Blue-shifting the Gem State, one blog entry at a time.

Are genetically modified foods safe for humans?

Crossposted on Daily Kos

"The perception that everything is totally straightforward and safe is utterly naive. I don't think we fully understand the dimensions of what we're getting into." - Professor Philip James (author of the "James" report on the structure and functions of the proposed UK Food Standards Agency to oversee national food safety standards), Director of the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, on genetically engineered food.
Rowett Research Institute, The Foods Standards Agency: Covered up US study shows damage to rats from BST

There have never been any human safety studies on GMOs due to the FDA’s position that GMOs are not substantially different than their natural counterparts. Animal studies have shown potential dangers such as cancer, diabetes, intestinal disease, low birth weight, reproductive problems and other health risks, according to GMO Free Idaho.

Genetically modified foods (GM foods, or biotech foods) are foods derived from genetically modified organisms. Genetically modified organisms have had specific changes introduced into their DNA by genetic engineering techniques. These techniques are much more precise than mutagenesis (mutation breeding) where an organism is exposed to radiation or chemicals to create a non-specific but stable change. Other techniques by which humans modify food organisms include selective breeding; plant breeding, and animal breeding, and somaclonal variation. Since genetically modified food has been introduced into supermarkets, there has been much controversy as to whether it is actually safe.

Genetically modified foods were first put on the market in 1996. Typically, genetically modified foods are transgenic plant products: soybean, corn, canola, rice, and cotton seed oil. Animal products have also been developed, although as of July 2010 none are currently on the market. In 2006 a pig was engineered to produce omega-3 fatty acids through the expression of a roundworm gene. Researchers have also developed a genetically modified breed of pigs that are able to absorb plant phosphorus more efficiently, and as a consequence the phosphorus content of their manure is reduced by as much as 60%.

Critics, sometimes referring to genetically modified foods as "frankenfood", have objected to GM foods on several grounds, including safety issues, ecological concerns, and economic concerns raised by the fact these organisms are subject to intellectual property law.

GMO Free Idaho says that 80% of Americans don’t know that we have been eating genetically modified foods since 1996. the organization is dedicated to teaching consumers everything they need to know about GMOs so they can become part of the growing movement to label and or/ban GM foods.

The group educates the public about the impacts of genetically modified organisms, promoting local, organic, and non-GMO food producers, and works to eliminate GMOs from our food supply.

There are so many things we can all do to affect change to our food supply. From volunteering with a local action group or joining an online community to buying non-GMO foods, we can do our part to ensure that we have the right to know what we are consuming and eliminate harmful chemicals and substances from our food. Here are several things you can do to get involved:

Host or attend GMO Free Idaho presentation. Here is their events calendar. Pick a date and contact us if you want to host a presentation at your home, or attend our next presentation. To learn more about their presentations click here.

Write your Representatives. You can find out who your representatives are here, or find Idaho legislators here. Tell your reps how you feel about genetically modified foods and ask them to support labeling laws.

Write a letter to your newspaper editor. This is a great way to spread awareness and make a call to action.

Help us take action with Dennis Kucinich and the bills he has introduced that will mandate GMO labeling laws and ban the open air growth of GMOs. The bills are H.R. 3554: Genetically  Engineered Safety Act and H.R. 3553: Genetically Engineered Food Right to Know Act.

Join the Organic Consumers Association and the Institute for Responsible Technology to get regular updates about GMOs.

Support local, organic, and non-GMO food producers. Every dollar you spent on these types of foods and products is a vote that says no to genetically modified foods. If enough consumers reject GMO foods, food manufacturers and producers will have no choice but to appeal to consumer demand.  read more »

The Affordable Care Act and What it Means to You

UPDATE 7/15/12

John Perr wrote:

This week, the GOP-controlled House of Representatives voted for the 33rd time in 18 months to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But even if that act of political theater is over for now, Republicans will keep repeating their favorite parts of the right-wing script well past Election Day in November. That their tried and untrue lines about "the largest tax increase in history," Obamacare "adding to the debt," a "government takeover of health care" (Politifact's 2010 Lie of the Year) and, of course, "death panels" (Politifact's 2009 Lie of the Year) have been thoroughly debunked won't prevent conservatives from continuing to mouth them.

And that debate-distorting performance is literally sickening. Because while some of the GOP's best and brightest darkly warn that the Affordable Act may kill you, other Republicans insist the lives of some Americans aren't worth saving. Meanwhile, without the ACA fully in place, study after study after study show the status quo has a real body count, with up to 45,000 of the uninsured dying unnecessarily each year. Nevertheless, the party of Romney, Ryan, Boehner and McConnell would prevent 30 million people from gaining the health insurance they need and millions more the basic patient protections they deserve.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell gave the game away two weeks ago on Fox News when said of those 30 million uninsured, "That's not the issue." But a more telling episode came during the September 2011 tea party/GOP presidential debate. As ABC reported, the tea partiers who protested Democratic health care reform in 2009 by holding a "die-in" at Senate offices cheered Ron Paul on when he said churches, not government, should address the U.S. health care crisis.

FROM 7/11/12

"House Republicans generally avoided talk of replacement measures on Tuesday as they mobilized for an election-season vote to repeal the health care law that stands as President Barack Obama's signature domestic accomplishment," according to CBS News.

Instead, they lambasted the 2-year-old law as a threat to the nation's economic recovery and predicted some Democrats would join them in repudiating it. "This is nothing short of economic malpractice," said Rep. Nan Hayworth of New York, citing tax increases, government mandates and other items in the law. "We can and we must do better." She did not elaborate, nor did any of the members of the leadership in their remarks to reporters after the meeting.

So it is a good time to review the value of this reform, in the face of Republican efforts to simply repeal, with no talk from their end, on alternatives.

President Obama passed the Affordable Care Act to restore health care as a basic cornerstone of middle-class security in America. The law will make health care more affordable for families and small businesses and brings much-needed transparency to the insurance industry. When fully implemented, the reform will keep insurance companies from taking advantage of consumers—including denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions and cancelling coverage when someone gets sick.

Because of the new law, 34 million more Americans will gain coverage—many who will be able to afford insurance for the first time. Once the law is fully implemented, about 95 percent of Americans under age 65 will have insurance.

Providing security to working families

Working families are protected from losing their health care or being forced into bankruptcy when a family member gets sick or is in an accident. Families have the security of knowing their health insurance will be there when they need it most.

Insurance companies are now required to justify rate hikes, and consumers have the ability to appeal to an independent third party when insurance companies refuse to cover services or care.

Starting in 2014, all Americans will have access to affordable health insurance no matter their circumstances—whether they change jobs, lose their job, decide to start a business, or retire early. Purchasing private insurance in the new state-based health insurance exchanges could save middle-class families who can’t get employer-provided insurance thousands of dollars.

Once fully implemented, the law will slow health care premium growth rates, adding another $2,000 to family savings by 2019.

The law is expected to reduce the deficit by $127 billion from 2012 to 2021.  read more »

Support Nicole LeFavour for Congress

Update 7/2/2102

On Sunday, July 1, 2012 at 12:37am, Nicole wrote:

All I can say is thank you. Idaho, I love you. Two weeks ago I thought there was no way I was even getting anywhere near close to meeting this $180,000 goal. But from all the house parties Stacy Freeburn Falkner, Becky Morgan, Rickie Brady, Katie Rotchford, J.j. Saldana, Jack Donnelly, Ann & Jerry Shively, Dawn Andersen, Char Roth & Bruce Tiddwell, Lisa & Jacob Haeberle, Stephen Weeg & Nancy Grecco, Linda Sturman, Kathleen Cameron, and ALL those who attended & helped, to Kevin Kelpe & the Red Feather and all those county chairs & organizers who had me speak and let me raise $ at their democratic events; To Cindy Gross, Nancy Stouffer, Victoria Brown & all those MANY who gave and gave and gave... so many of you; your faith in me is such an honor. I will work so hard for you. To my staff and many many volunteers -- all those who made calls to raise funds, all those who asked friends, to my sister Cree LeFavour and dad Bruce LeFavour who asked people they knew in other states -- to everyone who cheered me on, and for the sweet text and messages that kept my heart going... Together with whatever we got in the mail and the huge sums from the house parties and Carole King's generous gift of music... this is enough to impress anyone or any organization --- this total of over $160,000 is amazing because it is the generosity not of PACs but of more than 800 ordinary people who care about making congress and the state of Idaho better. Thank you.

With love... nicole

***

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Senator Nicole LeFavour faces an important congressional campaign fund raising deadline on June 30. Please donate today.

