January 26, 2020

Tenn. Gov. Bill Lee Signs Bill to Allow Adoption Agencies to Deny to Gay Couples


Image result for uits raining homeless babies
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Every kid you see in all three photos are either homeless or orphans
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Bill Lee has finished his first year in office as the 50th Governor of Tennessee.





 
























NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a controversial measure Friday that would let religious adoption agencies deny service to same-sex couples.

The move comes after several groups, including the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, urged Lee not to sign the legislation.

The law allows adoption agencies to refuse to participate in child placement if doing so would "violate the agency's written religious or moral convictions or policies."

Under the law, which immediately takes effect, the state would be barred from denying an agency's license or grant application for public funds because of a refusal to place a child with a family based on religious objections.

“The governor believes that protection of rights is important, especially religious liberty," Lee spokesman Gillum Ferguson said. "This bill is centered around protecting the religious liberty of Tennesseans and that’s why he signed it.”

Bill Lee has finished his first year in office as the 50th Governor of Tennessee.
Advocacy groups, including the Campaign for Southern Equality and the Human Rights Campaign, said the legislation targeted members of the LGBTQ community.

But proponents of the legislation, which included religious conservatives, said it was a necessary protection for faith-based groups.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said in a recent column published in The Tennessean the legislation puts children first and argued that it does not promote discrimination. 

He said the law doesn't prevent other organizations from helping children.

"This law prevents the state from discriminating against faith-based organizations as they serve and meet the needs of children. It does not restrict others at all," he wrote.

The governor's signature comes a little over a week after the state Senate approved the measure with a 20-6 vote, despite objections from several Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Randy McNally.

Hedy Weinberg, executive director of ACLU-TN, said the organization is considering its options.

The Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, executive director of the Campaign for Southern Equality, was more direct, saying, "This law is clearly discriminatory. As long as the LGBTQ community continues to be targeted by discriminatory laws, we will turn to the courts for recourse."

Beach-Ferrara said other states, including Michigan, implemented similar laws and had them halted in court.

"We anticipate that litigation around discrimination focused on adoption will continue to unfold, and the Tennessee law signed today will be part of that conversation,” she said.

Follow Joel Ebert on Twitter: @joelebert29.

Now Man's Best Friend Is Men's Best Virus Finder




The 'Dog" which can do so many things from guiding the blind, find people trapped in snow or mud.  They serve in Hospitals and they help us with our depression. They do the best they can to keep us happy with a permanent smile. With big eyes that always look straight at you to ask for love, warn you of danger or even to beg for a snack. 
Now there is more thing they can do. Are you surprised?



 Dogs' olfactory capacity — they can sniff in parts per trillion — primes them to detect disease.Kayla Dear/Getty Images/EyeEm
JOHN HENNING SCHUMANN/ NPR.org

As the owner of a yellow lab named Gus, author Maria Goodavage has had many occasions to bathe her pooch when he rolls around in smelly muck at the park.
Nevertheless, her appreciation for his keen sense of smell has inspired her to write best-selling books about dogs with special assignments in the military and the U.S. Secret Service.
Her latest, Doctor Dogs: How Our Best Friends Are Becoming Our Best Medicine,highlights a vast array of special medical tasks that dogs can perform — from the laboratory to the bedside, and everywhere else a dog can tag along and sniff. 
Canines' incredible olfactory capacity — they can sniff in parts per trillion — primes them to detect disease, and their genius for observing our behavior helps them guide us physically and emotionally.
Goodavage spoke with NPR contributor John Henning Schumann, a doctor and host of Public Radio Tulsa's #MedicalMonday about what she has learned about dogs in medicine 
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.
What led you to look into dogs in medicine?
I've been reading and writing about military dogs and Secret Service dogs for many years now, and it was sort of a natural next step. These are dogs on the cutting edge of medicine. They're either working in research or right beside someone to save their life every day. And really, doctor dogs are, for the most part, using their incredible sense of smell to detect diseases. And if they're paired with a person, they bond with that person to tell them something that will save their life. You reported on dogs doing this kind of work all over the world.
Yes, I did go around the world. The first doctor dogs I learned about were in Japan. There's a village about five hours north of Tokyo where scientists were doing some research among a population that has a very high level of stomach cancer. And I wanted to find the best of the best, cutting-edge medical dogs around the world. It was really fun to see these services and research dogs working with their people and how good they are. They're incredibly good at detecting disease.
You also report on dogs that can detect ovarian cancer, which is personal for you.
I do have skin in this game, actually, because unfortunately, we have ovarian cancer in the family. My mom died of it.
With ovarian cancer, there's not much great testing for early detection. I heard about these dogs at the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Working Dog Center that are able to smell ovarian cancer. They're able to detect it as early as stage one. We're not even talking tumors here. They're able to detect ovarian cancer in one drop of plasma from a woman with ovarian cancer. 
The fact that the dogs can do this is exciting to me, and I think for so many people who have hard-to-detect cancers in the family.
What the dogs are doing now is remarkable and it's because their sense of smell is so keen. They can sniff in parts per trillion. They can detect a tablespoon of a substance, like a packet of sugar, in two Olympic-sized swimming pools. Humans have six million olfactory receptors and dogs have up to 300 million. So their noses are really primed.
Another area in which dogs excel in the clinical world is for patients with diabetes.
Yeah. It's amazing. We don't know what the dogs are smelling, but the trainers are training the dogs on the scent of hypoglycemia and also hyperglycemia. The dogs are somehow able to put it together and tell the person 15 or maybe 20 minutes before the person's devices even say, 'Hey, you're going into the low range!' because the dogs detect this in real time. So the person has an extra bit of time to do what they need to do, take glucose or whatever.
I was fascinated to learn that doctor dogs may also have a role in detecting so-called "superbugs," that is, antibiotic-resistant microbes.
Yes. Actually, there are three or four of these dogs working in a hospital in Vancouver who is sniffing out C. diff, which is one of those superbugs that can easily spread in vulnerable populations in hospitals and manifests in diarrhea and all kinds of issues that can actually kill people. And these dogs are stopping it in its tracks. Researchers have found that where these dogs work, the rates of C. diff really diminish. I hung out at this hospital one day and I just watched one of the dogs do his rounds, and he found what seemed to be C. diff -- and before I knew it, they had a whole cleaning team.
How do dogs help people suffering from PTSD?
There are people from the military, war veterans and active-duty soldiers even who are suffering from PTSD and who have gotten service dogs who, again, have been game-changers. They save lives. 
One of the dogs I learned about was placed with a soldier who had been to Iraq twice. He had PTSD and his life was falling apart. His marriage, his health, everything. He was on a cocktail of drugs. It made him a zombie. He hated that feeling. And one day someone told him about doctor dogs for PTSD.
He ended up getting one. Now if he's feeling anxious, he'll say, like, "snuggle" and the dog will just come in for a big hug, or another of various commands. His life changed dramatically for the better. His marriage is really good now. He's a stable dad and he's working. He's down to only one or two meds.
You write about doctor dogs helping people with autism. Can you share an example?
Yeah, it's really beautiful. Sometimes these dogs may be using their nose. Sometimes they're just being highly observant. And dogs are. They watch our body language all the time. But there are now more dogs being used for children on the autism spectrum, and they are remarkable. They can usually tell ahead of time when a child is about to have a tremendous amount of anxiety, panic, meltdown or what have you. When there's too much stimulation for a child with autism and the dog is there, they'll lean into the child.
Dogs change lives not just of these children, but of the whole family.
There is a family I wrote about in Minnesota, with a sweet boy who waited for four years to get a service dog for his autism. He was not able to go to restaurants. The family, therefore, couldn't go to restaurants. He couldn't travel. He could barely leave the house. He did go to school, but that was tough, too. And so they waited four years. They tried to get a regular pet dog in the meantime, thinking, "Oh well, you know, it's a dog. It'll work." But it was a disaster. It did not work at all as a service dog.
So they got a service dog named Lloyd. He's a big black lab. As the boy met him, he started crying. His mother had never seen him cry. Tears of joy.
And right there, boom, everything changed. Lloyd is the super calming presence. He's able to be with the boy and change his behavior. The boy could not go to the barber and get a haircut before Lloyd. Now all he has to do is just have his hand on Lloyd's head.
And the boy and Lloyd like to have their own table at restaurants!
John Henning Schumann is an internal medicine doctor and serves as president of the University of Oklahoma's Tulsa campus. He also hosts Studio Tulsa: Medical Monday on KWGS Public Radio Tulsa. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlassHospital.

Pompeo Exploded, Cursed and Demanded of NPR Reporter to Find Ukraine on The Map



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 By Caroline Kelly, CNN

 A reporter for National Public Radio said Friday that Secretary of State Mike Pompeoscreamed obscenities and demanded she proves she could find Ukraine on an unmarked map after she asked -- and Pompeo refused to answer -- whether he owed former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch an apology.
The alleged incident took place after the taping of an interview that aired on NPR's "All Things Considered" Friday. Pompeo instead replied to NPR's Mary Louise Kelly's question by saying, "You know, I agreed to come on your show today to talk about Iran. That's what I intend to do. I know what our Ukraine policy has been now for the three years of this administration."
He then repeatedly tried to end the interview as Kelly continued to press him on the matter. To her last question on whether Ukraine policy had been hijacked, Pompeo replied, "I've been clear about that. I know exactly what we were doing. I know precisely what the direction the State Department gave to our officials around the world about how to manage our Ukraine policy."
Kelly told listeners in a broadcast later on NPR that after the interview she was called back into Pompeo's living room at the State Department, where the outburst then unfolded.
"What is happening (at the end) there is an aide has stopped the interview, said, 'We're done, thank you,' and you heard me thank the secretary," Kelly said on air after the fact. "He did not reply -- he leaned in, glared at me, and then turned and with his aides left the room."
Kelly said that moments later, "That same staffer who stopped the interview reappeared, asked me to come with her -- just me, no recorder -- though she did not say we were off the record, nor would I have agreed."
Kelly was brought to Pompeo's private living room, she continued, "where he was waiting and where he shouted at me for about (the) same amount of time as the interview itself had lasted."
Pompeo was displeased about the Ukraine questioning, and asked her, "Do you think Americans care about Ukraine?" Kelly said, adding that "he used the F-word in that sentence and many others."
Pompeo then asked Kelly if she could find Ukraine on a map, she recounted, and when she said that she could, "He called out for aides to bring us a map of the world with no writing."
"I pointed to Ukraine. He put the map away. He said, 'People will hear about this,'" Kelly said. "And then he turned, said he had things to do and I thanked him again for his time and left."
    CNN has reached out to the State Department for comment on the exchange.
    Kelly said that NPR had reached out to the State Department to inform them that the outlet would be reporting on the interview's aftermath, but had not heard back. The news comes in light of Pompeo's impending trip to Ukraine next week -- the country at the heart of the currently ongoing impeachment trial.

        January 25, 2020

        Many Millennials See Death in a Different Way and Are Planning Death Differently




        Simon Sotelo was 27 when she donated her body to science.
        The Portland, Oregon-based graphic designer is still very much alive — and presumably will be for decades to come. She doesn’t have any life-threatening afflictions or high-risk hobbies. But, Sotelo says, signing a contract that grants medical students in the distant future the right to study her body gives her a sense of peace in the present. 
        “My goal from the beginning was, how can I just make this as cheap as possible for the people who have to deal with it?” Sotelo, now 31, says. “When I was first planning it, I was like, I have no savings, I have no money.” Oregon Health & Science University seemed to offer the perfect solution: When its research is complete — typically after two years — the college will pay to cremate the remains of its donors and return it to the family. At that point, Sotelo says, she hopes her loved ones will hold a celebration of her life, not a mournful wake. She’d like “The End of the Tour” by They Might Be Giants to play.
        The National Funeral Directors Association has found that 15.8 percent of Americans age 18 to 39 think people should plan their funerals before they’re 40. Among them is Sotelo, seen in a Portland cemetery. Amanda Lucier for Vox
         
