The best way to have a happy weekend might be to go into a cocoon and isolate yourself from the outside world and the ugly things that are happening in it. Unfortunately, I don’t know if I can bring myself to do it. I’ve become addicted to knowing what’s going on out there.
What has really been bugging me for the past couple of days is the way law enforcement agencies and the media refuse to label even horrendously violent acts like the attack on Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs “terrorism.”
It seems the only events that get that designation are those involving Muslim attackers. In my estimation a violent attack that kills and injures a number of people and “terrifies” the surrounding community should be called terrorism, because that’s exactly what it is.
How can the attacks on abortion clinics not be “terrorism” when they obviously are designed specifically to frighten doctors, nurses, and other health care workers into not getting involved in reproductive health care and women into not having abortions?
What is “Terrorism” and What Isn’t?
Here’s the official explanation from NPR: Why the Planned Parenthood shooting isn’t legally referred to as ‘domestic terrorism.’
To some in the community, the attack resembled an act of domestic terrorism, sparking a debate over what to call Robert Lewis Dear’s rampage even before he was taken into custody.
But the legal system may not resolve that question.
Dear faces state charges of first-degree murder, and the federal criminal code has no specific, catchall charge for acts of domestic terrorism. That means federal prosecutors pursuing charges for ideologically motivated violence often turn to other statutes — such as those for firearms, explosives, hate crimes or murder — to cover offenses that could arguably be labeled as terror. The punishment may be the same, but generally without the branding more typically associated with international terrorism.
“There has long been some interest in defining acts of domestic terrorism as terrorism. It’s become quite a partisan issue,” said William Yeomans, an American University law fellow and former high-ranking official in the Justice Department’s civil rights division.
But given the number of laws already available to federal prosecutors, he added, “Whether it’s domestic terrorism or not, it doesn’t really matter.”
Well then the definition needs to be changed, because focusing only on acts by people of one particular religion–Islam–is going to lead to terrorist attacks against Muslims, whether they get the label “terrorism” from the FBI or not. Saying it doesn’t matter is just plain stupid. It matters.
I didn’t need to know a thing about Syed Rizwan Farook’s and Tashfeen Malik’s religious beliefs or political ideologies to know that this was an act of terrorism, because I fail to understand how we can legally define one or more people picking up weapons and opening fire on civilians as anythingbut an act of terror, irrespective of their reasons.
(Unless it happens in a war zone, in which case it is a war crime and an act of terror.)
And I have a real goddamn problem with the fact that it only became “officially” an act of terrorism once they were connected to a particular religion and particular ideology, but had it been another religion and another ideology, it just would have been the inexplicable actions of mad people.
This selective elevation to a terrorist act of only certain religions and ideologies is harmful. And the people it harms the most are those who broadly share identifying traits with the elevated terrorists.
Our government is being deeply hypocritical when it urges bigots not to blame all Muslims for acts of terror committed by Muslims, but refuses to identify as acts of terror the same sort of crimes committed, for the same ugly reasons, by Christians. If the government doesn’t want all Muslims smeared as terrorists, then it needs to stop limiting to Muslims its elevation to terrorism of religiously-motivated mass murder
Here’s another example. This white guy isn’t a threat to anyone, according to law enforcement.
He had a fake federal air marshal ID in one pocket, a Ruger .380-caliber pistol in the other and was driving around Long Island with ballistic body armor and a loaded AR-15 assault rifle. He also had an arsenal of weapons at his gated home.
But don’t worry folks, Mark Vicars wasn’t a threat to anyone, Nassau County officials insisted Friday.
The amount of firepower is comparable to what terror couple Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik had during the massacre they committed Wednesday in San Bernardino, Calif.
“At this time we don’t see any immediate threat to the public,” Nassau County Police Department spokesman Det. Lt. Richard LeBrun told reporters.
Seven illegal firearms, three high-capacity magazines and 8,300 rounds of ammunition were found in the 49-year-old’s SUV and Syosset home after an exhaustive search, police confirmed.
Yet cops don’t believe that Vicars was up to anything nefarious — except for masquerading as a federal agent.
“We don’t see any nexus to any terrorism at this time,” LeBrun said, adding that no anti-American literature or links to terrorism were found at his home.
This idiotic labeling situation must be remedied, and we need to pressure our elected representatives and the White House to get it done.
The Media Sucks
Anyway, the media clearly has forgotten about the people who were killed and injured by a fanatic in Colorado Springs, because they now have Muslim attackers and their families to examine in disgusting detail.
In their rush to get “scoops,” MSNBC forced their way (along with other reporters) into the apartment that was occupied by the two deceased shooters in the San Bernardino massacre and showed images of personal property and information belonging to family members on live TV.
In a surreal scene, a swarm of local and national media entered the apartment where San Bernardino shooters Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik lived after the landlord tore off a piece of plywood that was blocking the door.
News outlets, including MSNBC, BBC, CBS News and CNN, broadcast live scenes as reporters toting cameras and microphones pushed through the open door and reported from inside the apartment in Redlands, California.
One MSNBC reporter was seen examining items left on the suspects’ desk, at one point picking up a child-rearing book. CNN journalists described seeing driver’s licenses, social security cards and shredded documents inside the residence. A group of photographers zeroed in on a pile of papers that were laid out on a bed.
