Are Anti-Abortion Groups Trying to Keep Women Away From the Polls?

14.07.2011 § Leave a comment

From Mother Jones:

Wisconsin held a special election on Tuesday, the first round of voting in the recall elections spurred by this spring’s union battle in the state. But some voters in Wisconsin received an automated “robocall” from Wisconsin Right to Life on Monday—the day before the election—informing them that they would be receiving an absentee ballot application for the upcoming recall elections in the “next few days” and urging them to use that form to vote by mail.

A source working on the special election provided Mother Jones with a recording of the voicemail, which the source believes was designed to confuse voters and keep them from the polls on Tuesday. Here’s the transcript of the message:

Hello, this is Barbara Lyons from Wisconsin Right to Life. I’m calling today to let you know that you will be receiving an absentee ballot application for the upcoming recall elections in the mail in the next few days. These recall elections are very important and voting absentee will ensure that your vote is counted and that we can maintain a pro-family, pro-life state senate. We hope that we can count on you to complete that application and send it back to us within 7 days. Thank you for your support. Wisconsin Right to Life can be reached by calling (877) 855-5007.

Lawrence Norden, the deputy director of the democracy program at New York University’s Brennan Center for Justice, stopped short of deeming the robocall an attempt at voter suppression. But it’s clear the call’s script had the potential to confuse and mislead voters, Norden said. “To me it reads confusing enough that it could lead people to believe that they didn’t have to vote on Tuesday and that they could be getting something in the mail to vote absentee,” he argued. “It’s troubling that a confusing message like this would go out the day before an election.”

Full article here.


Domestic worker in Strauss-Kahn case files libel suit against the NY Times

05.07.2011 § Leave a comment

From the SF Times (via AP):

The hotel maid at the center of the now-teetering sex assault case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn filed a libel lawsuit Tuesday against the New York Post after the tabloid reported she was a prostitute.

The woman’s lawyer, Kenneth Thompson, filed the claim in Bronx state Supreme Court after the Post, relying on anonymous sources, referred to the 32-year-old as a “prostitute” and a “hooker.” The paper also reported that she “traded sex for money” and turned tricks at a Brooklyn hotel while she was being housed by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office.

All of those statements are false, according to the lawsuit, and have subjected the woman to humiliation and ridicule.

“We filed the suit because rape victims should not be called prostitutes,” Thompson said.

A spokeswoman for the Post said the paper stands by its reporting.

The Post’s claims came in a series of articles published after a special hearing Friday in which Strauss-Kahn, the 62-year-old former head of the International Monetary Fund, was released without bail after prosecutors conceded that new information about the woman’s life had forced them to reconsider the case.

The Post has not named the woman, as is customary in the U.S. media with people who say they are victims of sexual assault.

But her attorney said it is clear to whom they are referring, because there is only one hotel maid accusing Strauss-Kahn of attempted rape.

In arguing libel, it is not necessary for the maid to prove the general public knows her and was affected by the possibly defamatory statements. At issue is whether people close to her, either in her professional or personal life, would see the accusations and would know they refer to her, said David Heller of the nonprofit Media Law Research Center, which monitors First Amendment and libel issues.

Full article here

15,000 Gather to Protest Georgia Immigration Law

05.07.2011 § Leave a comment

As many as 15,000 people gathered in downtown Atlanta Saturday to protest a new law that aims to crack down on undocumented immigrants. The demonstrators were motivated by legislation that legalizes 15-year prison sentences and $250,000 fines for individuals who use fake identification to secure a job.

Full article from Democracy Now.

Slut Walk Goes South

01.07.2011 § Leave a comment

There has been much discussion around the feminist blogosphere about the resonance of Slutwalks among women of color. Andrea Plaid recently weighed in on the debate at Alternet. Ileana Jimenez of Feminist Teacher interviewed Gabriela Amancaya, one of the organizers of Mexico’s first Slutwalk in the capitol city, adding more vibrancy to the conversation about Slutwalks across nation and race.

Amancaya weighed in on the question of Slutwalks and women of color:

“We have to acknowledge our privilege in all cases, as there is no excuse. When we decided to hold a Marcha de las Putas in Mexico City, it was because we knew that machismo exists all over the world but within different contexts. In Mexico, the rates of gender-based violence are alarming, and while the intersections of race, class and ethnicity are different here than in the U.S., and while we recognize that raising our voices against the silence that has surrounded sexual abuse is still a privilege that not all people in our country have, it is important to break the silence around it wherever possible.”

From Feministing (In situ)

Strauss-Kahn’s defense team questions his victim’s credibility

01.07.2011 § 1 Comment

From the Wall Street Journal:

Prosecutors are expected to reveal in court that the maid told them she had been the victim of a gang rape in her home country of Guinea, and later admitted that she had made the story up, a person familiar with the matter said.

The revelations about the witness also involve her interaction with a man jailed on drug charges with whom she was taped in a telephone call, one person familiar with the situation said. Prosecutors and defense lawyers met Thursday to discuss the issues.

The issues regarding the maid’s credibility were reported Thursday by The New York Times on its website.

The May 14 arrest of Mr. Strauss-Kahn, an international political figure, at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport as he prepared to depart on a flight for Paris, has generated headlines and debate around the world, cost him his job at the helm of the IMF and has apparently dashed his hopes for a run at the French presidency.

It has also fueled speculation in Mr. Strauss-Kahn’s home country of conspiracies against him driven by politics and profit.

Prosecutors had previously said in court that the maid, a 32-year-old immigrant, had immediately cried out to witnesses upon leaving the room, indicating the veracity of her story. Investigators also found DNA evidence from Mr. Strauss-Kahn at the scene, law enforcement sources have said.

But the defense lawyers had indicated they would argue the encounter was consensual, and hired investigators to scrutinize the woman’s credibility.

Full(y nauseating) article here.

According to WSJ, Food Stamps are the source of fraud AND diabetes

01.07.2011 § Leave a comment

So I now follow Newt Gingrich on Twitter, leading me to read some pretty hilarious/disturbing things, like this piece from the Wall Street Journal, representative of the current right-wing backlash against progress being make to Food Stamp eligibility:

According to WSJ, the Obama administration’s repeal of the required “asset test” on Food Stamps applications is responsible for a wave of “bureaucratic crime” and various other “absurdities” resulting from overly-lax regulations. The initiative, part of an ongoing (PR) campaign to de-stigmatize the program and increase eligibility for those in need, aims to reduce the amount of paperwork associated with new applications thereby making it easier to receive benefits. In the article, WSJ columnist James Bovaird argues that now millionaires all around the country are eligible for Food Stamps, and that “some food-stamp recipients were selling their cards on Craigslist or brazenly cashing them out on street corners (for 50 cents on the dollar) and using the proceeds for illegal drugs and prostitution.”

Of course, as the Obama administration is “far more enthusiastic about boosting food-stamp enrollment than about preventing fraud,” they are making it even worse by “cracking down on state governments’ antifraud measures.” Bovaird is referring here to the fact that the Obama admin has requested that CA, TX and NY stop mandatory finger-printing of Food Stamps recipients (because Food Stamps recipients shouldn’t be treated as anything but criminals).

My favorite part of the article is definitely where Bovaird argues that providing Food Stamps is causing diabetes by encouraging people to eat more:

“Perhaps the biggest fraud of all is the notion, which the USDA has been touting lately, that the food-stamp program is a nutrition program. (The program’s name was formally changed in the 2008 farm bill to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program—SNAP—to make it sound more wholesome and attractive.) What is really does is boost caloric intake, which is why numerous studies (including a 2009 Ohio State University report) link food stamps to the worsening obesity epidemic among low-income Americans.”

And last but not least, Bovaird throws a wild-card into the mix when he acknowledges that the rise in the number of folks on food assistance began long before Obama. The absurdity here of course is in Bovaird’s analysis of the phenomenon not as the result of Bush’s fucked-up financial policies (causing financial ruin for thousands and the increased need for social assistance, etc), but rather because G. Bush was secretly a left-wing traitor crusading for the poor:

But the Obama administration doesn’t deserve all the blame. Food-stamp enrollment surged before Mr. Obama took office. The number of food-stamp recipients on George W. Bush’s watch rose by more than 50%, even before the recession hit in 2007. As Slate reporter Annie Lowrey wrote for the online magazine last December, President Bush and his food-stamp chief Eric Bost “went on a quiet crusade to expand eligibility, increase enrollment, and reduce stigma around nutrition aid.” (emphasis added)

Um, right.

Eat the rich.

Full article here:

Groundbreaking Canadian case sets a complicated precedent for AIDS-based murder convictions

01.07.2011 § Leave a comment

Johnson Aziga is the first person in Canada to be convicted of murder via HIV transmission after having infected several women with with the virus through unprotected sex, two of which have since died from AIDS-related cancers. Aziga argues that he was convicted by a racist jury (they were all white, as were a number of his victims), and that there is insufficient evidence to prove that he was the source of the infection in his victims. However, the highly-educated former public servant also admitted to  knowingly engaging in unprotected sex with 11 different women in the 8 years since his diagnosis and to having witheld his condition when asked directly by some of the women. From an article in the Vancouver Sun:

He has given a number of reasons for why he didn’t tell the women about his HIV status, including that he was afraid of losing companionship, he was not counselled properly on how to do so by public health officials and that his ex-wife made him a “monster” and “morally dead.” Aziga also blames his culture for not making it easy to divulge personal information.

While the racist stereotyping around HIV is completely fucked up, and the limits of HIV counseling and education in North America are real, Aziga’s behavior during the trial is still extremely disturbing and overrules these excuses as in any way justifying his actions:

 During the cross-examination, she asked him if he was ready to let the victims move on by resigning to serve his life sentence for the murders or if he was still preparing to appeal the convictions.

“Why should I?” retorted Aziga. “I cannot definitely tell you that I’m abandoning my appeal.”

On Wednesday, Aziga personally apologized to the women for the first time in a two-page statement he read aloud in court. Most of the statement was about his own suffering.

On Thursday, he admitted that he’d be willing to engage in unprotected sex if he is released from prison if the woman told him she was a “risk taker.”

Since his conviction, debate has continued over whether to label Aziga as a ‘dangerous offender,’ which would result in his being ineligible for parole. In addition to the above testimony, the prosecution is citing Aziga’s “abnormally high libido” in arguing the likelihood of recidivism, further underscoring the  racist and patriarchal tenor of the whole affair.

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