30 October 2008

We've MOVED!

Hey y'all. Karmic Reverberations has moved to Wordpress. Here's the link:


Hope to see you there

Women paying more for health insurance than men

New findings have discovered that women are paying more for health insurance than men, sometimes costing them hundreds of dollars more annually. From the NYTimes:
In general, insurers say, they charge women more than men of the same age because claims experience shows that women use more health care services. They are more likely to visit doctors, to get regular checkups, to take prescription medications and to have certain chronic illnesses.

Marcia D. Greenberger, co-president of the National Women's Law Center, an advocacy group that has examined hundreds of individual policies, said: "The wide variation in premiums could not possibly be justified by actuarial principles. We should not tolerate women having to pay more for health insurance, just as we do not tolerate the practice of using race as a factor in setting rates."
Essentially, women are having to pay more because we actually take advantage of having insurance? Marcia's right - we shouldn't have to tolerate this.

Pakistani Earthquake

The 6.4 magnitude earthquake Wednesday in the south-western Pakistani province of Balochistan has left up to 50,000 people homeless and 215 dead. Aid organizations have already started flying in supplies and help.

photo from BBC News

As can be imagined, there is a serious lack of much-needed supplies for the survivors of this tragedy. If you would like to help, just send a donation to one of the following organizations:

American Red Cross
Mercy Corps
United Nations World Food Programme

Palin 2012?

If Barack Obama wins the presidency on Tuesday, what do we have to look forward to besides a stronger, better, and freer America? Well, Palin in 2012.

Sarah Palin has said that she does not want to leave national politics if she and McCain lose this election. Scary, I know, but really, we don't have much to worry about. Sarah Palin is one of the reasons Obama is doing better in polls. She's not experienced, and people aren't going to forget that in 2012. Running as a VP for a losing ticket doesn't exactly add to one's qualifications. She'll never get the nomination after the Republican Party has seen how polarizing she has been outside and (especially) within their own party.

And as governor as Alaska, we might hear more from her than we used to, but she won't have a hand in our national governance, unless you include her continuing to "watch" Russia from her porch.

Here's CNN's story on Palin's plans:

Who know though? Maybe this is that change the Mayans were so concerned with.

Voting for Obama on her deathbed

From ABC4 Charleston:

For a 93-year old North Charleston woman, casting her vote was a matter of life and death....

"She said I don't know if I'm going to live that long, but I plan on sticking around to vote for him," said M. Fitzgerald.

Fearful that November was too long to wait her daughter sent for an absentee ballot. It arrived last week.

"she made her mark, and we put it in the envelope, my brother and I walked to the mailbox, it was 11 o'clock Wednesday morning and I said 'Mom its in the mail, you've done your thing, Barack's going to win,' and she kind of smiled and it was kind of a deep sigh, a sigh of relief, and in less than an hour later, she died," said M. Fitzgerald.

26 October 2008

UK's Nick Eriksen: "Rape is Like Being Force-Fed Chocolate Cake"

The UK's Nick Eriksen, who was the British National Party's candidate for the London Assembly this year, said the following in his blog:
Rape is simply sex (I am talking about 'husband-rape' here)... Women enjoy sex, so rape cannot be such a terrible physical ordeal... To suggest that rape, when conducted without violence, is a serious crime is like suggesting force-feeding a woman chocolate cake is a heinous offence.
This comment is incredibly offensive and cruel. Rape is never okay, including when the rapist is a husband or boyfriend. In fact, 85% of rape victims know their rapists, and 35% happen within the victim's family. (Concordia University)

Sentiment of this sort is dangerous to women. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 60% of sexual assaults and rapes are never reported. Data from Rape Crisis Scotland found that
  • In 2002 the UK Home Office published the findings of a British Crime Survey to which 6,944 women has responded. Nearly half (45%) of rapes reported to the survey were committed by perpetrators who were victims' partners at the time of the attack. Strangers were responsible for only 8% of rapes reported to the survey.
  • The survey also found that partner rape entails the highest occurrence of multiple rape (62%) and attacks by partners and ex-partners are more than twice as likely to result in some injury to the victim (39%) as attacks by strangers (19%).
So not only is rape by a spouse more likely to result in violence, but it's undoubtedly true that a large percentage of those non-reported assaults occur when a woman is raped by a boyfriend or husband, and is confused as to whether or not what happened to her was really rape. If a woman says 'No,' it is rape, regardless of who she is saying no to.

