“ASK. That’s the first step of being a good ally.’

igotyouI think when we’re complaining about ‘activists’ such as #alllivesmatter fretting about ACTUAL activists such as #blacklivesmatter, this is the best explanation you could ever hear or read about what an ally actually is.  And, it’s the best thing I’ve yet heard from ‘I am Cait.’  While everyone was focused on Caitlyn, this was lost in the shuffle:

“I have problems with the word ally. Many people think, ‘I accept you therefore I’m an ally’ … no you’re not. You’re an accepting person. An ally means you ask me what I need, I tell you and you tell me what or how much of that you can actually supply. If I say I need help getting through that crowd of people who think I’m a freak and I need you to be a ‘bodyguard,’ that would be an ally to me . And ASK , don’t assume you know.  Don’t assume that everybody’s big issue is gender free bathrooms . It’s not. And for some people it is the most pressing issue. ASK. that’s the first step of being a good ally.”  —Kate Bornstein

If you can’t be an actual ALLY, kindly escort yourself out of the conversation.

‘Sticker Shock’ for Obamacare in Colorado? No.

I was minding my own business reading my Twitter, as per usual, when this tweet came across my Tweetdeck:

As is his habit, Representative Brady’s Tweets don’t include the whole story, but that’s not isolated to him.  He found the info at the conservative Weekly Standard who got it from Al Jazeera America who got it from CBS. So, after searching and searching for the original full story (which the Weekly Standard of course didn’t want to include because it would disrupt their ‘Trainwreck Obamacare’ narrative), I found it on CBS.

You see, it IS a fact that this particular town in Colorado is having trouble signing people up for Obamacare because of the prices of the insurance:

The Family and Intercultural Resource Center is a charity approved by the government to help Summit County families navigate the health care marketplace. She said not one person has signed up at the center.

“None at this point,” she said. “Everyone takes a look at the rates and they just can’t afford them.”

But that’s not the whole story, as we can only expect from people whose objective is to not really contribute anything unless it suits their agenda.

CBS goes on to say:

“Our health insurance rates have always been expensive. I think one of the things that the Affordable Care Act and the marketplace have brought to light are just how expensive our rates are,” Drangstveit said. “We’re seeing rates two to three times higher than a family in Denver may see.”

You see, it’s actually a really important story that should totally be discussed … but it’s not because Obamacare sucks, rather because the health insurance industry is flawed.  And that’s what Obamacare is attempting to remedy.

Rand Paul just doesn’t understand science and that should worry you

A few months ago it was top news that DNA samples would be taken for evidence collection for investigation of serious crimes, and all the evening shows went just a little crazy analyzing all the things could go wrong in the process.

Even my beloved level-headed thinkers were just a little off and lacked just a little too much depth in covering the story.

Here’s just one example:

Chris Hayes:  “No more secrets. Who you are, down to the very molecular
fiber of your being could find itself on a spreadsheet that 10 years or 20
years from now, the Chinese government or some rogue terrorist, or some 19-
year-old hacker kid is going to get their hands on. And who knows what
they`re going to do with it?

“Because the answer to the question, ‘Can you keep a secret?’ in the 
21st century increasingly is a resounding and terrifying no.”

Well, that’s not really true.

You see, a basic DNA sample taken by the police and sent to the lab won’t uncover all the deep, dark ‘Gattaca’-type or ‘Brave New World’ inspired secrets that some will lead you to believe.

I spoke via email with prominent genealogist Megan Smolenyak to help me understand exactly how DNA is analyzed.

What I thought was obvious, which clearly is not, is there’s a difference between types of DNA testing.  Smolenyak said the three main types of genealogical testing are Y-DNA, mtDNA and autosomal.

She said, “For the most part, genetic genealogy is something of a match-making game.  You get tested, your results wind up in a database, and you hope to find folks who share your Y-DNA or mtDNA signature or overlap with your autosomal DNA.  But you can also learn some general information without any comparison.  For instance, with autosomal testing, you can get a rough breakdown of your heritage – % Euro, % African, % Asian – or more specific, depending on where you test – and with the other two types, you can get a rough idea of how and when that specific branch (i.e., your direct paternal or direct maternal one) migrated out of Africa.”

Okay, so that’s the breakdown of how it works for the family tree curious, but what about for criminal investigations?

First, she said, the databases are different: “With criminal ones (e.g., CODIS), the intention is to zero in on a single person.  With genealogical ones, the objective is to find similar people – folks with the same Y-DNA signature or overlapping chromosomal segments or whatever.  So one is exclusionary while the other is inclusionary.”

