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On The Dyspeptic Rona Ambrose

Politics and its Discontents - Sat, 06/20/2015 - 05:56

In a post last week, I explained the basis for my outrage over Health Minister Rona Ambrose's manufactured rant at the Supreme Court's decision permitting medical marijuana users to ingest their medicine in any form they wish. Reading this morning's Star letters to the editor, I was pleased to see that I am not alone in my reaction to Ms Ambrose and the regime she is a mouthpiece for.

Here are but a few of many excellent missives:

Re: Chill out, minister, Editorial June 14
How ironic is this? Rona Ambrose, health minister in the Harper government, infamous for their disdain for science, invokes science in her rejection of the Supreme Court decision on medical marijuana.

While I happen to agree that much of the medical use of marijuana is not evidence based, the Harper government shows their cynicism in challenging medical marijuana. It’s not a good fit with their popular tough-on-crime agenda, which the evidence shows is expensive, ineffective and cruel.

When this government revitalizes StatsCan, environmental research and protection and evidence based justice then they can legitimately pronounce on marijuana use.

Peter Crosby, Toronto

Kudos to the Supreme Court for legalizing the use of medical marijuana through oils and foods; it is a common-sense decision that will benefit patients across Canada, and have a profound effect on the lives of individuals with the most extreme forms of epilepsy.

For years, too many of our members have been unable to control their seizures with conventional therapies. Medical marijuana has provided seizure control for adults and children, some of whom have gone from having dozens of seizures every day to none. While more research is needed, these anecdotal cases are having a real impact on the lives of many people with epilepsy.

Providing families with the option to use oils and foods to take their medical marijuana instead of being forced to smoke or inhale it gives individuals already living with medical challenges an easier and more sensible way of getting the medication they need.

Drew Woodley, Director of Communications, Epilepsy Toronto

Perhaps Health Minister Rona Ambrose’s sense of outrage about the Supreme Court decision regarding medical marijuana could have been better directed at her boss. If she had done her homework she would have discovered that the Harper government itself cancelled the research component of the medical marijuana program shortly after he took office.

Since he wasn’t able to obliterate the program entirely he quickly began the process of enacting barriers and demonizing users. Ironically if he had known then that he would later learn to muzzle scientific communications at will, he could have let the research go on, comfortable that any unwanted positive findings would never be heard.

It is so like this government to be so easily outraged when frustrated, much like a toddler.

Steven Gaber, Toronto

Health Minister Rona Ambrose is “outraged” that the Supreme Court ruled unanimously that marijuana can be legally consumed in forms other than smoking. “This is not a drug,” she said. “This is not medicine.”

Such breathtakingly ill-informed statements coming out of the mouth of a so-called health minister is appalling. I wonder if she would be willing to repeat such canards to all of the children with debilitating forms of epilepsy who are helped through the ingestion of small amounts of various cannabis preparations? Perhaps she could embrace one of these children in her motherly arms as they suffer yet another seizure, maybe offer them a joint?

Strains of low or no THC marijuana that are high in cannabidiol (CBD) have been developed and have proven remarkably effective at controlling not only seizures, but providing relief from neuropathic pain, PTSD, Crohn’s disease, and nausea as a result of chemotherapy, to name but a few. The loving minister, however, appears to be wantonly ignorant of such developments to the point of unmitigated callousness.

Ambrose goes on to say “There’s very harmful effects of marijuana, especially on our youth.” Really? Would the good madame care to list them?

I applaud the Supreme Court and the wisdom of its decision. If only such sage reasoning could be instilled elsewhere, beginning with the health minister’s office.

Walter Ross, West Richland, Wash.Recommend this Post

Not With A Bang

Northern Reflections - Sat, 06/20/2015 - 05:13

James Moore left yesterday. And Don Meredith was booted from the Conservative Senate caucus earlier in the week. It looks like things are falling apart in Harperland. And, as she travels the country, Chantal Hebert writes that she's picking up on that vibe, too:

In Ontario and British Columbia, the NDP has been on the move in the polls while Conservative support has stalled or declined. Ditto in Atlantic Canada The NDP and the Liberals have long been communicating vessels for opposition votes but there is more than the usual opposition arithmetic at play behind the deficit in support of the Conservatives.By all indications, a sizeable proportion of the 2011 supporters that they expected to come home as disenchantment with the Liberals set in are keeping their options open and/or are checking out the New Democrats.
It was not supposed to be this way. The budget and Bill C-51 were supposed to put the opposition parties on the ropes. But, instead, the Harperites have fewer and fewer defenders:
But perhaps what struck me most was how few people were willing to speak up in defence of the government. As opposition to Harper has become more vocal, support for his re-election has become more discreet.That stands in stark contrast with the immediate lead-up to the last campaign when even non-Conservative voters would often readily concede that they felt Harper had managed the global economic crisis with competence. That sentiment was omnipresent in Ontario — where he subsequently won his majority.
Four years later, many die-hard Conservatives privately admit that they expected more from their party’s first majority government in almost two decades. They are underwhelmed by the sum of Harper’s third mandate.More than a few of them find it hard to take pride in a team that has chosen to dumb itself down by making ultra-partisan MPs such as Pierre Poilièvre and Paul Calandra its poster boys in the House of Commons.
It may all come to and end, as Eliot wrote, not with a bang but a whimper.

Stephen Harper's Monstrous Plan to Steal the Election

Montreal Simon - Sat, 06/20/2015 - 04:36

After four years and 24 days of being slowly strangled by Stephen Harper, the 41st Parliament has finally groaned its last, and given up the ghost.

And although that bestial leader must have enjoyed savaging the traditions and values of the country he hates with a passion only he can muster.

He can hardly be celebrating. Because his depraved behaviour has finally caught up with him.

And it is, as Chantal Hébert writes, his season of discontent.
Read more »

Musical interlude

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 17:37
Electrostatic - Eliminate Me

Friday Afternoon Links

accidentaldeliberations - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 16:09
Assorted content to end your week.

- Sam Becker discusses the economic harm done by growing inequality, while Alexandra Zeevalkink previews Katharine Round's upcoming documentary on the issue. And Carol Goar argues that Canadians are eager for leadership to ensure that everybody shares in our country's wealth.

- Meanwhile, Laura Cattari points out the importance of giving people living in poverty a voice in policy decisions. And Erik Loomis highlights the consequences of failing to do so, as an imbalance in political influence has resulted in U.S. corporations being able to use poor areas both domestic and foreign as dumping grounds for toxic substances.

- Karri Munn-Venn reminds us of the high cost of tax slashing:
Tax cuts in recent decades have been sold to the public under the false pretense that lower taxes benefit everyone.  The truth is, cutting government spending has a detrimental impact in terms of lost programs and investments that will impact us all – both now and in the future.

Provincial and federal governments have made significant changes to Canada’s tax system over the past two decades, reducing the level of taxation on corporations and high income individuals.  Deep tax cuts have reduced the amount of revenue available to governments.  They also make the tax system itself less progressive, shifting the responsibility for financing public services onto middle and lower income families.

Canadians deserve to be told what spending cuts will cost them.  Reducing taxes without an open and honest debate about consequences does not meet the criteria of transparent and accountable decision-making.  And it hurts us all.

When government tells citizens that it can’t afford to invest in the programs and services that people in Canada need and rely on, we must remember that the tax policies of these same governments have put us in this predicament in the first place.  Every year since 2006, a range of tax cuts have resulted in foregone revenues of $45 billion.

And yet, millions of people in Canada continue to live in poverty, climate change and growing greenhouse gas emissions take a toll on our environment, and refugees are being turned away and denied essential healthcare.  So while some of us may have a few more dollars in our pockets, those on the margins of society pay with their well-being.- Thomas Walkom discusses why Canadian federal politicians (outside the NDP) are so rarely inclined to talk about health care even when it's a top-of-mind issue for a large number of voters. And Kathleen O'Grady and Noralou Roos comment that the media also does far too little to highlight health policy issues for the public.

- Finally, Michael Harris sees C-51 as remaking Canada in Stephen Harper's own paranoid and controlling image, while Michael Geist argues that the Libs' excuses for falling in line behind Harper's power grab are no more plausible now than they've ever been. And Karl Nerenberg rightly slams the Cons for crying terrorism every time anybody questions their abuses of power.

The Con Clown James Moore Jumps Off the Harper Ship

Montreal Simon - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 14:45

Well the last time we saw James Moore he was bobbing up and down in English Bay claiming that the Con's pathetic oil recovery effort was "world class."

But now I'm delighted to report, the Con beluga has spouted his last blast of hot air, slipped below the surface.

And become the latest high-profile Con to abandon Stephen Harper.
Read more »

The Down Side: Prenatal Testing and Its Consequences

Dammit Janet - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 13:30
As a long-time observer of the totally insane USian anti-abortion scene, I really really thought there was nothing left they could do that would shock me.

Of course I was wrong.
A bill banning abortions in cases where a test or diagnosis indicates Down Syndrome has cleared an Ohio House panel.

The House Community and Family Advancement Committee passed the measure Tuesday. Its next stop would be the House floor.

