Celtic Diva's Blue Oasis: 7/17/05 - 7/24/05

Saturday, July 23, 2005

They are feeling the heat...keep it up!!!!

I absolutely LOVED the front page of the ADN today:

Board puts off action on morning-after pill
The Alaska State Medical Board voted Friday to extend the public comment period on a regulation restricting access to the so-called morning-after pill, despite having already received a large stack of letters opposing such a change.

Asked why they re-opened the comment period, board members said only that they preferred to postpone action on the matter until their next meeting in Anchorage, where more people could attend.
Or, could it actually be that people are putting together the connection between Dr. Colleen Murphy's July 7th Compass piece in the ADN criticizing the Board for their proposed action and the "coincidental" emergency meeting, CALLED THE SAME DAY, to strip her of both the OB AND GYN licenses? (By the way, I'd be really curious to know the EXACT TIMING of when that meeting was called. The telecon was going on anyway...was it during the telecon that they decided to have an emergency meeting - giving all of them PLENTY of time to read Dr. Murphy's article that morning?)
Since 2001, the eight-member appointed board has turned over completely because of the election in 2002 of Gov. Frank Murkowski.

No one who considered the issue in 2001 is still on the panel that is proposing changing the regulations to require a physician visit before dispensing all prescription drugs except vaccines.

This is just one more of Frank's 1000 ways that he's screwed up the State since taking office.
The deadline for written public comment was July 11, but Leslie Gallant, the board's executive administrator, said she thought it would now continue through the end of September. Public comment will also be taken at the board's Anchorage meeting in October. A firm date has not yet been set.

It's rare that we get to have such a direct impact on an issue, with the added bonus that we get to confront Murkowski appointees IN PERSON and tell them how we feel on an important subject!

I will do everything I can to testify at that meeting!

Don Young casts a vote for the Constitution

Congressman Don Young, proving once again that Alaskans have a backbone, voted AGAINST renewing the Patriot Act, in opposition to the vast majority of his fellow Republicans.
In a statement, Young says the legislation takes away constitutional freedom. Young believes the legislation was never fully thought out. The congressman says Congress rushed to put together legislation.
The vote passed 257-171.

Show the Republicans that what they say about us is all lies! Contact Don Young and thank him for his vote!

Send him an email through his website or use one of the addresses/phone numbers below:

Office of Congressman Don Young
Peterson Tower Building
510 L St, Suite 580
Anchorage, Alaska 99501-1954
(907) 271-5978 - Phone
(907) 271-5950 - Fax

2111 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
(202) 225-5765 - Phone
(202) 225-0425 - Fax

The Floridians have a new home!

I got a call from Monocot and Kaerick yesterday and they made it to their new apartment in Denver, CO! Mono says that she'll be posting describing her cross-country trip as soon as they get plugged back into the Net.

Since they both work for a large cable company, that better be soon, eh!

"CIA Leak Investigation Turns to Possible Perjury, Obstruction"

That's the headline on the front page of this morning's LA Times.

WASHINGTON — The special prosecutor in the CIA leak investigation has shifted his focus from determining whether White House officials violated a law against exposing undercover agents to determining whether evidence exists to bring perjury or obstruction of justice charges, according to people briefed in recent days on the inquiry's status.

Differences have arisen in witnesses' statements to federal agents and a grand jury about how the name of Valerie Plame, a CIA agent, was leaked to the press two years ago.

I don't know if any of you remember the stories from when the Bush Administration first came into the White House. There was a false story spread from "someone" in Bush's White House staff saying that the Clinton folks had trashed the place before they left including graffitti, vandalism, etc... When it turned out to be false, it was corrected in the news somewhere on page 35 or so. As a result, many folks still believe that it happened. The Bushies accomplished their objective, which was to appear morally superior.

Remember when Richard Clarke's book came out? One piece of information I found facinating was how smug Bush and the members of his staff were regarding the Clinton White House. They felt as if they were going to bring "integrity" back into the Oval Office.

Oh, how the worm has turned.

Just as we all knew then that the prosecuter had found a good bone to chew on when he started to focus on perjury charges in the Lewinski scandal, so do we also know now that is probably the case here.