Not only that, though, the scientific analysis is totally different.

“ODIS focuses mainly on autosomal STRs (sometimes mtDNA is also done, but inconsistently so and many people can share the same mtDNA signature), whereas genealogists use Y-DNA, mtDNA and autosomal DNA,” she said.  “Autosomal tests for genealogical purposes focus primarily on SNPs, rather than STRs.”

She said it’s like comparing apples and oranges.

“You can’t use someone’s CODIS results obtained after an arrest to run against genealogical databases to look for relatives because you’re dealing with two different types of data.  It would sort of be like trying to search Ancestry.com using numbers instead of letters in the search fields.”

Rand Paul expressed his strange concerns at a recent campaign event for Ken Cucinelli.  The Associated Press in Lynchberg, Virginia:  

“In your lifetime, much of your potential – or lack thereof – can be known simply by swabbing the inside of your cheek,” Paul said to a packed sporting arena on Liberty’s campus. “Are we prepared to select out the imperfect among us?”
Some states ran eugenics programs that sterilized those considered defective in the 1900s, though all were abandoned by the 1970s after scientists discredited the idea.

To that concern, Smolenyak said, “Folks are worried about these databases, but if I want your DNA, it would be much easier for me to snag your soda can when you’re done.  The trick is that I then have to have the means to do something with it – and if I’m just snagging it that way, I need some way of extracting a sample.  And then what kind of analysis am I going to do with it?  Am I (* shudder *) going to find out that you have some distant cousins out there? 

“Honestly, in my experience, most of us are still more or less genetically illiterate at this point.  Even most of what we can learn medically (I participate in one such project) mostly reinforces what we already know from researching our roots (though I have high hopes for what will eventually be possible).”

Smolenyak is not totally unconcerned, though, and neither should anyone else be.

“My long-term concern about this would be the corporate world.  Could they somehow get a hold of our data and medical analysis and then use it to claim “pre-existing conditions” before they even exist,” she said.  “But again, I’m not losing sleep over this as that kind of scenario is a long way off, and am participating in a medical project because I think it’s important for some of us to be pioneers so we can learn what we can learn.”

Melissa Harris-Perry covered such concerns in show this year on breast cancer and hereditary conditions in a brilliant and thorough show that is well worth a watch.  She said:

“You thought your body belonged to you? Think again. Because every copy of 
each BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene in every cell of my body and yours belongs to a
private company. So, does all the information those genes may be able to
tell us about our health.

“And while those genes are just hanging out inside your cells doing what 
genes do, they are busy making myriad genetics a lot of money. The patents
give the company the sole right to BRCA analysis that Angelina Jolie test.
And along with an estimated one million people have decided to take it in
the past decade since myriad was awarded the patents. And with no
competition, myriad is free to set a single price for women who want to
find out if they have a mutation. Any woman wanting to take the test,
should be prepared to shell out $3,000.”

In the long run, I’m inclined to listen to experts such as Megan Smolenyak and ignore sky-is-falling weirdness from the likes of the Paul family.

“DNA is powerful stuff, and yes, we should be thoughtful as we proceed with it,” said Smolenyak.  “But we shouldn’t let all sorts of worst-case scenario fears stop us from unlocking this tremendous resource to see what we can do with it.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Dr. Ruth’s sauciest Tweets

Did you know that there’s a new off-Broadway production based on the life of the iconic Dr. Ruth?

Ya do now. It’s called ‘Becoming Dr. Ruth’ starring Debra Jo Rupp. Go see it, and color me jealous.

Here’s a roundup some of Dr. Ruth’s sauciest tweets:

Good Guy Russia?

Doubt it.

After weeks  and weeks of watching the tragic and criminal events in Syria that has caused millions to seek refuge from their own country, and countless thousands perishing sadistically at the hands of its leader, the United States was faced with heavy choices: ignore war crimes, negotiate diplomatically to end said war crimes, or strategically destroy troves of chemical weapons with calculated air strikes.

Eschewing leadership by example (i.e. Bush & Co.), President Obama decided – while certainly having his own ideas about what action to take – to follow the law set forth by the Constitution and go through the proper legal channels to let Congress represent the people of America.

Tuesday, after calling for Congress to begin its inquiry and debate over whether to strike Syria and take out the threat of more chemical holocaust, the President announced that diplomacy just may win out in the matter and negotiations are underway between allies of the United States with the full cooperation of Russia and China.

