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Gender: Do not display
Current location: Virginia
Member since: Wed Jun 1, 2011, 07:34 PM
Number of posts: 6,728

About Me

Navy brat-->University fac brat. All over-->Wisconsin-->TN-->VA. RN (ret), married, grandmother of 11. Progressive since birth. My mouth may be foul but my heart is wide open.

Journal Archives

A single 6-week visit after having a baby? The U.S. is doing postpartum care all wrong.

With the omicron variant forcing hospitals to make difficult decisions once again about what care to provide, Covid-19 must not again defer postpartum care. Postpartum follow-up care is essential health care, and we should be expanding rather than constricting access. The experiences of women who gave birth during the early days of the pandemic make that clear.

I gave birth to my youngest daughter in March 2020, just as our state shut down. Things rapidly changed as I attended my final prenatal care appointments and entered the hospital to deliver her. New restrictions meant I had to attend prenatal appointments without my partner, and I was limited to a single support person once it came time to give birth.

We were discharged early, just 24 hours after Lily was born, to limit our risk of exposure to Covid at the hospital. Despite the extraordinary adaptation that this unprecedented crisis demanded of our health care system, I consistently felt that my health care providers and the health care system as a whole were committed to caring for my baby and me.

That changed when I left the hospital. I had never felt more alone. Even in normal times, weekly visits in late pregnancy give way to a profound lack of attention to women in the U.S. after childbirth. A single routine postpartum visit at six weeks leaves women otherwise largely on their own to cope with physical and emotional challenges that vary in severity, from postpartum pain to depression to breastfeeding challenges.

US postpartum care is not a whole lot better in NON-PANDEMIC times (speaking as one who gave birth 4 times)!

Maryland man found dead amid collection of more than 125 snakes

Police officers called to a Maryland residence by a concerned neighbour found a 49-year-old man dead – and surrounded by more than 125 venomous and non-venomous snakes, held in tanks on racks.

The discovery by Charles county sheriff’s deputies and emergency responders at the house in Pomfret became even more bizarre when they established that none of the reptiles, including a 4.3m (14ft) Burmese python, had escaped or were slithering free.

“At last count it was over 125 individual snakes that were racked or in cages inside the home,” Jennifer Harris, a Charles county government spokesperson, told WUSA news.

“I want to assure anybody living within this neighbourhood that we have not seen that any of the snakes were not properly secured or could have escaped. People were concerned there was some danger but we’ve not determined any of the snakes were not secure after this gentleman’s death.”

My first thought was that one/some of the snakes had escaped and done him in, but not so, apparently.

US conservatives linked to rich donors wage campaign to ban books from schools

Conservative groups across the US, often linked to deep-pocketed rightwing donors, are carrying out a campaign to ban books from school libraries, often focused on works that address race, LGBTQ issues or marginalized communities.

Literature has already been removed from schools in Texas, Pennsylvania, Utah, Virginia and Wyoming. Librarians and teachers warn the trend is on the increase, as groups backed by wealthy Republican donors use centrally drawn up tactics and messaging to harangue school districts into removing certain texts.

In October, the Texas state representative Matt Krause sent a list of 850 books to school districts, asking that they report how many copies they have of each title and how much had been spent on those books.

The Texas Tribune reported that the books included two by Ta-Nehisi Coates; LGBT Families by Leanne K Currie-McGhee; and ‘Pink is a Girl Color’ … and Other Silly Things People Say, a children’s book by Stacy and Erik Drageset. Krause’s list sparked panic in schools, and by December a district in San Antonio said it was reviewing 414 titles in its libraries.

In Pennsylvania, the Central York school board banned a long list of books, almost entirely titles by, or about, people of color, including books by Jacqueline Woodson, Ijeoma Oluo and Ibram X Kendi, and children’s titles about Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. “Let’s just call it what it is – every author on that list is a Black voice,” one teacher told the York Dispatch.

But we knew who was funding this, didn't we?

Toxic PCBs Festered at This Public School for Eight Years as Students and Teachers Grew Sicker

For Michelle Leahy, it started with headaches, inflamed rashes on her arms and legs, and blisters in her mouth.

Some students and staff at Sky Valley Education Center, an alternative public school in Monroe, also had strange symptoms: cognitive problems, skin cysts, girls as young as 6 suddenly hitting puberty.

Fact-based, independent journalism is needed now more than ever.

Leahy, like others, eventually became too sick to return to campus. She developed uterine cancer as her other symptoms escalated.

“Who would ever think that the job that you love was making you sick?” Leahy, 62, said.

She didn’t know it then, about seven years ago, but her classroom contained some of the highest levels of toxic chemicals found at Sky Valley. Inspections and environmental testing across campus found an amalgam of harmful environmental conditions, including very high levels of carbon dioxide, poor air ventilation and polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, a banned, synthetic chemical that the Environmental Protection Agency has linked to some cancers and other illnesses.


