by Amanda Marcotte,
June 2, 2013
As Martha Kempner recently reported here at RH Reality Check, Roman Polanski—admitted rapist and all-around creep—doesn’t like it when women can control their own fertility. “I think that the Pill has changed greatly the woman of our times, ‘masculinizing’ her,” he said, firmly characterizing the ability to control your own body as a male-only privilege. “I think that it chases away the romance from our lives and that’s a great pity.” Polanski, who pled guilty to plying a 13-year-old with alcohol in order to make it easier to forcibly penetrate her, thinks that the way to preserve “romance” is to keep women in a state of fear of pregnancy at male whims.
Sadly, as research is beginning to bear out, this violent man’s negative attitudes toward female reproductive autonomy are not merely the eccentricities of an aging misogynist. A lot of men, it turns out, get off on having power over women’s bodies, and are willing to bully, coerce, and even trick women into pregnancy to get that feeling of power over them. It’s called “reproductive coercion,” and it’s way more common that was previously thought, as Kat Stoeffel reports for The Cut.
Stoeffel references a recent study by Dr. Lindsay Clark of the Women and Infants Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, where 641 women who received routine care were asked if they had been threatened or bullied by their partners into getting pregnant or had even had their partners mess with their contraception, by hiding pills or poking holes in condoms. A shocking 16 percent had experienced such abuse, a number which reflects other, still preliminary studies that show a widespread problem of men trying to force pregnancy on unwilling partners. The problem is both so common and so hidden that the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists is recommending that doctors screen for reproductive coercion in addition to more traditional screening for domestic violence.
Why do men who engage in reproductive coercion do such a thing? Don’t they know that if they successfully force their partners to give birth, they too will be responsible for the baby that results? The behavior is definitely not rational if the goal is a harmonious, happy sex and family life. But domestic abusers don’t want a harmonious, happy life. On the contrary, most of them are perfectly happy, often downright eager, to sacrifice happiness and peace in order to get the buzz of feeling powerful and in control, specifically in control of their female partners. Being so in control that you control her body functions is the ultimate form of control.
Jun 6, 2013
In a disturbing Q&A session, a 17-year-old Jerusalem yeshiva student asked a rabbi in an online forum whether it’s permissible under Jewish law to shoot and kill members of the liberal prayer group Women of the Wall when they gather at the Kotel. The boy was arrested today after Rabbi Baruch Efrati alerted police to the question—which, true to the rabbinic tradition of she’elot u-teshuvot (responsa literature, literally “questions and answers”), he nonetheless deigned to answer.
To give you an idea of the exchange, I’ll translate a bit of the conversation originally posted in Hebrew on the religious Jewish website Kippah:
Q: When I (or anyone else) is at the Western Wall, and the Women of the Wall are there in immodest attire, wearing tallit and tefillin and playing with the Torah scrolls and desecrating God’s name, should I prevent this by shooting at the relevant people, if it cannot be prevented any other way?
A: You must repent for entertaining the notion of killing a person, especially as a means of resolving a dispute. That is not the way of the Torah […] Such questions are presumably designed to ignite a fire [i.e. stir up controversy] in our camp, and don’t come from a pure heart and sincere seeking after God, and I wonder who is behind them and who wants to bloody the debate over the Jewish identity of our precious state. Therefore I debated whether to respond to your question at all, but since somebody someplace may be entertaining similar notions of killing another person, and maybe you are actually asking in earnest, I’ve decided to answer your question, emphasizing that it is not legitimate.
Note the rabbi’s initial suspicion: is this question even being asked sincerely, or is it just a fake-out, a sly attempt to trick the Orthodox establishment into saying something embarrassing that’ll serve to increase resentment toward Israel’s religious population? The speed with which the rabbi jumped to this suspicion is a sign of how heated the debate around religious pluralism—especially as incarnated in Women of the Wall—has grown in recent months.
By Linda Gradstein Posted: 06/06/2013
An Israeli judge sparked an outcry during the hearing of a 19-year-old Israeli woman who was raped by four Palestinians when she was 13. The woman was petitioning the court for the rape to be considered “an act of terror” which would make her eligible for government compensation.
“Some girls enjoy being raped,” Judge Nissim Yeshaya of the District Court in Tel Aviv said, according to Army Radio.
The rape victim was not in the room for the hearing. Her attorney, Roni Aloni-Adovnik described the scene to Army Radio. “In the midst of the passionate debate he (Judge Yeshaya) suddenly said aloud, in earshot of everyone present, “There are some girls who enjoy being raped.” The room fell into silence….And he didn’t even get what he had just said. He didn’t understand why everyone became silent all of a sudden.”
