Friday Reads

Good Morning!

More news in the “imaginary” War on Women.  As usual, many Republican Fembots are sadly selling out our interests. Wacko Tea Party Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signs another bill designed to remove the constitutional right to access to abortion.  The state is banning abortions from 18 weeks forward.  This directly conflicts with Roe v. Wade and medical science.  Welcome to the beginning of the world of The Handmaiden’s Tale.  Jan Brewer is no Fay Dunaway either.

Despite its name, critics derided the Women’s Health and Safety Act that Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed into law today as cruel, dangerous, and hostile to women—likely to deter many Arizona women from seeking an abortion, and to distress those who nonetheless go through with one.

Life starts earliest in Arizona, which now defines gestational age as beginning on the first day of a woman’s last period, rather than at fertilization. In practice, that means the state has banned abortions after about 18 weeks (20 weeks from the last menstruation) except in the case of medical emergencies. While that provision has been much discussed, abortions after that point account for only about 1 percent of the procedures currently performed.

The stipulation likely to be most widely felt is what experts are calling an effective shutdown of medication abortions. These nonsurgical abortions are usually performed within the first nine weeks of pregnancy, and account for between 17 and 20 percent of all abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-rights advocacy group. While women often take the pills at clinics and in their homes, the bill now mandates that a medical provider must have hospital privileges within 30 miles of where the procedure takes place. Many times clinics or homes are not within 30 miles of hospitals, and the distance prevents providers from other cities or even states from caring for women, says Elizabeth Nash of the Guttmacher Institute. Another factor that could contribute to what Nash called a “shutdown” of medication abortions is that the law requires abortion pills to be administered using outdated protocols, confusing providers and obscuring proper use of the drugs.

While it becomes the seventh state to pass such legislation in the past two years, many Arizonans believe theirs is the most restrictive and sinister because of the degree to which it will legislate health care, thwart evidence-based medicine, and shame women. One in three women will have an abortion before age 45 according to Guttmacher, and more than half of those women already have a child.

The Virginia Speaker of the House who also is an ex-ALEC Chair was heard telling a woman ‘I’m Not Speaking In Little Enough Words For You To Understand’.

ProgressVA recently released a report on the legislative influence of the corporate-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) — which began hemorrhaging donors in the wake of a campaign raising awareness of its efforts to disenfranchise voters and enact Florida-style “stand your ground” laws. The group noted that the Commonwealth of Virginia has spent $232,000 of taxpayer’s dollars over the past decade to send legislators to ALEC conferences and meetings.

Virginia House Speaker William Howell (R), himself a national board member of ALEC and its 2009 national chairman, took issue with the report and called it “inaccurate.”

In an exchange caught on camera, Howell berates the group’s executive director Anna Scholl, mocking the group’s website and her. Howell criticizes the Washington Post’s article about the group’s as “full of half-truths or un-truths.”

In a failed attempt to back up his accusation, Howell notes that while the Commonwealth paid about $230,000 on ALEC-related expenses, it spent even more on travel for the same and other legislators to attend conferences by the bipartisan National Conference of State Legislators.

When by Scholl pressed as to how omission of that irrelevant detail constituted an inaccuracy, Howell berated her:

I guess I’m not speaking in little enough words for you to understand.

When Scholl responded to the slight, telling him “I’m a smart girl, actually I went to the University of Virginia,” more than capable of understanding polysyllabic words. Howell curtly replied, “We’ll good for you.”

Planned Parenthood has sued Texas.

The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the state of Texas over the state’s exclusion of the nonprofit group’s clinics from a state women’s health program primarily funded by federal dollars.

PPFA told Austin American Statesman reporter Chuck Lindell that they’ve already closed 12 clinics across Texas since last year, after Texas Republicans slashed family planning funds by $74 million. Exclusion from Medicaid funding will see another $10-$13 million pulled from the group, which would trigger the closure of even more clinics serving lower-income communities.

Texas Republicans say they are within their lawful authority to deny funding to the nonprofit group because abortion providers are not considered to be qualified organizations. To those ends, the legislature last year passed a new rule that bans abortion providers from receiving taxpayer money.

PPFA, however, insists that only 3 percent of services performed across the whole country in 2010 had to do with abortion: the vast majority of their work, they claim, relates to breast and cervical cancer screenings, reproductive health, education and contraceptive support.

The Obama Administration said last month that Texas’s move was illegal, and began to cut off federal funds for the Texas Medicaid Women’s Health Program because of the state’s decision to exclude PPFA.


