Rally to Restore Sanity…to Reproductive Policies
October 30, 2010 by Carol King
While some of my friends were on their way to Washington, D.C. to “Rally to Restore Sanity,” one friend is preparing to go to Geneva, Switzerland, to make a plea for sanity to the United Nations about abortion. Renee Chelian, founder of Northland Family Planning in Southfield, Mich., will testify about the dismal reality of providing abortions in the United States.
Reproductive rights supporters are hoping the U.N. will use its influence to improve conditions for American women. As part of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review Working Group meeting November 1-12, 16 countries will have their human rights records examined. For the first time, the United States will be one of those countries.
“I thought the U.N. was only about peacekeeping,” said Chelian. “I’m learning that they’re concerned about human rights around world. They try to be our eyes, ears and conscience” when it comes to safeguarding everyone’s human rights. “They may not have enforceable powers, but they do have tremendous influence.”
Chelian, along with representatives from the Center for Reproductive Rights, Amnesty International USA and the Woodhull Freedom Foundation, hope to convince members of the Human Rights Council and other international human rights experts to look at the threatened state of reproductive rights in the U.S. The Center for Reproductive Rights is hosting a side event where panelists will share the obstacles American women face in seeking reproductive health care, and what steps the government can and should take to increase access for all women.
“I will describe the kinds of attacks against abortion providers, clinic staff and patients. We have been burned down, bombed out, harassed and intimidated and finally murdered,” said Chelian. The Obama Administration is working with clinics and staff, but Chelian believes, “We need to put pressure on the federal government. They have the ability to protect us and they should.”
The issues go beyond protecting the clinics, workers and patients. The harassment, intimidation and vilification of abortion providers has resulted in fewer doctors willing to do the work. Women’s access to reproductive health care is limited by income, location, family situation and other factors. Said Chelian,
Physicians in rural areas do not add abortion care because of threats to themselves and their families. [They become] targets in the community–followed to the grocery store, restaurants, church. [They] fear losing patients because of the harassment and intimidation of other patients. Who would want to see this physician? If there are no physicians, legal abortion means nothing.
With no abortion facilities nearby, rural woman face unnecessary delays created by having to travel to a distant clinic, organizing time off work, finding child care and a driver, and enduring waiting periods which require two clinic visits.
Access for poor women is equally difficult. As they try to raise sufficient money, they often delay their abortions until the second trimester–when the procedure becomes even more expensive. It’s a Catch-22.
In a country so determined to make abortion as inaccessible and unpleasant as possible, you would expect unparalleled support for pregnant women, but we can’t even take comfort in that. According to Amnesty International, American women have a higher risk of dying of pregnancy-related complications than those in 40 other countries.
I’ll be keeping track of the proceedings in Geneva and report on the progress being made to define reproductive rights as human rights.
Photo from Flickr user alexandralee, under license from Creative Commons 2.0.
Now take a listen to this video!
Then, there is the Rally to Restore Sanity:
Signs Of 'Sanity' In Washington
by NPR Staff and Wires
When Reason Wears A Bear Costume
A "sanity" rally blending laughs and political activism drew thousands to the National Mall on Saturday.
People assembled by the tens of thousands Saturday on the National Mall, for a "sanity" blending laughs, activism, and a call for civility from two improbable maestros of moderation, comedians Jon Stewart & Stephen Colbert. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
"In the shadow of the Capitol and close to the election, comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert entertained a huge throng rallying on Saturday for "sanity," poking fun at the nation's diversity and its ill-tempered politics.
In one shtick, Stewart and his associates queried some crowd-goers to identify themselves by category, eliciting answers from attendees such as "half-Mexican, half-white," "American woman single" and "Asian-American from Taiwan."
"It's a perfect demographic sampling of the American people," Stewart cracked. "As you know, if you have too many white people at a rally, your cause is racist. If you have too many people of color, then you must be asking for something — special rights, like eating at restaurants or piggy back rides."
Colbert honored NPR among other news organizations at the event with a "Medal of Fear" for forbidding employees to attend the rally. A 7-year-old girl accepted the award in NPR's absence.
*Watch the credits at the very end of this video, & then act positively on the suggestions they represent. Hint: for the good of the WHOLE country!
The event sought in part to be a counterpoint to the "Restoring Honor" rally in August by Glenn Beck, the Fox News commentator popular among conservatives and tea party supporters. Beck's rally, which had strong religious overtones, drew some protests from civil rights supporters.
Don Novello, who years ago played Father Guido Sarducci on "Saturday Night Live," provided the benediction. He polled the crowd on their religious leanings, then gave thanks to God for allowing everyone to assign their various causes to him.
Egged on by the hosts, Ozzy Osbourne and Yusuf Islam, formerly known as Cat Stevens, engaged in something of a battle of the bands, the heavy-metal rocker and the folkie interrupting each other.
The crowds — easily tens of thousands strong — were festive, goofy, disillusioned with the state of politics if not the nation, and ready to play nice at a gathering called as a counterweight to all the shouting and flying insults of these polarized times. But there were political undertones, too, pushing back against conservatives ahead of Tuesday's election.
