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CIRCUMCISION

Published June 30, 2013 by Tony

CUT or UNCUT?

In Africa, where HIV cases are very numerous and for years the contagion takes its toll without stopping, years ago a study among subjects circumcised and uncircumcised pointed out that circumcision led to a lower risk of infection.
The news went around the world and since then many doctors of any nationality, without posing the question, sided in favor of circumcision recommending it to all, as a method of HIV prevention and other urinary infections. Among them, the American Academy of pediatric that from long recommends all families the circumcision for all males newborn.
Fortunately, a lot of pediatricians and urologists, as Italians, have a different view and practice circumcision for therapeutic purposes only and exclusively for the correction of Phimosis, a common children pathology characterized by an abnormal narrowing of the foreskin, and only as a last-resort when the conventional medical therapies are not successful.
I say “fortunately” and there’ll explain why.
Apart from the fact that not all of us live in Africa or in countries where HIV is so widespread, to defend themselves effectively by this disease, there are also other better methods. Most HIV infections in Africa are transmitted by contaminated injections and surgical procedures. In  the studies, the effects of other variables that would influence HIV infection were not considered, and critical data were omitted. For example, the HIV status of the female partners of the men was not determined. It was not known which infections were heterosexually transmitted, the effect of circumcision on the rate of heterosexually transmitted HIV could not actually be determined. There are at least 17 observational studies that have not found any benefit from male circumcision in reducing HIV transmission. Among developed countries, the United States has the highest circumcision rate and the highest rate of heterosexually transmitted HIV. Other countries have lower rates of HIV infection than the United States and do not practice circumcision.
In addition, we must consider that the Postectomia surgery is not without risks, and although the incidence is low (0.1 to 35%) there may be complications such as pain, difficulty urinating, local edema, bleeding, flaws, fistula and complications to the penis.

Beyond HIV, circumcision was already widespread in some countries for religious reasons, but this is another story also questionable.
Our Lord has created us as we are and there was no reason to include some organ that was a simple plus. From an evolutionary and physician perspective, every organ in the human body has its specific task and nothing is to be considered as superfluous, beyond what the different cultures and religions suggest or require.
Therefore, the foreskin of the penis was not put there by accident and has its own importance.
One of the major side effects that many
circumcised people complain, it is the reduction of overall sensitivity, due to the loss of erogenous tissue. There is a less manageability of the penis, masturbation difficulties, numbness of the glans (which remaining exposed, it is no longer protected from rubbing on clothing), and of the frenulum (for many the most important for the purposes of pleasure), resulting in difficulty orgasmic. Refractory periods (recovery time) become longer and it’s necessary a stronger stimulation of the tissues, which “stressed” can make painful and frustrating the sexual intercourse and masturbation.

In all countries where circumcision is uncommon (like Europe, Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, Jamaica, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela), there was not an increase of HIV cases that can be attributed to lack of circumcision. American researchers tend to avoid studying or acknowledging the sexual and psychological harm associated with circumcision. This pro-circumcision bias in American medicine reflects the pro-circumcision bias in American culture. The United States is the only country in the world that in most cases circumcises some of its male infants for non-religious reasons.

circumcision

Here are ten compelling arguments against circumcision:

Argument #1
The foreskin is natural, necessary and important.
Far from an unnecessary extra flap of skin, the foreskin is actually a highly sensitive and functional organ that serves several important purposes. First, the glans or head of the penis is meant to be an internal organ and the foreskin covers and protects it from harm in much the same way as the eyelid protects the eye. In circumcised males, the glans becomes hardened or keratinized by constant exposure and irritation, which reduces sensitivity. The foreskin itself is a highly sensitive erogenous zone and has more nerve receptors and a greater variety of nerve receptors than any other part of the penis.

Argument #2
Most medical experts do not recommend neonatal circumcision.
There is no medical justification for routine infant circumcision. The purported correlations between an intact foreskin and various diseases and problems that circumcisers have used for years to convince parents to let them cut their newborns have been gradually disproved or shown to be insignificant.
A detailed breakdown of the connections— or lack thereof—between circumcision and conditions such as penile and prostate cancer, urinary tract infections, sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS, phimosis, balanitis xerotica obliterans (BXO) and even cervical cancer in female partners, is beyond the scope of this article, but parents should be aware that the American Academy of Pediatrics states that, “The existing scientific evidence is not sufficient to recommend routine circumcision,” and the Canadian Paediatric Society confirmed their stance in 1996 that, “Circumcision of newborns should not be routinely performed.”

