Thursday, November 18, 2004

Monday, November 08, 2004

Knowing Family History Can Save Your Life

Excellent article in Newsweek - Heredity and Health: Tracking Family History:

Surgeon General Urges Families to Track History:

U.S. Surgeon General's Family History Initiative:
My Family Health Portrait Download: (Microsoft OS only)

NSGC Draw Your Family Tree:
Your Family History -- Your Future:
NSGC is the National Society of Genetic Counselors

Pfizer's Generational Health:

$$$ GeneWeaver 1.1 is $40, with" much better medical activity data collection tools, import and export, although reports need help," according to Peter Bradish on the APG-L:

Those who dwell among the beauties and mysteries of the earth are never alone or weary of life. - Rachel Carson

Modern Reality Cannot Be Amended

PFLAG has kept me sane lately! What a great organization. I should have joined YEARS ago. Here is a bit of the latest newsletter:

Certainly, gay and lesbian Americans went to bed Tuesday night somewhat depressed over the rout at the polls. By morning, however, the political dust settled and many of these citizens kissed their life partners and went to work, just as they always have.

The defeat did not magically turn gay people into heterosexuals, nor did any same-sex couples break- up because of these referendums. And surely the gay bars and restaurants will be as crowded as ever.

So, nothing really changed; the 1950's didn't suddenly reappear. Gay people are here to stay and no Amendment or conservative political posturing is going to return gay people to the closet. - Wayne Besen

At the very core of our being we know that we all, each and every one, deserve to be treated with equal respect and dignity in every aspect of our lives regardless of our real or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity or that of our family members and loved ones. We all deserve, without exception, all the rights, privileges and obligations of full citizenship in these United States. We know that there is no rational, scientific, biological, or sociological basis - and no moral basis whatsoever for anything less. ...

I call upon each of you to speak your truth, to tell your story. Always, our own experience, our own strength and our own hope are our most powerful tools in this struggle. Sometimes they are our only tools.

Let us stand up, link arms, and march forward together. Truth is on our side. Time is on our side. We will win. We will win, but only if we are willing to engage, if we are each willing to speak our truth, to stand up and be counted. - Sam Thoron, President

What the hell has been happening to the mass media lately! 51% of the US votes for Bush, and all of a sudden, we need to go back to the Bad Old Days when attacking gays was A-OK? Some stuff from the latest PFLAG newsletter:
ABC's 20/20 on Matthew Shepard's Murder

Many of you saw NBC's 20/20 program challenging the facts behind Matthew Shepard's murder. PFLAG National has worked with the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the Matthew Shepard Foundation and the family of Matthew Shepard to combat the inaccuracies in 20/20's broadcast. Here is a statement prepared by GLAAD on behalf of the GLBT coalition including PFLAG.

"This piece says much, much more about 20/20 than it does about the murder of Matthew Shepard," said GLAAD Executive Director Joan M. Garry. "20/20's misleading oversimplifications and distortions do a tremendous disservice to a complicated case. This simply is not a credible piece of journalism." ... Judy Shepard says:

"Dennis and I were dismayed and saddened by the tabloid nature of the show and its lack of serious reporting of facts in evidence....though I was not permitted by 20/20 to view the segment, the copy made available to the press left all of my relevant comments regarding the direction of the show and the facts in this case on the cutting room floor. My remarks were reduced to a few very personal maternal comments taken out of context to make it appear as if I agreed with 20/20's theories. Nothing could be farther from the truth."


It is hard to believe that the United Church of Christ's gentle advertisement welcoming gay and lesbian families and other minorities was rejected as "too controversial" by major television networks ABC, NBC and CBS. Please visit www.stillspeakin to view the 30 second ad - you will understand why many people across the country can't fathom why the networks' refusal.

In fact, some of the reasons given for the rejection of the UCC's ad are more contentious than the ad itself. Here's what CBS said:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples and other minority groups by other individuals and organizations and the fact the Executive Branch has recently proposed a Constitutional Amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast on the [CBS and UPN] networks."

We must require that CBS answer for its alarming response to the ad. GLAAD writes, "For CBS to suggest that it would not run an ad because its message conflicts with anti-gay legislation put forward by the Bush Administration calls into serious question the independence of CBS' actions and business practices." [Valorie says -- AMEN to that!]

