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Sat, 28 Jan 2023
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Heart - Black

Mississippi's only abortion clinic faces closure in six weeks due to new state law

© Flickr user NatalieMaynor
Jackson clinic told it could be shut down in six weeks because it has failed to comply with controversial state legislation

Mississippi's only remaining abortion clinic, which won an eleventh-hour temporary reprieve from closure last summer, has been told it could be shut down in six weeks after it was found to be in violation of a restrictive new state law this month.

Time is now running out for the clinic, which is in the middle of a legal battle to prove the new law is unconstitutional.

The Jackson Women's Health Organisation, which has become a focus of the bitter fight for abortion rights across the nation, successfully won an injunction in July which allowed its medical staff time to try to comply with the law. But the injunction has run out, and, earlier this month, the facility's owners were told by officials from the Department of Health they were not in compliance with House Bill 1390, passed and signed by Republican legislators in April.

Mississippi lawmakers have openly stated that the legislation, which requires the clinic's doctors to gain admitting privileges at local hospitals, is aimed at closing JWHO and thus ending abortion in the state.


15,000 crocs escape from South African farm

© AFP Photo
About 15,000 crocodiles have escaped from a farm in South Africa amid heavy rains and flooding, local daily Beeld reported.

The predators sprung from the Rakwena Crocodile Farm in the far north of the country when owners were forced to open the gates to prevent a storm surge.

Bizarro Earth

Breast slaps and vagina bleach in Bangkok: Thais suffer for beauty

© AFP Photo
From breast-slapping and gold thread face-lifts, to vaginal whitening soaps and olive-oil penis enlargements, image-obsessed Thais are going to ever increasing extremes in the quest for beauty.

The colourful self-proclaimed pioneer of breast-slapping says her unusual technique allows clients to boost their bust by at least one bra size without surgery.

"This is the beauty by nature - one million percent guaranteed," the eccentric 46-year-old, who has changed her name to Khunyingtobnom or Madam breast-slapper, told AFP.

Her work is also extremely lucrative, charging $600 for two 15 minute sessions covering one breast each and a premium face-slapping service - which she claims can induce slimness - costing about $1,000.

Eye 1

Los Angeles teacher arrested for sexually abusing 'at least 20 children'

© Screenshot via KTLA
Former Los Angeles teacher Robert Pimentel
A former Los Angeles Unified School District employee was arrested Wednesday on charges that he sexually abused "at least 20 children" and one adult co-worker, KTLA-TV reported Thursday morning.

Police launched an investigation last year after two alleged victims came forward claiming that 57-year-old Robert Pimentel, who's worked for the district for nearly 40 years, sexually touched them both over and under their clothing.

The LAUSD superintendent said he removed the teacher as soon as the allegations were relayed to him, at which point Pimentel retired and began taking his pension before the district could fire him. The principle at the school, George De La Torre Jr. Elementary, was also removed.

Heart - Black

Military trial of 17-year old Amal Hamamdeh from Mufakarah. Charge: Spilling water on soldier

Amal Hamamdeh
© Efrat Nakash
As reported here, during home demolitions in the cave-dweller village of Mufakarah, two young women who resisted nonviolently were arrested and charged with "assaulting soldiers" under the Israeli Occupation's draconian martial law. The older of the two, Sausan Hamamdeh, reached a plea bargain in December resulting in a fine. When reporting on that development, we were fairly confident that her 17-year-old cousin Amal Hamamdeh would see her charges dropped. After all, she just tried to hand Sausan a water bottle to wash her pepper-sprayed eyes, and when soldiers interfered some water were spilled on them. We were wrong.

The first court session in Amal's trial took place Sunday, Jabuary 15th 2012, at the military court and prison base of Ofer, in the West Bank north of Jerusalem. Charges pressed by the military prosecution against Amal include throwing water and spitting at a soldier, and swearing at the security forces. The defense, by Amal's attorney Neri Ramati (a Jewish Israeli lawyer, partner at the Gabi Lasky law firm), decided to admit pouring water on the soldier, and reject the allegations of spitting and swearing.

On the day of the arrest, while in transit to the Kiryat Arba police station, Amal was sexually harassed by one of the soldiers sitting with her in the army jeep. At the police station, the interrogators took advantage of her inexperience and lack of access to counsel (martial law is *very* convenient for interrogators and prosecutors), and managed to make her confess to throwing water at a soldier during the demolition. The next court session in Amal's trial has been scheduled for February 5th, 2012.


