Polish anti-abortionists invoke Hitler

It gets worse. After yesterday’s post, in which the linking of abortion to “Black Genocide” by Georgia Right to Life was reported with sadness and a little rage, I received a link to a story in the European edition of Telegraph U.K. It concerns a newly launched campaign to link abortion in Poland with Hitler’s extermination of Polish Jews. It reaches a brand new low.

Accompanying the article is a large, color photo of the poster which is at the centerpiece of this campaign. A leering Hitler, two horrific pictures. You may or may not want to read the Telegraph story or view the nightmare-producing poster. You are probably not old enough to remember Adolph Hitler, but I am. His images were all over the newsreels of my childhood. My father woke my sister and me in the middle of the night one night to hear his voice over the short wave radio so we would know the voice of a madman. Some of my most cherished and admired friends are Holocaust survivors or children of Holocaust survivors. Now, because I believe in a woman’s right to control her own body, to be equated with Hitler is a little much.

The provocative images, which appeared in the western city of Poznan as a part of a promised nationwide campaign, also carry the slogan “Abortion for Poles: introduced by Hitler, March 9, 1943.”

Fundacja Pro, the organisation behind the billboard, said that it wanted to remind Poles that abortion was first introduced to Poland during the Second World War by the country’s Nazi occupiers as a means of limiting the population of a people they deemed inferior.

One of Europe’s most devoutly Catholic countries, Poland now has some of the strictest abortion laws in the EU, and any attempt to have them liberalised arouses furious and passionate debate.

“It was Hitler who first introduced abortion to Poland, and in several days it will be the anniversary of that event.

“In this context it is worth recalling the words of Pope John Paul II: ‘History teaches us that democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism’,” Fundacja Pro said in a statement.

Values? Whose values? Does the value of a woman count? Does a woman still have a right, any right, to determine what happens to her own body? Or are only a few pontificating men allowed to decide what our ‘values’ should be?

(T)he use of Hitler, along with the torn foetus pictures, has already incurred the wrath of critics. Nazi Germany inflicted horrific levels of death and destruction on Poland, so any perceived attempt to hijack that suffering for the sake of a political or ethical agenda can be viewed with distaste.

“I understand that this campaign is designed to shock but there are limits to the use of shock,” said Elzbieta Streker-Dembinska, an MP and member of the Polish parliament’s health committee. A foetus and Adolf Hitler is unjustified comparison. The design of the billboard is unacceptable and crosses the boundaries of decency.”

Well, yes. One wonders if decency is a word the creators of this campaign can even begin to comprehend.

March 8 is International Women’s Day.

Hitler abortion poster sparks anger in Poland – Telegraph.

The Elderly: root of society's ills

This is a bad way to start a geezer’s day:

Deakin University researchers questioned 113 people about their views on the over-65s for a report commissioned by the Victorian aged care organisation Benetas. The university’s Associate Professor David Mellor says young people and baby boomers perceived older people as unproductive.

“While older people are seen as friendly and pleasant, ultimately, they’re seen to be unproductive,” he said. “Now, that ties in with baby boomers talking about older people as having no ambition, or as being fragile and being a burden on society.”

OK, “friendly and pleasant,” I’m good with that. But fragile. Come on, professor, I’m still doing my par course workouts.

Professor Mellor says the research revealed a number of reasons why older people are not treated with respect. “Things like the smaller family size, broken families, the pressure of time that affects people who are working, and the rise of technology,” he said. “All of those kind of factors were seen to be barriers to younger people giving respect or expressing respect to older people.”

However. That ‘ABC’ refers to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, not the American. And can any study commissioned by a Victorian aged care organisation be fully trusted? Let’s have a little respect here, please.

Elderly seen as ‘burden on society’ – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

Jenna & Barbara Bush doing good? Building better global health? Believe it

Saying good things about anyone named Bush has not been a priority of this space. But an article by Sarah Adler that appeared in today’s San Francisco Chronicle, and a quick visit to the Global Health Corps Web site, suggest that the former first twins have found a way to turn their considerable name recognition and fund raising skills into an innovative program at work to improve health access and care in the U.S. and across the globe.

