ONTD Political

The Blurred Lines singer is no stranger to causing offence, but is making a risibly bad video featuring yet another nude woman really the best way to get Paula Patton back?

It takes a lot to make you feel sorry for Robin Thicke. And, to be fair, it will take more than what you are about to read, but at the time of writing the gurning pop lothario is very much on the precipice of giving it the full Les Dennis.

The background is that, 11 months after he pranced about with topless models in one of the most miserably iconic pop videos of the modern age – and eight months after a Miley-abetted VMAs performance that pulled off the dubious feat of being almost as degrading to men as it was to women – Thicke separated from his wife, the actor Paula Patton, in February of this year.

There may well be more to the separation than meets the eye, and the rumour mill has been relentless, so let's focus on what we do know, which is that Thicke has been handling the situation with all the poise and grace you would expect from a man whose gift to popular culture is an oeuvre the nipple count of which makes your average edition of the Sunday Sport read like a mid-80s Innovations catalogue. To wit, he has created an entire album, called Paula, with the intention of winning back his wife.

A pop entity more self-aware than Thicke – and that's all of them except Jessie J – might say: "Fair play, this entire debacle has played out in public but should be salvaged, if indeed it can be salvaged at all, in private." Not the case for the Give It 2 U hit-maker. As an opening volley, Thicke told a Washington DC audience in March: "I want everybody here to know that I'm trying to get my girl back." After confirmation that his next album would indeed be titled Paula the announcement came of album's tracklisting. Opening with You're My Fantasy, Thicke's 14-track opus subsequently delivers, in order, Get Her Back, Still Madly Crazy, Lock the Door, and Whatever I Want, which reads less like a romantic gesture and more like a plot to violate a restraining order. Love Can Grow Back, pleads track seven, while by track 10 Robin is hurtling into the oft-ignored "foot appendage" portion of the five stages of grief with a song called Tippy Toes.

The album's artwork seems to depict Thicke gazing through a skylight and deploys some of the most offensive pop typography since Syco effectively ended 2013 X Factor winner Sam Bailey's career with a Mother's Day release whose cover was created using Times New Roman. Thicke's is the album artwork not of a multi-platinum global artist but of a singer who ends his weeknights packing up his own equipment and selling handmade CD-Rs after gigs, the dejected tone suggesting a man not selling compact discs out of the back of his car as much as actually living in it, at least until there is an available room in LA's equivalent of the Linton Travel Tavern.

Perhaps the criminal font was his wife's favourite, so let's turn our attentions instead to Get Her Back, the first single to be released from Paula (or second, if you include Thicke himself), and its almost comically execrable video. It features a bloodied Thicke (he's the real victim here!) and a superimposed text message conversation which the viewer has no alternative but to assume is between Robin and Paula. "You embarrassed me," reads one. "I can't make love to you any more." Now I hold my hands up – on an almost daily basis – to being no expert when it comes to the complexities of the female psyche, but I'm going to stick my neck out here and propose that if Paula was a bit iffy about her husband grunting around on stage with Miley Cyrus, she might not interpret the liberation of private text messages as a totally robust form of apology. Particularly as they're accompanied by footage of Thicke with – you're going to need to sit down for this one – yet another naked model. But that's just my take on things. Perhaps I should defer to the winning romantic instinct of a chap whose ascent to the pinnacle of woo includes blowing smoke in a woman's face.

So the text debacle continues. Thicke says: "I hate myself." No reply. He persists: "Can I come see you?" It's too soon, he's told. Then he delivers what he clearly believes to be the killer blow: "I wrote a whole album about you." At this point, as if speaking on behalf of all humanity, "Paula" replies: "I don't care." Suggesting that she may already have deleted his number, she adds: "I don't even know who you are." Perhaps she thinks she's in an SMS situation with her gardener?

Naturally the song, with its gloriously misjudged stabs at regret and humility ("I should have kissed you longer") is complete drivel; in the absence of Pharrell's Marvin Gaye hits CD, we're back to a pre-Blurred Lines type of Robin Thicke, ie the Robin Thicke whose interminable, rumpo-obsessed honking was roundly ignored on these shores for the duration of five album campaigns and may, if we're lucky, be roundly ignored once again.

