Weekly Pulse: DIY Abortions on the Border, Pawlenty Screws MN on Sex Ed

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

Women on along U.S.-Mexico border are buying black market misoprostol to induce abortions, according to a new report by Laura Tillman in the Nation. The drug is easily available over the counter in Mexico.

DIY abortion is cheaper—a bottle of misoprostol costs can cost as little as $70, a fraction of the price of a medical abortion. The DIY approach can also be more convenient and private. One abortion provider told Tillman that about 20% of his patients tried misoprostol before coming to see him.

He estimates that many others took the drug successfully. Misoprostol is about 80%-85% effective when used as directed, but if it doesn’t work the woman needs immediate medical help. Potential complications include severe bleeding and uterine rupture. For more information on misoprostol abortions, see last week’s edition of the Weekly Pulse.

Comprehensive ignorance

As the bumper sticker slogan goes: If you think education is expensive, try ignorance. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota bought some very expensive ignorance this week by turning down $850,000 in federal funding for comprehensive sex education through the federal Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP).

According to Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent, Pawlenty opted to apply for the Title V State Abstinence Education Grant Program instead of the PREP, a comprehensive sex ed program. Comprehensive sex ed teaches kids how to say no to sex and how to reduce their risk of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections if they do become sexually active. Now, cash-strapped Minnesota will have to come up with $379,307 in state funds in order to get $505,743 in federal funding for abstinence-only-until-hetero-marriage education.

Robin Marty of RH Reality Check observes that Pawlenty is trying to burnish his conservative credentials in advance of a possible presidential run in 2012. It’s part of a national race to the bottom where conservative presidential hopefuls compete to see who can take away more rights from women.

E. coli comes home to roost

The agribusiness giant Cargill Meat Solutions recalled 8,500 pounds of ground beef after 3 people contracted salmonella, Mac McDaniel reports for Care2. The Cargill recall comes on the heels of the largest egg recall in U.S. history. So far, 550 million potentially salmonella-tainted eggs from to factory farms in Iowa have been recalled. McDaniel argues that these food recalls should prompt a larger discussion about the state of our food safety net and the wisdom of factory farming.

At AlterNet, food scientist and activist Dr. Marion Nestle writes that “Industrial egg operations have gotten out of hand in size, waste, and lack of safety.” So far, at least 1500 people caught salmonella from tainted Iowa eggs. Nestle urges the Senate to pass the long-awaited food safety bill, S. 510, which the upper chamber has been sitting on for over a year. It’s about time. Powerful agribusiness interests have hijacked the regulatory process for too long. The chickens are coming home to roost.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about health care by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Pulse for a complete list of articles on health care reform, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Weekly Mulch: Kicking Our Addiction to AC—Why DC Needs to Step Up

by Sarah Laskow, Media Consortium blogger

This summer, Americans are cranking up their air conditioning. At the same time, Senators are letting climate legislation cool its heels in Washington. Ultimately, both of these summer trends are contributing to climate change. Air conditioning dumps greenhouse gases into the environment, and without climate legislation that caps the country’s carbon emissions, America’s share of global carbon levels will only continue to grow.

But if it’s hard for individuals to give up air conditioning on some of the hottest days in decades, it’s even harder for the country to give up fossil fuels altogether. Just yesterday, BP finally capped the well that has been spewing oil into the Gulf—it took the company almost three months. Yet even in Louisiana, the state hardest hit by the BP oil spill, workers are supporting the oil industry and pushing back against the Obama administration’s temporary moratorium on deepwater drilling.

How can the country give up the controlled climate it has become accustomed to? We depend on fossil fuels to keep us cool and to keep our economy pumping. In both cases, the answer is not to go cold turkey, but to come up with an innovative solution.

Brrr, it’s cold in here!

Americans are as addicted to A/C as they are to oil. “Just since the mid-1990s, as the U.S. population was growing by less than 15 percent, consumption of electricity to cool the residential, retail and automotive sectors doubled,” writes Stan Cox at AlterNet. That cool breeze creates greenhouse gas pollution—the equivalent of 400 million tons of carbon dioxide each year.

Cox talks to several admirable people who live without air conditioning. They offer advice like consuming pitchers of ice water, opening your windows at strategic times, and canny use of fans.

At Care2, however, GinaMarie Cheeseman rebels. “My response to the…premise that we just have to learn to live without air conditioning is a definite, ‘Hell, no!’” she writes. Her solution? Not to give up a modern technology that improves many days, but to turn to an atmosphere-friendly product—a new-fangled A/C unit called DEVap, which is “50 to 90 percent more energy efficient than traditional air conditions,” she reports.

Highway to ‘Hell, no!’

Across the country, the response to an offshore drilling moratorium has echoed Cheeseman: “Hell, no!” After a federal judge (with a financial interest in the oil industry, of course) shut down the initial ban, the administration came back this week with a new version that “is based more on specific safety concerns and less on the simple depth of the well,” as Public News Service reports.

In The Nation, Mark Hertsgaard talked to Louisianans who disapproved of the ban altogether.

“When a airplane crashes, do you ground every plane in the country? No. You find out what caused the problem and fix it. You don’t punish the entire industry,” one fisherman told him. Hertsgaard came away with a surprising conclusion:

“It may be shocking to read in The Nation, but a blanket moratorium on new deepwater drilling may not be the best policy to pursue in the wake of the BP disaster. No state in the union is more addicted to oil than Louisiana; the oil and gas industry is responsible for roughly 25 percent of the state’s economic activity. If you abruptly cut off a hardened heroin addict, you can kill him; there is a reason physicians prescribe methadone rather than cold turkey.”

At GritTV, Hertsgaard and I discussed the problem of how to move forward, if a ban on oil drilling won’t fly.  The country needs to adopt new solutions—like Cheeseman’s A/C unit—before throwing out the old. Hertsgaard learned, for instance, that Louisiana has the strongest program for solar energy in the country.

“Louisiana has by far the strongest solar tax credit—50% off of your solar installation,” Hertsgaard said. “And if you add onto that the 30% credit that Obama administration passed earlier in his presidency, Louisiana homeowners can go solar for 80% off.”

PACE-ing ourselves

Why doesn’t every state have such a strong solar program, though? Even a disaster like the BP oil spill could not budge federal leaders to move the country towards a safer, cleaner energy future via strong policies. The version of energy legislation that now looks most likely to come to a vote in the Senate drops a carbon cap altogether. It could require renewable electricity standards which mandate that a certain amount of electricity production comes from renewable energy sources, but many states already have similar, if not better standards.

One way to reduce the country’s dependence on fossil fuels is to improve the energy efficiency of homes and businesses. There are huge gains to be made here. Better efficiency across the economy could reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent by 2030, according to the Center for American Progress. The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) loans encouraged homeowners to build houses that met federal efficiency standards. But a decision last week by the Federal Housing Finance Agency essentially killed this type of assistance.

“Cities can continue to offer PACE, but then Fannie and Freddie must impose stricter lending standards on all local borrowers—even those who never intend to take out PACE loans,” Alyssa Katz explains at The American Prospect. “In effect, the new guidelines force mayors and city councils to choose between promoting energy efficiency and improving the health of their already battered real-estate markets.”

Two cities that were using the loans—San Francisco and Boulder—have stopped issuing them, Katz reports. Yesterday, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) did introduced the PACE Assessment Protection Act of 2010, which requires the FHFA to support PACE, but there’s no guarantee that legislation will pass through Congress, Grist reports.

Policy trumps innovation

That chilling effect is exactly the opposite of the sort of policies the country needs from Washington. As Christian Parenti writes in The Nation, fancy devices (like Cheeseman’s DEVap) cannot fix the climate crisis on their own:

“An overemphasis on breakthrough inventions can obscure the fact that most of the energy technologies we need already exist. You know what they are: wind farms, concentrated solar power plants, geothermal and tidal power, all feeding an efficient smart grid that, in turn, powers electric vehicles and radically more energy-efficient buildings.”

“According to clean-tech experts, innovation is now less important than rapid large-scale implementation,” Parenti explains. “In other words, developing a clean-energy economy is not about new gadgets but rather about new policies.”

It would be nice if those new policies pushed the country to decrease energy use, instead of mimicking programs states already have in place, or worse, undoing good work that’s going forward on the local level.

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about the environment by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Mulch for a complete list of articles on environmental issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, health care and immigration issues, check out The Audit, The Pulse, and The Diaspora. This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Weekly Diaspora: Department of Justice Challenges Arizona’s SB 1070—What’s next?

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

On Tuesday, the Department of Justice filed suit against the state of Arizona in an effort to overturn a stringent anti-immigration law passed in April. The move is a breath of fresh air for immigrant rights supporters. Democracy Now! and the Washington Independent have the story.

The suit will take on Arizona’s Senate Bill 1070, a law that requires local law enforcement to check an individual’s immigration status if there is “reasonable suspicion” that said individual is undocumented. The law has sparked national outrage and serious concerns that Latinos will be racially profiled by the police. Another provision of SB 1070 requires immigrants to carry papers denoting citizenship at all times while in the state.

Is SB 1070 unconstitutional?

At ColorLines, Daisy Hernandez reports that “the lawsuit, which was filed in a U.S. District Court in Phoenix, argues that it’s against the Constitution for a state to make its own immigration policy” because of “the legal doctrine of ‘preemption,’ which says that federal law trumps state statues.”

The key argument being that “the federal government already works with states to enforce federal immigration law,” so there’s no need for a law like SB 1070 to intervene, according to Hernandez.

A civil rights fiasco

Since April, the Arizona law has served as a rallying point for immigrant rights supporters, who refer to the bill as the “Juan Crow” law. The nickname references the Jim Crow laws that existed prior to the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.

Jessica Pieklo at Care2 notes that the DOJ suit “also contains a civil rights component and argues that the law would lead to law enforcement harassing U.S. citizens and lawful immigrants in efforts to hunt down undocumented workers.”

Citizens react

At New America Media, Valeria Fernández gauges immigrants’ and Arizona residents’ reactions to the suit.

“I really feel that the Justice Department will be on the winning side of history,” said Mary Rose Wilcox, a supervisor for District 5 in Maricopa County, AZ. “I think when justice needs to be served, you should never look at political costs.”

An undocumented immigrant named Griselda told Fernández that she “jumped for joy when she heard the news,” and “Thank God there’s another one in the fight.”

The immigration reform battle moves forward

Last week, President Barack Obama called for Congress to put politics aside and focus on immigration reform as quickly as possible. The speech and suit are fueling demand for comprehensive reform and it’s clear that the issue won’t be going away.

Yet despite the need for reform, there are roadblocks. As Paul Waldman writes for the American Prospect, “It’s true that there is little incentive for politicians to produce comprehensive reform. It’s guaranteed to displease much of the public, while there is a powerful incentive to play on people’s fears and resentments.”

However, there is hope in the organizing that’s being done by immigrant youth. Undocumented immigrant and student organizer Tania Unzueta said in an interview with In These Times that immigrants from across the country are risking deportation and incarceration to come “out of the shadows and into the spotlight.”

As Unzueta explains in the interview, “When you stop being afraid, there’s a whole world of possibilities in terms of how much risk you’re willing to take to fight for what you believe is just.”

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

Weekly Diaspora: White House Likely to Sue Over Arizona’s Racial Profiling Law

by Erin Rosa, Media Consortium blogger

Hope for a comprehensive immigration reform bill this year has fallen by the wayside, but the Obama administration is rallying for one last hurrah before mid-term elections in November. Late last week, the White House unofficially announced plans to sue the state of Arizona over the now notorious Senate Bill 1070, a state law passed this year to crackdown on undocumented immigrants.

SB 1070 allows Arizona police to check the immigration status of a person if there is a “reasonable suspicion” that they are undocumented, and forces immigrants to carry government papers proving their identify at all times.

Meanwhile, an estimated 15,000 progressives and 1,300 organizations are meeting in Detroit this week to discuss alternative solutions to our broken immigration system at the second U. S. Social Forum (USSF).

US v. Arizona?

As Jessica Pieklo reports at Care2, “After Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s nonchalant statement on Ecuadorian television last week that the Department of Justice planned to file suit challenging Arizona immigration law SB 1070, senior administration officials confirmed that such a suit would be forthcoming.”

“Expect a suit to come soon though as the controversial measure is set to take effect in July,” Pieklo writes. “That said, it is only one of many suits already challenging the measure in federal court.  Some of those cases have asked a federal judge to issue an injunction which would halt implementation of the measure while the legal issues get sorted out.”

At the Women’s Media Center, Gloria Steinem and Pramila Jayapal argue that “In the wake of Arizona’s SB 1070—the harsh anti-immigrant law that not only condones but promotes racial profiling that endangers entire groups of the innocent—all sides seem to agree that the Federal government has abdicated its responsibility to institute a fair and just immigration system….”

Eyes on Detroit

In the wake of discriminatory laws like the one in Arizona, many immigration reform activists have come to the USSF, taking place June 22-26, to make their voices heard.

“This is great because it just shows community unity,” Rocio Valerio, an activist with the Worker’s Center immigrant rights group, told GritTV. “Right now the strategy for immigrant voices is being driven by policy groups, and with the social forum we’re saying that decisions can’t be made without us.”

At New America Media, Anthony Advincula interviews Rev. Phil Reller, a coordinator for Phoenix-based Southwest Conference United Church of Christ who is attending the forum. “This is a perfect opportunity to educate people on what’s truly happening in our local communities, not just about the struggles of immigrants in Arizona, but also the momentum of hope among community leaders to repeal SB 1070,” Reller says.

ICE gets a face lift

While activists are trying to find answers in Detroit, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency in Washington D.C. is attempting to turn itself into a more attractive bureaucratic juggernaut. As AlterNet explains, “This week, [ICE] announced changes to its management structure, conceived as part of a strategy to ‘re-brand’ the agency to the public.”

The agency has even gone so far as to recruit help from Hollywood, although it’s uncertain where the assistance will be coming from or if ICE agents will be portrayed as the “good guys” in movies. But not even a public relations face lift can cover ICE’s sordid record of terrorizing and deporting undocumented immigrants at a record pace.

The National Radio Project has already reported on numerous abuses in ICE-run immigration prisons. The media outlet notes that the government’s “immigrant detention is the fastest-growing form of incarceration in the U.S., with more than 30-thousand detainees behind bars on any given day.”

Filming América

While immigration problems and discrimination against Latinos continues, Oliver Stone is releasing a new film titled “South of The Border” that traces the history of popular struggles in South America and how they affect the Western Hemisphere.

According to Free Speech TV, the movie, which is set to premiere at the USSF, features interviews from “several South American heads of state, including Evo Morales of Bolivia, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva of Brazil and Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela.” Stone was also interviewed about the movie on Democracy Now!

This post features links to the best independent, progressive reporting about immigration by members of The Media Consortium. It is free to reprint. Visit the Diaspora for a complete list of articles on immigration issues, or follow us on Twitter. And for the best progressive reporting on critical economy, environment, and health care issues, check out The Audit, The Mulch, and The Pulse . This is a project of The Media Consortium, a network of leading independent media outlets.

 

 

Weekly Pulse: Dr. George Tiller’s Assassin Was No Lone Wolf

by Lindsay Beyerstein, Media Consortium blogger

When Scott Roeder shot Dr. George Tiller in church last year, media accounts described him as a lone wolf. Roeder acted alone on the day of the assassination, but he was part of a community of career anti-choice terrorists, as Amanda Robb reports in Ms. Magazine.

A community of radical, anti-abortion activists

Over the course of 6 months, Robb interviewed Roeder over a dozen times. She met with his allies at the court house. She even got permission to sit in on phone calls between Roeder and his friends. Robb’s exhaustive investigation revealed that Roeder had for years been enmeshed in a community of radical, anti-abortion activists, many of whom have committed acts of terrorism ranging from clinic arson to butyric acid attacks to murder.

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