Lesbian Sues U.S. Army and Air Force Over Boss' Demand She Grow Her Hair and Wear Makeup

For nearly 14 years, Tech. Sgt. Kristin M. Kingrey has served her country as a member of the West Virginia Air National Guard. Now Kingrey, a 37-year-old lesbian, is suing the Army and Air Force, claiming a senior male leader said she should grow her hair, wear makeup, “and ultimately appear more feminine,” or prepare to face the negative professional consequences.

Kingrey told The Daily Beast that after the remarks were made a job she had successfully applied for was suddenly withdrawn, and the Guard also refused to hire her for a position she was qualified for, “despite her satisfactory performance as a federal employee,” as her lawsuit, filed in a federal court, states.

When the comment was allegedly made, it was not the first time. “From 2016 to 2018, I was constantly being pulled into my seniors’ offices being told my hair was out of regs (non-regulation),” Kingrey told The Daily Beast. “It crossed a line into harassment, and I carried on my person a copy of our regulations in regards to female hair length because I was not breaking any rules.”

Kingrey, from Charleston, West Virginia, believes that sexism and homophobia are key parts of her case—she was signaled out as a woman, and a lesbian woman specifically. Hers comports to a stereotypical lesbian appearance, she says, and her boss wanted her appearance to be more conventionally “feminine.”

The lawsuit, filed on Nov. 23 last year, claims Kingrey was subject to “continued harassment, discrimination, and retaliation based upon her sex—including her sexual orientation and perceived gender nonconformity.”


The school shooting generation grows up

The details are embedded in Sam Leam’s memory, even though it happened more than 30 years ago, when he was just a kid. Recess on a chilly January day. Waiting with friends by the tetherball courts for a chance to play. A sound like the crack of fireworks, and a simple thought running through his head: It’s too early for Chinese New Year. Plugging his fingers in his ears. His classmates running and screaming. Following them into the school, and watching a panicked teacher drag students into his room. The teacher shutting the door on him. Continuing down the hallway. Falling, and being unable to get up. Crawling down the hall. Another teacher closing her door. Reaching his classroom, where his teacher pulled him in. Another kid, telling Sam that he’d been shot.

Leam was 7 when a man brought a semi-automatic weapon to Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, killing five children who were immigrants from Cambodia and Vietnam, and injuring about 30 others. Leam was one of them, shot three times, twice in the buttocks and once in his arm. The shooting took place in 1989. At the time, mass shootings at schools were incredibly rare. Leam couldn’t have known that tragedies like the one he experienced would, a decade later, be a horrible national trend, and that while uncommon, they would only continue, becoming more frequent in the decades after. At the time, he was just a kid, struggling to make sense of what happened.

It wasn’t easy. “My mom, coming from the killing fields of Cambodia and surviving her own trauma, didn’t want to talk about it. I remember asking her certain things about the school shooting,” he said, but “it was traumatizing for her, too.”

The kids who lived through the start of the school shooting era have grown up. Most of them came of age in the late ’90s and the 2000s, when mass shooters started showing up in schools in Pearl, Mississippi; West Paducah, Kentucky; and Springfield, Oregon (though some, like Leam, survived them even earlier). Now adults in their 30s and 40s, many with children of their own, they are navigating a world in which what happened to them was not an anomaly but the beginning of a recurrent feature of American life. As children, they practiced tornado and fire drills at their schools. Because of what happened to them, their kids have active shooter drills, too.

Long, but worth the read

Matanzas: The rebirth of Cuba's abandoned cultural hub

"It used to be a garage," Adrián Socorro told me as he opened the large doors of El Garabato, his art studio on Calle Narváez beside the San Juan River. "Then, around the time that Matanzas was preparing for its 325th anniversary in 2018, the city historian finally approved my project and I moved in."

Inside was a warehouse-like room littered with the paraphernalia of an active workshop: plastic bottles and clusters of brushes, a multi-coloured palette, a half-finished sculpture of a cow-like animal hanging upside-down from the ceiling. Paintings were everywhere: hung on walls; propped on easels; stacked on tables. I spied dogs, chickens, flowers and nudes, all of them creatively drawn in a style that seemed to mix impressionism with the avant-garde.

"I paint from my own life and experience," Socorro explained. "I don't paint those pictures of old ladies smoking cigars that the tourists want to see."

Socorro is from Matanzas, a port city wrapped around a deep, sheltered bay 90km east of Havana, Cuba. When I revisited in December 2021 after a three-year gap, small but innovative restaurants offered homemade pasta and snack-sized tacos. The riverside walkway of Calle Narváez was a glorious artistic esplanade embellished with astonishing sculptures: an emaciated pig standing atop a red balloon; a depiction of Cuban national hero, José Martí, with a sword in his mouth; pink stepladders and life-sized giraffes. Within the space of 300m, I wandered from Socorro's studio-gallery past a music school, an art college and half a dozen imaginative bars and cafes.