But while Lost in Showbiz can now say so long and thanks for all the Thicke, we wish our Stateside brethren the best of luck in the endurance test that lies ahead in the form of the man's future efforts. He won't disappear overnight, but he might get the hint if the universal response to this entire new album echoes the three simple words of the "Paula" we meet in the Get Her Back video: "I don't care."

Does anyone else smell burning?

Sauce at the Grauniad Guardian.
Tennessee Arrests First Mother Under Its New Pregnancy Criminalization Law

At the beginning of July, 26-year-old Mallory Loyola gave birth to a baby girl. Two days later, the state of Tennessee charged her with assault. Loyola is the first woman to be arrested under a new law in Tennessee that allows the state to criminally charge mothers for potentially causing harm to their fetuses by using drugs.

The legislation, which officially took effect about a week ago, stipulates that “a woman may be prosecuted for assault for the illegal use of a narcotic drug while pregnant, if her child is born addicted to or harmed by the narcotic drug.” However, this may not actually apply to Loyola’s case. So far, there’s no evidence the young woman either used a narcotic drug or caused harm to her newborn child.

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Tens of thousands of Texas women have abortions every year, but because of the stigma that surrounds the procedure, many of them won't even say the word.

In the counseling room of an Austin abortion clinic, one of the clinic's patient advocates pages through a purple diary where staff encourage women to share their feelings. In loopy script and chicken-scratch scribble in English and Spanish, patients and their partners leave behind black-ink windows into their experience with one of the most intimate, fraught, and hotly debated medical procedures around.

Some of the entries thank the clinic staff, and many offer some variation of, "This is the best choice for me right now." But others divulge a great deal of pain, shame, and anxiety. Women write they don't believe in abortion but they already have children they can barely care for. They write they hope they see their baby in heaven. They write they're afraid they're going to hell.

In the brief counseling session women have here, the patient advocate urges them to voice their often competing emotions so they can walk out knowing they've processed their decision and are secure, if somber, in their choice.

"I'm hearing their whole life story in 20 minutes," he told Cosmopolitan.com. "I'm just trying to help them find a new page to write on."

Many women who come to the clinic, he says, have grown up hearing that abortion is evil and they should be ashamed for even considering it. This little room is often the only place where patients find a nonjudgmental ear to talk about a deeply stigmatized procedure. He understands: He doesn't want his photograph taken or his name used in this article.Read more...Collapse )

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On Monday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned a blistering dissent to the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling that the government can't require certain employers to provide insurance coverage for methods of birth control and emergency contraception that conflict with their religious beliefs. Ginsburg wrote that her five male colleagues, "in a decision of startling breadth," would allow corporations to opt out of almost any law that they find "incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs."

Here are seven more key quotes from Ginsburg's dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby:

- "The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers' beliefs access to contraceptive coverage"

- "Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community."

- "Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby's or Conestoga's plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman's autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults."

- "It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month's full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage."

- "Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah's Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today's decision."

- "Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be 'perceived as favoring one religion over another,' the very 'risk the [Constitution's] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude."

- "The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield."

You can read the full dissent here. (It starts on page 60.)

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In a condemnatory speech last week against the Obama administration’s new Environmental Protection Agency carbon emission regulations, Kentucky state Sen. Brandon Smith (R) claimed that man-made climate change is scientifically implausible because Mars and Earth share “exactly” the same temperature.

Smith, the owner of a mining company called Mohawk Energy, argued that despite the fact that the red planet doesn’t have any coal mines, Mars and Earth share a temperature. Therefore, Smith reasoned, coal companies on Earth should be exempt from emission regulations.


During a Natural Resources and Environment Committee meeting Thursday, Smith, the Senate majority whip, said:

"As you [Energy & Environment Cabinet official] sit there in your chair with your data, we sit up here in ours with our data and our constituents and stuff behind us. I won’t get into the debate about climate change but I’ll simply point out that I think in academia we all agree that the temperature on Mars is exactly as it is here. Nobody will dispute that. Yet there are no coal mines on Mars. There’s no factories on Mars that I’m aware of."

