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Zika Funding Is Problem For Congressional Republicans

June 28, 2016

There is a massive failure about to occur in Congress regarding Zika–and it is due to over-zealous conservatives who are more interested in partisan warfare than the well-being of the American public.  The actions from House Republicans as a funding measure was being crafted to curtail the spread of the disease may come back to bite them at the ballot box this fall if there’s an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus in the United States.

Before leaving for a seven-week vacation the House passed a funding bill that was loaded down with a wish list of conservative proposals.  It contained all sorts of matters ranging from limiting funding for birth control, allowing pesticide spraying near water sources, and raising the Confederate flag.    These types of inclusions are an affront to those who understand the gravity of Zika and wish to stop it from spreading.  There is no way the ridiculous add-ons in the bill can be accepted and therefore the Senate blocked the plan to spend $1.1. billion to fight the Zika virus.

Consider what the Republicans have done.  Senate Democrats are rightly concerned about the decision to strip language barring the display of the Confederate Flag on certain days at Veterans Affairs Department facilities. That’s part of the regular Military Construction-Veterans Affairs spending bill that’s been needlessly tied to the anti-Zika funding.   The fact that members of the GOP tried to use a serious health funding bill to get through matters that any other time would not see the light of day is appalling.

There are already 2,900 U.S. cases of Zika, most of them in Puerto Rico, and the pressure to deal effectively with this matter is now at hand.   Should the number increase dramatically in the coming months there will be one party to pay a price at the November polls.

The Republican Party.

Time and again there has been an inability of the House majority to do the nation’s work.  This is but the latest example, and now it deals with the health of the citizenry.

Wisconsin Abortion Appeal To Supreme Court Rejected

June 28, 2016

Adding to the news yesterday from the Supreme Court about the right of women to control reproduction comes more news today aimed directly for Wisconsin.

The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected an appeal from the Badger State of a federal appeals court ruling that struck down our state’s law placing restrictions on abortion providers.

The justices’ decision to refuse to hear appeals from Wisconsin and Mississippi follows the striking down of a Texas law with similar restrictions, requiring abortion doctors to have admitting privileges.

One of the prime reasons conservatives use the issue of abortion is to score political points.  There were plenty of objective legal minds who strongly pressed the view that what Wisconsin legislators were crafting was not going to be constitutional.  But there was a hungry partisan base that needed to be catered to and the GOP majority in the statehouse felt no compunction not to act.  They hold the power and have demonstrated time and again that sound judgment is not a strong factor in why they act.

Having a reasoned and wise judiciary has once again saved us all from the most base and partisan of whims and motives.    If only the ones who keep demanding control over women’s bodies would learn their lessons we would not need to repeat these headlines.

No one believes that Wisconsin Republicans under our statehouse dome–or conservatives in other legislative bodies–had some deep and genuine enthusiasm for promoting women’s health.  Rather it all was simply to cater to the anti-abortion movement.

The court made it clear that judicial inspection is a most important check on those who wish to control women’s reproductive rights.

 

Women’s Reproductive Rights Upheld At Supreme Court

June 27, 2016

The Supreme Court sent a very strong message today as it struck down two key abortion restrictions.  In so doing most legal scholars are analyzing it as redefining the scope of Roe v. Wade.  It is without a doubt the most significant abortion ruling in a generation.

In Whole Woman’s Health vs. Hellerstedt, the Court ruled 5-3 that Texas’s regulations on abortion providers constituted an undue burden on the constitutionally protected right to terminate a pregnancy. In 2013, Texas passed a law requiring all abortion providers to have admitting privileges at local hospitals. The undue burdens this created for women are without a doubt.  Conservatives wanted legal procedures in place so to have cumbersome blocking measures on abortion, but when challenged those measures could not in any way be reasonably argued.  

Today’s ruling follows up on the 1992 plurality opinion in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in which Justice Kennedy joined Justice O’Connor in writing that states may regulate abortion as long as they do not create an “undue burden.”

Clearly the attempt made by Texas, and the Republican majority in the Wisconsin statehouse, went out of their way to create an “undue burden”.  Significantly attempting to curtail abortion without actually outlawing it may win points from the base of the GOP when asking for campaign contributions, but it does not fare well in the halls of constitutional thought.

As was made clear during the oral arguments before the court these measures in Texas (and elsewhere) were medically unnecessary as the female Supreme Court justices pointed out that abortion has a lower complication rate than many other common medical procedures, including childbirth.

