Abstinence — how’s that workin’ for ya?

New York Times

The first national study of four common sexually transmitted diseases among girls and young women has found that one in four are infected with at least one of the diseases, federal health officials reported Tuesday.

Nearly half the African-Americans in the study of teenagers ages 14 to 19 were infected with at least one of the diseases monitored in the study — human papillomavirus (HPV), chlamydia, genital herpes and trichomoniasis, a common parasite.

That’s 25% folks, even higher for African-American teen girls.  Helloooo…?  Not telling our kids about sex, how it works, the risks, and how to protect themselves — in other words, abstinence-only — DOES NOT WORK.

Among the infected women, 15 percent had more than one of the diseases.

Women may be unaware they are infected. But the diseases, which are infections caused by bacteria, viruses and parasites, can produce acute symptoms like irritating vaginal discharge, painful pelvic inflammatory disease and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancy. The infections can also lead to longterm ailments like infertility and cervical cancer.

Makes you long for the “good old days” when no one had sex before marriage.  Yeah, I’m joking.

The president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Cecile Richards, said the new findings “emphasize the need for real comprehensive sex education.”

“The national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure,” Ms. Richards said, “and teenage girls are paying the real price.”

That’s what this administration does best.  Dream up an insanely stupid plan, throw billions of dollars at it, and then ignore the situation until it’s completely out of control.

Federal health officials recommend annual screening tests to detect chlamydia for sexually active women younger than 25. The disease agency also recommends that women ages 11 to 26 be fully vaccinated against HPV.

Excellent idea.  Getting our girls vaccinated against HPV will save them from the type of cervical cancer caused by HPV.  Anyone who says vaccinating girls against HPV is “giving them permission to have sex,” lives in a dream world.  I wonder how many young women who saved themselves for their wedding night acquire an STD from their brand new, and equally clueless, husband?

The Food and Drug Administration has said in a report that latex condoms are “highly effective” at preventing infection by chlamydia, trichomoniasis, H.I.V., gonorrhea and hepatitis B.

The agency noted that condoms seemed less effective against genital herpes and syphilis. Protection against human papillomavirus “is partial at best,” the report said.

I’ve said this before, and it’s worth saying again:  Education is the key.  Parents, educate yourselves so you can educate your children.  Things have changed since syphilis and gonorrhea.   Create an atmosphere in your home where your children feel free to talk to you, and where you notice if your children have gone quiet.

Fund comprehensive sex education in the schools.  Some children simply will not get the information they need at home, this is a reality.  Ignorance has an effect on all of us.

Teaching abstinence and responsibility to our children is fine, there’s nothing wrong with encouraging children to wait until they are emotionally ready for sex — but education cannot and should not stop there.  Look at where it’s gotten us…

Spitzer’s shame is Wall Street’s gain

Truthdig, by Robert Scheer

Excerpts from the piece:

Tell me again: Why should we get all worked up over the revelation that the New York governor paid for sex? Will it bring back to life the eight U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq that same day in a war that makes no sense and has cost this nation trillions in future debt? Will it save those millions of homes that hardworking folks all over the country are losing because of financial industry shenanigans that Eliot Spitzer, as much as anyone, attempted to halt? Perhaps it provides some insight into why oil has risen to $108 a barrel, benefiting most of all the oil sheiks whom our taxpayer-supported military has kept in power?

The sad truth is that reporting on major corruption, say, the rationalizations of a president who has authorized torture, doesn’t cut it as a marketing bonanza. Just days before this grand exposé, the president vetoed a bill banning torture, and instead of being greeted with horrified disgust, the president’s deep denigration of this nation’s presumed ideals was met with a vast public yawn. Torture, unlike paid sex, doesn’t have legs as a news story.

The New York Times, which editorially has supported the candidacy of Hillary Clinton, whose vast White House experience clearly did not include corralling her husband, now editorializes contemptuously about Spitzer’s betrayal of the public trust as well as about his exploitation of his “ashen-faced” wife, who, like Hillary, stood by her man.

