Sunday Reads: Of Cannibals and Handmaids

Good Afternoon

As I write this post I am watching the Hulu presentation of The Handmaid’s Tale…for the third time. I’ve wanted to write about this series, but the situation of late has been so depressing that watching hours of a possible futuristic society for our daughters…has not been high on my list of priorities.

I’ve read the book, ages ago. So long in fact, that I can’t remember much of the specifics. Certain things stick of course…but several changes have been made to transition the book to the screen.

Five ways the new Handmaid’s Tale TV series differs from the book

When Margaret Atwood published The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985, she gave the world a dystopian masterpiece: the story of a woman named Offred who’s only purpose in the theocratic Republic of Gilead is to get pregnant and be a surrogate for her new owners. The book is back in vogue in a big way, thanks to a certain U.S. president (his name rhymes with Grump) and a new TV adaptation that premieres in Canada this Sunday. Here, aspiring Atwood aficionados, we pinpoint five major ways that the two-hour premiere differs from the novel. Spoilers ahead—obviously.

Be sure to go and read the other changes but I wanted to point these out:

Ofglen gets fleshed out

ON PAGE: Little is known about Ofglen, the Handmaid assigned to accompany Offred on all her errands (Handmaids always walk two by two). Still, she becomes a compelling character as a member of Mayday, the covert resistance against Gilead, whose survival instincts and knowledge help Offred. Eventually, Ofglen is discovered as a member of Mayday, and she hangs herself rather than enduring Gilead’s torture.

ON SCREEN: Alexis Bledel’ Ofglen gets a meatier storyline, which gives ol’ Rory Gilmore a chance to shine—she displays a surprising mastery of delivering subtext through little more than meaningful glances. The added information is both excellent and deeply sad. Ofglen tells Offred that she used to be a college professor, and that she recently attempted to escape to Canada with her partner. In the show, Ofglen is gay, which is forbidden. It adds an extra layer of horror when she is caught by The Eyes, Gilead’s secret police.

Handmaids once used Tinder

ON PAGE: Atwood provides very few details that hint at when The Handmaid’s Tale takes place or how long it has been since the U.S. dissolved into Gilead. This makes Gilead an eternal threat: the revolution could happen any time.

ON SCREEN: Flashbacks feature Uber, Tinder and artisanal coffee shops, making it far easier to situate Gilead in the modern era—perhaps just a few years from now. The Eyes also have earpieces and sharp black cars, instead of the horses and truncheons they use in the book. It’s an astute change: it’s a lot more terrifying for audiences to imagine Offred being taken out of today’s world than the distant past.

 

I do think that bringing it up to present day makes it more immediate…in that sense of desperation. That this sort of life is something that could happen just around the corner.

Television Review: “The Handmaid’s Tale” — Not a Documentary…Yet » The Arts Fuse

Margaret Atwood’s novel turns out to have been far more clairvoyant than even she believed it would be.

The much-anticipated Hulu series based on Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel from 1985 does not disappoint expectations; in fact, it delivers an aptly horrifying and prescient treatment of the story’s increased relevance. You see, for women, the personal is the political, and vice versa. I was reminded of this while recently re-viewing the excellent documentary She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, which chronicles the birth of the women’s movement of the late 1960s. In recent months, American women have seen  rising complacency about sexist behavior as well as the normalizing of misogynist rhetoric. There is also a threat to our hard-won reproductive rights. The chatter around this new series has been enlivened by its eerily-accurate reflection of our present situation, which may yet escalate into a future not unlike the one depicted in this television adaptation.

Atwood’s novel was published to rave reviews and devoured by feminists, science fiction fans, and curious readers around the world. In the Republic of Gilead, in the not too distant future, women have lost all rights to their bodies, their reproductive autonomy, their livelihoods, and even their names. Atwood’s novel is narrated in the first person by Offred, a young woman whose name at first seems a comment on the bright red robes — flamboyant yet puritanical — that she and others like her are forced to wear. We soon realize women are referred to by the names of their fathers: “Ofglen” or “Ofwarren.” They have no jobs, are not allowed to own property, read books, or watch television. And oh, by the way, the young fertile ones are forced to bear children for complete strangers.

