Friday, May 22, 2015

US mother jailed for resisting son's circumcision

First, quote from the article Time for U.S. Parents to Reconsider the Acceptability of Infant Male Circumcision, by Danish doctor Morten Frisch, published at Huffington Post:

"Do the benefits of male circumcision outweigh the risks? The U.S. Centers for Disease Control -- echoing the 2012 policy statement of the American Academy of Pediatrics -- have recently suggested that they do. What many Americans are not aware of, however, is the fact that the United States is not just unusual, but actually unique among developed nations in finding such widespread medical support for infant male circumcision. This support originated in the late 1800s, when doctors promoted the operation as a "cure" for masturbation; today it comes primarily from doctors' trade associations -- such as the AAP -- that protect financial and other interests of physicians who continue to perform such surgeries. Doctors in peer nations, by contrast, along with the medical associations that represent them, tend to see the U.S. circumcision ritual as more of a cultural habit, not something rooted in sound medical science...

In recent years, more and more circumcised men have begun speaking out in favor of leaving baby boys' penises intact. According to one recent poll, fully 10 percent of circumcised U.S. men wish they had not been circumcised. Many argue that future generations of boys and men should have the chance to decide for themselves whether something as significant and personal as an irreversible surgery on their sexual organ is what they really want, when they reach an age of understanding.
But doesn't circumcision promote health and hygiene, as the AAP and CDC suggest? The short answer is no. In fact, only one health claim is even potentially relevant to young boys in western countries: the claim that circumcised newborns may have an approximately 1 percent lower absolute risk of getting a urinary tract infection in the first 1-2 years of life. One possible explanation might be the distinctly American habit of trying to retract young boys' foreskins in order to wash their penises -- a practice that should never be done, because retraction is unnecessary for proper hygiene in infants and can cause small tears, which may increase the risk of infection. But even if this "circumcision protects against UTIs" claim is accepted, approximately 100 circumcisions would have to be performed to prevent just one urinary tract infection. Compare this to girls, who get urinary tract infections far more frequently than boys do: no one proposes that we remove their labia or their clitoral hood in infancy. We just prescribe antibiotics, when necessary.

All of the other claimed health benefits apply to adolescents and men after their sexual debut. Consider penile cancer. A reduced risk of this disease is a favorite argument used in support of circumcision. But penile cancer only develops in older men, and is so rare in Western countries that it would take between 900 and more than 300,000 circumcisions according to some estimates - with all the associated risks of surgery - to prevent just one case.

Other claimed benefits of circumcision, including a lowered risk of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, are based on studies of adult men -- not infants -- undergoing circumcisions in poor, African countries. Making health policies for newborn boys in the United States based on studies of adult males in Africa is scientifically unjustified. The situation in Europe, where most men are not circumcised, provides an important insight: all of the diseases that circumcision is claimed to prevent are about equally or even less common there than in the United States. For example, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the United States, where most men are circumcised, is 2-6 times higher than in non-circumcising countries of Northern Europe. While there are many cultural and other variables that play into these differences, the point is that the percentage of excised foreskins in a given population is far from the most relevant factor...

Studies from western countries do suggest that circumcision is associated with an increased risk of adverse sexual experiences, which even the CDC has recently acknowledged. Curiously, however, the CDC failed to mention this important finding in their newly proposed federal recommendations, made public in December of 2014.

What about complications? It is often said that these are "low" for circumcision, but there are at least two problems with this. First, research into complications is surprisingly superficial: there is no systematic mechanism in place to collect data on complications, and some problems (like the removal of too much tissue to allow for a normal erection) may take years to develop or recognize -- so they will never be recorded in an official database. Second, our tolerance for risk should be extremely low - in fact, close to zero - when we are talking about an unnecessary surgery performed on a healthy individual before he can provide his consent. Each year, thousands of U.S. boys undergo reparative penile surgery for complications. Clinical studies show that somewhere between 7 and 20 percent of newborn boys undergoing circumcision will develop a potentially serious complication called meatal stenosis, a narrowing of the urethral opening on the tip of the penis that usually requires surgery. Ignoring this fact, both the CDC and the AAP rely on poor quality register data to conclude that there is less than a half-a-percent risk of complications in newborn boys. Judged from the frequency of meatal stenosis alone, this estimate is likely to be at least 14 times too low...

