Zika and abortions

Scientific America has some bad news about Zika in Puerto Rico:

“Based on the limited available information on the risk of microcephaly, we estimate between 100 to 270 cases of microcephaly might occur” between mid-2016 and mid-2017, said Dr. Margaret Honein, chief of the birth defects branch at the CDC, who was one of several authors of the study published August 19 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Politico’s Jennifer Haberkorn looks at how Zika could change the discssion on abortion:

Pregnant women with the Zika virus are at risk of giving birth to babies with devastating brain damage, which can be detected only around 18 to 20 weeks — and often much later than that. …

An Aug. 5 Harvard University-STAT poll found only 23 percent of American adults believe a woman should have access to abortion after 24 weeks of pregnancy. But that opposition softened notably when the question was framed in terms of Zika.

“Maybe the Zika epidemic and its implications for pregnant women will help us shine a light on the exactly tragic situation in which you have these abortions,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), co-chairman of the House Pro-Choice Caucus.

Life and decision making gets a lot simpler when we assume that women are capable moral agents making their own decisions about their own health and autonomy.  But our political process does not allow for that.  The Politico article brings up the rubella epidemic that led to abortion being discussed in public as “respectable” discussion as it was seen as a health procedure instead of an non-punishment for the sluts (you know those girls) for having sex.

Dr. Jen Grunter writes about how she came to perform abortions during later stages of pregnancies.  Her patients needed help and she helped them.

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Because We are a Nation of Sociopaths Is Why

We’re really a disgraceful group of people:

Ramen noodles are overtaking tobacco as the most popular currency in US prisons, according a new study released on Monday.

A new report by Michael Gibson-Light, a doctoral candidate in the University of Arizona’s school of sociology, found the decline in quality and quantity of food available in prisons due to cost-cutting has made ramen noodles

“[Ramen] is easy to get and it’s high in calories,” Gibson-Light said. “A lot of them, they spend their days working and exercising and they don’t have enough energy to do these things. From there it became more a story, why ramen in particular.”

Gibson-Light interviewed close to 60 inmates over the course of a year at one state prison as part of a wider study on prison labor. He did not identify the prison to protect the confidentiality of the inmates.

He found that the instant soup has surpassed tobacco as the most prized currency at the prison. He also analyzed other nationwide investigations that he says found a trend towards using ramen noodles in exchanges.

“One way or another, everything in prison is about money,” one soft-spoken prisoner named Rogers said in the report. “Soup is money in here. It’s sad but true.”

Ramen noodles have long been known to be a popular dish in prisons. Gustavo “Goose” Alvarez, who spent more than a decade incarcerated on a weapons charge, wrote a book on its popularity, Prison Ramen: Recipes and Stories From Behind Bars.

He was inspired to write the book after a race riot in 2009 led to a standoff between a group of Hispanic and African American inmates. An older inmate quelled the dispute and the two groups resolved the tensions by cooking a feast together, largely with ramen noodles.

The book, released last year, includes several recipes such as Ramen Tamale, using Doritos, canned pork and beans, and ramen. It recommends mixing strawberry jelly with soy sauce to make teriyaki, to go with Cheesy Meat Tacos. The book also includes the favorite ramen recipes of celebrities such as Shia LeBeouf and Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash.

The study paints a bleak picture of the state of food available at the prison. Gibson-Light found that black-market food became more valuable after control over food preparation switched from one private firm to another in the early 2000s.

“That change was part of a cost-cutting measure,” Gibson-Light said. “With that change that resulted in a reduction in the quantity of the food the inmates were receiving.”

Inmates at the prison Gibson-Light studied went from receiving three hot meals a day to two hot meals and one cold lunch during the week, and only two meals for the whole day on the weekend.

The phenomenon is described by Gibson-Light as “punitive frugality”. Spending on corrections has not kept pace with the number of inmates in prisons since 1982, the report found.

The reasons for this are twofold:

1.) Instead of creating good jobs in cafeterias in prison for both civilians and give the prisoners an opportunity to learn a skill, we’re happier to heap profits on the investor class who have found prisons can be a gold mine with little oversight.

2.) Because most people, when told this, will shrug and basically say “fuck them, they’re prisoners.” These same people will then bitch about repeat offenders who, after being treated like an animal for ten years are released and commit another crime, because we didn’t spend any time or money educating them, dealing with their mental illnesses, teach them a trade, and generally just shit on them for a decade. So now they are worse than what they were when they went in.

I actually talked about this several years ago with someone, and they straight up said “Hell, they eat better than my kids do at school,” and all I could think was “Wow, if you’re ok with that you’re a pretty shitty parent.” That person is no longer in my life.

But that’s who we are as a country. Greatest country in the world, amirite?



Because Some Asshattery Needs Its Own Snark

Like several valued commenters, I can’t help but love this story:

The [North Carolina] state GOP sent out a tweet Wednesday night saying it was “shameful” for Kaine to wear the flag of Honduras during his speech at the Democratic National Convention.

Kaine was, of course, wearing a Blue Star Service pin, which people wear to signal they’ve a family member on active duty during a war or a conflict.