The review discusses an overview of the first episode of the series, but this is what I want to cut to:

One reason The Handmaid’s Tale (written by Bruce Miller, who also co-produced sci-fi series The 4400 and The 100 and is working on Jenji Kohan’s new series about the Salem Witch Trials, The Devil You Know) resonates strongly today is that the flashback scenes (memories of the world referred to as “Before”) take place in what looks very much like the present day: hip hop music plays on iPods, cafes serve complicated low-fat coffee drinks, an intimidating military presence makes use of semi-automatic rifles and wears black knit hats in the mode of Colorado hipsters, people buy used Volvos on craigslist. But there are differences: fascism is approaching, but the characters can’t quite believe it is taking place. When anger builds and there are marches and demonstrations, the police/military (there’s no real separation between the two anymore and, if you doubt this, see the recent documentary Do Not Resist) shoot unarmed protesters with impunity. Women are finally rounded up and reassigned according to their utility: as domestic servants (Marthas) or incubators (Handmaids). Known lesbians may be punished with “mercy” or “redemption”—I won’t spoil a particularly moving and harrowing scene by explaining those euphemisms further.

This article also brings up a change in the series from the book that is also of note:

The Handmaid’s duty is completed via bizarre ceremonies and rituals that center on impregnation and birth; the arrangement is strange, intimate, and humiliating for all involved. The overarching purpose is to  serve God; but religion is an oddly cold and distant presence here. Offred is frequently heard speaking to God for help; but the constant anachronistic phrases uttered by the denizens of Gilead (“blessed be the fruit,” or “go with grace” or “praise be,” or even “under His eye,” which also refers to the “eyes” of surveillance) ring hollow given the violence and tyranny that govern America’s hypocritical culture. Those who managed to escape to Canada when things started changing are the lucky ones. In Atwood’s novel, Japanese tourists come to gawk at the strangely dressed and morally backwards citizens of Gilead. In one of several bold —  but intriguing — changes to Atwood’s work, this society is a multi-cultural one. June and Luke have an interracial marriage, white June’s best friend Moira is African-American. In the 1985 novel, the new regime “rounded up” people of color and relocated them to Midwest camps.

I wondered if the change from Atwood’s novel could have been more powerfully done. After all, racist policies are currently being directed towards American immigrants; it would make sense that Gilead’s brand of authoritarianism would attempt to control to all expressions of the Other, not just women. Still, there are examples of  the indignity of social rank, based on socioeconomic and class status. The handsome driver who works for Offred’s “Commander” is of “such low status” that he has not yet been “assigned a woman.” Meanwhile, the treatment of the people who protest the government — men, women, young, old, every race imaginable — is egalitarian. The spray of bullets that sends them fleeing for cover is remarkably democratic in its range and efficacy. As Offred says, “There will be no mercies for members of the resistance.”

Review: ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is a terrifying story of a future that looks like the past | The Seattle Times

Yet the most terrifying parts of “The Handmaid’s Tale” are the flashbacks, to a time very much like ours.

Before the coup, Offred has freedom, a job, Uber. Then things start to change — little things. Women are having trouble conceiving. The government becomes more reactionary. One day, a coffee shop clerk, unprovoked, calls her and her best friend, Moira (Samira Wiley), “sluts.”

Something primal and angry is awakening. Some people are exhilarated: Finally, they can say what’s on their minds, without the PC thought police cracking down! The show is also attentive to how progressive men can back-burner the concerns of women. Offred’s husband, Luke (O-T Fagbenle), for instance, is convinced that the craziness is bound to blow over.

It doesn’t. An intermediate layer of flashbacks finds Offred, Moira and a class of future handmaids at a re-education center being indoctrinated, with homilies and a cattle prod, by Aunt Lydia (a coolly imperious Ann Dowd). “This may not seem ordinary to you right now,” she tells them. “But after a time it will.”

The line is terrifying because it rings so true. You may not believe that anyone, in real life, is actually Making America Gilead Again. But this urgent “Handmaid’s Tale” is not about prophecy. It’s about process, the way people will themselves to believe the abnormal is normal, until one day they look around and realize that these are the bad old days.

And I think that scene in the coffee shop is one of the most disturbing, for me…because it is something that we are seeing nowadays…with more and more frequency.

THE HANDMAID’S TALE Recap: (S01E03) Late – Geek Girl Authority

Offred thinks, “Now I’m awake to the world. I was asleep before. That’s how we let it happen. When they slaughtered Congress, we didn’t wake up. When they blamed terrorists, and suspended the Constitution, we didn’t wake up then either.” Yowza. Dystopian nightmare fulfilled.

[…]

Flashback to June and Moira jogging in the city, earbuds in, as Peaches‘, F**k The Pain Away plays. Seems like a normal enough thing, but when they jog by a woman on the street, she looks them up and down and gives them the dirtiest look. And I realize, mmm no, all is not well.

