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There is a woman who lives within earshot of my apartment who has THE LOUDEST ORGASMS ON THE FACE OF THE PLANET, outside of porn, and we all know those are fake!

Just thought you’d like to know.

I listened to This American Life this evening. If you’ve never tuned in, give it a try. Each week, they choose a theme and present several stories related to that theme. Sometimes it’s funny. Sometimes it’s thought-provoking. It’s always interesting. The host is Ira Glass. This is where I first heard David Sedaris, the hilarious openly-gay contributor and storyteller.

Tonight’s program was poignant.

The theme this evening was What’s in a Number?

The This American Life website is one of those annoying ones that won’t let me copy a specific URL to get you where I’d like to direct you so I’ll tell you how to find this episode if you’d like to listen to it. Scroll down in the left sidebar and type “episode 320” in the search box. That will get you to a synopsis of the program as well as a free podcast. You can also download the episode for $0.95, if you’re so inclined.

The first part of tonight’s trio reported on the Johns Hopkins University study presented in October 2004 that estimated the number of civilian deaths in Iraq since the start of the war. This study and a second one completed last month were published in the British medical journal The Lancet. If you register (for free) with The Lancet you’ll be able to read summaries or abstracts of the studies they’ve published. The original study, published in October of 2004, estimated that 100,000 Iraqi civilians had been killed in the country since the invasion began a year and a half prior. It also found that most of those deaths were not at the hands of insurgents of from disease but at the hands of coalition forces. This is the summary of the Lancet article. The full text is available for purchase.

Part two of this evening’s broadcast highlighted Captain Ryan Gist, a young American soldier who was charged with befriending and developing relationships with townspeople in an area where civilians had been killed by American bombs. Here is a photo of Capt. Gist. I believe the program said he’s now out of the service and working for Human Rights Watch. He now asks the US military why they are not counting the number of civilian dead in the war since the Johns Hopkins study showed it is possible. He has not yet gotten a satisfactory answer.

The final segment of tonight’s show offered commentary on the results of another estimate of civilian dead published last month, again in the journal, The Lancet. That study has now put the estimate of civilian casualties at 650,000. 650,000 over 41 months. That averages out to almost 16,000 per month. Of course, now more are dying at the hands of insurgents raather than US troops.

650,000 civilians have died in 3 and 1/2 years.

There has got to be a better way to get this job done.

I was a little distracted during the end of the second and most of the third part of tonight’s broadcast by news that several news services have declared Jim Webb the winner in the Virginia Senate race, giving the Democrats control of both houses of the US Congress!

tags: Bush / human rights / Iraq / Iraq war / US foreign policy / US politics

…how Sadie, my dog, will fart then twist herself around to sniff vigorously at it.

tags: dogs / life / stuff

I just heard a news item on NPR‘s All Things Considered containing excerpts of the arguments being presented before the US Supreme Court regarding the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 and Gonzales vs. Carhart which resulted from Nebraska’s ban on partial birth abortion.

When partial birth abortion first came to national prominence, in the mid-1990’s, I was still working in a high-risk antepartum setting in a hospital. We performed terminations at my hospital and I participated in them. Our terminations were always for genetic reasons, usually because the fetus was found to have a condition which was not compatible with life. The terminations I assisted in were all prostaglandin induction abortions where prostaglandin suppositories were inserted behind the cervix dilate it and induce termination or laminaria inductions, in which “seaweed sticks” are inserted into the cervcal opening where they would swell and mechanically open the cervix, followed by induction of labor with pitocin. These procedures were performed at my hospital when the pregnancy has progressed to the point of 20 to 26 weeks and vacuum aspiration was no longer an abortion option.

(On a side note, I have spent the last hour plus searching the web for information about induction of abortion using prostaglandin suppositories in lay language. It’s nearly impossible to find information that someone who is not a medical professional would understand, even on sites like Medline and WebMD, that is not anti-choice propaganda.)

Since earlier abortions are usually possible in an outpatient setting, I have no clinical experience with those procedures. I understood partial birth abortion to be a procedure of the second trimester and, since this was the population I was dealing with in the hospital, I wondered why I had never heard of such a thing. I asked our head of Perinatology about the procedure and this is how he explained it to me. Intact dilatation and extraction involves inserting an instrument into the fetal skull to evacuate the contents in order to reduce the sizeof the head, allowing for the vaginal birth of a pre-viable fetus which would have otherwise required surgical (i.e. C-section) removal. I don’t know if this physician had ever performed an intact dilatation and extraction but he told me it would only be used in those instances where a fetus had such severe hydrocephalus or macrocephaly that it would not survive and the mother would be harmed by continuing the pregnancy or potentially harmed as a consequence of major abdominal surgery.

