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Tuesday, September 30, 2003  

In the news

  • Teen magazines anger Geldof
  • There's nothing unusual about a celebrity being angry with the media, but Bob Geldof is tilting at a new windmill, instead of complaining about coverage of himself. He is upset with the publishers of magazines targeted at teenaged girls.

    Yesterday, one parent, a father of three teenage children, hit back. And he is not just any parent. Bob Geldof, the rock star and charity hero, compared the publications to grown men who get sexual thrills from underage girls.

    On a BBC2 programme, Grumpy Old Men, to be shown next week, Sir Bob asks: "Are they any less offensive than a 22-year-old man going to an 11- or 12-year-old girl and saying, 'I am going to talk to you about sex and how girls can give blow jobs to men?' If such a conversation happened, you would view it as odd, probably illegal and certainly predatory."

    Sir Bob, father of Pixie, 13, Peaches, 15, and Fifi Trixibelle, 19, adds: "There is something predatory because they are made by adult men and women. Is it because of my age that makes me feel they are wrong? I don't think so. I would have objected to them when I was 20."

    Sir Bob's anger centres on several magazines. Mizz, Bliss, J-17, Sugar and CosmoGirl! carry sex advice and sexually themed features for a readership with an average age of 15 or below....

    Since I don't pay much attention to the ingenue media market and most of the rags cited are British, I can't pass personal judgment on them. However, as a graduate of Tiger Beat and other girl 'zines, I can testify to not having been harmed by the light sexual innuendo such mediums engage in. I doubt this generation will be, either, though the innuendo may be racier. Furthermore, most American girls have had sex by the time they are 15. I believe we would could use our energies more wisely in urging them not to be irresponsible in their sexual behavior.

    The blogger at Playing With My Food has listed this news item under 'Humor,' but Sir Bob appears to serious.

    By the way, who named Geldof's girls?

  • Schwarzenegger's success is the people's failure
  • I wish the recall election in California had been postponed so we wouldn't have to discuss Arnold Schwarzenegger anymore. I am as weary of him as I am of George W. Bush. But, the beat goes on.

    LOS ANGELES, Sept. 29 -- With one week to go, California's recall election appears more and more to be a two-man race, with an unpopular governor struggling to hold on to Democrats, and a Hollywood actor who now has the Republican establishment behind him and a burst of momentum from the latest polls.

    Though there are 135 names on the ballot, the final week is likely to be a showdown between embattled Gov. Gray Davis (D) and Republican frontrunner Arnold Schwarzenegger, strategists in the two campaigns said.

    . . .Schwarzenegger received the unanimous endorsement today of the California Republican Party's board of directors, becoming the de facto nominee. He already had received the nod from most of the ranking Republicans in Sacramento and the Republican congressional delegation from California.

    The California GOP is possibly the most disorganized in the country and dominated by Neanderthals. Its blessing doesn't mean much, particularly considering it had to contradict itself on most of its positions to get there.

    George "Duf" Sundheim, chairman of the California GOP, said the decision to endorse Schwarzenegger, who backs abortion rights, gun control, medical marijuana and gay unions, has "strong support from the grass roots" because he is "the candidate who can win."

    The sheep who were going to baa for Schwarzenegger would have regardlessly.

    What I find troubling is the whole scenario. A C-movie actor with the intelligence of a pet rock announces he is running for the top leadership position in an important state and far too many of the citizenry cluelessly declare their allegiance. The national GOP targets a governor for a spurious recall campaign and far too few of the citizenry see what is wrong with that. We have a habit of blaming leaders for failures in our society. But, I'm inclined to blame the citizens of the not so golden state for this one.

    Right Wing blogger Robert Garcia Tagorda, at Priorities and Frivolities, believes otherwise. He even thinks Scharzenegger is capable of winning a debate. I differ -- without begging.

  • Millions more lose healthcare coverage
  • Since becoming an independent writer, I pay a lot more attention to health insurance issues than I did while under the umbrellas of powerful employers. The New York Times reports that millions more Americans are having to go without coverage this year.

    WASHINGTON, Sept. 29 - The number of people without health insurance shot up last year by 2.4 million, the largest increase in a decade, raising the total to 43.6 million, as health costs soared and many workers lost coverage provided by employers, the Census Bureau reported today.

    The increase brought the proportion of people who were uninsured to 15.2 percent, from 14.6 percent in 2001. The figure remained lower than the recent peak of 16.3 percent in 1998.

    A continued erosion of employer-sponsored coverage was the main reason for the latest increase, the bureau said. Public programs, especially Medicaid, covered more people and cushioned the loss of employer-sponsored health insurance but "not enough to offset the decline in private coverage," the report said.

    The proportion of Americans with insurance from employers declined to 61.3 percent, from 62.6 percent in 2001 and 63.6 percent in 2000. The number of people with employer-sponsored coverage fell last year by 1.3 million, to 175.3 million, even as the total population grew by 3.9 million.

    There is no relief in sight. Lobbyists are focusing their energies on providing prescription drug benefits for Medicare recipients, who are already insured. Nor will better economic fortunes bail most of the uninsured out. Unemployment and underemployment are rampant in some states, including here in the Pacific Northwest. The same report says the rate of poverty increased last year. However, the low-income are not the only people effected.

    Among people living in poverty, 49 percent of those who worked full-time were uninsured.

    But middle-income households accounted for most of the increase in the number of uninsured. In households with annual incomes of $25,000 to $74,999, the number of uninsured people rose last year by 1.4 million, to 21.5 million, and the increase was most noticeable among households with incomes of $25,000 to $49,999.

    If there is a single national issue I am willing to declare a priority over others, it is basic healthcare coverage for everyone. I believe all other forms of well-being start with health. Yes, I know many liberals and moderates gave up on the issue of national health insurance after Hillary Clinton's resounding defeat when she attempted to make headway on it. However, in my opinion, the issue should be resurrected and made part of Democratic candidates' plans for the coming national elections.

    11:46 AM