In malpractice case, Catholic hospital argues fetuses aren't people - Lawsuit against Catholic Health Initiatives appealed to Colorado Supreme Court

© Mark Coggins via Flickr
Lori Stodghill was 31-years old, seven-months pregnant with twin boys and feeling sick when she arrived at St. Thomas More hospital in Cañon City on New Year's Day 2006. She was vomiting and short of breath and she passed out as she was being wheeled into an examination room. Medical staff tried to resuscitate her but, as became clear only later, a main artery feeding her lungs was clogged and the clog led to a massive heart attack. Stodghill's obstetrician, Dr. Pelham Staples, who also happened to be the obstetrician on call for emergencies that night, never answered a page. His patient died at the hospital less than an hour after she arrived and her twins died in her womb.

In the aftermath of the tragedy, Stodghill's husband Jeremy, a prison guard, filed a wrongful-death lawsuit on behalf of himself and the couple's then-two-year-old daughter Elizabeth. Staples should have made it to the hospital, his lawyers argued, or at least instructed the frantic emergency room staff to perform a caesarian-section. The procedure likely would not have saved the mother, a testifying expert said, but it may have saved the twins.

The lead defendant in the case is Catholic Health Initiatives, the Englewood-based nonprofit that runs St. Thomas More Hospital as well as roughly 170 other health facilities in 17 states. Last year, the hospital chain reported national assets of $15 billion. The organization's mission, according to its promotional literature, is to "nurture the healing ministry of the Church" and to be guided by "fidelity to the Gospel." Toward those ends, Catholic Health facilities seek to follow the Ethical and Religious Directives of the Catholic Church authored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Those rules have stirred controversy for decades, mainly for forbidding non-natural birth control and abortions. "Catholic health care ministry witnesses to the sanctity of life 'from the moment of conception until death,'" the directives state. "The Church's defense of life encompasses the unborn."


South African inflation accelerates as food prices climb

South African inflation accelerated to a seven-month high of 5.7 percent in December as food prices rose, supporting expectations the Reserve Bank will keep borrowing costs unchanged tomorrow.

The inflation rate climbed from 5.6 percent in November, Pretoria-based Statistics South Africa said on its website today. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of 23 economists was 5.7 percent. Prices advanced 0.2 percent in the month.

All 21 economists surveyed by Bloomberg predict the Reserve Bank will keep the benchmark repurchase rate at 5 percent tomorrow to support the economy while curbing price pressures from a weaker rand and rising food costs. The central bank's goal is to keep inflation within a range of 3 percent to 6 percent.


Droughts, rising food prices predicted for 2013

In the dead of winter, planting crops is the last thing on most people's minds. But droughts are still raging across the American Midwest, causing consternation among farmers about their prospects for the spring.

If conditions don't improve, food prices will likely remain high this year after a record 2012 for grain futures.

The U.S. National Weather Service released its drought forecast last week, showing persistent or worsening dryness in the Midwest and the southern third of the nation.

Bad Guys

Film exposes link between U.S. evangelicals and violent antigay Ugandan movement

Money raised by evangelical Christians in the United States is fueling a violent antigay movement in Uganda, according to the "Gospel of Intolerance" by filmmaker Roger Ross Williams.

"American evangelicals are sending millions of dollars in donations to Africa to spread their message by funding Ugandan pastors and sponsoring missionaries, many of who do good work feeding the hungry and providing shelter to orphans," Rev. Kapya Kaoma explained in the mini-documentary, which was published online Tuesday by the New York Times. "But some of that money just goes to feed a dangerous ideology that teaches that gays, lesbians, transgender, and bisexual people do not have a place in God's kingdom and are a threat to society."


Fracking wastewater threatens to drown Ohio

© billb1961/Flickr
First, the good news: Using the process known as hydraulic fracturing to create natural gas wells produces less wastewater than wells created using more conventional methods, according to a new study in the journal Water Resources Research. Scientists from Duke and Kent State universities found that fracked wells create 35 percent as much wastewater per unit of gas when compared to conventional wells. The scientists note that this upsets the common idea that fracking creates more wastewater than other types of gas extraction.

But now the bad news. Because of fracking, gas extraction is up 570 percent since 2004 in the Marcellus shale region, which means that there's a whole lot more wastewater overall to deal with.