Here's a little scooby snack for you. Ruh-roh!
And they might have gotten away with it, too, if it hadn't been for those darn kids.
Powerless with God (Sunday homily)
41 minutes ago
According to Hrishikesh Pai, a Mumbai-based in-vitro fertilization specialist and vice-president of the Indian Society for Assisted Reproduction, India now has about 350 facilities that offer surrogacy as a part of a broader array of infertility-treatment services, triple the number in 2005. Last year, Dr. Pai says, about 1,000 pregnancy attempts using surrogates were made at these clinics. This year, he estimates the figure will jump to 1,500, with about a third of those made on behalf of parents from outside India who hired surrogates.
Rudy Rupak, president of PlanetHospital, a California-based medical-tourism company, says that in the first eight months of this year he sent 600 couples or single parents overseas for surrogacy, nearly three times the number in 2008 and up from just 33 in 2007. All of the clients this year went to India except seven who chose Panama. Most were from the U.S.; the rest came from Europe, the Middle East and Asia, mostly Japan, Vietnam, Singapore and Taiwan.
Mr. Rupak says that because of growing demand from his clients for eggs from Caucasian women, he's started to fly donors to India from the former Soviet republic of Georgia, where he has connections with clinics. The first woman arrived last month. A PlanetHospital package that includes an Indian egg donor costs $32,500, excluding transportation and hotel expenses for the intended parent or parents to travel to India. A package with eggs from a Georgian donor costs an extra $5,000.
For the Indian surrogates themselves, it's an experience often fraught with emotional conflict. In most cases, the egg comes either from the woman who wants to become a mother but can't carry a child, or from an egg donor. The egg is then fertilized with sperm from the intended father, or a sperm donor, and implanted in the womb of a surrogate who bears the child. Sometimes, no money changes hands, particularly when a friend or relative acts as the surrogate. Alternatively, it's a commercial transaction, which is almost always the case in India for would-be parents from overseas.
Still, it's a way to raise money in sometimes desperate circumstances. Take Sudha, a 25-year-old mother of two who now works as a maid in Chennai earning $20 a month. She owes moneylenders about $2,700, borrowed to pay bribes to secure a government job as a streetsweeper, which never materialized. A neighbor told her she could earn about $2,000 at a local clinic by bearing a child for an infertile couple. She gave birth in July 2008 -- and is haunted by the memory. "Whenever I have free time and I lie down, I think about the child. I pray that the child is safe and happy and is taken care of well."
Sudha, who like other surrogates asked that only her first name be used, has reduced her debt to about $600, but the family still struggles to eat. One solution, her husband Umat says, is for Sudha to act as a surrogate again. But he adds that he "won't force her if she says no."
For other women, like 29-year-old Lakshmi, a pregnant surrogate in Chennai who already has an 11-year-old daughter, a 12-year-old son, an alcoholic husband and a $4,000 debt, having someone else's child sounded like a better option than her other plan: selling a kidney. A doctor advised her that with a single kidney left, "I might live for a shorter time. I have a daughter. I have to get her married...I prefer" to be a surrogate, she says.
Some middle-class Indian women, too, are becoming surrogates. In Bangalore, a cash-strapped high-school-educated wife, who earns about $20 a month selling Oriflame brand cosmetics, waits for a call from a local clinic that she has been chosen as a surrogate. Her husband, an office manager, owes more than $30,000, borrowed to start a company that faltered, and the couple can't repay the loan.
Michael Bergen and Michael Aki, a gay American couple who got married in 2004 and work as graphic designers in Massachusetts, decided to try surrogacy in India after they waited unsucessfully for three years to adopt a child in the U.S. To hire a surrogate, "we looked at Panama and the Ukraine," recalls 39-year-old Mr. Bergen. "But India had better infrastructure, more high-tech facilities and the healthier lifestyle. (Most women) don't smoke, they don't drink and they don't do drugs."
With travel costs, Mr. Bergen estimates the couple spent about $60,000 in all, including compensation of $10,000 for each surrogate. That's roughly half what he thinks the total cost would have been in the U.S.
For others, money is no object. Last year, a former U.S. investment banker in her early 40s, who asked that her name not be used, spent $128,000 to reach her goal. She approached a dozen fertility clinics in India for help. Despite her age, she and her husband wanted to try with her eggs. In the initial attempt, a doctor implanted several embryos in two separate surrogate mothers. That failed. In the second round, the doctor relied on three surrogates. Still no pregnancy. In the third round, he repeated the procedure with two additional surrogates. Bingo. The seventh surrogate gave birth to healthy twin girls.
It's the kind of determination that Rhonda and Gerry Wile understand. She's a 39-year-old blond registered nurse. He's a hefty 43-year-old fireman. Originally from Canada, they married in 2000 and resettled in Mesa, Arizona, three years ago.
