Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Taliban 'lite' comes to America: The war on pregnant women

The only difference is that we don't stone women to death.

Rennie Gibbs is accused of murder, but the crime she is alleged to have committed does not sound like an ordinary killing. Yet she faces life in prison in Mississippi over the death of her unborn child.

Gibbs became pregnant aged 15, but lost the baby in December 2006 in a stillbirth when she was 36 weeks into the pregnancy. When prosecutors discovered that she had a cocaine habit – though there is no evidence that drug abuse had anything to do with the baby's death – they charged her with the "depraved-heart murder" of her child, which carries a mandatory life sentence.

Gibbs is the first woman in Mississippi to be charged with murder relating to the loss of her unborn baby. But her case is by no means isolated. Across the US more and more prosecutions are being brought that seek to turn pregnant women into criminals.

In Alabama prosecutors have come up with a new innovative way to apply a "chemical endangerment" law designed to protect children whose parents were cooking methamphetamine in the home and thus putting their children at risk from inhaling the fumes.

Amanda Kimbrough has been sentenced to 10 years in jail. While pregnant, her fetus was diagnosed as possibly having Down's Syndrome and she was advised to consider terminating the pregnancy. She chose not to, because she didn't believe in abortion. She gave birth prematurely via a cesarean section but the baby only survived 19 minutes.

Six months later Kimbrough was arrested at home and charged with "chemical endangerment" of her unborn child on the grounds that she had taken drugs during the pregnancy – a claim she has denied.

"That shocked me, it really did," Kimbrough said. "I had lost a child, that was enough."

She now awaits an appeal ruling from the higher courts in Alabama, which if she loses will see her begin a 10-year sentence behind bars. "I'm just living one day at a time, looking after my three other kids," she said. "They say I'm a criminal, how do I answer that? I'm a good mother."

In Amicus Briefs used used by Gibbs' defense lawyers advocates argue that such prosecutions will deter pregnant drug addicts to seek help for their addiction and may instead be motivated to seek to terminate the pregnancy themselves for fear of prosecution.

Ground zero for the assault on pregnant women who use drugs is South Carolina. From a paper presented by the NAPW (National Advocates for Pregnant Women). Click on 'download file' for the full report.

South Carolina’s former Attorney General, Charles Molony Condon, and frequent Republican candidate for statewide office, has made a career based on extremist positions. His most extreme position—edging out his advocacy of an electric sofa to expedite executions and his effort to keep the confederate flag flying above the state capitol—is his commitment to the prosecution and punishment of poor pregnant women. Although he has repeatedly claimed that this was a policy of “last resort” that “was not punitive…not designed to put people in jail,” but designed to promote treatment of pregnant women with drug problems, the record makes clear that punishment was and continues to be the first and only response for many South Carolina women seeking medical help for themselves and their children.

Needless to say the targets of Condon's policy are low income African American women. Although Condon has continually maintained that the program's goal was treatment not punishment the Supreme Court ruled that the policy violated the 4th Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable search and seizure.

Condon and South Carolina has continued undaunted. Condon, without a trace of irony claimed that the program offers amnesty and treatment and the only way a pregnant drug addicted woman would land up in jail is if they refused both or literally "broke into jail."

The record tells another story.

Sandra Powell did not break into jail.

Sandra Powell, an African-American woman, was also arrested in 1989, at MUSC. Ms. Powell had been receiving prenatal care at MUSC without ever being offered drug treatment. She would later testify under oath that she would have accepted drug treatment had it been offered. In fact, Ms. Powell’s medical records indicate that while the hospital was aware of her cocaine use during her pregnancy there was no offer of treatment prior to—or on the day of—the delivery. Medical records do indicate, however, that on the day of the delivery, October 13th, the hospital staff would notify the police and coordinate her in hospital arrest at the time of her discharge. Ms. Powell was arrested just hours after giving birth, while she was still bleeding and in pain.

The 'war on drugs' has been an abject failure in so many ways. It's the main reason America sends more people per capita to prison than any other country in the world. exceeding such bastions of freedom as Myanmar, Iran and Libya.

This particularly cruel and vindictive assault on pregnant women takes the war on drugs and adds the fanaticism of the religious right which has led to well over 900 separate bills being tabled at both the state and federal level since the beginning of the year to either limit access to reproductive services, re-define personhood or punish women for neglecting their bodies while pregnant.

