Friday, April 28, 2006

Senate Bill 33 PASSES! LA votes to criminalize abortions.

After 90 minutes of emotional debate, the Senate voted 30-7 for Senate Bill 33 by Sen. Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa, allowing abortions only to save the life of the mother. Sen. Joel Chaisson II, D-Destrehan, tried to amend Nevers' bill to conform with a state law passed in 1991 that also allowed abortions for victims of rape and incest, but the proposal was rejected 17-20.

As Nevers' bill heads to the House, it would criminalize abortions in the state if the landmark Roe v. Wade case, which made abortion legal in 1973, is overturned "in whole or in part" or if a federal constitutional amendment passes giving the states the authority to regulate abortions.

Nevers said his bill would not generate lawsuits that nullified the state's 1991 abortion ban because it would not take affect until Roe is reversed or the U.S. Constitution is amended. Anti-abortion proponents feel the U.S. Supreme Court may overturn Roe v. Wade following the recent appointment of more conservative justices. An abortion case is on the court's current docket.

Nevers' bill would subject a convicted abortionist to a minimum of one and up to 10 years in jail, and a fine between $10,000 and $100,000. The woman who has the procedure would not be subject to criminal penalties.

"They are putting politics over the health and safety of women," Julie Mickleberry, a lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Louisiana and the Mississippi Delta said after the vote. "We are taking this day by day and will try to do some education" of lawmakers before the bill is heard in the House.

Nevers told the Senate that the state "has a right and a duty to protect every human being, whether they are four weeks old, nine months old or 100 years old. . . . I would never want to hurt a victim of rape or incest. We must do all that we can to protect human life."

Before the bill cleared the Senate, Gov. Kathleen Blanco told reporters that she will sign "some kind of abortion bill" but that she is "waiting to see" what form it will take. She said she likes the provision in Nevers' bill that would allow the state to have a law on its books that wouldn't take effect until the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the Roe decision.

Blanco called that provision "realistic" because it would forestall costly court challenges

Chaisson argued that the state should re-enact the law that was adopted in 1991 under then-Gov. Buddy Roemer, which made abortion a criminal act except to save the mother's life and for pregnancies caused by rape and incest. Federal courts ruled the statute was unconstitutional in 1992.

Chaisson said most people in the state favor exceptions for rape and incest.

Nevers said of the 40,000 abortions in the past three years in Louisiana, only one was from a reported rape, although many may not have been reported as cases of rape or incest.

"It would be presumptuous of me as a man to try to understand what a pregnancy from rape and incest does to a woman," Chaisson said. He said that if his wife or daughter became pregnant from a rape, he would talk with his family and priest about what alternatives existed.

"But the bottom line for me is that it is not his (a priest's) decision, it is not my decision, it is her decision," Chaisson said. "Sen. Nevers' bill makes that decision for her."

Sen. Sherri Cheek, R-Shreveport, urged adoption of the Chaisson amendment, saying that the law should not put rape and incest victims "into a position where they feel trapped" by choices.

Nevers said that a woman who has been traumatized by rape should not have to be subjected to another brutal act like abortion. "I cannot justify that in my mind," he said.

. . . . . . .

Capital bureau chief Robert Travis Scott contributed to this story. Ed Anderson can be reached at eanderson@timespicayune.com or (225) 342-5810.

_________________________

ROLL CALL

How New Orleans area senators voted on an amendment to Senate Bill 33 to add cases of rape and incest as exceptions to a ban on abortion. The amendment was rejected 17-20.

YES: Walter Boasso, R-Chalmette; Chaisson, D-Destrehan; Dupre, D-Montegut; Francis Heitmeier, D-Algiers; Ken Hollis, R-Metairie; Edwin Murray, D-New Orleans; Derrick Shepherd, D-Marrero.

NO: Amedee, D-Gonzales; Diana Bajoie, D-New Orleans; Ann Duplessis, D-New Orleans; Art Lentini, R-Kenner; Ben Nevers, D-Bogalusa; Quinn, R-Metairie; Tom Schedler, R-Mandeville; Chris Ullo, D-Marrero.

Here is how the New Orleans area delegation voted on the final bill, which was approved 30-7:

FOR: Boasso; Duplessis; Heitmeier; Lentini; Nevers; Julie Quinn, R-Metairie; Schedler; Shepherd; and Ullo.

AGAINST: Bajoie; Hollis; and Murray.

ABSENT: Chaisson.


Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Louisiana State Senate to BAN Abortions!

URGENT! SB 33 on the Senate Floor Wednesday, 4/26!

On Wednesday, April 26 (yes, tomorrow!) the State Senate will vote on SB 33, one of the bills that would criminalize abortion in Louisiana. This dangerous piece of legislation is bad for women's health. Private medical decisions should be made by women and their families, NOT by politicians!

Help us fight this terrible bill by taking the following three steps:

1. Join us at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge on Wednesday!
Tell the State Senate to Stand Up for Louisiana Women and OPPOSE SB 33! Planned Parenthood supporters will meet at the Capitol Rotunda at 1:15 p.m. We will give you a quick training on how to talk to legislator, and then we'll lobby state senators. Call Julie Mickelberry at 225-610-4222 to RSVP.

2. Call your State Senator with the following message:

Dear Senator ____________________,
I urge you to stand up for Louisiana women by OPPOSING SB 33. We need housing, clean water and health care. We do not need laws that threaten women's health! Please vote NO on SB 33!

Click here to find your State Senator and their phone number, or visit www.legis.state.ga.us.


Sunday, April 23, 2006

New Orleans Elections--Not just about the mayor

If you were to watch MSNBC or look at almost any coverage of the New Orleans elections, you would think that the entire future of New Orleans depends on 1 of 2 men--Ray Nagin or Mitch Landrieu. That would be creuel enough, but the really sad story is in the details....the council members and sheriff and clerk of court positions have been filled by almost exactlyu the same people who ran New Orleans before Katrina.

You may say, "Well, that is great! New Orleans can go back to what it was!" If you believe New Orleans was all about gumbo, jazz, and Mardi Gras, you never lived in the city. The "city that care forgot" was and seems to be headed back to a racially divided, "care-less" city...complete with most of the politicians that didn't care so much to begin with.

Take for example the Sheriff--Marlin Gusman. Now that's not learning from the past. Don't take my word..read about Gusman's effectiveness during Katrina from "CityBusiness" hardly a radical rag:

In the chaos that followed Hurricane Katrina, the Louisiana Department of Corrections evacuated thousands of inmates from the Orleans Parish Prison and scattered them throughout 37 facilities across Louisiana. Alexandria defense attorney Phyllis Mann and a team of lawyers traveled to each of these prisons in an attempt to account for the whereabouts of the prisoners.The first round of interviews took place in Rapides Parish Prison Sept. 7.The defense attorneys interviewed more than 200 individuals and heard tales that horrified even the most hardened members of the legal team, Mann said.My only reaction was 'Oh my God,' Mann said. After awhile it became apparent that these people weren't evacuated, they were rescued from this horrible abuse that was occurring.Inmate after inmate described in shockingly similar terms what took place in OPP after the levees gave way. According to handwritten testimonials, inmates were Maced, shot with beanbags and beaten with clubs, flashlights and the butts of firearms.Inmates claimed guards abandoned their posts, leaving them locked in their cells as the polluted, feces-ridden water rose to their necks. Prisoners said they went without food and water for three days. Many of them resorted to drinking out of toilets while some even drank the contaminated floodwater. The inmates said they tried to break through the walls to escape the rising water and smoke filling the prison from signal fires set by other inmates in hopes of attracting rescue teams on the outside. Many inmates claimed to have seen bloated bodies floating in the water that surrounded them.Mann said prison officials abandoned the inmates in their greatest hour of need.Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman denies the charges and said his office did its best to safely evacuate the inmates under impossible circumstances. But questions continue to haunt the evacuation of Orleans Parish Prison including whether the sheriff's office had an evacuation plan at all.Generators swampedOn the morning Katrina made landfall, Aug. 29, there were more than 6,000 inmates in OPP, including prisoners evacuated from St. Bernard Parish.As the hurricane entered the Gulf of Mexico, Gusman said he initiated the flood contingency plan, which involved making sure the generators were in working order and fueled. Unfortunately, when the levees broke, the water rushed into the jail and swamped all the generators, along with the major mechanical and electrical systems located in the basement.As part of their preparations, Gusman said they made sure the prison had a 96-hour supply of food and water. But according to hundreds of statements compiled by Mann, inmates said they went days without both.As conditions worsened, Gusman contacted the state Department of Corrections and requested assistance evacuating inmates out of New Orleans.Cathy Fontenot, the DOC director of storm recovery, said the evacuation of OPP took three days due to complications created by the flooding. Gusman managed to move 2,000 prisoners to the Interstate 10 overpass, leaving more than 4,000 inside waiting to be rescued.Several officers said it was pretty scary inside, Fontenot said. It was pretty surreal but the adrenaline kicks in and our only mission was to remove the inmates as safely and securely as possible.Flood plan questionedOnce the DOC successfully evacuated the inmates, Eric Balaban, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project, attempted to gain access to Orleans Parish Prison to document physical evidence to support the horrific claims of the inmates. Gusman and the courts rejected the request.He then requested a copy of the prison evacuation plan and was given instead a flood contingency plan (that) contains no description of how OPP buildings will be evacuated in the event of an emergency, Balaban said.At the end of December Gusman provided a fire evacuation plan, which the ACLU is reviewing.Of the inmates' claims, the most serious is that there were dead bodies floating in the prison. Mann said she is not prepared to say she knows with certainty that inmates died and will not know until a full accounting of every inmate is completed. Gusman called the accusations ridiculous.The coroner told me the ACLU is asking him for a list of all of the people who died and said there were none. And they're still fighting that, Gusman said.Corinne Carey, an attorney with Human Rights Watch, asked the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the events surrounding the evacuation of Orleans Parish Prison.The best is to assume they will investigate and the worst is that it has flown off the radar or they've decided the denials from OPP officials are enough which is what most of the press and legislators have done, Carey said. But every single inmate we've spoken to has the same exact story and those stories were corroborated by corrections officers we've spoken to. Unfortunately, as is the case with so much of criminal justice issues, it is left to litigation and it never provides what many of the inmates want which is an acknowledgment and an apology.'Nothing but inmates'Mann said she understands the public may not be interested in the plight of people disregarded as murderers and rapists and may not believe their stories.No one died, no one escaped and no one was beaten or abused, she said. They're nothing but inmates and they lie and that's what Gusman is counting on people believing.But among the prison population were people arrested for misdemeanors such as public intoxication and traffic violations. One individual incarcerated for trespassing, identified only as inmate No. 6 by the ACLU, described the scene inside Orleans Parish Prison after the levees broke.Yes my unit did fill with water, which came up to my chest level of my 5-foot, 5 1/2-inch frame. On the day of the hurricane there were deputies present but early into the night there were virtually no deputies there. We were in a locked cell, which had been set afire prior to our arrival. There was no ventilation and it was filled with smoke to such a capacity that we were coughing uncontrollably and literally could not breathe. We all had black mucous coming out of our nostrils.On the morning of Hurricane Katrina we had one-half of a bologna sandwich and a small portion of applesauce. No water. After that we had not eaten anything at all until after Wednesday night.The evacuation - hideous to say the least. - So gruesome that we had to walk/wade through standing toxic-contaminated water filled with feces, urine and all kinds of other foreign debris for days on end that the details are actually almost impossible to fathom how one can survive it and not be scarred to the extremes.