Here’s a typical version:

s1097

To the wingnut mind, which is to say the Twitter account of the North Caroline GOP, this subtle and simple acknowledgement of pride and moment in a son’s service was the Honduran flag, and Kaine’s brazen display of that unAmerican allegiance was, and I quote, “shameful.”

To which I reply: Morans!

One additional note:  the Military Times article linked above contains an error.  It states that “North Carolina Republicans have apologized to Democratic vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine…”

Maybe so, but the only acknowledgement of their feckless, incompetent asshattery I’ve been able to find is a thank you to the person who pointed out what Kaine was actually wearing.  No contrition aimed at the nominee, his son, or the Democratic Party.

Which is to say that the NC GOP is not merely incompetent, feckless and having trouble peering through its own colon; they’re a bunch of ill-mannered boors whose parents should have (and maybe tried to) raise them better.

ETA:  as pointed out by valued commenters Hoodie, Omnes Omnibus, and in a prior thread Raven, the executive director of the state GOP did issue a clear apology to Tim Kaine and his family this afternoon.  So my dudgeon was accurate at the time I first read this story, and was superceded by the time I wrote my snark.  I regret that error — and exactly none of my disdain for the impulse that produced the initial last-refuge-of-scoundrelism.

TL:DR?  “Bless their hearts.”

Image:  from this catalogue.

 

 



Good Point Here

Glenn makes a good point:

Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan places the blame for this weekend’s failed coup attempt on an Islamic preacher and one-time ally, Fethullah Gulen (above), who now resides in Pennsylvania with a green card. Erdogan is demanding the U.S. extradite Gulen, citing prior extraditions by the Turkish government of terror suspects demanded by the U.S.: “Now we’re saying deliver this guy who’s on our terrorist list to us.” Erdogan has been requesting Gulen’s extradition from the U.S. for at least two years, on the ground that he has been subverting the Turkish government while harbored by the U.S. Thus far, the U.S. is refusing, with Secretary of State John Kerry demanding of Turkey: “Give us the evidence, show us the evidence. We need a solid legal foundation that meets the standard of extradition.”

In light of the presence on U.S. soil of someone the Turkish government regards as a “terrorist” and a direct threat to its national security, would Turkey be justified in dispatching a weaponized drone over Pennsylvania to find and kill Gulen if the U.S. continues to refuse to turn him over, or sending covert operatives to kidnap him? That was the question posed yesterday by Col. Morris Davis, former chief prosecutor of Guantánamo’s military commissions who resigned in protest over the use of torture-obtained evidence:

That question, of course, is raised by the fact that the U.S. has spent many years now doing exactly this: employing various means — including but not limited to drones — to abduct and kill people in multiple countries whom it has unilaterally decided (with no legal process) are “terrorists” or who otherwise are alleged to pose a threat to its national security. Since it cannot possibly be the case that the U.S. possesses legal rights that no other country can claim — right? — the question naturally arises whether Turkey would be entitled to abduct or kill someone it regards as a terrorist when the U.S. is harboring him and refuses to turn him over.

And no, I am not trolling. I’ve asked from day one how we would feel if Mexico or Canada used drone strikes on targets in the US.








Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

We never learn anything ever:

Weapons shipped into Jordan by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia intended for Syrian rebels have been systematically stolen by Jordanian intelligence operatives and sold to arms merchants on the black market, according to American and Jordanian officials.

Some of the stolen weapons were used in a shooting in November that killed two Americans and three others at a police training facility in Amman, F.B.I. officials believe after months of investigating the attack, according to people familiar with the investigation.

The existence of the weapons theft, which ended only months ago after complaints by the American and Saudi governments, is being reported for the first time after a joint investigation by The New York Times and Al Jazeera. The theft, involving millions of dollars of weapons, highlights the messy, unplanned consequences of programs to arm and train rebels — the kind of program the C.I.A. and Pentagon have conducted for decades — even after the Obama administration had hoped to keep the training program in Jordan under tight control.

The Jordanian officers who were part of the scheme reaped a windfall from the weapons sales, using the money to buy expensive SUVs, iPhones and other luxury items, Jordanian officials said.

I still have no idea how Brennan has a god damned job.








KY and a dry screw

Kentucky submitted their Medicaid Expansion waiver today. and it is a doozy.  There are a couple of interesting and potentially useful nuggets ( I liked the wrap-around policies so that a family that qualifies for multiple categories of aid stay on one plan for simplicity’s sake), a couple of things that I could live with but don’t like and then work requirements tied to health insurance which CMS has always shot down.

Below is a pair of screen shots from the cost justification section of the waiver that I found utterly fascinating.  The top shot is what the state projects will be the enrollment and cost per person per month (PMPM) growth without the waiver.  The  bottom is what the state projects would happen to enrollment and costs with the waiver.  The 1115 waiver is supposed to be at least budget neutral and coverage neutral.

TLDR: Fewer people enrolled at higher costs.

Let’s look at the data below the fold:

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Satire is alone in the corner now

At some point the Irish bookies will establish a line on the probability that Trump’s entire acceptance speech in Cleveland is “The Aristocrats…”