At a coffee shop, a mouthy little jerk of a cashier, harasses Moira and June after June’s credit card is declined for insufficient funds, which makes no sense to her since she just deposited her paycheck. He calls them “f*cking sluts.” And then tells them to “Get the f*ck out of here.” So I guess this is the moment when the “it” that happened starts to happen. Clearly, this dude’s feeling himself with a dose of extra strength straight-white-male-privilege.

And what is worse, that behavior is something that is not being called out, rather it is being egged on by a population led by the “Grab your pussy” President and elected officials…(I’m including the asshole Sanders in that mix as well.)

 

Image below is a still from the coffee shop scene.

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Ep 3, with my personal and professional hero Samira Wiley. The strength and presence this woman has on screen and off is a thing to behold and respect. It's my privilege to work with her and call her my friend. 👊🏻@whododatlikedat #HandmaidsTale

A post shared by Elisabeth Moss (@elisabethmossofficial) on

 

The Handmaid’s Tale TV Show Review – Hulu’s Adaptation Is the Feminist Horror Story We Need

In Trump’s America, everything is political, and all of pop culture becomes commentary, whether it wants to be or not. From the beginning of 2017, TV shows from Scandal to The Young Pope to Big Little Lies have been mined for insights about our new political reality, despite having been written and filmed well before the election. But you won’t see a more timely or essential onscreen story this year than Hulu’s extraordinary rendering of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale, reimagined as a fundamentalist nightmare for the Mike Pence era.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: The Most Important Show of 2017

Full disclosure up front: my experience with The Handmaid’s Tale extends to the three episodes made available for review. We’ll have plenty of coverage for those familiar with the book here at Pajiba over the upcoming weeks, but I think a show should stand on its own, regardless of source material. If you have to have read the book/seen the movie/followed the Instagram account in order to fully understand the television adaptation, then that adaptation has failed. It undoubtedly means certain scenes, certain interactions, and certain imagery in those episodes will resonate differently for those who have read Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel. But absolutely no power was lost upon this particularly newbie to this dystopian world.

If I could sum up the overwhelming subtext of this show, it would be this: “We are not doing nearly enough to prevent this from actually happening.” The Handmaid’s Tale doesn’t take place in a future far removed from ours, and at times feels as if set tomorrow. This is a show that suggests The Women’s March on Washington this past January was a cute digression on the path towards the inevitable subjugation of women, a path forged by men via nuclear fire in order to clear the path for a return to a more “civilized” time. This isn’t a show in which the right side initially wins: Ideological purity trumps the concept of compromise little by little, until the ground falls out completely beneath those that had no idea just how rocky the terrain had become.

I use the verb “trump” there intentionally, because it’s absolutely, positively impossible to not view The Handmaid’s Tale through the lens of the last year. There’s a scene early in the third episode in which a barista, newly emboldened by the government’s increasingly sexist legislation in the days before the shit truly hits the fan, feels free to call two women who have just gone for a run “sluts.” They aren’t wearing anything particularly revealing: They are in what one might consider “normal” workout clothes, but they do show a bit of skin, and that skin is glistening with sweat, and that’s enough at this point in the narrative’s timeline for that to be the new benchmark. The word “slut” is uttered as much in relief as in hatred, as if this person has been holding it in for decades and feels happy to finally say it. It’s not hard to link this scene with the rise of those emboldened by Trump’s victory to overtly and publicly say things meant to demean other races, sexualities, cultures, customs, and anything that doesn’t look the same when viewed in the mirror.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale – in pictures | Books | The Guardian

Interview with Atwood:

The Handmaid’s Tale: Margaret Atwood on season 2, relevance

Things like this are creepy to read about:

12 Facts About “The Handmaid’s Tale” That Will Make You Say “Holy Shit”

There’s a women’s march that occurs in The Handmaid’s Tale, which was filmed before Donald Trump was elected president and well before the actual Women’s March on Washington.

Image above is a sketch by Margaret Atwood.

Just a few more links on the series:

The Handmaid’s Tale: The Hidden Meaning in Those Eerie Costumes | Vanity Fair

Review: ‘Handmaid’s Tale’ is a wake-up call for women

The ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Soundtrack Is An Expression Of Freedom & Empowerment

The Secrets From Hulu’s ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ Set Revealed | Hollywood Reporter

‘Handmaid’s Tale’: Shocking Death, Rape, Mutilation Explained | Hollywood Reporter

The Handmaid’s Tale is timely. But that’s not why it’s so terrifying | Jessica Valenti | Opinion | The Guardian

The Handmaid’s Tale and Reproductive Rights | POPSUGAR News

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’: The Biggest Changes From the Book

Found on Facebook:

this hateful anti-choice group was on my campus this week basically yelling that everyone who didn’t agree with their message was going to hell. this was one of there signs they were holding. I found it hilarious, and thought I’d share if any of you guys needed a laugh. — at Santa Rosa Junior College.

