December 29th, 2011

Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Women Beat Men to Jobs as Japan ‘Mancession’ Spurs Deflation

Women Beat Men to Jobs as Japan ‘Mancession’ Spurs Deflation

Dec. 27 (Bloomberg) -- Three times a week, Seiya Ogawa bikes to an unemployment center in Kadoma, home to Panasonic Corp., looking for work to help pay for his son’s final year at college.

“At this point, I’m willing to take any job,” said the 49-year-old, who assembled electronic circuit boards in what was once a bustling manufacturing suburb of Osaka, Japan’s third-largest city. This month, it’s officially one year since he first signed on at the center, and “it’s like my humanity’s been stripped from me,” he said.

Ogawa and his son rely on the incomes of his wife and daughter, a social role reversal that is spreading in Japan as factories and building companies fire workers and services that hire mostly women add employees. The new jobs pay lower average wages, making it harder for Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to spur consumer spending and pull the world’s third-largest economy out of a decade of deflation. The increasing burden as breadwinners also gives women less incentive to marry and have children early in a country that already has the fastest-aging population in the developed world.

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  • chaya

Four Things I Learned from Coaching 'Poor Black Kids'

Here we go again: first Gene Marks’ simplistic Forbes column, “If I Were a Poor Black Kid,” and now the inevitable knee-jerk backlash. The song remains the same: “White folks” pontificating in broad generalities about “black folks”; and black folks lecturing white folks with the same tired arguments about the “historic” and “structural” causes of black male academic underachievement. You’d think the election of an African-American president would put an end to this nonsense, but it seems to have made it worse.

Here’s a suggestion: please, for the love of God, stop this obsession with race, and the polarizing, un-helpful discussion of “white privilege,” as if “white imperialism” is, was, and forever will be the cause of all that ails “people of color.” Instead, for once already, let’s talk about real people, as they are, not in some aggregated, delusional “white middle class male” fantasy, but in their fuzzy, messy, defiantly indefinable humanity.

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Teal deer: "Original paternalistic white man telling poor black kids how to succeed... I reject your ignorance and substitute my own."
Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Israeli Girl, 8, at Center of Tension Over Religious Extremism

Israeli Girl, 8, at Center of Tension Over Religious Extremism

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men in Beit Shemesh, Israel, rallied around a sign that reads in Hebrew: “Women are asked not to linger in this area.”

BEIT SHEMESH, Israel — The latest battleground in Israel’s struggle over religious extremism covers little more than a square mile of this Jewish city situated between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, and it has the unexpected public face of a blond, bespectacled second-grade girl.

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Murasaki Shikibu
  • homasse

Taiji officials: Dolphin meat 'toxic waste'

Taiji officials: Dolphin meat 'toxic waste'
Assembly pair break taboo, warn of acute mercury risk in school lunches

For what is believed to be the first time anywhere in Japan, elected officials have openly condemned the consumption of dolphin meat, especially in school lunches, on grounds that it is dangerously contaminated with mercury.

In an exclusive interview with The Japan Times held in Kii Katsuura, Wakayama Prefecture, on July 19, Assemblymen Junichiro Yamashita, 59, and Hisato Ryono, 51, from the nearby whaling city of Taiji said they had found extremely high mercury and methylmercury levels in samples of meat from pilot whales killed inshore by Taiji hunters and put on sale in that locality.

The pilot whale, or "gondo" (Globicephala macrorhynchus), is the largest of the dolphin family of small cetaceans. This species is among some 2,300 dolphins slaughtered annually in Taiji, after the mammals are herded in "drive fisheries" into small coves, where they are speared and hacked to death. Similar hunts elsewhere in Japan are estimated to account for at least another 20,000 small cetaceans annually.

The Taiji assemblymen, who are both independents, also condemned the growing practice of feeding this meat to children in their school lunches — describing it as no less than "toxic waste."

The random samples tested by the two assemblymen were bought at supermarkets in Taiji and nearby Shingu, and were similarly sourced to the meat served to children in whale-meat lunches at Taiji schools. Such lunches may also have been served in schools in other prefectures, the Taiji officials said.

Yamashita and Ryono defied the code of silence traditionally shrouding sensitive issues, especially one that could threaten the economy of their small, isolated fishing town on the scenic Kii Peninsula.

Asked why, they said local people were getting very anxious about food safety in Japan. Recent reports of contaminated products from China have heightened their concerns, they said.

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Poor? Just get Married!