What the hell?!
Another camera crew panned over a crib; the couple had a 6-month-old daughter. A CNN correspondent picked up prayer beads.
It appeared that members of the public were inside the apartment as well. One man lingered holding a large soda. A child was seen wandering throughout the home. Another opened the refrigerator and peered inside.
MSNBC even showed ID cards and family photographs on camera. According to the landlord, he didn’t invite the media in. “They rushed,” he said. Fortunately, the FBI later said they had cleared the apartment and it was no longer an active crime scene.
Slate’s Justin Peters says that good reporters should grab opportunities like this one, but still had some harsh words for MSNBC.
During the walk through the apartment, which producers said was opened to the media by the couple’s landlord, a NBC News reporter held up photos of unidentified children, a bank document, and a driver’s license on live television.
As MSNBC’s Kerry Sanders walked through the apartment, where police had earlier recovered 12 pipe bombs and more than 1,400 rounds of ammunition, he expressed disbelief that the killers would have toys and stuffed animals for their young child.
The apartment was crowded by camera crews and other journalists all digging through the home. Sanders eventually found a pile of family photos, including what appeared to be passport photos of an unidentified woman, which he promptly suggested were the first images of Malik seen by the public.
“I’m going to guess these are the photographs of Malik. So this is the first – this may be – OK,” he said on air. “But we don’t know. We don’t know if that’s her.”
Andrea Mitchell encouraged Sanders to hold one photo up and get a “tight shot” of other pictures, including a portrait of a woman in traditional dress, as Sanders continued to guess where and for what occasion the photos were taken.
“Let’s make sure we don’t see the children, let’s not show the child,” a clearly uncomfortable Mitchell eventually interjected. “Let’s cut away from that.”
In a bedroom where credit cards and IDs were shown spread out on a bed, the camera quickly zoomed in on a California driver’s license. MSNBC did not appear to blur out a woman’s personal details as Sanders read the name on the driver’s license.
I think I’m going to be sick. MSNBC “apologized” after it was too late to protect innocent children and other family members who were not involved in the shooting. TPM:
After MSNBC treated viewers on Friday to a live look inside the San Bernardino shooters’ apartment, the network said they “regret” showing photos of children and identification cards during the live broadcast.
While the apartment was thick with camera crews and journalists all rifling through Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeem Malik’s Redlands, California home, MSNBC was the most heavily criticized for its broadcast. NBC News reporter Kerry Sanders showed close-up photos of children and held up a women’s driver’s license during the live shot.
Read the statement at TPM if you’re interested.
I’ll add some more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?
Hope your weekend was great!
It’s been a depressing and sad few days as we continue to watch the world’s fundamentalist religions–based in so much Iron Age Mythology–continue to assert the need to control and dominate women. Saudi Arabia has sentenced a maid to death by stoning for adultery while giving the man a few symbolic lashes. Here in the US, Republican candidates for the US presidency appease a similarly addicted religious minority by skirting the real issues surrounding the shooting at Colorado’s Planned Parenthood. What we are seeing is the same poison fruit from the same poison tree.
There are so many mass shootings in this country—in a school or a church, a movie theatre or a mall—and so little is expected of American politicians in regard to them that, in the two days since Robert Dear began firing his gun at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado, the Republican Presidential contenders have largely been able to hide from the tragedy. At midday on Friday, Dear initiated a gun battle that lasted five hours and took the lives of three people, including a police officer, and wounded nine others. Dear’s motives, and his mental state, are not yet fully known. But, of all the places he could have walked into, he chose a Planned Parenthood clinic, and, of all the fragments of deranged rhetoric he could have repeated, he chose, according to the Times and other press reports, to say something about “no more baby parts.” This is a reference to the false charge that Planned Parenthood has illegally trafficked in the sale of fetal organs—and that is the mildest way of framing the allegations that anyone listening to a Republican debate or rally would likely have heard. The loudness of the slurs against the organization is in telling contrast to the cautious silence that descended when it became a target of gun violence.
I remember my work in high school and university on modernizing state laws so that crimes against women and children were moved from the areas of property crimes to crimes against people. I was appalled to find that state law required three witnesses to a rape as evidence a crime had happened. I worked at a nascent rape and domestic violence crisis center back in the early 70s that was started by the Junior League and still continues as a major operation at the local YWCA.
I also remember a panel discussion at my Presbyterian church when SCOTUS was deciding Roe v. Wade. It was my first experience seeing so many ignorant and angry people expressing the need to control other people’s bodies and lives. I thought that the progress we had made would continue. Then, came the 1980s and a backlash from the pews of what my family used to refer to as “holy rollers”.
I have two grown daughters now and I never thought that they’d face so many of the same issues that I faced at their age. When they were very young, I saw those same angry, ignorant faces of my youth beginning to coordinate and organize to target women. We’ve gone so far back since the early 1980’s and we’ve endured so much harassment from radical religionists that it’s sometimes difficult for me to believe we live in a developed country. But, here in many parts of the United States, folks take Iron Age Mythology as seriously as they do in the hills and tribes of Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. Women and children have always been at the forefront of the suffering inflicted by the hyperreligious. Vigilance and action is required continually and today like never before.