Cue internet:

And so, the Good Guy Putin ‘story’ began.

Not so bloody fast – also I can find some memes too, ma’am!

A long, long time ago … last month … Vladimir Putin was being himself (read a total asshole), and decided to pretty much outrage pretty much everybody for one reason or another.  He has a horrible record on human rights, a horrible record on gay rights, horrible record on free speech, steals sports rings from people, pouts during meetings, harbors alleged criminals, and is an all around jackass.

The threat was very, very real that President Obama (the United States) would not attend the G20 Summit in Russia, and there even were rumors that the United States may pull out of the Olympic Winter Games because of Pootie’s bad behavior.

  • President Obama has cancelled a planned summit with Vladimir Putin amid mounting US anger over Moscow’s decision to grant asylum to Edward Snowden.
  • “The crackdown on freedom of expression since Putin re-emerged as leader is extremely troubling and disturbing,” said Samir Goswami, managing director for Amnesty International’s Individuals and Communities at Risk program. “There has to be a larger conversation at the IOC level, but also among the global community. At what cost are we producing these Olympics?”  Since Putin’s re-election in 2012, over 5,000 people have been arrested in more than 200 protests over anti-gay laws, according to figures from Amnesty International. In addition to the law banning “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations among minors,” Putin has also signed a law banning the adoption of Russian-born children to gay couples and to individuals living in countries that allow gay couples to marry. He also signed a law in June that classifies “homosexual propaganda” as pornography.  Those moves, ahead of the Olympics, sparked demonstrations around the world with protesters’ demanding boycotts of Russian vodka and even the Olympic Games.
  • President Obama will be in St. Petersburg, Russia, on September 5–6 for the G20 summit. However, the White House has canceled a bilateral visit to Moscow and a meeting with President Vladimir Putin after Russia granted Edward Snowden, a fugitive former National Security Agency contractor and secret national security documents leaker, temporary political asylum.  Moreover, for the past two and a half years, Russia has been America’s major opponent around the world, from Syria to Iran to Europe. Nonetheless, it is possible to improve U.S.–Russian relations, but both sides have work to do.

MMMkay. Now that we have our little recap, let’s address this ‘Good Guy Putin’ nonsense.

Here’s how it probably went down:

Obama: Mr. President (Putin), look, I’ve done everything I can think of to not ‘tread on you’ but you’re really starting to piss me off.  I’m thinking of not even showing up for the G20 because you’re being such a jerk.

Putin: Fine. Whatever you say.

Obama: Fine. But, don’t forget, some shit’s about to get real in Syria and you’re gonna look like a total idiot if you won’t even bother to help with a crackdown on major war crimes.  You’re just gonna make us look militarily stronger than you all over again.  I know we are, and you know we are, but do you really need to have your nose rubbed in it? Alright, have it your way, I’ll come to the G20, but this is the last time and don’t come crying to us if you need something. I’m serious this time.

Putin: … …

U.S. president says his administration is skeptically exploring Russia’s proposal to place Syria’s chemical weapons under international control; adds he doesn’t foresee Congress vote on strike in ‘immediate future.’

Obama:  I don’t wanna talk about this again.

And that’s the way I see it.

Either way …

the worst love

i love you. 

that’s the hard part.

i don’t want to love any more.

loving. loving is the hard part.

letting go. letting go is easy.

letting go is hard.

loving is worse.

i don’t want to let go any more.

i don’t want to love you any less.

that’s the hard part.

i don’t love you.

i can’t.

Guardian rolls over for UK government

If the recent Guardian reporting is to be believed, after weeks of pressure by UK officials, the newspaper – rather than defend its right to protect its sources and its obligation to report to its readers – rolled over under pressure and turned over copies of information for destruction.

A little over two months ago I was contacted by a very senior government official claiming to represent the views of the prime minister. There followed two meetings in which he demanded the return or destruction of all the material we were working on. The tone was steely, if cordial, but there was an implicit threat that others within government and Whitehall favoured a far more draconian approach.

Notice in the above quote that there wasn’t a direct threat … rather an implicit one.

During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian’s reporting through a legal route – by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working. The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government’s intention.

Okay, so, basically, the government said, ‘Hey, if y’all don’t hand over the secret documents, we’re gonna sue you.’  And, rather than be sued for the information, and defending their right to hold the documents, report on the documents, and protect their sources … the Guardian said, ‘Okay.’  Fine, they had backup, but there’s little doubt that the UK government would know that they had backup and copies of the info.   Then, straight out of a Hollywood movie

And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian’s long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian’s basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. “We can call off the black helicopters,” joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.