Ron Schlittler, PFLAG's Executive Director, spoke with Ron Buford, the UCC's director of the ad campaign. Mr. Buford shared these points with PFLAG:

1) The UCC did not design these ads to position ourselves as better than other denominations. We view the ads as an invitation to other religious groups to be more inclusive.

2) Some people are saying, "Plenty of churches welcome gay people - they just want them to change or be 'cured'." The UCC accepts GLBT persons as they are. The UCC knows PFLAG parents understand that churches proclaiming to "Love the sinner but hate the sin" are delivering a message that comes off as disingenuous or very misguided - it is not a message of embracing, but a destructive message of rejection for a core part of who our loved ones are as children of God.

3) Mr. Buford asked that PFLAG members send comments of support for the UCC's ad campaign to .

4) Mr. Buford also asked that PFLAG members write and call your local ABC, NBC and CBS affiliates. When you call your local stations, tell them you'd like to see the ads on television and ask them to pass along your complaint to the national headquarters of the networks.

Washington Post

Anti-gay bias is not limited to television. The Washington Post included a supplemental advertising magazine in last Sunday's issue titled "Both Sides." We can assure you, there was no discussion or equality about this homophobic look at marriage. In fact, this magazine was designed by the religious right to incite the African-American community to anti-gay bigotry.

The best way to understand the revolting nature of this supplement is to view it for yourself. Please go to mall.pdf and download a copy.

It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not. - Andre Gide

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Domestic Violence

Ran a search on my name with a search engine I don't use often, ("the mother of all search engines"), and ran across this old post to a FidoNet group:

  Msg#: 303                                          Date: 02-17-95  19:00

From: Valorie Zimmerman Read: Yes Replied: No
To: All Mark:
Subj: Domestic Violence

I've been reading with interest the thread on domestic violence, and came
across an article in my local newspaper "The Valley Daily News," Kent, WA,USA,
13 Feb. 1995, pages A1 & A5.
It began with a story about a battered woman who dropped charges against her
repeat offender boyfriend, then was murdered by him. "We're getting tired of
seeing people walking in for the umpteenth time and laughing at the system
because they can threaten the victim and get away with anything," said Kent
City Attorney Roger Lubovich.
That frustration is behind a national trend toward "victimless prosecution" of
demestic violence cases -- which means pursuing the cases even if the victim
wants to drop the charges.
Such aggressive prosceution requires police to gather evidence in domestic
violence cases almost as they would at murder scenes. That means
photographs, extensive reports and gathering of physical evidence and
collecting detailed written statements from witnesses, including the victim.
Last fall, King County initiated a program to do just that with felony
domestic violence cases. [article continues with local details]
related news article: The story of a specific instance where this new
approach worked. "It slowly built up," she said. "There was a lot of verbal
abuse, a little bit of physical, until the assault." Pam had moved out once,
but he wooed her back. "He was very sweet, wanted to be forgiven......" etc.
"She's grateful that the system removed any reponsibility for pressing charges
from her shoulders. "It makes him see what he's done isn't judged on what I
thin, it's judged on the law, what the population as as whole thinks: It's
wrong," she said.

I would like to discuss why this approach has not ALWAYS been taken. I think
it should have.

Second issue: accompanying chart, gives Kent city dv statistics: Victims:
Female, 355, 78%. Male, 95, 22%. Defendants: Female: 75, 17%. Male: 369, 83%.
Cases involving Children: 300, Pregnant victims, 12, alcohol or drug abuse,
148. Most victims white, 327, 73%. No surprise, since Kent is mostly white.
Black, 83, 18%, Asian, 22, 5%, Native American, 10, 2%, Hispanic, 8, 2%.
Number of victims and defendants by age: 0-17, 21 victims. 18-25, 210 victims,
158 def.26-35, 134 victims, 193 def. 36-55, 87 victims, 93 def. 56+, 2
So, in Kent at least, the perps are overwhelmingly male, and seem to be older
than their victims. Keep in mind, this was for CASES in Kent, not convictions.