Slogans urged people to "relax." But also: "Righties, don't stomp on my head," a reference to a Republican rally in Kentucky at which a liberal activist was pulled to the ground and stepped on. And, "I wouldn't care if the president was Muslim."
Shannon Escobar, 31, of Bangor, Pa., came with a group of 400 people on buses chartered in New York. A supporter of President Barack Obama in 2008, she said she's tired of nasty rhetoric from both sides and disenchanted with lack of progress in Washington.
"I want to see real change — not Obama change," she said. "We need a clean slate and start over with people really working together."
A regular viewer of Stewart's "The Daily Show," she said she had a dream that he ran for political office, but got "corrupt and dirty."
"I need him to stay pure," she said, deadpan.
People also carried signs in favor of United Farmworkers and the movement to give the District of Columbia a vote in Congress. Many were college students, but the crowd cut across all age groups. "Seniors for pot" cried a half-dozen older people.
Organizers insisted the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear wasn't about politics. Still, supporters and left-leaning advocacy groups hoped it would rekindle some of the voter enthusiasm for Democrats seen in 2008, particularly among young adults.
Stewart is popular especially with Democrats and independents, a Pew Research Center poll found. Colbert of "The Colbert Report" poses as an ultraconservative, and the stage Saturday was stacked with entertainers associated with Democratic causes or Obama's 2008 campaign.
Even so, Stewart said the day was about toning down anger and partisan division. "Shouting is annoying, counterproductive and terrible for your throat," he said on his website."
One more soundbite; even though the truth is we have only all of our own selves to "blame" for the entire mess that our beacon of Democracy is in. America the beautiful, the land of the free and the brave, no matter who we are alive in this period of our history, no matter how hard we may have worked for the right access to include everyone, while keeping our air, water & land to grow food, clean with the seventh generation in mind_ we are all part of this mess of self-centered blame to which our once beautiful beacon of Democracy has sunk. NOW! WHAT ARE WE GOING TO DO TO CHANGE IT FOR THE BETTER FOR EVERYONE, NO EXCEPTION?
REMEMBER, STAND-UP, BE COUNTED & TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for the entire mess we are all in together America, on BOTH sides of the aisle!
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Thursday, October 28, 2010
By MATTHEW LEE
The Associated Press
Thursday, October 28, 2010; 3:31 AM
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a news conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara, not in the photo, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010 in Honolulu, Hawaii. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, Pool) (Evan Vucci - AP)
HONOLULU -- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Wednesday called on China to clarify its policy on the export of exotic metals key to the global high-tech industry.
Opening a two-week Asia-Pacific tour aimed at cementing ties with allies who are wary of Beijing's increasing assertiveness, Clinton took on a primary point of friction between China and Japan.
She said recent Chinese restrictions on the sale of rare earth minerals served as a "wake-up call" for the industrialized world, including the United States and Europe, which has largely abandoned their production in favor of cheaper exports from China.
"I would welcome any clarification of their policy and hope that it means trade and commerce around these important materials will continue unabated and without any interference," she said at a news conference after meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara in Honolulu.
Clinton and Maehara both said China's stifling of the supply meant the international community would have to look for other sources of rare earths that are essential to producing high-tech devices such as cell phones, missiles and solar energy panels.
China produces 97 percent of the world's supply, something Maehara said "was not appropriate." Even if the current situation is resolved, he said it was critical to diversify the production of rare earths.
"This served as a wake-up call (about) being so dependent on only one source," Clinton said, calling rare earths both "commercially and strategically" essential. "The entire world has to seek additional supplies in order to protect the important production needs that these materials serve."
Japan has been urging China to resume exports of rare earths. Japanese companies say Beijing has blocked shipments since Sept. 21, in possible retaliation for Tokyo's arrest of a Chinese fishing boat captain near disputed islands in the East China Sea.
Many see China's action as indicative of its growing aggressiveness in dealing with such disputes. Some nations are seeking reassurance from the U.S., the traditional dominant power in the Pacific Rim, that it will remain a major player.
Clinton vowed that the United States remains committed to regional stability and the security of allies like Japan. She is to meet Saturday on China's Hainan Island with Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo and said she intended to raise the rare earths issue, among other matters of concern.
She said a satisfactory Chinese clarification of its position on mineral exports "may shorten that discussion, but there is a lot to talk about," particularly to prepare for a state visit to the U.S. by Chinese President Hu Jintao in January.
Clinton's trip to Hainan - a last-minute addition to the itinerary - is loaded with symbolism for the Chinese.
The island is a powerful reminder of Chinese military might, hosting an array of intelligence and espionage facilities of the People's Liberation Army. It was where an American spy plane was forced to land in 2001 after it collided with a Chinese fighter jet. The 24 crew members were held for 11 days until the Bush administration apologized.
Clinton will also visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Australia.
At all stops, she said she would focus on strategic planning to counter existing threats from North Korea and other "contingencies," an apparent reference to possible Chinese muscle-flexing.
"We need to be looking at all kinds of scenarios, all kinds of contingencies, work though responses to events that might occur in the future and, of course, stay focused on the threat posed by North Korea," she said.
Before leaving Hawaii for Vietnam on Thursday, Clinton is to give a speech in which she is expected to underscore the importance the Obama administration places on the Asia-Pacific region.