"This is a very important time to show the state and the nation that Nicole has your support!" - Stalwart Progressive Activist Cindy Gross

Nicole LeFavour said:

I’m an Idaho Democrat because Democrats care about working people, families and small businesses. We believe in communities and that people pull together to overcome great obstacles. We believe a strong public education system and a more affordable college education are the foundations of the American dream. Our nation needs new congressmen and women determined to solve problems and lead our country back to prosperity and the values of compassion and cooperation that made us great. -

Nicole

From Nicole's official campaign site:

Legendary singer/song writer/recording artist, Carole King's doing benefit concert for Nicole in Boise! • 4 PM, Sunday Sept. 9. Living room venue in foothills. Only 50 tickets. $10 for a raffle ticket chance to win 2 tickets to the concert. Your donations mean the world to the campaign. -- Up to next Saturday July 1st, for every $1000 we raise from raffle tickets we will release 2 more tickets to be raffled off -- so if you get your friends to buy raffle tickets before then, that increases (not decreases) your chances of winning concert tickets. Right now we can raffle off 4 tickets. JOIN US! BUY RAFFLE TICKETS

Senator LeFavour will be in Hailey area June 27, in the Rexburg, Idaho Falls, Blackfoot & Pocatello areas June 30 through July 5. She looks forward to meeting you. Please call the campaign office if you'd like to set up a meeting and get involved with the campaign. 208 209-8485.

I'm Senator Nicole LeFavour. As a teacher and former small business owner who grew up in central Idaho, I know Idaho can do better for its schools, at creating jobs and and protecting its clean drinking water and wild places. I've served eight years in the Idaho legislature standing up for small class sizes and to stop budget cuts which have eliminated thousands of jobs. I ask for your vote and support as a donor or volunteer this election. I'd like to be your next Congresswoman and I very much look forward to working with you.

Election day is Tuesday November 6. Please make sure to talk to people you know about the issues in this race and why their votes matter on Tuesday November 6.

THE ECONOMY • Our nation’s job creators are not millionaires or corporations but small businesses and regular working people. Americans create jobs when they can participate fully in the economy, when they can afford to replace a broken washing machine, buy clothes for their children, fix the car, eat out at a restaurant or afford a home or college degree.

FINANCIAL CRISIS • Congressman Simpson voted again and again to loosen the federal banking regulations that led to our nation’s financial crisis. Sadly he also voted to spend $700 billion to bail out banks without providing any help for the small businesses struggling to get loans to create jobs across Idaho.

FAIRNESS • Our nation has reduced taxes on millionaires at a time when our national debt has reached record levels. Congress should allow the Bush era tax cuts to expire for those making more than $250,000 a year and keep the cuts and credits in place for working families and seniors. If the most wealthy 1% in America again paid their fair share we’d trim more than $1.2 trillion from the deficit.  read more »

"What I'm taking to the Idaho Senate," a letter from Betty Richardson

The letter below is from Betty Richardson, a candidate for Idaho Senate, District 15:

My dad, Fred Hansen, was a Danish immigrant, a naturalized citizen who loved our country with every fiber of his being. Dad looked like a modern-day Viking. He had a Paul Bunyan physique and a powerful voice that resonated like thunder.

Dad taught me to speak from the heart, to appreciate nature and its bounty, to be thankful for my blessings, to feel compassion for those in need, to honor working men and women, and to fully engage in public life.

Dad passed away 25 years ago, but I still have his hard hat. It is one of my most cherished possessions. It represents Dad’s hard work in the logging camps and lumber mills, work he did to give my brother and sisters and me a brighter future.

When, as a young adult, I thanked Dad for his labors, he replied, “You will thank me by doing this – and more – for your children.” Before someone coined the phrase “pay it forward,” Dad well knew its meaning.

When I am elected to the Idaho State Senate, I will take my Dad’s hard hat with me. It will remain for me an important reminder of the everyday Idahoans who do the work that builds our communities, our state, and our nation.

And I will continue to honor Dad’s legacy by doing all I can, not only for my own children, but for all Idaho’s children.

I ask you to help me succeed in this important endeavor. I ask you to help me raise the critical funds to win my race. And I ask you to join me, this Father’s Day, in honoring all those who work for a living.

Idaho’s breadwinners – men and women alike – deserve our thanks and our support. Let’s work together to “pay it forward.”

Yours Truly,

Betty

Please click here to contribute today.  read more »

Warming Climate Could Significantly Change Boise and Spokane Aquifer

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Also republished by Climate Hawks and DK GreenRoots.

People tend to focus on the here and now. The problem is that, once global warming is something that most people can feel in the course of their daily lives, it will be too late to prevent much larger, potentially catastrophic changes. - ELIZABETH KOLBERT, The New Yorker, Apr. 25, 2005

A new study has found that a warming climate could decrease the water in the aquifer for both the Spokane River and Boise River basins, which provide drinking water for much of Idaho and parts of eastern Washington.

Civil engineering researchers Venkataramana Sridhar and Xin Jin simulated more than 100 different climate change modeling scenarios to evaluate how changes in precipitation, temperature, soil moisture and timing of snow melt would affect the aquifer during the next 50 years.

