Monday, May 02, 2005

JEANNE OVER AT BODY AND SOUL tells us about, a site that attempts to list all the individuals who are known to be detained at Guantanamo, and their countries of origin.

Via BoingBoing, a page at the National Security Archives with photographs of the coffins of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. The photographs were gained through a Freedom of Information Act request. BoingBoing also links to, where you'll find a vast Government Document Library, posts analyzing government documents, and much more.

Phillip Carter of Intel Dump has a long piece on the renditioning of detainees to Uzbekistan for interrogation and imprisonment.

Keith, the Invisible Librarian, warns us of rumors floating about the Library of Congress (where a friend of his works) that Pres. Bush is planning to appoint Lynne Cheney to the post of Librarian of Congress if the current occupant of that spot, James Billington, decides to retire. Talk about horror novels. (Hat tip to Bookslut.)

Mahablog takes another look at the case in Florida of a pregnant 13-year-old girl who was told by a judge (after the Department of Children & Families applied to the court for an injunction to prevent the girl from having an abortion) that she was "too young and immature" to make an "informed medical decision." Totally bogus argument, Maha points out, given the overwhelming evidence that childbirth for a girl under the age of 18 is more dangerous than an abortion. And the risk, both to the girl and to the fetus, increases as the girl's age decreases. In other words, the younger the girl, the more dangerous full-term pregnancy and childbirth are. Abortion is much safer from the standpoint of the girl's physical safety and health than childbirth, if the girl is younger than 18.

So let's not even pretend this judge's decision is about making an "informed medical decision." It is not. Rather, it is about this judge's "moral" decision that this girl is no more human than a Holstein. Cows are supposed to drop those calves, whether they like it or not.

Maha also notes the blatant judicial activism in this judge's decision; he ruled that a 13-year-old needs adult permission to have an abortion, even though Florida does not have a parental notification, much less consent, law.

The BBC article says "The judge's ruling comes in spite of Florida state law which specifically does not require a minor to seek parental consent before an abortion." So, in other words, he's making law from the bench. I'm sure all those righties who keep screaming about "judicial activism" are speaking out against this judge's activism, also, aren't they?

Does this sound like a girl who is too young and immature to make informed medical decisions? On the other hand, does the judge sound like someone who should have been admitted to law school, much less passed the bar exam and been licensed as an attorney?

Speaking of right-wing hypocrisy, check out this post by Amanda at Pandagon about right-to-lifers who choose abortions for themselves while opposing abortion for anyone else.

For a sight that will cheer you up (it did me, and if it cheered me up, it will cheer anyone up), take a gaze at Alexandra Otter.

Which is the bigger crime: A young woman who ran away on her wedding day and pretended to have been abducted; or Georgia sheriff deputies who killed a prisoner in their custody by tasering him five times in one minute while he was bound hand and foot and was pleading for his life? I would say the second, but the Gwinnett County district attorney thinks differently.

If you have the desire to write about science, nature, medicine, or another topic related to these, head on over to The American Street.

There is no end to the venality of those who fanatically oppose abortion and contraception. Now Catholic hospitals in Colorado give rape victims information about the morning-after pill based on whether the woman was likely to have been ovulating when she was raped. If she was not ovulating, she is told about the availability of emergency contraception (because she doesn't actually need it). If the woman was ovulating at the time she was raped, Catholic hospital staff are told they may not and must not tell the woman anything about emergency contraception (because she does actually need it).

If this is not the most twisted, evil kind of mentality you've heard of, give me another contender.

Via Trish Wilson.

War and Piece is overflowing with must-read posts today. Read it all, but especially Laura's analysis of Sonni Efron's piece in the Los Angeles Times about the extraordinary procedures set up at State to keep John Bolton from destroying all the china in the shop.

Kevin Drum has an interesting piece about privacy, as a concept that liberals ought to embrace. At the end of the post, Kevin throws out a question for comment: "What exactly is privacy?"

It's both a strength and a weakness of the concept that it encompasses so many different things — and, like anything else, can also be stretched so far as to become meaningless.

I'm not an expert on the legal definitions of privacy (Kevin provides a link for those who want to read one such), but I have my own working definition of what privacy means, to me: It's the right to be alone inside your own head, heart, soul, and mind; and not have government or any other societal institution able to poke around in there. It incenses me when people who don't see the problem with the government being able to find out what books you read, what Internet sites you frequent, who your friends are, what you like to do on the weekend, what music you buy, what medical conditions you've been treated for, and so on and so forth, say things like: "If you have nothing to hide, there's no reason to object to the FBI knowing what books you read," etc. That's not the point. Privacy is not something one needs to have when guilty of wrongdoing, to prevent the authorities from finding out. Privacy has inherent value: the ability and power to decide what you will reveal about yourself and what you won't; what you want others to know about you and what you don't; what you want done to your body and what you don't, is something that everyone has a right to in a free, democratic society. The only time that right should be infringed on is when a person has committed a crime or violated the law in some way -- and then with the onus on the authorities to produce probable cause to believe that the person really has violated the law, or is planning to. Even then, the infringement on privacy should be limited only to those areas that directly relate to the suspected offense. Privacy is arguably the most precious right one can have in a free society; and we really are losing that right.

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