Is Pollution in China Causing Infertility?

Interesting piece from Quartz, a publication I had not heard of before. Is pollution in China ratcheting up infertility?  

Longtime opponents of China’s one-child policy can stick this feather in their cap: Infertility is rising and at this point, the causes can’t be easily reversed. Last week, Chinese scientists from three universities and the government think tank, the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said they would be launching a five-year study (paywall) into the relationship between pollution and female infertility.

Although China’s infertility rate is likely still lower than the average for developing countries, it’s particularly a problem in the context of China’s growing population woes. Decades of the one-child policy, which restricts most urban couples from having more than one child, have left China with a disproportionately large numbers of old people, a yawning gender gap, and a workforce set to start shrinking by 2025.

I knew about the aging population and had heard that the huge disproportion of men to women is causing unforeseen marriage and procreation problems (and I can only surmise the greatest surge of masturbation in history). Now on top of that add the effects of the runaway pollution problem on women’s hormones and fertility. 

Nature generally corrects, doesn’t it? A population correction in China over the next 50 years seems inevitable. 

If you keep scrolling down on the link there’s also a story about Volkswagen discontinuing the VW minibus, the longest produced model in automotive history.

Wonkblog – Left behind: even with Obamacare there will be millions uninsured

And never let us forget that Obamacare, as well meaning and welcome as it is, is still a band aid on a gaping wound

The Affordable Care Act, the most sweeping health care program created in a half century, is expected to extend coverage to 25 million Americans over the next decade, according to the most recent government estimates. But that will still leave a projected 31 million people without insurance by 2023. Those left out include undocumented workers and poor people living in the 21 states, such as Virginia, that have so far declined to expand Medicaid under the statute, commonly called Obamacare.

As with almost every program that is not universal, there will be people who qualify who will fall through the cracks. There will be numerous people and families who just make too much to qualify, but not enough to get their own insurance. There will always be states or insurance companies that make arcane rules that couldn’t be anticipated even in the 900 page law. There’s the shocking gap in dental care, everywhere. And then there are the states that are not expanding their medicaid and the people that will be forced to continue to rely on the capacity of free clinics.

Andre Sokol, a 59-year-old unemployed carpenter, is an example of someone who won’t be helped by the law and will continue to rely on the Arlington clinic, which, at an given time, provides care to about 1,600 people. He lost his health-care benefits when he left his job in the construction industry several years ago to care for his longtime girlfriend, who was diagnosed with ALS, and his mother, who was battling dementia. Two years ago, the women died within two months of each other. Sokol had no job, no income and no place to live.

In January, Sokol had quadruple bypass surgery at Virginia Hospital Center, which absorbed the costs. He didn’t qualify for Medicaid because Virginia doesn’t allow single men, no matter how poor, on Medicaid, unless they’re disabled. The state has one of the strictest eligibility standards in the country. That would change if the state expanded its program under the health law.

It’s a shame that we have to expend so much energy defending a program that isn’t even going to be universal. It’s truly amazing to think that the opposition at this late date still does not even recognize the problem and offers no alternatives. We have to continue to work for a single payer system – Medicare for all – everyone with a social security number is covered. period.

Gun Nuttery’s Ever Moving Bottom

Just when you think you reached bottom, a new bottom.

Legally blind and completely blind Iowans can obtain permits to carry guns in public due to a 2011 adjustment to state law banning sheriffs from denying permits based on physical ability, the Des Moines Register reported Sunday. 

“I’m not an expert in vision,” Delaware county Sheriff John LeClere told the Register. “At what point do vision problems have a detrimental effect to fire a firearm? If you see nothing but a blurry mass in front of you, then I would say you probably shouldn’t be shooting something.”

Elizabeth Warren Takes on Corporate Supreme Court

The Sexiest Woman in the World is not afraid (that’s what makes her soooo sexy)! She calls the 5 conservatives on the Supreme Court out for what they are: 

“You follow this pro-corporate trend to its logical conclusion, and sooner or later you’ll end up with a Supreme Court that functions as a wholly owned subsidiary of big business,” she said, as quoted by Politico. 

