Arrow-right Camera


Mon., Feb. 2, 2009

Outside voices: Everyday parenting woes pale in comparison to octuplets

Fresno Bee, on Jan. 28: Mamma Mia! Talk about an unexpected bundle of joy. On Monday, a mother in Southern California gave birth to octuplets.

Doctors said the mother, who has requested not to be identified, plans to breastfeed all of the babies. That just sounds like it would be an around-the-clock adventure.

And that’s not even taking into consideration other tasks that come with having a baby. Multiply the soiled diapers, the dirty laundry times eight. How many nurseries would it take to accommodate eight cribs? What about changing tables?

Can you even wrap your brain around the logistics of getting them home from the hospital? Or what about when you have to get them ready to run to the store for just one little thing, especially if your significant other isn’t home to help?

And since the mom was only expecting seven babies, not eight, does she even have a vehicle that will accommodate the entire crew? Imagine how your back would feel after crawling all over whatever mass-transport vehicle they end up with, securing eight little wiggly people in eight side-by-side car seats.

Next time you are whining about your grocery bills for your average-size family or contemplating college costs for your children, just think about what these parents face.

Philadelphia Inquirer, Jan. 30: An Alabama grandmother, Lilly M. Ledbetter, got to dance with President Obama last week at the inauguration. This week, she headed back to Washington to witness the new president sign his first major piece of legislation – a workplace-rights measure that became a reality due to Ledbetter’s own crusading efforts.

But Lilly Ledbetter, 70, turned her personal experience of being paid less than her male Goodyear counterparts into a national reform that should assure more fairness on the job for all Americans. She sued Goodyear over being underpaid. She lost in the U.S. Supreme Court, but the case prompted congressional action to restore a key workers right.

On Tuesday, Congress approved the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. The legislation signed Thursday will make it possible for more employees to challenge unlawful pay discrimination based upon gender, race, age and disability.

For now, the Ledbetter bill may result in more pay-equity lawsuits from women, who tend to earn less than men for performing similar work. But the goal in coming years should be – as the bill’s chief sponsor, Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., advises – that businesses no longer discriminate.

Miami Herald, Jan. 29: U.S. automakers have used all of their legal and lobbying muscle to fight efforts – including by California, the nation’s biggest state – to reduce vehicles’ greenhouse-gas emissions. Until Jan. 20, they seemed to be winning. Now, the tide is turning.

The difference is because of the change in the White House. Under the Bush administration, the Environmental Protection Agency refused to grant California a Clean Air Act waiver requiring higher standards for tailpipe emissions. This, despite a U.S. Supreme Court decision acknowledging the agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

The automakers should have realized that change was coming when Congress agreed to lend them billions of dollars. Congress, in no uncertain terms, told the Detroit CEOs that it was time to make smaller, more fuel-efficient cars – and the CEOs agreed.

Yet now they are caviling about President Barack Obama’s announcement this week that California’s tough greenhouse-gas emission standards and higher fuel standards are the way to go and that he expects the EPA to approve the waiver soon.

Once the waiver is approved, 13 other states – Florida (and Washington) included – are poised to adopt California’s rules. An additional five states have indicated their intent to adopt similar rules.

U.S. automakers have closed their eyes to the reality of a changing world long enough. They have lost a war they never should have fought.

Chicago Tribune, Jan. 30: The sweep of Illinois government’s first 190 years included a panoply of servants and scoundrels elected to lead. Most survived their terms or died trying. But come 2009, the breathtaking abuses of Rod Blagojevich, criminal defendant and former governor, so stirred public passions that Illinois lawmakers had no choice but to expel him.

This was not, though, the curative removal of one rogue tumor from an otherwise robust body politic. We’re a sick state, stricken as much today as yesterday by the Illinois culture of political sleaze. For lawmakers who despised him, amputating one friendless governor was easy: He was defiant, a bumbler – and indisputably dishonest.

The uncomfortable truth, though, is that his disgusting story is as much about the rest of us as it is about him. Which confronts the people of Illinois with three questions:

•Years from now, will the defrocking of Blagojevich be renowned for provoking a course correction in the history of this state?

•Or is this a momentous event whose repercussions won’t last past the moment?

•And the clincher: How can each of us make Thursday truly historic – not some footnote to our culture of political sleaze?

Click here to comment on this story »


Europe Tour 2017: Chapter Five

SARAJEVO, Bosnia Herzegovina - Week four of my four months of travel throughout Europe is now in the books. The official count for my journey without adult supervision is five ...