Tuesday, July 31, 2007
Friday, July 27, 2007
When it comes to cervical cancer, Connecticut state Rep. DebraLee Hovey's efforts don't end at the Capitol's doors. Hovey wanted her two stepdaughters to receive the HPV vaccine Gardasil, made by pharmaceutical giant Merck, based in Whitehouse Station, N.J. "I lobbied their mother intensely," said Hovey. The girls were vaccinated, which should protect them from 70 percent of cervical cancer-causing HPV strains.
Hovey is a member of Women in Government, a Washington-based bipartisan group of female lawmakers that in 2004 began a campaign to eliminate cervical cancer. "How many cancers do you know that you can eliminate through vaccine?" said Hovey, a Republican. "If you inoculate--vaccinate--a population of young women, we could have, in a period of time, a population that has no cervical cancer." But Hovey was less successful in the legislature than within her own family.
In January she introduced a bill requiring all Connecticut girls to receive an HPV vaccine at age 12. It got stuck in committee and never made it to the floor. Hovey's mixed lobbying results--mingling personal success with stymied policy efforts--indicates the general state of play for activists at the forefront of an increasingly contentious push to vaccinate an entire generation of young girls from HPV, or human papillomavirus.
The Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that 11- and 12-year-old girls get the vaccine and Merck has distributed 5 million doses of Gardasil since its approval in June 2006. But no national requirement is in place for the vaccine, leaving state lawmakers to battle over the wisdom of tacking Gardasil onto schoolchildren's vaccine lists.
Push Chilled by Amendment
On July 19, the U.S. House of Representatives chilled the vaccine mandate push by passing an amendment to an appropriations bill that prohibits federal funding of the vaccine to any state that mandates it as an immunization requirement in next year's budget. Rep. Phil Gingrey of Georgia also introduced a separate bill, the Parental Right to Decide Protection Act, to implement the same condition into federal law.
"As an ob-gyn physician, I applaud the development of an HPV vaccine," Gingrey said in a statement. "But for states to mandate vaccination for young women is both unprecedented and unacceptable. Whether or not girls get vaccinated against HPV is a decision for parents and physicians, not politicians and bureaucrats."
So far, 23 states have introduced legislation for an HPV vaccine requirement.
In March, Virginia became the first state to pass a vaccine requirement. It applies to all sixth-grade girls beginning in the 2008 school year and includes an opt-out option for parents who may sign a form after reviewing literature.
In Texas Gov. Rick Perry--a religious conservative--ordered the shots for girls in February. But lawmakers cited concerns about the vaccine's cost and safety and parried with legislation that stalls the mandate until 2011.
New Hampshire has subsidized the vaccine, dispensing the $360 set of three vaccines for free on a voluntary basis.
The Atlanta-based American Cancer Society endorses the CDC's recommendation but has no position on whether it should be mandatory.
Mandates May Be 'Premature'
Jon Abramson, chair of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and a professor of pediatrics at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., has said that a mandatory requirement might be premature. Abramson has said his daughters received the first shot, but that it's too early to judge whether the vaccine deserves mandatory status.
The vaccine itself is still relatively young, having undergone only five years of clinical studies, a third as long as the vaccine for hepatitis B--which can be transmitted sexually or by blood--before it joined school lists.
James Colgrove, assistant professor at the Center for the History and Ethics of Public Health at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in New York, said concerns about the vaccine include cost effectiveness, possible side effects and the vaccine's long-term efficacy.
The nature of the HPV vaccine--which Colgrove said targets a disease high in severity but low in
transmissibility--contrasts with most school-age vaccines for diseases that are casually transmissible but less severe, like the measles. If states mandated the vaccine, they would also need to fund the expense of the shots.
Religious advocacy groups such as Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the Family Research Council in Washington support providing--but not mandating--the vaccine, citing a parent's right to choose. Joining them are proponents of the anti-vaccine movement, who contend, in contradiction to U.S. medical agencies, that vaccinations can be linked to autism and other diseases. "They've found common cause in this vaccine because it's kind of at the intersection of sexuality and human safety," Colgrove said.
Struggling to Define Positions
Amid the flux, groups and individuals are struggling to define their positions. At its annual convention in June, for instance, the General Federation of Women's Clubs, a Washington-based umbrella organization for local volunteer groups in more than 20 countries, passed a measure urging swift implementation of the CDC's vaccination recommendations, including HPV.
"Every year we do about 50 resolutions. This is one of the four that got a question from the floor," said Kate Kikta, public policy director for the group. "Once we put the statistics in front of them, an overwhelming majority did vote to pass this."
Gardasil protects against four strains of HPV, the most common sexually transmitted disease, that cause 70 percent of cervical cancers and 90 percent of genital warts. About 20 million people are infected in the United States, according to the CDC. The American Cancer Society estimates that 3,600 of the 11,000 women diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2007 will die from it.
Cervical cancer has a high remission rate if caught in the early stage with a regular Pap test.
