Even at a time when a large part of the country is oriented toward the right, Rhode Island’s status as a blue state is incontrovertible. Democrats perennially dominate the General Assembly, and Democratic candidates are so assured of the state’s support that its four Electoral College votes are all but guaranteed. Few people realize, however, that women’s reproductive rights face almost constant challenges in this putative liberal stronghold.
Governor Donald L. Carcieri and a large number of state legislators oppose abortion rights, and the state already has a number of laws restricting the right to abortion that the Supreme Court decided in Roe v. Wade in 1973. Rhode Island, for example, is one of only a handful of states requiring minors to obtain parental consent prior to an abortion. It also has an enjoined law criminalizing abortion -- meaning that if Roe v. Wade were overturned, a Superior Court judge could lift the injunction that allows for abortions, single-handedly outlawing the use of the procedure in the state. Because of such factors, the advocacy group NARAL Pro-Choice America (formerly the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League) gives Rhode Island a D- for its laws on reproductive rights.
Debate about abortion rights and restrictions across the country is increasing, in large part because of pending confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee John G. Roberts -- whose stance on the issue remains unknown -- and since the US Supreme Court recently accepted its first abortion case in five years. Rhode Island remains in a particularly vulnerable position because of its enjoined law banning abortion, the anti-choice leanings of many state legislators (13 anti-choice bills were on the legislative agenda last session, with euphemistic names like, "The Women’s Right to Know Act"), and a clause in the state Constitution stating that nothing in its Bill of Rights "shall be construed to grant or secure any right relating to abortion or the funding thereof."
The above is from Rachael Scarborough King's "Abortion Rights On The Line: Rhode Island's status as a democratic bastion doesn't guarantee choice" (The Boston Phoenix).
Brandy e-mails to note Betty Brink's "Cancer Cell: The medical 'care' that women get at Carswell's prison hospital can be fatal" (Fort Worth Weekly):
The nurse pushed open the door to the hospital room, and the small woman in the bed looked out into a world that was beyond her reach. Her legs were shackled to the bed rails, allowing her to move only to the nearby potty chair and back. A mass of matted dark auburn hair formed a halo around her head, which was held stiffly upright by an orthopedic collar. She was sitting up, her swollen abdomen visible under the sheet. As she turned awkwardly, her eyes met those of a reporter standing in the hall; she looked like a frightened child who did not understand what was happening to her.
It was Aug. 8, and Darlene Fortwendel, 49, an inmate at the Carswell Federal Medical Center for women had just been told by a Huguley Hospital oncologist that there was no hope for her recovery from a rare form of liver cancer that had gone untreated at Carswell for six months. By the time she was examined at Huguley, the cancer had metastasized to her bones. Even worse, the oncologist found several malignant tumors growing on her spine that were causing partial paralysis in her upper body, a process that could hasten her death.
"She won't be able to breathe," her sister Angie Garrett said angrily a few minutes later. "We are devastated. This is a horrible way to die." Her sister had been sent to federal prison in 2003 with a 37-month sentence for embezzlement, not for some heinous violent crime. But when Darlene was transferred to Carswell -- the only women's hospital in the federal prison system -- it might as well have been a death sentence. "My sister's not a murderer," Garrett said, "but this Carswell place has killed her just the same."
Fortwendel was a bank officer in the small town of Tell City, Ind., when a gambling addiction drove her to embezzlement. Originally sent to a prison in Illinois, she arrived at Carswell in February with less than a year left on her sentence -- and with a diagnosis of metastatic liver cancer already in her records. Nonetheless, it took the Carswell medical staff five months to determine that the cancer was hepatocellular carcinoma, a rare type of liver cancer that is often successfully treated when found early.
But it wasn't treated early. While Carswell doctors dithered, they ordered no treatment, and the tumor on her liver continued to grow. By July, when the staff arrived at their diagnosis, the tumor was so large it made her look pregnant. Even then they ordered no treatment, not even pain medication. By the time she was sent to Huguley -- a hospital under contract with the Bureau of Prisons to provide specialized services not offered at Carswell -- she had been suffering for a week from intense pain in her upper body that left her unable to use her arms for even the simplest tasks, Garrett said. Her fellow inmates had to dry her when she stepped out of the shower and to help her get dressed. "They heard her crying and took care of her," Garrett said. "It's a crying shame when you're in the hospital and the only people there to take care of you are the other patients." For the last week, she said, her sister "became very pale, she couldn't eat, and she was in terrible pain."
