the Matter With Eastern Kentucky?
JUNE 26, 2014

There are many tough places in this country: the ghost cities of Detroit, Camden and Gary, the sunbaked misery of inland California and the isolated reservations where Native American communities were left to struggle. But in its persistent poverty, Eastern Kentucky — land of storybook hills and drawls ­ — just might be the hardest place to live in the United States. Statistically speaking...

...Despite this, rural poverty is largely shunted aside in the conversation about inequality, much in the way rural areas have been left behind by broader shifts in the economy. The sheer intractability of rural poverty raises uncomfortable questions about how to fix it, or to what extent it is even fixable.

The desperation in coal country is hard to square with the beauty of the place — the densely flocked hills peppered with tiny towns. It’s magical. But it is also poor, even if economic growth and the federal safety-net programs have drastically improved what that poverty looks like.

Fifty years ago, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared his “war on poverty” from a doorstep in the tiny Kentucky town of Inez, and since then, Washington has directed trillions of dollars to such communities in the form of cash assistance, food stamps, Medicaid and tax incentives for development. (In some places, these transfer payments make up half of all income.) Still, after adjusting for inflation, median income was higher in Clay County in 1979 than it is now, even though the American economy has more than doubled in size....

MORE at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/29/magazine/whats-the-matter-with-eastern-kentucky.html?_r=0

June 2, 2014

For over a century this country has been all too willing to participate...

... in the rape of Appalachia. As long as the factories were humming, the homes were warm, there was plenty of timber to contribute towards the housing boom, folks didn't really seem to pay much attention to what was going on with the people of those hills whose toil and sweat was making that happen. The law and the government were on the side of the mine owners. They hid the truth about black lung from the men and boys, who have died slowly and horribly by the thousands. They let owners skirt flimsy safety regulations or paid off inspectors, resulting in the deaths of thousands more from preventable, tragic "accidents". They poisoned the land and the water, leaving its people and their children to suffer from chronic illness. When the miners finally rebelled, the gov't brought in troops who shot them down like dogs.

It was never in the interests of Big Coal and its cohorts, both in government and business, to reinvest the mountains of money they were making back into the mountains of Appalachia. An educated people are dangerous to an economic system that relies on backbreaking labor. A people making a good wage, able to feed their families and with dreams of sending their kids to college, does not provide the labor force necessary to keep that kind of money machine humming. It is poverty that breeds the very kind of desperation they need. It is that cry of desperation you are hearing now. It is the cry of desperation and fear that what little they still have will, too, be taken away.

So let's not be quick to blame the victims of this national disgrace for their own victimization. As I wrote here many years ago, "The poor are not our enemies, the powerless are not our enemies, the hungry or uneducated are not our enemies. The ones pulling the strings in this country can be found among the uber rich and their corporate allies." So the question we should be asking is where were the leaders of government and business who took and took and took from these people and gave nothing in return? And where were we?

June 1, 2014

From Hawai'i to western Iowa

Talk about a culture shock! That must be a story unto itself.

About eight years ago I posted a thread about the origins of the term "redneck" and tucked it away in my journal:

There are others who contend that the term "redneck" came about as an identifier of the rural working classes, whose necks were burned from working out in the sun. I think both definitions are plausible and could have arisen independently of one another but either way, it was a derogatory term to define a person of coarse ways, backward, ignorant, of the working classes.

Now where the two pejoratives "hillbilly" and "redneck" differ in usage depends on who you ask; these days folks seem to use them interchangeably (which they are not) though to me there are recognizable applications. For instance, a farm boy from western Iowa might be taunted with calls of "redneck" but he's no hillbilly, which is yet another rung down on the ladder of insults. Redneck is of class origins, whereas hillbilly found its origins in both region and class. It's the American version of a caste system. Am I making any sense here?

It's my hope that by discussing the topic of class-based language on DU we can rethink just how freely we sprinkle our posts with insults that denigrate by class. The irony is that the easy use of these terms as insults seems in direct contradiction to how we as progressives and Democrats define ourselves. I don't understand how folks can claim to be a champion of the poor, the working class, the union worker with one breath and insult someone as a hillbilly or redneck with the next. Is Sarah Palin really "the Wasilla Hillbilly"? Are the wealthy, Connecticut-born Bushes truly the "Texas hillbillies"? Is that really the best we can do?

I'm of a mind that one the best ways to combat this class war is to reclaim those terms in a positive way, thereby stripping those words of the power to hurt the very people we claim to champion. As I wrote in yet another thread those eight years ago, "The poor are not our enemies, the powerless are not our enemies, the hungry or uneducated are not our enemies. The ones pulling the strings in this country can be found among the uber rich and their corporate allies. They can have Ivy-League educations. They live in the best homes. They're still scumbags. I'll proudly take my poor hillbilly neighbors any day over their kind of trash." And until we fully embrace that concept, even mindful of the language we use and why, we'll never truly appreciate how we progressives and Democrats have been manipulated to point an accusing finger at the already disenfranchised. Neat trick, that -- and it seems to have worked.

Profile Information

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

About theHandpuppet

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.
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