Israeli press reports said the plaintiff collapsed after her lawyer told her about the judge’s remarks and was hospitalized.
Judge Yeshaya said his remarks had been misconstrued.
“This isn’t serious,” he said after the remarks became public. “They are trying to gain publicity off me. I do not believe a rape victim is not hurt or that rape is not a serious offense.”
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called the remark “unfortunate” and “unacceptable” and said he was withdrawing his support for the judge’s appointment as the head of the Likud Party’s Court.
Women’s groups circulated petitions calling for his immediate resignation.
At an unannounced appearance at a radical feminist bookstore in New York, two members of the Russian punk rock group that sparked an international crisis for Vladimir Putin took off their iconic colorful balaclavas and revealed their faces.
Two youthful women using the pseudonyms Fara and Shaiba revealed themselves as members of Pussy Riot, the activist feminist collective that doubles as perhaps the world’s most dangerous band. It was the first time Pussy Riot has ever visited the United States.
Behind the masks, the protests, the music and the controversy that prompted Russian courts to convict two of their comrades on “hooliganism” charges, Fara and Shaiba, dressed in unassuming clothing, looked like any young women who might move about New York or any other city.
That accessibility was central to their message, delivered through translation: “We are keeping the spirit alive. Continue the riot. Right now we are here on a special mission to try to establish connections with like-minded people and organizations throughout the globe.” Any woman in a balaclava who believes in gender equality and is willing to fight for it, they said, can be considered a member of Pussy Riot. They showed their faces, Shaiba said, because they believed they were in a “safe space.”
Their appearance on Monday night at Bluestockings, a feminist bookshop on New York’s Lower East Side, was not announced on the store’s website. Invitations spread through word of mouth. The 50-odd attendees, many of them young activists, were asked to keep news of the band’s arrival off social media and the Internet. The Guardian was able to attend the small gathering provided it kept news of their appearance under a 48-hour embargo and did not photograph Fara and Shaiba with their masks off – all security measures, they said, to avoid the Russian security services that imprisoned their bandmates and continue to target them.
WASHINGTON — The Department of Justice has “more likely than not” prepared a sealed indictment of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for publishing classified material, his attorney, Michael Ratner, told The Huffington Post.
Assange said the evidence he and his attorneys have gathered leads him to the same conclusion. “The DOJ admitted in March that its investigation against WikiLeaks is ongoing,” Assange told HuffPost, speaking from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been granted asylum. “U.S. officials in the Bradley Manning pre-trial proceedings admitted that the target of the DOJ grand jury is seven civilians, including the founders and managers of WikiLeaks. The [U.S. attorney] responsible is Neil McBride, the [attorney] for the Eastern District of Virginia, where nearly all national security-related prosecutions take place, seven kilometers from the center of D.C.”
Zachary Terwilliger, a spokesman for U.S. Attorney McBride, said, “The investigation is in fact ongoing and we’re not able to comment on an ongoing investigation.”
Assange was referring to recent comments made by prosecutors in the court martial against Manning, the Army intelligence analyst accused of dumping classified documents to WikiLeaks. The trial phase in Manning’s case began Monday.
“I think it’s more likely than not that there is a sealed indictment against Julian Assange right now,” said Ratner, the head of the Center for Constitutional Rights. The lawyer cited the empaneling of a grand jury in 2010, subpoenas that have been issued, and the number of people associated with WikiLeaks who’ve been contacted by the Justice Department.
“Our contacts with the Department of Justice and the district leave us the impression that there’s a fair possibility that there’s a sealed indictment,” Ratner said. He added that the DOJ has been unresponsive to questions the department normally answers when there is no indictment.
The secrecy surrounding the grand jury investigation of the case had previously been broken. Manning’s friend, David House, was called to testify before the panel last summer and took notes, despite orders not to create a transcript. (His final product, which he posted online, shows prosecutors flummoxed both by his note-taking and his refusal to answer questions.)
The question of whether a sealed indictment against Assange exists is critical to his argument for political asylum. He is fighting extradition to Sweden, where he is wanted for questioning related to allegations of sexual assault.
June 6, 2013
Well, the Bradley Manning trial has begun, and for the most part, the government couldn’t have scripted the headlines any better.
In the now-defunct Starz series Boss, there’s a reporter character named “Sam Miller” played by actor Troy Garity who complains about lazy reporters who just blindly eat whatever storylines are fed to them by people in power. He called those sorts of stories Chumpbait. If the story is too easy, if you’re doing a piece on a sensitive topic and factoids are not only reaching you freely, but publishing them is somehow not meeting much opposition from people up on high, then you’re probably eating Chumpbait.