We are going backwards.
We are losing many battles in a war fought to take away women’s rights and autonomy. I spent some time reading this MoJo article on the last few years of Republican control of many local legislatures. Again, I cannot believe my daughters face challenges that no modern, civilized nation should create.
This is what 2015 looks like: Abortion providers struggle against overwhelming odds to stay open, while women “turn themselves into pretzels” to get to them, as one researcher put it. Activists have been calling it the “war on women.” But the onslaught of new abortion restrictions has been so successful, so strategically designed, and so well coordinated that the war in many places has essentially been lost.
Most abortions today involve some combination of endless wait, interminable journey, military-level coordination, and lots of money. Roe v. Wade was supposed to put an end to women crossing state lines for their abortions. But while reporting this story, I learned of women who drove from Kentucky to New Jersey, or flew from Texas to Washington, DC, because it was the only way they could have the procedure. Even where laws can’t quite make it impossible for abortion clinics to stay open—they are closing down at a rate of 1.5 every single week—they can make it exhausting to operate one. In every corner of America, four years of unrelenting assaults on reproductive rights have transformed all facets of giving an abortion or getting one—possibly for good.
“Every day is just frightening,” Chelian said. “I think things are bad, and then they get worse somewhere else. And you go, ‘Oh my God, it could be worse.’ And I go to sleep with that. I wake up with that.”
Ever since Texas passed HB2 in 2013, the omnibus abortion law at the heart of a pivotal case the Supreme Court will review early next year, more than half of the state’s 41 abortion clinics have been forced to close. As these closures have mounted, advocates in the state have worried that the decline in abortion access could lead to a rise in the number of women trying to terminate pregnancies by themselves.
A new study quantifies some of those fears: At least 100,000 Texas women—and as many as 240,000—between the ages of 18 and 49 have attempted to self-induce abortions, according to a report released today by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project (TxPEP). The study also found that it is possible that the rate of women attempting to self-induce abortions is rising in Texas as a result of the state’s additional restrictions on abortion care. The report points to previous studies that have explored the correlation between a rise in abortion restrictions and the prevalence of self-induced abortions. A 2008 national study found that about 2 percent of women reported that they tried to terminate pregnancies on their own. In 2012, a year after Texas passed several new abortion restrictions, a study of Texas women seeking care at an abortion clinic found that about 7 percent reported attempting to end their pregnancies without medical assistance before seeking clinic care.
“This is the latest body of evidence demonstrating the negative implications of laws like HB2 that pretend to protect women but in reality place them, and particularly women of color and economically disadvantaged women, at significant risk,” said Dr. Daniel Grossman, one of the study’s co-authors and a professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive sciences at the University of California-San Francisco, in a press call Tuesday morning.
None of us that have been active in the women’s right movement for decades were surprised at the most recent attack and murders at the Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood. We anticipated it happening some where and we are not surprised by the deflection of the enablers of violence against women and those who help women. There has been a long, well-funded and organized racket supported by media outlets and capitalized on by the Republican party to reinstate witch hunts and burnings. We also know this is not about life. It’s about controlling women. Amanda Marcotte–writing for Salon–explains this well.
Victim-blaming and avoiding responsibility was the norm on the right, with Rep. Adam Kinzinger going on CNN while Dear was still holding the clinic hostage and ranting about “these barbaric videos,” in reference to the hoax videos falsely accusing Planned Parenthood of “selling” fetal tissue that were released over the summer and that all Republicans are apparently duty-bound to pretend are somehow meaningful despite being thoroughly debunked. He also pushed the idea that there’s a chance that Dear’s choice of a target is random and not rooted in anti-choice ideology.
Since then, of course, conservatives’ slim hope that Dear was somehow just a random psycho instead of an anti-choice nut has grown slimmer. Sources spoke about the “baby parts” line and that Dear mentioned Obama in his statements to police.
Ever since the Paris attacks, we’ve been hearing from the right how there is no excuse for religious fundamentalists using violence to terrorize people for the making life choices the fundamentalists don’t approve of. I do wish they would take their own advice on this front.
This whole display is especially bizarre when you consider that there is nothing new about anti-choice terrorism, which has taken the lives of eight clinic workers prior to this attack. That this would happen was entirely predictable. Since the release of those hoax videos, there’s been a rash of arsons and bombings of Planned Parenthood clinics across the country, a story which has received a surprisingly small amount of media coverage.
In other words, this is what everyone in pro-choice circles has been dreading would happen any day now. As recently as October 29, an abortion provider in Washington, D.C., penned an op-ed in the Washington Post about how her life is being rather unsubtly threatened by anti-choicers who put her picture and address online. You know, for “information.” Answers about who would need that, except someone who was intending to harm her, are not offered.
Anti-choice demagoguery is fruitful politics for the right. There’s a lot of fear out there about women’s changing social roles and increasing independence, coupled with a ton of resentment over other people’s sex lives. The anti-choice movement has created a perfect cover story—it’s about “life” and “babies”!—that allows conservatives to indulge these ugly urges while pretending to have noble intentions.