Between 60 and 80 percent of U.S. women diagnosed with cervical cancer had not had a Pap test in the past five years, according to a 2006 American Cancer Society report. The Pan American Health Organization reported in 2005 that 80 percent of the more than 200,000 deaths annually from cervical cancer occurred in underdeveloped or poverty-stricken countries where access or information about Pap tests is limited.
Lisa Hughes, senior director of policy and advocacy for the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation in Alexandria, Va., said her foundation supports the vaccine but has no official stance on the mandate. Her daughters will receive it, she said.
Gardasil faces competition from emerging vaccine candidate Cervarix. Its maker, British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, submitted a licensing application to the Food and Drug Administration in March and the vaccine could be on the shelf by 2008. Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration approved Cervarix in May.
Cervarix is the first cervical cancer vaccine to be approved for women over age 26 and is approved in Australia for women up to age 45.
Alison Bowen is a freelance reporter based in New York City.
Its Women Issue day and i think its only fitting, that once again, today's soundbyte is from a fierce woman. When i use the word fierce, i dont mean animal like. I mean it in the way that Ms Patti Labelle uses it - "Those are some fierce shoes, You are looking fierce baby girl". Fierce as in bad asssssssss and just amazing.
This post will be about the song and the woman because this woman is just ......
- This is a very very very racy song...LOL. The title should be rated 18. The song is essentially about wellllllllll a "forbidden" act.
- "Pull up to my bumper baby; in your long black limousine. Pull up to my bumper baby; drive it in between." This is essentially the chorus...LOL
- Patra's version of this song was a party favorite
- This song did quite well on the UK & US charts
- Grace Jones and acting. This woman has given us some memorable roles. In Boomerang, she played the role of eccentric Helen Strange and in the the James Bond movie - A View to Kill, i think she rocked as May Day. I loved her superstong, super sexy but non conventional character. And then she sacrificed herself for Bond with her final line being "Get Zorin for me"......I am a huge James Bond fan so i think i should stop there
- Ms Jones is actually Grace Mendoza and i think she is jamaican
- She used to be a supermodel and was quite feminine but once she launched her music career, she changed her image with the help of her then husband who was a producer and created the image most of us are familiar with - the androgynous "odd" looking woman with masculine clothes and the box hair cut
- Ms Jones can never go to any Disney theme park. LOL. She exposed her breasts during a concert and that was it. Lifetime ban....LOL
- There was a story making the rounds a few years back about her having alopecia and she has spoken about it...
- Madame Jones is 59 years and is engaged to some Viscount...LOL
Love her or hate her, she is one very confident woman. And she makes my list more for being who she is than for the song. I like the song sure but everytime i hear it, i think of Grace Jones and i just marvel.....
Wednesday, July 25, 2007
My second Prince song making it onto my list. I will say again that i think Prince is one of the sexiest men ever. What a man. And then a hot, sexy man with talent and brooding intensity. What's not to love?
This song is amazing for so many reasons and has so many hot things about it:
- Its the title track off the amazing album released in the early 90's. The album also features Prince's amazing band The New Power Generation. This band - stellar and was made up of the amazing Sheila E (sexy, talented drummer) and Sheila Easton among others
- This song is one of the few Prince ballads that is purely about love. We all know that Prince songs are loaded with sexual undertones. But this song is solely about love
- The title is every girl's dream. I like to think of myself as a classy lady and when i get to the point in my life where money is not an option, my jewelery box will be filled with diamonds and pearls which are my birth stone
- This song features the powerful vocals of Rosie Gaines. Rosie also features on another Prince song that i will feature on this series....(anyone know which one? A little quiz there)
Amazing song from an amazing talent....and oh by the way, his new cd (Planet Earth) ....absolutely amazing....
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
What do you think?
Finally, a song that makes my list that i simply cannot stand. This is the most annoying song ever and came complete with an even more annoying dance that made people look like chickens. Appalling.
This song came onto the scene in 1996 i believe and it was even more amazing to see the video. Two old men. Wearing suits. Apparently Macarena is a woman's name. Hard to tell considering that the song is in Spanish and has the very annoying chorus. I wont diss the name too much since its the name of one of the daughters of one of the singers.
Can you imagine that this song spent 14 weeks at the top of the US pop charts and sold 11 million copies? Un-freaking-believable.
The song didnt come ready with a dance. Here is the biggest fluke ever: the dance was formed by some Venezualan flamenco dancer who used it in her class. And somehow, the it caught on world wide. How on earth does that happen?
Enough said - historic song but plain awful - at least to me.
Monday, July 23, 2007
My friend Ms Y and I has a pretty interesting conversation on the way to the event about unions of different faiths.
So i ask- can you marry someone outside your faith? Not restricting this to muslim/christian unions. Any combination will do. Can you marry outside your faith?
She was 65.
Messner was a guest on "Larry King Live" on Thursday. She told him she couldn't swallow food, and weighed only 65 pounds. King said the family postponed the death announcement for a day so family members could gather. Messner was cremated and interred in a remote part of Kansas at the Kansas-Oklahoma state line, King said. "The family appreciates all of the well wishes of so many people," the talk show host said on CNN. "She wanted a party," King added. "They're going to schedule a party in two to three weeks in Palm Springs, California. Her friends will be invited. And she wanted it to be a celebration. "She died peacefully. Anyone who saw her on our show this week knew that she didn't have long."
King asked her Thursday if she were "a little scared." She responded, "A little bit," adding that she mainly worried about her family. She made dramatic appearances on the now-defunct Christian PTL Network she started with then-husband Jim Bakker, its host. Before millions of viewers, she would often break into tears, prompting her trademark heavy mascara to run.
"Our family is deeply saddened by the news of the passing of Tammy Faye," Bakker said late Saturday. "She lived her life like the song she sang, 'If Life Hands You a Lemon, Make Lemonade.'
"My heart aches for my two children, Jamie Charles and Tammy Sue, who loved their mother dearly. They both told me their mom was so full of life that it is hard to believe she is gone."
Bakker said Tammy Sue stayed with her mother almost around-the-clock in the last year to help care for her. "Tammy Faye's deep faith in God has kept her throughout her life as well as during these last days of her life. In her last 48 hours, she shared her faith in Jesus Christ on worldwide television with millions of people."
After divorcing Bakker, who became steeped in money and sex scandals, she married Christian construction magnate and former PTL contractor Roe Messner in 1993. She was married to Bakker for more than 30 years. She underwent surgery for colon cancer in 1996. In 2004, she revealed that the disease had spread to her lungs, and in May 2007 she announced that her doctors had stopped trying to treat the illness.
In her appearance on CNN's "Larry King Live," Tammy Faye Messner was a shadow of her former self. "I believe when I leave this Earth, because I love the Lord, I am going straight to heaven," she said. King said she had sought the interview. She told King she was bedridden most of the time, had trouble swallowing food -- hence the weight loss -- and was in near-constant pain.
But her sense of humor was still intact. On her Web site, she wrote on Monday, "I crave hamburgers and french fries with LOTS of ketchup! When I can eat that again, it will be a day of victory!" Asked by King what she would most like to be remembered for, Messner replied, "well, my eyelashes." Messner wore heavy makeup -- her lip liner, eyeliner and eyebrows were tattooed on.
Born Tammy Faye LaValley in International Falls, Minnesota, she married Bakker in 1961. From 1966 to 1973, the Bakkers co-hosted "The 700 Club," on the Christian Broadcasting Network, founded by television evangelist and Christian Coalition founder the Rev. Pat Robertson. They began The PTL Club -- with the initials standing for "Praise The Lord" or "People That Love" -- in 1974 and later expanded it into a television network. At the height of its popularity, PTL was bringing in more than $128 million annually and was carried on 1,300 cable systems with 12 million subscribers.
In 1978, the Heritage USA theme park opened at the network's headquarters in Fort Mill, South Carolina. The Heritage USA Grand Hotel was added in 1984 and a water park in 1986. That year, more than 6 million people visited the park, making it the nation's third most popular attraction after Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
On March 19, 1987, Jim Bakker resigned from PTL in the face of a scandal involving an affair seven years earlier with Jessica Hahn, a secretary he paid to keep quiet. Hahn received a one-time $115,000 payment and monthly interest payments from a $150,000 trust fund.
The following month, PTL filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Also in 1987, Tammy Faye Bakker was treated at the Betty Ford Center for prescription drug addiction.
And in December 1988, Jim Bakker was indicted for fraud and conspiring to defraud churchgoers of $158 million. Tammy Faye Bakker was not named in the indictment.
In 1989, Heritage USA and the Grand Hotel closed, and Jim Bakker was convicted of 24 counts of fraud and conspiracy and sentenced to 45 years in prison. Tammy Faye Bakker divorced him while he was incarcerated, and Jim Bakker was paroled in December 1994.
Asked by King on Thursday what she would change in her life if she could, Tammy Faye Messner replied, "I don't think about that, Larry, because that's just a waste of good brain space." When King suggested that she might want to forget the PTL Club, she said, "I have gotten over that, thank God. That was a terrible, horribly bad experience."
The Bakkers' 30-year-old son, Jay, is a pastor who co-founded the Revolution Church in Brooklyn, New York -- a church aimed at those who feel rejected by traditional approaches to Christianity, stating on the church's Web site that he wrestled with religion after seeing the "excommunicative" treatment his parents experienced from the church after the scandal.
Tammy Faye Messner has also been known as one of the few evangelical Christians who had the support of the gay community. She was one of the first televangelists to reach out to those with AIDS when it was a little-known and much-feared disease. In return, she told King in July, "When I went -- when we lost everything, it was the gay people that came to my rescue, and I will always love them for that."
She was able to bounce back after PTL folded. In 1996, she co-hosted the "Jim J. and Tammy Faye Show" with gay actor Jim J. Bullock. In 2000, a documentary based on her life, "The Eyes of Tammy Faye," was nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. And in 2003, she appeared on The WB network's reality show, "The Surreal Life."
