Hurricane Matthew is off-shore and heading out to sea, and I hope that’s the last of him coming near land. I’ll keep an eye on him, but hopefully this is the last of the updates.
There are a lot of people who have a lot of hard work ahead of them, and there was tremendous loss of life in Haiti. If you want to donate to restoration and repair, I suggest you use Charity Navigator as your guide and find one that both meets the needs and has been vetted.
I’m not sure why anyone thinks it’s necessary to threaten someone with getting a bucket of ice dumped on them to get them to donate to a charity, but I never really understood fads in the first place.
But if you want to do it, don’t let me stop you.
The Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation announced yesterday that they were reversing their earlier decision to exclude Planned Parenthood from their grant recipient pool. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re going to be funding them, either.
As some were quick to point out, the statement put out by Komen doesn’t really clarify whether Planned Parenthood will actually continue to get money from the group. The original rationale for barring Planned Parenthood was that it was under investigation (a witch-hunt probe undertaken by GOP Rep Cliff Stearns). Komen said today that the group would “amend the criteria to make clear that disqualifying investigations must be criminal and conclusive in nature and not political.”
All that means is that Planned Parenthood is eligible to apply for the grants, not that they’ll get them. So it’s not exactly a concession, and Komen can still turn them down.
I have to say that there has always been something a little off-putting about the Komen foundation. I can’t put my finger on it, but they’ve always been far more visible in their self-promotion — and some weird ones at that — than they have been about actually finding a cure for breast cancer. That’s not to say they’re not trying, but all I see are the pink ribbon promotions and very little news about the research they’re funding.
The foundation has done a lot of damage to their public image this week; first by pissing off the progressives by dissing Planned Parenthood for political reasons, and now the other side by seeming to cave to pressure. And none of it has advanced the cause of curing or treating breast cancer.
The White House has changed the policy on sending condolence letters to families of active duty soldiers who die by their own hand.
For several administrations at least, the White House has declined to send letters of condolence to families of troops who committed suicide, even if those suicides occurred in combat zones.
The policy was based on concerns within military circles that recognizing such deaths would encourage more suicides. But it infuriated many of those families, who felt they should have received the same kinds of letters sent to families of every service member killed in action.
Starting this week, however, the White House will start sending condolence letters to families of troops who commit suicide in combat zones, which include Afghanistan, Iraq and some other areas that provide support services to combat operations. But families of military personnel who kill themselves in the United States and on foreign bases not considered combat zones will not receive the letters.
“This decision was made after a difficult and exhaustive review of the former policy, and I did not make it lightly,” the president said in a statement Wednesday. “This issue is emotional, painful, and complicated, but these Americans served our nation bravely. They didn’t die because they were weak.”
The president said that rather than encouraging suicides, the new policy might prevent them by reducing the stigma against mental health counseling and thereby encouraging troops to seek help.
“The fact that they didn’t get the help they needed must change,” the president’s statement said. “Our men and women in uniform have borne the incredible burden of our wars, and we need to do everything in our power to honor their service, and to help them stay strong for themselves, for their families and for our nation.”
First, this is a very good thing. The families need this kind of acknowledgement and support. Second, it is amazingly sad that previous administrations refused to do it.
So it begins: the official Christmas shopping season. (Lest you think I’m ignoring the other holidays like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa and any other festival that falls between now and January 1, I’m using “Christmas” as the generic term and not preferring that one over the others. Bite me, Bill O’Reilly.)
Actually, the shopping season has been going on since the middle of September when I got my first catalogue from Smith & Hawken or some such; I just didn’t notice it among the rest of the campaign literature that was pouring into my mailbox. I piled them on the dining room table until I could make a big enough bundle to stick in the recycling tub and braced for more after the election was over.
Our family has a long tradition of giving gifts to each other, but it’s getting to the point where it’s becoming more a chore than a true gift, and so my older brother and his wife suggested that maybe it was time for us to all take a deep breath and think beyond the wrapping, the packaging, the search through the desk for the slips of paper with updated addresses, remembering who likes what, who doesn’t eat something else, and all the little things that come when you give a material present. They sent out an e-mail to the family suggesting — just suggesting — that instead of the boxes and stuffing, we give each other something more meaningful: time with each other and sharing our connections. Give a gift if you like, but don’t feel the pressure to have to give something that comes in a box or in a stocking or is redeemable on line.
This is not the first time we’ve done this. Last year in lieu of presents my parents donated to all of our favorite charities or foundations. And it felt very good. It was, I hope, the beginning of a tradition, and something — especially in this time of economic shit hitting the fan — that will help others who really need it.
But it’s also hard to let go of the old habits, so I know that I will be out there doing some shopping… or more likely, sitting here at the computer, credit card at the ready, doing shopping without having to remember where I parked.