 

Some real links from real events…

Donald Trump Just Took a Weird Shot at Nikki Haley | Vanity Fair

Yeah, just to tie into the whole patriarchal thing….and threats.

“I want to thank Ambassador Nikki Haley for her outstanding leadership and for acting as my personal envoy on the Security Council. She is doing a good job. Now, does everybody like Nikki?” Trump said, according to reporters present at the White House event. “Otherwise she could be easily replaced, right? No, we won’t do that. I promise you we won’t do that. She’s doing a fantastic job.”

That fucker.

Donald Trump will abolish women’s right to abortion, warns expert US doctor | The Independent

‘It was criminal once before, and it is their intent to make it criminal again,’ says Dr Willie Parker

If abortions become illegal, here’s how the government will prosecute women who have them – The Washington Post

How Trump Has Threatened Women and Families in His First 100 Days – NWLC

First 100 Days Reveal Trump’s Anti-Woman, Anti-Rights Administration | The Huffington Post

Trump Brought the War on Women Mainstream in His First 100 Days | Mother Jones

Want to survive another 100 days of Trump? Don’t get complacent – The Globe and Mail

 

More proof that legislators are not far off the mark from the leaders of a Handmaid society…

Reddit’s “Red Pill” Forum Was Created by a GOP Lawmaker | The Mary Sue

Guess Who Founded Reddit’s ‘The Red Pill’? That’s Right, A Republican Representative!

Rep. Robert Fisher Will “Stand Strong for Men’s Rights” | Time.com

And a few more disgusting shit stories for good measure:

Lawyer for accused rapist tells 11 female jurors women are ‘weaker sex,’ ‘especially good at lying’

A disturbing sex trend called ‘stealthing’ is on the rise

Hospitals Didn’t Give Rape Victims Emergency Contraception | Teen Vogue

We bring you now the “Women are Objects” section of the thread:

(Er…the whole damn post is women are objects.)

That video is just plain disturbing on so many levels. Especially the freaky dude saying the sex dolls will cut down on rape and assault. WTF?

And as if all this wasn’t depressing enough:

Female Dragonflies Fake Death to Avoid Males Harassing Them for Sex

In order to avoid males of the species bothering them for sex, female dragonflies fake their own deaths, falling from the sky and lying motionless on the ground until the suitor goes away.

A study by Rassim Khelifa, a zoologist from the University of Zurich is the first time scientists have seen odonates feign death as a tactic to avoid mating, and a rare instance of animals faking their own deaths for this purpose. Odonates is the order of carnivorous insects that includes dragonflies and damselflies.

In other sad news this week…we lost one of our best directors in film.

Jonathan Demme Dead: ‘Silence of the Lambs’ Director Was 73 | Variety

Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme died Wednesday in New York of cancer complications, his publicist told Variety. He was 73 years old.

Demme is best known for directing “The Silence of the Lambs,” the 1991 horror-thriller that was a box office smash, a critical triumph, and introduced moviegoers to Anthony Hopkins’ Hannibal Lecter, a charismatic serial with a yen for chianti, fava beans, and cannibalism. The story of a novice FBI analyst (Jodie Foster) on the trail of a murderer became only the third film in history to win Academy Awards in all the top five categories ( picture, actor, actress, director, and adapted screenplay), joining the ranks of “It Happened One Night” and “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.”

Though he had his greatest success terrifying audiences, most of Demme’s work was looser and quirkier. In particular, he showed a great humanism and an empathy for outsiders in the likes of “Melvin and Howard,” the story of a service station owner who claimed to have been a beneficiary of Howard Hughes, and “Something Wild,” a screwball comedy about a banker whose life is turned upside down by a kooky woman. He also scored with “Married to the Mob” and oversaw “Stop Making Sense,” a documentary about the Talking Heads that is considered to be a seminal concert film.

I loved Married to the Mob…it is one of my favorite films.

Jonathan Demme: Remembering Cinema’s Contagious Enthusiast

Jonathan Demme, one of the American cinema’s finest, most insistently humanist directors, has died at the absurdly young age of 73, from complications of throat cancer and heart disease.

It’s hard to imagine New York or the world or the movies without Demme in the house. How do you eulogize someone whose overriding aspect is aliveness?

