The lawmakers voted down proposed amendments to allow abortions to protect the health of the mother, in cases of rape or incest. They also refused to allow voters to decide the fate of abortions by referendum. The lone exception would be if the fetus died during a physician's attempt to save the mother's life.
Planned Parenthood of South Dakota has said that it will sue to have the law overturned once it's signed, and it will probably make its way to SCOTUS fairly quickly, especially if the South Dakota appellate and supreme courts uphold it. Once it reaches SCOTUS, the chief question would be how would Anthony Kennedy, the lifelong Roman Catholic, Republican Reagan appointee who's become increasingly moderate in the last few years, would rule, especially now that there are four solid blocks on either side of this issue (on the left, Souter, Stevens, Ginsberg, and Breyer, and on the right, Alito, Roberts, Thomas, and Scalia).
Today, Associate Justice Alito's first day, the highest court signaled its eagerness to hear another abortion-related case, involving a revisitation of its prior ruling on the 2003 partial birth abortion ban law. If the earlier decision is overturned, some states, such as Wisconsin, have said it would de facto make legal abortions almost impossible, but that would only be a prelude to the outright banning of them by SCOTUS. I will go so far as to say that if the Supreme Court does manage to ban abortions either partially or outright in the remaining years of Bush's presidency, no matter how disastrous everything else turns out (Iraq, Plamegate, the domestic spying, the corruption scandals, the incompetence and cronyism, the Medicare prescription drug plan, the economy and deficit, you name it), he will be extolled as one of the greatest heroes of the far right, for generations. He could literally permit another 9/11-style attack, and be championed for having put the judges in place who banned abortion. I hope it doesn't come to that, but I knew when Roberts floated in that we were in for serious trouble.
Update: I saw online that the Ohio state legislature, controlled by Republicans, aims to take an even more extreme step: in addition to banning abortions in almost all cases, it wants to penalize women if they leave the state to get an abortion. So, under this law, if the Supreme Court has not fully banned abortions (yet), but Ohio bans them and the law is under appeal but without a judicial stay, thus not invalidating it, and other states could still have the power to permit them, then a woman whose residence is in Ohio could potentially be penalized for going to the neighboring states of Michigan or Pennsylvania, or even to Canada, to have an abortion. As far as I know, this previously hasn't passed muster as a legal principle (a state barring its residents from engaging in activities in another state), but hey, if the fanatics can try it, why won't they at this point? They see the green light hovering before them...
LEFT, REUTERS; RIGHT, GETTY IMAGES
Not that the current scenario in Iraq wasn't imaginable to a great degree as far back as the late summer of 2002, when the W Unltd. mafia began their Goebbelsian propaganda campaign to launch this war (which they'd been planning for years, and which, according to recently released notes, they decided to launch on 9/12/2006), to which the Congress and the national media (though not millions of Americans and people around the world) completely and utterly capitulated, but still--
Horribile dictu, visu, scitu:
Guardian UK: Sectarian violence explodes attack on mosque (Shiite holy shrine)
Guardian UK: On the road to Rubicon
Guardian UK: Iraq slips towards civil war after attack on Shia shrine
UM history professor Juan Cole: Sistani threatens to turn to militia, al-Sadr calls for calm
Christian Science Monitor: Attack deepens Iraq's divide
New York Times: More clashes shake Iraq, political talks are in ruins
The Nation: Ari Berman's The Notion: Days of rage in Iraq
Today's Washington Post reports that 25 million people visited a food bank in 2005, up 9 percent from 2001. (It doesn't say what the percent increases were for the three interim years). To quote
The organization said it interviewed 52,000 people at food banks, soup kitchens and shelters across the country last year. The network represents about 39,000 hunger-relief organizations, or about 80 percent of those in the United States. The vast majority are run locally by churches and private nonprofit groups.
The surveys were done before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita hit the Gulf Coast in 2005. After the hurricanes, demand for emergency food assistance tripled in Gulf Coast states, according to a separate report by the group.
The new report, being released Thursday, found that 36 percent of people seeking food came from households in which at least one person had a job. About 35 percent came from households that received food stamps.
Cousin said the numbers show that many working people don't make enough money to feed their families. She said the food stamp numbers show that the government program, while important, is insufficient.
"The benefits they are receiving are not enough," Cousin said.
Government reports also show the number of hungry Americans increasing.
A U.S. Department of Agriculture report released last year said 13.5 million American households, or nearly 12 percent, had difficulty providing enough food for family members at some time in 2004. That was up from about 11 percent in 2003.
Not that this is any surprise, as the average family income dropped 2.3% from 2001 to 2004, according to USA Today. It seems there is a domestic price for outsourcing jobs and creating only low-wage service ones, gutting unions, and shifting the tax burden onto the poor and working-classes:
Average family incomes fell in the USA from 2001 to 2004, pulled down by a sluggish recovery from the downturn and the sharp stock market drop, the Federal Reserve said Thursday. The decline — the first since 1989-92 — was accompanied by the smallest increase in net worth in that period.+++
In its comprehensive Survey of Consumer Finances, released every three years, the Fed said the median net worth of the bottom 40% of families declined, while those at the top saw gains. The percentage of families investing in stocks fell 3.3 percentage points to 48.6% from 2001 to 2004, a level last reached some time between the 1995 and 1998 surveys.
From 2001 to 2004, average family income fell 2.3%, to an inflation-adjusted $70,700 from $72,400 in the 1998-2001 period. By contrast, from 1998 to 2001, average income jumped 17.3%. Median income — the midpoint of the income range — rose 1.6% to $43,200.
Fed economists said the figures were "strongly influenced" by a more-than-6% drop in median real wages during the period. Also, investment income was less than in the stock market boom years of the late 1990s. (Related: Full report)
Real net worth — the difference between family assets and liabilities — rose only slightly from 2001 to 2004. Median net worth rose only 1.5% to $93,100 during the period, vs. a 10.3% gain from 1998 to 2001. And liabilities rose faster than assets, due largely to a big rise in mortgage debt.
On another beat, the New York Times features an insightful conversation with composer and pianist Andrew Hill (photo at right, by John Ballon). Now 69 and battling lung cancer, Chicago native Hill is one of the remaining pioneers from the major wave of experimentation in jazz that occurred during the late 1950s and 1960s. He chats with Ben Ratliff about CDs* he's listening to, his teenage performance with Charlie Parker, and calls attention to one of my favorite pieces, Max Roach's "As Long as You're Living" (though I like the version with Abbey Lincoln's vocals best). A charming piece that offers a window into this very talented and original musician's mind.
*Why does the New York Times persist in adding apostrophes to pluralize acronyms? Don't they realize they're one of the sources behind people adding apostrophes to pluralize everythign these days? CDs. Radars. IUDs. See? It's very simple. Just add an "s" or "es" (if the word ends in an "s" sound) and be done with it. Apostrophes signify possession or contraction--is this so hard for the New York Times to figure out?