Sen. Warren might be the FDR we need for the New New Deal. A sexy, sexy FDR who actually grew up middle class rather than the benevolent patrician saviors we’ve had to rely on throughout our history. 

I love her.

San Francisco Bans Chain Stores

On 8/30 I posted a piece about the “discarded” idea of banning chain stores. Well, little did I know there are cities and localities that do have restrictive rules or hoops to jump through for chains. The largest city with such a situation is San Francisco where a “formula” retail store or restaurant has to have a public hearing and obtain special approval from the Planning Commission to open. 

Adopted by the SF Board of Supervisors in 2004 the law has expanded over time.

 [t]he ordinance offered neighborhoods options ranging from “notifications” — letters mailed to nearby residents upon a chain’s arrival — to an outright ban. In 2006, voters chose to implement a more widespread solution: “conditional use authorizations,” in all of the city’s 17 NCDs. Every Gap, CVS, and AMC that wants to move into one of the city’s small-scale commercial streets must be approved by the Planning Commission. In total, hundreds of blocks require formula retail to obtain authorization, while dozens more operate under a categorical ban.

They use data from Civic Economics, a firm that collects data and collates studies on the effects on urban areas of retail development. They had determined, for example, that regarding book stores, for every $100 spent at a chain, $13 stayed in the local economy while $100 spent at a local outfit would recirculate $45 locally “thanks to wages, corporate profits, locally oriented procurement, and potential future investment in the community, ranging from sponsorship of a Little League team to opening a second branch”. Borders didn’t move in.

75% of chain applications go through. There are dozens of Starbucks and Subways and McDonalds, but the process gives a voice to the neighborhood so that certain stores can be rejected like a certain Starbucks on Market Street and a Chipotle was denied a space in the Castro district.

This is the kind of micro level protectionism of local business that I think can be very beneficial to a community. It’s pretty clear to me at the micro and macro level, protectionism of the local and indigenous industry is a necessary good and failure to do so is economic malpractice for a community, a state, a country.

The Institute for Local Self Reliance has more details on the benefits of the ban and the gaps in it.

The restrictions have helped San Francisco maintain a relatively vibrant independent retail sector. The city has twice as many independent bookstores per capita as New York. It is home to some 80 local hardware stores. It also boasts more than 900 independent retailers selling fresh food, including more than 50 locally owned grocery stores of at least 5,000 square feet.

The Syrian Quagmire is Here, Now

Vietnam made the word “quagmire” popular and since then if you want to say a foreign entanglement has become pointless you call it a quagmire. Syria has already become a quagmire right here in D.C. just on the issue of a military action in Syria.

The President’s view, shared by a traditional section of the foreign affairs community, is that Assad used hideous chemical weapons and that action must be taken to punish such action and disincentivize Assad, or any other bad actor, from thinking such actions are now an acceptable world standard.

Many Democrats who have been decidedly anti-war for a decade, pushing the President to get us out of Iraq, get us out of Afghanistan, see Syria as just another place not to be. Whether it’s a general anti-war sentiment at any time or, as now, in a time of a stagnant economy, they’re denying the implications of the use of chemical weapons and the U.S.’s traditional position as enforcer of world norms in the absence of a functional UN.

Many Republicans are parroting the Democrats anti-war themes, while not specifically mentioning Iraq or Afghanistan. They do like to sneak in other criticisms of the President and a few in Congress used the hearings on Syria as an absurd pretense to bring up Benghazi and other Fox News fever dreams. The word impeachment has come up a few times. Which all makes me wonder what they would be saying if President Mitt Romney asked them to send a message to Assad. Come on, we know they’d be passing the freedom fries, don’t we?

So is it a new low in a period of incredible lows where the GOP obstructs everything this President tries to do no matter what or where? Maybe so.

Do we really think that the people who voted for Iraq and defended the Bush Who Cried Wolf all down the line are now suddenly awake to the blood and treasure wasted and aware of the lives mangled and destroyed by the wars of choice and have awakened their inner Gandhi?