We'll again note "Jennifer K. Harbury Knows American Torture Starts at the Top, and It Has for Decades" (BuzzFlash):
BuzzFlash: Another film, The Agronomist, is about a Haitian pro-democracy man who was trained as an agronomist but owned a radio station and was ultimately killed. He was trained in Haiti, and then he went to France to learn more about agronomy. He came back and started teaching the poor in the Haitian countryside how to get a greater yield for their crops. He was put in prison for six months for teaching them how to grow more crops, because the oligarchy among the agricultural community there were threatened by that.
Jennifer K. Harbury: Yes.
BuzzFlash: So what we seemed to see in Guatemala is that, if you merely try to empower in any way, or improve the lives of those who are poor, you are a threat to the government and therefore you potentially can be tortured.
Jennifer K. Harbury: That's what happened in Latin America, yes.
BuzzFlash: In Truth Torture and the American Way, you've documented the connections between the torture in Vietnam and Latin America, and now moving to not just Abu Ghraib, but to Guantanamo and including the practice of rendition – that is, taking people who are "suspects" under the Bush Administration, and turning them over to countries where torture is officially tolerated. Not only that -- there have been stories in the mainstream press that there are people who have been secretly detained in places like Diego Garcia, where they are being tortured, although that's not officially been confirmed. And Attorney General Gonzales, as White House Counsel, wrote the infamous memo where he basically said we don't have to abide by the Geneva Conventions, and listed what sort of torture would be tolerable. Clearly in Abu Ghraib, what was tolerable went beyond what was tolerable, since several -- not just several -- it may be as high as a hundred people -- died there in detention from torture. Why is no one accountable for this?
Jennifer K. Harbury: What's happened is what has happened in the past. Very low level people, such as, in this case, the MPs who were ordered to carry out those tortures, are held up to the public as scapegoats, put on trial, and sent to jail. Whereas, Rumsfeld, Gonzales and Tenet, who are in clear violation of two felony statutes within the United States which prohibit torture abroad by any U.S. official, or conspiracy to do so, or ordering or condoning such actions – these people have remained completely free. Why are they free with no charges brought against them? Because the person who would decide to indict them would be the Attorney General – formerly Mr. Ashcroft, now Mr. Gonzales. We have a clear breakdown of the checks and balances system here. They should be under indictment, but they're not, so their crimes are continuing. And that, in fact, is going to greatly increase the risks of more attacks against our country.
The above is noted twice today because it's an important interview (my opinion) and you should be aware of it. Will CNN break away from whatever nonsense they're covering this week to interview Jennifer K. Harbury? If they were to, would they offer an indepth interview like that?
No. Which is why indymedia is important to democracy. The links take you to BuzzFlash premiums so if you're interested and can afford it, please utilize the links to find out more.
Cedric e-mailed to note Lloyd Hart's "Turning Chavez Into Noriega" (Colorado Indymedia):
In a recent series of articles in The New York Times a disturbing strategy seems to be emerging out of the White House and the U.S. press. An insidious strategy of turning Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's public image here in the United States into that of resembling former Panamanian President Manuel Noriega, who is now languishing a federal prison cell here in the U.S as a result of the U.S. invasion of Panama during the previous Bush regime in which over 10,000 Panamanian civilians were killed by U.S. forces.
The U.S. was also caught burying those dead civilians the U.S. murdered in mass graves on U.S. military bases in Panama. At the time of the invasion the Bush regime was attempting to arrest Manuela Noriega on drug charges.
In a recent article written by Juan Forero and published in The New York Times it has been revealed that the U.S. has revoked:"the visas for three high-ranking Venezuelan military officers suspected of drug trafficking, prompting President Hugo Chávez's government to retaliate by promising to withdraw diplomatic immunity for American narcotics agents in Venezuela."
The article also states:
"The latest spat between the United States and Mr. Chávez's populist government began Sunday when Mr. Chávez suspended bilateral antidrug cooperation after accusing the D.E.A. of spying. The United States had previously complained that Venezuela was not doing enough to stop shipments of Colombian cocaine from going through Venezuela en route to the United States or Europe."
To give a little background the U.S. over the last couple of years has accused President Hugo Chavez of supporting and even supplying weapons to the FARC, Colombia's largest revolutionary guerrilla movement. The U.S. has also labeled the FARC as being drug smugglers as well as officially listing the FARC as a terrorist organization.
In another paragraph in Forero's article Forero uses a Rove feed to create a heightened sense of urgency. The state and below is not objective reporting but complete hype."''Venezuela is being stricken by drug trafficking,'' an American official in Colombia who is involved in fighting drugs, said in a recent interview on condition of anonymity because of agency policy. ''The drug-trafficking organizations based in this region are ripping a trail right through the center of the country.''"