There’s an obvious Chumpbait angle in the Bradley Manning story, and most of the mainstream press reports went with it. You can usually tell if you’re running a Chumpbait piece if you find yourself writing the same article as 10,000 other hacks.
The CNN headline read as follows: “Hero or Traitor? Bradley Manning’s Trial to Start Monday.” NBC went with “Contrasting Portraits of Bradley Manning as Court-Martial Opens.” Time magazine’s Denver Nicks took this original approach in their “think” piece on Manning, “Bradley Manning and our Real Secrecy Problem”:
By Ryan Gallagher
Tuesday, June 4, 2013
In 2010, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning was detained in Iraq on suspicion of passing classified U.S. government documents to WikiLeaks. On Monday, after more than three years in military jail, his trial finally began at Fort Meade, Md.
The 25-year-old intelligence analyst admitted earlier this year to passing documents to the whistle-blowing website, though he denies the charge of “aiding the enemy,” an offense that carries a life sentence or the death penalty. Manning said at a pretrial hearing in February that he leaked information, including diplomatic cables and U.S. military war logs from Afghanistan and Iraq, in order to “spark a domestic debate on the role of the military and our foreign policy.”
Below is a list of 10 revelations disclosed by Manning’s leaked documents that offer insight into the breadth and scope of what he revealed, help explain his motivation for leaking, and provide context for the ongoing trial. The list, in no particular order, is far from comprehensive but encompasses some of the most significant information brought to light by the leaked documents.
By Eugene Robinson
on Jun 6, 2013
Someday, a young girl will look up into her father’s eyes and ask, “Daddy, what was privacy?”
The father probably won’t recall. I fear we’ve already forgotten that there was a time when a U.S. citizen’s telephone calls were nobody else’s business. A time when people would have been shocked and angered to learn that the government is compiling a detailed log of ostensibly private calls made and received by millions of Americans.
The Guardian newspaper of Britain reported Thursday night that the U.S. government is collecting such information about customers of Verizon Business Network Services, one of the nation’s biggest providers of phone and Internet services to corporations. The ho-hum reaction from officials who are in the know suggests that the government may be compiling similar information about Americans who use other phone service providers as well.
The Guardian got its scoop by obtaining a secret order signed by U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Since we know so little about this shadowy court’s proceedings and rulings, it’s hard to put the Verizon order in context. The instructions to Verizon about what information it must provide take up just one paragraph, with almost no detail or elaboration. The tone suggests a communication between parties who both know the drill.
Indeed, Senate intelligence committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said the order obtained by the Guardian was nothing more than a “three-month renewal of what has been in place for the past seven years.”
Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., another intelligence committee member, also said that “this has been going on for seven years”—and added that “to my knowledge there has not been any citizen who has registered a complaint.” Chambliss did not explain how any citizen could possibly have complained about a snooping program whose existence was kept secret.
Authority for the collection of phone call data comes from the Patriot Act, the Bush-era antiterrorism measure that the Obama administration has come to love. The Verizon court order compels the company to provide “on an ongoing daily basis … all call detail records or ‘telephony metadata’ created by Verizon for communications (i) between the United States and abroad, or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.”
Continue reading at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_end_of_the_right_of_privacy_20130606/
on June 6, 2013
“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” Never has Joseph Heller’s observation from Catch-22 been more apt than today, as news spreads that the National Security Agency has been using the USA PATRIOT Act to sweep up phone call data on every Verizon Business Network customer in the nation—and presumably on residential and cell phone customers as well. Last night, The Guardian published a secret court order, issued under Section 215 of the Patriot Act, that requires Verizon Business Network Services to provide “on an ongoing daily basis” phone records for all “communications (i) between the United States and abroad; or (ii) wholly within the United States, including local telephone calls.” The data to be provided includes the numbers called, the length and time of calls and other routing information, but does not include the actual content of the calls. But the government can learn an awful lot about an individual simply by tracing whom he or she is calling, how often and for how long.
This is a stunningly broad order, and there’s every reason to believe that similar orders exist for other phone providers in the United States. Verizon itself is not the focus of the investigation, so Sprint, AT&T and others almost certainly are under similar orders. An expert interviewed by the Washington Post said the order appeared to be a routine 90-day renewal of what has effectively been a standing order for all such data. In other words, the federal government is apparently sweeping up records on every phone call any of us makes, without any specific basis for suspicion about any of us.