I'd say it's going to get more and more uncomfortable for the President as the days roll on.

Anyone long for the day when the worst thing in the news was that Bill Clinton was a little liberal about spreading his DNA around to places it probably should not have been?

I kinda miss it, actually...and so does my pocketbook.

Friday, July 22, 2005

"Medicinal Use of Pot Can Continue"

Today's Anchorage Daily News :
The state attorney general, David Marquez, has advised the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services that the court's June 6 decision does not forbid the agency from registering medical marijuana users, according to a statement Marquez issued Thursday.

Channel 2 News seems to have a less optimistic view:
It's not clear if federal drug agencies plan to pursue cases against those on the registry who are found with the drug.

However, the Daily News seems to quell that fear:
Federal law enforcement authorities in Alaska said last month that the court's ruling would not lead to increased prosecution of minor users; they're interested in major traffickers. They reiterated that posture Thursday.

I think that a conservative State Attorney General taking this stance under the ultra-conservative Governor Frank Murkowski is a clear signal that the "Legalize Pot" crowd has changed public perception in a subtle but important way. They should continue that direction, pushing for an establishment of some form of effective prescription and over-the-counter THC.

While focusing on FDA regulation as opposed to recreational usage may not serve their immediate desires (and I have noticed that particular crowd having a tendency to shoot themselves in the foot due to a lack of patience and forethought), the most threatening aspect of marijuana to conservatives is the component THC. It would be to pro-legalization's benefit to promote the selling point of THC - its ability to relieve pain without the severe side-effects of other pain medicines. Gain acceptance of that and the rest will eventually follow.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Guantanamo Bay: more detainees sent home today.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't really understand how someone can be an "enemy of the state" one minute and sent home the next.
The announcement said the latest releases included three detainees found no longer to be enemy combatants by a Combatant Status Review Tribunal. One was released to Sudan, one to Saudi Arabia and one to Jordan.
So, did they take the special course to wipe the "enemy combatant points" off of their record?
It said the departures bring to 242 the number who have been released or transferred from the facility in Cuba, leaving approximately 510 imprisoned there.
We've released 242 people - some after suffering torture, two years of imprisonment, held without trial and incommunicado from relatives and friends only to say the equivalent of "OK, you can go now, buh-bye!

If they weren't anti-American terrorists before, do ya think they may have a right to be now?

How to invalidate an advocate for women.

Take away her license to practice medicine.

Dr. Colleen Murphy OB-gyn has long been an advocate for women's health and personal choice in the very conservative State of Alaska. She achieved national attention in 2002 leading Alaska in a push for greater access to "emergency contraception," also known as the "morning after pill." In 2004, Dr. Murphy joined other physicians in protesting Alaska's new requirement, directing that women must first receive "unbiased" information from a state-run website:

In September of 2004, sixteen Alaskan obstetricians and gynecologists sent a letter protesting the state-prepared internet website to lawmakers, the governor, the Supreme Court and doctors in their field. Colleen Murphy, an obstetrician who signed the letter, said the website's real purpose would be to deter women from getting abortions and that doctors already ensure that pregnant women are fully informed about risks.
Dr. Murphy has also been outspoken regarding what she and many others see as an over-reliance in the OB community on Ceasarian Sections as opposed to natural birth. As a result, she prides herself on her low C-section rate (8 to 10%) compared to the 25 - 30% of others at Anchorage hospitals.

Recently, The Alaska State Medical Board proposed new regulation to limit Alaska women's access to emergency contraception, backsliding on the documented strides made (much of it as a result of Dr. Murphy's efforts) towards safer birth control and fewer abortions. Dr. Murphy authored an article published in the Anchorage Daily News "Compass" section several weeks ago (July 7th). In this article, she criticizes the State Medical Board:

On June 9, the state medical board proposed a companion amendment to pharmacy regulations, titled "Cooperative practice with pharmacists." This new medical regulation is intended to create oversight of medical providers who enter into pharmacy agreements with licensed pharmacists. Hidden within this proposed regulation is a new requirement that the physician must perform an annual physical exam and directly issue a prescription before a patient could obtain a prescription through a cooperative pharmacy agreement.
She also points out the parallels with legislation that had been promoted by a conservative State Sentor who is also an anti-birth control advocate.

