Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Teen births up for first time in 15 years

ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- In a troubling reversal, the nation's teen birth rate rose for the first time in 15 years, surprising government health officials and reviving the bitter debate about abstinence-only sex education.

The birth rate had been dropping since its peak in 1991, although the decline had slowed in recent years. On Wednesday, government statisticians said it rose 3 percent from 2005 to 2006.

The reason for the increase is not clear, and federal health officials said it might be a one-year statistical blip, not the beginning of a new upward trend.

However, some experts said they have been expecting a jump. They attributed it to increased federal funding for abstinence-only health education that doesn't teach teens how to use condoms and other contraception.

Some key sexually transmitted disease rates have been rising, including syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. The rising teen pregnancy rate is part of the same phenomenon, said Dr. Carol Hogue, an Emory University professor of maternal and child health.

"It's not rocket science," she said.

At the same time, some research suggests teens are using condoms far more often than they did 15 years ago.

The new teen birth numbers are based on the 15-19 age group of women, which accounted for most of the 440,000 births to teens in 2006. The rate rose to nearly 42 births per 1,000 in that group, up from 40.5 in 2005. That translates to an extra 20,000 births to teen mothers.

In 1991, the peak year for teen births, there were nearly 62 births per 1,000.

The new report is based on a review of more than 99 percent of the birth certificates from last year by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report, released Wednesday, quickly took on political implications.

Opponents of abstinence-based programs seized on the data as evidence of wrong-headed government policy.

"Congress needs to stop knee-jerk approving abstinence-only funding when it's clear it's not working," said U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Colorado, who is pushing for more comprehensive sex education.

The new report offers a state-by-state breakdown of birth rates overall. Many of those with the highest birth rates teach abstinence instead of comprehensive sex education, according to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

And research has concluded that abstinence-only programs do not cause a decrease in teenage sexual activity, Planned Parenthood officials added.

"In the last decade, more than $1 billion has been wasted on abstinence-only programs," said Cecile Richards, the organization's president, in a prepared statement.

Decreased condom use and increased sexual activity are two likely explanations for the higher teen birth rate. But not all data supports those theories, said John Santelli, a professor of population and family health at Columbia University's school of public health.

For example, a biannual government survey of high school students found that the percentage of those who said they used a condom the last time they had sex rose to 63 percent in 2005, up from 46 percent in 1991.

Contraceptive-focused sex education is still common, and the new teen birth numbers reflect it's failing, argued Moira Gaul of the Family Research Council, a conservative advocacy organization in Washington, D.C.

The CDC also reported that births to unwed mothers reached an all-time high in 2006, but that is part of a continuing upward trend and was expected.

Health officials cautioned that the rise in teen births is not the chief cause of births to unwed mothers, however. Women in their 20s and 30s represent the largest proportion, with teens accounting for fewer than a quarter, said Stephanie Ventura, head of the CDC's reproductive statistics branch.

About thirty years ago, more than half of unwed mothers were teenagers, she said.

The report on births also showed:

• That the U.S. fertility rate is at the highest level since 1971, at 2.1 children. That is an increase of 2 percent from 2005 to 2006.

• Total births rose 3 percent to nearly 4.3 million in 2006.

• Rate of Caesarean section deliveries also rose 3 percent, setting a new record of 31 percent of all births. Health officials say the rate, which has risen by about half since 1996, is higher than is medically necessary.

The high C-section rate is believed to at least partly explain why rates of preterm and low-weight births also rose in 2006. Planned deliveries, including those involving C-sections, are often done before a pregnancy comes to full term, health experts said.

Clinton Backer Sending "Obama Muslim" Smear Emails

Gary Hart of Jones County, Iowa was the person responsible for outing the sender of the "Obama is Muslim" smear e-mails that people have been complaining about.

TRM reports:

Guy Who Received Obama Muslim Smear Email From Hillary County Chair Speaks

By Greg Sargent - December 5, 2007, 2:32PM
Christopher Hayes of The Nation has identified the guy who received the Obama "madrassa" smear email from a Hillary-supporting county chair in Iowa: He's Gary Hart of Jones County, Iowa.

I just got off the phone with Hart, and he confirmed receiving the email. He said he'd heard from the Hillary campaign about it and as a result wouldn't reveal who the county chair was who sent it to him.

"The Clinton campaign has been in touch with me, and I'm satisfied with their response," he told me.

Asked whether he would share the email and why he wouldn't identify the sender, he hung up.

Wow. A Clinton backer! Why am I not surprised!?

Hillary Clinton and Staff Dislike Barack Obama and Smart African Americans?

This video was insprired, if that's the right term, by a blog written by Dave Corn over at CQPolitics, and from which I discovered while reading Sam Stein's blog at the Huff Post. The title of the blog by Corn is "Hillary on Obama: Fear and Hatred on the Campaign Trail" and has these statements:

"When talking to Clintonites in recent days, I've noticed that they've come to despise Obama."...." They're not spinning for strategic purposes. They truly believe it. And other Democrats in Washington report encountering the same when speaking with Clinton campaign people. "They really, really hate Obama," one Democratic operative unaffiliated with any campaign, tells me. "They can't stand him. They talk about him as if he's worse than Bush." What do they hate about him? After all, there aren't a lot of deep policy differences between the two, and he hasn't gone for the jugular during the campaign. "It's his presumptuousness," this operative says. "That he thinks he can deny her the nomination. Who is he to try to do that?" You mean, he's, uh, uppity? "Yes." A senior House Democratic aide notes, "The Clinton people are going nuts in how much they hate him. But the problem is their narrative has gone beyond the plausible."

And I think the Clinton people have gone a little too nuts. It seems like they and the candidate herself has an issue with bright, smart African Americans as represented by Senator Obama. The campaign's mounting a series of words that point to this, from Bill Clinton describing Obama as "articulate" to these terms captured by Corn, particularly the term "uppity."

Now the term "uppity" is commonly and stupidly combine with "negro" in American Culture. According to The YBP Wiki , it means

"Uppity Negro, 1. A fearless black person who by social definition is “not in their place”. Unapologetic. 2. A black person who knows his or her American legacy, his or her actualized social status, and his or her social and emotional plights with still the identical high regard to self as an equally entitled American due the same privileges, attitudes, concessions, and respectability of the entitled.

A fair, just, and loyal person. Historically, a Black person who has been reprimanded or persecuted for voicing his/her dissatisfaction with or rejection of the sub-standard treatment of himself or other Black people. A Black person who holds others fully accountable for their actions and demands adequate treatment from everyone including family members. A Black person who was never or is no longer willing to rearrange himself or conform her behaviors simply to ensure the comfort of White people. A Black person who requires and demands respect, fair treatment, and regard. A Black person who is committed to reversing the crimes of self-refusal, self-denial, and self-hatred that are endemic to the Black community and detrimental to the Black psyche. One who is not in his or her place; furthermore, an Uppity Negro is one who has no concept of “place” definable by factors such as race or class. An Uppity Negro’s place is wherever he or she chooses it to be."

By that defintion, and looking at the statements of the Clinton Campaign it would seem that they think Senator Obama does not know his place as a Black person. There's no other way to interpret their statements and any other definition without evidence would be a stretch at best.

This, then, is the a view at what the cultural glass ceiling look like and why we must break it. Senator Obama's a great example of the American ideal: that anyone can make it in their chosen profession in this country. Senator Clinton and her staff don't seem to get this, and it may be that in their anger over losing the lead in Iowa, their real prejudices have come to the surface.

If that's so, and I think it is, the campaign owes African Americans an appology, especially the "uppity" ones, like me.