Argument #3
The penis is naturally self-cleaning and proper hygiene is easy to teach and perform.
The foreskin protects the glans from contaminants and debris. An intact foreskin can also produce a natural moisturizing substance with antibacterial and antiviral properties called smegma, which helps keep the glans soft and the penis clean and healthy.
When a baby boy is born, the foreskin is actually attached to the glans to shelter the developing glans from harm. Some doctors still suggest that parents should forcibly retract a baby’s foreskin in order to clean it, but there is no need to do so. The foreskin will naturally detach from the glans as the boy ages and eventually he’ll be able to retract it. Pulling back the foreskin in the shower or bath and rinsing it with warm water is all the cleaning an adult requires in this area. Surgical alteration is hardly necessary to keep the penis clean when warm water and soap are readily available.

Argument #4
Circumcision affects sexual function and desensitizes the penis.
Removing a highly sensitive organ like the foreskin will logically reduce sensation in the genital area. In fact, this point was touted in Victorian times as a benefit of the operation. Masturbation was then thought of as a grave sin and a serious health risk, to blame for nearly all diseases. Since circumcised boys would receive less pleasure from sexual stimulation, they would be less likely to engage in the evil of masturbation.
The foreskin facilitates sexual intercourse by allowing the penis to move in and out of the vagina in its own double-layered sheath of movable skin. Circumcised males lack the self- lubricating properties of the foreskin, which creates friction during intercourse that can result in small tears and bleeding in both the man and woman. Artificial lubricants have been developed largely to make up for the function of the foreskin in circumcised men. The long-term effects of these chemical lubricants are not known.

Argument #5
He doesn’t need to be cut to fit in.
Much has been made of the idea that an uncircumcised boy in our modern society could find himself ridiculed by other circumcised boys in locker rooms, causing serious psychological damage. Boys will find any excuse to make fun of each other and if it’s not the appearance of his penis, it will be something else. Providing a child with a combination of education, honesty and confidence is the best defense against this sort of teasing.
The rate of infant circumcision has been falling steadily since the 1980s, so an uncircumcised boy today may actually find himself in the majority. In 1996, the rate of circumcision in Canada was between three and six percent, falling from a high of 46 percent.
Another pro-cutting argument is the desire of the circumcised father to have his son look the same as him, but this is not so much for the benefit of the son as it is for the father. A boy will be capable of understanding the difference and the reason for it and may someday even thank his parents for giving him the choice his father never had.

Argument #6
Circumcision is painful and traumatic for babies.
Many circumcisers try to convince parents that babies are incapable of experiencing pain and even if they do feel it, they won’t remember it. In fact, scientific evidence proves that babies do feel pain and may feel it even more acutely than adults. Yet most circumcisions are performed without general anaesthesia, which is dangerous for children, and frequently without local anaesthesia in the form of shots or creams that cannot completely eliminate the pain anyway.
The pain of circumcision can have serious repercussions on the body of a newborn baby. Babies are known to scream hysterically, stop breathing, lose consciousness, vomit and defecate during the operation. The shock of the surgery can even cause ruptures of the heart, lungs and stomach.
The effects of this trauma can continue after the surgery is completed. Some babies experience severely disrupted sleep patterns, breastfeeding complications and interruptions of the infant- mother attachment process after circumcision.

Argument #7
There are serious potential complications to circumcision.
The rates of complications and accidents related to circumcision is nearly impossible to determine since hospitals are not required to report these incidents, but it is estimated to range from two to 10 percent, while at least one out of every 500 circumcisions results in a serious surgical accident.
The risks of circumcision include bleeding, infection, necrosis (the penis dies and falls off), gangrene, BXO, urinary tract infection, urinary retention, meatal ulceration or stenosis (the urinary opening is damaged, scarred or contracted), urethral fistula (an abnormal tube-like passage in the urethra), hypospadias or epispadias (when the urinary opening appears along the top or bottom of the penis rather than at the tip of the glans) and lymphedema (a swelling of the skin caused by a build-up of lymph fluid).
Botched circumcisions can result in buried penis (the penis retreats inside the body), adhesions, excessive skin loss, curvature of the penis, cysts, skin tags, pitting of the glans, scarring, impotence, amputation of the glans or the entire penis and even death.

Argument #8
We don’t mutilate the genitals of our baby girls.
Female genital mutilation (FGM) is practiced in many cultures around the world. The World Health Organization estimates that as many as two million girls each year are subjected to some sort of genital cutting, which may include amputation of the clitoris, the hood of the clitoris and/or the labia, as well as stitching closed the vaginal opening afterward. Three quarters of these cases occur in the countries of Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia and Sudan.
This kind of genital surgery is seen in the West as barbaric, tribal and torturous. Since the 1990s when FGM was first revealed to the North American public at large, major efforts have gone into eradicating the practice around the world. Yet we still expose our boys to similarly painful, traumatic and unnecessary surgery in North America as a matter of course.

Argument #9
I do not believe that those who have sex (hetero-or homo-) with a stranger they feel protected just because are circumcised, and should always use a condom. A nonsense. Condoms are better than 99% effective and if circumcision results in lower condom use, the rate of HIV infections will increase.

Argument #10
Religious tradition is a poor excuse to subject your baby to circumcision. The history of circumcision is a long and complicated one. As a symbolic ritual it appeared independently in many different ancient cultures around the world. It has been imbued with a variety of meanings—identifying a priestly class, indicating privilege, initiating boys into manhood and representing a commitment to God.

To conclude, I think that as in all the important choices (sexuality, religion, lifestyle, study, work, career) parents ought not take these decisions on their own and make choices that might not be shared by their children when they become adults, especially for those that are irreversible, such as circumcision.

GAY & SUPREME COURT POSITION

Published March 28, 2013 by Tony

SUPREME COURT WILL NOT EXPRESS
AMERICAN HYPOCRITICAL BEHAVIOR

Why won’t Supreme Court express and will seek to distance itself, through some crazing  to avoid  making a decision on gay marriage?
Unluckily, the answer is easy but leaves bewildered.
Well, the Supreme Court will not decide because doesn’t want to “jump the gun”, does not want to take responsibility for making a decision which might regret in the future.
But, how?
In the world, the U.S. have always positioned itself, politically and socially, as a reference point, a model in step with times, and a liberal example to follow and appreciate…. and now?
Other nations have already clearly sided with this topic and we do not understand why so much hesitation and fear, especially on the part of the Supreme Court, which represents America anyway.
For them it is too early! Too soon for what?
What could happen in the future that may bring them to regret their approval on gay marriage?
Gosh! A lot of people do not expect this anachronistic and cowardly behavior from the most important and advanced nation in the world.
This behavior, kinda predictably, does nothing but stokes even more the reputation according which American people are hypocritical.
To wit, I do but do not admit it!
Obviously, in America there are a lot of gays, many of which still covertly, but also many people who like promiscuity or at least a sort of “sexual freedom” – and no one criticizes them for this, indeed! – but nobody has the courage to confess it and worse do not support even any law in favor of gay.
A non-sense somewhat disconcerting.

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OBAMA WIN!

Published November 10, 2012 by Tony

I’m really happy that Obama won the election again


Congratulations to you and please go on to pursue your ideas and projects to heal the country’s economy and for equal rights, do not worry about criticism and opponents who only care about their interests. However it will go, you’re writing the history of America and maybe, unluckily,  you’ll be appreciated more in the distant future, as it has happened to many famous historical figures.
Good luck.

CONDOM

Published April 28, 2012 by Tony

No Condoms as Evidence Bill

Got Rubbers? Police May Arrest You!

To be honest, I was shocked when I read that in New York , for one, it is a crime and I could be arrested and accused of prostitution if police find out I am carrying one or some condoms. Absurd! If I had my car’s hood filled with boxes of condoms, maybe I would understand this charge. For who doesn’t know, currently U.S. police and courts can use the fact that people have or are carrying one or more condoms to prove that they are engaging in criminal activity, such as sex-workers. OMG!
“When it comes to condom possession and use, United Sates’ health and criminal procedure policies are at odds,” as the Senator Velmanette Montgomery says. For decades, city and state agencies have promoted safe sex practices as a public health priority and NYC., in particular, has taken this health campaign to the streets of the five boroughs, distributing millions of free condoms as a way to help combat sexually transmitted diseases and infections…. instead? This absurd regulation brings people to avoid carrying some condom in their pockets.
And this especially strikes those who are typically profiled by the police as possible sex workers, who are afraid of carrying preservatives and thus often engage in sex work without condoms. In the 2010 study conducted by DOMH, 57% of the sex workers interviewed said that they had had condoms taken away from them by a NYC police officer. While, in the 2011 study, 45.7% of sex workers interviewed did not carry condoms at some point for fear of police repercussions. This just is a good way to combat sexual diseases…. compliments!
“Confiscation of condoms for use as evidence of prostitution-related offenses is widespread in New York City and has serious public health consequences for sex workers and members of their communities,” said Katherine Todrys, a consultant for Human Rights Watch. Anyway, in New York, public health experts, human rights activists and advocates for sex workers and the LGBT community, are joining in calling for the passage of the Senator’s Montgomery legislation (S.323/A.1008) that should bar the use of condoms as evidence of prostitution.  The bill has support from various human rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, Streetwise and Safe, and the Sex Workers Project at the Urban Justice Center. Thanks God!

A different and better news about Argentine government policies instead. Here,  the minister Guillermo Moreno, not only speaks explicitly about condom use, but also made clear that his country needs more. For this he summoned the two leading manufacturers of condoms in Argentina, asking them to increase production to meet internal demand. For contractors, the Argentine government has asked to supply 3 million condoms more per year, to avoid even having to refuel abroad, in China, Malaysia and India.

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ITALIAN HOMESCHOOLING

Published April 18, 2012 by Tony

HOMEWORK

For sure, in the Italian educational system many things have changed in the last years, but often the teachers still assign too many homework to the students.
I still remember when – just 4-5 years ago – my son spent whole evening to complete the assigned homework. It’s true that any student has his/her own way to study and takes (needs) his/her own time, and that my son was tendencially slow, but it needs many hours to carry out all those tasks, undoubtedly.
To understand more, you must consider that any schoolteacher, who had had class that day, assigned his/her homework also if, as usually, the math exercises always have been the most burdensome. Usually, the math teacher assigned many exercises to carry out, while Italian/grammar teacher assigned many history’s page to read and learnt, often asking to repeat also some previous geographic or history’s chapters. For most students – that are not the most skilled – such homework load needs many hours a day to be executed decently.
About homeschooling, Italian school always has had a different approach from USA methodology, especially in the past. It’s well known that from long in USA, any teacher follows the ’10-minute rule’, the widely accepted practice of assigning 10 minutes of homework per day per grade-level. In the United Kingdom, recommendations on homework quantities were outlined by the Department for Education in 1998, and ranged from 10 minutes daily reading for 5-year-olds, to up to 2.5 hours per day for the pupils in Year 11 aged 15 or 16. Though, in UK, things improved in the sequent years, while the amount of homework in America actually hasn’t changed that much over the past 20 years.
According to the National center for education statistics, in USA the time spent on homework (in percentage) was much lower than in all the other countries. According to a 1995-96 math and science study, public school students from France, Italy, Russia and South America reported spending at least twice as much time on homework as American students reported. Besides, a survey done in a secondary school in Asia, showed that Americans there did 22% less homework than the Asians an 45% less than the European students.  American students spend less time on homework than their European and Asian counterparts, with the amount of time spent by Italian student remarkably higher. In an EU study (meta-analysis by Hattie, 2009), in Italy and other European countries, more than 95% of students study at home more than 2 hours per week for the 3 main subjects, as grammar, math and science. And I’m sure that in southern Italy the situation is worse than in northern where education is better.
Note that this does not mean that Italian school works better and that leads to have more skilled students, not at all! Instead, assigning many homework is a symptom of an appropriate system, with teachers who apparently try to bridge the gaps through homeschooling method. And this, for most students, is a damage and counterproductive, because they still are not able to perform by themselves the tasks assigned, nor even to learn a lesson that has been defective in class. Often, parents must help them, and when their children attend a high school, they even are not able to give a support. This is one of the reason why in Italy and in the southern especially, there are many private prep organizations or private tutors that give post school activity.   There are various researches supporting the idea that homework is of little educational value, and that for young people it may have a negative effect on learning.
School must adopt life patterns more responsive to changing needs and current society, to a more thorough assessment of the problems of leisure activities such as sports, recreation, arts and socialization.
Since I have been a student for long 15 years and have closely followed the teaching activities of my children, I can say, with knowledge of the facts, that the chief problem of the Italian school always has been the unpreparedness of many teachers. Unluckily, many teachers are unable to teach. The other very important issue concerns methodology and equipment. Between school and the working world (trade, business, research, etc..) should be a close connection and exchange, and for school and qualification/research should be allocated more resources and means.

ITALY vs USA

Published March 1, 2012 by Tony

ITALY – USA (0-1)

Genoa, Italy — A historic success because it took over eight decades, for the United States soccer team to beat Italy yesterday, and it can now boast. The victory, on a chilly night, came in a friendly match and not in a tournament, and thanks to the coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who has reshaped the US team. The Americans are competitive on the world stage from long time, but they do not often beat elite teams. “If you beat Italy on their own soil, it means a lot”, Klinsmann said, obviously pleased with his team’s good performance since he took over as coach late last July”. In 10 games under Klinsmann, the U.S. team is 5-4-1, but its four other victories were over Slovenia, Panama, Venezuela and Honduras, none of them near the level of the Italians or European teams, anyway.
The friendly matches are just important for coaches to check if the team works and the capped footballers suitable, then making the opportune changes if necessary. Anyway, till now, the Italian national team (called the “Azzurri”, because their soccer uniforms color) has always win or got a draw during the previous eleven friendly 2012 games.

PREMIER MONTI IN USA

Published February 10, 2012 by Tony

SUPER MARIO PREMIER MONTI

By early 2012, the Prime Minister Mario Monti and the political establishment have scheduled a load of institutional events. An Eurogroup, a European Council, meeting with Nicolas Sarkozy in Paris, with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin and even with Obama and in Wall Street to promote his economic agenda and attract investors to reduce Italy’s debt. The objective of the prime minister is to inform partners about the latest decisions on economic policy in Italy and to reassure on Italian efforts in consolidating public finances and make its economy more competitive.

Premier Mario Monti replaced Silvio Berlusconi in November when, because the crisis and doubts in Europe, Parliament set up a caretaker government over Italy’s ability to pull itself out of its troubles. He immediately sent out an economic measure, asking for sacrifices from all Italians, but getting a lot of criticism because the financial maneuver penalized again and again the lower middle ranges of the country. Now the premier is facing a tough battle against privatization, as taxi drivers, pharmacists, truck drivers, lawyers and others from sectors he is seeking to liberalise, that have staged angry strikes. Italian people are tired of making sacrifices after the previous governments and political parties led the country in shambles while the usual lobby, untouchable, powerful and politically embroiled, that enjoy a sort of immunity and get away. Despite the economic situation is severe, with an unemployment rate that has gotten worse in recent times and with many people living close to the poverty, the sacrifice was accepted, trusting in Monti and hoping very soon in an economic and financial revival of the country.

To Super Mario, as he has been nicknamed in USA, was even dedicated the last TIME magazine cover.
“I just want to say how much we appreciate the strong start that he has embarked on and the very effective measures that he is promoting inside of Italy. When Europe is doing well, it’s good for American jobs and businesses. When growth in Europe slows or your financial markets are unsettled, we feel the consequences, just as you felt the impact of the U.S. financial crisis four years ago.”, Obama said.
GREAT OBAMA!
The two leaders also discussed the Middle East and upcoming economic and NATO summits in Chicago. Obama thanked Monti for Italian assistance in Afghanistan and for the role Italy played in enforcing a new fly zone over Libya that ultimately resulted in toppling strongman Gadhafi.

I am proud that Obama spent some of his time with our president and hope that America and Americans look with more confidence to Italy and Italians, in the light of a report of fraternal friendship that since time immemorial binds these two countries.

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