This combination has been so successful at inciting the masses, raising money, and turning out the vote that the anti-choice movement has become increasingly bold in recent years, expanding the legal attacks beyond abortion and looking for ways to undermine access to contraception as well. The increased outrage at Planned Parenthood in recent months, while ostensibly about abortion, is in actuality a lot more about contraception. None of the money that Republicans are cutting from Planned Parenthood is for abortion, but for contraception and STI prevention and treatment. Or even prenatal care, in some cases.
You cannot relentlessly stoke people’s sexual resentments, day in and day out, while calling it “moral” without some of those people (mostly men) tipping over into outright violence. Anti-choice extremism is a logical home for angry, bitter men who want to blame women and women’s sexuality for their own personal failings and frustrations. And there are a lot of angry men out there, furious at women for not being what they want us to be, using “baby killer” as a cover for resentments that have nothing to do with actual babies.
There’s so much evidence and history that’s it’s very hard to deny that this is a well orchestrated and well funded movement. We have only to go back and remind ourselves of the murder of the late Dr. Tiller and the words of Bill O’Reilly to see how the right lights the fires of fanaticism and violence.
O’Reilly said that liberal groups were targeting him unfairly.
“Even though I reported on the doctor honestly, the loons asserted that my analysis of him was ‘hateful,'” O’Reilly wrote. “Chief of among the complaints was the doctor’s nickname, ‘Tiller the baby killer.’ Some prolifers branded him with that, and I reported it. So did hundreds of other news sources.”
O’Reilly went on to criticize media outlets for glorifying Tiller in order to silence those who oppose abortion, especially late-term abortion.
We wanted to see what O’Reilly had said about Tiller, to see if O’Reilly was indeed being criticized for his reporting on other groups’ characterization of Tiller as he said.
We searched transcripts of The O’Reilly Factor , his show that appears on the Fox News Channel.
We found at least 42 instances of O’Reilly mentioning Tiller by name, going back to 2005. In 24 instances, we found that O’Reilly referred to Tiller specifically as a “baby killer.”
Most of the time, O’Reilly would simply refer to the Tiller as “Tiller the baby killer” or as “Dr. George Tiller, known as Tiller the baby killer” without attributing it to anyone. We found four times when O’Reilly said that “some” called him Tiller the baby killer. We did not find any instance where O’Reilly named an individual or a particular antiabortion group that referred to Tiller that way.
Here is how O’Reilly has discussed Tiller in 2009, prior to Tiller’s death:
• May 15: O’Reilly discussed President Barack Obama’s commencement speech at Notre Dame University, saying he was troubled that a Catholic school would allow Obama to speak. “Barack Obama throughout his political career has enabled abortion. There’s no doubt that he has. All right? He has recently appointed Gov. (Kathleen) Sebelius to (Secretary of) Health and Human Services. Gov. Sebelius is the most proabortion governor in the United States. Based upon Dr. Tiller, the baby killer in her state and all of that, all right.”
• May 11: O’Reilly wondered whom Obama would nominate to the Supreme Court, saying that he thought Obama was “callous” when it came to abortion. “I mean, the guy puts Sebelius in as the health — you can’t get a more fanatically — and that woman is proabortion,” O’Reilly said. “She wants the babies done for. She supported Tiller the Baby Killer out there. So, enough with her.”
• April 27: O’Reilly discussed Sebelius’ nomination as secretary of Health and Human Services. O’Reilly said that Sebelius “recently vetoed a bill that placed restrictions on late-term abortions in Kansas. The bill was introduced because of the notorious Tiller the Baby Killer case, where Dr. George Tiller destroys fetuses for just about any reason right up until the birth date for $5,000. There’s no question Ms. Sebelius is one of the most proabortion politicians in America.”
• March 27: Tiller was charged with misdemeanor offenses for violating Kansas law on late-term abortions. Tiller was acquitted. O’Reilly said, “Now, we have bad news to report that Tiller the baby killer out in Kansas, acquitted. Acquitted today of murdering babies. I wasn’t in the courtroom. I didn’t sit on the jury. But this, there’s got to be a special place in hell for this guy.”
• March 26: O’Reilly talked about the ongoing trial: “Another revolting situation is Dr. George Tiller in Kansas, known as Tiller the Baby Killer, who’s on trial for killing babies who are about to be born, late-term abortions.” O’Reilly also said, “If you want to kill a baby, you hire Tiller, you’ve got to pay him 5,000 up front, and he’ll kill the baby. … You should know, his best friend is the governor of Kansas, Sebelius. … She has taken specific steps to carve out the law so that it will protect Tiller the baby killer.”
• March 17: Still on the Tiller trial, O’Reilly said, “You know this George Tiller, called Tiller the baby killer, is charged with 19 misdemeanors. And what this guy does, and we have proven it beyond a reasonable doubt, Kelly, is that he kills babies in late term. He aborts them in late term. They’re no longer fetuses. They’re viable babies. He aborts them for any and all reasons if you pay him $5,000.”
• March 2: O’Reilly said Sebelius took “campaign money from George Tiller, known as Tiller, the baby killer. He’s currently charged with a variety of crimes centering on his abortion practice. He aborts babies at any time for just about any reason if you pay him $5,000.”