RiverScene300x300

The results showed that from 2010 to 2060:

Changes in temperature for the Treasure Valley region could range from an average increase of 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit, or a half a degree per decade. Precipitation could increase an average of four inches; however, some models showed precipitation rates could range from a 3 percent decrease to a 36 percent increase.

In the Spokane River basin, changes in temperature could range from an average increase of 2 to 4 degrees Fahrenheit, or a half a degree per decade. Precipitation could increase an average of 5 inches; however, some models showed precipitation rates could actually decrease up to 6 percent or increase 17 percent.

Snow melt timing is predicted to shift to 2-3 weeks earlier, with the peak melt occurring during April instead of May, which could change hydrological patterns. Increased stream flows and aquifer recharge sequences also could change.

The results of the study appear online in the Journal of the American Water Resources Association.

“The warmer temperatures could trigger more precipitation to fall as rain instead of snow in the mountains, which means less gets into the groundwater and ultimately the aquifer,” said Sridhar, a Boise State University professor of civil engineering. “In terms of peak flows, the high flows in the future will probably be higher than historic high flows, with it being earlier than now. Notably, the low flows are expected to be lower than historic low flows.”

To conduct the study, the researchers simulated the basin-scale hydrology by coupling the downscaled precipitation and temperature outputs from many global climate models and the Soil and Water Assessment Tool (SWAT). The researchers said knowing the possible hydrological impacts on the aquifer and watershed due to climate change will help policy makers in their decision-making process.

The study was funded by the National Science Foundation Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) in Idaho, as well as seed funding provided by the U.S. Geological Survey through the Water Resources Research Act.

Two thousand scientists, in a hundred countries, engaged in the most elaborate, well organized scientific collaboration in the history of humankind, have produced long-since a consensus that we will face a string of terrible catastrophes unless we act to prepare ourselves and deal with the underlying causes of global warming. - AL GORE, speech at National Sierra Club Convention, Sept. 9, 2005

Here is the link to the original press release.

Democrats Outraise Republican Money in (drumroll) ... Idaho!!!

Crossposted on Daily Kos

Here is a fun stat for the week:

In a state where Republicans control 81 percent of the Legislature and all statewide and congressional offices, the Democratic party outraised the GOP in 2011 and 2012, $218,000 to $161,000, according to Dan Popkey of the Idaho Statesman.

Popkey attributes this fundraising lag to the fact that GOP chair Norm Semanko, who is stepping down, was distracted as he focused on a failed effort to get himself elected Eagle mayor; and his lawyer/lobbying practice.

So who will be able to step in and get the job done for the Good Ol Boys Party?

The fight over who will chair the party is a proxy for the ongoing battle between Gov. Butch Otter’s establishment wing and ultraconservatives and libertarians who think the GOP’s gone soft. It’s also about positioning for 2014, when Otter may seek a third term and could face a challenge from a popular upstart, freshman Congressman Raul Labrador.

At least 15 names have been floated, including three bigfoots — Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna, House Speaker Lawerence Denney and first lady Lori Otter.

Will the Idaho Republican Party be able to find a unifier who can raise money as its chair, in the midst of so many internal GOP squabbles?

Republicans are looking for any excuse to stall or kill domestic violence legislation

The federal reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act has fallen victim to political bickering, with the House of Representatives and the Senate refusing even to consider the versions passed by each other, the Idaho Statesman reports.

Idaho Republican Sen. Mike Crapo, a sponsor of the Senate version, said it was pure gridlock, and he's not sure how the standoff will be resolved. "I think there's a bit of a stare-down going on there with the House leadership and the Senate leadership," Crapo said in an interview. ... The gridlock is another sign of Congress' inability to do much of anything but bicker this year. This is the third time the Violence Against Women Act has been up for reauthorization since 2000 and it has never been controversial before. The landmark 18-year-old law includes measures to help victims of sexual assault and domestic violence; among other things it provides short-term housing for abused women and grants for law enforcement staffing and training.

Here is the background:

A critical federal measure to assist victims of domestic violence has passed in the United States Senate in March. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo joined with Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) in introducing the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), S. 1925.

“I am a long-time champion of the prevention of domestic violence because I have seen the impact of this abuse in Idaho,” Crapo said. “The Act provides critical services to victims of violent crime, as well as agencies and organizations that provide important aid to those victims.”

Crapo noted that VAWA has been the centerpiece of the nation’s commitment to end domestic, dating and sexual violence for nearly eighteen years. The measure provides access to legal and social services for survivors of domestic violence, and provides training to law enforcement, prosecutors, judges, attorneys and advocates to address these crimes in our nation’s communities.

