Thursday, August 6, 2020

Crimes Against Female Gymnasts: An International Matter

In the U.S. we are familiar with the decades of abuse by Dr. Larry Nassar  of young female gymnast, other countries are reporting similar abuses of their girls.  Professor Dunlap followed Nassar in earlier posts.  

Now other countries are recognizing abuses against their young athletes. 

"Complaints by at least 20 former Australian gymnasts about physical and mental abuse during their careers has prompted Gymnastics Australia to ask a human rights group to investigate.  The gymnasts, including Olympic and Commonwealth Games gold medalists, have recently spoken of a toxic culture within the sport. They also used social media platforms to detail fat-shaming and other forms of abuse." While the identity of the gymnasts was not disclosed,  public fat shaming of male athletes has not been observed by this writer.  The Australian Human Rights Commission will investigate.

Meanwhile Dutch authorities are investigating similar abuses and in the meantime has suspended the women's training program.  British Gymnastics is conducting an investigation into the abuse of their female gymnasts. And Flemish Gymnastics Federation is conducting its own investigation.

The brave women who accused Larry Nassar empowered women and girls around the world to report abuse.  Another thank you to those brave women who came forward in Michigan. 

 

August 6, 2020 in Gender Oppression, Gender Violence, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

No Surprise: US - Not the Best Place to Raise a Family - By Far

In a recent ranking the United States came in 34th as the country best for raising a family.  Iceland ranked first, having received A+ rankings for safety, cost, and health.  Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Luxembourg received A+ rankings.  

The United States was ranked 34 out of 3v5 counties.  Not surprisingly, the US received an "F" in safety. Other categories in which the US received failing grades were cost and time.  No grade was higher than a C+ and those were received in the happiness and education categories. A D- in health rounds out the scoring.

If you are not one of the 1% category, you already know why the ranking is low - and appropriate.  Millions in the country have inadequate or no health insurance.  Most public schools are under-resourced, particularly those in communities of color.  The cost of living is excessive with those in minimum wage positions unable to escape the consequences of poverty.  The divide between the wealthy and those barely able to sustain themselves has not been this wide since the so-called "Golden Age". Not only is safety not secure in the US, those sworn to serve and protect can be causing the most harm depending upon your skin color.  The C+ the US received in "happiness" was generous grading indeed.

 

 

July 28, 2020 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Is Systemic Racism Entirely Systemic?

It would be difficult  indeed to deny systemic racism in our public institutions, particularly our legal ones.  This realization for some seems overwhelming, making it difficult for them  know where to begin.

Envisioning our legal systems as huge and unmovable machines incapable of stopping reinforces helplessness. What is denied in that assessment is that our legal system is populated by individuals and supported by individual citizens who passively accept the policies of racism embedded in our culture.  

Local elections of district attorneys and in many jurisdictions, judges, are under the control of  individual citizens.  We determine leadership of the courts and in prosecutions.  In deciding through elections who that leadership will be, we decide what the policies and institutional culture will be.  Philadelphia's citizens took control and elected District Attorney Larry Krasner. Mr. Krasner examined racist policies and took measures toward eliminating systemic bias. This included holding biased and violent police officers accountable.  Mr. Krasner announced today that he intends to arrest any federal agents sent to Philadelphia by the President who behave as they did in Portland- kidnapping protesters.

For those who do not have direct experience with our legal systems, apathy might be the response to local elections of judges, court clerks and prosecuting attorneys.  As we have heard as part of BLM, silence is violence.  Scrutiny of candidates' policy agenda is critical.  No election is too local to fail to scrutinize the bias of candidates and their willingness to "go along" with the status quo.  Voting apathy is not acceptable.   We must be mindful that each elected official reflects our individual and community values.  Bias in all forms can be addressed.   

 

 

 

July 22, 2020 in Books and articles, Margaret Drew, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Stateless

A new series released on Netflix explores the impact of having no home, no identity, and no country.  The series was co-created and directed by Cate Blanchett who is a UNHCR goodwill ambassador and awardee.  The series follows a 20-year-old Rohingya refugee and her one-year-old son as they seek safety in a refugee settlement.  The six-part series is set in one of Australia's detention camps. 

Ms. Blanchett recommends a list of movies to watch during COVID-19 that will inform the viewer of refugee barriers and conditions.  The list is:

  • Capernaum, directed by Nadine Labaki
  • Shoplifters, directed by Hirokazu Koreeda
  • News from Home, directed by Chantal Akerman
  • The Other Side of Hope, directed by Aki Kaurismaki
  • Babel, directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu
  • The Joy Luck Club, directed by Wayne Wang

July 12, 2020 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, June 29, 2020

STARE DECISIS ANYONE?

The holding in Whole Women's Health survived.   Today's release of the US Supreme Court's opinion in June Medical Services v Russo relied on differing legal interpretations.   In striking down Louisiana's restrictive abortion law, Justice Breyer noted that the Louisiana law was practically the same as the Texas law struck down by the Supreme Court in Whole Women's Health.  Both Texas and Louisiana sought to require doctors performing abortions to have privileges at local hospitals, an impossible process for the doctors named as Plaintiffs in the June Medical Services cases, as they proved during the pendency of the case. 