• Jan. 26: O’Reilly discussed an executive order Obama signed allowing federal money to go to international family planning groups that provide abortions. O’Reilly complained that Obama quietly signed the order rather than publicizing it. “I wanted George Tiller the baby killer going, ‘Yeah, can I make more money killing babies now,'” O’Reilly said.
That’s just from 2009. There were many other examples in previous years.
There is so much history between the inflammatory and false propaganda from radical christianists that we actually have a term for it. This is an example of “stochastic terrorism”. Republicans and radical christianists systematically incite violence against women and organizations designed to give them rights.
Republican members of the Religious Right incited violence as predictably as if they had issued a call for Christian abortion foes to take up arms. Inciting violence this way is called stochastic terrorism:
“Stochastic terrorism is the use of mass communications to incite random actors to carry out violent or terrorist acts that are statistically predictable but individually unpredictable. In short, remote-control murder by lone wolf.”
In an incident of stochastic terrorism, the person who pulls the trigger gets the blame. He—I use the male pronoun deliberately because the triggerman is almost always male—may go to jail or even be killed during his act of violence. Meanwhile, the person or persons who have triggered the triggerman, in other words, the actual stochastic terrorists, often go free, protected by plausible deniability. The formula is perversely brilliant:
- A public figure with access to the airwaves or pulpit demonizes a person or group of persons.
- With repetition, the targeted person or group is gradually dehumanized, depicted as loathsome and dangerous—arousing a combustible combination of fear and moral disgust.
- Violent images and metaphors, jokes about violence, analogies to past “purges” against reviled groups, use of righteous religious language—all of these typically stop just short of an explicit call to arms.
- When violence erupts, the public figures who have incited the violence condemn it—claiming no one could possibly have foreseen the “tragedy.”
Stochastic terrorism is not a fringe concept. It is a terrorist modality that has been described at length by analysts. It produces terrorism patterns that should be known to any member of Congress or any presidential candidate who has ever thought deeply about national or domestic security issues, which one might hope, is all of them.
We can be confident that communications teams for Carly Fiorina, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Rick Santorum and others are scrambling at this very moment to figure out the nuances of plausible deniability—weighing how best to distance themselves from the violence that killed a police officer and two others without making their protestations of surprised dismay sound as hollow as they actually are—without actually denouncing the disgust and dehumanization of women who have abortions and those who provide them.
The FBI warned about the uptick in terrorist threats against Women’s Health Clinics and specifically Planned Parenthood months ago. There have been firebombings and other acts of vandalism. It was only a matter of time before that video and the rhetoric of the Republican Presidential candidates turned into direct violence against people.
For several months now, law enforcement has been concerned about people targeting reproductive health facilities — specifically Planned Parenthood locations across the country.
As CBS News first reported in September, an FBI intelligence bulletin went out to law enforcement agencies nationwide with that warning. It came asCongress was debating Planned Parenthood funding and on the heels of the release of a series of videos by Center for Medical Progress that purported to show Planned Parenthood doctors discussing the harvesting of fetal tissue from abortions.
The intelligence bulletin warned of “lone offenders using tactics of arsons and threats all of which are typical of the pro-life extremist movement.”
At that time there had already been nine criminal or suspicious incidents in seven states and the District of Columbia.
In one incident in August, someone poured gasoline on a New Orleans Planned Parenthood security guard’s car and set the vehicle on fire. According to the FBI, there was another incident in July in Aurora, Colorado in which someone poured gasoline around the entrance of a Planned Parenthood facility, also causing a fire.
The public faces of these fanatics are quick to pray the one day they aren’t harassing women at clinics. You can read JJ’s and BB’s last post over the weekend for many examples of the reaction of the right to the attack on the clinic and the murder of three people. All you have to do is volunteer to be a clinic escort or watch the antics of “protestors” to see the roots of the violence and know that it’s not about life or love.
I was the first appointment that day and noticed a few men, all in their 50s or 60s, milling around the parking lot when we pulled in. Once we got out of the car, one made a beeline for us with a fistful of pamphlets. My aunt said, “Thanks, but no thanks,” and he got irate, screaming, “How can you do this? You’re killing your baby to continue on your whore lifestyle, you jezebel!’ Suddenly we were surrounded by five other men — that’s when the baby-doll parts starting hitting us.
They had a box filled with torn apart baby dolls covered with red paint. All three of us were hit — in the head, chest, torso. As they were pelting us, they yelled, “This is what you’re doing to your baby! Look at the street! It’s strewn with the blood of your baby. That’s your baby scattered across the street!” It was surreal and terrifying at once. And we still had to cross a wide street to enter the clinic. Then they shouted at my aunt, “Grandma, why are you letting her do this? Tell her to give her baby up for adoption!” My aunt responded, “First of all, I’m not old enough to be a grandma. Second, come talk to me when you have a uterus and a vagina.”
It’s a systemic attack on women’s autonomy. We know that it’s nationwide, well-funded, well-organized and it’s basically a syndicate like organized crimes. We know this because many of the law suits against these people involve Civil RICCO.
I’m not sure what it’s going to take to get the majority of this country to realize that we have a huge issue with homegrown white male, christianist terrorism. We can’t get sensible gun regulation because of the NRA syndicate. We also see systemic demonization of Black Lives Matter and Planned Parenthood. One of the major political parties and its small but vocal and voting minority are the problem.