Am I the only one unmoved by their acquiescence, by their weird fear of appearing in court to defend the right to a free press? Who the hell lies down for something like that … symbolic or not? I guess the Guardian does.

POTUS who signed FISA into law supposedly decries fall of democracy

Hi Y’all.

If anybody can tell me what “Atlantik-Brücke” in Atlanta, Georgia is, I’d be really grateful.

I’ve googled in German and English.  I’ve searched for events and locations.  I’ve had a peek at the Carter Center’s website and events and cannot find ONE SINGLE CORROBORATING REFERENCE that lines up with this statement … and I mean not ONE:

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter was in the wake of the NSA Spähskandals criticized the American political system. “America has no functioning democracy,” Carter said Tuesday at a meeting of the “Atlantic Bridge” in Atlanta.

I’m a pretty damn good sleuth and I can find nothing.  What I did find Jimmy Carter speaking about in Atlanta that same week was something quite important, however.

Former President Jimmy Carter said Wednesday that unchecked political contributions are “legal bribery of candidates” and denounced a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made possible unlimited spending by outside groups, including corporations and labor unions.

“It’s accepted fact,” Carter said during a speech in Atlanta. “It’s legal bribery of candidates. And that repayment may be in the form of an ambassadorship to someone who has raised three or four hundred thousand dollars to help a candidate get elected.”

the story continues: Carter said that while elections in the United States once set an example for the world, the country’s reputation diminished in 2000 when the U.S. Supreme Court intervened in a Florida vote recount, effectively deciding the election in favor of Republican George W. Bush. He also criticized GOP-led state legislatures for changing polling hours in ways that Carter said were meant to frustrate likely Democratic voters.

So, while that’s a really interesting bit of news … I’d really like a clarification from Der Spiegel and would really like to know why not another single news outlet is reporting on it.  And now, because everybody and their Mamma is copying and pasting what was written in Der Spiegel’s post, finding proper news references is all the more difficult.

A little bit of help? Was anyone there? Does anyone know of this ‘Atlantic-Bridge?’  Is it a group, is it an organization, is it an actual bridge, is it an orthodontia clinic, is it an event, is it a knitting circle? Who knows?  The author doesn’t explain.

It’s also worth noting that the ‘Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was introduced on May 18, 1977, by Senator Ted Kennedy and was signed into law by President Carter in 1978.’

Section Four Play

I’m sure I’ll have plenty more to write about soon as the southern states scuttlebutt to ruin every ounce of progress the nation has made when it comes to voting rights just hours after the Supremes have decided racism doesn’t exist anymore. In states like Texas, that has had more than its fair share redistricting craziness, (along with constant lawmaking shenanigans), we already have seen what a disaster it can be.  And it’s just going to get worse. From NPR:

“It looks like Congress’ last reauthorization of the Voting Rights Act in 2006,” said an audibly frustrated Nina Perales, civil rights litigator with the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. “Look at the Congressional Record.”

Perales told me Congress proved with 15,000 pages of documentation in 2006 that discrimination was still happening in the jurisdictions the coverage formula designated for pre-clearance. In other words: No need to fix what isn’t broken. Perales said every redistricting attempt in Texas (a state that was subject to pre-clearance) over the past five decades has been deemed discriminatory toward Latino voters. Perales had to rush off the phone because shortly after the SCOTUS ruling, Texas’ attorney general announced that the Lone Star State’s controversial voter ID law would take effect immediately. “Now we’re in meetings, figuring out how to respond to that!” she said.

Get ready for more of this, and don’t say you haven’t been warned:

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-january-30-2012/exclusive—lou-dobbs-extended-interview-pt–2

Transcript thanks to this person.

Stewart: …Here’s the thing: here’s what I believe it is. It’s funny: when you criticize multi-millionaires — and I’m one of ‘em, and God bless me — but when you criticize that, they say that that is somehow “anti-capitalist,” and I think what you’re […] criticizing is [not] capitalism, what you’re criticizing is the idea that there’s almost like a wealth incumbency in this country. Let’s look at it in the way that incumbents get to Washington and then change the rules around to make it so that they get to stay in Washington as Congresspeople and Senators. I think the idea in the country is, very wealthy people have gerrymandered certain districts to create a wealth incumbency. Is that attacking capitalism, or is that attacking a perversion of capitalism?

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