I don’t know how many times over the decades I’ve heard the phrase “we’re not the world’s policeman” but we were and we are. The truth is there are norms of international behavior, yes, even in war. There are Marquis of Queensbury rules to killing and chemical weapons have been verbotten since the horrors of WWI, for good reason. You can argue that death by bullet or death by the suffocation caused by the scorching of your lungs or death by violent convulsions and paralysis of the muscles around the lungs, are all the same. War is horrible, period. But the conventions of acceptable behaviors try to make it less barbaric and the U.S., as the premier military power in the world since WWII has stood up for those conventions, as the world’s policeman ever since then.

And we were proud of that at one time. Standing up against genocide in Kosovo, or aggression in the Persian Gulf, or supporting countless democratically elected governments against coups, or countless humanitarian actions. When we can do good with our power, we have largely done so (or rued our inaction in places like Rwanda).

And yes, of course there have been Presidents who misused our military. The Reagan and Bush years were horrifically irresponsible in their use of our great power to prop up brutal anti-communist strongmen they liked. And throughout our history the military has been utilized to support and defend the economic interests of large corporations. God knows, I know about the abuse of the military and the subsequent bullshit campaigns in the press. I am very well aware that the only other known uses of chemical weapons in the last 30 years were by Saddam Hussein against the Kurds in Halabja with the express knowledge of our own government. Yep, we sold him the chemicals, we have the receipts.

But President Obama is not Reagan or Bush. He’s not surrounded by neo-cons looking to use our military to push their own foreign affairs agenda.

And forget sanctions or other economic hammers being brought to bear against Syria. Russia will block all actions in the UN Security Council. And can anybody point to sanctions that have ever worked besides South Africa? Have sanctions ever forced the hand of a psychopathic strongman? Even if you could get them enacted, have sanctions done anything besides causing the pointless suffering of the average Cuban, the average Iranian?

The quagmire is here, now, in this debate.

Oh No! These Fancy New Helicopter Toys Are Dangerous

A 19 year old New York man flying his new model helicopter was nearly decapitated by his $1500 Trex 700 RC toy. 

The high-end RC helicopter has a blade span of 62 inches, with a rotor that spins at more than 2,000rpm. It weighs a little over six pounds.

Pirozek’s own father watched in horror as his son’s helicopter slashed off a chunk of his headthe Wall Street Journal reports.

The teenager was dead when police arrived at the field. Pictures from the scene show the remote control near his covered body.

Police say the aircraft fell from the sky and slashed him in the head and the throat on the way down. 

I guess I’m pretty happy now that all the flying toys my kids always made me buy just basically crashed and didn’t work after the first weekend. 

Horrible.

It’s Friday on my Panties

It's Friday on my Panties

It’s a beautiful cool, crisp early Fall Friday. God I love this weather. At 68 degrees I could walk around my urban hellhole all day long.

My football team starts its probably disappointing season this Sunday, but right now they’re 0-0.

Boardwalk Empire starts season 4 on Sunday night and I am all a tingle with finding out what trouble Nucky will get himself into this year (1924).

In short, all is right with the world and my undies are relatively clean. Huzzah!!

Think Progress: Iran is More Progressive Than GOP on Birth Control

So, whoda thunk it but the Muslim Sharias are actually more progressive than the Christian Sharias (which come to think of it would be a great softball team name) in the area of birth control. 

GOP-led resistance to Obamacare’s contraception coverage mandate is clearlyout-of-step with the American public, 61 percent of whom believe that even religious employers should be required to cover contraception for their workers. And in fact, it turns out the right-wing opposition to robust family planning benefits would be too extreme even in the socially-conservative Islamic Republic of Iran.

Iran apparently has one of the worlds best family planning systems. Who knew? Citizens can get condoms, pills, injections, tubal ligations, vasectomies, IUDS all for free! 

So yeah, free thinking Oklahomans, Kansans, Mississippians, etc. you’d be better off under Sharia Law than you are with your Republican Christian Sharia.

Really, who knew? LOL!