        Most Americans don’t plan for their deaths in their 20s — or maybe ever. A 2017 study in the journal Health Affairs found only one in three US adults have an advance directive, including a living will with end-of-life medical instructions, power of attorney naming a person responsible for last affairs, or both. Fewer have planned their actual funeral arrangements: Only 21 percent of Americans have even spoken to their loved ones about their wishes, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. 
        But “the American way of death,” as journalist Jessica Mitford called it in her 1963 classic book on the funeral industry, is changing. When Mitford first penned her investigation, she found anxiety, aversion, and few real options. Most consumers only interacted with the funeral industry on average every 14 years — and then, only under duress — so they weren’t likely to compare prices or make informed choices. As a result, Mitford argued, funeral directors could convince their hapless customers to spend more money than they had, on things they never wanted. 
        Today, the internet grants us instant access to lots of information and seemingly infinite options. “Embalm and bury” used to be the only way Americans processed human remains — funeral directors were resistant to cremation (it was much cheaper than burial), and consumers thought to burn a body sounded awful and un-Christian. Now, a YouTube channel called “Ask a Mortician” has almost a million subscribers, and we can turn our dead into diamonds.  
        In many cases, younger people are leading this black-bannered parade of cultural change. Mortician Caitlin Doughty in 2011 founded the Order of the Good Death, an organization that promotes death positivity when she was 27. Now she runs her own funeral home in Los Angeles. Hansa Bergwall was 35 when he created the app WeCroak, a digital-age memento mori that reminds its 30,000 monthly users that they are going to die five times a day — presumably to help them live in the moment. And Katrina Spade began developing the idea that would become Recompose, a company that plans to turn human remains into the soil, when she was 30.

         Mortician Caitlin Doughty founded the Order of the Good Death, an organization that promotes death positivity when she was 27. “We know that not talking about death can lead to a less self-aware life,” she says. Courtesy of Mara Zehler
         
        This same demographic is also the consumer of certain relevant services: The Dinner Party, a boozier take on the old-fashioned support group, caters to 20- and 30-somethings who have lost a loved one. Some British 25- to 35-year-olds are flocking to Deadhappy, a pay-as-you-go life insurance start-up. And though they don’t necessarily all follow through like Sotelo, the National Funeral Directors Association found that 15.8 percent of Americans age 18 to 39 think people should pre-plan their funerals before they’re 40 — something only 7.9 percent of people over age 60 believed.
        Why, those older adults must be asking, do people in the prime of their lives seem to be preparing for their demise? The answers vary widely, from eminently practical concerns, such as crushing debt and climate change, to social factors, like wellness culture, diverse spiritual practices, and the desire of some millennials to “curate their afterlives.” 
        “We are a generation that is less willing to be shamed for our interests in difficult topics,” Doughty says. “We know that not talking about money has put us in a very difficult financial position, especially those that graduated around the time of the [September 2008 stock market] crash,” she adds. “And we know that not talking about death can lead to a less self-aware life.”

        Liz Eddy was 27 when she got the call that her grandmother was dead. “I was met by two police officers, a nurse, and her body, and they said, ‘What do you want to do?’” Eddy recalls. “I did what most people do these days and pulled out my phone and Googled, ‘What do you do when someone dies?’” 
        She found little guidance and spiraled into what she calls “logistical chaos.” Eddy had to move everything out of her grandmother’s assisted living facility within a month, sort through a lifetime of belongings, and close all of her grandmother’s accounts. She spent a year trying to resolve an unpaid Verizon bill with a debt collector. The trauma eventually inspired her to start a new business: Lantern, a digital end-of-life planning tool. 
        The venture capital-backed site (Lantern has so far raised $890,000 in funding) offers checklists for every aspect of death, all delivered in a soothing seafoam green color palette and with dozens of conceptual illustrations. Still in the early planning phase? Sort out your organ donor status. A week has passed since the funeral? Be sure to notify the post office. 
        The New York-based company is still new, but Eddy and her co-founder, Alyssa Ruderman, hope Lantern will work for people of all ages, whether they’re planning their own funeral or grappling with the loss of a loved one. They tested the product on people ages 18 to 92, to ensure accessibility. But, Ruderman says, “We absolutely built it with the millennial in mind.” 
        This strategy, however counterintuitive, could pay off. In 2017, Nathan Gerard, an assistant professor of health care administration at California State University Long Beach, published a study of 84 millennials and their ability to talk about death. “There’s been a long-held assumption that the young are somehow uninterested — or worse, ill-equipped — to talk about death, let alone work with the dying,” Gerard said in an email. But he found the majority “had already engaged in a conversation about end-of-life care with a family member, and furthermore, a majority perceived themselves just as willing, if not more willing, like their parents to talk about end-of-life care options.” 
        Whether the Grim Reaper is at the door or decades away, consumers will find a growing number of funeral-planning resources at their disposal. Sites like Funeralocity provide comparative pricing for funeral home services by zip code. Memorials can be arranged digitally on GatheringUs. You can even draft important legal documents online.

