By Elizabeth DiNovella on October 02, 2009

This week the Senate Finance Committee voted to reinstate funding for abstinence-only education. The committee adopted an amendment put forward by Orrin Hatch to restore $50 million a year in funding for it.

Despite protests from committee chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), the Senate Finance Committee voted 12-11 in favor of it. Two Democrats -- Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas -- joined all 10 committee Republicans in voting "yes" on the measure.

"Abstinence education works," Hatch said in a statement. But it doesn't. Congress's own research has proven doesn't work.

"A 2007 study ordered by Congress found that middle school students who had received abstinence-only education were just as likely to have sex as teenagers as those who had not," Jessica Valenti writes in her latest book, The Purity Myth. "The same report showed that teens who had taken abstinence classes were more likely to say that condoms were ineffective in protecting people against sexually transmitted infections."

Moreover, girls who receive comprehensive sex education were 50 percent less likely to become pregnant than those who receive abstinence-only education, according to a 2007 a study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

Hatch's amendment would still have to pass the full House and Senate. Obama redirected funding from abstinence-only education to broader teen pregnancy-reduction programs in his 2010 budget.

"An alternate measure offered by Baucus also passed. Baucus' measure, which passed 14-9, would make money available for education on contraception and sexually transmitted diseases, among other things, in addition to abstinence," reports AP. "Lawmakers will have to reconcile the two measures, both approved during debate on a sweeping health overhaul bill, as the legislation moves forward."

This amendment was not the only one that Orrin Hatch put forward to the Senate Finance Committee. Hatch Amendment F-7 would add "transition relief for the excise tax on high-cost insurance plans for any state with a name that begins with the letter 'U.'" Dana Millbank of The Washington Post writes, "There's only one state that begins with the letter U, and that's Utah, home state of the amendment's sponsor, Sen. Orrin Hatch. He wanted to send a message that the Democrats were being 'arbitrary.'"

Hatch can now go on Sesame Street and discuss the letter U -- and the concept of pettiness.


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This Halloween movie will scare anyone who cares about news.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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