Friday, January 28, 2011

New law for Rape...BS

The House GOP's Plan to Redefine Rape

Fri Jan. 28, 2011 3:00 AM PST
Rape is only really rape if it involves force. So says the new House Republican majority as it now moves to change abortion law.
For years, federal laws restricting the use of government funds to pay for abortions have included exemptions for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest. (Another exemption covers pregnancies that could endanger the life of the woman.) But the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act," a bill with 173 mostly Republican co-sponsors that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has dubbed a top priority in the new Congress, contains a provision that would rewrite the rules to limit drastically the definition of rape and incest in these cases.
With this legislation, which was introduced last week by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), Republicans propose that the rape exemption be limited to "forcible rape." This would rule out federal assistance for abortions in many rape cases, including instances of statutory rape, many of which are non-forcible. For example: If a 13-year-old girl is impregnated by a 24-year-old adult, she would no longer qualify to have Medicaid pay for an abortion. (Smith's spokesman did not respond to a call and an email requesting comment.)
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Given that the bill also would forbid the use of tax benefits to pay for abortions, that 13-year-old's parents wouldn't be allowed to use money from a tax-exempt health savings account (HSA) to pay for the procedure. They also wouldn't be able to deduct the cost of the abortion or the cost of any insurance that paid for it as a medical expense.
There used to be a quasi-truce between the pro- and anti-choice forces on the issue of federal funding for abortion. Since 1976, federal law has prohibited the use of taxpayer dollars to pay for abortions except in the cases of rape, incest, and when the pregnancy endangers the life of the woman. But since last year, the anti-abortion side has become far more aggressive in challenging this compromise. They have been pushing to outlaw tax deductions for insurance plans that cover abortion, even if the abortion coverage is never used. The Smith bill represents a frontal attack on these long-standing exceptions.
"This bill takes us backwards to a time when just saying no wasn't enough to qualify as rape."
"This bill takes us back to a time when just saying 'no' wasn't enough to qualify as rape," says Steph Sterling, a lawyer and senior adviser to the National Women's Law Center. Laurie Levenson, a former assistant US attorney and expert on criminal law at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, notes that the new bill's authors are "using language that's not particularly clear, and some people are going to lose protection." Other types of rapes that would no longer be covered by the exemption include rapes in which the woman was drugged or given excessive amounts of alcohol, rapes of women with limited mental capacity, and many date rapes. "There are a lot of aspects of rape that are not included," Levenson says.
As for the incest exception, the bill would only allow federally funded abortions if the woman is under 18.
The bill hasn't been carefully constructed, Levenson notes. The term "forcible rape" is not defined in the federal criminal code, and the bill's authors don't offer their own definition. In some states, there is no legal definition of "forcible rape," making it unclear whether any abortions would be covered by the rape exemption in those jurisdictions.
The main abortion-rights groups despise the Smith bill as a whole, but they are particularly outraged by its rape provisions. Tait Sye, a spokesman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, calls the proposed changes "unacceptable." Donna Crane, the policy director of NARAL Pro-Choice America, says that making the "already narrow exceptions for public funding of abortion care for rape and incest survivors even more restrictive" is "unbelievably cruel and heartless."
"This bill goes far beyond current law," says Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.), a co-chair of the congressional pro-choice caucus. The "re-definition" of the rape exception "is only one element" of an "extreme" bill, she adds, citing other provisions in the law that pro-abortion rights groups believe would lead to the end of private health insurance coverage for abortion.
"Somebody needs to look closely at this," Levenson says. "This is a bill that could have a dramatic effect on women, and language is important. It sure sounds like somebody didn't want [the exception to cover] all the different types of rape that are recognized under the law."

One More Reason Why Meat Is Super-Gross

One More Reason Why Meat Is Super-Gross: "What some insects are capable of is enough to make the horror film The Fly seem cuddly by comparison. In a study funded by the…"

Exactly why dogs deserve a 2nd chance :)