I wouldn’t have written this column had I not read The Wall Street Journal’s Page 1 news story headlined “Wall Street Cheers as Its Nemesis Plunges Into Crisis.” The article begins with the crowing statement “It’s Schadenfreude time on Wall Street” and goes on to quote those whom Spitzer went after over what should be considered the criminal greed that has predominated on Wall Street. It was Spitzer, as much as anyone, who sounded the alarm on the subprime mortgage crisis, the obscene payouts to CEOs who defrauded their shareholders and the other financial scandals that have brought the U.S. economy to its knees.

Go here to read the whole thing.

Hello from Europe – Mississippi and beyond.

The Obama campaign relentlessly and unagitatedly follows the path to the majority in popular votes and pledged delegates. Foolish comments by ageing female politicians nonwithstanding, they are working on getting out the message of change. Matter of factly, keeping mostly aloof from the nasty campaigning of the other candidate and a welcome change from the mudslinging that has become so typical for Washington.

Yesterday Senator Obama bagged Mississippi and has overcome the net gain Senator Clinton has gotten in Ohio and Rhode Island. Moreover, CNN reports, that Texas has been won by Barack Obama, who has overcome Hillary Clinton’s lead in delegates there, by winning the caucuses by a large margin.

The Mississippi primaries are highlighted as racially polarized, because Senator Obama brought home 91% of the black votes and Senator Clinton 72% of the white votes. The Guardian takes a closer look at the numbers and finds:

But fears of an increasing racially divided electorate is not borne out by the facts. Let’s compare the exit polls between next-door MIssissippi and Alabama, two states with similar sets of primary voters. The difference is that Alabama voted on Super Tuesday, February 5 – the high-water mark for the Clinton campaign. In Alabama, Clinton won white independents by 64% to Obama’s 31%. By Mississippi’s voting day, Clinton’s white independent support slipped to 55%, compared with Obama’s rise to 40%. Similarly, Clinton’s support from white Democrats had also slipped over the month between the two primaries. 

 The Independent makes a slightly different case:

Mrs Clinton also blocked inroads he has made into her white voter base in northern states. Mrs Clinton won narrowly among white independents, who made up 14 per cent of the total electorate. Republicans who decided to cross over for Mrs Clinton – 11 per cent of the vote are now her strongest single group, handing her 85 per cent of their votes. Republicans and independents have been attracted to Mr Obama’s campaign, but not in racially polarised Mississippi.

Same numbers from a different point of view. Fact is, Senator Obama leads Senator Clinton by 1’404 to 1’243 pledged delegates. However, the foolish invocation of racism, evident in Geraldine Ferraro’s comments, opens even wider rifts within the Democratic and progressive community, which will be very difficult to overcome after the nomination.

A very disturbing story came out of the Pentagon yesterday afternoon. The resignation of Admiral Fallon, which of course, has nothing to do with his critical positions when it comes to Iran and, of course, it is ‘ridiculous’ to think this would mean an attack on Iran was imminent. The Bush Administration does not intend to bomb, bomb, bomb Iran, but what if they are forced to? For more on how propaganda in the lead up to wars follows the same pattern each time, turn to Norman Solomon’s books. See, how Europe took it.

The Times  sees the ‘turf war’ between Admiral Fallon and his subordinate General Petraeus as a reason behind the resignation:

Pentagon insiders said that Admiral Fallon’s departure was more the result of a turf battle between him and General David Petraeus, the US ground commander in Iraq. Admiral Fallon was General Petraeus’s commanding officer but for months Mr Bush has deferred to General Petraeus, against the objections of Admiral Fallon, who is believed to have been advocating a speedier withdrawal of US troops from Iraq

The Guardian is speaking of a rift within the Pentagon:

The Bush administration today moved to downplay divisions within the Pentagon over its Iraq war strategy exposed by the sudden departure of its Middle East commander.

The Telegraph bluntly calls Fallons move a resignation over Iran, as does the Independent:

The top US commander for the Middle East resigned yesterday, a step that seems to bear out reports of sharp policy differences on Iran between a hawkish White House and a uniformed military leadership opposed to military action.

According to the Washington Post his likely successor will be General Petraeus.