“Last year in Idaho, twenty-two people were killed by a domestic partner,” Crapo added. “Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner. Nearly one in ten high school students nation-wide were hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by their boyfriend or girlfriend. Future tragedies must be prevented. While we may not all agree on the specifics of this reauthorization, all of us agree that we must end domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking in the United States.”

The widely-supported legislation, which passed the senate 68 to 31, improves existing programs to address evolving needs in the fight against domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking. VAWA provides tools to prevent domestic violence homicides by supporting training to those law enforcement officers, victim service providers and court personnel who are working on the frontlines to eliminate domestic violence. The legislation also promotes accountability to ensure that federal funds are used for their intended purposes, and consolidates programs and reduces authorization levels to address fiscal concerns while focusing on the programs that have been the most successful.

The House version took direct aim at immigrant victims:  read more »

Idaho Republicans: Reverse Robin Hoods Bad for Idaho's Economy

Listen to the TED talk by Nick Hanauer, Seattle venture capitalist and member of the 1%, skewer the conventional wisdom that the rich are job creators.

Hanauer underscores and illustrates the painfully apparent fact that in our consumer driven society, it's demand that creates jobs. Tax cuts for the rich just means that savings is hoarded in tax sheltered off shore accounts until demand arises. Demand is created by the middle class with disposable income. Nick's editorial and the transcript are both available. This talk was briefly censored by TED which created a bit of a tempest. TED's rationale for refusing to publish a talk that received a standing ovation doesn't hold water as the comments indicate.

Idaho Republicans certainly utilized the economic recession, with its resulting decline in tax revenue, as an excuse to cut Idaho programs long on their ideological chopping block such as Medicaid. Yet, in doing so, Republicans eschewed the 2:1 matching federal funds and left Idaho's sick and infirm as a burden of other state funded programs, like the CAT fund, the judiciary and the the Correction Department. Republicans actually cost the state money demonstrating unequivocally that fiscal conservatism is NOT fiscally responsible.  read more »

McCall: quake or something manmade?

From Weiser to McCall, folks are reporting an earthquake (4:30am MDT, Thursday May 17th). Problem is, there's nothing on regional seismographs big enough for someone to feel.

The best technical explanation (no sensors nearby, so maybe it really happened and had become unusually faint at those distances) -- well, I guess it's possible that Idaho would be so cheap that they'd discontinued seismographic data collection everywhere.

Next up is sonic booms or explosions that only woke up some people. Meh.

Best answer? Guv'ner Otter otter call Scott Stevens on his handy-dandy Big Red Conspiracy Phone. Just watch out for (ahem) barnyard residue, Boss.

Oh, and a quick 'Buh-BYE!' to George Hansen's lost spawn, crazy ol' man Hart. I'm gonna take his primary loss as a ray of hope: It should serve reminder that there are levels of miscreancy that, despite Republican poobahs' belief otherwise, everyday Idahoans won't condone. The party bosses pretend to not know this, but why else would they be so afraid of openness and public accountability for themselves.

Vandersloot Plays the Victim Card

UPDATED BELOW 5/20

And he does it to make Romney more money. Vader argues:'the scary Chicago black man has me on a hit list.' Drudge sirens. Fox News going apeshit about ACORN representatives hiring actual Canadian gay wolves to make the dead vote for the scary black man, basically compelling the tea baggers into their most convincing nightmare that you wanna steal their guns and tri cornered hats to engage in some scientific orgy of secular bestiality that might lessen our dependence on fossil fuels.



Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

----------------------------------------
UPDATE 5/20

The Idaho Statesman published two items on Vandersloot in the wake of Vandersloot's multi media launch of his victim status on the right wing noise machine. Both items view the matter superficially, do not investigate the underlying facts supporting the truth, and merely report on "the controversy". This stab in reporting by the traditional media completely glosses over Maddow's expose on his self serving artifice in making pleas for additional cash with a fabricated controversy. By merely approaching this as a 'he said, she said,' both sides do it, false dichotomy, they feign objectivity to become participants in Vandersloot's plea for financial assistance.  read more »

Vaginal Microbes Vary Over Time Among Healthy Women

Crossposted on Daily Kos

"Who knew that Idaho would be a hotbed of vaginal research?" -blogger CJB in the comments on Daily Kos.

___

Scientists Hope Research is Starting Point for Personalized Medicine for Women

The delicate balance of microbes in the vagina can change drastically over short periods of time in some women, while remaining the same in others, according to a new joint study by the University of Idaho and the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Institute for Genome Sciences.