In Wisconsin attempts at such regulations have also found disfavor in the courts.

In November, a federal appeals court upheld a lower court decision that struck down Wisconsin’s similar law requiring doctors who perform abortions in Wisconsin to have hospital admitting privileges.

The three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled that the state law, enacted in 2013 but never enforced because of court challenges, was an unlawful infringement on abortion rights.

Over and over the fight from conservatives continues to be waged in their attempt to control the reproductive rights of women.  Over and the courts push back and show where the law rests.

And on it goes.

Bill Cunningham–Fashion Photographer For New York Times–Helped Jackie Kennedy For JFK Funeral–Dead At 87

June 27, 2016

Some sad news this morning.

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Bill Cunningham, the longtime street-style photographer for The New York Times, died Saturday in New York.  He was 87.

For years on Sunday his collection of photos that filled the upper half of one page of the Style section of the paper was always worth a look.  One week it might be all about hats, the next it might be how people were dressing for the first hint of fall in the air, or perhaps it might be all about leather coats.

Cunningham was known for his trademark blue jacket and riding a bicycle with a small camera bag strapped to his waist.

He moved to New York after dropping out after two months at Harvard.  After serving in the Army, Cunningham wrote fashion pieces for the Chicago Tribune and then started taking photographs of people on the streets after getting his first camera in 1967. A chance photograph of Greta Garbo got the attention of the Times and in 1978 he began publishing a regular series of photographs in the storied paper.

For many readers such as myself he was a part of the newspaper family, and certainly a fixture in the Sunday edition.

Cunningham was also a man with many memorable moments that made for history.

Cunningham had an unbelievable memory for fashion history, from his decades working at The New York Times, and before that, designing women’s hats and working in retail at a dress shop called Chez Ninon in the early 1960s.

“I asked him if it was true that he dyed a red Balenciaga suit that Jackie Kennedy had with her in Dallas black and that’s what she wore to the most famous and photographed funeral in history,” Mallis remembered. “And he said, ‘I think it was Dior, Jackie was thrifty and there was no time for her to get a black suit.'” (Cunningham dyed the suit black overnight for Jackie to wear to John F. Kennedy’s funeral in 1963.)

No Glee To Be Found In Brexit Vote

June 27, 2016

The facts were strange things to the supporters of the Brexit movement over the past months.  The leave element in Britain used outright lies and upside down thinking to promote and spin their efforts.  They maligned immigrants and made a mockery of educated reasoning.

But the outcome of the vote is brutal.  And that is factual.

The $2.08 trillion wiped off global equity markets on Friday … was the biggest daily loss ever, trumping the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy during the 2008 financial crisis and the Black Monday stock market crash of 1987 … Friday’s decline as a percentage of total market capitalization was 4.7 percent. That was outstripped on seven occasions during the financial crisis.

Many Do Not Want To Not Speak At GOP Convention

June 27, 2016

Who can blame anyone for wanting to be as far removed from the bigoted, xenophobic, racist orange skinned man as possible?

A slot at the GOP convention used to be a career-maker … POLITICO contacted more than 50 prominent governors, senators, and House members to gauge their interest in speaking. Only a few said they were open to it … The widespread lack of interest, Republicans say, boils down to … the growing consensus that it’s best to steer clear of Trump. …

“New Hampshire Sen. Kelly Ayotte ‘is not attending the convention’ … Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner ‘is not attending the convention’ … Sen. Lindsey Graham … ‘not attending.’ … New York Rep. Elise Stefanik, a rising star who helped to write the GOP platform at the 2012 convention, ‘will be in her district working for her constituents …

“Ohio Sen. Rob Portman will be attending the convention and will be hosting several events in Cleveland over the course of the week. … … [In 2012, w]hoever Romney wanted to speak, one ex-adviser to the former GOP nominee recalled, he got.”

Pope Francis Says Christians Need To Apologize To Gay People

June 27, 2016

Conservatives in the Vatican must be howling.

Pope Francis said on Sunday that Christians and the Roman Catholic Church should seek forgiveness from gay people for the way they had treated them.

In an hour-long conversation with reporters on the plane taking him back to Rome from Armenia, the pontiff was asked if he agreed with recent comments by a German Roman Catholic cardinal that the Church should apologise to gay people.

The pope recalled Church teachings, saying: “[Gay people] should not be discriminated against. They should be respected, accompanied pastorally.

“I think that the Church not only should apologise … to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologise to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by (being forced to) work. It must apologise for having blessed so many weapons

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