It's part of Ohio Right to Life's legislative agenda this session, as the anti-abortion group tries to continue a streak of legislative successes in Ohio's Republican-led Legislature.

The bill prohibits a person from performing, inducing or attempting an abortion on a pregnant woman because Down Syndrome is indicated.Let that sink in a minute.

Caught your breath?

The state would force a woman to carry a defective pregnancy to term.

I took crap on Twitter the other day for calling Down Syndrome a defect, admonished rather to use the term "different."

Well, let's have a look at some facts.
Down syndrome (DS or DNS) or Down's syndrome, also known as trisomy 21, is a genetic disorder caused by the presence of all or part of a third copy of chromosome 21. It is typically associated with physical growth delays, characteristic facial features, and mild to moderate intellectual disability. The average IQ of a young adult with Down syndrome is 50, equivalent to the mental age of an 8- or 9-year-old child, but this varies widely.Go to the link for a long list of what else Down Syndrome entails: heart, hearing, vision, and thyroid problems, just to hit the highlights.

Of course I understand that all pregnancies pose various risks -- to the parent's health and life, ditto on the fetus.

And the Big Question: What sort of child will this pregnancy produce?

But pregnancy and child-rearing also represent huge investments.

Human beings are wired to try to minimize risk. So, of course there are all kinds of prenatal tests for things parents would like NOT to pass on to offspring.

Down Syndrome, being genetic, has had a lot of attention from scientists* trying to devise good tests. And they've been pretty successful.

Cell-free fetal DNA is non-invasive, can be done quite early, and has few false positives.

From Wiki: "Guidelines recommend screening for Down syndrome to be offered to all pregnant women, regardless of age."

So what happens when women get bad news?

They opt for termination.
About 92% of pregnancies in Europe with a diagnosis of Down syndrome are terminated. In the United States, termination rates are around 67%, but this varies significantly depending upon the population evaluated. When nonpregnant people are asked if they would have a termination if their fetus tested positive, 23–33% said yes, when high-risk pregnant women were asked, 46–86% said yes, and when women who screened positive are asked, 89–97% say yes.Those numbers are pretty clear evidence that most people faced with this diagnosis say: No fucking way am I going through with this.

Here's a recent story from Britain:
More women than ever are choosing to abort babies with genetic abnormalities after the introduction of new blood tests that allow the conditions to be more easily detected during pregnancy.

An investigation into figures published by the Department of Health reveals the number of abortions carried out because babies were found to have Down’s syndrome or other serious disabilities has increased by 34 per cent in just three years since 2011.This, of course, is what is prompting the SHRIEEEKING and the proposed law in Ohio.

Creepy Dominionist Mike Schouten goes Godwin at LieSite.

And here's a recent piece from the Washington Post, by Renate Lindeman, a "spokesperson for Dutch parent group Downpride."

She claims that Down Syndrome screening is about "eliminating a group of people."

No, it's not. It's individual parents and families, offered tests, given results, thinking it over, and making individual decisions based on their own desires and capacities.

In other words, people taking advantage of technological ingenuity to get information in order to make their own choices about their own families.

It doesn't get more human than this.

It's not evil, it's not genocide, and it certainly is not Nazi.

And the state has no fucking business in it. At. All.

Note to commenters: Yes. I know Down Syndrome people can be lovely, joyful people. And to people who choose to birth and bring up these children, good on you. But your saintliness gives you no right to shit on people who choose not to.

*When I was looking into prenatal testing for Down Syndrome, I found an interesting side story. Dr Jérôme Lejeune, the "discoverer" of the chromosomal anomaly, is considered by fetus freaks to be a hero. There's an institute named after him. Pope John Paul II wanted to make him president of the Pontifical Academy for Life. But sadly, Dr. Lejeune died before that could happen.

Well, funny story. Dr Lejeune actually stole the work of another researcher, a woman named Marthe Gautier.

At the time, the laboratories at the Armand-Trousseau hospital did not have a microscope capable of capturing images of the slides. Gautier entrusted her slides to Jérôme Lejeune, an intern at CNRS, who offered to take pictures in another laboratory better equipped for this task. In August 1958 the photographs identified the supernumerary chromosome in Down syndrome patients. However Lejeune did not return the slides, but instead reported the discovery as his own.
Ah, well, ç'est la vie, eh?

This Justin

Dawg's Blawg - Fri, 06/19/2015 - 09:58
The emperor has no clothes. Only the most Liberal-intoxicated refuse to acknowledge it. Son chien est mort. Like the famous parrot, he’s no more. He has ceased to be. Emerging after weeks of absence, Justin Trudeau could do no better... Dr.Dawg


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