The scientists believe these microbes affect a woman’s susceptibility to infection and other diseases, so such changes might also mean that the risk of infection varies over time. Researchers hope further study will lead to personalized medicine for women, allowing doctors to tailor each woman’s treatment and health maintenance strategies to her individual microbial make-up. The study was published online May 2, 2012, in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

“Our findings pave the way for organizing women into groups based upon the type of microbes they have in the vagina over time,” said Larry Forney, University of Idaho professor in biological sciences and director of the Institute for Bioinformatics and Evolutionary Studies. “Each group could receive personalized therapies tailored to the make-up of their vaginal microbial community.”

Researchers used advanced genomics and bioinformatics technology to analyze the vaginal microbes found in 32 women over time. The work was a collaboration led by Forney and Jacques Ravel, associate professor of microbiology and immunology and co-director of the Institute for Genome Sciences at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. The research marks the first time genomics technologies have been used to examine vaginal microbial communities over time.

“The University of Idaho is extremely proud of the role Dr. Forney has played in this ground-breaking line of research,” said College of Science Dean Scott Wood. “Dr. Forney and colleagues have built a world-class program at Idaho performing research at the interface of biology, mathematics, statistics and other disciplines, and this program is contributing major new findings of relevance to human health, such as the study described in this paper.”

The study is an example of an emerging field of genomics, the study of the human microbiome. The human microbiome refers to all of the microbes that live on and in the human body. Scientists believe these tiny organisms interact closely with the human genome and play a critical role in human health and disease. In the vagina, these communities of microbes play a critical role in maintaining and promoting a woman’s health and in protecting her against disease. Vaginal microbes provide protection mainly by producing lactic acid to create an acidic environment that is hostile to certain harmful microbes or infection.

In a previous large-scale study, the researchers found five main groups of microbial communities among women, and that the proportion of women in each community varied by ethnicity. They also found that microbial communities that may not offer women optimal protection were more common among Hispanic and black women than they were in Asian and white women.

“Those data highlighted potential ethnic disparities and a need for more personalized medicine,” said Ravel. “The present study builds upon those results. It shows that the types and quantity of microbes found in the vagina can vary slightly or even markedly over short periods of time in some women, while other women show no change. The kinds of changes vary between women and seem highly individualized. Most studies or treatments traditionally are based upon the idea that all women are the same and will react similarly to treatments. But our research shows that each woman seems to have her own ‘healthy’ state.”  read more »

Legislative District 19 Endorsements: Yes to Erpelding, No to Gudgell

Idaho's District 19 is comprised of Boise's north and east ends, the old neighborhoods of the capitol city with quaint tree lined boulevards, small cottage like houses mixed in with relatively new foothills and riverside development. The biggest issues here are education, quality of life, and whether deer and fox are considered pests or amenities. It's a mixture of Idaho's young urban tech crowd and relatively affluent middle class families. And judging from home sale prices, a highly desirable place to live. Its also what I refer to as Idaho's Democratic ghetto, in that its the rare place in the state where Democrats are so highly concentrated. A Democratic candidate from 19 can get 60% of the vote in the general election merely by turning left at its myriad stop signs. As a result it's the district in Idaho where an Idaho legislator can most proudly and loudly demonstrate how progressive policies can be popular politics without fear of political/ideological retribution at the polls.

This year all three seats are open and as expected District 19 has a wealth of of riches in qualified candidates, with one exception. Representative Cheri Buckner Webb chose to advance (unopposed) to the senate seat being vacated by Nicole LeFavour who surprised many by leaving her safe seat to attempt to dislodge Congressman Mike Simpson. In State Representative, Position A, Mat Erpelding, Tony Rohn, and Dallas Gudgell have filed, and are actively running campaigns. In State Representative, Position B, Brad Goodsell, Holli High Woodings, and Andy C. Edstram have filed, but Mr. Edstram is making no pretense at a campaign and I have seen nothing to speak for his candidacy.

With the exception of Andy and Dallas I have personally spoken to each of these candidates. I have also listened to each of their interviews, including Dallas', with the Idaho Statesman editorial board. The board recently made endorsements to which I don't necessarily disagree. But their recommendations come with a dearth of analysis and a Republican perspective. The Board consists of editor Kevin Richert, former Republican representative Hal Bunderson, Republican operative Lindy High, and former IACI head Steve Ahrens. As a result the Statesman endorsements didn't come with the best interests of Idaho Democrats in mind. The purpose of this post is not to replace their analysis, neither is it an ideology purity test, but to broaden the perspective and allow the Democratic voters in 19 to make an informed choice on Tuesday.

State Representative, Position A  read more »

Maria Gonzales Mabbutt will best serve District 12

Maria Mabbutt

Canyon and Gem counties send a strong delegation of legislators to Boise. It’s a full contingent of Republicans and the voting bloc holds significant power. Certainly the local voters wield the most power at the ballot box and there’s opportunity for change in District 12 where the incumbent has held on to his seat for 26 long years.

There’s only one candidate who should be booted out this election season. That’s Robert Schaefer in District 12. He has a worthy opponent: Democrat Maria Mabbutt. - Idaho Press Tribune, Friday, October 22, 2010

"Look what I just found!" the Canyon County Democratic Party Facebook page says regarding the above article. "You need to friend Maria--especially if you live in District 12--that's Nampa from just south of the Boulevard north quite a ways."

Here is her page: Mabbutt 4 Idaho.

I first met Maria Mabutt in early 2008. She is fearless, tireless, and consistent. I have rarely seen Maria without a petition or referendum in her hand for people to sign.

From a discussion on another thread about civility, Mabbutt wrote:

... So GREAT when people talk (respectfully) with each other! I know some/many of us will FIRST look at the integrity/honesty (character) of an individual. EACH of us have to follow our Heart.

I OFTEN share ...(since I am a "Christian") that Jesus rode a donkey (not an elephant), he spent much of his time: 1) with those who were "shunned" by "society" PLUS "blessed" them! and 2) spoke "firmly" to those "in power" - so, as a TRUE Democrat (and "Christian") I think I am on the "right" path...

As a woman and Chicana Activist, I could NOT be a Republican!

For the most part, Democrats' actions are consistent with their words. In my experience (40 years here in Idaho; I am a transplant from Texas) many Republicans' (especially those in positions of "power") words are hollow! Having said this, I DO know and associate with several Republicans, who I respect very much. They are honest, have integrity PLUS are open-minded AND value others and TRULY care about them; most of these inidividuals are NOT in "positions of power!"

Maria Mabutt's character speaks volumes.

Rachel Maddow Calls Out Frank Vandersloot

UPDATED BELOW



Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

The unflappable Rachel Maddow doubles down on her exposure of Frank Vandersloot, his conservative politics, his hostility to homosexual causes, and his litigious confrontational methods utilized in Idaho. She addresses concerns those methods may have for the nation due to Vandersloot's close ties to the Mitt Romney campaign. She also observes the close relationship between Frank Vandersloot and Senator James Risch. She further interviews Peter Zuckerman, the award winning Post Register reporter about the personal and professional consequences he suffered as a result of Vandersloot outing him. Vandersloot declined Maddow's open invitation to speak about this on the record.*

This comes on the heels of this report from Mother Jones on Romney's fundraising ties to multi-level marketing (MLM) organizations like Vandersloot owned Melaleuca largely based in Utah and Idaho. For those who aren't familiar with MLM:  read more »

Idaho Republican Candidates Suggest Violence to Stop Bullying

In this audio, Pastor Sean Harris of Berean Baptist Church in Fayetteville, NC tells congregants to break the limp wrists of effeminate boys and essentially "beat the gay away" from their kids.

The violent admonition is pretty extreme for a man of the cloth whose profession is to spread the word of the Prince of Peace. It makes for an odd juxtaposition to the popular national anti-bullying movement, most notably from the LBGT activists in the It Gets Better Project. And lest you think such violent advocacy is isolated to some redneck preacher in North Carolina, Idahoans need to take a hard look at what Republican candidates are saying in our primaries right now.

On Tuesday, April 24, 2012, Senator Patti Ann Lodge (R-Homophobia) basically agreed with Pastor John Harris.

Sen. Patti Anne Lodge of District 11 said boys could be allowed to settle their differences in a boxing ring like they did when she was a teacher, and that they are no longer taught to protect themselves.

“In the old days when I was teaching just 12 years ago we knew how to take care of it,” Lodge said about bullying. “We’d get those kids in a ring and let them box it out and they came out friends.

“I think our males are being feminized.”  read more »

How to attack an attack ad

Well played, Ms. Cutter, well played. Idaho Democratic candidates, take note.


Candidate Ultrasound Position

Kevin Richert of the Idaho Statesman published this list of candidates in SW Idaho and their stated position on the Ultrasound legislation.

Here's where I place the 70 Ada and Canyon county candidates facing contested primaries on May 15:

• Twenty candidates, all Republicans, support the bill or are leaning in that direction.

• Forty-one candidates — 27 Republicans and 14 Democrats — are opposed or are leaning in that direction.

• Three Republican candidates said they are undecided or did not voice an opinion.

• Six candidates — four Republicans and two Democrats — did not respond to requests to interview with the Statesman editorial board, and did not fill out an online voter guide.

Of course, there is a lot of gray in the candidates' positions. For example, candidates who expressed a desire to work on some sort of ultrasound bill fall under the "leaning yes" category. Candidates who question the need for an ultrasound bill, or government's role in this decision, fall under the "leaning no" heading.

The list is here. Use the comment section to identify the stated position of the candidates in your region of Idaho.  read more »

Fox News Win

Why I Support Betty Richardson for the Idaho Legislature

Betty Richardson

It’s high time the Idaho Legislature started serving the best interests of Idahoans rather than catering to special interests. Idahoans want a stronger economy, better jobs, and public schools that help every child succeed.

High priced lobbyists often have other priorities. But Idaho needs legislators who are dedicated to issues that everyday Idahoans care about. It is time for new leadership. I am running for the state senate to help strengthen Idaho families, protect Idaho communities, and build an economy that works for all Idahoans! - Betty Richardson, Candidate for Idaho Senate, District 15.

In the state senate, Betty will support legislation that will:

* Promote quality public schools

* Increase government accountability

* Help working families

* Promote transparency and accountability in government; and

* Protect and preserve our unique quality of life

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"I will bring to the Idaho Legislature the values I learned from my parents – respect for others, compassion, frugality, honesty and hard work," Betty says. "The people of District 15 will always come first with me, and I will work to consistently represent their interests."

Who is this candidate?

First, take a look at her proven record of public service:

Idaho’s United States Attorney

Nominated by the President and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, Betty served as Idaho’s United States Attorney for seven years. As the top federal law enforcement officer in the state, Betty expanded victim’s rights programs, prosecuted drug dealers, and recovered more than seventy-five million dollars in fines which went to help fight crime. She created a highly successful drug education program that reached thousands of Idaho families and worked in partnership with state, local and tribal law enforcement to host Idaho’s first-ever conferences on hate crimes and methamphetamine.

Betty knows that our first responders – firefighters and police officers – are our first line of defense in keeping our neighborhoods and communities safe, and she strongly supports those who serve in these critical public safety roles.

Chairman and Member of the Idaho Industrial Commission

Nominated by Governor Cecil D. Andrus and confirmed by the Idaho State Senate, Betty adjudicated workers’ compensation disputes, reviewed appeals from the Department of Employment, and administered the Idaho Crime Victim’s Compensation Program. Her service on the Industrial Commission was applauded by representatives of business and labor alike: along with her fellow commissioners, she streamlined red tape, implemented a successful mediation program, and improved the administration of justice for those injured on the job.  read more »

Mat Erpelding: Leadership to Move Idaho Forward

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I enjoyed an extensive chat with Mat for about two hours yesterday at the Black Bear Coffee House in Nampa. As a result of our talk, it became clear why so many people are supporting this energetic and dedicated candidate for the Idaho legislature.

An educator, business owner, political activist, high-altitude mountain guide, and former developmental therapist, Mat Erpelding represents the progressive ideologies embodied by the communities in District 19. Mat is an emerging leader in the Idaho Democratic Party, and currently serves as the Ada County Democratic Party Vice Chairman. At the 2012 Frank Church Banquet, Mat was recognized as an Idaho Democratic Party Activist of the Year.

In 2010 Mat was awarded Instructor of the Year from the Wilderness Education

Association for his contributions to experiential education, wilderness ethics and leadership. Mat is passionate about protecting our open spaces and public lands. He believes that access to public lands and wild places is essential to developing strong beliefs in sustainable practices.

Mat believes in the value of collaboration and accountability. He has a long history of taking important leadership risks because he believes that individuals do make a difference. As your representative, he will continue the long tradition of effective and progressive leadership consistent with the standards of District 19 residents. Mat believes that our ethical concerns, our economic woes, our educational system, and our environment are issues that cannot be ignored any longer in Idaho, and he has the vision and the leadership experience to move Idaho forward.

Mat-and-BrianPost

Representative Brian Cronin (pictured with Mat above) Endorsed Mat Erpelding

"Mat will act as a steward for progressive legislation, and has the tenacity required by any Democrat in the Idaho Legislature. Mat has been working to build the party behind-the-scenes for several years, and understands that in Idaho, building a strong Democratic party outside of Ada County is essential. Mat has a breadth and depth of leadership experience that will be beneficial to District 19 and to all of Idaho." - Brian Cronin

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