In the 2004 legislative session, Sen. Fred Dyson, an opponent of EC, introduced legislation to eliminate pharmacy regulations allowing collaborative agreements. The Alaska State Medical Board now appears to be acting on his behalf.
Remember the date on that article - July 7, 2005.

On Thursday, July 7th, an emergency meeting of the Alaska State Medical Board was called and the decision to suspend her license was made during a teleconference that was mostly closed to the public...a teleconference where Dr. Murphy had initially planned on voicing her opposition to the proposed changes in the Emergency Contraception Program. The Board chose to do this without waiting until their next board meeting.

Dr. Murphy's obstetric priviledges had been restricted since April at Alaska Regional Hospital. This raises the question, why such an emergency now?

At the time, Stockler(Murphy's lawyer)said, Murphy requested a hospital hearing about the matter, which is set for early August. Stockler said he couldn't understand why the medical board removed her license Thursday -- more than three months after Alaska Regional restricted her privileges but three weeks before the hospital hearing.
Important points must be emphasized regarding this case:

1) There has been no evidence that Alaska Regional Hospital's restriction, as the result of a review of 10 of Dr. Murphy's cases, occurred due to any deaths, injuries, or complaints or accusations of malpractice from any of those patients. As a matter of record, Dr. Murphy still retains those patients within her practice. When asked why the review, Alaska Regional's response has been that it "periodically review's cases."

2) Dr. Murphy has no such restriction at Alaska's largest hospital, Providence Health Center.

3) Reviewing the summaries of other license suspensions by the Alaska State Medical Board over the last several years, it appears that ALL have been as the result of actual criminal wrongdoing.

4) The Medical Board not only revoked her OB license, it also revoked her GYN license which was NOT under any type of review or restriction at any facility.

Dr. Murphy is presently involved in a hearing in an attempt to get her license reinstated. Interestingly enough, some of the Medical Board issues are being called into question:

After listening to hours of testimony, Hemenway summarized what the hearing seemed to be about: Whether Murphy should stop some women in labor from having vaginal births and move sooner to Caesarean sections instead.

"And isn't that a matter of judgment?" Hemenway asked Dr. Wendy Cruz, the first witness called by the state and a member of the Alaska Regional Hospital review committee.

"It's very much a matter of judgment," Cruz answered.

Cruz, an Anchorage obstetrician, repeatedly acknowledged obstetrics is an art and that some doctors who deliver babies worry about litigation to the point that the concern affects how they practice medicine.

Friday's testimony revealed that a number of doctors, some of them practicing outside Alaska, reviewed Murphy's cases and came to different conclusions about the quality of her work. In his opening arguments on behalf of Murphy, Stockler said two of three additional doctors asked to review Murphy's work found it good.
I have been following this case closely, since I used Dr. Murphy as my OB-gyn for a short time. She was by far the most knowledgeable person about birth control methods that I've ever met. She offered alternatives no one else mentioned (I have health risks that prevent me from using many of the common methods.) While I have heard that she is "crusty" and that many cannot click with her personality, I've heard the same things said for years about male doctors who are still practicing without incident.

Is civil war on the Iraqi horizon, or are we already there?

From the NYT:
Several of the Sunni Arabs pulling out of the committee said they would not return until the Iraqi government, dominated by Shiite Arabs and Kurds, provided adequate security.

The Sunni's make up 1/5 of the Iraqi population. No Constitution will hold up without them on board.
"We have suspended our presence in the constitutional committee meetings for reasons regarding our own security and because of the negligence we are suffering," said Fakhri al-Qaisi, whose political group counts among its members several of the Sunni constitution writers, including those who were killed.

The Administration realizes the importance of Sunni participation as well.
The participation of Sunni Arabs in the drafting of the constitution and full-term elections scheduled for December is considered crucial by the Bush administration, which is aiming to politically co-opt the stubborn Sunni-led insurgency while planting a version of democracy here in the heart of the Middle East.