What’s on your voting and blogging list today?
Bill Moyers & Company covers one of my hair-on-fire topics this week. I’ve written a lot about ALEC before and how it tends to pen some of the worst laws in the land. So, what’s ALEC been up to recently now that it’s role in voter suppression and defunding planned parenthood has been held up to the light? Moyers & Company will broadcast the report today on PBS so be sure to look for it.
A national consortium of state politicians and powerful corporations, ALEC presents itself as a “nonpartisan public-private partnership”. But behind that mantra lies a vast network of corporate lobbying and political action aimed to increase corporate profits at public expense without public knowledge. Using interviews, documents, and field reporting, the episode explores ALEC’s self-serving machine at work, acting in a way one Wisconsin politician describes as “a corporate dating service for lonely legislators and corporate special interests.” In state houses around the country, hundreds of pieces of boilerplate ALEC legislation are proposed or enacted that would, among other things, dilute collective bargaining rights, make it harder for some Americans to vote, and limit corporate liability for harm caused to consumers — each accomplished without the public ever knowing who’s behind it.
This raw story article on a 1,000 year old Buddha statue from Tibet that was taken from its home by the NAZIs and has been discovered to be made of the remains of a meteorite reads like something from an Indiana Jones script. It caught my eye earlier this week so I thought I’d share it with you.
Backed by SS chief Heinrich Himmler and heading a team whose members are all believed to have been SS, Schaefer roamed Tibet in 1938-9 to search for the origins of Aryanism, the notion of racial superiority that underpinned Nazism.
Weighing 10.6 kilos (23.3 pounds), the statue features the Buddhist god Vaisravana seated, with the palm of his right hand outstretched and pointing downwards.
Chemical analysis shows that the rock from which it was carved came from a meteorite.
The rock survived a long trip through the Solar System and the destructive friction with the atmosphere when it collided with Earth.
It is a particularly rare kind of meteorite called an ataxite, which has iron and high contents of nickel, according to the study, published in the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science.
“The statue was chiseled from an iron meteorite, from a fragment of the Chinga meteorite which crashed into the border areas between Mongolia and Siberia about 15,000 years ago,” said investigator Elmar Buchner of Stuttgart University.
“While the first debris was officially discovered in 1913 by gold prospectors, we believe that this individual meteorite fragment was collected many centuries before.”
The exact dating of the carving cannot be established accurately, but its style links it to the pre-Buddhist Bon culture of the 11th century.
Vaisravana was the Buddhist god-king of the North, also known as Jambhala in Tibet.
I’d just like to mention that the “god” description really isn’t apt here but, oh well. Jambhala was a god in the Hindu tradition, however, so I suppose it kind’ve carries on over but it’s not like you’ think. However, the findings are interesting.
Feminists in the Ukraine are banding together to stop Human Trafficking. Here’s some information on that movement.
At first sight, few people would mark the group of topless young women protesting in the streets of Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, as outspoken advocates or feminists. Garlands of flowers adorn their waist-length hair, strategically thrown forward to cover their bare breasts. But the black graffiti-style slogans that cover their arms and bellies make it crystal clear: “Ukraine is not a brothel” and “Women Power”.
Founded in Kiev in 2008 by a group of university students, FEMEN quickly became famous for their topless protests against prostitution, sex tourism and sexism, which is still rife in Ukraine today. The group has been in the news a lot lately with protests in Milan, Istanbul and Moscow and most recently to bring attention to the sloppy investigation and suspected nepotism surrounding the horrifying rape of eighteen-year-old Oksana Makar by three Ukrainian young men. The attack left Makar with burn wounds across more than half of her body. Surgeons had to amputate her arm and both feet in an attempt to save her life, but Makar was unable to pull through, dying from heart failure a little more than two weeks following her attack.
Oksana Mahar’s case is indicative of a much larger problem: women are often treated as a mere commodity in Ukraine’s patriarchal society – a fact that is exacerbated by the difficult economic climate, and human trafficking, especially for sex work, remains a serious problem. Evidence exists from a variety of sources of the widespread and increasing nature of the problem: it is estimated that 420,000 women have been trafficked out of the country in the last few years alone.
For decades, scientists have been trying to solve a tough question: if the Internet runs out of cat pictures, can we generate more using advanced mathematics?* A paper posted on the arxiv earlier this month by mathematicians Kathryn Lindsey and the late William Thurstoncalms fears about “peak cat.” In the paper, they describe a method of approximating the outline of a cat or other object using the Julia sets of polynomials.
Outspoken Sheila Bair is telling tales on Timothy Geithner and the 2007 bank bailouts. She says the bailouts were ‘skewed’ to help Citigroup.
Former financial regulator Sheila Bair says that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner was primarily concerned with shoring up Citigroup and other banks in his response to the financial crisis, rather than holding those banks accountable.
Bair went on a media tour on Tuesday topromote her new book, “Bull by the Horns,” about the government’s response to the financial crisis, which she experienced firsthand as a top financial regulator. Bair criticized Geithner in the book, and she aired some of that criticism in an interview with the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday.
