Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

The Wisconsin protests continue. The crowd swelled to 70,000 yesterday, according to Rockford Register Star. Here is a great diary on our brother site, Daily Kos, by a protester responding to critics who say that union members should just be happy to be employed. These were my favorite lines in that piece:

I’m happy as hell to have a job too. I’m sure a sharecropper is happy to chop cotton and dig peanuts for the landlord. I’m happy that I’m not starving to death or living under a bridge. But that doesn’t make our community a place where the dignity of working people is upheld and justice for all is preserved.

If we want to live in a banana republic where the money and power of a tiny minority of wealthy people and corporate weasels crush the hopes of free people, then yes, a mouthful of bread and a warm place to defecate is all you need. But that isn’t the land of the free & home of the brave I grew up in. I’m too damn proud of my country and my state to cower in fear every time the Koch brothers snap their fingers.

Exactly. It is sad to me that corporations have made bank on the backs of employees in developing countries and workers spread very thin in the U.S. — yet the workers are the greedy ones? Pfft!

In other political news: the House just blocked federal funding for Planned Parenthood, according to MSNBC.com. I have a response to the so-called “Christian” Republicans who called this a “victory for life.” A mere two to three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions. The grand majority of their services is basic health care, including for pregnant women, men and children. I know I have relied on Planned Parenthood for pap smears, check-ups and heavily subsidized birth control whenever I have been uninsured.

I can’t believe that certain Christians and Republicans would prefer denying health care to poor people — that could cost the life of an unborn child! — over the two to three percent of PP’s clients who go there for abortion. Yet, more evidence that we hate poor people in this country…

In better — happier — news: the “mid-life crisis” is actually a myth, according to Live Science. Thank you.

Also cool: Facebook just added “civil unions” and “domestic partnership” as relationship statuses, according to the New York Daily News.

From the bizarre news file: the body of a dead newborn baby was found in the bag of one of the girls who attend Oprah Winfrey’s school for girls in South Africa, according to ABC News.

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Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

In education news: Daily Kos’s TeacherKen wrote a phenomenal review of our Katy’s book, Why Great Teachers Quit And How We Might Stop the Exodus.

In entertainment news: I must agree with Huffington Post writer Ken Levine’s take on this season’s American Idol. First of all, I cracked up when he referred to new judge Steven Tyler as “Carly Simon.” Also, he is right that it has become a competition of 16-year-olds — after all, these kids grew up on Idol and prepped for it their entire lives. And did you notice that they sounded exactly the same?

Oprah Winfrey is expected to reveal a family secret today on her show, according to the Seattle Post Intelligence. Will you be watching?

In political news: Please join us tomorrow night for our State of the Union Open Thread. The speech is slated to air 9 p.m. ET/6 p.m. PT.

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

First, I need to send some props to my friend, Annabel Park, whose amazing documentary Liberty 9500 has been picked up by MTV. Liberty 9500 is about the ordinance in Prince County, Maryland, which very much like Arizona’s SB 1070, allowed for local law enforcement to pull over anyone suspected of being in the country illegally. It was interesting to see the fallout of that law, as well as the consequences of letting vocal extremists take over the government.

Annabel is also the brain behind the Coffee Party, a forum allowing people of different political persuasions to come together. I plan to attend and speak at the Coffee Party’s first conference this September 24 to 26. I will be on a few panels named “America’s Culture War: Immigration,” “Countering the Politics of Division/Advancing Equality” — with Lt. Dan Choi! — and “The Revolution Will Be on YouTube & Twitter: Online Tools.”  Yes, I will be going to Louisville, Kentucky, sitting on panels with not only fellow liberals, but conservatives from, among other movements, the Tea Party. It should be interesting and I will definitely keep you posted. But if you wish to attend — it is open to the public — here is the link. Also, if you are in the area, how about an impromptu MT meet-up? Let me know here or at elisa at mothertalkers dot com.

Also, this Saturday I will spend the day at the Los Angeles Convention Center for an event hosted by Latinos in Social Media. At 3 p.m., I will participate on a panel of Latina mami bloggers. This event is free to the public. Just register.

