Ungodly Women

I’d say that like most extremists, the people handing out these pamphlets are likely far too consumed with their own fantasies of what “ungodly women” do with their genitalia.

I mean, it’s a fairly well-known fact that the way rape victims dress has nothing to do with their rape. As I recall, the latest research shows you’re more likely to be targeted if you’re modestly dressed.

But that kind of misses the point, doesn’t it? You’d think religious groups could, you know, just tell men not to rape. If they believe gay men can become straight through prayer and willpower, why do they make this blanket exemption for heterosexual men, blaming women for inciting them to rape instead of telling them to keep their junk in their pants and NOT RAPE PEOPLE?

If I were a young rape victim and someone handed me something like that, I think I’d have to break something – probably their car window.

Punish Them

When even Warren Buffett, who is no Boy Scout himself, is calling them out, you know it’s bad:

NEW YORK (MarketWatch) — Warren Buffett, the world’s most famous investor, launched an attack Saturday on big-bank executives, calling for penalties for those who led their companies to near-ruin.

In his latest letter to shareholders, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. decried the fact that while shareholders suffered during the recent crash, the top people at the banks got off relatively lightly.

“It has not been shareholders who have botched the operations of some of our country’s largest financial institutions,” wrote Buffett. “Yet they have borne the burden, with 90% or more of the value of their holdings wiped out in most cases of failure. Collectively, they have lost more than $500 billion in just the four largest financial fiascos of the last two years. To say these owners have been ‘bailed-out’ is to make a mockery of the term.

“The CEOs and directors of the failed companies, however, have largely gone unscathed. Their fortunes may have been diminished by the disasters they oversaw, but they still live in grand style,” added Buffett.

Finacial ‘Reform’

There goes Krugman, making sense again:

So here’s the situation. We’ve been through the second-worst financial crisis in the history of the world, and we’ve barely begun to recover: 29 million Americans either can’t find jobs or can’t find full-time work. Yet all momentum for serious banking reform has been lost. The question now seems to be whether we’ll get a watered-down bill or no bill at all. And I hate to say this, but the second option is starting to look preferable.

[,,,] There’s no question that consumers need much better protection. The late Edward Gramlich — a Federal Reserve official who tried in vain to get Alan Greenspan to act against predatory lending — summarized the case perfectly back in 2007: “Why are the most risky loan products sold to the least sophisticated borrowers? The question answers itself — the least sophisticated borrowers are probably duped into taking these products.”

Is it important that this protection be provided by an independent agency? It must be, or lobbyists wouldn’t be campaigning so hard to prevent that agency’s creation.

And it’s not hard to see why. Some have argued that the job of protecting consumers can and should be done either by the Fed or — as in one compromise that at this point seems unlikely — by a unit within the Treasury Department. But remember, not that long ago Mr. Greenspan was Fed chairman and John Snow was Treasury secretary. Case closed. The only way consumers will be protected under future antiregulation administrations — and believe me, given the power of the financial lobby, there will be such administrations — is if there’s an agency whose whole reason for being is to police bank abuses.

In summary, then, it’s time to draw a line in the sand. No reform, coupled with a campaign to name and shame the people responsible, is better than a cosmetic reform that just covers up failure to act.

Antibiotic Resistance

It’s kind of Zen, don’t you think? The response to being overpowered is… stop fighting!

OSLO, Norway — Aker University Hospital is a dingy place to heal. The floors are streaked and scratched. A light layer of dust coats the blood pressure monitors. A faint stench of urine and bleach wafts from a pile of soiled bedsheets dropped in a corner.

Look closer, however, at a microscopic level, and this place is pristine. There is no sign of a dangerous and contagious staph infection that killed tens of thousands of patients in the most sophisticated hospitals of Europe, North America and Asia last year, soaring virtually unchecked.

The reason: Norwegians stopped taking so many drugs.

Twenty-five years ago, Norwegians were also losing their lives to this bacteria. But Norway’s public health system fought back with an aggressive program that made it the most infection-free country in the world. A key part of that program was cutting back severely on the use of antibiotics.

Now a spate of new studies from around the world prove that Norway’s model can be replicated with extraordinary success, and public health experts are saying these deaths — 19,000 in the U.S. each year alone, more than from AIDS — are unnecessary.

“It’s a very sad situation that in some places so many are dying from this, because we have shown here in Norway that Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus [MRSA] can be controlled, and with not too much effort,” said Jan Hendrik-Binder, Oslo’s MRSA medical advisor. “But you have to take it seriously, you have to give it attention and you must not give up.”

The World Health Organization says antibiotic resistance is one of the leading public health threats on the planet. A six-month investigation by The Associated Press found overuse and misuse of medicines has led to mutations in once curable diseases like tuberculosis and malaria, making them harder and in some cases impossible to treat.

Surprise, Surprise

Imagine that! Now if only the DoJ would go after the cable companies, we’d have a Democratic majority in perpetuity…

A home electronics retail store has filed a class-action lawsuit against Sony Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Toshiba Corp., LG Electronics Inc., Hitachi Ltd. and several subsidiaries, accusing the electronics manufacturers of colluding to fix prices in the U.S. optical disc drive (ODD) market.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday, also claims the disc drive manufacturers used trade organization forums to meet and discuss agreements to keep prices of CD, DVD and Blu-ray drives in products like the Sony PlayStation 3 and PCs artificially high.

“When the price of ODD began to dip, the Defendants entered into an illegal agreement to prevent competitors from entering into the market and to keep prices at a supracompetitive level,” the lawsuit states.

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