I guess you start by simply naming some of his wonderful movies, in chronological order: Caged Heat, Handle With Care, Melvin and Howard, Swing Shift, Stop Making Sense, Something Wild, Married to the Mob, The Silence of the Lambs, Philadelphia, Beloved, Rachel Getting Married, Neil Young: Heart of Gold, A Master Builder … Those are my favorites, but many of the others are vital, too — Swimming to Cambodia, Cousin Bobby, his Haitian documentaries, his brave and urgent remake of The Manchurian Candidate, his patchy but exuberant Ricki and the Flash

In 2002, I wrote an article about Demme for the New York Times in connection with his loose remake of Charade, The Truth About Charlie — a difficult piece because the movie was plainly a dud. It was, however, a generous and overflowing dud, and an excellent prism through which to view the man the Times’ headline writer called “the Happy Hipster of Film.” For one thing, Demme’s camera was always swerving off the main actors to catch street performers or passersby or people he knew.

“There seem to be no extras,” I wrote, “only characters from movies yet to be made … Mr. Demme tries to cram in the maximum amount of life per square inch of movie screen.” (The “Mr.” thing is Times style and is reproduced accordingly.)

“Other faces that show up in Mr. Demme’s films are from his vast circle of acquaintances, business associates and creative influences – so that watching his movies is like looking through a scrapbook of his life. In The Truth About Charlie, Mr. Demme not only salutes Truffaut’s Shoot the Piano Player (1960) with an excerpt; he brings in its star, Charles Aznavour, to serenade the lovers.

Read that link in full…it has some good parts.

I know that I only focus on that one scene in the coffee shop. There are many other that spoke to me, as I am sure there are scenes that spoke to you. (The Salvaging being one of them.) But I thought it best not to go too fully into the series. I do think it is something that people need to see.

Even if the ones who truly need to realize the situation, and are the ones who would get the most out of the show’s message…still do not get their eyes open by the end of the third episode.

Yeah, from my experience…with my husband at least, he does not think a handmaid society is anywhere near within reach. Like the husband “Luke” in the show, who is a patronizing ass…he is completely complacent to the warning signs that seem to blare like the sirens and explosions that go on around him.

But it is all there folks. And what the fuck are we going to do, I don’t know how to get this message to the “Guardians” among us. Do you?

That is my offering today. It is depressing I know…but it is an open thread.

 


Saturday Reads: We’re Having A Heat Wave Edition

iceblock

Good Morning!!

The long weekend continues, and so does the heat wave here in Greater Boston. This is our second heat wave of this summer. I know these are just normal temps for you hardy souls in the South, but for us Northerners, it’s quite a shock to the system.

From The Boston Globe: As heat wave hits, region falls under a sultry spell.

The torpor-inducing temperatures, expected to last through Sunday, will feel hotter than the last, said Bill Simpson, a National Weather Service meteorologist. Friday’s high was 95 degrees with 55 percent humidity, he said, but the heat index, which combines temperature and relative humidity to measure how hot it feels, hit nearly 100. There will be no relief until Monday, he said, when temperatures should cool to the mid- to low-80s.

In Boston, Mayor Thomas M. Menino issued a heat advisory through the weekend, urging residents to stay hydrated and in the shade or air conditioning….

To stave off the heat, many turned to ice. The number of convenience stores and restaurants needing extra ice rose “exponentially” since the beginning of the heat wave, said Charlotte Ploss, sales manager at Brookline Ice & Coal, which specializes in ice delivery. The phones there rang nonstop Friday morning and afternoon, sometimes with customers requesting ice for the second or third time of the day.

One supermarket ordered 4 tons of ice, Ploss said. A restaurant called for so many ice refills that Brookline Ice & Coal offered use of a company trailer, which holds 3,000 pounds of ice. Because the restaurant does not have enough space for the trailer, its owner is parking it in his driveway, she said.

So what else is going on? The President of Venezuela has offered asylum to Edward Snowden. From Reuters via the NYT:

CARACAS — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offered asylum to former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden on Friday in defiance of Washington, which is demanding his arrest for divulging details of secret U.S. spy programs.

“In the name of America’s dignity … I have decided to offer humanitarian asylum to Edward Snowden,” Maduro told a military parade marking Venezuela’s independence day.

“He is a young man who has told the truth, in the spirit of rebellion, about the United States spying on the whole world.”

iced.coffee3

How Snowden would get to Venezuela from Moscow if he accepts the offer no one knows as yet.

There are no direct commercial flights between Moscow and Caracas, and the usual route involves changing planes in Havana. It is not clear if the Cuban authorities would let him transit….