Stan Goff's SEX and WAR--Published on LULU.com

I met Stan Goff--a very powerful voice against the War in Iraq and the militaristic era that is being fostered in the US in this 21st century (and before). He walked with the "Walking to New Orleans" march (from Mobile to NOLA on the anniversary of the 3rd year in Iraq). You may be interested in his book (that is now published on LULU.com)

The notion that war is intrinsic to man's nature is dealt a powerful setback in Stan Goff's 'Sex and War'. Goff, a former Special Forces sergeant, argues persuasively that rather than being born that way, men are made into killers by governments, corporations, and systems of power. Drawing both on his experiences in the military and on his reading of feminist writers such as Patricia Williams, bell hooks, and Chandra Mohanty, and as the father of a son stationed more than once in Iraq, Goff journeys through wars, ideologies, and cultures, revealing the transformation of men into killers. His story encompasses not just the battlefield and the book, but the Swift Boat Veterans controversy, the eros of George W. Bush, pornography, the Taliban, and gays and lesbians in the military. Goff's remarkable ability to connect his own personal experiences to contemporary feminist criticism makes for a provocative discussion of war and masculinity.

Product Details:

Printed: 206 pages, 8.50" x 11.00", perfect binding, black and white interior ink
ISBN: 978-1-4116-4380-2
Publisher: Stan Goff
Copyright: © 2006 by Stan Goff Standard Copyright License
Language: English
Edition: First Edition

Truthout.org....scoop on Bush and Iran!

FOCUS | Bush Meets With Think Tank On Iran Military Strike
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/042306Z.shtml
Bush traveled Friday night to Stanford University, where he met privately with members of the libertarian Hoover Institution, a think tank that has been aggressively promoting the viability of a preemptive military strike in Iran, to discuss the war.

'New Orleans is our Gettysburg'

This article was forwarded to me from New Orleans. The authors raise critical issues that should not be ignored.

The Black Commentator

www.blackcommentator.com

April 20, 2006 - Issue 180

Cover Story
'New Orleans is our Gettysburg'
A Generation's Defining Event
by BC Publishers Glen Ford and Peter Gamble

This Saturday's elections in New Orleans represent yet
another element of the vast crime committed against
Black America. With as many as 300,000 residents,
overwhelmingly African American, strewn about the
country in government-engineered exile, the elections
are an insult to the very idea of democracy, and to
the dignity of all Black people.

This farcical exercise in faux democracy will no doubt
be followed by corporate media declarations that New
Orleans is returning to "normalcy" - the same term
that the media bandied about when the city held a
shrunken Mardi Gras, in February.

Behind that bland word, "normalcy," lies a wish list
and narrative that sees white rule as normative in
America - the way things should be - and Black
electoral power as an aberration, a kind of organized
pathology in which people are assumed to be up to no
good. Despite Katrina's vast damage to Louisiana
infrastructure and commerce, there is a current of
elation among white elites and common folk alike, at
the winds and waters that cleansed New Orleans of its
two-thirds Black majority, which was seen as a sore on
the body politic, a den of Otherness and iniquity.

The white American narrative, which begins with
national "democratic" elections after the birth of the
republic in which only a tiny fraction of the
population - white male owners of substantial property
- could vote, bestows mythic significance to the
electoral exercise, no matter how bogus and profoundly
undemocratic. Thus, two ink-dipped elections in
U.S.-occupied Iraq are heralded as benchmarks of
progress, despite the deepening and widening conflict
and misery that afflict the Iraqi people. In New
Orleans, the mystical mantra of elections in which the
majority of the population cannot fully participate,
is equated with a kind of "recovery" from the storm
and flood - when no such thing has occurred.

But the whites of New Orleans are free of the
overwhelming Black presence - free at last! - a
prerequisite for the creation of a "new" and "better"
city. Some speak openly of the new lease on life that
the dispersal of Black residents has afforded the
high-ground whites that have found themselves the new
majority. (See "New Orleans Elections Fever," April
20, 2006 ). When their rule is sanctioned by this
weekend's elections, "normalcy" will be just around
the corner.

"At the same time that they were talking about holding
elections, they were holding evictions," said Rev.
Lennox Yearwood, chairman and CEO of Washington-based
Hip Hop Caucus , who has immersed his organization in
New Orleans political organizing and relief work.
"What needs to happen is the organizing of our people,
wherever they are."

The task is formidable, because the entire national
and state white power structure is determined to be
permanently rid of those exiled by Katrina. The
Louisiana state legislature has rushed to put New
Orleans schools up for sale, to preclude the return of
Black families. The bill states that "the recovery
district may sell any property which the school
district determines will not be used for providing
educational services on or before August 29, 2006."

"Recovery district." What a deformation of the English
language. The white powers-that-be want only to
"recover" New Orleans for themselves, and ensure that
there will be no place for even the most determined
Black exiles to return to. The white search for
"normalcy" is, in reality, an ongoing crime against
humanity. Saturday's election is intended to bestow
respectability to the crime.

However, a bleached New Orleans will never be
legitimate to African Americans, who understand that
they have been collectively raped of their personhood,
not by weather, but by man. Bogus elections provide a
false facade of due process - a fragrance to hide the
stench of raw expulsion of a people - but it does not
fool a single African American anywhere in the nation.


In the words of University of Chicago political
scientist Michael Dawson , Katrina " could very well
shape this generation of young people in the same way
that the assassinations of Malcolm X and Martin Luther
King shaped our generation" - the men and women who
developed their political consciousness in the
Sixties.

Rev. Yearwood agrees. "People are becoming much more
political," said the 36-year-old minister. "The common
person in Houston, Atlanta, New Orleans is much more
engrossed in politics, in the spirit of
self-determination. I'm encouraged."

Katrina is becoming a rallying cry for all of Black
America, creating a new generation of activists. "I'm
beginning to see more Fannie Lou Hamers emerging,"
said Rev. Yearwood. "People don't need more
organizations telling them what to do. They are
saying, Just give me the tools and I'll get the job
done."

While the powerful conspire to make a fait accompli of
the New Orleans diaspora, the results of which will be
certified by the most undemocratic election since
passage of the Voting Rights Act in 1965, the
political consciousness of Black America is being
transformed. A horrible lesson has been relearned:
Katrina "suggested to Blacks the utter lack of the
liberal possibility in the United States," says Prof.
Dawson. We must strike out on our own path, with
whatever allies are willing to make common cause with
us. The New Orleans election will never be "closure"
for us.

"New Orleans is our Gettysburg," said Rev. Yearwood.
"If we lose there, we lose all the marbles."

The forces arrayed against a Black return to New
Orleans do not realize that they have set in motion
the entire national Black polity. Just as President
John Kennedy inspired western Europeans when he
declared "Ich bin ein Berliner" ("I am a Berliner")
in 1963, all Black people see their fates entwined
with the New Orleans diaspora - "I am a New
Orleanian."

We understand that the enforced exile of hundreds of
thousands of our brothers and sisters is an assault
and disenfranchisement of us all, and that we cannot
afford to lose in this twilight struggle. Defeat is
not an option. As Rev. Yearwood put it: " You can live
in LA - you lose. You can be in New York - you lose.
If we lose in New Orleans, we lose it all."

BC Publishers Glen Ford and Peter Gamble are writing a
book to be entitled, Barack Obama and the Crisis of
Black Leadership.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Sander Hicks runs for Senate against Hillary Clinton

A green candidate, and what's more important an activist and outspoken critic of the corporate stranglehold on this state and this country, Sander Hicks brought his tour to Rochester NY today.

From his website <hicksforsenate.com>:

Here's How We Win

Most people in New York are progressive. They want a new politics. They want a few good, basic things out of life: a good job they believe in, a worthwhile education for their kids, healthcare, a clean environment, and honesty from politicians.

This is all too much to ask for from today's phony, careerist "leaders."

It's a great opportunity for some new politics.

I have done different kinds of community-organizing work. I've worked with unions, and churches, and a merchants association. I'm a progressive, a patriot, and a practicing Catholic. There's a "big tent" of people in New York State who I know are with me: we don't like where this country has gone since 9/11. We don't want the USA to be the bully of the globe. We need to lead the world through the strength of our ideas, not the brutality of our weapons.

Yes, the opponent has plenty of money. That doesn't scare us. We've got something more powerful than money: we believe in our cause. We have common interests. We have a mass movement on our side. The party's over for the elitists. It's time for the mass movement to take over. We've been in the streets marching against the war, and now it's time for us to take office.

There are a number of institutions that this campaign can use to reach that mass movement: the churches and temples and mosques are ready to hear this message, because it is prophetic. This is in the tradition of the ancient wisdom, like Isaiah, who spoke truth to power. The unions are eager to hear this message, because this is in the interests of the majority, which has been ignored by the two boss parties. The student groups are active and energetic and revolutionary, just like this message. The environmental groups want to hear that Green Party now has some fresh juice. The patriots and the civil libertarians are livid that a Federal Government is eager to trample on our rights, listen to our phone calls, and detain our citizens.

So, instead of responding to a politics that divides us, let's realize our common interests. Together, we are the mass movement. Abandon the two dinosaur parties. We are the mammals. We are the future. Don't delay the inevitable. Meet the future head-on!


Thursday, April 20, 2006

My thoughts about Canada- 1 hour away from me now.

As the most recent posting describes--the one from Lee Zalowsky--Canadians are working hard to give shelter to Americans who are resisting war in Iraq and maybe in Iran. These young people and their families are OUR problem...and yet Canadians are trying to help them. If you visit the web site, you will find soldiers who have done at least 1 tour of duty in Iraq, who are testifying with all their might about the atrocities and horrors they never volunteered for in this "new US army."

If you need more convincing about the terrible emotional and physical toll this war is taking on the generation of our daughters and sons, visit Truthout.Org or www.ivaw.net (Iraq Vets Against the War).

While my friends and colleagues suffer in New Orleans, our sons and daughters will pay the price of this immoral and destructive war throughout their lives--not to mention the costs to the lives of families in Iraq. We must not be overcome by our own troubles and forget the larger picture--the agenda that prevents survival in this country and in the world--the Bush/Cheney agenda.

Appeal for help for War Resisters in Canada!

From : http://www.resisters.ca

Thanks very much for your email. We deeply appreciate your support. I remember meeting you at RIT, and I have told the war resisters of your comments about the importance of what they are

Our most immediate need is for funds to appeal the Hinzman/Hughey decision to the Federal Court of Appeal. Anything you can donate or raise among other peace loving folks you may know would be most helpful. We have another refugee hearing coming up on May 4, and we just completed a refugee hearing on March 30. They are coming thick and fast, and, again, require funds to pay for legal work and for travel for heresistorssters.

I hope you will also write to the Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, and let him know that you, as an American, support the resisters in their struggle to stay and live peacefully in Canada. His email is pm@pm.gc.ca

He can also be reached at:
Office of the Prime\nMinister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa
K1A 0A2

Fax: 613-941-6900.

Thanks again for your interest and support. We remain optimistic that our Campaign will be successful, but as yet we cannot see the end of the tunnel.

Peace
Lee Zaslofsky
War Resisters Support Campaign

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