“He was in constant communication with [Citigroup CEO] Vikram Pandit throughout that whole process, and I felt like he and Vikram were figuring out what they were going to do and then trying to jam it on me,” said Bair, who served as chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) between 2006 and 2011. “I do think that a lot of the policy decisions that were made were made through the prism of what Citigroup needed.”
Bair said that most big banks did not need the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the government’s bank bailout in 2008, but the government forced TARP on all of them partly because Citigroup needed it. “It worked horrible reputational damage on everyone,” Bair said of TARP.
Some TARP defenders say granting TARP funds across the board was necessary to avoid a loss of trust in specific banks. Citigroup was one of the more vulnerable banks during the financial crisis, since it held a large number of toxic mortgage-backed securities. The government gave Citigroup multiple bailouts.
“He viewed these institutions as entities that needed to be taken care of,” Bair said of Geithner, adding he thought the banks “needed to be taken care of and that this was just a big systemic event, and we needed to protect them — whereas I wanted them to have accountability. They had caused this.”
“If you view the banks themselves as victims just of the larger crisis, then you’re going to just try to help them however you can, and I think that was his guiding philosophy,” she added.
Thankfully, Giethner is not going to be there for a second Obama term. It can’t come soon enough for me. Any guesses as to which bank he’ll eventually land?
When do these guys jeopardize their infernal tax breaks? What exactly does it take? A Raw Story article reports that one Catholic bishop says that ‘Voting for Obama jeopardizes the ‘eternal salvation of your own soul’.
A Catholic bishop from Springfield, Illinois is warning that the stakes for the 2012 election are even higher than most people think because voting for President Barack Obama could damn “you own soul” to hell.
In a column and video posted by the official newspaper of the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois and obtained by Right Wing Watch on Wednesday, Bishop Thomas John Paprocki called out the Democratic Party for temporarily removing God from their platform, supporting abortion and recognizing that “gay rights are human rights.”
“There are many positive and beneficial planks in the Democratic Party Platform, but I am pointing out those that explicitly endorse intrinsic evils,” the bishop explained. “My job is not to tell you for whom you should vote. But I do have a duty to speak out on moral issues. I would be abdicating this duty if I remained silent out of fear of sounding ‘political’ and didn’t say anything about the morality of these issues. People of faith object to these platform positions that promote serious sins.”
“So what about the Republicans? I have read the Republican Party Platform and there is nothing in it that supports or promotes an intrinsic evil or a serious sin,” Paprocki added. “One might argue for different methods in the platform to address the needs of the poor, to feed the hungry and to solve the challenges of immigration, but these are prudential judgments about the most effective means of achieving morally desirable ends, not intrinsic evils.”
Evidently, torture isn’t an intrinsic evil compared to using birth control or being in a loving same sex relationship. It’s reported that Romney favors going back to the old Cheney/Rumsfield extraordinary “interview” techniques.
In one of his first acts, President Obama issued an executive order restricting interrogators to a list of nonabusive tactics approved in theArmy Field Manual. Even as he embraced a hawkish approach to other counterterrorism issues — like drone strikes, military commissions, indefinite detention and the Patriot Act — Mr. Obama has stuck to that strict no-torture policy.
By contrast, Mr. Romney’s advisers have privately urged him to “rescind and replace President Obama’s executive order” and permit secret “enhanced interrogation techniques against high-value detainees that are safe, legal and effective in generating intelligence to save American lives,” according to an internal Romney campaign memorandum.
While the memo is a policy proposal drafted by Mr. Romney’s advisers in September 2011, and not a final decision by him, its detailed analysis dovetails with his rare and limited public comments about interrogation.
“We’ll use enhanced interrogation techniques which go beyond those that are in the military handbook right now,” he said at a news conference in Charleston, S.C., in December.
The campaign policy paper does not specify which techniques Mr. Romney should approve, saying more study was needed because Mr. Obama had “permanently damaged” the value of some by releasing memorandums detailing Bush-era techniques in April 2009.
Revisions to new jobs numbers makes our economy look healthier than previously thought. This, coupled with the increased home prices, can give us a little lift on the future of the US economy. It also makes Romney’s economic arguments look weak. The economy has produced enough jobs to give Obama a net job growth for his term. This even counts the worst of the Dubya Bush recession years.
So the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced this morning that it is revising its jobs count, to include an additional 386,000 nonfarm jobs that were created from March of 2011 to March of 2012.
Jobs numbers are only one metric for measuring economic improvement, so we shouldn’t overstate their significance. This new finding, however, does matter politically in a few key ways. First, as Justin Wolfers points out, the added jobs means that there has no longer been a “net” loss of jobs on Obama’s watch. As you know, Romney has been saying for a very long time now that the “net” jobs lost on Obama’s watch proves his policies failed. That’s a bogus metric, because it factors in the hundreds and hundreds of thousands of jobs lost in each of the first few months of Obama’s term, before those policies went into effect.
But putting that aside, net jobs were now actually gained on Obama’s watch. So, in theory at least, Romney has been deprived of one of the talking points that has been central to his candidacy for a year now. That talking point was crucial for Romney, because it enabled him to make the (nonsensical) case that Obama destroyed jobs overall.
Okay, that’s a little this and that for today. What’s on your reading and blogging list?
I’ve been trying to post this most of the day. It seems WordPress had a dashboard outage. That outage made it impossible for us to get to any thing beyond what was already on the front page. Earlier this evening, ability to comment completely disappeared. I’ll try to get this out in short order. Hopefully, we’ll be back to normal now.
South Dakota continues its assault on women. Fetus fetishists continue to believe that setting up any and all road blocks will discourage women from exercising their right to abortion. Women in South Dakota must now wait 3 days prior to the procedure. The only thing this really does it make it extremely difficult for women in rural areas to get to clinics. Some need to travel miles and don’t have resources to pay for places to stay for that number of days. They also have to leave jobs and families to sit around and wait.
Women who want an abortion in South Dakota will face the longest waiting period in the nation — three days — and have to undergo counseling at pregnancy help centers that discourage abortions under a measure signed into law Tuesday by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.
Within minutes of Daugaard’s announcement that he had signed the measure, abortion rights groups said they plan to file a lawsuit challenging the measure, which one said could create particular hardships for women who live in rural areas hundreds of miles from the state’s only abortion clinic in Sioux Falls.
Daugaard, who gave no interviews after signing the bill, said in a written statement that he had conferred with state attorneys who will defend the law in court and a sponsor who has pledged to raise private money to finance the state’s court fight. Officials have said estimated the cost of defending the law at $1.7 million to $4.5 million.
This is nothing more than harassment. It’s hard to imagine any sane person wanting to live in a state that doesn’t believe you’re capable of making an adult decision without the state lecturing you, creating hurdles for exercising your constitutional rights, and inserting itself into your doctor’s ability to do the job. This is outrageous.
Meanwhile, religious fanatics in Washington not only want to stop access or slow down access to abortion, they want to defund Title X family planning funds. These funds have been in place since the Nixon years (1970) and are used to provide access to family plan, basic care, and birth control for poor women, men, and children. These funds allow state programs under Medicaid and private providers to get services to poor people. The funding has been shown to help women off welfare. Even some Republican Senators have been appalled by this attempt to force childbearing on any one without the means to fund pregnancy prevention. It also creates a public health issue because of the role these funds play in treating and prevent STDs.
House Republicans have sought to eliminate all federal grants and contracts with Planned Parenthood, some $300 million, because the agency provides abortion services. By law, none of the federal money can be used to pay for abortions, but abortion-rights opponents have argued that any financial support for Planned Parenthood frees up other money that could be used for abortions.
The argument comes as part of an ongoing budget fight: Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill have been unable to agree on a budget to fund the federal government for the rest of the fiscal year; Congress has recently passed two short-term stopgaps to allow more time to reach a long-term deal.
Racist, anti-choice propaganda has outraged many students at Princeton. The Christian right stops at nothing to further its radical agenda to instill its narrow view on all peoples.
It has become the talk among African American students at the prestigious Princeton Theological Seminary — racially charged fliers and postings. All of it is apparently anti-abortion literature.
Among the fliers was one that displayed a noose and another with the words “in the new klan lynching is for amateurs.”
“I was shocked and appalled that someone would place something like that up at this particular institution,” seminary student Maurice Stinnett told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis.
“There was a lot of devastation for me, psychological damage, injury, because I saw this as social bullying,” student Shirley Thomas said.
Student leaders at the seminary, which neighbors Princeton University but is not directly affiliated, said the fliers first appeared on campus last November then reappeared in February for Black History Month.
The fliers originate from various sources, pointing out the number of African American deaths by abortion.
Student Katherine Timpte called the fliers “appalling and tragic and upsetting at all levels.”
There is some good news. Religion may become extinct in 9 countries. These 9 go straight to the top of my get me out of this crazy place list. It really amazes me that some many people in legislative positions have no problem forcing their superstitions on other people. Interestingly enough, most of the countries come out on nearly all the top lists for highest standard of living and best living conditions. They also rate well in education, low crime, and health and nutrition. The U.S. continues to score high on the superstition and nasty living standards lists. We certainly under assault by Christian Taliban in this country. I really wish more moderate Christians would speak out against the actions of these radicals.
A study using census data from nine countries shows that religion there is set for extinction, say researchers.
The study found a steady rise in those claiming no religious affiliation.
The team’s mathematical model attempts to account for the interplay between the number of religious respondents and the social motives behind being one.
The result, reported at the American Physical Society meeting in Dallas, US, indicates that religion will all but die out altogether in those countries.
The team took census data stretching back as far as a century from countries in which the census queried religious affiliation: Australia, Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Switzerland.
Okay, well, that will give you a few things to chomp on while we catch up with all the stuff that went awry today.
Arizona Passes Anti-Abortion Bill To Send Doctors, Clinicians To Jail For Abortions Based On Race Or Gender
In the race to secure the most destructive state anti-abortion law, Arizona may leap ahead of South Dakota by seeking to tackle a problem that doesn’t exist. In a 41-18 vote last month, the House passed a bill to prohibit abortions sought because of the race or sex of the fetus or the race of the parent. Seeking to prevent “race- or sex-based discrimination against the unborn,” the bill would allow lawsuits and civil fines against “abortion providers who knowingly provide such abortions.”