One alternative flight plan would involve an aircraft taking off from Moscow, refueling in Vladivostok, and then continuing east over the Pacific to South America.

Nicaragua has also said it would consider offering Snowden asylum. Both Venezuela and Nicaragua have questionable human rights records; but no doubt, Snowden supporters will find ways to explain all that away.

The Washington Post has a feature on Sarah Harrison, “the woman from Wikileaks” who accompanied Snowden to Moscow and is reportedly still there.

Harrison began working with WikiLeaks in August 2010 on the internal vetting of confidential U.S. documents supplied by Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, which the site later released. At some point that year, according to two people with direct knowledge of the situation and who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Harrison and Assange became intimately involved. They cautioned that the relationship was not Harrison’s prime motivation in championing the WikiLeaks cause.

“She is firmly committed to what WikiLeaks is trying to do; she believes 100 percent in the mission,” one of the people said. “Any suggestion that her relationship with Julian is what has compelled her to do the things she has would be a totally wrong assumption.”

Although those who know her as an Assange confidante describe her as more comfortable behind the scenes, Harrison now finds herself in the spotlight. She has raced across continents to aid Snowden, assisting in his flight from Hong Kong and his search for asylum from Moscow. On Friday, Venezuela and Nicaragua offered Snowden asylum. All the while, she has has maintained a low profile and refrained from public statements.

Read the rest at the link.

iced tea

In Chile, another human rights issue has arisen once again–the right of girls and women to control their own bodies. USA Today reports: Child’s pregnancy sets off Chile abortion debate.

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — The case of a pregnant 11-year old girl who was raped in Chile by her mother’s partner has set off a national debate about abortion in one of the most socially-conservative countries in Latin America.

Chileans were outraged on Friday after state TV reported that the girl is 14 weeks pregnant and was raped repeatedly over two years. Police in the remote southern city of Puerto Montt arrested her mother’s partner, who confessed to abusing the fifth grader. The case was brought to their attention by the pregnant child’s maternal grandmother.

Doctors say the girl’s life and that of the fetus are at high risk. But in Chile, ending the pregnancy is not an option.

Chile allowed abortions for medical reasons until they were outlawed in 1973 by Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship. The current government of conservative President Sebastian Pinera has opposed any loosening of the prohibition.

One has to assume that Republicans here in the U.S. are applauding this horror, since they keep trying to limit women’s autonomy with nightmare legislation in numerous states. The latest is Wisconsin, where Gov. Scott Walker just signed a draconian new anti-abortion bill. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports:

Madison — Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Friday requiring doctors who perform abortions to have hospital admitting privileges, and abortion clinics responded by immediately suing state officials over the measure.

The law — signed Friday by Walker in a private ceremony — would cut the number of clinics offering abortions in Wisconsin from four to two, and one of the remaining clinics would have to dramatically cut the number of abortions it provides, according to the operators of the clinics.

“When women don’t have access to safe, legal abortions, there are health consequences and women die,” said Teri Huyck, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin….

Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services filed the lawsuit in federal court in Madison. They brought it against Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, Safety and Professional Services Secretary Dave Ross and the members of the state Medical Examining Board — all of whom have authority to enforce the law or issue sanctions.

It will be heard by U.S. District Judge William Conley. It was unclear whether he would take action before the law takes effect Monday.

The National Journal is bullish on the latest jobs report. The Really Great News From the June Jobs Report: the April and May Numbers

Happy jobs day! First, the immediate good news: The June report showed the U.S. economy added 195,000 in June, strongly beating expectations in the 150,000-165,000 range. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, was unchanged at 7.6 percent.

But now for the really good news: We were quite wrong about job gains in April and May. Initial reports from the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed a jobs gain of 149,000 in April and 175,000 in May. In the latest reports, those numbers were revised upward to 199,000 in April and 195,000 in May. That’s a combined gain of 70,000 jobs from earlier reports. So, since April, it turns out that the economy has actually gained nearly 200,000 new jobs a month.

They admit the unemployment situation is still pretty horrible overall. Read about it at the link.

iced coffee

Here’s a wacky story out of Texas: Gun owners march on Houston police station with shotguns and assault rifles.

A group of gun owners and gun rights advocates celebrated Independence Day on Thursday by marching on the headquarters of the Houston Police Department while carrying an array of shotguns and assault rifles. According to the Washington Examiner, the group was organized via Facebook and numbered about 25 attendees.

“It’s Independence Day — where it all started,” said shotgun toting protester Jenn Kroll, to the Houston Chronicle. “What better day to show our rights?”