How can it do so? The Supreme Court long ago ruled that such information enjoys no Fourth Amendment protection, on the theory that when one shares information with a third party, one has no “reasonable expectation of privacy” with respect to the government obtaining information from the third party. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has suggested that this doctrine needs to be reconsidered, but until that happens there are no constitutional impediments to such wholesale vacuuming up of data without any individualized basis for suspicion.
Congress has placed some limits on the gathering of such data, but as this order reveals, they are largely meaningless. A controversial provision of the USA PATRIOT Act, Section 215, allows the government to demand “business records” from any business, so long as they are “relevant to an authorized investigation … to obtain foreign intelligence information … or to protect against international terrorism.” Section 215 orders are granted in secret, as this one was, and until now little was known about how extensively the government relied upon them, or how “relevant” was interpreted. By this single order, however, the NSA has been given access to records on literally millions of customers, without suspicion about any of them. We don’t know the government’s theory, but it appears that it may be arguing that in order to protect against international terrorism, it is “relevant” to sweep up phone call data about all of us all of the time.
From The Washington Post: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/administration-lawmakers-defend-nsa-program-to-collect-phone-records/2013/06/06/2a56d966-ceb9-11e2-8f6b-67f40e176f03_story.html
The Obama administration and key U.S. lawmakers on Thursday defended a secret National Security Agency telephone surveillance program that one congressman said had helped avert a terrorist attack in recent years.
The program apparently has collected the telephone records of tens of millions of American customers of Verizon, one of the nation’s largest phone companies, under a top-secret court order.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), who chairs the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said the court order, issued in April, appears to be “the exact three-month renewal” of the program that has been underway for the past seven years. She said the program is “lawful.”
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said Thursday that the NSA program helped thwart a “significant case” of terrorism in the United States “within the last few years.”
In a Capitol Hill news conference, Rogers declined to elaborate on the plot pending efforts to declassify the information.
“Within the last few years, this program was used to stop a terrorist attack in the United States. We know that. It’s important. It fills in a little seam that we have,” Rogers said. “And it’s used to make sure that there is not an international nexis to any terrorism event if there may be one ongoing. So in that regard, it is a very valuable thing.”
Continue reading at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/administration-lawmakers-defend-nsa-program-to-collect-phone-records/2013/06/06/2a56d966-ceb9-11e2-8f6b-67f40e176f03_story.html
By Andrew Leonard
Thursday, Jun 6, 2013
Now we know for sure: The Obama administration has presided over the most thorough expansion of the domestic surveillance state of any U.S. presidency. Even as the nation was still absorbing the news, broken by Glenn Greenwald at the Guardian on Wednesday night, that the National Security Agency has been routinely collecting phone call records for millions of Americans, the Washington Post and the Guardian published articles revealing even broader government snooping powers: Since 2007, the NSA and the FBI have had the power to watch nearly every aspect of our online life as well.
The National Security Agency and the FBI are tapping directly into the central servers of nine leading U.S. Internet companies, extracting audio, video, photographs, e-mails, documents and connection logs that enable analysts to track a person’s movements and contacts over time.
The nine companies are Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, Apple. (PalTalk, according to the Post, “hosted significant traffic during the Arab Spring and in the ongoing Syrian civil war.”)
The program is code-named PRISM, and while it was created during the administration of George W. Bush, the Post reports that it has experienced “exponential growth” under Obama.
A blistering, brutal editorial published by the New York Times before the Washington Post article broke noted the contradiction between Obama’s words and deeds, recalling “when he said in 2007 that the Bush administration’s surveillance policy ‘puts forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide.’” The Washington Post story, in conjuction with the Guardian give the lie to such rhetoric. The Obama administration has trampled over the liberties we cherish.
Continue reading at: http://www.salon.com/2013/06/06/obamas_unparalleled_spy_state/
While the media in the United States (with some notable exceptions) have been criticized for relatively soft coverage of attacks on civil liberties by the Obama administration, the British press appears to be filling the gap. The Guardian is reporting on a massive surveillance program by the Obama administration where the government has ordered Verizon (and presumably other carriers) to turn over all calls made within the United States and calls between the United States and other countries.
The surveillance was conducted under an order from our controversial secret court, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (Fisa), and demanded by the Justice Department and the FBI. The administration has confirmed the existence of the program – another blow to civil liberties under Attorney General Eric Holder and this president.
The order signed by Judge Roger Vinson requires the company to turn over the phone numbers, location, duration, time and unique identifiers for all calls for all citizens. There is no effort to confine the search for individuals connected to any investigation. It is a sweeping surveillance on all citizens.
Of course, just as Democrats have remained quiet over the recent attacks on the free press, it is not clear if even this abuse will generate opposition in Congress. Civil libertarians have been complaining for years about these programs and have met a wall of silence from Democrats protecting President Obama and Eric Holder.