Santorum’s Plan To End Poverty: More Marriage

Rick Santorum, the GOP 2012 presidential hopeful who has seen his support triple in Iowa, laid out a plan to end poverty at a campaign stop yesterday. As the Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel noted, one of the plan’s two components is more marriage:

“Do you know if you do two things in your life — if you do two things in your life, you’re guaranteed never to be in poverty in this country? What two things, that if you do, will guarantee that you will not be in poverty in America?” he asked the crowd.

“Number one, graduate from high school. Number two, get married. Before you have children,” he said. “If you do those two things, you will be successful economically. What does that mean to a society if everybody did that? What that would mean is that poverty would be no more. If you want to have a strong economy, there are two basic things we can do.”

An Economic Policy Institute report from September explained that poverty is “is a jobs
and employment problem, not a marriage problem.” But Santorum’s stance is not surprising considering that he considers “huge moral failings” — among them “letting the family break down” — to be the “root” cause of the nation’s economic woes. And as Terkel pointed out, Santorum “is virulently against same-sex marriage, even though it would increase the number of marriages in the country and theoretically lower the nation’s poverty rate, according to his logic.”

Santorum said earlier this month that he is “for income inequality,” even as he rails against slowing economic mobility as he travels the campaign trail. And though equalizing marriage treatment would, according to his theory, lower the poverty rate, it’s not likely that Santorum is going to be changing his tune on that subject anytime soon.


Rescue group in crisis mode after cat euthanized



Animal lovers threatened to pull donations to an animal rescue group and the public flooded the agency with scathing comments and calls after a man's cat was euthanized when he couldn't afford its medical care, prompting the Arizona Humane Society to go into damage-control mode Wednesday.

The group has hired a publicist, removed dozens of comments on its Facebook page and directed a team of five volunteers to respond to the overwhelming calls and emails it has received since The Arizona Republic published a weekend story about Daniel Dockery and his 9-month-old cat, Scruffy.

Dockery, a 49-year-old recovering heroin addict, told the Phoenix newspaper that he took Scruffy to a Humane Society center on Dec. 8 because she had a cut from a barbed-wire fence, an injury that he described as non-life-threatening. The agency said it would cost $400 to treat Scruffy, money he didn't have.

The Humane Society cited policy when it declined to accept a credit card over the phone from Dockery's mother in Michigan or to wait for her to wire the money. The staff said if he signed papers surrendering the cat, Scruffy would be treated and put in foster care, he said.

Instead, Scruffy was euthanized several hours later.

Dockery told the Republic that he was devastated.

"Now I've got to think about how I failed that beautiful animal," Dockery said. "I failed her. ... That's so wrong. There was no reason for her not to be treated."

He described the cat as helping him stay off drugs for more than a year, the longest he had ever been clean. He hand-fed the feline before she opened her eyes at 4 days old, giving her fresh tuna and letting her sleep on his pillow.

Stacy Pearson, who was hired by the agency specifically to deal with media questions about the cat, said Dockery's case has led to two changes. The Arizona Humane Society has set up an account, funded through donations, that would cover the costs of emergency treatment of animals whose owners need a day or two to come up with money for payments. And the group is now accepting credit card payments by phone, Pearson said.

Dozens of scathing comments have since inundated the group's Facebook page, with animal lovers demanding to know why the cat was put down. Pearson said angry comments were removed because of their content: One called for the staff to be euthanized, while another said what happened to Scruffy was murder.

Pearson said Scruffy was put down over a number of reasons, including Dockery's lack of immediate funds, a lack of veterinarians to treat her and what Pearson described as a very serious cut on Scruffy from her abdomen to her knee that went to the muscle.

She said the Arizona Humane Society at the time didn't accept credit card payments over the phone because of possible fraud and can't treat pets with only a promise from owners that they can pay the next day. She said staff had every intention of getting Scruffy the help she needed but the number of animals requiring help at the group's second-chance clinic was too much for the resources available.

If Dockery had been able to pay, Scruffy would have been treated at the facility where he brought her, Pearson said.

"There was no malicious intent to take Scruffy away from her father," Pearson said. "Pulling funding is only going to make a problem like this worse."

On Facebook, where only the agency's executive director is allowed to post comments now, Guy Collison wrote that "Scruffy's story is heartbreaking, and underscores the worst-case-scenario of need eclipsing resources available." He said that his agency has always done what's best for animals.

In less than an hour after his statement was posted, more than 100 people responded, with most slamming the agency and some defending it as doing the best it can with available resources.

Pearson said the group told Dockery on Tuesday that when he's ready for another pet, he could come in and pick one out, but he declined, telling them: "No thanks."