Unless all major ethnic and religious groups take part in the process, the civil conflict may worsen. If Sunni Arabs, who make up a fifth of the population but dominated the government under Saddam Hussein, feel excluded, they may continue to take up arms against the Shiites, Kurds and Americans.

Is there ANY good news coming out of Iraq?

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Bye, Scotty...

Per AP:

LOS ANGELES, California (AP) -- James Doohan, the burly chief engineer of the Starship Enterprise in the original "Star Trek" TV series and motion pictures who responded to the apocryphal command "Beam me up, Scotty," died early Wednesday. He was 85.

Doohan died at 5:30 a.m. (1330 GMT) at his Redmond, Washington, home with his wife of 28 years, Wende, at his side, Los Angeles agent and longtime friend Steve Stevens said. The cause of death was pneumonia and Alzheimer's disease, he said.
I grew up with the original "Star Trek" and it was my introduction into Geek-dom...followed quickly by Isaac Asimov, Ursula LeGuinn, Star Wars, marching band, etc...

Being Scottish myself, I was always especially fond of Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott (even though he was really a Canadian and he freaked me out the first time I heard him giving an interview).

I regularly quote Scotty phrases in my everyday vocabulary: "I've got to have thirty minutes!" and...of course..."I can't do it, Captain, I can't get the powa!" (and variations on that theme)

It's always sad to wave goodbye to another part of childhood.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Sacrificing rights is not the answer.

This is my response to comments in a discussion about the new Supreme Court nominee, John G. Roberts. You can go read the whole thread on Americablog.
If Roe v. Wade is overtuned the Republicans wouldn't have that issue to "excite" their Conservative base anymore.

And "choice" would be...where?
You know - I'm an old pro-choice feminist - but I've been thinking lately that the fight for Roe isn't worth the time. I've got a 13 year old daughter - and yeah - I'd like to give her choice - but we live in different, more complicated times now.

See, just because abortion may not be an issue for you anymore...and just because you'd be one of those "cool" moms who would have no problem raising a child of your daughter's if she got pregnant, doesn't mean other women out there don't NEED the choice as an option to save their own lives.
I'd like to leave her an intact world. I'd like to leave her a society with basic freedoms still intact.

What freedom is more "basic" than freedom over your own body? How would sacrificing those most basic of rights help make our world "intact?"
If Roe goes - states take over. And if states take over - we'll figure out a way to get poor women into the states they need to travel to for abortions.

Hi...I live in Alaska. Alaska is a Baptist, Republican oil state with a Conservative Republican Congressional contingent and a Conservative Republican Legislature. The minute Roe v. Wade would go, abortion would be banned in this state in EVERY form.

Will you pay for me to fly the 5000 miles that would be required to get a safe and legal abortion in another state?

See, I'm one of those women whose health is such that my birth control choices are limited. Also, if birth control fails and I get pregnant, the pregnancy would kill me or at the very least, shorten my life by a number of years.

"Choice" isn't just something one waves on a banner until their need for it is done. It's something that needs to be there for everyone...always. I'm grateful to the old pro-choice feminists who are still around and kicking up a fuss when our rights are in danger...whether they personally need the choice or not.

Fred be Thy name...

OK, so I'm trying to get some revenue off of my blog. I applied to Google AdSense to get the whole thing going. It works by identifying key words and targetting ads to what we are writing about. I put the code in my blog. I'm all excited.

All I seem to be getting, though, are references to "Big J!"

OK, I don't mind it within reason - after all, that has been one of the topics on one or two posts. However, it seems that, once one discusses beliefs just once or twice, that's the post the keyword processor seems to focus on. And no offense to the Creator, but those links aren't exactly revenue generators, if ya know what I mean.

My solution?

Start mentioning other religions more, such as Jews and Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Celtic and German Wicca and Paganism. Let's talk about other dieties like Shiva, the Morrigan, Breide and other Celtic goddesses, New Age, crystals, Astrology, etc... I'm not saying that one shouldn't mention Christianity...feel free to talk about the "Son of Man" anytime you want. However, until I can get Google to make the "random" ad generator a little more "random," let's call him "Fred!"