-!- Renegade v10-05 Exp
! Origin: The Powerhouse BBS! 360-886-0973 Black Diamond, WA (1:343/241)

I'm sorry to say that I haven't followed up on this particular issue, but I'm still interested. I remember my FidoNet days with fondness, when I posted through my son's BBS, The Powerhouse. I don't know how my post came to be archived by the Citizen's Coalition on Human Rights site at, but it's fine with me that it's there.

The world has never yet seen a truly great and virtuous nation because in the degradation of woman the very fountains of life are poisoned at their source. - Lucretia Mott, 1793-1880

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Open Letter to President Bush and Those Who Voted For Him

I heard your victory speech today, Mr. Bush. Before all the votes were counted, I see. You said that you wanted to be president for those of us who voted for John Kerry. Those who voted for you didn't seem to notice, but I did:
That this election, you once again trashed your opponent in an underhanded and devious manner. You allowed anonymous character assassins to do your work in the shadows. Your organization shuttled funds to these criminals, and you did not reprove them, nor did you stop the publication of their scurrilous lies and innuendos. You have used this tactic since you ran for your first office in Texas. The more honorable your opponent, the more outrageous the attack! If you mean what you say, bring these slugs into the light, and to justice.

That you prefer to make the fine-sounding patriotic speech rather than actually serving the nation. John McCain, Al Gore, and John Kerry all served honorably, and were honored for their sacrifice. You avoided service beyond flight training, and also cast a cloud of mystery over not only your lack of service, but also much of the rest of your past. The men who served with John Kerry campaigned for him. Where were the men YOU served with? If you mean what you say, produce those with whom you served, reprove the lying Swift Boat Veteran group, and apologize to John Kerry for not doing so before.

That you speak of morality and values, but hide your drunk driving arrest, and your years of drinking and drug use. Worse, you offer no help to those who are attempting to recover from drug and alcohol abuse. Instead, you offer the completely unsuccessful "War on Drugs" and prison. If you mean what you say, be frank about your past, and offer help to those who need to recover from the ravages of alcoholism and drug abuse.

Morality and values seem to be code words to your voters for removing safe and legal abortion from those who need it, and denying the rights of marriage to gay couples. American history has been a splendid process of extending more freedoms to more parts of the American populace. Not only has the vote been extended from rich white men to all citizens over 18, but minority rights have been extended in housing, access to education, medical care, and even nutrition and health care. It feels horrible to witness a contraction of that progress. For the first time in my life, I see a government assault on the rights of women and gay people. This in the name of morality? Worse, you used the gay marriage debate cynically, discussing a possible Constitutional amendment! It seems to have worked for you, even though you I hope would not dare tamper with the Constitution in such a way. Shame on you for such a low and deceitful tactic. Even your Vice President could not go along with you on this one. If you mean what you say, admit that you were misleading the American people with this one, and are not intending to sully our Constitution with such nonsense. Instead, sponsor legislation to insure that hate crimes against gay people are vigorously prosecuted, and that equal rights for all will be enforced by all Federal offices.

That you ally yourself with the rich and powerful, and assist them in extending their wealth and grip on our nation. Why is Microsoft paying nothing for their crimes? Why does Ken Lay walk about a free man, while a small-time criminal like Martha Stewart is jailed? Terrorist Osama bin Laden can address the American people with impunity, and those who have misled the nation into war in Iraq have not even been dismissed from office! Those all up the chain of command guilty of allowing and even encouraging the horrors in Abu Ghraib and other American prisons have not been brought to justice, have not been dismissed, have not even been asked to resign. If you mean what you say, bring the guilty to justice.

That all of this happens while you wrap yourself in the robes of righteousness and religiosity. Remember what happened when Jesus was on Earth. He reproved the religious leaders for their hypocricy, calling them "whited sepulchres," and went to the Temple to upset the tables of the money-changers. He ministered to the hated minority Samaritans, sinners, harlots. He called for social justice, not Constitutional amendments to deny the right of marriage to gay people! If you mean what you say, guarantee the right of all people to civil unions, and leave marriage to the churches, where it belongs.

Mr. Bush, why can my son not get a flu shot? Why can my Canadian cousins afford their needed prescriptions, while my nieces and nephews can't afford to see a doctor, can't afford to have prescriptions filled, can't afford to see a dentist? We have a public health system; why is it not being used? Children used to get vaccinations, new mothers used to be visited by nurses; why can we not start using this system again? The nation's health IS a national concern. If you mean what you say, take real steps to insure adequate medical care for all Americans, without regard to income or job status.

