Posts Tagged ‘Planned Parenthood’

Congrats to Everyone who Joined the Women’s Marches against Trump

January 28, 2017

My congratulations and respect to everyone who joined one of the women’s marches against Trump in America and around the world last weekend. With 2 million plus people marching in the US – I’m afraid I’ve forgotten the precise number, but it was around something like 2 1/2 million or above – it was the largest single protest march in American history. And it really got The Donald riled. According to disgruntled members of his staff, he was privately very upset that it was being reported that more people had marched against him, than had turned up for his inauguration, and he despatched his spokesman to make a very strong speech about this point. And then got even more annoyed when the spokesman refused.

There was also a women’s march in Bristol, which was duly covered in the local press, including The Western Daily Press. I can’t remember the exact details from the article, but it was several thousand strong. All round the world, women and men were making their feelings about Trump and his vicious, insane policies and boorish personal views heard. Trump’s attack on Planned Parenthood in the US and abortion services around the world will cost women’s lives. His attack on the minimal welfare services in America will hit the poor and the working and middle classes, to the profit of the corporate elite. His attacks on Muslims and Latinos have emboldened the Alt-Right and other Nazis to crawl out of the shadows, as well as enabling a wave of racism throughout American society. And his narcissism, personal arrogance and belligerence make him a threat to world safety through his inability to control his anger and strike out at what feels is the very slightest insult.

He needs to be shown that ordinary people around the world are watching and judging. And we are not impressed, and will do everything we can to stop him.

Kristi Winters, a feminist Vlogger on YouTube, has put together a montage of images from the American march, backed by a song by a group of women, who composed and performed it specially for the march, which Kevin Logan put up on his YouTube channel. It gives an inspiring view of the march and the people, who went on it.

Advertisements

Nye Bevan on Women Losing Out with Private Healthcare

February 13, 2016

Republicans Women's Rights

A few days ago I put up this meme, about the way the Republicans will force American women to refight all their grandmothers’ battles if they get in again. In my opinion, the meme probably refers specifically to abortion as the issue that most widely and obviously affects women’s health and legal freedom.

But it also covers a whole plethora of other areas and issues. The Republicans recently defunded Planned Parenthood, on the spurious ground that they were providing abortions and selling the body parts for science. In fact, only three per cent of the Planned Parenthood’s activities were abortions. The majority of them were general family planning and gynaecological/ women’s health advice and procedures, given to poor women, who clearly fell at least partly outside private medical care.

As for the bodies of the aborted children, they were not sold. They were donated for scientific research, and the fees charged by the organisation were for transport, not for the bodies themselves. I have very strong sympathies for the anti-abortion lobby, and frankly I’d rather no children were aborted except in cases of medical necessity. But the wider point here needs to be made: the claim that they were being sold was an emotive, retailed by the Republicans for their own benefit.

And there was more than an element of hypocrisy in the Republicans’ denunciation. One of those making it was Carly Fiorina, who herself sat on the board of a private healthcare company that did medical research using tissue from aborted foetuses. It all proves what a Conservative friend of mine used to say, ‘The Tory party is an organised hypocrisy’. I think he was quoting old Oscar Wilde, but it’s true, and applies on both side of the Atlantic.

Nye Bevan pic

Nye Bevan, the architect of the NHS, was also acutely aware of the way ordinary women suffered under the private health care system that put medicine out of the reach of the poor. In his chapter on the health service in his book, In Place of Fear Bevan writes

Much sickness and often permanent disability arise from failure to take early action, and this in its turn is due to high costs and the fear of the effects of heavy bills on the family. The records show that it is the mother in the average family who suffers most from the absence of a free health service. In trying to balance her domestic budget she puts her own needs last.

The Tories are keen on trying to promote themselves as the natural choice for women. It’s based largely on Maggie Thatcher, and the number of female Tory MPs. They’re also trying to show that, like Labour, they stand for female equality and empowerment. When it suits them, they make feminist noises about guaranteeing women equal pay and breaking the glass ceiling etc.

It’s all just noise. Women have been hit particularly hard by their wretched austerity programme, as the jobs that are traditionally done by women have seen their budgets cuts and jobs shed. And the Tories’ privatisation of the Health Service will also lead to women suffering particularly hard, as they neglect their own needs for the benefits of their families and children, just as Bevan saw it in the Britain of the first half of the 20th century.

And this also affects the current election campaign in America. Madeleine Albright and the veteran feminist leader, Gloria Steinem, have both urged women to vote for Hillary Clinton. She would clearly be a great feminist trailblazer if she got in. She’d be the first female president of the US. I also have no doubt that she would encourage more women to enter politics, and be particularly good for high-flying female executives like herself.

But Bernie Sanders’ programme for universal healthcare would be better for women generally, as well as men and children, by giving them access to health care which the present private healthcare system denies them. Just as the mass of British women benefited from the NHS.

Young Turks: Terrorists More Motivated by Politics than Religion, Study Finds

December 15, 2015

This is another video from The Young Turks, which is extremely relevant as it takes apart the view that terrorists and suicide bombers are motivated solely or mainly by religion. Robert Pape, a professor at the University of Chicago, and the founder of that university’s Centre for Security and Faith, studied the motives of suicide bombers and other terrorists going back to 1980. He found that in 95 per cent of cases they were far more motivated by politics, and particularly the desire to retaliation after a military intervention, often a military occupation. The attacks were an attempt to take or retake territory that was important to the terrorist. This was the dominant motivation for terror attacks, including the recent massacres in Paris.

Uygur and Iadarola point out that suicide bombing are the tactics adopted by the losing sides. America doesn’t use suicide bombers, because it has the advantage of drones, tanks and aircraft. The Japanese also turned to using suicide tactics in World War II – the Kamikaze pilots – when they were losing, not when they thought they were winning, as at Pearl Harbour. The same is true of other organisations using suicide bombers, like the Tamil Tigers.

They also make the case that while religion is part of it, like Christian fundamentalists, who hate gay people, this is more of a case of someone looking for and adopting a worldview, that confirms their existing beliefs. They also cite Lydia Wilson, a journalist for The Nation, who also interviewed ISIS terrorists. She found that they had a ‘woeful knowledge’ of even the basic tenets of Islam, and had difficulty answering questions about sharia law, jihad, or even the caliphate. But such knowledge wasn’t necessary to support the ideal of fighting for the caliphate. As could be seen from the actions of one British ISIS fighter, who ordered ‘Islam for Dummies’ on Amazon.

The Turks compare their ignorance of Islam with that of Dear, the right-wing fundamentalist Christian, who shot staff and patients in an attack on Planned Parenthood. They also point out that terrorist attacks and suicide bombings have been carried out by secular organisations and individuals. The Turks also point out that military intervention is not necessarily a bad thing. The Korean War succeeded in keeping South Korea free of Stalinism, and World War II was, obviously, a military intervention, that was exactly the right thing to do. Suicide and terrorist attacks do not necessarily make the original military action wrong. They’re just something to be expected as a consequence.

This report sounds pretty much spot on, from what I understand about terrorism. Bassam Tibi, the German-Egyptian writer on Islam and the problems it is experiencing through modernisation, states in his book Islam and the Cultural Accommodation of Social Change states that the Egyptian Islamist terrorist he personally interviewed in Egypt had only a superficial understanding of Islam. A few years ago, the anthropologist Scott Atran also pointed out that violence and terrorism were not solely the product of religion. He pointed out that the organisation that had made the most use of suicide bombings was the Tamil Tigers, who were secular organisation. Atran himself is an atheist, and he made this point as a rebuttal to the claims that religion was mainly responsible for such violence by members of the New Atheism, like Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins.

A~s for reading one’s own political views into a particular religion or holy book, that’s always been a problem. It’s called ‘elective affinity’, and sociologists of religion have acknowledged and studied its importance. One example I was taught at College was the declaration by a 19th century British Tory that ‘the Bible is Conservative through and through’. It’s a classic example of the way a person with strong political opinions believed he had found them in his holy book through projecting his own prejudices and opinions onto the text.

As for the political motivations of many terrorists, there’s an interesting review of a book on the Lobster site by Carol Shaye, one of the officials involved in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Shaye has since become extremely cynical about the whole process because of the massive corruption at all levels of Hamid Karzai’s regime. She found that the Taliban fighters she interviewed almost exclusively joined because they felt it was a solution to this problem.
Of course, the Taliban isn’t. It is, however, a brutal and murderous collection of genocidal maniacs and mass-murderers. But the point remains.

The Young Turks on the Need for Gun Control in America

December 5, 2015

This is another excellent piece from The Young Turks, which I thought needed reblogging after the latest terrorist outrage in San Bernardino in Los Angeles. This happened a few days ago when Syed Farook and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, went on a rampage killing 14 and wounding at least 14 others at the Inland Regional Centre. It’s been reported in the I today that Malik may have pledged allegiance to ISIS’ leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, on Facebook.

In this video the Turks’ anchor, Cenk Uygur, puts this atrocity into its proper context, as one of the long line of mass shootings in America committed by Muslim and Christian religious extremists, like Dear, who blew away several people at a Planned Parenthood clinic, just plain loonies, and others, including shootings of unarmed suspects by American police. And the stats are shocking. He points out that in the same week that Farook and Malik murdered their co-workers and the cops sent to take them down, there were three other mass shootings in the US. This is according to the FBI’s definition, which considers a mass shooting an incident where four people or more have been shot. So far this year there has been 315 such mass shootings this year. He also quotes the stats from an organisation campaigning for some gun control laws, showing the thousands of people, who have been killed individually by guns.

He makes the point that this provides more than enough evidence for the need for gun control. However, every time someone tries to introduce some form of gun control, like mandatory background checks, this is blocked in congress by politicians, who have been funded by the NRA. Uygur at one point describes Congress as their ‘wholly owned subsidiary’. It’s why, he says, we need to take the money out of politics through initiatives like WOLFPAC. WOLFPAC is a pressure group devoted to passing legislation block companies from funding politicians’ campaigns in order to prevent such corporate corruption and pork-barrel politics.

The situation is so grotesque that when Dianne Feinstein, a Californian senator, attempted to introduce legislation banning those on the FBI’s list of suspected terrorists from buying firearms, it was blocked by the Repugs. The list is of individuals considered so dangerous, that they are legally banned from flying. The Republicans voted against it, arguing that it was unacceptable because the list wasn’t accurate.

This is how insane the pro-gun lobby is in the US. These are people considered too dangerous to fly, but they can legally buy guns, including armour piercing bullets. Way back in the 1980s Robin Williams joked about how ludicrous that decision was in his show at the New York Met.

‘According to the NRA, you have the right to armour piercing bullets. Why? How many bears do you know drive around in tanks?’

And this kind of stupidity isn’t just confined to America. There are parts of the Conservative party, who would like to bring it over here. This shows the kind of carnage that’ll occur if they do.

Here’s the video.

R.I.P. Robin Williams. He had a varied career, but I think he was one of the greatest comedians of the 20th century. And his show at the Met is a classic. If you get a chance to see it on video, or as repeat, do so. You’ll have a great laugh with the man at his prime.