Another reason not taking rape seriously is so dangerous is the following statistic from RAINN: "1 out of every 6 American women have been the victims of an attempted or completed rape in their lifetime." 1 out of 6. That is equal to 17.7 million women, which is far too high.

This isn't the first time Eriksen has made such statements. He has pretty much said that rape is okay:
I've never understood why so many men have allowed themselves to be brainwashed by the feminazi myth machine into believing that rape is such a serious crime...
The BNP is trying to distance themselves from Eriksen's destructive comments by removing him as their candidate. However, when a candidate fucks up, people tend to blame not only the candidate, but also their party, much like Americans are weary of the Republican Party due to George W. Bush's inadequacy. In this case the British people have a good reason to blame the BNP, after they made this statement:
It was felt that no matter how much Nick Eriksen's blog comments, written back in 2005, had been distorted and taken out of the context of a blog which reflected our tough stance on all sorts of crime, they could still be perceived as trivialising the issue in a manner that many women in particular could have found extremely offensive. [emphasis mine]
The statements that Eriksen made are not taken out of context. The BNP's attempt to sugarcaot Eriksen's comments make the party just as responsible for what was said.

22 October 2008

McCain uses baseball to try to score against Obama

I'm so very tired of John McCain and his bullshit. Seriously.

What is McCain's latest reason you shouldn't vote for Barack Obama? Baseball.

From BBC News:
Speaking in Pennsylvania, Mr McCain said: "Now, I'm not dumb enough to get mixed up in a World Series between two swing states.

"But I think I may have detected a little pattern with Senator Obama. It's pretty simple really. When he's campaigning in Philadelphia, he roots for the Phillies, and when he's campaigning in Tampa Bay, he 'shows love' to the Rays.

"It's kind of like the way he campaigns on tax cuts, but then votes for tax increases after he's elected."
What did Obama actually say?

"I've said from the beginning that I am a unity candidate, bringing people together. So when you see a White Sox fan showing love to the Rays - and the Rays showing some love back - you know we are on to something right here."
Seriously, that's exactly what McCain was referring to. So not only is McCain a liar, he pathetic. Maybe he thinks talking about baseball, America's favorite sport, will win him some votes. I doubt it.

McCain's strategy is becoming more and more like a disgruntled child who isn't getting what he wants.

Republicans spend $50,000 on Palin's appearance

As November's election nears, the McCain campaign just seems to be sinking lower and lower.

According to Politico, the Republicans have spent $49,425.74 on Palin's clothes, hair, and makeup. Most of that was spent at Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue.

From Crooks and Liars:
Our good friend John Aravosis over at AmericaBlog did some research and found that the RNC spent more on clothes in two months for Palin than the average American houshold spends in 80 years. Out of touch much?
Yes, they are out of touch. They're also hypocrites. They've spent so much time calling Barack Obama an elitist, that there's little chance of the American people finding out about this (combined with the already prevalent knowledge of McCain's myriad houses, cars, and private jet).

17 October 2008

Iranian Gov't Promises to Stop Execution of Youths

According to the 2008 World Report released by Human Rights Watch, Iran has the largest number of youths with death sentences. That may change now. Hossein Zebhi, the deputy prosecutor general, has said that judges will no longer give the death penalty to people under 18, although it is not known how legal this statement is. There may be a new law that needs to be passed.

BBC News

16 October 2008

Why Palin is Not a Fiscal Conservative

In case you missed it, Sarah Palin left the city of Wasilla with over $20 million dollars in debt. I think we can safely say we don't need a vice president with that hanging over her head.

Joe the Plumber and Why Rich People SHOULD Pay Taxes

At last night's debate, Joe the Plumber came up quite a bit. In case you don't know, Joe Wurzelbacher is a plumber that wants to buy a business that makes over $250,000 a year, or something along those lines. He spoke to Obama at a rally and said that he was worried that Obama's tax plans would affect him. Joe also made an appearance on Fox (Faux) News and called Obama's plan a threat to the American Dream and said he was a socialist since he wanted to "distribute" wealth. Here's the video:

According to Joe, he's just an average, middle-class American, and this tax increase on people making over $250,000 a year infuriates him. Considering that the average middle-class family's annual income is around $42,000, I think it's safe to say that this "average Joe" is quite a bit more well off than most of us. (Another topic of interest may be Joe's connections with the Keating Family)

This may be a view that becomes controversial to many, but I'll share it nonetheless. Generally, people are selfish, especially when it comes to money. They hoard and spend, and purchase outrageously expensive cars and houses to prove to their peers that they're rich and successful. On the other side, you've got families who are being kicked out of their homes, can't afford to eat, and are working multiple jobs and still not making it. I want heavy taxes on the rich, so it can be used to aid those people who don't have the education or time to get better jobs. The money that would be collected through Obama's tax plan would result in better healthcare, better education, and better opportunities for people at the bottom. Success doesn't come from how much wealth you acquire, it comes from leaving a lasting benefit to society as a whole. I make less than $20,000 a year and am putting myself through college, but I don't complain about taxes taken out of my paycheck. I know the money can be used to help better the lives of people who haven't had the same opportunity as I (although the issue of where tax money goes, such as funding unnecessary and deadly wars, is a topic for another post).

The only people complaining about Obama's tax plans are people who fall into that specific bracket. Everyone else sees it as fair. Bush's tax cuts to the rich is one of the reasons he's so lacking in respect. You can't tax poor people and let all the rich folks reap the benefits and get off clean. It's time our government evens it out a bit, for the benefit of all.

15 October 2008

Vietnam Journalist Jailed

Nguyen Viet Chien, a Vietnamese journalist who investigating and reported on a corruption case within the Ministry of Transport, has been sentenced to two years in jail.

In many cases, journalists are the first and hardest hit in countries with poor human rights records and little freedom among citizens. A journalist's job is to report the news to people outside of the government or parties involved, and as a result they are often punished by the government they are investigating. They know there's a chance of arrest, or in some extreme cases torture or death, but yet these brave people still soldier on and continue to report on their leaders' wrongdoing.

So here's a huge thank you for every journalist who is brave enough to stand up for what is right and provide a much needed veil of transparency to people who would otherwise be clueless. THANK YOU!

UPDATE: According to the BBC News, the US has condemned the Vietnamese sentences.

09 October 2008

The McCain-Palin Mob

Great job to the director of this video. It shows how unstable and politically uneducated some of McCain's supporters really are. The highlight's gotta be the blonde haired lady that is obviously mentally unstable. After all, according to her Sarah Palin has "Ten times more experience than Palin." Plus, she keeps shouting his name. Some more highlights:

One man says "I think he's a one-man terrorist cell"

When asked if Obama's a terrorist, one woman says "He's got the bloodlines. Just think about the name."

When asked if she knows Sarah Palin better than Barack Obama, she answers "There's more interviews with Sarah Palin than Barack that I've seen in the news"

Make sure you watch this. It's priceless.

Seriously? Up in arms over facial hair and pores?

I've said time and time again that Fox (Faux) News is a joke, but here's something else to add to the arsenal. Their latest target: Newsweek for not retouching a photo of Sarah Palin on the cover. Here's a closeup:
According to Fox (Faux) News, this is a "slap in the face" that shows Palin's "unwanted facial hair, pores, [and] wrinkles." Why can't the treat her like Barack Obama and practically put a halo around his head, as the host suggests.

According to one of their guests, the problem isn't just the un-retouched photo, it's that the headline reads "One of the Folks (and That's the Problem)". Instead of saying the obvious, that the point of the headline is to suggest that Sarah Palin is seriously lacking in any meaningful political experience, the good people over at Fox (Faux) News believes Newsweek is making a demeaning statement about the way she looks. Because ordinary people are ugly, or something to that effect.

One of the three people discussing the cover (I believe it was the one who was about to throw a tantrum) made the statement that this photo "highlights every imperfection that every human being has." Great point! I guess it never occured to them that the picture makes her look more real, maybe even more accessible to the American people at-large. It obviously hasn't occured to them since the same woman thinks that "any woman that sees this cover would be shocked and horrified," probably because women don't want to look real, but like ridicoulously smooth-skinned dolls. It seems like Fox (Faux) News is more concerned with making sure women are airbrushed to be unreal representations of men's "dream woman" than to do their job, which is supposed to be NEWS.

But if they reported on real news, they won't have time to talk about such a liberal elitist magazine that insults the "folks" in America. Julia Piscitelli from American University summed it up best - "What's wrong with showing women the way they actually look?"

Have a look at the discussion:

Is Obama "Too Risky"

From BBC News:
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain has ratcheted up his assault on his Democratic rival's character, with a new advert branding him "too risky".

The ad accuses Barack Obama of hiding ties to Bill Ayers, an ex-member of former militant group, the Weathermen.

The McCain campaign is probably getting a bit worried about new polls that say Obama is increasing his support, so he and Palin are trying to attack him with crazy claims that he's a terrorist, or at least supports terrorism. Just to clear things up, Obama is not a close friend to Ayers and have not "worked together for years" as the McCain campaign claims. Not only has Obama denied this, people outside of Obama's campaign has acknowledged that the accusations made by McCain/Palin are false.

Of course, I'm sure the truth won't reach everyone. I have an acquantice here at school that is still convinced that Barack Obama is an Islamic terrorist. She also believes this when he misspoke and said there were 58 states, that he was confusing the United States with some 58 terrorist groups he's a part of, or something to that affect.

In conclusion: If you believe in truth, vote Obama for president. If you religiously watch Fox (Faux) News and think Obama is a terrorist planted here when he was a child and is going to somehow destroy this country, vote for McCain. There's obviously no point in arguing with someone so ridicoulous.

Thousands Removed From Voting Rolls

A serious issue that could have significant impacts on the upcoming presidential election has arisen in at least six states and possibly more, including Colorado, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Nevada, and North Carolina. According to the New York Times, thousands of voters have been taken off voting rolls or simply not allowed to register to vote. The numbers here are not small. For example: "In Colorado, some 37,000 people were removed from the rolls in the three weeks after July 21. During that time, about 5,100 people moved out of the state and about 2,400 died." That leaves 29,500 people who have been removed for no apparent reason, except for the states that are removing people because "they have failed to vote in two consecutive federal elections." I doubt all those people are convicted felons.

It is against federal law to remove voters unless they die, move, or are deemed unfit to vote (such as when someone is convicted of a federal crime). It is also illegal to use social security information to check people's voter registrations, but some states have been doing just that.

"For every voter added to the rolls in the past two months in some states, election officials have removed two, a review of the records shows." Thousands of people are going to show up to their polling placed come November 4th, and are going to be upset that they have been removed from the rolls and will not be able to cast their vote. Especially for the many people who are newly registered so they can have a say in this monumental election year, this is a fabulous way to disengage people from the political process and fuel apathy.

This newest information just adds to the already existing list of voting issues, such as easily hacked and paper-trail-less electronic voting machines and ballots like those in Florida in 2000 that were not clear to many voters. Something needs to fundamentally change in this country's election process. In a democracy such as ours, voting is the primary way in which the citizenry have a say in how the government is run and what issues are important to them. There is already too much apathy in America due to political scandals that have been occurring since Nixon resigned, and the sense that our leaders are so estranged from the people that nothing we do matters on the national scale. For every person that is removed from the voting rolls or decides not to vote because she believes her opinion doesn't matter or won't count, we move farther away from a real democracy and closer to authoritarianism. No one wants that.

It is past the time to talk about this issue. We need to change. We need to insure that people's votes will count, we need to give people the information they need to register without making it hard or confusing, we need to give people more than the standard two choices come election time. We need to save our country and our freedom.

The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama is a symbol of compassion and peace, and is easily recognizable all over the world. Over at Shambhala Sun, Pico Iyer wrote a piece called "Center at the Summit" describing the fourteenth Dalai Lama's impact on the world. Here's an excerpt:
The calmness of the Dalai Lama, the steadiness with which he walks along his path and pursues what he regards as his core mission, can only be truly appreciated by being set against the very real-world problems that have always been his companion and his daily fare. He spent his early childhood (what would have been his kindergarten years, in our terms) as official leader of his country during the Second World War. By the time he was eight, he was receiving emissaries from F.D.R. with urgent requests for help in the transportation of American troops. He witnessed civil war around him as a boy, barely twelve years old on his seat in the Potala Palace. He was fourteen when Chinese soldiers moved into his country, and of high school age—fifteen—when he was prematurely made the political as well as the spiritual leader of his people.
For me, and possibly many others, the Dalai Lama represents peace in a world full of hate and war. His teachings tell us that we can still have mindfulness and be a part of the wider world. He is not just important to Buddhists, but to people of all religions.

What does the Dalai Lama mean to you?

07 October 2008

Save $9500 with public transit

According to new research released by the American Public Transit Association
A person can achieve an average savings of $9,499 per year by taking public transportation instead of driving... the average annual savings is a third higher than the average amount a household pays for food in a year, according to the Food Institute ($6,111).
We already know carpooling and using public transportation is better for the environment, but the knowledge that you can save almost ten grand by driving yourself is that much more convincing.

It's time to get on the bus.

Judge Orders Guantanamo Prisoners Released

From BBC News:
The US has reacted angrily after a judge ordered that 17 Chinese Muslims held at Guantanamo Bay should be released into the United States.

District Judge Ricardo Urbina said the US could not hold the 17 as they were no longer considered enemy combatants. ...

"Because the constitution prohibits indefinite detentions without cause, the continued detention is unlawful," he said.
If these seventeen people are not a risk to US security, then the judge is right in demanding they be released from Guantanamo Bay. There could be two reasons as to why the US government is so upset about the judge's decision. One, they feel that the judge is wrong and truly believe that these people are a risk to the safety of the American people. Or two, the government doesn't want them released because they're scared the released prisoners will talk once they're out. It's pretty obvious that Guantanamo isn't known for upholding the rights of the prisoners.

What do you think?

03 October 2008

Canada's Green Candidate

The Green Party of Canada is making news today. Their candidate for prime minister, Elizabeth May, is going to participate in a major debate. Unlike America, Canada has a parliamentary system, which means there is more than two parties in power. However, the Green Party has not had great national-level success there. Things may turn around a bit after people are introduced to May and the Green Party.

The question we need to be asking in America is why we are still sticking with the only allowing the two major political parties participate in our debates.

Good lucky Elizabeth!

02 October 2008

My Take On The Debate

I hope everyone had a chance to watch the only vice-presidential debate of this election year. I want to share a few of my thoughts about the Biden and Palin exchange.

First, I've never been a particularly big fan of this kind of presidential and vice-presidential debate, mainly because the American people are not able to get a look at the real candidates. I'm sure a lot of people (particularly Republicans who are already in love with Palin) are going to comment extensively on what a great job Palin did. Sure, she didn't stumble over her words, but we've already seen what an unscripted Palin is like (Katie Couric interviews).

Second, she danced around a lot of the questions, bringing everything right back to energy dependency. At the same time, Biden was doing a great job of actually answering people.

Third, she seemed aloof and condescending, while Biden was easy to relate to and trust. She pretty much smirked through the entire debate.

Fourth, I'm sorry Sarah, you do not have the experience to be vp or, god forbid, president.

Fifth, Sarah Palin told us that the McCain/Palin ticket would lead to change. WTF? How is electing McCain, who votes with Bush around 90% of the time, going to lead to change?

Sixth, kudos to Biden for his "McCain voted the same way" answers. Sarah, know how McCain voted before condemning the other candidates.

01 October 2008

Outrageous Proposed Colorado Amendment

There is a new amendment proposed in Colorado that, if passed, would make birth control illegal and would classify a fertilized egg as a human being with "inalienable rights, equality of justice, and due process of law." Feministing puts one of the scariest aspects of this new bill into perspective:
A disproportionate effect on young women, women of color, incarcerated women, and low-income women? Check. Defining a fertilized egg as a person doesn't just restrict access to abortion, contraception, cancer treatment, and fertility treatment. It opens the door to charges of child endangerment against pregnant women, typically those who are women of color or low-income. Basically, it allows for the policing of pregnant women's bodies and behavior. And which pregnant women get policed? Usually not those who are white and wealthy.
If this bill is passed by the Colorado state legislature, every woman in the state will lose a basic right to choose. A woman's body is not something that should be controlled by anyone but that woman. I've always felt that if you are against abortion or birth control, then stay away from it. But don't take that right away from anyone else. Let's really hope this doesn't actually pass.

Thanks to Feministing for the original post.