You blame much of the problem with the economy on 9/11. You were warned that an attack was coming, and you ignored the warnings. You did the right thing by going after Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, but before the war was completed, you essentially abandoned it. Bin Laden was allowed to roam free, and has escaped any consequences for his horrible crimes. Instead of pressing the pursuit, you changed the nation's focus to Iraq. Once again, your lack of attention to detail has been disastrous. Once again, you were warned that the military attack would be the easy part of victory. The difficulty would be in the aftermath, you were told, but you and your commanders almost totally ignored this advice. You allowed the treasure of Iraq to be looted, and have even left unguarded dangerous weapon stores. You wasted our money on an unnecessary and arrogant flight to a aircraft carrier, and spoke there in front of a sign saying "Mission Accomplished" when nothing could have been further from the truth. More of our men have been killed since that day than in the initial assault on Iraq. If you mean what you say, apologize for your blindness and arrogance, do what is needed to protect our troops, and provide both Afghanistan and Iraq with the tools they need to begin life as free nations.

You not only ignored our oldest and staunchest allies around the world by your haste to attack Iraq, but you deliberately insulted them. France stood by us in the dark days of our War for Independence, and gave to us one of our most cherished national icons, the statue of Lady Liberty. Where would our long war against Communist dictatorship have been without the friendship of Germany? Our soldiers based in Germany have been the bulwark of freedom since the dark days of World War II. If you mean what you say, admit your mistakes, and mend fences with our two steadiest allies.

You have used the horrible attacks against the US on 9/11 in the most cynical way imaginable, to push your agenda, rather than working to make the US more secure. Whether pushing through the so-called "Patriot Act" -- a cold-blooded assault on the American Bill of Rights of the Constitution -- or your war on Iraq. You have ignored the unsecured weapons of the former USSR, given up on the destruction of Al Qaeda, and made no move to promote peace between Israel and the Palestinians. If you mean what you say, move ahead with inspections and security of the USSR-era weapons, reinvigorate the fight against Al Qaeda, and begin to promote peace in the Middle East!

We loyal and patriotic Americans who voted for John Kerry are waiting, Mr. Bush. If you mean what you say, do what needs doing. Abandon the cynical attacks on the unity of the American people, on our oldest allies, on the Constitution of the United States. Become the compassionate conservative you say you are. We are waiting, listening, reading, and watching. "Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers; pray for powers equal to your tasks."

He who sacrifices his conscience to ambition burns a picture to obtain the ashes. - Chinese Proverb

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

The 14 Defining Characteristics Of Fascism

This trend has only gotten stronger, sadly. Here is a link to a recent article outlining the process - Fascist America, in 10 Easy Steps, by Naomi Wolf, in the Guardian UK:

Disturbing list, widely found on the web.

Dr. Lawrence Britt, political scientist, analyzed the fascist governments of Hitler in Germany, Mussolini in Italy, Franco in Spain, Suharto in Indonesia, and Pinochet in Chile, and found all had 14 characteristics in common.

1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism: Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights: Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause: The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

4. Supremacy of the Military: Even when there are widespread domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

5. Rampant Sexism: The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homo-sexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

6. Controlled Mass Media: Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

7. Obsession with National Security: Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

8. Religion and Government are Intertwined: Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

9. Corporate Power is Protected: The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

10. Labor Power is Suppressed: Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts: Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment: Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption: Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by government leaders.

14. Fraudulent Elections: Sometimes elections in fascist nations are a complete sham. Other times elections are manipulated by smear campaigns against or even assassination of opposition candidates, use of legislation to control voting numbers or political district boundaries, and manipulation of the media. Fascist nations also typically use their judiciaries to manipulate or control elections.

Dr. Lawrence Britt, in Free Inquiry Magazine, Spring 2003. Found at Enviromnentalists Against War and the University of Minnesota Duluth Faculty Against War, among others.

Naturally, the common people don’t want war, but after all, it is the leaders of a country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in every country. - Hermann Goering (Hitler's Carl Rove)

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all.
- Emily Dickenson