On another personal note, MomsRising is running a blog carnival on child nutrition this Thursday. The blog carnivals are usually well-trafficked as they are tweeted to MomsRising’s million-plus members. If you’d like to submit a piece about food, just let me know here or e-mail Anita, aka “Rolling,” at anita at momsrising dot org.

In other news: After a nasty outbreak of whooping cough in our state, the San Francisco school district will now bar unvaccinated kids from attending school for three weeks after each reported case. From Newsweek:

Every state grants vaccine exemptions based on medical need. But since the ’90s, as concern (albeit scientifically unfounded) about a link between vaccines and autism intensified, at least 20 states have allowed opt-outs for “personal belief.“ As a result, the percentage of unvaccinated kids has more than doubled nationally. And the number has quadrupled in California, where two out of three kids in some San Francisco schools are unprotected from 19th-century medical terrors.

According to the article, national advocates want to put an end to check-a-box exemptions entirely. What say you?

Also in Newsweek: Former prison chaplain Lynn Litchfield wrote a disturbing “My Turn” column about a mentally retarded woman who is about to be executed in Virginia. She would be the first woman executed in that state in 98 years. The thing is the convicted inmate, Teresa Lewis, did not carry out the killings, and the actual killers got life in prison. Hmm…random justice?

A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. military’s ban on openly gay service members violates the Constitution, according to the Washington Post. The judge granted an injunction to stop the military from discharging openly gay men and women, but allowed the government time to appeal the ruling.

Here is a bummer of an article on how even “healthy” cereals can be sweet and fattening like Raisin Bran. Considering I am a sucker for General Mills’ Reese’s Puffs cereal, I should not have read this article.

How awesome is this: on her final show, Oprah Winfrey told her studio audience of 300 that she was taking them to Australia, according to MSN TV. Can I fit into your suitcase, Oprah?

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Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Let’s call this the celebrity gossip edition. I can’t listen to the radio in the morning without a mention of Larry King’s possible divorce to wife No. 7, Shawn Southwick. According to media reports like this one, King, 76, filed for divorce from Southwick, 50, after courting his wife’s younger sister Shannon. But then I spotted this ABC News report that they are in counseling and the divorce may not happen. Who knew the interviewer had a juicier personal life than the people on his show!

Holy crap. Did you hear about the Canadian lap-dancing teachers? They were apparently YouTube sensations and have been forced to resign from their jobs for simulating a lap dance and oral sex at a school pep rally. Here is an Associated Press story on it.

I have been reading bits and pieces in the press about Kitty Kelley’s biography on Oprah Winfrey. Needless to say, it doesn’t sound like she makes Oprah look good. Perhaps not surprisingly, Oprah was spotted at an event calling it a “so-called biography” and dumping it in the trash in front of her audience, according to eCanadaNow. Will you be reading Kelley’s book?

People magazine ran a sweet profile on Roger Ebert and his wife, Chaz, on how they cope with his cancer.

This sounds nasty: 7-Eleven is making its own budget-priced beer, according to the Associated Press. I did not know this, but the convenience store is the third largest retailer of beer in the country.

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

The recession is having an impact even on Wal-Mart. According to MSN Money, foot traffic at U.S. stores fell slightly as customers grappled with unemployment and less money to make purchases.

Attention Bay Area moms: a Chilean friend of mine — our Poppygirl’s husband — just created a website to help Chileans in the aftermath of the earthquake. It is a place for people in the Bay Area to host events to help the people of Chile.  

Laurie Puhn over at the Expecting Words blog doled out tips on how to save money on maternity clothes. Where did you buy or acquire your maternity wardrobe?

US News & World Report ran a profile of a mother and sociologist who doled out these two tips to increase parents’ happiness: eat dinner together as a family and change your morning routine to avoid conflict.

As our Katy over at Non-Toxic Kids pointed out, the Senate and House will be holding hearings to possibly reform the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which regulates the introduction of new or already existing chemicals. The law has not been updated since 1976.

In case you missed it, D.C. now allows same-sex marriage, according to CNN.

In disappointing news: the Catholic Archdiocese in Denver just barred the child of lesbian parents from attending a Catholic school, according to Pam’s House Blend blog. I was heartened to read of the many Catholic protesters on the ground in Denver and Boulder condemning this decision, which was clearly motivated by prejudice. After all, the church is not expelling the students whose parents have fornicated, been divorced, practiced birth control, committed adultery — all which go against church teachings, too. I pray the progressive Catholics on the ground keep the heat on Father Bill and the archdiocese.