More Handsome than ever

January 24, 2011 : 12:11 PM ET
By David Dickson
Handsome Dan the Vicktory dog used to have a hard time making his wishes known. The old Handsome Dan would rather hunker down and hide from the world than ask for anything. Well, not any more. Lately he’s become so chatty and insistent when he wants something—or when he’s excited about something — that his parents Mark and Heather think they may actually have to teach him the quiet command. It’s a happy dilemma to be faced with, considering how shut down he used to be. The thing is, though, Handsome Dan really does have a lot to be excited about these days!
January 1, 2011, marked the one-year anniversary when Handsome Dan was officially adopted into his home (plus six months prior when he was their foster dog, per court regulations). It’s been a busy year for this celebrity of a dog ever since. One of the most exciting things for Handsome Dan this past year was when his new baby sister was born. Mark and Heather had a beautiful baby girl in April of 2010. They both explain that they didn’t quite know how Handsome Dan might react to a baby in the house. Handsome Dan is still bashful by nature. They wondered if he would be nervous around baby Josephine, especially when she started crying. Handsome Dan proved himself in no time, however, and took to her immediately. "He’s great with her," says Heather. That relationship has grown tremendously over recent months. Whenever Josephine takes a nap, for instance, Handsome Dan now insists on curling up in his dog bed next to her crib. He won’t budge until her nap is over. This big loveable guy has become quite the nanny dog to his new kid sister and loves cuddling with her on the floor, even when Josephine decides to tug his ears to show her affection. …
Handsome Dan has a lot to be thankful for, and he knows it. He has also managed to pay it forward throughout the year. Heather and Mark run a kenneling service, doggie day care, animal rescue group, and more. They specialize in rescuing and placing pit bulls, among other breeds. Handsome Dan has played a key role in teaching good behavior skills to several such dogs.
Heather and Mark seek out shy, fearful dogs in particular to help, which is how Handsome Dan used to act. Now his confidence is so much higher that he can help these other dogs work through their own shy hang-ups. After all, it’s much easier to find a great home if you’re not ducking behind the furniture whenever somebody new drops in.
Never one to forget his friends back at the Sanctuary, Handsome Dan has a particular dog he likes to stay in contact with as well: fellow Vicktory dog Little Red. He sends her care packages all the time, most often consisting of stylish clothing to help her stay warm. Handsome Dan needs to wear shirts and sweaters to keep cozy, and he knows Little Red is the same way. They have quite the long distance relationship brewing.
He made a special effort to pay it forward during the holidays (okay, with a little help from Mark and Heather!). Handsome Dan hopped onto his Facebook page and asked for Kong toy donations that he could send along to the local animal control center. The idea was that Handsome Dan’s family would host a Kong-stuffing party right before the holidays, freezing goodies inside the toys and then delivering them to the animal control center. In the end, his fans came through with such an enthusiastic response that Heather and Mark literally had to store the avalanche of Kongs in friends’ freezers throughout town. All told, Handsome Dan pulled in not only enough Kongs for every dog at the animal control center, but enough for every other shelter and rescue in the entire city. His fans also sent along beds, blankets, tennis balls, and monetary donations for the cause.
Wow. Did we mention he’s getting better at asking for things? Handsome Dan was afraid of his own shadow when he first came to Best Friends from Michael Vick’s estate. After all the love and care Handsome Dan experienced at the Sanctuary, then eighteen months later in such a loving home, those days are gone forever. He has most certainly hit his stride.
In truth, he may always hesitate slightly when it comes to experiencing brand new things, but the big difference now is that such hesitations no longer get in the way. He enjoys life and lives it up to the hilt on a daily basis. Mark and Heather continue to take Handsome Dan on regular adventure outings, both for fun and with their rescue efforts. He meets new dog friends, new people friends, and even gets to stay in touch with an old friend in the form of Cherry the Vicktory dog. Handsome Dan and Cherry were the closest of pals back at the Sanctuary, and they connected again just over a year ago when their two families wanted to let the dogs continue the friendship.
Bottom line, Handsome Dan’s days and weeks are filled with laughter, love, play time, and a family he can call his own. He has certainly found his happy ending. "He’s such a good boy," says Heather. "He’s my best friend."
Watch the Vicktory dogs 2011 video and catch up with these rescued dogs at the Sanctuary and in their forever homes!
Photos by Aleksandra Gajdeczka
Donate to help other animals like Dan get the help they need to find their forever homes.
Catch up with some of the other Vicktory dogs.

Hazel the pig at the Sanctuary volunterred at...touching

Ring in the new

January 20, 2011 : 6:25 PM ET
By David Dickson
Hazel the pig finally understands the mentality behind her favorite bedtime story characters’ pursuit of construction excellence. Straw, sticks, or bricks, she had never really experienced what it was like to sleep in a house all her own before. Now that she’s tried it, she’s never going back!
Meet the new kid on the block. Hazel, the newest pig at the Sanctuary, came to Best Friends when her family could no longer keep up with her needs. She’s quite the glamour-girl, certain to catch many an eye from the other pigs. For starters, Hazel has mostly white hair, a much rarer coloring among the standard black potbellied pigs. Yet even though she is sure to draw attention from the other pigs, it will be some time before she notices any of them in turn. Hazel suffers from mechanical blindness.
Mechanical blindness occurs when a pig gains so much weight that rolls of fat close in over the eye sockets and block out her vision. Hazel is basically wearing a blindfold created by her own body. This condition is more common among pigs than one might think.
Many people who keep pigs as pets don’t understand what pigs need to eat in order to stay healthy. In the past, pigs have come to the Sanctuary having lived on diets of everything from pizza to mac ‘n cheese. Hazel is not the first pig to arrive with mechanical blindness. Lucky for her, everything is about to change for the better.
She’ll get her vision back.
First and foremost, Hazel is now eating the same high-quality, nutritious food as all the other pigs at the Sanctuary. Her healthy eating plan includes lots of lettuce, other veggies, fruits and so forth (no pig pellets!). The food plan the pigs follow at Best Friends is meant to replicate what they’d eat in the wild.
As it happens, most new arrival pigs don’t know what to think of their food at first. Sure enough, Hazel acts suspicious around the greens. "Um, nice dinner decorations here, folks, but where’s the food?"
The caregivers have had to get sneaky with those veggies. They’ve been coating her lettuce and other vegetables with a thin smear of canned pumpkin and plain yogurt. That has helped Hazel during the transition. Before long, she’ll realize — as have all the other pigs before her — this is the only way to go. It doesn’t usually take long for the pigs to begin craving their healthier, more natural diets. With proper eating, the weight should start to come off. As well, Hazel will soon be heading out for regular walks with caregivers and volunteers. She’s only three years old so the extra activity should be quite the adventure for her.
To prevent liver damage, Hazel's weight loss has to be kept slow and steady. It’s a real balancing act, but one the pig caregivers have down pat. In time, Hazel will be able to bat eyelashes back at the handsome pigs who are already gawking from a distance!
The food at Best Friends is only one part of her new life, however. While the culinary experience hasn’t thrilled her thus far, the housing situation seems to more than make up for it. "She loves having a house," explains pig manager Yvonne McIntosh. Hazel slept under the stars at her previous home. She now finds the concept of a cozy structure to sleep inside, complete with all the warm straw and blankets she can root around in, to be better than she’s ever imagined. Given her new-found affinity for housing, pity the "Big Bad Wolf" who tries to come between Hazel and her new digs.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Back Again...

after starting the reading of the Happiness Project, I have decided to start up my blog again :) look for more from me in the new future!