Over her life, Messner also recorded more than 25 albums and wrote several books. In 1996, she wrote her autobiography, "Telling it My Way." She also wrote "Run to the Roar," a book about overcoming fear, and in 2003 wrote her last book, "I Will Survive, and You Will Too."
Despite her battle with cancer, Messner told King she kept her Christian faith, instructing her doctors not to tell her how much time they believed she had left. "I don't have any date written on me anywhere that says I'm going to die at any time, and so I just give it to the Lord," she said.
Asked if she had a message for her fans, she replied: "I'd like to say that I genuinely love you, and I genuinely care, and I genuinely want to see you in heaven someday. I want you to find peace. I want you to find joy."
*Remember to press play on the player under the soundbyte sidebar to hear this song*
Anyone who is a regular American Idol fan will recognise this song. I mean, this song has been used during auditions over and over again. Some people have done it justice, while others have just butchered the song. I remember Edwin McCain actually coming on one of the shows to express how he felt about his song being a favorite. Hilarious!
I remember belting this song out over and over again with eyes closed. LOL. For some reason the words and melody to this song, struck me. Almost like the song is mine alone....Weird i know but its why it makes this list....
Its one of those songs that is a pleasure to listen to. And the words? Amazingly beautiful.....So i leave you with the words. Enjoy!
The strands in your eyes that color them wonderful
Stop me and steal my breath
Emeralds from mountains thrust toward the sky
Never revealing their depth
Tell me that we belong together
Dress it up with the trappings of love
I'll be captivated
I'll hang from your lips
Instead of the gallows of heartache that hang from above
I'll be your crying shoulder
I'll be love's suicide
I'll be better when I'm older
I'll be the greatest fan of your life
Rain falls angry on the tin roof
As we lie awake in my bed
You're my survival, you're my living proof
My love is alive not dead
Tell me that we belong together
Dress it up with the trappings of love
I'll be captivated
I'll hang from your lips
Instead of the gallows of heartache, that hang from above
I'll be your crying shoulder
I'll be love's suicide
I'll be better when I'm older
I'll be the greatest fan of your life
I've been dropped out, burned up, fought my way back from the dead
Tuned in, turned on,
Remembered the things that you said
I'll be your crying shoulder
I'll be love's suicide
I'll be better when I'm older
I'll be the greatest fan of your life
Friday, July 20, 2007
LONDON, England (AP) -- Female genital mutilation, commonly associated with parts of Africa and the Middle East, is becoming a growing problem in Britain despite authorities' efforts to stamp it out.
The Metropolitan Police, Britain's largest police force, hopes a campaign beginning Wednesday will highlight that the practice is a crime here. To make their point, police are offering a 20,000-pound (euro29,500; US$40,000) reward for information leading to Britain's first prosecution for female genital mutilation, Detective Chief Superintendent Alastair Jeffrey said.
In Britain, the problem mostly involves first-generation immigrants from Africa and the Middle East. Police say they do not have comprehensive statistics about the number of victims. But midwife Comfort Momoh, who specializes in treating them at London hospitals and clinics and who works with police, told the news conference she treats 400-500 victims every year.
Arranging or carrying out the procedure -- in Britain or abroad -- is a criminal offense punishable by up to 14 years in prison, but no one has been prosecuted since it was banned under British law in 2003, Jeffrey said. Police estimate up to 66,000 girls in Britain face the risk of genital mutilation. Watch why the practice is difficult to fight (VIEWER DISCRETION ADVISED) »
"The timing of this campaign is for one good reason: so we can get in before the summer holidays, a time when young girls are taken abroad and subjected to genital mutilation," he told a news conference on Tuesday.
Mutilated infants, girls and women face irreversible lifelong health risks -- both physically and mentally, according to UNICEF and other charity groups. Authorities believe the number of genital mutilation cases peaks in the summer, because the extended holiday gives girls more time to recover -- thereby making it easier for those responsible to cover up their actions.
Female genital mutilation usually involves the removal of the clitoris and other parts of female genitalia. Those who practice it say it tames a girl's sexual desire and maintains her honor.
It is practiced by Muslims and Christians alike, deeply rooted in the Nile Valley region and parts of sub-Saharan African, and is also done in Yemen and Oman. Through migration, the practice has spread to Western countries like Britain.
Between 100 million and 140 million women are believed to have been subjected to the practice in Africa and an additional 3 million girls face the threat of female genital mutilation every year, according to UNICEF.
Detective Inspector Carol Hamilton, who has been investigating the practice since 2004, said some immigrants in Britain may bring practitioners from their home country to mutilate several children because it is cheaper. She said children not only suffer terrible physical injuries, but can also be left emotionally scarred.
Salimata Badji-Knight was mutilated when she was 4 in her native Senegal. Her parents had promised her a picnic, but instead she said she was attacked by women who had no medical training. Now married and living in London, she fears she may not be able to have children because of the procedure. She hopes that by sharing her experiences she can prevent parents from subjecting their daughters to similar abuse. "Why do they need to go and mutilate a young innocent person without her knowing what is going to happen, just for culture?" Badji-Knight said. "It does not add up for me."
Somali-born supermodel Waris Dirie survived a traditional form of the practice that kills hundreds of girls each year. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is set to present the "Chevalier de la Legion d'honneur" to her on Thursday for her work as a leading critic of female genital mutilation, which has seen her tour parts of Africa to speak out against the practice.
People who know me musically will say that i am first and foremost a Motown baby. I owe my musical self to Motown. I grew up listening to hits from The Supremes, The Temptations courtesy of my dad. As i grew older, i started to listen to other solid acts from that period - the 50's to the 70's but from other labels. The likes of the O'Jays, The Manhattans, The Bluebelles (where Patti Labelle started off) got constant play. These acts were my introduction to music and even though i listen to everything under the sun now, i still have a very special place in my heart for the Motown acts (when i use this term, it includes acts not on that label but again from the same era).
Marvin Gaye - Sheer genius. This song is one of 3(i think) songs from him that will feature on this series. I chose to feature Let's get on first because its my favorite Marvin Gaye song. There is something sooooo sensual about this song that makes me want to close my eyes and sway from side to side with my hands in my hair. I tell you music is a powerful thing.
This song is from an album of the same name and was Marvin's most successful album with Motown and was released in the early 70's. Wow. Its been that long? Another sign of a good song is timelessness.
Anyway, there are so many many back stories to this song and to Marvin so let me list what i can remember:
- This song was originally recorded as a religious/political number. However, the co-writer of the song protested and so Marvin and some other songwriter went back to the drawing board
- Marvin was married to Berry Gordy's (CEO/Owner of the Motown label) relative. I am not sure exactly what the connection is but her name - Anna Gordy
- Eddie Murphy's character in DreamGirls is loosely based on Marvin Gaye
- This song topped a number of charts but has gone down in history as the most successful single ever released from the stables of Motown
- This song is all about being comfortable about sexuality and sexual liberation
- Marvin's marriage to Anne Gordy had ended and Marvin had a mad crush on the 17 year old daughter of one of his musicians. The story goes that she was in the recording studio when this version of this song was recorded. Marvin nailed this once. They moved in together and he went on to marry her about 4 years later
I could go on and on but i wont. LOL.....Fabulous song by an amazing writer who died way too young. Enjoy!
*Please press play on the player under the soundbyte sidebar to hear this song*
Thursday, July 19, 2007
Look at me
Every inch of this chocolate temple is beautiful
For so long i defined my sense of worth
Measured my dignity and price by numbers on labels and scales
The quest for weight loss is no longer an obsession
But is taken in stride
Not because i think i will be better if i was smaller
But because the quest for perfect health remains
But this post isnt about that
Its about realising that i am beautiful
Every inch of me is a treasure to behold
Add to that my confidence and personality
I radiate beauty
And its not my attempt to be vain
Because i realise i was made in God's image
I realise that i need to be thankful that i can walk and run and sit
With no assistance from anyone
Or any device
I am beautiful
Every inch of me is perfection
Just like in the old days.........
Oh Michael Bolton. Smooth man with the blonde locks.
The very first time i heard this song, i was in SS2 and B was singing this with N. And i thought to myself "Self, what a nice song". Then i found out it was by Michael Bolton and i remember hearing it on a mixed tape and that was it. Swept away by the song and by this artist.
Now and again, i hear a love song that i think needs no fluff, no extras - the words speak...So i leave you with the lyrics to this amazing song:
Talk about love, talk about trust
Talkin' 'bout forever baby
When I'm talkin' 'bout us
I give you my word, stick to my guns
Believe when I tell ya baby
That we've just begun
You don't understand, no
The full intent of my plan
I wanna be your soul provider
I wanna stay that way
For the longest timeI wanna be, your soul provider
Just say you'll let me
And darlin' I will
I know you've been hurt, I know you're love shy
You don't have to say it baby
It's gonna take some time
Ya got my heart, in the palm of your hand
Swear it's gonna stay there baby
Give me half a chance
You don't understand
The full intent of my plan
I've been waitin' for a long time for somebody like you
To give my love, all my love day and night
Just say you'll be mine for the rest of your life
Baby I'll show you why
Wednesday, July 18, 2007
"Michael, if you were on a date having dinner with a nice young lady, how would you tell her that you have to go to the bathroom?"
Michael said, "Just a minute I have to go pee."
The teacher responded by saying, "That would be rude and impolite.
What about you Peter, how would you say it?"
Peter said, "I am sorry, but I really need to go to the bathroom. I'll be right back."
"That's better, but it's still not very nice to say the word bathroom at the dinner table.
And you, little Johnny, can you use your brain for once and show us your good manners?"
"I would say: Darling, may I please be excused for a moment? I have to shake hands with a very dear friend of mine, whom I hope you'll get to meet after dinner."
The teacher fainted.
Well, last night as i hung out with them before going to bed, there was talk of taking them somewhere on sunday. My brother is busy that day, the driver is off so guess who will be chauffeur? Yours truly. So i noticed them hedging. Asking my brother if he couldnt drop them off on his way to wherever, or if my dad could take them or if they could go to this place another day. What in the world?
So i asked them, why i couldnt drop them off? Is it my driving? Oh no they said. Then what is it? After a lot of hedging, with eyes looking at fit and looking everywhere but at me, my brother (being the man that he is) burst out "Look Uzo, its just that everytime we are in your car, we are subjected to your pissy indian music. All the damn time"
One of the most fabulous songs ever. Its one of the most coded songs of our time. LOL.
The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) and The Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) are not for profit organizations set up to provide to the needy. The most visible part of these organizations are the hostels which provice free accomodation for people that need it. (Not always free but with rates as little as $10 a night, it might as well be). Anyone from the homeless, people down on their luck to students have taken advantage of these hostels.
So this song comes up in the 70's and becomes a fabulous hit. And on the surface, it seems to be praising the YMCA. I will admit that the first time i heard this song, it was on Top of the Pops and so i got to see the group as well. I wondered why they all wore costumes (there was a policeman, a cowboy, a construction worker, an indian (american indian) and some others i have forgotten). And they had a YMCA dance as well. As young as i was, i think i figured out this song was a little special. LOL
So i get older and become more worldly and the truth about this song just hit me. Of course, with all the music fever i had, i also did my research and there the facts were all 'naked' for me to see. LOL...And it has been one of my favorite songs since. I love this song because its fun and so cheeky. Its just brilliant.
So the real story about the YMCA song? Well apparently, these good christian organizations were used by gay men for stuff (LOL). I mean for hookups and stuff. Remarkable. LOL.
"Its fun to stay at the YMCA" - this is the last line of every verse and i just bet it was....LOL
So i will stop with all my innuendos now.....but its just a great dance and disco song and yes i have to hold my hands firmly by my side to stop from spelling out the letters with my hands. This song has been parodied and re-done all with a lot of nastiness but my favorite appearance - In Friends with Monica and the bullies and she is just dancing away. Fabulous i tell you.
Tuesday, July 17, 2007
On saturday, after my training class, i hooked up with my girlfriends for drinks and gossip. We were joined by a young lady that i know but isnt my friend if you understand that. Anyway we had a good time and when i got home, my main friend (the reason we hooked up at all) and i got on the phone and proceeded to yak on and on.
The young girl i mentioned above V is dating a guy D. They have been together for 3 years. Another acquaintance of mine M last year raved on and on about the fabulous guy she was dating also called D. Anyway, one fateful day, V walks into D's flat unannounced and there M is with her man. The weird thing here is there wasnt a fight. These 2 ladies M & V proceeded to have a fairly dignified conversation about when they started dating D, how often they saw him etc. Both ladies leave. M is devastated but moves on and is dating someone else now.
V on the other hand is still with D. In fact he joined us for about an hour before they left us to have some quiet time. Hey. I cast no judgement about the whole thing. I just thought it was interesting but hey...
So my main friend and i were talking and got round to this issue. And i said i thought it was very interesting. My friend said something to the effect that they were planning to get married - V & D. I then asked if Miss V was okay with the infidelity thing. My friend said it was just an incident that happened and that was that. It was at that point that i said i would have reservations about continuing a relationship with a boyfriend who has cheated. I said, it was bad enough that the odds seem to be really high that infidelity would happen during marriage (i am very very optimistic about that not happenening to me but one must be prepared...LoL) making that decision harder but i just didnt think that i should have to deal with that with a boyfriend.
My friend stunned me - she said infidelity was not a good enough reason to break up with anyone. That D was a good man and treated V very very well. That they had been together for 3 years, D is a young man doing well, V is pretty...that they can work it out. She said everyone that heard about this incident was sooo suprised that D was involved because it just wasnt in him.
Ehn? I asked if D stopped his affair with M because he was caught? what kind of mistake i asked? What about trust and committment?
She said it didnt matter, that i still had an immature perspective on relationships. That infidelity was simply not big enough to end a 3 year old relationship. She went on and on to calmly tell me how sweet D is and how good he is for V, how he provides for her etc.
Silence. My anwer to her. I was humbled and just thoroughly taken aback. I simply had no words.
What a song. Its amazing that some of the most beautiful songs have sad/interesting stories behind them. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel made a very dynamic and successful team and recorded 5 albums together. This song is from their final album together.
For a very long time, i thought this song was just by Garfunkel as he is the only one that sings on this song. After reading a story on Paul Simon, i realised that there was more to this song than the haunting melody and simple but beautiful words.
Paul Simon wrote this song and Garfunkel performed it and this song served to thrust Garfunkel into the limelight. I think its rather symbolic that this song has sounds of rain and thunder towards the end. Paul Simon has said over and over that he regrets allowing Garfunkel to perform this song as a solo.
The song won a couple of Grammys and is one of the most covered songs of our time. Artists like Aretha Franklin, Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Eva Cassidy, Ms Houston and even Bebe & Cece Winans havedone their thing with this song as well.
The words just hit me smack in the face and in that part of me that still believes in undying love; thats how powerful they are:
When you're weary
When tears are in your eyes
I will dry them all
I'm on your side
When times get rough
And friends just can't be found
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Like a bridge over troubled water
I will lay me down
Monday, July 16, 2007
It's been more than a decade since she paid off the $12,000 price she was sold for. Now, in an effort to draw attention to the plight of Turkey's 3,000 state-registered prostitutes, she's running as an independent candidate in parliamentary elections on July 22. "They talk about domestic violence, but it was the state that beat us up," she says, in the stuffy, shabby office that is serving as her Istanbul headquarters.
Frequently breaking down in tears, she goes on to talk about 18-hour working days in the brothel, social security payments withheld, even murder. "Serpil, mother of three; Fatma from Diyarbakir; Hatice from Izmir; all three were killed while I was inside and their deaths passed off as overdoses," she says. That was the rule for disobedience, she explains: first, a beating, then rape, then murder.
"We're not here simply to get attention," Tukrukcu says. "We're here so that people know the truth about all these things."
Running for political office from the margins, Tukrukcu is one of thousands of candidates in an election that has been defined by a national debate over Turkey's delicate balance between its staunchly secular state and popular support for a conservative government that has its roots in political Islam. Analysts expect that women will double their ranks and win about 10 percent of the seats and the Justice and Development Party will maintain control of parliament. Its first task following the election will be to select a president, and the prospect of a government fully dominated by the Islamic faction has heightened political tensions over the past two months.
'Labeled for Life'
For Saliha Ermez, who escaped in 2002 from another state-run brothel in southern Turkey and is now standing alongside Ayse Tukrukcu as an independent candidate, the worst thing about having worked as a registered prostitute in Turkey is that you're labeled for life.
She's not just talking about those ex-prostitutes who fall afoul of this predominantly Muslim country's conservative morals, sacked from new jobs when their former identity became clear. She's talking about the way her daughter's hopes of becoming a police officer collapsed when her mother's record was revealed in a background investigation. "I haven't seen her for two years and I don't know where she is," Ermez says. "All I know is that she refers to me as 'that woman' and vows to kill me if she meets me."
Hunched over his desk in a tiny office near the historic center of Istanbul, criminal lawyer Abdurrahman Tanriverdi confirms her story.
A statute passed in 1930 requires prostitutes working in official brothels to register with the police. Though the records are theoretically secret, they can be used in cases of national security, such as investigating the identities of people joining the security forces.
"It's a disgraceful piece of legislation, really, unconstitutional, illegal, inhuman," Tanriverdi says. "Above all, it breaches the fundamental principle of penal law: the criminal alone should be punished for the crime."
Since 1995, he says, he's represented nearly a dozen former prostitutes--including Ayse Tukrukcu--trying to get rid of their police records. Not one case has been successful. While he's as adamant as ever that the statute needs to be excised from Turkish law, he's not optimistic.
Islamic Party Led Reforms
The obstacle to change is not necessarily the Islamic government. Since coming to power in 2002, the Justice and Development Party has pushed through some of the most significant legal reforms benefiting women in the 84-year history of the Turkish Republic. In 2004, a constitutional amendment guaranteed equality between men and women. That year also saw major reforms to the nation's penal code that criminalized marital rape and sexual harassment in the workplace, and stiffened penalties for honor killings. The government also launched programs to address domestic violence and improve access to education for girls.
The problem, as is so often the case in Turkey, lies in a legislation that is opaque and frequently ignored by state officials contemptuous of the rule of law.
Hayrettin Bulan, campaign manager for Tukrukcu's and Ermez's election bids, is more positive.
"The people we're aiming to represent are working too hard to survive from day to day to get involved in politics," he says. "Yet complaining from the sidelines isn't enough; you need a political platform."
Founder of Turkey's first-ever shelter for men in difficulty, as well as the shelter where Tukrukcu and Ermez are now living, Bulan has been campaigning for the rights of street children, drug addicts, prisoners and prostitutes for over a decade now. He's a past master at getting headlines.
In 1997, he locked himself into a cage for 24 hours to protest at prisoners' living conditions. For years, he had his weekly program on a local television station about social issues in his home city of Konya. "We picked Istanbul for the simple reason that all the press is here. Saliha Ermez is running in the same electoral district as (Turkish Prime Minister) Tayyip Erdogan."
Running with the slogan "neither left, right or center but underneath," the campaign has attracted a surprising amount of attention from the Turkish press. "My vote's for you, Ayse Tukrukcu," Engin Ardic, a popular columnist for the mass daily Aksam wrote on June 11.
Public Support, but Not Votes
While both candidates admit they have almost no chance of winning the 60,000 votes needed for a parliamentary seat, they say they've been overwhelmed by the support they've received by ordinary people on the street.
Baskin Oran, a dissident university professor who is also standing as an independent candidate, says that five years ago Tukrukcu's and Ermez's campaigns would have never happened without the reforms spurred by Turkey's bid to join the European Union. "People who before were too frightened to speak out are beginning to make their voices heard," he says, "and there are people out there willing to listen."
There are skeptics, though.
A doctor who runs a health and information center for prostitutes in Istanbul, Muhtar Cokar
sympathizes with the story Ermez tells about her daughter and has heard it from other prostitutes. But he thinks the two candidates' emphasis on state-employed prostitutes, and their implication that prostitution should be banned, is an unrealistic approach to the fundamental problems of prostitution in Turkey. "In Istanbul, there are 126 registered prostitutes and 30,000 unregistered prostitutes," he says. "The kind of brothels that these women worked in are disappearing in Turkey because no party wants to open them."
They don't want to give financial support to projects aimed at protecting prostitutes either, he says, and that risks causing major problems as the prostitution trade is carried on without official oversight.
A freelance reporter, Nicholas Birch has been working in Turkey and the surrounding region for five years.
Thursday, July 12, 2007
Wednesday, July 11, 2007
Monday, July 09, 2007
The wedding was great and Ms N looked so beautiful. They are off on their honeymoon tonight and it was such a lovely day. Kudos to Ibidun of Elizabeth R for planning and organizing two days of magic. Tears were shed but good tears.
After all the festivities including accompanying her to his folks' place, we went back to her place, bid her folks goodbye and i got into my car to drive home. I was going to put up pictures of what my car looks like but i am too distressed. Had an accident on the way home - a series of freak events. Result? Shattered windscreen, me running into a concrete median on 3rd mainland bridge, glass all over me, left side of my car grazed. Unbelievably, i drove home and am unscathed except for minor scratches here and there. I cant give the details exactly but here is the summary - as i prepared to go home, the drivers at my friends place asked me to pop the hood of my car so they could top up the water and just check that everything was okay. I was the source of jokes because my friend said i just drive and that i know nothing about what else to do. And since i leave home so early, the drivers in my house cant check the car except on saturdays. So her dad asked the guys to make sure everything was okay before i made the journey home.
After they did everything, i set off at about 11pm. Halfway down the bridge, doing like 90mph, the hood of my car popped up and slammed into the windscreen shattering it on impact. The drivers closed the hood of my car but didnt slam it. I remember screaming, but instinctively, i turned to the median and crashed into it. Because of the timing i flew out of the car, pushed the bonnet back down and sped home. The shock didnt hit me till after. I havent been able to sleep cos i keep hearing the thud and seeing my windscreen shatter.
I cannot thank God enough for his grace because it could have been worse. I just thank God
Friday, July 06, 2007
- I am filled with a sense of resignation. I knew this was coming but its finally hit me. We will never be and there it is. How do i feel? Weird and a little sad but truth be told i have known it for a while.
- I am filled with excitement because a couple of things are brewing in my life at the moment that let me know that my future is going to be very very interesting, fulfilling and blessed
- I am eager and itchy to go to my future already. I know that all these wonderful things are in store for me and i just wish i can skip through my now and leap into my tomorrow. However, i know that its my then and now that will shape who i will be tomorrow so i just have to be...Its not like i have Harry Potter's powers...
- I am overwhelmed with love for my friend N. She looked soooo beautiful yesterday and even though she has lost her voice and sounds so tired, i could hear her happiness. Tomorrow is the big day and i will be there firmly with her, ready to go out of my way to ensure that she has the best day. I am so excited and so happy for her and F. I have been there from the beginning, to the fights and making up, to the proposal, to the planning, to moving house.....I love this young woman who is one of the sweetest people ever. Her soft spoken voice has comforted me, defended me, laughed with me countless times since i have known her. Her presence just calms me. Agggggggghhh! F is one lucky man
- I am tired. M sleepy and tired but its good tiredness
Thoughts on a rainy day. Life is really so interesting. Some days are a blur when i am so busy that i can barely think. There are days when i dont have time for feelings or emotions. And then there are days like today when all the neglected thoughts and relegated feelings come to the surface and nothing will do to distract me from them. In times like this, one wonders what to do with all these feelings.
Do feelings get resolved? Or are they just there. For instance, my feeling of resignation will pass or it can evolve. My love for Miss N will remain constant but can evolve....Ah ha...Feelings always evolve or change. But there are sometimes, i wish i didnt have any. Feelings i mean. Sometimes, you feel things - like hatred for instance. And in order to get a handle on this hatred towards a person, you have to dig deep and we are forced to face some home truths...So mits simply easier to not do the digging and then blame everyone else or simply ignore the feelings.
I an rambling i know but i cant be eloquent and dazzling all the time. My name is Uzo and this is where i am today
Have a great weekend.!
P.S: For all those bloggers going to the bash tomorrow, take some pictures for my benefit
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10 breakfasts and 1 dinner
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Sightseeing and some entrace fees
English-speaking tour manager
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