The U.S. is obviously building a pile unsubstantiated accusations using American reporters to do so and Juan Forero is no exception to this bizarre but familiar game being played in the American press and between the two governments that seems to be timed to coincide with Donald One-Celled Rumsfeld's tour of Latin America warning Latin-American leaders "in familiar cold war rhetoric" to "resist leftists"and " maintain stability.
Forero however lets his slip show when he makes the following connect the unrelated dots statement in the article:
"The Venezuelan government's commitment to stopping drugs has appeared to flag." basing this statement on two ordinary and unrelated events. One being a drug dealer who escapes from prison and the other a Venezuelan government official been replaced who was involved in fighting drugs.
Juan Forero has always followed the Council on Foreign Relations editorial theory of making America seem correct in its position and whatever left-wing target as being nutty but this latest series of articles from The New York Times including those of Donald Rumsfeld's tour of Latin America are somewhat more insidious than usual. In other words the pattern seems to be resembling the media assault on Panama's President Manuel Noriega prior to the U.S. invasion.
I'm not necessarily suggesting that the U.S. is planning to invade Venezuela which of course is always a possibility but the idiots in the White House may be attempting a better organized and better supported coup d'etat. With plenty of Bush Regime friends going through power withdrawal in Venezuela the Bush gang could have easily smuggled plenty of weapons and a plan into Venezuela in which overwhelming force will be used covertly supported by the U.S. Air Force just as they did in Chile to initially slow a popular uprising which would be completely squashed when the newly installed government requests U.S. military assistance in order to restore stability, the New York Council on Foreign Relations favorite word.
Cedric notes that Francisco long ago dubbed Juan Forero "the littlest Judy Miller."
Natalie e-mails to note Luke's "the chavez threat" (wotisitgood4):
* cnn are doing a story on idiot pat robertson apologising - the graphic reads "the chavez threat"* im not sure what the oddest thing about robertsons' assassination comment. is it that murder is illegal? that assassination is illegal? nah - its much worse than that. is it cos the assassination would probably not achieve what its apparently sposed to? maybe its that. or maybe its that the purported alternative to assassination is invading venezuela. yeah - thats probably it.
Brad e-mails to note populist's "When are foreign troops overstaying their welcome?" (Colorado Indymedia):
Almost always, to be sure! Anytime. anywhere!
First of all, nations, or at least the people that populate those nations, never extend welcomes to foreign troops. Their leaders do. And those leaders, more often than not, represent their own personal interests, or those of the groups they front.
That thought applies to the supposedly "friendly" military guests. but what about the others, the uninvited foreign troops? Call them by whatever preferred name you wish: invaders, liberators, mercenaries, occupiers.
Unbidden guests are often welcomest, said Shakespeare, when they are gone. That's something most of us can assent to personally. And we suspect such dictum also applies in affairs-of-state.
After 9/11, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan could not very well deny support to the US when asked. Even Russia had to look the other way as the US mustered more than a casual presence in those nations' military bases, instead of just temporary access for the initial campaign in Afghanistan. Needless to say, after combat is out of the way, there is always the "stability" issue. And so, American troops are likely to remain there for a while. for it is in the nature of foreign troops, by their presence, to create or aggravate instability. It's a safe bet to predict that stability will never be reached in Afghanistan or in Iraq. not while American troops are stationed there.
There is little question that the current joint military exercises by Russia and China, "Peace Mission 2005," are but a marketing opportunity for Russia to show China its military wares, particularly the Tu-95 strategic and the Tu-22M long-range bombers, both capable of carrying nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. Both the Pentagon and the State Department would be blind not to see a commonality of interests by these two nations to keep Central Asia free from America influence. Certainly free from American dominance. Unlikely bedfellows can emerge to counter dominance by the only existing military superpower. And the Shanghai Cooperation Organization is just that start.
Brad also asks that we note Colorado Indymedia is "more than up and running." For visitors and newer members, when Colorado Indymedia was hacked, they said they'd be back up and running. Those weren't idle words, Cord and the others at Colorado Indymedia worked really hard and came back stronger (community opinion). For a month after the hack, we made a point to spotlight their site in its own entry each week. Cedric was the one who suggested we highlight them in a spotlight entry when they came back after the hacking and Brad thinks (rightly) that we need to note that they are working very hard and doing some strong and amazing entries.
The e-mail address for this site is firstname.lastname@example.org.