Senator Edward Kennedy

The push for equality and civil rights for all lost a significant friend in the death of Senator Edward Kennedy. In a time when so many of these issues remain unresolved--eliminating discrimination against lgtb individuals, equal pay for equal work for women, equal access to quality affordable health care for all--his presence and leadership were needed now more than ever.

Despite his immense wealth Senator Kennedy forged a political career on helping those most in need and seeking inclusion for those most excluded. Senator Kennedy co-sponsored legislation to provide benefits to domestic partners of Federal employees, was a staunch supporter of affirmative action policies and programs, and sponsored re-introducing the Equal Rights Amendment. The list of his legislative efforts to bring all Americans into the fold goes on.

His critics often point to enormity of his personal failings- his implication in the death of Mary Jo Kopechne, his reputation as a rake, and a propensity to drink too much. If anything can be said about Senator Kennedy, it is that he lived life large, and begs the question--what great leader did not?

But if the measure of a man's worth comes from helping those most in need, fighting when most have resigned defeat, and reaching out when others pull back, then Senator Kennedy most certainly earned the moniker "the lion." He was a king among kings. Whatever your political leanings there is no denying the true leadership Senator Kennedy showed in the Senate and for this country. His presence in the coming years and in these difficult days will be missed.

Perhaps though the Senator who, despite his liberal beliefs and record, was known most for reaching across the aisle to form bipartisan consensus on difficult issues, has one last act in store. What better, more fitting memory to the Kennedy legacy than to pass significant health care reform this year? It is an issue Senator Kennedy pursued doggedly, and his absence in the recent debate is as clear as partisan rancor is loud. With one last roar we can get it done.

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Theodore Iliopoulos - a greek tragedy in process.

Theodore Iliopoulos was arrested on the 18th of August 2008, during the student protests against the cold-blooded murder of a 15 year old schoolboy by a police officer, in the centre of Athens. The arrest was made after two police officers, identified T.I. as one participating in the riots that followed. Students and journalists have testified for the opposite.

The arrest is considered as an attempt by the police to appear on top of things, since they were heavily criticized for inadequacy during the events.
Police chiefs (and the government) were blamed not only for the killing but also for their handling, which mainly consisted of lies and general remarks.
First it was a mob that attacked the officers, then an accidental shooting etc, until a mobile phone video was aired on youtube showing that the officer parked his vehicle two blocks away from the youngsters and returned by foot, gun in hand, and shot the boy with a single bullet. All this because someone else had thrown a water bottle at them. The victim was a bystander, but was considered part of the crowd and it cost him his life.

Theodore was arrested 8 months ago, the only arrest out of the thousands that participated, and he is still being held without a trial! On the 10th of July 2009, he begun a hunger strike demanding his release after 7 months in jail. He was a thin man to start with, weighing only 60 kilos, so the hunger strike took its toll rather quickly. After one month he has lost 18% of his body weight and the prison doctors as well as state medical examiners demand that he is transferred to an intensive care unit.

The Head Secretary of the Ministry has yet to accept a hearing of the 7 lawyers dealing with the Iliopoulos case and the prisoners' rights group, due to heavy workload... If you 've ever been in Greece in August, you will know that the entire country is on holiday...

I am not a lawyer and I cannot express my opinion on the guilt or innocence of Theodore Iliopoulos. I am a citizen of this country, and I know that even the worst criminals have rights, first and foremost that of access to medical care, especially when it is available within a few kilometers from the prison!

The right wing government of New Democracy and PM Kostas Karamanlis, seem to be taking their revenge from the student movement, in the face of Theodore, whose life is now at risk, while the Ministry of Justice is buried in its own... workload.



Good news for dogs

Great news for dogs: Banfield, the nation's largest network of animal hospitals, with more than 730 hospitals and 2,000 veterinarians nationwide, has just announced that it will no longer dock dogs' tails, crop their ears, or remove their vocal cords--a cruel procedure known as devocalization, or de-barking! (http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/2009-07-30-dog-tails_N.htm)

As mentioned in the USA Today article, the American Kennel Club (AKC) has fought laws seeking to ban tail docking and ear cropping because it feels that purebred dogs should conform to certain breed standards. But performing medically unnecessary procedures on dogs only perpetuates the notion that they are fashion accessories. Unfortunaely, many breeders insist that “their” breed will be “ruined” if it does not maintain the image handed down by breed clubs decades ago. AKC doggie beauty pageants are filled with dogs who have been mutilated for no good reason.

Dogs usually have their ears cropped when they are just eight to 12-weeks old. At this stage in their development, the trauma of the procedure can have a strong psychological impact on the maturing pup. The process of taping and re-taping a pup’s ears to force them to stand erect after they have been cropped can be agonizing for the dog.

The American Veterinary Medical Association has pointed out that, “ear cropping and tail docking are not medically indicated nor of benefit to the patient. These procedures cause pain and distress, and, as with all surgical procedures, are accompanied by inherent risks of anesthesia, blood loss, and infection.” Because the procedures are so cruel and dangerous, they have been banned in many European countries.

Many veterinarians also condemn de-barking because it is superfluous, causes dogs a great deal of post-operative pain, and strips them of their natural means to communicate. Yet some people resort to this cruel, invasive procedure as a "solution" to problem barking—even though there are humane and effective alternatives, including simple positive training methods. (Of course, some experimenters also de-bark dogs used in laboratory tests, so that they won't be "disturbed" by the dogs' desperate cries for help and attention.)

Thankfully, some people who were thinking about subjecting their animals to these inhumane and unnecessary procedures will likely think twice now that Banfield has come out against them—setting an example for other animal hospitals to follow. As Dr. Karen Faunt, Banfield's vice president for medical quality advancement, says, "It is our hope that this new medical protocol will help reduce, and eventually eliminate, these cosmetic procedures altogether."

With any luck, declawing (http://www.care2.com/causes/animal-welfare/blog/how-to-be-your-cats-best-friend/) will be the next cruel and unnecessary procedure to be banned. To learn more about cosmetic surgeries on dogs and cats—and find out what you can do to help lessen animal suffering—see www.HelpingAnimals.com.

Source: www.care2.com