Based on both medical and ethical considerations, routine circumcision is not a sensible procedure in countries where individual rights (like the right to bodily integrity) are more than a political buzzword. Boys need cosmetic genital surgery no more than girls do. And keeping one's intact genitals healthy and clean is simple regardless of one's gender: mild soap and running water are all that is needed. Cutting off a functional, protective and sensitive body part is a far-reaching decision that the vast majority of Europeans believe should be left to its owner when he becomes old enough to understand the consequences. Despite the recent, backward-looking statements by U.S. medical organizations, more and more Americans are beginning to agree."

Recently, a Florida mother named Heather Hironimus got in the news for refusing to circumcise her son. The boy, now 4, was born out of wedlock. Ms. Hironimus didn't want to marry the father Dennis Nebus and even tried to hide from him the baby's existence. To me, this shows pretty clearly how much the guy is worth. Unfortunately, today's push for "equal rights of both parents" and the bla-bla-bla about the tender heart of each and every father (read: adult male with functioning reproductive organs) increasingly puts women and vulnerable children under the power of abusive men, as in the bad old days and today's Third World. In this case, the father insisted to have a say in parenting and the two parents signed a court-approved parenting agreement which included circumcision of the boy.

However, the mother soon changed her mind, took her son and fled in order to prevent him for being circumcised. The saga dragged for 4 years but the end is near: "In a remarkable turnaround after a week behind bars for contempt [of court] and an initial hearing in which she was ordered to remain jailed, court reconvened and a sobbing Heather Hironimus signed paperwork giving approval for the surgery, recoiling in tears and clasping her shackled hands after it was done... Upon arriving in court Friday, shackled and wearing a navy blue jail jumpsuit, Hironimus quietly invoked her Fifth Amendment rights when asked if she had signed the consent agreement. [Judge Jeffrey] Gillen said she would be jailed indefinitely unless she did." (Source: today's report by Mark Sedensky, AP via Yahoo! News.)

I don't know what made the mother initially give her consent. Let me, however, quote a comment to the same report: "Even if there is a compelling medical reason, this is still an elective procedure. Every medical treatment should be weighed for Benefits-Versus-Risks. A simple example is antibiotic treatment. Even if I feel my patient may benefit from an antibiotic, I cannot administer the antibiotic if the parent objects (as long as the kid is not in danger of dying from the infection). Please also understand that a legal parent is allowed to change their mind about treatment at any time. Therefore, Ms. Hironimus is allowed to change her mind, even though she signed an agreement a couple of years ago. Sometimes there are valid reasons for a parent to change their minds regarding treatment, such as new treatments being available, better diagnostics, etc. The courts should understand that medical providers welcome parents to update their decisions continuously." Even before I had read this comment - apparently by a doctor, I had pointed out several times that the patient or his legal representative can retract his consent at any time, and if I sign a contract for (say) cosmetic surgery and then reconsider it, nobody would have the right to drag me to the operating theater and bind me to undergo the surgery.

My online friend Jane Meyerding had similar thoughts on another occasion: "Although incredibly resistant to change, the mass of governmental routine can spread itself quickly to cover new situations. The Cuban "boat people" -- the thousands of refugees who left Cuba for the U.S. in 1980 -- are a case in point. According to a newspaper report, 354 of these Cubans were incarcerated in the McNeil Island federal prison while the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) routine was applied to them... I happened to answer a newspaper ad that winter for part-time transcription typists and wound up transcribing tape recordings of their INS hearings. The job paid $7 an hour -- more than I've ever made, before or since.As I sat there... certain INS forms and documents came up again and again in (and as) evidence: I-589, "the State Department letter," the Refugee Act of 1980...
I was amazed at how quickly a newly established routine can come to take precedence over the chaotic reality of human lives. In every case, the INS court upheld the artifacts produced by the routine as more valid than the living, breathing, remembering, spoken testimony of the Cubans themselves. For example: Several of the defense lawyers objected to the admission as evidence of the I-589 forms. An I-589 is a "request for asylum" and, in these cases, the I-589s were filled out by INS agents who were communicating with the Cubans through interpreters (many of whom were not fluent in modern Cuban Spanish)... These interviews followed a period of intense stress and confusion -- imprisonment in Cuba, sudden release, and virtual expulsion in many instances, after a televised invitation from the president of the United States saying the U.S. would welcome them "with open arms." Then there was the crowded and dangerous boat trip to the near-mythical "land of the free" -- where they were immediately imprisoned. The refugees had received mixed messages from all sides -- for example, being told "sign here or you won't be released" and then being targeted for deportation on the basis of the "statement" they "voluntarily" signed...Well, it seemed patently obvious to me and to the refugees' lawyers that the I-589 forms were not worth diddlyshit as evidence. But listen to the judge: "I will overrule the objections. I admit this document as a statement made by the applicant. I admit it both for substantive and impeaching purposes. And I admit it as being a government document that was prepared in the routine course" of INS procedures [emphasis added]. The document -- born of routine -- was considered a more trustworthy expression of the applicant's reality than his own words spoken there in the courtroom. And whenever there was a discrepancy between the routine-blessed document and the words of the human being, the judge invariably chose to believe the piece of paper." (Emphasis mine - M.M.)