In somewhat related news: the moms over at Mamapedia recently doled out tips on how to get your 6-year-old to sit still in church, or at least “enrich” the experience for her. Of course, many of the moms said there is no way to get a 6-year-old to sit through a sermon. What do you think?

Also, did any of you catch movie critic Roger Ebert on the Oprah Winfrey Show last week? My husband and I were in awe at how technology has evolved to help him sound like himself. Ebert had his thyroid, salivary glands and jaw removed due to cancer four years ago. He hasn’t been able to speak without the aid of a computer. A company in Scotland developed a program that helps him speak — and sound — like his old self. Amazing.

Alice in Wonderland, starring Johnny Depp, earned a $116.3 million in its opening weekend — a record for a movie in 3-D, according to the Associated Press. Will you watch it?

Hybrid Mom magazine had a video trailer of the upcoming movie Motherhood, starring Uma Thurman and Minnie Driver, that made me smile.  

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Tuesday Open Thread

What’s up?

Paul Farmer wrote an editorial for the Miami Herald on what needs to be done, as Bill Clinton said, to “build back better” Haiti. Once again, Farmer reiterated the need for money and not in-kind help like food and clothes. Personally, I was overwhelmed by how much work lays ahead for workers like Farmer and the Haitian people. Also, I would have added one more point to his article: The need to build schools and educate people.

My dad, who has lived in Haiti for work, recently made a good point. What he saw in the late ’80s was many charities give to the people, but not necessarily empower them to take control of their own lives. In other words, it is not enough to give fish. You need to teach people how to fish.  

In related news from MSN: In light of the horrific images coming out of Haiti, a doctor doled out advice on how to speak to children about the news.

Also, Bono’s ONE organization is circulating a petition for the United States to pardon Haiti’s debt.

The Associated Press ran a fascinating article on Mariela Castro, Cuban President Raul Castro’s daughter who is a sexologist and gay rights activist on the island. Sex change operations are already covered by the country’s national health insurance program and she is pushing for civil unions and full equality of gay people on the island.  

MomsRising’s Mary Olivella wrote a poignant column on how BPA in breastmilk may be the “mercury-fish catch 22″ of our generation.

In entertainment news: American Idol contestant Michael Lynche was cut and replaced after his father revealed to his local newspaper that he made the top 24, according to People magazine. Idol contestants are under a strict confidentiality agreement to not reveal the results of Hollywood week.

Figure Skater Nancy Kerrigan’s brother, Mark, has been charged with his father’s death, according to AP. Daniel Kerrigan, 70, fell after an alleged altercation with his son who was living with him at the time.

And ooh, this sounds like something I would read. Kitty Kelley, biographer of the rich and famous, is about to release an unauthorized biography on Oprah Winfrey, according to CNN. The book is slated for an April 13 release.

As if this story couldn’t get any worse, Bristol Palin is suing ex-beau Levi Johnston for child support, according to TMZ.

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Thank you to all of you who have written or called to ask about my mother-in-law in El Salvador. Hurricane Ida hit the country on Sunday and has killed 124 people, according to the Christian Science Monitor. Fortunately, my MIL is out of the country on vacation and was not affected. But I did call her office in San Salvador yesterday and a worker assured me that they are all safe. The hurricane hit a nearby town, but it was poor people living in huts and shanties who were the most impacted. My heart goes out to them. Let’s keep them in our thoughts and prayers.

In healthcare news: I admit I was so happy that the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill with a public option that I did not allow myself to get hung up over the abortion restrictions in the bill. But this disturbs me: According to a mom over at the RH Reality Check blog, the restrictions on abortion are so severe that even private health insurance companies participating in the exchange wouldn’t be allowed to cover D&Cs following miscarriages. Forcing women to carry dead fetuses/babies — that they wanted — is just cruel. I don’t know what I would have done if after carrying a dead fetus for three weeks — this happened to me before I had Ari — I was told I couldn’t have a D&C. I was distraught and I needed to move on. Okay, I am getting off my soapbox now.