If you think about it, if a fetus is of a gestational age of 20 weeks (halfway through a term pregnancy) and the fetal head is already too large to pass through the birth canal as is, this is a fetus with severe troubles. These are often fetuses with anencephaly (lacking brain material entirely) with a skull full of fluid instead or microcephaly (very small amount of brain matter) and hydrocephalus (fluid inside the skull). These are not usually children who are destined to survive in the world outside the mother’s womb.

I can’t attest to what is done in outpatient abortion settings but, in 17 years in Gyn and OB in this facility, I had never heard of an intact dilatation and extraction being performed. These are very rare procedures. It’s not as if perinatologists and OB/Gyns are out there rubbing their hands together at the prospect of being able to suck out some fetal brains. The procedure is, typically, reserved for only those circumstances when no other option short of surgery is available without causing maternal morbidity.

This is the big, bad Boogeyman of the “right to life” movement.

So, as you listen to or read about the proceedings at the Supreme Court in this case, bear that in mind. It’s the “straw” abortion procedure being used to cast the poorest light on those who feel abortion should be a safe and available option for women in our country faced with unwanted pregnancies.

Here are some great resources on this issue and Supreme Court consideration if it courtesy of the fabulous SCOTUSbLog.

Transcript 11-08-06 Gonzales v. Carhart
Transcript 11-08-06 Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood
Commentary: Kennedy vote in play on abortion
Abortion Roundup
Today’s Audio from the Court

Argument Wed., 11/8/06: Abortion — a host of knotty issues

Here is information from the ACLU (one of the plaintiffs in the Supreme Court case) about abortion myths and facts.

And here is a great “pro/con” list about abortion from Choice Matters.

tags: abortion / “partial birth abortion” / US Supreme Court


Who really believed two months ago that things would end up this way on November 8th?

The House of Representaticves has gone handily to the Democrats. The Senate hangs on the almost certain recount in Virginia. As for the Virginia race, may I refer you back to my post of one week ago…

As much as I want to see that racist anti-semite in Virginia defeated, I would still consider a 50-50 split in the Senate a victory for the side of decency in America. The Senate has always been a much more deliberative body than the House. There are a number of conscientious moderate Republicans who are not exactly salivating at the prospect of continuing to “stay the course” on the faulty policies of the Bush administration. Even with Tricky Dickie II as the deciding vote in a 50-50 Senate, it will be a much more interesting place than it has been for the past several years.

Joe Sestak, the congressional candidate I’ve volunteered for this season (my first time participating so directly in the political process) won easily, defeating a ten-term incumbent. Surprisingly, the Pennsylvania 8th district is still tied 50% each as of this writing. Frankly, if I lived in Bucks County, I might very well have voted for Mike Fitzpatrick over Patrick Murphy. I just learned that Lois Murphy, the Democratic candidate in the county I lived in a few years back, was narrowly defeated by the Republican incumbent (though she has not conceded yet). That’s a darn shame. This was Murphy’s second tight race against Jim Gerlach and second defeat. But then, Berks County is rife with old-timey white sheeters, being considered by some to be the birthplace of the KKK in the central-eastern part of the state.

The greatest victory is that Rick Santorum will not be returning to DC to represent me in January, not that he ever represented me at all and not that Bob Casey is a tremendously better choice. Both candidates are “pro-life,” running counter to my core belief in a woman’s right to control what happens inside her own body. But Santorum is frighteningly fundamentalist…claiming gay sex is a step away from bestiality and that women should not work outside the home. It’s scary to think of how our nation might have evolved had Santorum’s presidential aspirations come to fruition. Hopefully, he will return to the private sector and squelch any desires for the White House in the future.

All in all a very good day to be a Democrat in PA!

tags: Pennsylvania politics / US House of Representatives / US Senate / US politics

I’ve been out canvassing for my local congressional candidate recently. It’s been a very positive experience; something I’ve never done before; so I haven’t had much time online lately. Even when I’ve been online, I haven’t felt much like talking or even reading much. My apologies to anyone who reads me here if I haven’t made it to your place in a while. I imagine it’s another slump and hope it will pass soon. I sure have missed go go bimbo and You Are Here and Persephone’s Box and Amber Rhea and Bitch | Lab (even if her feminist stuff is WAY too out of my league!) and too many others to mention and link. But there’s a few…go check them out…AFTER you’ve voted, ofcourse!