The unfortunate Cubans, at least, were not US citizens. What made US authorities subject US citizen Heather Hironimus to such outrageous, fascistic treatment? I guess, because it would be a bit of a scandal to admit that millions of US baby boys have been subjected to unnecessary and potentially risky surgery over decades. It is difficult to admit that the Emperor has no clothes.

Meanwhile, what is the moral of the story? Girls, never-ever have a baby with a man you feel you cannot trust! Use reliable contraception and if it fails, go straight to abortion, leaving aside any ethical and other considerations. If you don't want a man next to you, just a baby, use the services of a sperm bank. Apparently, this is the only way to prevent psychopaths like Dennis Nebus to make your and the child's life hell and to abuse you as much as they wish, backed by the authorities. I am so sorry for Heather Hironimus and her child. I hope that this child will grow to become a strong man and will sue the hell out of his "father" and the state of Florida.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Mother Mary versus Io

   (Bulgarian readers can read this post on my Bulgarian blog.)
   The quotes below are from two texts that have endured the test of time. Find the similarities and the differencies:

" 26And in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent out from God, to a town in Galilee named Nazareth, 27to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, of the house of David.  And the virgin's name was Mary.  28And the angel went in to her, and said, "Hail, O favored one!  The Lord is with you."
   29She was very troubled by the utterance, and wondered what sort of greeting it might be.
   30Then the angel said to her, "Fear not, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  31You shall conceive in your womb, and shall bear a son, and you are to call his name Jesus.  32This man will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High.  And the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."
   34And Mary said to the angel, "How will this happen, since I am not knowing a man?"
   35And in answer the angel said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.  For this reason also, the one to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.  36And behold, Elizabeth your relative, even she in her old age, has conceived a son, and this is the sixth month with her, she who was called barren.  37Therefore with God, nothing will be impossible."
   38"Here am I, the slave girl of the Lord," Mary said.  "May it be to me according to your statement."  Then the angel left her." (Gospel of Luke, Chapter 1.)

   "[645] Io: For visions of the night, always haunting my maiden chamber, sought to beguile me with seductive words, saying: “O damsel greatly blessed of fortune, why linger in your maidenhood so long when it is within your power to win a union of the highest? Zeus is inflamed by passion's dart for you and is eager to unite with you in love. Do not, my child, spurn the bed of Zeus, but go forth to Lerna's meadow land of pastures deep and to your father's flocks and where his cattle feed, so that the eye of Zeus may find respite from its longing.”
    [655] By such dreams was I, to my distress, beset night after night, until at last I gained courage to tell my father of the dreams that haunted me... Then at last there came an unmistakable utterance... commanding him clearly that he must thrust me forth from home and native land to roam at large to the remotest confines of the earth; and, if he would not, a fiery thunderbolt would come from Zeus that would utterly destroy his whole race.
    [669] Yielding obedience... he drove me away and barred me from his house, against his will and mine; but the constraint of Zeus forced him to act by necessity...
    [846] Prometheus: There is a city, Canobus, on the extremity of the land at the very mouth and silt-bar of the Nile. There at last Zeus restores you to your senses by the mere stroke and touch of his unterrifying hand. And you shall bring forth dark Epaphus, thus named from the manner of Zeus' engendering; and he shall gather the fruit of all the land watered by the broad-flowing Nile. Fifth in descent from him...  shall give birth in Argos to a royal line..." (Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound, translation by H.W. Smyth.)