        Before the internet, people hoping to get their affairs in order had to find financial planners, lawyers, and local funeral directors in the phone book then set up in-person consultations. But people have an “aversion to talking to strangers about important things,” says Patrick Schmitt, the co-founder of FreeWill, a site that streamlines the process of generating a will, healthcare directives, and powers of attorney. Technology means they no longer have to. With sites like Schmitt’s, it’s possible to generate a legal will in 20 minutes, no human interaction required.
        Since these essential forms used to be made on paper and in private, there’s little historical data about who had a will and who didn’t. But for the team at FreeWill, that information is readily available. Among its users, the number of people age 18 to 24 crafting wills is low, but shoots up among 25- to 44-year-olds, Schmitt says.
        “Younger people are less likely to have assets. People make the joke, ‘I don’t know who to pass my debt onto,’” Schmitt says. But “you’ve got big shifts around religiosity, home ownership, overall wealth at this age, marriage rates, birth rates, and these things are really going to shape views on estate planning and death.” 

        In The American Way of Death, Mitford described a funeral industry that operated like an autocracy. The all-knowing funeral director guided the guileless consumer to the most expensive burial options — the most luxurious casket, the hardiest burial vault. Some things about dying haven’t changed, including the expense: The average cost today is $6,500. 
        But the death industry has diversified since 1963. Approximately 60 percent of students in mortuary science programs today are female, up from 5 percent in 1971. And new trends, like the home funeral movement, are led by “an assemblage of different groups of people, different beliefs, different practices,” says Phil Olson, a technology ethicist at Virginia Tech specializing in death studies. 
        Church membership is declining, and the number of Americans who say they are atheists is on the rise. (Right now, it’s hovering around 10 percent.) Though young people today may diverge from their parents’ or grandparents’ approach to death and the afterlife, many find other philosophies to guide them. 
        Bergwall co-founded WeCroak — the death reminder app — in 2017 as part of his own meditation practice. He quotes a Bhutanese folk saying that states, “To be a truly happy person, one must contemplate death five times daily.” The practice, which Buddhists call “maraṇasati,” or death awareness, is supposed to help people embrace uncertainty and feel the spiritual urgency required to change your life for the better. Monks in some parts of Asia meditate over dead bodies to accomplish this. Bergwall thought an app would be easier. 

        Users of WeCroak, which recently surpassed 100,000 downloads, skew male. Sixty-four percent are under the age of 44. Five times a day, the app sends them a push notification that reads, “Don’t forget, you are going to die. Open for a quote…” In the app, they’ll find words of wisdom culled from a range of texts, from the philosophical to the literary. 
        While wills and advance directives are important, Bergwall thinks his app attracts people with a broader definition of “death preparedness.” Instead of who will get what, “the conversation is more about, how can we have our affairs in order — emotionally, spiritually, relationship-wise — so we can enjoy our life now,” he says. If it sounds like we’re in the midst of a wellnessification of death, well, we probably are, Bergwall adds. In lieu of crystals and green drinks, you’ll find memento mori, “grief retreats,” and green funerals
        Anna Swenson is the communications manager for Recompose, the Seattle-based company that developed a method for human composting — and got it legalized by the Washington state legislature. She suggests that many of the changes in the death industry, and the speed at which they’re unfolding, could be driven by climate anxiety. As ecosystems collapse and the future no longer feels guaranteed, some people may feel more conscious of their own mortality. They may also feel more conscious about their impact on the planet, alive and dead.
        In the United States, more than 90 percent of people are buried or cremated. But both methods have their downsides. Along with our dead, Americans also bury 20 million feet of wood, 4.3 million gallons of embalming fluids, and 1.6 million tons of reinforced concrete each year, according to the New York Times. Cremation, once marketed as an eco-conscious alternative, releases approximately 534 pounds of carbon dioxide — a greenhouse gas — per person. But newer, greener methods are emerging, from human composting to the “mushroom death suit” — available in human and pet sizes — that uses fungi to aid in decomposition. 
        If conventional burial all but ensured your last act on Earth was a destructive one, these green efforts often capitalize on the belief that your body can become “nutritive,” Olson, the Virginia Tech ethicist, says. People see “having a tree made out of them or turning them into compost [as a way of] giving them a new life,” he says. But there’s another, darker way to read this: We want to be productive even when we’re dead. We’re taking our #riseandgrind capitalistic mentality to the grave. 
        Olson sees end-of-life consumerism evolving in other ways, too. “Millennials want their uniqueness or their quirkiness to come out in their final act,” he says. While much has been made about millennials and an assumed preference for “Instagram-worthy funerals,” Olson thinks this emphasis on individualism may reflect more profound social and personal angst: “It’s a way of exercising control over death,” he says. “It’s a way of coming to grips with your own mortality — to think about it and plan for it and try to make it your own.” 

        Marisha Mukerjee began planning her death in 2015. 
        Every month, the 35-year-old TV writer and producer meet with other women in the entertainment industry to talk about the ups and downs of creative projects. At one gathering a few years back, Amy Pickard, founder of the advance planning company Good To Go!, spoke to the group about death preparation. Pickard, who lost her mother, father, and grandmother in three successive years, developed a 50-page “departure file,” which, for $60, “covers everything a will doesn’t cover,” from social media passwords to how you hope to be remembered.
        Inspired by Pickard’s talk, Mukerjee began filling out the booklet. She organized her passwords, made plans for her pet, and decided who would get what jewelry. “I literally update it monthly with a pencil if something needs to be put on there,” Mukerjee tells me. She also planned her funeral, which ended up being one of the trickier parts of the process.

        “I grew up in a household with two religions: We were raised Catholic, and my father’s Hindu,” she says. Instead of planning what she called a “cookie-cutter” funeral, like what you’d expect for your parents or grandparents, Mukerjee started from scratch. “I do want to be cremated,” she concluded, “and I would want a ceremony that would invite all religions. I know my mother would probably be like, ‘What?’ But that’s what I want to do.” She hopes her loved ones will scatter her ashes in a few of the cities she’s lived in, and in India’s Ganges River. 

        The Ganges River in India is a sacred site for Hindus, who come from around the world to perform last rites in the city of Varanasi, on the banks of the river.
         Rajesh Kumar Singh/AP

        The possibility that other people would make the wrong decisions for her is, in part, why Sotelo, the graphic designer in Oregon, turned her interest in death planning into actual end-of-life arrangements. “When I told my mom that I was going to donate my body, she said, ‘That’s weird but okay,’” Sotelo recalls. But Sotelo’s father, who sees burial as a tenet of his Christian faith, objected. 
        “It is important that there are safety nets for myself in place so that he can’t make my decisions,” Sotelo says. 
        Still, plans change. While Sotelo is certain she wants to eventually become a medical cadaver, she’s no longer sure she wants Oregon Health & Science University to cremate her body when they’re done with their research. She’s looking into human composting, and hopes Recompose will be nationwide by the time she dies.
        Her own end-of-life plans are “an evolving process,” she says — much like the death industry itself. 

        Eleanor Cummins reports on the intersection of science and popular culture. She’s a former assistant editor at Popular Science and writes a newsletter about death.
        Amanda Lucier is a photographer based in Portland, Oregon.

        Featured Posts

        Tenn. Gov. Bill Lee Signs Bill to Allow Adoption Agencies to Deny to Gay Couples

        Every kid you see in all three photos are either homeless or orphans Joel Ebert   ...