“If you don’t use your rights, they can take them away,” Ed Aldredge of Sugar Land said. Aldridge brought along his 11-year-old son, Austin, who carried a .22-caliber rifle.

No mention in the story about how Houston police reacted to the march.

Violence continues in Egypt where the army and Morsi supporters are battling each other. From BBC News:

More than 30 people were killed and more than 1,000 injured in Friday’s violence following the ousting of Egypt’s President Mohammed Morsi, it has emerged.

At least 12 died in Alexandria, and eight in two separate clashes in Cairo, the Health Ministry said….

Mr Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected leader, is in detention.

Some senior figures of his Muslim Brotherhood movement have also been held.

Early on Saturday, state media reported the Brotherhood’s deputy leader Khairat el-Shater had been arrested at his Cairo home on suspicion of incitement to violence.

The Tamarod [Rebel] movement – which organised recent anti-Morsi protests – accused the ousted president of pursuing an Islamist agenda against the wishes of most Egyptians, and of failing to tackle economic problems.

So…quite a bit of news for a long holiday weekend. What are you reading and blogging about today?


Get your hangers and knitting needles ready…

Cause the way things are going, we will be forced into using these instruments for something other than hanging up clothes and knitting a sweater. The assault against women and their rights has been increasing with staunch religious fervor, and complete and utter disregard for a woman’s right to act according to her own wishes and demand her rights to freedom of choice.

I would like to comment more on this, but I will post up links and tidbits of recent news links and save the rest for the comment section.

In Virginia, as well as LA and other states, the false meme of safety is being used to once again explain the reasons for attacking a woman’s right to choose for her own self…

Feminist Wire Daily Newsbriefs: U.S. and Global News Coverage

The Virginia Senate voted yesterday to pass a bill (SB 924) requiring that clinics that perform first trimester abortions meet the Board of Health regulations on hospitals, which are far more stringent than the regulations on physician’s offices. The 20-20 tie was broken in the Democratic state Senate by an unusual vote from Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling (R). The House voted in favor of the bill on Monday. Republican Governor Bob McDonnell announced that he will sign the bill.

These regulations will significantly and unnecessarily increase the cost of early abortions and will make it difficult to get an abortion in Virginia. The costs of implementing the required changes could cause as many as 17 of the state’s 21 abortion clinics to shut down.

Tarina Keene, executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, stated,”[The bill] represents a shameful level of political interference in the doctor-patient relationship. The politicians behind this plan falsely claim they are protecting women’s health, yet their ultimate goal is to make it even more difficult for women to access abortion care in Virginia.”

Judge dismisses La. abortion clinic lawsuit – CNBC

BATON ROUGE, La. – The state won a lawsuit over a new law that gives Louisiana’s health secretary more discretion to shut down an abortion clinic for safety or health concerns.

A group of outpatient abortion clinics had sued the state Department of Health and Hospitals in federal court, saying the law deprives them of basic protections given to other licensed health care facilities in the state and encourages discriminatory enforcement against them.

In Texas, they are also working on intruding on a woman’s right….

Texas House committee approves requirement for sonogram before abortion | Texas Legislature News – News for Dallas, Texas – The Dallas Morning News

AUSTIN — A requirement for women to receive a sonogram before an abortion cleared a key committee Wednesday and is poised to become the first bill considered this year by the full House, probably by next week.

Supporters praised the bill as a way to ensure that women see fetal development and hear their baby’s heartbeat before making an irreversible decision, while abortion rights advocates lamented the state imposing its judgment into a conversation between doctors and patients.

A similar bill already has cleared the Senate, and while there are differences between the two proposals, supporters are confident they can be reconciled, making Texas abortion laws some of the most restrictive in the nation.

Do you remember that song, “Meat is Murder” well according to Google…the word abortion is murder!

The most important news and commentary to read right now. – The Slatest – Slate Magazine

Abortion Opponents Link “Abortion” to “Murder” in Google Searches

Since yesterday afternoon, anybody Googling the term “murder” is going to be greeted by an odd second hit: the Wikipedia entry for “abortion.” The ranking is the result of a Google-bomb campaign by abortion activists, and it was exposed this morning by BoingBoing’s Cory Doctorow. (Googlebombing is when a group of people game Google’s search results to push or demote specific pages.) Doctorow points out the obvious: “However you feel about abortion, this Wikipedia page is pretty clearly not the second-most relevant document regarding murder on the entire English-speaking World Wide Web.” Regardless, Jezebel’s Anna North adds that the campaign probably won’t go much further than an meaningless prank: “Few people are stupid enough to decide that abortion is murder simply based on a Google association—and whoever is Googling ‘murder’ is unlikely to be looking for serious political debate.”