 A study conducted by U.S. government scientists are linking the rise in earthquakes in the U.S. to fracking.

A spate of earthquakes across the middle of the U.S. is “almost certainly” man-made, and may be caused by wastewater from oil or gas drilling injected into the ground, U.S. government scientists said in a study.

Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey said that for the three decades until 2000, seismic events in the nation’s midsection averaged 21 a year. They jumped to 50 in 2009, 87 in 2010 and 134 in 2011.

Those statistics, included in the abstract of a research paper to be discussed at the Seismological Society of America conference next week in San Diego, will add pressure on an energy industry already confronting more regulation of the process of hydraulic fracturing.

“Our scientists cite a series of examples for which an uptick in seismic activity is observed in areas where the disposal of wastewater through deep-well injection increased significantly,” David Hayes, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Interior, said in a blog post yesterday, describing research by scientists at the U.S. Geological Survey.

N.C. Gov. Bev Perdue is arguing that those pushing a highly restrictive marriage amendment could wind up invalidating the states’s domestic violence laws.

North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue warned on Thursday that Amendment One, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman, could remove protections against domestic violence for unmarried women.

“It would ban the state from recognizing civil unions, strip away domestic partner benefits and it actually could eliminate legal protections for all unmarried couples in the state,” she said in a video on YouTube. “This will harm the stability and security of North Carolina families like never before.”

“The amendment I believe is dangerous for women,” Perdue continued. “There is a real risk that some laws we have on the books now to protect the victims of domestic violence may no longer apply to many women in the state.”

Because the proposed amendment states that marriage between a man and women is the “only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized,” opponents have said that it could render domestic violence laws invalid for unmarried couples.

After Ohio passed a similar marriage amendment, some judges dropped domestic violence charges in cases involving unmarried couples.

Yeah, right, no war on women here.

Seymour Hersh has evidence that the Bush administration trained Iranian terrorists in Nevada.  Amy Goodman interviews Hersh on the subject.

AMY GOODMAN: In what appears to be a first for U.S. foreign policy, new revelations have emerged that the Bush administration secretly trained an Iranian opposition group despite its inclusion on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorists. Writing for The New Yorker magazine, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh reports U.S. Joint Special Operations Command trained operatives from Mujahideen-e-Khalq, or MEK, at a secret site in Nevada beginning in 2005. According to Hersh, MEK members were trained in intercepting communications, cryptography, weaponry and small unit tactics at the Nevada site up until President Obama took office. The MEK has been included on the State Department’s list of foreign terrorist groups since 1997. It’s been linked to a number of attacks, spanning from the murders of six U.S. citizens in the ’70s to the recent wave of assassinations targeting Iranian nuclear scientists.

Although the revelation that the U.S. government directly trained the MEK comes as a surprise, it’s no secret the group has prominent backers across the political spectrum. Despite it’s designation as a “terrorist” organization by the State Department for 15 years, a number of prominent former U.S. officials have been paid to speak in support of the MEK. The bipartisan list includes two former CIA directors, James Woolsey and Porter Goss; former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge; New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani; former Vermont Governor Howard Dean; former Attorney General Michael Mukasey; former FBI Director Louis Freeh; former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton; and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.

What’s on your reading and blogging list today?



20 Comments on “Friday Reads”

  1. boogieman7167 says:

    ok so how can this new Arizona law be even considerd legal?

  2. boogieman7167 says:

    Qustion ? whos paying U.S. officials have been to speak in support of the MEK. follw the money now thats got to be ilegal and there needs to be an investigation of some sort from sombody

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Hey, let’s ask Ann Romney to comment on the positions toward women that the GOP stands for. You know, like the law that Jan Brewer just signed into effect for AZ.

    Or how about her husband’s claim that he will do away with Planned Parenthood, one of the organizations that is devoted to women’s health?

    I could not care less that Ann Romney is her husband’s surrogate when it comes to women’s issues. She isn’t. A Mormon wife is secondary to the spouse in all decision making. Hers is a phony role created to appear otherwise.

    Women are all about the “bread and butter” issues when it comes to taking care of their families needs and when contraception becomes part of the dialogue you can bet you bippy they are paying attention to what is about to be denied them should the GOP have its way.

    Hillary Rosen was correct in her assessment. However alll it did was provide an “opening” to the Right whose standing with women right now is dubious.

    Ann Romney and Michele Obama are stay at home Moms because they had a choice. Some women are denied that privilege which makes this argument all the more phony along with the “outrage” it supposedly engenders.