   This post was inspired by a discussion to a post on atheism in my Bulgarian blog. I accused the Christian God in forcing a hapless maiden to give birth to His son. A Christian opponent objected that my statement was "the top of ignorance" and that "Mother Mary voluntarily said, May it be!". My opponent's opinion is widespread among Christians; but is it true? I think that the unbiased parallel reading of the two sources suggests that Mother Mary had about as much choice as Io. You can see that the angel describes her fate in future tense without any hint of conditional tense. In this situation, May it be! is hardly more meaningful that the signature at the end of the lawsuit which indicates that the person in question has received a copy of the verdict.
   But even if Mother Mary had given her consent gladly, could we accept it as valid? After all, a person must be aware what he is consenting to; as in medical ethics, consent must be informed. The angel, however, does not inform Mary. On the contrary, he dis-informs her. He stresses that her son will reign, but omits the teensy, weensy detail that his reign will be entirely posthumous and his life on Earth will have an early and extremely painful end. I doubt very much that Mary felt "favored" when she saw her son on the cross.

   Actually, in Aeschylus' play Prometheus also manipulates Io, though not as unscrupulously. The difference between the Christian and the Pagan text is in the later reaction by the maiden herself and the other women:

"39At that time Mary got up and went with speed to the hill country, to a town of Judah, 40where she entered the house of Zechariah, and greeted Elizabeth.  41And it came about that when Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby in her womb did leap, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.  42And she shouted out in a loud voice, saying, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!...
  46And Mary said: "My soul does magnify the Lord, 47and my spirit did rejoice in God my Savior, 48because he looked toward the lowly station of his servant. So behold: all the generations after now will consider me blessed, 49because the Mighty One did great things for me." (Gospel of Luke.)

   "[877] Io: Oh! Oh! Alas! Once again convulsive pain and frenzy, striking my brain, inflame me. I am stung by the gadfly's barb, unforged by fire. My heart knocks at my ribs in terror; my eyeballs roll wildly round and round. I am carried out of my course by a fierce blast of madness...
    [894] Chorus: Never, oh never, immortal Fates, may you see me the partner of the bed of Zeus, and may I be wedded to no bridegroom who descends to me from heaven. For I shudder when I behold the loveless maidenhood of Io, cruelly crushed like this...
    [901] When marriage is on equal terms, in my opinion it is no cause for dread; so never may the love of the mightier gods cast on me its irresistible glance. That would indeed be a war that cannot be fought, a source of resourceless misery..." (Aeschylus, Prometheus Bound.)

Which ending do you like more? Speaking of myself, I have been attracted for some time to the pre-Christian heritage, quite like the Renaissance Europeans. The monotheistic tradition reduces the human to a mere tool of some omnipotent non-human force and doesn't allow him even to grumble; this does not suit my taste.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Labour leader promises Sharia if elected

Quoting from International Business Times (report by Kalyan Kumar):

"With Britain going to polls in a week’s time on May 7, parties are wooing influential social groups for support. Latest in that practice is Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, who has promised outlawing "Islamophobia" if he becomes the next prime minister... Miliband made this statement in an interview with The Muslim News, "We are going to make Islamophobia an aggravated crime. We are going to make sure it is marked on people's records with the police to make sure they root out Islamophobia as a hate crime. We are going to change the law on this so we make it absolutely clear of our abhorrence of hate crime and Islamophobia. It will be the first time that the police will record Islamophobic attacks right across the country,” Miliband said."

The author also reminds that this is repeat offense for the Labour: "Between 2001 and 2005, the Labour government led by Prime Minister Tony Blair tried twice to amend Part 3 of the Public Order Act 1986 to cover its existing provisions on racial hatred to religious hatred as well. In January 2006, the House of Lords approved the Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006, but only after amending it to make sure that the law would be limited to banning only "threatening" words and not any abusive or insulting words."

Allison Pearson at the Telegraph comments the same news and puts it in the perspective of what has already happened in Britain even without such a law: how the authorities were happy to cover up gang-rapes and enslavement of over 4,000 vulnerable young girls for years because the victims were white native children, the predators were Pakistani Muslims, and the authorities' top concern was not to appear racist and Islamophobic.

Frankly, Mr. Miliband makes the jihadis look almost sympathetic to me. At least, they believe in something deeply rooted in their maimed, distorted souls. Miliband is selling his soul at a discount, as a piece of useless luggage for a politician.

If the Labour has a high number of votes at these elections, I'll lose my hope in mankind. Or at least in the British nation. I am happy that I have only one British friend and he is now living outside the country.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Putin: Only armed force keeps Russia's territorial integrity

I am quoting a TASS report which I find amazing:

"ST. PETERSBURG, April 28. /TASS/. At the end of the 1990s Russia was pretty close to following the Yugoslav scenario but the unity and integrity of the country was preserved after all, Russian President Vladimir Putin told a media forum of the All-Russia Popular Front, as he commented on the documentary The President, the Rossiya-1 television channel aired last Sunday.

"We preserved the unity and territorial integrity of the country. We must be grateful to the ordinary guys, our military, who in those very complicated conditions were taking the necessary military measures in the North Caucasus. That’s who really deserves greater publicity. They protected the country with their own bodies," Putin said. 

"It was not just a local conflict. That local conflict could have caused the situation in Russia to follow the Yugoslav scenario."

"We were very close to that," Putin believes."

In a word, the Russian dictator openly admits that compact groups of de jure Russian population in the Caucasus (and presumably elsewhere) do not identify with their nominal state and only the force of arms prevents them from splitting off Mother Russia together with their land.

Of course, it is not that unusual for a state to keep regions by force because of inability to win the allegiance of their residents by any other means. Talking of the Caucasus in particular, we all remember how Russian troops exterminated tens of thousands of Chechens in order to convince the rest that life in Russia is good for them.

But to boast about such a thing, you must really be Putin!

Friday, April 24, 2015

100 years since the Armenian genocide

Today we mark with sorrow the 100th anniversary of the genocide of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

This remember-me flower has the message "I remember and demand" (image source: Armenian General Benevolent Union - Plovdiv).

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

US Muslim organizations: Don't dare to call a genocide done by our Muslim brothers a genocide

The text below is copied from the site of the US Consul of Muslim Organizations and is not edited in any way.


(Washington, DC, April 20, 2015) -- The US Council of Muslim Organizations (USCMO) the largest umbrella group of mainstream Muslim American organizations is aware of the painful history of over 30 nations fighting for over 4 years and the loss of over 37 million lives in World War I, including those of the Armenians.

As April 24 comes near, we share the pain suffered by Armenians during this period. We also believe that any acknowledgment by religious or political leaders of the tragedy that befell Armenians should be balanced, constructive and must also recognize Turkish and Muslim suffering.

In this respect, characterizing the events of 1915 as genocide without proper investigation of these events by independent historians will not only jeopardize the establishment of a just memory pertaining to these events, but will also damage the efforts aimed at achieving reconciliation between Turks and Armenians.

As Americans, we are concerned about alienating a key ally, Turkey, through one-sided declarations that political and religious leaders have made on this subject. The events of 100 years ago should be based on a consensus among historians and academicians with access to archives and documents from that era.

As the only Muslim-majority member of NATO and current President of the G-20 Summit, Turkey has taken on a unique regional and global leadership role in ensuring peace and prosperity for all. Our government has been closely cooperating with the Turkish government on defeating ISIS while also alleviating the suffering of Syrian refugees.

While Muslim Americans sympathize deeply with the loss of Armenian lives in 1915, we also believe that reconciliation must take into honest account the broader human tragedy of World War I. Muslim Americans expect our leaders to act accordingly to ensure that American-Turkish strategic relations are not damaged by a one-sided interpretation of the 1915 events."

This is the way US Muslim leaders have chosen to mark the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. These same people also have the audacity to complain of Islamophobia!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Surprise, surprise! Quacks want money

From today's Vox:

"New WikiLeaks documents reveal the inner working of the Dr. Oz Show

Dr. Mehmet Oz often appears on his popular show to promote new health products and devices. Most viewers are likely under the impression that he's doing this because he's closely considered their merits and decided the products are widely beneficial.

But newly leaked emails suggest that business considerations — not health or science — can be a driving factor in which products Oz decides to promote."

I am scratching my head at what passes for news these days. It is common knowledge that, while many ordinary snake oil salesmen genuinely believe the nonsense they are selling, high-profile quacks like Dr. Oz or ex-Dr. Wakefield are invariably in this business for money. For big, dirty money. Who needs WikiLeaks or Vox to inform him about this? It is funny how the name of the good doctor reminds me of the Wizard of Oz.