That said, I will still support this bill as long as it has a strong public option. Granting everyone the right to see a doctor — without going bankrupt for it — is better than nothing.

Attention fellow Twilight fans: Author Stephenie Meyer will be on the Oprah Winfrey Show this Friday, November 13, Meyer announced on her blog. She will be on hand to discuss the new movie New Moon, which is based on the second book of her Twilight series.

This is, literally, horribly depressing: Suicide rates are up in the most economically depressed areas of the country, according to MSNBC.

Wal-Mart is shamelessly starting its “Black Friday” deals early, according to MSN Money. Um, can we celebrate Thanksgiving first?

OTOH, Mamapedia had a helpful discussion on what to tip — or what is a suitable holiday gift — to a nanny, daycare provider or babysitter.

Katy Farber over at Non-Toxic Kids has an informative article on how cleaning supplies at schools are harmful to children. Also by Katy Farber: Children are consuming unsafe levels of the chemical bisphenol-A (BPA), which is in canned goods and plastic plates and cups.

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Wednesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

Like I mentioned in yesterday’s midday coffee break, I will be out of town from tomorrow until Wednesday, resuming our regular posting schedule on Thursday. Our fierce Erika and Gloria will be updating the site at least once a day.

What else is on my mind? Oprah Winfrey is slated to interview Sarah Palin in a show that will air on Monday, November 16, according to Salon Wires. They will discuss Palin’s new book, Going Rogue: An American Life. Will you be reading or watching?

If you can stomach it, here is another opinion piece on the “achievement gap” between black and white students in the Washington Post. This time, English teacher Patrick Welsh blames the poor performance of some African American students on a lack of involved fathers.

Also in the Washington Post: Gallaudet University, the nation’s premier college for the deaf and hard of hearing, just appointed a new president.

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Midday Coffee Break

What’s up?

The political action committee MoveOn.org was passing around this funny clip of actor Will Ferrell and others defending private health insurance companies. Great satire.

If you are ever having one of those moments when you feel like a bad parent, just think: At least my kid is not writing a memoir about how I shot her up with cocaine. That is exactly what actress Mackenzie Phillips (One Day at a Time, American Graffiti ) is doing with a tell-all called High on Arrival where she calls out her father — John Phillips, lead singer of the Mamas & the Papas — for shooting her up with cocaine and even sleeping with her, according to Entertainment Tonight. Ick! Ick! Ick! Oh, and she slept with Rolling Stones’ frontman Mick Jagger, who supposedly told her he was waiting for that moment since she was 10. Ew. And she tells this all to Oprah Winfrey. Will you be watching or reading this book?

I want to chime in with other readers at the MSN Money Blog that AT&T Wireless sucks. I love my iPhone for everything it can do: phone calls (barely), Internet, e-mail and texting, picture-taking, and music. But, I wish Apple had struck a deal with another carrier. I can’t get cell phone coverage in my own house — unless I stand at the edge of my back deck and the phone is angled just so. This is not a good substitute for someone who does not have a landline.  

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Tuesday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

MomsRising ran a trove of healthcare stories by moms. It was a good mixture of anecdote — wow, there are many uninsured moms out there! — and analysis of healthcare systems across the world.

The Associated Press ran a blurb comparing what Americans pay for healthcare compared to other nations. In somewhat related news: Oprah Winfrey said she will not get involved in the healthcare debate or any politics even though she thinks President Obama is doing “a great job,” according to AP.  

Anne Fitten Glenn, aka “Edgy Mama,” wrote a heart-warming story about a 13-year-old girl with autism.

The California State Assembly passed AB 30, a bill that would lower the age to register to vote to 16, according to the think tank New America Foundation. Gov. Arnold Schwarzeneggar has to sign it for it to become law.

Contrary to right-wing rhetoric of “illegals” and “you lie!,” applications for American citizenship are actually down by 62 percent, according to an article in the Washington Post. The plunge is due to stiff application fees and the souring economy.

Singer Elton John will not be allowed to adopt an Ukrainian orphan with HIV because he is considered too old and not married, according to a story in Salon Wires. John is 62. While he is technically married to film producer David Furnish, the Ukraine does not recognize same-sex marriage.

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