In February, the administration succeeded in blocking a challenge to its surveillance policies by arguing that any confirmation of such programs would put American lives at risk. Now that the case is dismissed, they have simply acknowledged the program. The decision is Clapper v Amnesty International, No 11-1025 (pdf), and it is a true nightmare for civil liberties. The supreme court rejected the standing of civil liberties groups and citizens to challenge the Obama administration’s surveillance programs.
President Obama has long been criticized for his opposition to such lawsuits and his Justice Department has continued a successful attack on the ability of citizens to challenge the unconstitutional actions of their government in the war on terror. The 5-4 opinion by Justice Samuel A Alito Jr insulates such programs from judicial review in yet another narrowing of standing rules.
From Common Dreams: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/06-1
Nancy Zorn and Stefan Warner are two Oklahoma City activists with the Great Plains Tar Sands Resistance, arrested for nonviolently protesting construction of the Keystone XL pipeline. Opposition to the pipeline and development of the Canadian tar sands is based on a long-range view of tar sands development and its threat to sustainability on earth.
A major concern is the huge contribution tar sands oil is projected to make to global warming and climate change. Ninety seven percent of climate scientists agree that the primary cause of global warming is the rising atmospheric concentration of CO2 and methane resulting from human activities.
NASA’s leading climate scientist Dr. James Hansen has called the Keystone XL pipeline “a fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet.”
Climate scientists tell us humanity must reduce the level of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level over 400 parts per million to below 350 ppm. Every species, every habitat, all of earth’s life systems are threatened by global warming and climate change.
Australia’s Great Barrier coral reefs show signs of dying. Polar ice caps and mountain glaciers around the world are melting. Extreme weather is reported regularly. Storms and rising seas flood coastlines where billions live.
The Canadian tar sands region to be deforested and mined is the size of Florida. The tar sands product is a toxic substance that must be mixed into a volatile slurry to be piped through the U.S. to Texas. Leaks and spills from the Keystone XL pipeline will threaten water sources all along its route.
TransCanada’s existing tar sands pipelines leaked 14 times in one year. In 2010, another spill dumped a million gallons of crude oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. The recent oil spill in Arkansas is yet another wake-up call.
Unions supporting Keystone are eager for jobs. But the pipeline crew is basically hired, and, in any case, pipeline construction will be temporary. By contrast, clean energy jobs will be permanent, cannot be exported, and slow the warming of earth’s atmosphere.
The implications of global warming got attention with the 1989 publication of Bill McKibben’s book “The End of Nature.” He explained the heat-trapping quality of CO2 and other “greenhouse” gases. He reported the average car generates its own weight in CO2 every year.
Continue reading at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/06/06-1
By John Upton
5 Jun 2013
More than 40 national governments and 20 states or other “sub-national” governments are now charging polluters for emitting greenhouse gases, or plan to start in the coming years, according to a new report from the World Bank.
The U.S., of course, is not one of the countries with a national cap-and-trade plan or carbon tax, but California and parts of New England are pushing ahead despite Congress’ refusal to act.
All in all, about 7 percent of the world’s greenhouse gases are now priced — the equivalent of 3.3 gigatons of carbon dioxide out of the total 50 gigatons emitted annually worldwide. Not a lot. But, says the report, “If China, Brazil, Chile, and the other emerging economies eyeing these mechanisms are included, carbon pricing mechanisms could reach countries emitting 24 [gigatons of CO2 equivalent] per year, or almost half of the total global emissions.”
The World Bank report also notes that many cap-and-trade programs are beginning to join together — California is partnering with Quebec, and the E.U. has joined up with Switzerland — which, in theory, should make it easier for companies to make the easiest cuts first. And many programs are trying to expand coverage. Australia and Korea are hoping to get 60 percent of their emissions covered, while California is aiming for 85 percent.
That said, the World Bank concludes that there hasn’t been nearly enough progress to avoid the worst effects of global warming. “The current level of action puts us on a pathway towards a 3.5–4°C warmer world by the end of this century, [which] would threaten our current economic model with unprecedented and unpredictable impacts on human life and ecosystems in the long term.”
What’s more, many of these pricing programs could prove fleeting. In Australia, for instance, Liberal leader Tony Abbott has promised to dismantle the country’s carbon law if his party gains power in the September elections (which is looking likely). So carbon pricing could just as easily shrink as expand in the years ahead.
And even where cap-and-trade systems are in place, polluters aren’t paying a hefty sum. Many systems are awash with a glut of carbon credits and allowances, which has pushed prices to “a historic low,” the World Bank says. From the report: