Slut Walk: West Hollywood

Slowly but surely, American women are losing the right to choose

From The Reid Report:

June 5, 2011

With state legislatures and Congress going after abortion full force, “personhood” laws cropping up around the country, and even victims of rape and incest facing an increasingly callous, mostly male army of anti-abortion zealots in elected office, American women’s right to decide whether to give birth has never been in greater jeopardy.

From the Daily Beast:

Underground abortions have returned to the United States, just as pro-choice activists have warned for years. And women have started going to jail for the crime of ending their own pregnancies, or trying to.

This week Jennie L. McCormack, a 32-year-old mother of three from eastern Idaho, was arrested for self-inducing an abortion. According to the Associated Press, McCormack couldn’t afford a legal procedure, and so took pills that her sister had ordered online. For some reason, she kept the fetus, which police found after they were called by a disapproving acquaintance. She now faces up to five years in prison, as well as a $5,000 fine.

Idaho recently banned abortions after 20 weeks, and McCormack’s fetus was reportedly between five and six months old. But according to Alexa Kolbi-Molinas, a staff attorney for the ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project, under Idaho law, McCormack could have been arrested even if she’d been in her first trimester because self-induced abortion is illegal in all circumstances. “It doesn’t matter if it’s an 8- or 10- or 12-week abortion,” says Kolbi-Molinas. “If you do what you could get lawfully in a doctor’s office—what you have a constitutional right to access in a doctor’s office—they can throw you in jail and make you a convicted felon.”

While horrific, McCormack’s case is not unique. In recent years, several women have been arrested on suspicion of causing their own abortions, or attempting to. Most have come from conservative rural states with few clinics and numerous restrictions on abortion. In America’s urban centers and liberal enclaves, the idea of women being prosecuted for taking desperate measures to end their pregnancies might seem inconceivable, a never-again remnant of the era before Roe v. Wade. In fact, it’s a slowly encroaching reality.

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“Travelling States of Emergency” Unmasked: Did British Colonial Repression Tactics Inspire the American DHS?

From Huffington Post:

Naomi Wolf
Posted: 06/ 6/11

Have two British academics found the key to why Americans keep being bombarded today with a discourse that highlights dramatic “emergency” events — that then leads inevitably to legislation that chips away (or chisels away) at what is left of the Constitution? I believe they have. Dr. Stephen Morton and Dr. Elleke Boehmer, in their very important new book, Terror and the Postcolonial, show how today’s headlines on CNN may have been crafted for use in India in the 1800s — perfected throughout the nineteenth century — and road-tested on unfortunate Irish citizens in the 1910s.

This weekend, in an Oxford lecture titled “Travelling Texts in a Time of Emergency”, Morton demonstrated that the British “practiced” techniques for repressing populations in their colonies. His conclusions are deeply relevant, not just to a British colonial or post-colonial reality but to the American “Homeland.”

He looked at an essay by Walter Benjamin, the “Eighth Thesis on the Philosophy of History.” It is a 1933 essay — very important timing — in which Benjamin, who was watching the consolidation of European fascism, began to say: don’t believe the language about “terror”; don’t be fooled into the propaganda that the need for “a state of emergency” is an aberration, a response to genuine dramatic threats. Don’t be taken in by it. “The tradition of the oppressed teaches that the “state of emergency” is a permanent historical tradition. The “state of emergency” exists permanently as a state of lawlessness — it is not the exception but the rule.” In other words, Benjamin saw clearly in 1933 that the German discourse of “Oh my God, things are really unstable, we need to suspend certain civil liberties for the sake of national security” was a hoax — a historical constant always used by elites and always for the same reasons.

Prof. Morton went on to trace this practice — of manipulating the words “terrorist” and propagandizing a need for states of emergency that lead to preventive detention, torture, suspension of constitutional rights and so on — to many places in the British colonial regime. He noted that “terrorist” was a term the British often applied to local populations that were fighting for — yes — freedom from oppressive British rule. He pointed out that the “Bengal Suppression of Terror Act” of the 1900s, for instance, was aimed at local freedom movements. (The word “Terrorist” was first coined in reference to the French Revolutionary state.)

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Arundhati Roy: ‘They are trying to keep me destabilised. Anybody who says anything is in danger’

From The Guardian UK:

The Booker prize-winning novelist on her political activism in India, why she no longer condemns violent resistance – and why it doesn’t matter if she never writes a second nove

Stephen Moss, Sunday 5 June 2011

This is not an ideal beginning. I bump into Arundhati Roy as we are both heading for the loo in the foyer of the large building that houses her publisher Penguin’s offices. There are some authors, V S Naipaul say, with whom this could be awkward. But not Roy, who makes me feel instantly at ease. A few minutes later, her publicist settles us in a small, bare room. As we take our positions on either side of a narrow desk I liken it to an interrogation suite. But she says that in India, interrogation rooms are a good deal less salubrious than this.

Roy, who is 50 this year, is best known for her 1997 Booker prize-winning novel The God of Small Things, but for the past decade has been an increasingly vocal critic of the Indian state, attacking its policy towards Kashmir, the environmental destruction wrought by rapid development, the country’s nuclear weapons programme and corruption. As a prominent opponent of everything connected with globalisation, she is seeking to construct a “new modernity” based on sustainability and a defence of traditional ways of life.

Her new book, Broken Republic, brings together three essays about the Maoist guerrilla movement in the forests of central India that is resisting the government’s attempts to develop and mine land on which tribal people live. The central essay, Walking with the Comrades, is a brilliant piece of reportage, recounting three weeks she spent with the guerrillas in the forest. She must, I suggest, have been in great personal danger. “Everybody’s in great danger there, so you can’t go round feeling you are specially in danger,” she says in her pleasant, high-pitched voice. In any case, she says, the violence of bullets and torture are no greater than the violence of hunger and malnutrition, of vulnerable people feeling they’re under siege.

Her time with the guerrillas made a profound impression. She describes spending nights sleeping on the forest floor in a “thousand-star hotel”, applauds “the ferocity and grandeur of these poor people fighting back”, and says “being in the forest made me feel like there was enough space in my body for all my organs”. She detests glitzy, corporate, growth-obsessed modern Indian, and there in the forest she found a brief peace.

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More Anti-Feminist Horror Film Ideas

From RH Reality Check:

by Amanda Marcotte, RH Reality Check
June 5, 2011

When tracking the mean-spirited nature of anti-choice activists, it helps to develop a dark sense of humor.  It’s the only real protection against despairing at how actual human beings can let their misogyny erode away any empathy they might feel towards female human beings.

For one’s mental health, I suggest choosing some times to laugh instead of cry at the stupidity of openly suggesting, for instance, that rape isn’t that bad.  Which is why I’m laughing in astonishment that right-wing nut Kenneth Del Vecchio has created a horror film about an old man who kidnaps women seeking abortion (who are all apparently white, nubile, childless and unmarried)  and forces them to have the babies against their will.  The press release promises a “twist,” which I think is easily predictable.  While most torture porn flicks like “Saw” are ugly and misogynist, they rarely suggest, as far as I know, that we should admire the men who kidnap and torture women for the “crime” of being sexy, or that young women being kidnapped and tortured are grateful for their punishment.  But I’m guessing the “twist” here is a series of young women tearfully thanking their captor for forcing them to give birth against their wills.  Just a guess.

Which made me think: why stop at abortion?  If this movie is a success, then it opens up a whole avenue of possible horror films where usual conventions of horror movies are turned on their head to promote right wing ideology.  Some suggestions:

“The Abstinence Killer.” Most horror films have the last girl responding to a serial killer wiping out her friends by either fleeing from him, or killing him in self-defense.  But in this movie, the heroine goes to the chewing gum section of her abstinence-only class and realizes something the police don’t understand.  The killer isn’t a bad guy, after all!  It turns out he’s only targeting sexually-active girls, and, as she learned in abstinence-only, those girls are un-marriageable and have no more value than chewed up wads of gum.  The film ends with our virginal heroine helping the killer escape the police, so he can rid another town of the evils of fornication.

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Australian climate scientists receive death threats

From The Guardian UK:

Universities move staff into safer accommodation after a large number of threatening emails and phone calls

Oliver Millman, Monday 6 June 2011

A number of Australia‘s leading climate scientists have been moved into safer accommodation after receiving death threats, in a further escalation of the country’s increasingly febrile carbon price debate.

The revelation of the death threats follows a week of bitter exchanges between the government and the opposition in the wake of a pro-carbon price TV advert featuring actor Cate Blanchett.

The Australia National University (ANU) in Canberra said that it has moved a number of its climate scientists to a secure facility after they received a large number of threatening emails and phone calls.

Ian Young, ANU’s vice-chancellor, told ABC national radio that the threats had worsened in recent weeks.

“Obviously climate research is an emotive issue at the present time,” he said.

“These are issues where we should have a logical public debate and it’s completely intolerable that people be subjected to this sort of abuse and to threats like this.

“I think it is totally outrageous and the vast majority of Australians would think it is totally unacceptable for anybody in society to be subjected to this sort of behaviour.”

Young said that scientists had been threatened with assault if they were identified in the street. Among those targeted is Prof Will Steffen, ANU’s climate institute director.

Steffen is the co-author of a high-profile Climate Commission report that was published two weeks ago. The report calls for urgent action to avoid sea level rises of a metre or more over the course of the next century.

The death threats have not been confined to the ANU, with universities in New South Wales and Queensland also tightening security for more than 30 ecology, environmental policy and meteorology researchers, according to The Canberra Times.

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Ireland: Kids in HSE care ended up working in brothels

From The Independent, Ireland:

By Tom Brady and Shane Phelan
Friday June 03 2011

Children have been going missing from State care and ending up working as sex slaves in brothels for at least three years, leaked US embassy cables reveal.

Health Service Executive (HSE) officials made the shocking admission during a private briefing of diplomats from the American Embassy in Dublin.

Details of the disclosure were contained in cables obtained by the Irish Independent through the whistle-blowing organisation WikiLeaks.

Cables reveal how foreign-born children who went missing from HSE care had been ending up in the sex trade as far back as 2008.

The disclosure was made to US diplomats conducting research for an annual report on people trafficking in Ireland.

According to one cable, the HSE said some foreign children who went missing from care had been retraced to brothels, restaurants and private households where they may have been used as domestic slaves.

The missing minors were found in various towns throughout the country.

Disturbingly, the unnamed HSE officials admitted statistics on the number of these children were not being maintained.

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