And lastly, did you see this ad that I linked to yesterday in the comments section of the Thursday reads? Well it has been taken down…and here are a few tidbits.

They Took Down That Offensive Anti-Abortion Billboard in Soho — Daily Intel

Last night, Lamar Advertising agreed to pull a three-story anti-abortion billboard featuring a young black girl with the caption, “The most dangerous place for African Americans is in the womb.” The billboard, put up by the Texas-based group Life Always, was also walking distance from a Planned Parenthood on Bleecker.

This next link is about the racist propaganda of that horrid ad…from the viewpoint of a black woman.

9 Reasons to Hate Anti-Abortion Billboards That Target Black Women – COLORLINES

One of my favorite aunts—the one who taught me about Maat, whole foods and natural haircare—bristles when I tell her I hate something. I’ll say, “I hate the last four episodes of ‘The Game.’” She’ll tsk, “Words are powerful. Hate takes too much energy.”

I’m going to have to disappoint my aunt today. Because I am still feeling some serious hatred about the racist anti-abortion billboards Jamilah King covered yesterday. I’m so pissed, I had to write a list:

1. I hate Life Always, the faux-pious anti-choice group behind thatsabortion.com and the racist billboard, which has “The most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb” looming above the image of a 6-year-old black girl named Anissa Fraser.

2. I hate how Anissa’s mother dressed her baby in pink ruffles, put a bow on her pretty, kinky twist-out and took her down to a modeling agency for the ultimate picture day, only to see her daughter’s image used for racist propaganda.

3. I hate how I’m toying with the idea of explaining why the billboard is racist propaganda.

4. I hate how thatsabortion.com directs black women to seemingly innocuous pregnancy centers that withhold information and hinder choice. I also hate how the site twists CDC mortality data: From so-called fact sheet: “Twice as many African Americans have died from abortion than the combined tolls of violent crime, cancer, heart disease, accidents and AIDS.”

5. I hate how Stephen Broden, a black Texas pastor and Life Always board member linked the billboard to Black History Month in the group’s press release.

6. I hate that Lamar Advertising, the company paid to erect the billboard, took the Soho one down last night, but I’ve heard about at least one in L.A. (If you’ve seen it, please share the address in the comments!)

7. I hate how Lamar claims they removed the Soho billboard because workers at the Mexican restaurant below feared for their safety—not because SisterSong and the Trust Black Women Partnership made serious noise, Brooklyn city councilwoman Letitia James initiated a change.org petition, city council speaker Christine Quinn condemned it, NYC public advocate Bill de Blasio called for its immediate removal, and Al Sharpton was plotting a press conference.

8. I hate how groups like Life Dynamics (blackgenocide.com), The Radiance Foundation (toomanyaborted.com), and the aforementioned Life Always tell black women who make the complicated, difficult, highly personal choice to end a pregnancy that they’re committing genocide. Genocide is the deliberate, systematic destruction of a racial, political or cultural group. People like Christopher Columbus (yeah, I said it), King Leopold II, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot and Raphael Trujillo committed genocide.

9. I hate how this whole mess is the flip side of the breeder, Welfare Queen and Jezebel stereotypes.

But honey, one thing I love: How black women across the political and religious spectrum have been speaking out about the billboard and connecting it to the overall attack on women’s reproductive freedom. These billboards might have been a stab at humiliating sisters who have had abortions, but based on the conversations I’ve had and those crackling across the Internets, that ish didn’t work. Like veteran marketer and author Thembisa Mshaka wrote, “Thatsabortion.com billboards are an ad FAIL.”

And more on the mother who was appalled to see her little girl used in this disgusting way to target hate and violent attitudes toward women.

Controversial Abortion Billboard Removed, But Not Before Irate Mom Speaks Out – TIME NewsFeed

Apparently the loud protests over a Manhattan billboard put up by anti-abortion activists were enough to get it taken down after only two days. But the frustration doesn’t end there, because a mother whose child was depicted in the ad is angry.

The ad, purchased by Texas-based Life Always, spurred controversy due to its message that “the most dangerous place for an African American is in the womb.” People on both sides of the abortion debate deemed it offensive and demanded that it be removed.

What the hell is wrong with these damn Republicans? As Dak pointed out they are moving toward branding the Republican  narrative into a full outright attack on the poorer citizens of the country, woman and their freedom of choice, and they have the audacity to bitch about progressive attitudes toward “Big Government.”