Conservatives text less, search for news less, than liberals

Nearly nine out of 10 registered U.S. voters own a cell phone — almost half of which are smartphones. And many voters are using cell phones to get and share election information or news…

In September, Pew surveyed more than 1,000 U.S. adults and found that — even though text messaging is generally the most popular thing people do with their phones (other than talking) — texting doesn’t appear to be hugely popular in relation to this year’s election. This year, fewer than one in five mobile-enabled voters have sent campaign-related text messages to people they know, and only 5% had subscribed to receive text messages directly from a candidate or other group involved in the election.

Furthermore, while 45% of cell-owning registered voters use smartphone apps, only 8% use apps that come from a campaign, political party or interest group.

Overall, self-designated political conservatives appear to be the least advanced, and active, when it comes to mobile technology. Pew found that while liberal, conservative and independent voters are equally likely to own a cell phone, only 40% of conservative voters own a smartphone, significantly fewer than liberal (56%) or moderate (55%) voters. Also, only 68% of conservatives use text messaging, compared to 78% of moderates and 81% of liberals.

Getting news is a popular election-related activity: 27% of cell phone-owning voters do this, especially those under age 50. Liberals (37%) are more likely to get election or political news on their phones than moderates (28%) or conservatives (25%)…

Members of the Party-formerly-known-as-Republican figures they might start a coal shortage if they use their phones too much.

Australia PM calls out opposition leader for sexist remarks

Julia Gillard, Australia’s prime minister, has verbally attacked the country’s opposition leader, labelling him as a hypocrite and a misogynist during a tirade in parliament that has garnered international media attention.

During a heated day in parliament on Tuesday, Gillard unleashed on Tony Abbott’s character after he called for the dismissal of Peter Slipper, the speaker of parliament, for lurid text messages he sent to a former member of staff…

In a fiery response, Gillard accused Abbott of possessing double standards when it came to sexism.

“I will not be lectured about sexism and misogyny by this man. I will not,” she said.

“And the government will not be lectured on sexism and misogyny by this man. Not now, not ever.

“If he wants to know what misogyny looks like in modern Australia he doesn’t need a motion in the House of Representatives, he needs a mirror, that’s what he needs.”

She then recounted previous…quotes by Abbott, which she said had repeatedly offended her personally.

I wish Democrats understood they might actually increase the tiny edge of respect they have over Republicans by calling them out for their bigotry and backwardness.

Young thugs’s curfew changed so he can go outside for a smoke

A curfew that effectively stopped a young offender from being able to smoke in the garden raised a ‘human rights issue’, his lawyer said…

The 16-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, was banned from leaving his home between 7pm and 7am after admitting assault and criminal damage.

But the boy, who is two years below the legal age for buying cigarettes, was prevented by his family from smoking inside their home, and his youth rehabilitation order stopped him from smoking in the garden.

So he returned to Stockport Magistrates’ Court to ask magistrates to alter the terms of his punishment in a case thought to have cost at least £1,000.

As a result, his curfew restrictions were changed to include the garden and garage at his family’s home in Hazel Grove, Stockport.

Lawyer Kieran Henry, of Henry’s Solicitors in Stockport, who represented him at the original hearing, said: “The public could be angered by this as he is pushing his luck and it is not really a good reason.

“But I can see the human rights issue – if you are an addicted smoker then you are being forced to breach your curfew…”

The redefinition of “human rights” by sleazy lawyers is a disgrace to our species.

The boy’s family defended the alteration of the curfew

“He had to write a letter and go down to court with it. We have a nice home and don’t want people smoking in it.”

Perish the thought they might provide enough guidance and discipline to utilize this as an opportunity to stop one aspect of their child’s stupidity.

The family is incompetent, the court is cowardly and the lawyer is corrupt.

Access to the morning-after pill in high schools makes sense

New York City parents who are raising questions about the city’s plan to expand its pilot program of dispensing contraception, including the morning-after pill, to high school students are doing what parents should do. They’re asking questions.

If they seek information from credible sources, they will learn that when taken within five days of intercourse, the morning-after pill Plan B, which contains one of the hormones found in regular pills, is safe and effective.

They also will learn that other forms of contraception have been available in many New York City public high schools for years. This new plan, open to all, is actually designed for girls who have been hardest to reach.

These young women, from poor and working-poor families, are much more likely than others to get pregnant by accident. Then, one of two things happens: A girl gets an abortion, or she has a baby she cannot support. Neither New York City’s school authorities, nor Mayor Michael Bloomberg, finds those options desirable; both are quite rightly supporting the expansion.

According to Joanna Kuebler of the National Assembly on School-Based Health Care, about 40% of school-based health centers in the United States are allowed by their school districts to dispense contraception. Sixty percent of centers are prohibited from doing so. Requirements for parental consent vary. New York’s effort to reduce teen pregnancies appears to be among the largest and most comprehensive.

Obviously, the majority of parents in the United States would rather be part of the problem – rather than part of a solution.

What hangs some people up is the school administration’s decision, during the recent pilot phase of the project, to allow parents to opt their children out of it. Parents received letters in the mail describing the program and telling them that their child would be in the program unless a parent disallowed it in writing. Only 1% to 2% of parents denied permission. It’s a good bet many parents didn’t read the letters, or if they did, thought their daughter wasn’t having sex, or weren’t sure how they felt — so they didn’t do anything.

Again, why accept parental ignorance or indecision as a decision-breaker? And use those options to walk away from offering aid to their children?

We live in one of the richest, most well-educated countries in the world, yet we have the highest teen birth rate of comparable countries. That is simply not right. Yes, parents are children’s first teachers and moral guides, but they need assistance, which is what the New York City system is attempting to provide.

No reliable scientific evidence shows that the availability of birth control encourages young people to start having sex earlier. And there is good evidence that the increased availability of birth control, as well as improved sex education, has lowered the teen pregnancy rate dramatically.

A lower teen pregnancy rate means a lower abortion rate. Among the 7,000 girls ages 15 to17 who got pregnant last year in New York City, nine out of 10 pregnancies were unplanned, and almost two out of three resulted in abortions. For that reason alone, we should embrace New York’s efforts to make all forms of contraception accessible, as well as affordable and safe.

Agreed. Overdue. Life in a nation which can afford the best educational system in the world – with healthcare to match – leads to a great deal of frustration when the ignorant and the corrupt combine to inhibit any progressive change.

I can be a bit understanding – a little bit – of parents who haven’t had the education opportunities their kids now may have. Although, my generation was aided enormously by first-generation American parents who wanted their kids to achieve more than they might have – and accepted knowledge, education as key to that.

The corrupt portion of that equation lies at the feet of churches and politicians who combine opportunism in a last-ditch defense of social and political power that should have vanished with centuries of past greed, self-serving ideology.

Mohamed Morsi issues wholesale pardon for political protesters

Egyptian protesters detained and tried in incidents relating to the country’s uprising have received a blanket pardon from the president, Mohamed Morsi, to mark his first 100 days in office.

All felony convictions or attempted crimes “committed to support the revolution and its goals” were to be pardoned, the decree stated, with the exception of murder cases.

The pardon covers the period from the onset of the revolt against the regime of Hosni Mubarak on 25 January 2011 through the army-led transitional period that ended on 30 June 2012, when Morsi assumed office.

…”He might sincerely see that the people he is pardoning did a lot to bring him to power. Without the revolution there wasn’t a chance that Morsi would be president, and it wouldn’t have happened without the support and participation of the Egyptian people,” said Elijah Zarwan…

…The pardon will not extend to those detained during the clashes at the US embassy in September when irate protesters breached the embassy walls after the release of a film in the US deemed offensive to Islam and the prophet Muhammad…

Good politics, good sense and a good start to a new era. Let’s hope Egypt can continue on a course to democracy and progress.

Lyle Dennis trades his Chevy Volt for a Ford C-Max Energi

Dr. Lyle Dennis, the founder of the Web site,, which once upon a time contributed to GM’s decision to build the Chevy Volt, is trading in his 2011 Volt for a Ford C-Max Energi.

The only reason, he says, is the pending five-seat Ford plug-in hybrid has room for his wife and three growing children, whereas the Volt is a four-seater.

Lyle noted further that his wife used to have a three-row SUV but wanted a Nissan Leaf. Now that they have the Leaf, the two-EV family needs a five-seat long hauler, he said, and observed otherwise the Volt has been a great car…

“I have had the honor of owning the eighth unit off the production line since December of 2010,” wrote Dennis yesterday on his new blog site, InsideEVs. “So far I have driven the car 14,000 miles with a lifetime 190 mpg. It has been a fun high tech and dependable car. In fact I always imagined I would own the car for 20 or 30 years. That is until this summer…”

Writing of the C-Max Energi decision, Lyle said he was surprised and disappointed when he first learned the Volt’s large T-shaped battery pack impeded rear seat room, eliminating the rear middle spot. But next month, Ford is launching the new plug-in hybrid he said, which should meet his family’s needs.

While saying he still likes the Volt, and conceding the C-Max Energi may not go as far on electric power nor is it as aesthetically pleasing, Lyle said the Ford is simply more practical for him.

I am grateful to GM for launching the plug-in revolution, and I have enjoyed my two years of Volt driving. Change however is an inevitable fact of life,” said Lyle.

Trite as it may seem, size matters sometimes.

Lyle Dennis is respected by all car geeks dedicated to expanding the range of alternative power and designs. He did a superlative job representing us all on the Volt advisory board.