  4. janicen says:

    I haven’t had a chance to read through all the links so I’m going back, but I wanted to share an update on the story about the condescending VA legislator…

    The Farm Team, a group whose goal is “to recruit, support and elect Democratic women to ALL levels of elected office in the Commonwealth of Virginia” released a statement in response to Howell’s comments:
    Speaker Howell, the women of Virginia understand lots of big, multiple syllable words, like discrimination, trans-vaginal probe, and denial of preventative health care services. Your comment to Anna Scholl belittles very woman in the Commonwealth, including your wife, your daughters-in-law and grand-daughters.. We deserve and expect better. On behalf of 51 percent of Virginia’s population, we hope that you apologize to Anna Scholl. It is the very least you can do.

    • Oh, thanks for that updated link, I saw the video at the ThinkProgress link Dak had in her post…what a damn asshole that Howell is.

      • janicen says:

        No kidding. What a smug SOB. I love her response. I wonder what university he attended? UVA is one of the toughest if not the toughest schools to get into in these parts.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    So do women in Arizona have to record their dates of menstruation and provide proof to the government somehow? WTF?!

    Amanda Marcotte has a very good post on Mitt Romney’s contempt for the intelligence of women voters.

    • dakinikat says:

      I always had one light period during my first month of pregnancy with both girls and I bled during my 7th month with youngest daughter before they gave me an emergency c section because the sac and placenta were ripping away from the uterine wall. Wonder how they consider that?

      • You know, they could give a damn about the woman’s health when it comes to the fetus inside. Lots of women have spotting like that…I did too. The entire thing is just so disgusting. Man, I feel a PLUB rant coming on…

      • NW Luna says:

        now defines gestational age as beginning on the first day of a woman’s last period, rather than at fertilization

        Well, medically speaking gestational age and the “due” date are figured from the last menstrual cycle, because the actual time of fertilization, let alone start of medically viable pregnancy, is nearly impossible to identify. But what Arizona is using their definition for is pure bunk.

        Women may ovulate anywhere from day 5 to 30-something after the first day of their “last” menstrual cycle. I once worked on a research grant where I found that gem of info in my background lit review.

        As Dakinikat mentioned above, it’s somewhat common to have some bleeding around the usual time of menstruation, even if a fertilized ovum has already implanted. I’ve seen some suprised pregnant women who after ultrasoun found they were actually a month or two or three farther along than they thought!

        Usually it takes several days after sperm are introduced for them to swim up high enough to find the ovum, and for enough of them to bump around at and into the ovum’s outside coating before one actually gets inside. Contrary to myth, it’s not the first sperm; usually about 100 have to work at sorta melting the ovum wall before one gains access. Sperm with the X chromosome live longer than those with Y chromosomes. So daughters are more likely if the sperm are introduced several days before ovulation occurs, but this is not an exact method of sex determination!

        Even then, if the fertilized ovum doesn’t keep drifting downward and then successful implant in the endometrium of the uterus, it won’t turn into a viable pregnancy.

        Anyway, given all the above it’s impossible to to say which day everything turned into a viable pregnancy. Way back when some physician decided to use a formula from last mentrual period and ever since then we’re stuck with it.

        I used to tell my pregnant patients that when we clinicians said they were, say, 3 months along, the fetus was probably only 2-1/2 months old, at average.

        That Arizona regulation is not reality-based. It treats women like non-humans. It does have plenty of medical wriggle-room that could actually benefit women needing abortions, if they had good clinicians, and if they weren’t persecuted into paranoid passivity.

  6. janicen says:

    After Ohio passed a similar marriage amendment, some judges dropped domestic violence charges in cases involving unmarried couples.

    It seems that designating something “domestic violence” rather than assault or battery or attempted murder provides an opportunity to exclude the victims from their right to relief from the justice system, and Ohio jumped at the chance. It’s a twofer. Discriminate against gay couples and victims of domestic violence! Yay Ohio! {snark}

    • NW Luna says:

      Agree. “Domestic” violence is violence. Adding a qualifier makes it seem lesser violence.

  7. Tim says:

    I’ve realised who Romney reminds me of, whilst listening to Tori Amos – God, she mentions witches and boom it hit me, he’s the new Witchfinder General. What do you think?

    • NW Luna says:

      Sure seems like we’re headed back to the Dark Ages….persecution for anyone who’s not properly Xian enough, or hetero enough. If you’re guilty you float; if you sink you’re innocent.