According to NASA, the average temperature on Earth is 57 degrees Fahrenheit -- 138 degrees above Mars' average of -81 degrees.

Although the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet has stated that the new EPA rules will not cause Kentucky to shut down any additional coal-fired power plants, state lawmakers Thursday blamed federal environmental regulations for shuttering the state’s coal mines.

Thursday’s committee meeting was dominated by a slew of outlandish scientific claims from both Republican and Democratic climate change deniers.

State Rep. Kevin Sinnette (D) dismissed the threat of man-made global warming by pointing out that dinosaurs survived climate change.

“The dinosaurs died, and we don’t know why, but the world adjusted,” Sinnette said. “And to say that this is what’s going to cause detriment to people, I just don’t think it’s out there.”


State Rep. Stan Lee (R) claimed that climate-warming trends caused by human activities -- a phenomenon backed by 97 percent of climate scientists -- are nothing more than calculated scare tactics.

“All this stems, this carbon capture, all this other stuff, it stems back to a scare, generated years ago about global warming,” the Fayette County lawmaker said on Thursday. “Finally it turned out there hasn’t been global warming in 15 or 20 years, then they changed the name to climate change.”

Even the committee's chairman, state Rep. Jim Gooch Jr. (D), is one of the state’s leading opponents of federal environmental regulations, going as far as to suggest in 2011 that Kentucky would secede from the union to avoid the EPA’s crackdown on mining pollution.

By Shadee Ashtari. Posted: 07/08/2014 6:25 pm EDT.

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OP: I admit the title sounds alarmist, but it's also true. I'm posting two articles, one of which is older, in my own personal effort to do my bit to publicize the effects of the so-called reforms (both implemented and planned) by the current right-wing Conservative federal government in Canada (i.e. good friend to U.S. Republicans, among other things).

Unfortunately, many (most?) Canadians don't fully appreciate the HUGE significance of attacks on the Canada Health Act: many don't understand that while health care is under provincial purview, the framework for the public Canadian healthcare system which exists in every province WAS CREATED AND EXISTS as a result of a FEDERAL LAW which deals with the conditions applied to the federal tax money transferred to provinces and specifically earmarked for public health care spending. What happens to ordinary Canadians and their access to healthcare if this framework is removed?
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ARTICLE #1:
'It’s a sad day for Canadian health care, says Roy Romanow. On Monday, the Health Council of Canada shut its doors and a 10-year health-care accord expires.'

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The Real Reason Pot Is Still Illegal
Opponents of marijuana-law reform insist that legalization is dangerous—but the biggest threat is to their own bottom line.

Patrick Kennedy, son of the late Senator Ted Kennedy, did several stints in rehab after crashing his car into a barricade on Capitol Hill in 2006, a headline-making event that revealed the then–US congressman for Rhode Island had been abusing prescription drugs, including the painkiller OxyContin. Kennedy went on to make mental health—including substance abuse—a cornerstone of his political agenda, and he is reportedly at work on a memoir about his struggles with addiction and mental illness. In 2013, he also helped found an advocacy group, Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), which has barnstormed the country opposing the growing state and federal efforts to legalize pot.

Taking the stage to rousing applause last February, Kennedy joined more than 2,000 opponents of marijuana legalization a few miles south of Washington, DC, at the annual convention of the Community Anti-Drug Coalition of America (CADCA), one of the largest such organizations in the country.

“Let me tell you, there is nothing more inconsistent with trying to improve mental health and reduce substance-abuse disorders in this country than to legalize a third drug,” Kennedy boomed. The former congressman also praised his fellow speakers for standing up to the “extremist responses” from legalization advocates.

Given that CADCA is dedicated to protecting society from dangerous drugs, the event that day had a curious sponsor: Purdue Pharma, the manufacturer of Oxy-Contin, the highly addictive painkiller that nearly ruined Kennedy’s congressional career and has been linked to thousands of overdose deaths nationwide.