The couple started trying to conceive in mid-2005. After several months, Ms. Wile consulted a specialist who found a problem: She has two small wombs instead of a single one. Two months later, though, she was thrilled to find out she was pregnant. But she soon learned the fetus had no heartbeat, and she had to undergo a drug-induced abortion.
Next the couple tried artificial insemination. It failed. They started to consider other options. They ruled out adoption, discouraged by the red tape. A doctor, meanwhile, had recommended surrogacy, and Ms. Wile saw a TV program about surrogacy in India on "Oprah" in October 2007. The Wiles then trawled the Internet for information. In January 2008 they settled on Surrogacy India, a newly established private Mumbai clinic. They liked the quick response to their questions and the clinic's policy of encouraging surrogates to move into designated quarters with their families during the pregnancy, rather than splitting them apart.
"It's been hard for me, being a woman," Ms. Wile said during a trip to India last April. "I've always believed that part of my job as a woman is to have a child." For her, surrogacy seemed as close as she could get to creating a child. The price was also right. "We didn't want to go broke" and "bring a child into the world bankrupt," she added.
The Wiles figured it would cost them between $50,000 and $80,000 for each attempt if they had used a surrogate in the U.S. By comparison, they spent a total of about $50,000 on three attempts in India, including travel expenses for four round trips to India, $550 for the baby's birth and a few days' hospital stay and $5,625 paid to a woman they call "KT," who carried their son.
In October, the Wiles selected an Indian egg donor over the Internet using the clinic's Web site. Then they picked out a new surrogate, KT, a married woman with the Indian equivalent of a seventh-grade education who has two small boys of her own. In her profile, KT described herself as having a "supporting nature" and listed her motivation for becoming a surrogate as "financial, to educate (my) kids."
A month or so before the birth, they finished the nursery in their Mesa home and held a baby shower. Mr. Wile bought the baby a set of golf clubs. Despite the ultrasound, they didn't know whether they would be bringing home a boy or girl; to discourage the selective abortion of girls, Indian law prohibits disclosure of a fetus's gender.
Mr. Wile says: "We've had a very good experience with surrogacy and we're definitely going try it again." They will have to find yet another surrogate, though. Mr. Wile says KT declined to carry a second baby for them.
In awarding President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian committee is honouring his intentions more than his achievements.It's tempting, of course, to point out that Obama doesn't deserve the award because he hasn't achieved anything, and plenty of people are asking, "For what?" But really, I think it's questionable that even the Nobel committee thinks President Obama has achieved much of anything yet. Rather, he's the sort of person they like to see as president of the United States, and so (even though he'd only been in office for ten days as of the nomination deadline this year) he was nominated and selected in order to express approval for the simple fact that someone with his worldview is now president of the US.
After all he has been in office only just over eight months and he will presumably hope to serve eight years, so it is very early in his term to get this award.
The committee does not make any secret of its approach. It states that he is being given the prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples."
This is of course an implied criticism of former US president George W Bush and the neo-conservatives, who were often accused of trying to change the world in their image.
"Before every session, there's a Red Mass," Ginsburg said. "And the justices get invitations from the cardinal to attend that. And a good number of the justices show up every year. I went one year, and I will never go again, because this sermon was outrageously anti-abortion."
"President Obama called for constructive suggestions for health-care reform," he explains. "I took him at his word." Mr. Mackey continues: "It just seems to me there are some fundamental reforms that we've adopted at Whole Foods that would make health care much more affordable for the uninsured."Though he's not gunning to cause any more controversies, Mackey has an interesting weekend interview in the Journal where he talks, among other things, about his philosophy regarding capitalism and business, and how it's changed over the years since he founded Whole Foods with $45,000 in friends and family-raised seed funding in 1978.
"Before I started my business, my political philosophy was that business is evil and government is good. I think I just breathed it in with the culture. Businesses, they're selfish because they're trying to make money."Working in an area of business (pricing) which management traditionally turns to when trying to eke more revenues or profits out of a business that is not doing as well as they'd like, the bolded point is something of which I'm particularly aware. Tools such as pricing can be used to optimize a business, but (contrary to the belief of some executives) you cannot make people want something they don't want simply by pricing it right -- or indeed by any of the other "marketing magic" available in business's bag of tricks. At the end of the day, the way to have a sustainable, successful business is to provide people with something they need or want. While making a profit in a business is a primary reason for its existence (just our for any working person their paycheck is a primary reason why they show up) the only way to make profits achievable is to provide something that others value. And while it's possible to do this while caring only about the profits (or the paycheck) you're generally going to be most successful at it if what you really care about is providing that service profits are simply the way you measure your success.
At age 25, John Mackey was mugged by reality. "Once you start meeting a payroll you have a little different attitude about those things." This insight explains why he thinks it's a shame that so few elected officials have ever run a business. "Most are lawyers," he says, which is why Washington treats companies like cash dispensers.
Mr. Mackey's latest crusade involves traveling to college campuses across the country, trying to persuade young people that business, profits and capitalism aren't forces of evil. He calls his concept "conscious capitalism."
What is that? "It means that business has the potential to have a deeper purpose. I mean, Whole Foods has a deeper purpose," he says, now sounding very much like a philosopher. "Most of the companies I most admire in the world I think have a deeper purpose." He continues, "I've met a lot of successful entrepreneurs. They all started their businesses not to maximize shareholder value or money but because they were pursuing a dream."
Mr. Mackey tells me he is trying to save capitalism: "I think that business has a noble purpose. It's not that there's anything wrong with making money. It's one of the important things that business contributes to society. But it's not the sole reason that businesses exist."
What does he mean by a "noble purpose"? "It means that just like every other profession, business serves society. They produce goods and services that make people's lives better. Doctors heal the sick. Teachers educate people. Architects design buildings. Lawyers promote justice. Whole Foods puts food on people's tables and we improve people's health."
Then he adds: "And we provide jobs. And we provide capital through profits that spur improvements in the world. And we're good citizens in our communities, and we take our citizenship very seriously at Whole Foods."
I ask Mr. Mackey why he doesn't collect a paycheck. "I'm an owner. I have the exact same motivation any shareholder would have in the Whole Foods Market because I'm not drawing a salary from the company. How much money does anybody need?" More to the point, he says, "If the business prospers, I prosper. If the business struggles, I struggle. It's good for morale." He hastens to add that "I'm not saying anybody else should do what I do."
Well, that's not exactly true. Mr. Mackey has been vocal in his opposition to recent CEO salaries. "I do think that it's the responsibility of the leadership of an organization to constrain itself for the good of the organization. If you look at the history of business in America, CEOs used to have much more constraint in compensation and it's gone up tremendously in the last 30 years."
Then there are the plastic bottles and plastic bags. The floods were inevitable: after nine hours of heavy rain, plus overflow from three different dams, there was just too much water. Yet we can't deny that litter--a great deal of it plastic designed to be disposable--has clogged up much of the city's drainage system.
(Then again, a part of me wonders: The city has a drainage system??? I find I am no longer as inclined to blame litter--or the litterbugs--for clogged pipes. There are other ways to ruin a city.)
Not that there's any way to get around plastic. The material is as lightweight as it is durable. Imagine the same thousands of gallons of donated water in glass bottles, how much more care would have to be taken with them, and how much heavier they would be. Imagine stuffing a hodgepodge of groceries into paper bags, knotting them closed, and piling them in a corner on the floor. Glass would break and paper would be vulnerable to the damp. Plastic may not be pretty, but it is practical. Say what you like against it, but it passes the Charity Test: whatever is not against us, is with us.
The task we have now is to figure out how to live with it.
No words can take away the pain of miscarriage, although faith and time can lessen it. Some parents find the words of St. Bernard of Clairveuax helpful. He wrote to a couple that had a miscarriage. In response to their question, “What is going to happen to my child? The child didn’t get baptized,” St. Bernard said, “Your faith spoke for this child. Baptism for this child was only delayed by time. Your faith suffices. The waters of your womb — were they not the waters of life for this child? Look at your tears. Are they not like the waters of baptism? Do not fear this. God’s ability to love is greater than our fears. Surrender everything to God.”Our own miscarriage was four years and two children ago, but it's still comforting to read St. Bernard's words.
The oonly thyng that semeth to plese Philippa thes dayes are thos large bookes of teenage sparklie vampyre romaunce, so ich decyded to reade oon of them.Geoff stoppeth not at Vespers, but proceedeth to rede Compline and Matins. Ich haue muchel curiosity as to the title of book quatre of the series. Is it yclept Prime, or doth Dame Meyers cut straight to the chase and give thys book the nomination Sext?
And knowe ye what, lordinges? Yt was actuallie pretty decent.
Sure, the prose kynd of maketh Dives et Pauper look lyk George Orwelle, but the storie pulleth me yn. Yt maketh me feele lyk Ich am XVtene agayne and “Just Lyk Hevene” hath come upon the radio. Once a goth, alweys a goth (Ich am talkinge to you, Spain).
In this fyne book of sparklie vampyres, Bella Cygne moveth from Essex to Yorkshyre to lyve with her fathir, who ys a sheriff and escheator. At a scole ful of recentlie coyned stereotypes, she witnesseth the fayre skyn and fashion-sprede slow-mocioun hotenesse of the Cu Chulainn clan, the which have all eaten long ago of the magical Irisshe Salmon of Really Good Hair (oon byte of this magical salmon and ye shal have good hair for evir). Aftir Bella doth see the hottest of the clan, Edward, stop a wagon wyth hys bare handes, fight off twentie churles, and brood so much he did make Angel look lyk Mister Rogeres, she doth realise that the Cu Chulainns are vampyres. But they are good vampyres, who drinke wyne. Ther is considerablie moore sexual tensioun than in Piers Plowman.