When first daughter Jenna Bush attended a Bay Area AIDS summit hosted by Google.org two years ago, some skeptics doubted it would amount to more than a photo op.

But they were wrong. In a conversation with a Google staffer and a Stanford AIDS activist at one session, she helped come up with a big idea: A plan to improve health care access in the poorest parts of the United States and the world. What may have seemed like a pie-in-the-sky plan has morphed into a nongovernmental organization with an impressive roster of donors and more than $1 million in funding. Few may have heard of the Global Health Corps, but as its influence grows, that is likely to change.

“So many ideas come up in group conversations that never get realized,” said corps founding director Dave Ryan, who at the time was the executive director for Face AIDS, a nonprofit group that helps Rwandans living with HIV. “But when we all got together, we saw there was something special that could happen.”

Having watched friends transition from college into careers through organizations like Teach for America, they wondered whether they could create a similar organization dedicated to health care.

“We felt like there should be a similar program for public health,” said Charlie Hale, who works in Google’s direct ad sales division and is one of the group’s co-founders.

They enlisted an eager group of socially conscious friends and secured $250,000 in seed money from Google.org. Jenna’s sister, Barbara Bush, became the president of the organization, after spending time working in Africa with UNICEF and the U.N. World Food Program.

Rather than plunging into provision of health care or supplies, GHC finds people with skills in supply chain, design and technology often learned outside of the health care field, and partners with public health organizations to fill such needs within the field. These tend not to be old fogeys over 30, either; it is twenty-somethings like themselves that GHC seeks to attract. They have thus far sent 22 fellows to 12 countries in East Africa and the U.S., and plan to send 36 new fellows out this year.

The organization has also formed partnerships with the Clinton HIV/AIDS Initiative, which is part of former President Bill Clinton’s global nongovernmental foundation, and Partners in Health, which was co-founded by Dr. Paul Farmer and has a large presence in Haiti.

The Global Health Corps has four staff members in New York and three volunteers in San Francisco and relies on group calls, e-mail and video conferencing at cafes, such as the recent session at Philz Coffee where Barbara Bush, Hale and Chief Financial Officer Jenny Miller exchanged updates.

The group has raised more than $1 million, and Hale said that while he’s aware that the group has more advantages than others, it also has a greater obligation to prove itself.

“Our contacts got us in the room, but at the end of the day, no one is going to significantly fund you unless you show that your good idea can work,” he said.

The Global Health Corps is accepting applications for fellowships in Burundi, Malawi, Tanzania and Rwanda, where Barbara Bush recently traveled to meet with the group’s fellows.

Boomers and beyonders need not apply. This is a new-grads generation thing. Working backwards from the Greatest Generation through the Depression-scarred and the super-achievers and the me-firsters and the whateverers, it is encouraging to see a new generation of energy and optimism deciding to take on global issues of real significance and need. Even if the decider is named Bush.

Opportunity, optimism in Global Health Corps.

The Year of the Tiger Roars in

Quick! Sweep the floors and clear the bad spirits away. Once the Lunar New Year arrives you’ll want to put off housekeeping so as not to sweep the good spirits out. February 14 marks the coming of the Year of the Tiger.

The Year of the Tiger, sandwiched in between the Year of the Cow (2009) and the Year of the Rabbit (2011) is the third sign in the Chinese Zodiac cycle. Its New Year’s Day brings with it — as all new year’s potentially do — hope and truth, good fortune and peace. Not bad for a day that this year falls on Valentine’s Day, a celebration of love and affection.

If you’re a Tiger (skip the puns, this is a serious report) you are strong and lucky but prone to trouble. Brave and courageous, caring and thoughtful but a little rebellious at times. You are in the company of tigers Jon Stewart (1962), Jay Leno and Gary Larson (1950), Judy Blume and Kofi Anan (1938), Alan Greenspan (1926), Joe DiMaggio (1914), Agatha Christie (1890) and who knows how many other brave and courageous, occasionally prone to trouble good folks.