The additional shame is that this report had to come from a newspaper in England. It's a story that the American media have ignored because it just doesn't have the pizazz of the Casey Anthony story.

This man could be the Republican presidential candidate.

Gov. Rick Perry’s call for a day-long event of prayer and fasting Aug. 6 at a sports stadium in Houston is a dramatic escalation of government meddling in religion. Called “The Response,” the event is being coordinated by the American Family Association (AFA), an extreme Religious Right group, as well as other far-right religious groups and figures with controversial theological and political ideas. The rally is exclusively Christian in nature; in fact, it reflects a certain type of Christianity – the fringes of fundamentalism.

What brought this about? Perry’s theological allies claim that America is being punished by God for its wicked ways. They see a national day of repentance as the solution.

On The Response’s website, Perry writes, “Right now, America is in crisis: we have been besieged by financial debt, terrorism, and a multitude of natural disasters. As a nation, we must come together and call upon Jesus to guide us through unprecedented struggles, and thank Him for the blessings of freedom we so richly enjoy.”

No separation of church and state in Rick Perry's world.

With Romney looking more and more like the putative candidate among those who have already announced it's looking more and more as though Perry will step into the race.

Here's a better idea than prayer. Good government that does the things government does, or should do effectively, a little bit of sanity on climate change and a fucking calculator used by people with brains, like real economists.

If the results of Perry's weekend of prayer in late April for rain are any indication we're fucked. Here's a graphic image of how successful that prayer shindig worked.

Above:  A map of drought area on April 26 a couple of days after Perry's weekend of prayer.

Here's the most recent map of the drought in Texas.  Rick, has it occurred to you that maybe God thinks you're an asshole/.  

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Best July 4th song ever

Dave Alvin, titled The 4th of July obviously.

Bonus live version.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

":Historically unprecedented"

“Between the second quarter of 2009 and the fourth quarter of 2010, real national income in the U.S. increased by $528 billion. Pre-tax corporate profits by themselves had increased by $464 billion while aggregate real wages and salaries rose by only $7 billion or only .1%. Over this six quarter period, corporate profits captured 88% of the growth in real national income while aggregate wages and salaries accounted for only slightly more than 1% of the growth in real national income. …The absence of any positive share of national income growth due to wages and salaries received by American workers during the current economic recovery is historically unprecedented.”

A recent study by economists at Northeastern University illustrates one of the reasons the current "economic recovery" is illusory for most Americans. Average real hourly earnings for all employees actually declined by 1.1 percent from June 2009, when the recovery began, to May 2011, the month for which the most recent earnings numbers are available.

When almost all the benefits are going to corporate America there can be no real recovery. With 90% of Americans treading water in uncertain times, demand for products won't rise significantly. Most corporations have squeezed out profits because productivity has risen 6% in that same time frame. Something has to give and as long as there is this 'historically unprecedented' distribution of growth it will be the stability and growth that made America the most powerful nation on earth.

This apparently isn't a joke

Possible replacements to be President Barack Obama’s top economic adviser, according to a senior administration official, include Erskine Bowles, White House chief of staff under President Bill Clinton, and Roger Altman, a prominent investment banker and former deputy Treasury secretary.

Jamie Dimon, chief executive of JPMorgan Chase, is considered a strong dark-horse candidate.Dimon has said he is not interested in public office but many on Wall Street believe he would accept the job if asked by Obama. But the White House will have to decide whether Dimon, who leads the most successful bank in the U.S., is too closely aligned with Wall Street.

WTF. The revolving door between the Treasury and Wall Street is one of the reasons the economy is still fucked and will be for a long long time.

While Dimon does occasionally redeem himself, mainly in coming out in support of Elizabeth Warren and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau he still whines and carps about financial reform at every opportunity.

He claimed financial reform is stalling the economy from Robert Reich.

Simon Johnson called him the most dangerous man in America.

Thelast thing we need is another Wall Street banker running the Treasury. Dimon is smart and capable which makes him,as Johnson says, far too dangerous to steer the economy right now.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Jidge David Prosser grabs reporters microphone

The man has issues. He checked himself and handed it right back this time but the man has some anger issues.

Favorite 4th of July songs # 1

Bruce Springsteen - 4th Of July, Asbury Park (Sandy). Live at the Capitol Theater, Passaic, NJ in 1978 when he still breathed fire.