Monday ReadsPosted: December 19, 2011
More news on the assault on the rights of US women and a case that may put Roe v. Wade back on the SCOTUS Docket. We’ve written of this one before; however, Newsweek has some extra analysis. Jennie McCormick was arrested for using RU-486 to terminate a pregnancy in her home state of Idaho. She got the pills from her sister and was reported to police by a friend. So, what exactly is her crime? Her pregnancy was a few weeks farther along than the one trimester.
McCormack, who thought she was about 12 weeks along, took the pills (the protocol involves two drugs, mifepristone and misoprostol) the afternoon they arrived. The drugs are FDA-approved only for ending early-stage pregnancies; McCormack had no complications, but the pregnancy turned out to be more advanced than she thought—perhaps between 18 and 21 weeks, experts later speculated—and the size of the fetus scared her. She didn’t know what to do—“I was paralyzed,” she says—so she put it in a box on her porch, and, terrified, called a friend. That friend then called his sister, who reported McCormack to the police.
Although RU-486 is legal and the fetus was not yet “viable” (that is, old enough to live outside the uterus), Idaho has a 1972 law—never before enforced—making it a crime punishable by five years in prison for a woman to induce her own abortion. The day after police arrested McCormack, her mug shot appeared above the fold in the local newspaper. “It’s hard to imagine the humiliation and fear,” says her lawyer, Richard Hearn, who is also a physician.
The case was dropped weeks later due to lack of evidence. Without solid proof, such as the envelope in which the pills came, her confession wasn’t enough to sustain the case. But prosecutors retained the right to re-file charges. In response, Hearn got a federal injunction to prevent any woman from being prosecuted under the state’s anti-abortion statute by the district attorney. He also filed a class-action suit against the state, claiming the statute is unconstitutional. But all that took nine months to play out, and McCormack lurched into depression and became a virtual shut-in.
“You’d have to know the climate here,” says Hearn, “to fully imagine the amount of pressure Jennie is under, how hostile people can be, how isolated she is.” Next week, motions will be heard in federal court to certify the suit as a class action. Last week, the prosecutor filed a motion to have Hearn’s injunction lifted.
This is basically the new frontier of the back alley abortion. Approximately 20 percent of abortions now involve pills abortion drugs. They are 95% effective and many can be mail ordered over the internet. Restrictions on abortion providers and funding all over the country may increase the necessity of using abortion drugs. This could be a central case in the fight for women’s reproductive rights and our constitutional rights.
Last night North Korean leader Kim Jong Il died. His third son will replace him. Frontline has an interesting series of programs on Kim that you may want to watch.
Speaking of Tin Pot dictators, John Boehner and his house republicans have blocked the payroll tax cuts. Only tax cuts for billionaires seem to be acceptable to the minions of Grover Norquist.
In an interview on “Meet The Press” on NBC, John A. Boehner, the House speaker, said his members broadly opposed the two-month extension that passed the Senate 89 to 10 on Saturday, believing that it would be “just kicking the can down the road.”
“It’s time to just stop, do our work, resolve the differences, and extend this for one year,” Mr. Boehner said. “How can you have tax policy for two months?”
The surprising setback threatened the holiday plans of lawmakers and President Obama, deeply embarrassed Republican leaders in both chambers and raised the specter of a year-end tax increase that economists have warned could set back the already fragile economic recovery
The House is to take up the Senate bill — passed in a rare Saturday session — when members return to Capitol Hill on Monday night. House leaders expect the bill to fail and their members to then consider and perhaps vote on an amended version that same night.
Horrifying violence in Egypt extends to women protestors. Two women were photographed being brutally beaten and molested by Egyptian Security forces.
In a video broadcast on the internet, security forces dressed in riot gear are seen chasing a woman and beating her to the ground with metal bars before stripping her and kicking her repeatedly. One soldier stamps his foot hard on her chest.
Other images showed women beaten unconscious.
After being viciously beaten by the ten-strong mob, the woman lies helplessly on the ground as her shirt is ripped from her body and a man kicks her with full force in her exposed chest.
Moments earlier she had been struck countless times in the head and body with metal batons, not content with the brutal beating delivered by his fellow soldier, one man stamped on her head repeatedly.
She feebly tried to shield her head from the relentless blows with her hands.
But she was knocked unconscious in the shameful attack and left lying motionless as the military men mindlessly continued to beat her limp and half-naked body.
Before she was set upon by the guards, three men appeared to carry her as they tried to flee the approaching military.
But they were too slow and the soldiers caught up with them, capturing the women and knocking one of the men to the ground.
I’m just glad we didn’t share our armed drone technology with Mubarak.
For years, I have wondered why, for some people, enough is never enough. For example, what could have possibly motivated Jon Corzine — a respected former senator, governor and Wall Street big shot with hundreds of millions in the bank — to take the top job at MF Global Holdings Ltd (MF) in the first place?
He was 63 years old, six months away from getting remarried. He was one of the few remaining high-profile Wall Street Democrats around, and an avid supporter of President Barack Obama. He was routinely mentioned as a possible successor to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, if Obama were to win a second term.
Why couldn’t Corzine just enjoy his fortune, perhaps set up an eponymous foundation to do good works, bide his time and then use his connections to become Treasury secretary? He already had a cushy perch at Princeton University, where he invited any number of finance types to teach his class while he basked in their reflective glory. Life was good. (Disclosure: I once taught the class, although the amount of glory reflected is debatable.)
There’s a fascinating set of articles on the CERN particle collider and the hunt for The Higgs boson particle at The Economist.
The announcement, by Fabiola Gianotti and Guido Tonelli—the heads, respectively, of two experiments at CERN known as ATLAS and CMS—was that both of their machines have seen phenomena which look like traces of the Higgs. They are traces, rather than actual bosons, because no Higgs will ever be seen directly. The best that can be hoped for are patterns of breakdown particles from Higgses that are, themselves, the results of head-on collisions between protons travelling in opposite directions around CERN’s giant accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). Heavy objects like Higgs bosons can break down in several different ways, but each of these ways is predictable. Both ATLAS and CMS have seen a number of these predicted patterns often enough to pique interest, but not (yet) often enough to constitute proof that they came from Higgses, rather than being random fluctuations in the background of non-Higgs decays.
The crucial point, and the reason for the excitement, is that both ATLAS and CMS (which are located in different parts of the ring-shaped accelerator tunnel of the LHC) have come up with the same results. Both indicate that, if what they have seen really are Higgses, then the boson has a mass of about 125 giga-electron-volts (GeV), in the esoteric units which are used to measure how heavy subatomic particles are. That coincidence bolsters the suggestion that this is the real thing, rather than a few chance fluctuations.
Bradley Manning begins his 4th day of his preliminary hearing. The third day brought some interesting testimony on the atmosphere surrounding the sort of intelligence Manning saw.
However, the witnesses also said soldiers at the intelligence analysis center Manning worked at in Iraq routinely flouted the Army’s safeguards for classified information by playing music, movies and video games on computers that were part of the military’s secure network for classified information.
Some in the brigade even used a “password-crack program” to break into the administrator account and add software, a civilian computer contractor who handled Manning’s unit, Jason Milliman, testified.
“They thought they had full rights and were able to whatever they wanted to do,” said Milliman, who said he couldn’t stop the unauthorized practices because he had no authority over the soldiers.
Capt. Thomas Cherepko, who was in charge of the computer network at Manning’s base in eastern Iraq, said the presence of unauthorized programs on the classified computers was routine
Asked if the rules were “violated on a daily basis,” Cherepko said: “More or less, yes sir.”
Well, that should start things off today. What’s on your reading and blogging list today?