I hope no one minds that I chose to tag this with "health care". In my opinion, this story shows that health care policies in the US for pets are just as screwed up as they are for people. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go cuddle my cats for a while.

New mother to be deported

A Vancouver woman who claims her life would be in danger if she returned to her native Mexico with her two-week-old baby has been ordered to leave Canada.

Ericka Gonzalez has lived in Vancouver for three years, during which time she met and married man from Iran in 2009 and had his child earlier this month.

But her husband was arrested just a week before her daughter was born, and only able to see her through the glass during a jail visit after her  birth. He was deported to Iran the next day.

Canadian Immigration authorities have also ordered Gonzalez to leave this country by the end of February.

Gonzalez, 36, fled from Mexico City in March 2008 after working there as an addictions counsellor. One of her clients was part of a drug gang and Gonzalez said sensitive information she learned while she counselled him had made her a target for homicide.

"I'm afraid that they do something to kill me, do something to my family,” Gonzalez said. “Especially now that I have a baby, I'm worried they do something to my baby."

Gonzalez said she fled Mexico, fearing for her life, received a Canadian work permit and started working as a counsellor at two clinics in Vancouver.

She and her husband had applied for refugee status in Canada, but both their applications and subsequent appeals were denied on the basis that their claims of threats in their native countries were not credible.

"I am not satisfied that the applicants would suffer unusual and undeserved or disproportionate hardship if they were to apply for permanent residence [from] outside Canada," a senior immigration officer wrote in a decision after considering an appeal in October.

"They just separate our family, my daughter doesn't have father now," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez's daughter Parmys is a Canadian citizen.

The Canada Border Services Agency, which supervises deportation, declined a request for an interview.

But the agency did say in an email to CBC News that, “where children are involved, the best interests of the child(ren) are taken into account when persons are facing removal from Canada. Our officers carry out their obligations of the Convention of the Rights of the Child whenever they make decisions involving children.

"The decision to remove someone from Canada is not taken lightlly"

*headesking* at the "best interests of the child" part, because I'm pretty sure deporting the parents to different countries is probably *not* within the best interest of the child.  it seems like she's qualified to work as an addictions counselor in BC, so I don't understand why she's not able to apply for permanent residency while in Canada, especially as the daughter is a Canadian citizen.

CBC Source - 

Bishops Say Rules on Gay Parents Limit Freedom of Religion

Roman Catholic bishops in Illinois have shuttered most of the Catholic Charities affiliates in the state rather than comply with a new requirement that says they must consider same-sex couples as potential foster-care and adoptive parents if they want to receive state money. The charities have served for more than 40 years as a major link in the state’s social service network for poor and neglected children.

The bishops have followed colleagues in Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts who had jettisoned their adoption services rather than comply with nondiscrimination laws.

For the nation’s Catholic bishops, the Illinois requirement is a prime example of what they see as an escalating campaign by the government to trample on their religious freedom while expanding the rights of gay people. The idea that religious Americans are the victims of government-backed persecution is now a frequent theme not just for Catholic bishops, but also for Republican presidential candidates and conservative evangelicals.

“In the name of tolerance, we’re not being tolerated,” said Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill., a civil and canon lawyer who helped drive the church’s losing battle to retain its state contracts for foster care and adoption services.

The Illinois experience indicates that the bishops face formidable opponents who also claim to have justice and the Constitution on their side. They include not only gay rights advocates, but also many religious believers and churches that support gay equality (some Catholic legislators among them). They frame the issue as a matter of civil rights, saying that Catholic Charities was using taxpayer money to discriminate against same-sex couples.

Tim Kee, a teacher in Marion, Ill., who was turned away by Catholic Charities three years ago when he and his longtime partner, Rick Wade, tried to adopt a child, said: “We’re both Catholic, we love our church, but Catholic Charities closed the door to us. To add insult to injury, my tax dollars went to provide discrimination against me.”


Source has more.

This would be funnier, if not for other Ron Paul endorsements

Former Bachmann chair decided to switch to Paul tonight.

Kent Sorenson, the one-time chair of Michele Bachmann's Iowa campaign who threw a jolt into the caucuses by switching to Ron Paul tonight, said he only told Paul officials of his decision when he arrived at a Des Moines rally for the congressman tonight

"10 minutes ago," Sorenson, a GOP state senator, told POLITICO about when the Paul campaign found out he was moving to their camp.

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I can't say I have any use for Bachman, though all the recent stuff about Ron Paul is heartbreaking. There's always Buddy Roemer :)