In New York and San Francisco, Los Angeles and Atlanta there are celebrations of the New Year with parades and festivities, dumplings cooked and feasts shared, red lanterns lit and red paper envelopes of money distributed. Around the world — one nice thing about this holiday being the fact that we share it with China, Indonesia, Hong Kong and other festive sites — there will be marching music, tiger hats and lion dancers. On my block there are always fire crackers, thanks to the grandchildren of our Chinese neighbors George and Annette, popping in the street to ward off the evil spirits. Which is clearly why you will find no evil spirits around our neighborhood.

So bring in the oranges and tangerines (symbols of good luck and great wealth) and hang the red paper hearts. Kick back, nibble sweets and enjoy a good excuse to put off housecleaning.  Who knows whether it will roar or rebel, we might as well welcome the Year of the Tiger with joy… and hope.

Pelosi on moving forward

You’ve got to hand it to Nancy Pelosi. At the end of a week so bad — Massachusetts goes for Brown the obstructionist, the Supreme Court rules corporations can rule from now on, the market dives for cover — some were predicting she won’t even survive another election herself, House Speaker Pelosi whipped out a resolutely upbeat e-mail:

Across America, people are demanding health care reform and fiscal responsibility. My colleagues in the House and I are listening to the concerns of all Americans as we discuss how to move forward with health care reform. While we are working to resolve our differences, everyone agrees that we must pass health insurance reform legislation that lowers cost, holds insurance companies accountable, and expands access to quality, affordable health care.

The Massachusetts special election may have decreased the number of Democrats in the Senate, but it has not diminished the need for health insurance reform. There are still 46 million men, women and children in our country without health insurance. There is still an unsustainable upward spiral of health care costs that American families, workers and businesses simply cannot afford. We are discussing the best way to move forward, but we will move forward.

Moving forward hasn’t looked this grim since the Donner Pass snowed over. Perhaps Pelosi should call in Romanian President Traian Basescu’s friend Aliodor. The Associated Press reports today that according to Mircea Geoana, who just lost a close race to Basescu, it was negative energy zapped at him by Basescu’s buddy, parapsychologist Aliodor Manolea that cost him the election. Unless Manolea is already in the employ of the forces of evil (above), perhaps he could reverse a little of the negative energy currently making us all — well, a lot of us — want to dig a hole and crawl in.

And then maybe the forward move could begin. Right now it feels stuck in reverse.

A Miracle in Haiti

Maybe one should not call it a miracle — since hundreds of thousands of miracles are not happening there today. But the story shown on PBS NewsHour Monday night was an almost unbelievable unfolding of human drama, modern technology-to-the-rescue, sheer determination  and enduring love. If you can watch it without tears you might need to check your heart-tug mechanism.

In the video segment, Bill Neely of Independent Television News shows a Haitian man who has returned repeatedly to the rubble of a bank where his wife was when the earthquake struck. He is seen rushing to a new area being cleared and digging with his hands, certain she is buried there, and alive. It’s been six days since the disaster. Thinking he hears a noise he calls for silence, listens again and shouts, “She’s there! She’s alive!”

Neely puts a mike in the small hole from which the woman’s voice can be heard, and a brief exchange in French confirms she is indeed alive and well — and thirsty. To her husband she calls out, “Even if I die, I love you so much. Don’t forget it.”

Then a group of firefighters from Los Angeles arrive on the scene with the tools and equipment needed finally to extricate the woman. They worry about after-shocks and the diminishing amount of time left to them all: “Once it goes, it goes.” But a tiny camera inserted into the hole reveals where her hand is pinned, and as soon as it is set free she can be pulled from the rubble. She says, “Thank you, God,” and  flat on the ground bursts into song. It’s a song about not being afraid of death.

“Did you think you would live?” Neely asks, and she says, “Live? Why not?”

It has been three hours since she was discovered by a never-say-die husband. She gets into the front seat of a car, and they drive slowly away.

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