(This post has been brought to you by the Center for the Preservation of Satire)

Monday, July 18, 2005

How to seduce a woman...

I needed to make something sweet and festive for a potluck on Saturday and I didn't have a lot of time. I was running through my favorite store in the world, Costco, (who had Harry Potter books on the day they were released, by the way, for $15.75...why didn't I go there?) and I found big boxes of Hershey Triple Chocolate Brownie Mix. I'm not one of those who uses mixes when I make desserts but I decided, what the heck, I'll try it.

Those little bars of chocolaty goodness are the ambrosia of the gods!!!!!

Hersheys uses cocoa, chocolate chips and chopped up chocolate bars in their recipe...and I'm tellin' ya, they are the best I've ever eaten! I think that mix would be a cure for any hormonal woman!

Just thought I'd pass it on!

I'd call this a slam dunk...

There is lots of stuff happening in the Rove case...none of it good for the Administration.

From this week’s Time Magazine – Matthew Cooper, “What I told the Grand Jury:”
As for Wilson's wife, I told the grand jury I was certain that Rove never used her name and that, indeed, I did not learn her name until the following week, when I either saw it in Robert Novak's column or Googled her, I can't recall which. Rove did, however, clearly indicate that she worked at the "agency"--by that, I told the grand jury, I inferred that he obviously meant the CIA and not, say, the Environmental Protection Agency. Rove added that she worked on "WMD" (the abbreviation for weapons of mass destruction) issues and that she was responsible for sending Wilson. This was the first time I had heard anything about Wilson's wife.
I believe the nickname for the CIA is "The Agency." Unlike the spin that the White House was trying to put on Cooper's email, it seems that Rove WAS the first to inform Mr. Cooper of Wilson's wife's CIA connections.
Rove never once indicated to me that she had any kind of covert status. I told the grand jury something else about my conversation with Rove. Although it's not reflected in my notes or subsequent e-mails, I have a distinct memory of Rove ending the call by saying, "I've already said too much." This could have meant he was worried about being indiscreet, or it could have meant he was late for a meeting or something else. I don't know, but that sign-off has been in my memory for two years.
Hmmmmmm...makes it hard to believe that Rove had NO IDEA that he was doing anything wrong.

From today's New York Times:
WASHINGTON, July 18 - President Bush changed his stance today on his close adviser Karl Rove, stopping well short of promising that anyone in his administration who helped to unmask a C.I.A. officer would be fired.

"If someone committed a crime, they will no longer work in my administration," Mr. Bush said in response to a question, after declaring, "I don't know all the facts; I want to know all the facts."

For months, Mr. Bush and his spokesmen have said that anyone involved in the disclosure of the C.I.A. officer's identity would be dismissed. The president's apparent raising of the bar for dismissal today, to specific criminal conduct, comes amid mounting evidence that, at the very least, Mr. Rove provided backhanded confirmation of the C.I.A. officer's identity.
The President lied.

From today's Washington Post:
Bush has previously indicated that he would fire anyone who leaked Plame's identity.

In 2003, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the suggestion that Rove was involved in the leak was "ridiculous."

McClellan said in a Sept. 29, 2003, briefing: "The president has set high standards, the highest of standards, for people in his administration. He's made it very clear to people in his administration that he expects them to adhere to the highest standards of conduct. If anyone in this administration was involved in it, they would no longer be in this administration."
There is no doubt that Rove leaked Mrs. Wilson's identity as a CIA agent. There is no doubt that Rove, in the very least, is involved in it (as are others in the Administration).

Not only did President Bush lie, he forced his Press Secretary to lie as well.

Fox Creek Wildfire on Tustumena Lake

If you compare the picture to the one I posted the other day, you can see that it's a lot bigger - up to 31,000 acres. It seems the weather has improved so they are just managing it now (letting it kill the beetle-killed spruce)

Luckily, the only danger it poses to my inlaws who live on the Peninsula is the smoke (which is bad enough) - Tustumena Lake is farther south and stands between them and the fire.

A little trivia - Fox Creek Fire is a lightening strike fire. Last year, there were about 20 fires started by lightening strikes. So far this summer, there have been 170+.