It felt like a completely different city than the one I first travelled to in the late 1990s – then a scarred, dilapidated and semi-abandoned place, left to rot during the country's economically challenging "Special Period", a decade of austerity after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, whose subsidies had made up around 30% of the Cuban GNP. Back then, foreign visitors were whisked from the airport to swanky new resorts in the nearby town of Varadero, where Cuban guests were barred from entering resorts. Calle Narváez was a neglected warehouse district. The Parque Libertad, beautifully Botoxed by 2021, was dingy and unloved. Restaurants were practically non-existent. To me, the city resembled a sunken ship, a stricken Titanic whose damaged riches were hidden by decades of neglect.


Connecticut man charged with making racist comment in tirade at smoothie shop

A Connecticut man has been charged with intimidation based on bigotry or bias, breach of peace and criminal trespassing after, authorities said, he hurled a drink and racist insults at employees in a local smoothie shop, whom he blamed for a serious allergic reaction that sent his son to the hospital.

Fairfield police alleged that the man, James Iannazzo, 48, returned to a Robeks Fresh Juices & Smoothies location Saturday after his son had an allergic reaction and berated staff members, demanding that they tell him who put peanut butter in the boy's drink.

"When employees could not provide Iannazzo with the answer he became irate, yelling at the employees using a number of expletives," police said. "He then threw a drink at an employee, which hit their right shoulder."

Police also said Iannazzo made comments to an employee "referencing their immigration status." Authorities said he continued to yell at the employees and tried to open a door to the Robeks "employee only" area after he was asked to leave multiple times.

Iannazzo, who left the store before authorities could arrive, turned himself into police later.

I saw the video. It was a lot worse than this article makes it sound. The guy was fired from his job at Merrill Lynch (actually BOA) and I'm glad he was because I was ready to cancel my BOA card.

An animal rights activist was in court on criminal charges. Why was the case suddenly dismissed?

When animal rights activist Matt Johnson last made national news, he was in disguise. He appeared on Fox Business in December 2020, sporting a buzz cut and button-down (much different to his usual casual attire) and posed as the CEO of Smithfield Foods. The pork giant he claimed to be representing had factory farms that were “petri dishes for new diseases”, he told the news anchor. After the segment went viral online, Fox realized their mistake: “It appears we have been punked,” host Maria Bartiromo announced, apologizing to Smithfield, which called the interview “a complete hoax”.

ohnson’s antics, and his seeming lack of fear of the consequences, have made him a formidable opponent of the meat industry. But while the Fox incident offered a moment of levity, today, Johnson makes the news for something far more serious. He has just been let off for criminal charges that could have sent him to prison for up to eight years. After conducting an undercover exposé of conditions at the pork company Iowa Select Farms in May 2020, his actions put him on the line for burglary and planting recording devices. Another charge, for trespassing at a food operation (an offense created by an Iowa ag-gag law), was added in 2021.

While these specific charges against Johnson can’t be brought again, they may not be his last. His work as an organizer with the animal rights group Direct Action Everywhere (DxE) involves high-profile, high-risk actions like secretly recording factory farms and rescuing animals. Since farm animals are legally property and have no rights and almost no protection from suffering, removing them is usually treated as burglary, no different from stealing jewelry or someone’s wallet. In the last decade, many state “ag-gag” laws have sought to further criminalize such activism.

The conditions that brought Johnson, an Iowa native now based in California, to Iowa Select Farms facilities were particularly cruel, according to DxE – and the outrage that followed his exposé suggests the public were similarly alarmed. As Covid was tearing through US slaughterhouses, Johnson had been tipped off by an Iowa Select truck driver about conditions at the company’s facilities.

Across the meat industry, workers were falling ill, meatpacking capacity was significantly reduced, and farms were overloaded with animals and looking for ways to dispose of them. Johnson was made aware of a practice called “ventilation shutdown”, being used by Iowa Select to mass exterminate pigs: the animals were packed into sealed barns and essentially cooked to death by heaters and steam generators.


Architect behind Googleplex now says it's 'dangerous' to work at such a posh office

For more than three decades, Clive Wilkinson has been among the most sought-after office designers in the world. He has planned spaces for the likes of Microsoft, Disney, Intuit and other companies seeking unorthodox approaches to work life.

But he now has regrets about what is perhaps his most famous work: Googleplex, the tech giant's posh headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

Wilkinson helped lay out Google's campus after winning its design competition in 2004, leading him to work directly with Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

"Larry and Sergey said at the time, 'We don't really have any reference point but the Stanford campus model,' " said Wilkinson.

In Mountain View, what emerged was a maze of well-lit nooks, bleachers and clubhouse rooms to encourage collaboration. The office would also become famous for its amenities: Gourmet meals. Fitness classes. Organic gardens. Massage rooms. Laundry services. Private parks. Volleyball courts. Swimming pools. And so on.

I love what he says further down about office "cubicle farms"
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