I got in tonight around 12:30 AM after hanging doorknob hanger reminders to vote for my candidate, Rendell for Gov and Casey for Senate (who wouldn’t be my ideal choice but look at his opponent) and decided to check out Tennessee Guerilla Women. Things aren’t looking so good for the decent candidate, Harold Ford, Jr. there. I empathize with the anxiety all moderate or progressive or liberal voters and activists must be feeling down in the Volunteer state. You have my sympathies. I’m glad I stopped by because I came across this video which plays into something that’s been on my mind recently. Egalia at TGW got this from Ann at Feministing.

I heard a news item on NPR recently about the South Dakota abortion ban. They mentioned tht it might get voted down for not allowing for exceptions for rape or incest. State legislators would then have to decide if they wanted to float the bill with those exemptions. What struck me so much, and I am late in developing my feminist sensibilities so this has probably been said before by many others, is that those two instances which might make acceptable exceptions for the “pro-birthers” are two in which the woman is not at all complicit in the act which results in the pregnancy. In other words, women don’t choose to have sex in those circumstances.

So it’s all about punishing women who opt to have sex. Never mind if the condom breaks or the other contraceptive fails. If you are a woman and you choose to be sexually active with a man and a pregnancy results, you’ve just got to swallow your bitter syrup and deal with it.

It truly is not about babies. It’s about keeping American women from having the freedom to choose if they want to have sex and with whom and under what circumstances. Choose to have sex, pay the price.

It’s all about controlling women, period, and it makes me sick!

tags: abortion / anti-choice / feminism / pro-choice / women’s rights

…does anyone hear? Apparently they do if the evangelical in question is pastor of a 14,000 member megachurch in the megachurch Mecca of Colorado Springs, CO.

I’m sure you’ve heard by now about Ted Haggard‘s recent woes. The Senior Pastor of the New Life Church and president of the National Association of Evangelicals was accused on Thursday by a gay man who works as a male escort in Denver of paying for sex over the past three years. The evangelist also is reported to have snorted methamphetamine prior to these sexual encounters to enhance the experience.

Here is Haggard’s explanation of events, from a WaPo article:

The Rev. Ted Haggard, the Colorado minister who resigned Thursday as president of the National Association of Evangelicals, admitted yesterday that he bought methamphetamine and received a massage from a male prostitute.

But Haggard told reporters outside his home in Colorado Springs that the massage was arranged by a Denver hotel and was not sexual. He also said he threw the drugs away. “I never kept it very long, because it’s — it was wrong. I was tempted. I bought it, but I never used it,” he said.

Unh hunh.

And Bill Clinton smoked pot but never inhaled.

Oh, and he did not have “sexual relations” with that woman.

tags: Christianity / drug abuse / Evangelical Christianity / hypocrisy / methamphetamine / sex

This is an example of how democracy works in some parts of America in 2006. I’m sure we all remember stories about carefully selected audiences for Bush’s stumps in the presidential race in 2000 and 2004. Has Allen learned from Bush or did our president learn from this apparent racist?

(Story via CNN, USA Today, AP. Mike Stark responds via the Richmond Times-Dispatch.)

You’ll note the protester is not being charged. I sure hope he does press charges against Allen’s crew.

George Allen…the man who calls an American-born citizen of Asian descent “Macaca.” The man who is so ashamed of his Jewish heritage that he blows up at someone who questions him about it.

Funny, but my great-grandmother’s maiden name was Rennebaum. I have forebears that had names like Hannah and Rebekkah. We used an awful lot of Yiddish idioms in my household when I was a child. And I’ve never once felt that having a heritage that was probably, in part, Jewish in any way “diminished” me.

George Allen, Virginia incumbent for US Senate…ever wear a sheet, George???

(Also posted on No Ordinary Princess.)

anti-semitism / George Allen / racism / US politics / US Senate / Virginia politics

I got to spend the weekend in Pittsburgh with my son and his family this weekend. The baby is beautiful and learning so much. Six months old, sitting up, smiling and laughing, eating some solids and soaking it all in!

And did I mention he’s beautiful?

tags: family / grandboy / life

…of my home state of New Jersey! They did the right thing on Wednesday!

New Jersey Court Recognizes Same-Sex Unions

::tears up::

tags: civil rights / gay marriage / glbt / life / marriage / New Jersey / sexual orientation / social justice

Before that she bitched about: