A MinD in MoTown

Ripped from the Headlines: Vol. 6
May 20, 2010, 4:05 pm
Filed under: Ripped from the Headlines

Typically I attempt more light-hearted news under “Ripped from the Headlines,” but we’re veering in a different direction this time. Why? Well, a few articles I’ve recently stumbled upon almost require a closer look simply because of their nature. And what kind of journalist-blogger would I be if I wasn’t the one to highlight these particular news items?

Nun at St. Joseph’s Hospital (in Phoenix) rebuked over abortion to save woman

A Catholic nun and longtime administrator of St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center in Phoenix was reassigned in the wake of a decision to allow a pregnancy to be ended in order to save the life of a critically ill patient.

The decision also drew a sharp rebuke from Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted, head of the Phoenix Diocese, who indicated the woman was “automatically excommunicated” because of the action.

Upon reading this brief snipit, what do you immediately imagine? I see the nun being physically present at the woman’s abortion and providing her consent. But that’s not the case whatsoever. Rather, the nun acted on a hospital board and was one of several people whose opinions ultimately decided that the abortion was crucial toward saving the woman’s life.

But does the Catholic Church have any leniency? None whatsoever. Despite hospital standards – I will note it was a Catholic hospital, so I understand the conflict, but still… – specifically stating that, in some cases, abortions can occur to save a mother, apparently this instance did not fulfill the requirements. Personally, I would assume “imminent death” to be a pretty good reason.

Would they prefer the woman died? Would any of those individuals truly have been happier had she passed away instead of the infant? I bet not, yet Catholic officials in Phoenix were optimistic rather than truthful, saying they hoped both would survive. Don’t they recognize that maybe, just maybe, the mother’s death would have come sooner than nine months and that baby would have died anyway? Sometimes faith isn’t enough and medicine needs to intervene.

The article also doesn’t note whether or not the other members of this hospital board were reprimanded, meaning it’s both possible and plausible that the nun was the only one to receive such harsh punishment for her split-second decision. Excommunicated? I’m sorry, but even in Catholicism, that seems a bit extreme.

Second-grader asks Michelle Obama about new immigration law

During a visit to an elementary school in Langley Park, Maryland, to promote her anti-obesity campaign, first lady Michelle Obama faced a tough question from one second-grader.

“My mom said that Barack Obama is taking everybody away that doesn’t have papers,” the second-grader said when Obama called on her.

Quite an insightful second-grader, huh? I rarely delve into political topics – other than gay marriage, obviously – on my blog because I tend to feel as if my knowledge about such subjects isn’t enough to provide a thorough comment. However, in this case, I’m willing to make an exception.

The full scope of these new immigration laws may elude me, but I know the basics and I know that government officials in Arizona are acting quite unethically in their pursuit to rid that state of illegal aliens. I also know that some people, those in politics especially, aren’t looking at the faces and families behind these acts, which is quite unfortunate. You watch this video and read the words of this young girl whose mother is, obviously, here illegally and you feel for her – a child who, to some extent, believes her parent might be taken away from this country.

Do I see anything wrong with people relocating to America from other countries and nations? Not in the least bit. After all, we are a land built on immigration. Do I believe these individuals should do so legally and responsibly? Of course. But there has to be a more ethical, honorable way of ensuring this rather than simply stopping anyone who might look slightly different than Caucasian and sending them away if they don’t have the right papers. How much time do you think this little girl’s mother has before she’s deported because of what this youngster said? Sadly, I doubt there’s even much time left as I write this sentence.

Gay couple sentenced to maximum 14 years in Malawi

A judge sentenced a couple to the maximum 14 years in prison with hard labor under Malawi’s anti-gay legislation, and crowds jeered the two men as they were driven from the court house to jail Thursday.

Clearly Malawi is a land very different from our own. We’d be ignorant not to recognize that fact, first and foremost. But it’s one thing to ostracize individuals based on their sexual preference. It’s quite another to implement harsh jail sentences. Like one commenter in the articles says, will 14 years behind bars, 14 years of hard labor, truly force these men into reconsidering their sexual preference? I think not. At the same time, this country is not my own and their laws are written as such, demanding a prison sentence for acts of homosexuality. Who am I to sharply criticize a land I’m entirely unfamiliar with? Now, this doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to, but really, it wouldn’t be right.

I can provide remarks about the ridiculous nature of those who commented on this Yahoo! article, though. The completely closed-mindedness of these people causes my stomach to turn. Among 3,400 comments, there are people quoting the Bible, noting the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, commending Malawi for being “better” than America in its judgmental ways, so on and so forth. I was so disgusted reading these comments – yet also a bit intrigued by people’s complete lack of compassion – that I had couldn’t continue my perusal. Deplorable would be a perfect term to describe many of the statements made by people who would never state them in reality, but can easily do so when concealed behind a pseudonym. How easy it is for such individuals to bravely stand behind a computer and spit out their “righteousness,” yet cower when the moment arrives to confront the topic to a gay man’s face.

Ripped from the Headlines: Vol. 5
March 25, 2010, 12:40 pm
Filed under: Ripped from the Headlines

Yet again, several months have passed since I’ve blogged about some of the headlines found throughout the Internets. And with a certain swear-word making its way onto front pages, thanks to our VP, it seems like the perfect time to take note of the news-worthy items.

Biden says profane faux pas was … no big deal

US Vice President Joe Biden is laughing off his protocol-busting profanity captured by microphones and relayed around the world during Tuesday’s signing ceremony for a historic health care law.

…The vice president delivered a gushing tribute to Obama at the ceremony, then told him, in a comment meant to be private “This is a big f(expletive) deal.”

And he’s right, it was “a big fucking deal!” Now, I’m not here to discuss the healthcare bill. However, I cannot believe that people are creating such a stir over one word – a word in a phrase that was intended to be private. Yet it was captured by microphones and has now found its way into your news and mine, resulting in a plethora of comments across the Internet calling Biden an “imbecile” or mocking his professional capabilities. It seems outrageous to me that rather than focusing on the healthcare-bill passage or other equally important legislation, individuals are uproariously babbling on about his use of an expletive. Here’s what I truly have to say about that: Build an f’n* bridge and get over it!

Inside Sandra Bullock’s Betrayal

In the wake of a scandal that has rocked her marriage, Sandra Bullock is quietly determining her next move, say friends.

I’m assuming you’ve heard about Sandra Bullock’s husband, Jesse James, cheating on her. If not, just head over to People.com and read a dozen different articles about it. Or meander to nearly any other news site and you’ll find at least one story about Bullock’s woes or James’ flirty ways. Haven’t we learned anything from the Tiger Woods scandal? Or even the John Edwards affair? Sometimes it’s possible to report too much on a topic, pry too much into someone’s life and personal issues, especially ones that needs to be dealt with privately among family members rather than printed across the pages by media outlets. At what point do we simply go too far? When do we say “enough is enough” and back away from news that is little more than tantalizing and provocative?

Experts: One-third of breast cancer is avoidable

Up to a third of breast cancer cases in Western countries could be avoided if women ate less and exercised more, researchers at a breast cancer conference said Thursday, renewing debate on a sensitive topic. While better treatments, early diagnosis and mammogram screenings have dramatically slowed the disease, experts said the focus should now shift to changing behaviors like diet and physical activity. The comments added to a series of findings that lifestyle changes in areas such as smoking, eating, exercise and sun exposure can have a significant effect on all sorts of cancer rates.

The articles continues, noting that “people might wrongly think their chances of getting cancer are more dependent on their genes than their lifestyle.” I am one of those people who held this misconception. Breast cancer has emerged in my family tree, so I assumed that significantly increased my chances of one day having this form of cancer. However, it’s somewhat relieving to know that genetics are not the only factor at play and that I could decrease the potential for this disease by changing by diet and exercise regimes. While I knew that the environment and lifestyle played a role in other cancers – such as skin cancer or lung cancer – I had little idea that it mattered in regards to breast cancer. For me – and others in my shoes who have watched loved one undergo breast-cancer treatment – this information has the potential to change these cancerous odds in our own lives, which is why I thought it was worth sharing here.

* If I were saying this aloud, I actually would’ve pronounced it as “f’n” rather than the word, hence why I did this here. I’m typically not one to censor so that’s certainly not in play here.

Ripped from the Headlines: Vol. 4
October 7, 2009, 11:28 am
Filed under: Ripped from the Headlines

If you’re new to my piece of the blogosphere, I’m obsessed with news. I live it, breathe it, and well, exist because of it. And it’s been a few months since I’ve delved into any of the news making waves. So let’s take a closer look at some of the headlines today, shall we?

Edgar Allan Poe finally getting proper funeral

For Edgar Allan Poe, 2009 has been a better year than 1849. After dozens of events in several cities to mark the 200th anniversary of his birth, he’s about to get the grand funeral that a writer of his stature should have received when he died.

One hundred sixty years ago, the beleaguered, impoverished Poe was found, delirious and in distress outside a Baltimore tavern. He was never coherent enough to explain what had befallen him since leaving Richmond, Va., a week earlier. He spent four days in a hospital before he died at age 40.

Poe’s cousin, Neilson Poe, never announced his death publicly. Fewer than 10 people attended the hasty funeral for one of the 19th century’s greatest writers. And the injustices piled on. Poe’s tombstone was destroyed before it could be installed, when a train derailed and crashed into a stonecutter’s yard. Rufus Griswold, a Poe enemy, published a libelous obituary that damaged Poe’s reputation for decades.

This snipit of the article really doesn’t cover the part that I find somewhat bizarre about this story. As they mark 160 years since Poe’s death and give him that proper farewell – which he clearly deserves – they’ll be utilizing a “lifelike” mock corpse for the funeral. I mean, I think it’s great that they won’t be exuming the meager remains of the deceased poet, but perhaps utilizing a fake Poe is a bit much. Don’t you agree?

AP: Anna Nicole Smith investigated in murder plot

The FBI investigated whether Anna Nicole Smith was part of a plot to kill her tycoon husband’s son, whom she was battling for his late dad’s fortune, but prosecutors ultimately decided there wasn’t enough evidence to charge the Playboy Playmate who died in 2007 from a drug overdose, newly released files show.

The woman has been dead for two years. TWO YEARS! Yet she’s still making headlines, and for an investigation that took place nearly a decade ago. I understand that this would have been newsworthy back in 2000 and 2001 when the FBI conducted their investigations. But in 2009? Regarding not only a deceased husband, but his dead widow and dead son? News is meant to be timely and related to significant things occuring this moment. This article simply does not fit the bill. I’m shocked the Associated Press even considered writing and publishing such a piece.

School asks pupils to bring own toilet roll

Irish parents struggling to buy schoolbooks and uniforms in the face of a deep recession may now have to worry about sending their children to school with a toilet roll as well as a packed lunch.

Times must be financially tough if schools can no longer supply TP. And this isn’t even in the United States, where we’re struggling against an economic downfall. This article is based in Dublin, but more specifically, Cork in southern Ireland.

Plastics Chemical Ties to Aggression in Young Girls

In the latest study to suggest an association between the plastics chemical bisphenol A (BPA) and adverse effects on humans, researchers report that BPA may affect the behavior of little girls.

Girls exposed to higher levels of BPA displayed more “externalizing” behaviors, such as aggression and hyperactivity, according to the study, which is published in the Oct. 6 online edition of Environmental Health Perspectives.

For real? Is it just me or do researchers consistently look for someone or something to blame for anything and everything that a person does? “Oh, your baby died in its sleep. That’s because you let him sleep on his back.” Does your child have ADD? If so, it’s probably because you consumed too much caffeine when pregnant (I’m just making shit up, by the way). Ridiculous results often appear causing those worry-warts out there to critique and question every action they make. First milk is good for you. Then it’s bad for you. Red wine causes health problems; maybe it aids heart health. I realize a great deal of money and time go into these surveys/testings, but the answers always seem to contradict something else. At one point do we throw our hands up and finally give in that maybe, just maybe, not every little thing in this world can truly be explained?

Ripped from the Headlines: Vol. 3
July 29, 2009, 4:13 pm
Filed under: Ripped from the Headlines

I had anticipated writing a “real” blog post today – and I still might* – but then I stumbled upon two news articles that made another volume of “Ripped from the Headlines”** almost necessary.

Study: Tanning beds definitely cause cancer

International cancer experts have moved tanning beds and ultraviolet radiation into the top cancer risk category deeming both to be definite causes of cancer …

A new analysis of about 20 studies concludes the risk of skin cancer jumps by 75 percent when people start using tanning beds before age 30.

At the risk of sounding juvenile, I must say DUH! Logical reasoning says that if that big ball of fire in the sky can cause cancer than a small box emitting immense amounts of artificial sun – ultraviolet radiation – will clearly have the same, if not worse, effect. It doesn’t take rocket science to know this, and yet research was conducted to prove it? Am I the only one who sees this as dollars being wasted on nonsensical testing during a recession?

Organic food is no healthier, study finds

Organic food has no nutritional or health benefits over ordinary food, according to a major study published Wednesday.

Researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said consumers were paying higher prices for organic food because of its perceived health benefits, creating a global organic market worth an estimated $48 billion in 2007.

A systematic review of 162 scientific papers published in the scientific literature over the last 50 years, however, found there was no significant difference.

Indeed, it’s another survey article, but I found this one interesting for a completely opposite reason – I actually believed organic was healthier. I assumed this because organically grown or cultivated foods are without many of the additives “regular” food contains. For that reason, it’s easy to think that any foods without those additives are truly better for our bodies. Clearly, as this articles states, that is not the case and the marginal differences between organic and ordinary matter little in the grand scheme of things.

I’m curious if this study changes the mind of any organic-only eaters*** out there. If you are one, let me know what you think about this article and the research results. Will it change what food you choose at the grocery store, or do you still believe organic equals healthier?

* I also might save that for tomorrow because, personally, I hate when people post multiple times per day and clog my damn GReader, so why would I do that to you fine folks?
** Check out Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, if you are super duper bored.
*** Aren’t/Weren’t the Gosselin (Jon & Kate Plus Eight) kids on an organic-only diet?

Ripped from the Headlines: Vol. 2
July 20, 2009, 6:04 pm
Filed under: Ripped from the Headlines

It’s been several months since I embarked upon “Ripped from the Headlines” and, just like I assumed, the “feature” did not travel very far*. So perhaps it’s time to get this ball rolling a bit better.

Here are some interesting news articles circling the Internet this Monday:

SAfrica stops funding for AIDS vaccine research

South Africa has stopped funding research on an AIDS vaccine, a leading scientist said Monday, even as a major vaccine trial on humans began in the country ravaged by the world’s worst AIDS epidemic.

How can the area most heavily plagued by AIDS seriously cease funding toward this vaccine avenue? You would assume that a country home to millions – yes, MILLIONS, as more than five million cases were identified in South Africa last year – of HIV victims would put forth every possible effort in finding a cure or at least helping to prolong the lives of those affected. But apparently that’s a wrong assumption. In actuality, as the article states, worldwide funding for AIDS research has decreased this year for the first time since 2000. It’s unfortunate, if you ask me. I understand the need for prevention and education, as the AP story notes, but shouldn’t research continue at full force as well?

Barnes & Noble to open electronic bookstore

Retailer Barnes & Noble says it will take on Amazon.com with an electronic bookstore that will allow customers to buy books to read on a variety of handheld platforms and computers.

Ya know, there’s just something about holding a good book in my hand that creates the “reading experience,” if you will. I’m not entirely sure I’ll ever forego turning the pages for scrolling regardless of what media emerges.

Police catch underwear thief

German police uncovered over 1,000 pairs of underpants and more than 100 pairs of swimming trunks after catching a thief nabbing another three pairs for his collection.

So is he a dirty, dirty man? Or simply someone trying to save a few dollars? You decide.

Oscar Mayer Wienermobile crashes into Wis. home

The famed hot dog’s Wienermobile crashed Friday into the deck and garage of a home in Mount Pleasant, about 35 miles south of Milwaukee.

Police said the driver was trying to turn the Wienermobile around in the driveway and thought she was moving in reverse. But she instead went forward and hit the home.

Now that’s a 911 call I wouldn’t mind hearing.

AFP/Yoshikazu Tsuno

AFP/Yoshikazu Tsuno

(Photo) A Tomy employee displays the “Bowlingual” gadget that can “translate” dog barks into the human language.

Wait a second … So I could actually find out what my Sophie girl is trying to say? For real?

Turns out this nifty little device only costs $212, but doesn’t truly translate barks into words**. Rather, it senses which emotion the animal is trying to convey. For two Benjamins, I need a little more than happy versus sad, which any dog owner should easily sense once familiar with his or her pup. Hell, how about I find someone to just pay me the $212 whenever uncertainty arises over how Fido feels?

* For more information on how this works, check out Vol. 1.
** It also won’t be available in English and I certainly do not speak Japanese, nor will I purchase a Japanese translator for my dog translator. That’s just silly!