...is not said by me at all. I heard this on my local NPR station last night on American Public Media's Marketplace (link here), and it summarizes my opinion on the matter pretty well:
"In the United States, if you're seriously depressed, you can buy anti-depressive drugs — but only if you have a prescription from a doctor.
Anti-depressants are enormously beneficial to millions of people, but they're also potentially dangerous if used improperly. So, you have to see a doctor and get an assessment before you can go to a drug store and purchase one.
But in the United States, in places like Virginia, a seriously depressed or deranged person can walk into a store and buy a semi-automatic handgun and a box of ammunition.
All you need is two forms of identification. You don't need permission from a doctor or counselor or anyone in the business of screening people to make sure they're fit to have a gun.
We can debate the relative benefits and dangers of anti-depressants and semi-automatic handguns, but if 30,000 Americans were killed each year by anti-depressants — as they are by handguns — it seems likely that anti-depressants would be even more strictly regulated.
So why aren't handguns?
Well, the politics. Years ago, it was illegal to advertise prescription drugs. Now, due in part to Big Pharma's clout, our airwaves and magazines are filled with images of happy people — who weren't, until their physician prescribed a pill.
But Big Pharma still hasn't been able to cut out the physician altogether, because the process for screening people before they can buy an anti-depressant is just too important.
By contrast, the National Rifle Association, with more organization and money than even Big Pharma, has eliminated almost all screening measures for buying guns. In recent years, the NRA has even shielded gun dealers from liability. Not even Big Pharma and the powerful American Medical Association have managed to shield doctors from liability.
Look abroad and you have another useful point of contrast. In the United States, many people who are seriously depressed can't afford to see a doctor, let alone get a prescription. Unlike every other advanced nation, we do not provide universal health care, or ready access to mental health services.
But unlike every other advanced nation, we do allow just about anyone to buy a handgun."
- Commentary by Robert Reich, who teaches public policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He was labor secretary under President Clinton.
I am not excusing the killer's actions at all, I just think it highlights one of the really big problems in the U.S. right now.
So I was doing my daily housing-related browsing over at Curbed LA when I came across this disturbing post about possible development in the Runkle Canyon area of my hometown, Simi Valley. The Runkle Canyon area is a vast expanse of foothills and ranchland area in the southeast hills of Simi, and it's really some gorgeous land. That's enough to cause concern over developers wanting to build on it. But, unfortunately, there's more to it.
Runkle Canyon is right near Rocketdyne Santa Susana Field Laboratory, where the company did testing on rocket engines, including ones for the Space Shuttle. I remember, from growing up, hearing the loud low-end rumble coming from the east from time to time, and when outdoors I could see the telltale white clouds seemingly coming out of hills. The rocket tests used to startle, scare, mystify and then titillate me, ultimately. It seemed so space-age to me.
I had no idea, but in 1959, there was a partial meltdown at the Rocketdyne facility's experiemental Sodium Reactor (SRE). This nuclear meltdown was America's first, and is widely-held to be the worst in American history - surpassing that of even the infamous Three Mile Island nuclear disaster! A third of the SRE's core melted, and "deadly radioactive vapors escaped into the air. Yikes! I'm amazed that I haven't heard about this before. Not even my rocket-scientist boyfriend was aware of it, and that's a little shocking in and of itself.
What appears to be worse is the hazardous materials contamination at the facility site. Both toxic chemical and radiological contamination has been found, in really high levels, and there have been charges that the surrounding areas have also been plagued by it.
Now let's get back to the potential Runkle Canyon development. High levels of a leukemia-causing toxin called radionuclide strontium-90 (Sr-90) have been found in the Runkle Canyon area, and locals are convinced this contamination was caused by Rocketdyne. Residents of Simi and officials alike are, obviously, highly concerned that any construction in the area might dredge up these toxins into the air, affecting both the Simi Valley and San Fernando Valley areas. This is NOT cool.
The City Council already approved the developers plans to build back in August of 2005, but the developers have not yet filed for the appropriate permits necessary to build on the land. I guess there was a City Council meeting scheduled for September 25th (yesterday! ugh!), where opponents were going to discuss the issue further with The City. I'll definitely be following this story, as I had no idea how dangerous this area really was. Below are some relevant links you might be interested in:
"Nuclear Housing in Simi Valley" - Original Curbed LA blog post.
"The Hills Have Eyes" - LA City Beat article about the Runkle Canyon Development.
Fire On the Mountain" - LA City Beat article discussing the 1959 disaster, other contaminations and the consequences facing some residents.
Runkle Canyon.com - Site outlining development plans and all the niceties that will be afforded to future residents. No mention of the testing facility nearby.
Stop Runkledyne.com - Site opposing development in the Runkle Canyon area.
Is it me, or is it highly amusing that the house republicans elected a guy whose name is essentially pronounced "boner" as their majority leader? To replace a guy named DeLAY. Funny, yes? I believe this is all the proof I need to go on believing that the republican party is just one big, obnoxious frat party.
According to news sources, Pope John Paul II is not long for this world. He's now being fed, ironically, through a nasal tube - and he's received his last rites. Browsing the photo gallery available on Yahoo!, I was struck with an incredibly sad feeling (these pictures taken a mere day ago).
While I was baptised Catholic, I'm not religious (unless you take my fervor for Apple products as religiosity). What saddened me to near-tears were the images of this normally peaceful-looking elderly man in such an obviously pained state. Something about the elderly, when they appear as feeble as this, tears my heart out.
The pressures of his position I could not even begin to comprehend, and I'm sure I have no insight into what might be going through his mind at this point. I just hope that, for the sake of his own waning health, and more importantly, his peace unto death, his handlers don't feel it necessary to wheel him out on any more balconies.
Taking a cue from Greg, I will be placing a button on my site that will link directly to Amazon's American Red Cross Disaster Relief donation page. I believe it's really important to give as much as you can, even if it's only a couple of bucks, to help aid the earthquake/tsunami victims in southern Asia. Maybe instead of buying champagne this year to ring in the new year, you can spend that money where it is profoundly needed more.
be scared! be scared! nuclear weapons could come here! vote for us, and they won't!
that's what he used to sum up his debate. while edwards spoke to us about our ability to support ourselves - to work, grow, live - heralding the hopes we have as citizens, cheney attempted to re-infuse us with fear about terrorists - offering no solutions, save for keeping the flounderingly-effective tax cuts and keeping our heads turned towards iraq.
cheney was strong in this debate - leaps and bounds stronger than his running-mate, mr. bush, was last week. and he took every opportunity to slam edwards' youth, yet offered no real positive record on his own behalf.
"Sick Without a Safety Net: Access to the American health care system is a luxury item for young adults" - on a personal note, I'm still dealing with "lost purchasing power" as a direct result of high hospital bills incurred from not having health coverage in my early twenties.
This is really getting out of control - smaller companies are reducing or completely doing-away with health coverage for their employees, hospitals and emergency rooms are closing down (news of one in the local area closing down was on the local news this very morning), and people (like my two brothers, each in their early-to-mid twenties) are going without the health care they need.
"Saving the Vote", NYT op-ed by Paul Krugman, on why we should all be concerned about the upcoming national election in November. For the first time in my life as a registered voter, I'm considering submitting an absentee ballot.
"Catholic Church Says Girl's Communion Not Valid: An 8-year-old girl who suffers from a rare digestive disorder and cannot eat wheat has had her first Holy Communion declared invalid because the wafer contained no wheat, violating Roman Catholic doctrine." - no fucking comment needed.
Iraqi soccer players angered by Bush campaign ads: "Iraq as a team does not want Mr. Bush to use us for the presidential campaign," Sadir told SI.com through a translator, speaking calmly and directly. "He can find another way to advertise himself"
Oh, really. How convenient for him!
Why oh why is he not our President?!?
Southern Baptists Quit World Alliance. Boo fuckin' hoo.
You know what boils my blood about the southern baptists? Everything! The more I hear about them the more I see them as less of a religious group and more of a hate-group. These hypocrites want to pull out of the Global Alliance of Baptists because they find their views fiendishly anti-American - however they (the SBC) decry the ideals of religious pluralism (a tenet which was very important to the early settlers/founders of America), among other atrocious, hateful ideas they themselves want to propogate (male preachers superior to their female counterparts, the denial of politically liberal voices, their anti-gay stance, etc.).
Fuckin' fuckers, I fucking hate them. Giving them this much of my time makes me angrier at myself, though.
I think this kicks ass. The traffic in L.A. is pretty damn bad - so damn bad, in fact, that I often just stay close to home to avoid it on weekends and evenings. I would LOVE to ride the Metro to my job everyday, as there's a stop right in front of my work in Universal City, but that would mean taking a long bus ride from Glendale to downtown L.A., and then hopping on the Red Line. Speed that trip up to downtown via the proposed "Rose Line", and I would leave my car at home.
Also, having a line across the L.A. basin from downtown to Santa Monica is such an excellent concept, and I think really demands further response from the county governing boards. If I had an opportunity to go out to 3rd Street Promenade, or the Grove, Beverly Center or any number of additional popular meccas, I would be more inclined to spend the extra money I'm saving on gas, hence driving up the economy.
When one thinks of all the major cities around the world: New York, London, Tokyo, Los Angeles... we're the only one without a really intricate, well-developed underground mass transport system.
I encourage people interested in the expansion on rapid mass transit in Los Angeles to take a trip to Friends of the Metro Red Line. I just stumbled across this site, and has reinvigorated my stance for further extensions of the underground transit in L.A.
I'm sorry, I was once a vegetarian (for about four or five years), and can definitely sympathize with most vegans/vegetarians in terms of their beliefs regarding animal cruelty - but inflicting bloody buckets of fake chicken parts upon children just goes beyond all reasoning. How a sane person could support this now-over-the-edge group is beyond my comprehension.
"It's a natural constituency for us"
I never understood Nascar. It's a bunch of cars, driving around... and around... and around. Every now and then one car hits another car. Every now and then someone gets killed. Woo hoo! How exciting! Sign me up!
I guess Howard Dean has announced that he plans to abandon his bid for the Democratic nomination should he not show a victory in Wisconsin. I think this announcement was a call to his supporters to really mobilize their efforts with wins in mind.
I attented my first Dean Meetup last night, and it was very informative. Like me, others are frustrated at the media's coverage of Gov. Dean's campaign - the over-exposed and questionably-mixed "Hyeeah!" incident, the assumption that he's considerably behind... It is a widely-held "belief" that Howard Dean has fallen considerably behind, but the fact of the matter is, he's running in 2nd place in terms of delegates at this moment. The media, and the public to a large extent, has latched onto this formulation that Dean is so behind that he's unelectable, and it's frustrating.
What's even more frustrating is that I'm so scattered right now I'm not able to properly formulate my feelings into any type of well-written post. Ugh. My point is, Dean supporters MUST get involved. And now. I was informed of several key ways of getting involved - including flyering, letter-writing to voters in other states (Hello Wisconsin!), tabling at events, precinct-walking - and most importantly, TALKING to people about Dean. Starting up conversations and emphasizing that Dean, much to his opponents' dismay, STILL has a good chance of breaking through to the other side and racking up enough delegates to be a contender again. I encourage people to visit the Dean For America Commons page to inform themselves of how they might be pro-active in getting Howard where he belongs - back at the top of the heap.
If you live in California, and are registered to vote (you are, aren't you?!?), remember to get out there and vote today.
God help us if "the ahnold" wins... remember, a vote for Camejo is a vote for Schwarzenegger, unfortunately.
Oh, and vote "no" on 54...
I just finished watching the FOX News interview with G Dub. Along with the revolting smirk he plastered to his face throughout the interview, there were a few key moments that caught my attention (and made me guffaw).
I warn you now, what follows will be a fairly harsh and completely un-academic criticism of his remarks…. but it’s coming from my gut.
HUME: Turning to the Democratic field, how do you account for the rise in Howard Dean?
BUSH: Not paying attention to it.
HUME: Not at all?
BUSH: Well, occasionally it blips on my radar screen, but not nearly as much as you would think. I've got a job to do. I'm occupied.
...and what, regular Americans who are interested in what’s going on aren’t occupied? They don’t have jobs to do and food to put on the table? Maybe it would help you in being more in touch with the American populace if you stuck your head out of your advisers’ asses once in awhile.
HUME: Do you think that it's not politically dangerous for you to wait to respond to some of these criticisms?
BUSH: No. I've got a job to do, and I'm going to be judged upon whether or not the world is more peaceful and whether or not America is more prosperous and more compassionate.
Let’s see, Mr. Bush – in 2004, is the world, at large, going to be a safer place before you took us into war? Hmmmm… is America more prosperous? Let’s see… when you entered office there was a $250 billion dollar surplus, and now there’s a $300 billion deficit** (thanks to your brilliant tax-cut scheme), with an unemployment rate (6.1% as of August 2003***) which has risen steadily since you entered office.
And a more compassionate America? Who exactly are we being more compassionate towards? I would be interested to know how many citizens of foreign countries would use that term to describe us (under your leadership, Mr. President). Yes, you will be judged for what you’ve done with this country, and that judgment will find you out of office.
I can sum up his remarks in a single word... DENIAL!
HUME: How do you get your news?
BUSH: I get briefed by Andy Card and Condi in the morning. They come in and tell me. In all due respect, you've got a beautiful face and everything.
I glance at the headlines just to kind of a flavor for what's moving. I rarely read the stories, and get briefed by people who are probably read the news themselves. But like Condoleezza, in her case, the national security adviser is getting her news directly from the participants on the world stage.
HUME: Has that been your practice since day one, or is that a practice that you've...
BUSH: Practice since day one.
That explains so, so much. I, for one, feel more secure with a president who is totally reliant upon advisers (whom, I suspect, ultimately want to retain their jobs and have a knack for telling the president what he wants to hear) for his information about what’s going on in America and around the world. C’mon, Mr. President, even Reagan made an effort to pick up a newspaper (even if it was only the funny pages). But I guess you’re too busy to get all the facts, aren’t ya?
**courtesy of The Great Unraveling – Paul Krugman, 2003
***courtesy of the US Dept of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics http://www.bls.gov/cps/
Here's a link to some awesome footage of renowned anchorman Brian Williams talking about the most-fascinating subject of eddys. The best part is right around the THREE-minute mark.
Another instance that proves John Ashcroft is an a-hole.
Salam Pax, blogger from Baghdad, has been offline since a few days after the start of "Operation Iraqi Freedom". He has returned, sort of, with a length of entries posted by a lady who I am not familiar with named Diana. It's quite riveting stuff.
Will someone please explain how something like this can still happen in this country??
I know it may be old news, but this article (residing on AlterNet) penned by Tim Robbins is a must-read. It so-well voices the awe of hypocrisy I know I'm currently in. I find myself speechless about this war and the climate that has surrounded it and much else post-9/11. I find myself woefully unable to compose myself when talking about it, it seems so wrong to me. But thank goodness for the well-known like Robbins who are able to, so eloquently in fact, discuss what's really going on.
update: I guess this "article" actually came from a speech from Mr. Robbins, which I imagine he penned as well...