Prescription opioids, a line of pain-relieving medications derived from the opium poppy or produced synthetically, are the most dangerous drugs abused in America, with more than 16,000 deaths annually linked to opioid addiction and overdose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that more Americans now die from painkillers than from heroin and cocaine combined. The recent uptick in heroin use around the country has been closely linked to the availability of prescription opioids, which give their users a similar high and can trigger a heroin craving in recovering addicts. (Notably, there are no known deaths related to marijuana, although there have been instances of impaired driving.)

People in the United States, a country in which painkillers are routinely overprescribed, now consume more than 84 percent of the entire worldwide supply of oxycodone and almost 100 percent of hydrocodone opioids. In Kentucky, to take just one example, about one in fourteen people is misusing prescription painkillers, and nearly 1,000 Kentucky residents are dying every year.

So it’s more than a little odd that CADCA and the other groups leading the fight against relaxing marijuana laws, including the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids (formerly the Partnership for a Drug-Free America), derive a significant portion of their budget from opioid manufacturers and other pharmaceutical companies. According to critics, this funding has shaped the organization’s policy goals: CADCA takes a softer approach toward prescription-drug abuse, limiting its advocacy to a call for more educational programs, and has failed to join the efforts to change prescription guidelines in order to curb abuse. In contrast, CADCA and the Partnership for Drug-Free Kids have adopted a hard-line approach to marijuana, opposing even limited legalization and supporting increased police powers.
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Let's Stop Neutralizing Men

There are few sporting events I get as excited about as the World Cup. I played soccer in high school, in the NCAA, and for five years post-college, including two glorious years in the Golden Gate Women's League, Premier Division. What the U.S. Men's National Team has accomplished is extraordinary, with a second consecutive appearance in the knock-out round and incredible teamwork and fortitude against four formidable opponents.

Only one thing mars my enjoyment of watching the World Cup, and it's the absence of one small word. Just a tiny qualifier in a statistic that really should be corrected as our men's team continues to gain respect internationally. So I ask the American commentators, please stop announcing that Landon Donovan is the "all-time U.S. leading goal scorer." He is not. With 57 international goals, he's not even in the Top Five.

The all-time U.S. leading goal scorer is Abby Wambach, with 167 goals, followed by Mia Hamm (158), Kristine Lilly (130), Michelle Akers (105) and Tiffeny Milbrett (100). In fact, Abby Wambach is the all-time leading goal scorer in the world, among all soccer players, male or female.

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By Abraham Riesman

Monday, July 7th, 2014

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Predictably, nerds went bonkers over the news that Starz is developing a TV adaptation of Neil Gaiman's best-selling prose novel, American Gods, to be helmed by Hannibal creator Bryan Fuller and Heroes scribe Michael Green. "Holy hell," io9.com declared. "We are freaking out." "Everything is good and right with the world forever and ever amen," proclaimed geek-news site The Mary Sue. "HOLY CRAP BRYAN FULLER IS DOING AMERICAN GODS HOLY CRAP," mused Vanity Fair's Joanna Robinson.

Okay, let's slow down here. There's no doubt that Gaiman is one of the greatest sci-fi/fantasy writers of his generation, and Bryan Fuller is more than capable of creating top-notch magical realism (he created Pushing Daisies, after all). But this news does not deserve such unrestrained optimism. Put simply: American Gods has not aged well, and will need some serious retooling to make it watchable today.

When Gaiman's novel hit shelves in the summer of 2001, its central conflict was already more than a little dated — and now it's downright cringe-inducing. The narrative follows an ex-con named Shadow as he finds himself enmeshed in a war between the gods of the Old World (Odin, Anubis, Anansi, and the like, all masquerading as mortals) and a gang of cocky, narcissistic new gods of America. Unless you're a tech-fearing Luddite, Gaiman's depiction of those nasty New World deities should make your eyes roll.

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Kindergartner Accused Of 'Sexual Misconduct' For Pulling Pants Down

School district officials in Arizona are defending their decision to label a 5-year-old's actions as "sexual misconduct."

Erica Martinez told AZ Family last week that in April her son, Eric Lopez, pulled down his pants at Ashton Ranch Elementary School after another student threatened him. She says the other student told Eric that if he didn't pull down his own pants, he would do it for him.

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