Justice Breyer focuses on the standard of review for Appellate Courts in reviewing a District Court order.  He emphasized the limited availability for courts to reinterpret the lower court's findings.  Those findings were, as noted, were more extensive than the findings made in the Texas case.  He also noted that when the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the Louisiana District Court's holding that the law was unduly burdensome on women seeking abortions they did so by criticizing the lower court findings.  Justice Breyer observed that the Appeals Court cannot reinterpret the lower court's findings and the Appeals Court should not have done so.  "In light of the record, the District Court’s significant factual findings—both as to burdens and as to benefits—have ample evidentiary support and are not clearly erroneous. Thus, the court’s related factual and legal determinations and its ultimate conclusion that Act 620 is unconstitutional are proper."

Justice Roberts took a different approach.  The Chief Justice, who dissented in Whole Women's Health, wrote in his concurring opinion "The legal doctrine of stare decisis requires us, absent special circumstances, to treat like cases alike. The Louisiana law imposes a burden on access to abortion just as severe as that imposed by the Texas law, for the same reasons. Therefore Louisiana’s law cannot stand under our precedents."

The anti-choice legal strategists did not anticipate this result.  They rushed to move June Medical Services through the system in order to reach the Supreme Court.  One concession they made in the lower court was to stipulate that the Plaintiff doctors had standing to bring the case.  The strategy focused on speed, getting the case before the Supreme Court as soon as possible after securing what the strategists perceived as a majority "anti-abortion" justices. The strategists presumed that the decision would come down to the justices' personal preferences.  What the anti-choice lawyers failed to properly assess was Justice Robert's commitment to the rule of law and his dedication to maintaining the integrity of the Court. What they thought was an opportunity for Chief Justice Roberts to turn his Women's Whole Health dissent into a majority opinion resulted in his commitment to preserving one of the court's fundamental legal concepts. 

The anti-choice strategists will return.  June Medical Services is a stumbling block but not an insurmountable one. In future anti-choice laws will be crafted without mimicking other laws that have failed. Then stare decisis may not be invoked. 

June 29, 2020 in Margaret Drew, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 22, 2020

"Get Your Knees Off Our Necks"

Law professors and moviegoers may associate the phrase "Get your feet off our necks" with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.  In both the documentary "RBG" and the movie "On the Basis of Sex" we hear Justice Ginsberg say "I ask no favor for my sex; all I ask of our brethren is that they take their feet off our necks."  Many readers may not appreciate that Justice Ginsberg was quoting Sarah Grimke, a 19th century southern abolitionist who relocated to Philadelphia along with her sister, Angelina.  Following the end of the Civil War, Ms. Grimke turned her attention to feminist issues.  In that context, she said: "But I ask no favors for my sex. I surrender not our claim to equality. All I ask of our brethren is, that they will take their feet from off our necks, and permit us to stand upright …”

The current demonstrators incorporated the slogan substituting "knees" for "feet".  Appropriately so.  While the Grimke sisters were dedicated abolitionists, who themselves were criticized and threatened, they did not promote equality between Blacks and Whites.  Paraphrasing Sarah's statement expands the work of the Grimke sisters.  The revised phrase is apt.  Not only does the Floyd video show the perpetrator's knee as the deadly weapon, but more reports have surfaced supporting that police have used the same deadly technique on other black people.  

Demonstrators using the paraphrased words of Sarah Grimke to reflect current reality may finish what the abolitionists left undone.  Enslaved people were legally freed but then the law was used to continue their enslavement in different forms.  Equality and equity were never achieved.  Now is the time to make this right.

June 22, 2020 in Equality, Margaret Drew, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, June 1, 2020

White People: Why Is The World Still Spinning?

George Floyd died on May 25, 2020.  Mr. Floyd died because a police officer decided to kill him by cutting off his blood and air supply with the officer's knee. Mr. Floyd left a six-year old daughter.  He had moved to Minneapolis for a fresh start and was laid off due to COVID-19.  Floyd was a human being, one whose life was eliminated on film. 

Mr. Floyd called for his deceased mother when he was dying.   I can imagine no response to that fact other than being brought to our knees.   Outrage at the actions of Officer Chauvin is matched by the grief of knowing Mr. Floyd was aware of his impending death and sought help or perhaps, I prefer to think solace, from his deceased mother. -

The horror, of course, is compounded for African Americans who live with actual or threatened police brutality every day.  African Americans, no matter what their socioeconomic status face daily indignities that are largely unacknowledged by white people.

The country is at a pivotal point.  African Americans and others are grieving a brutal and unnecessary death. And much of the white US is carrying on as usual, even if carrying on looks different during semi-quarantine.  Lately, news reports give more focus to property damage than to the sources and impact of racial discrimination.  

Mr. Floyd is not yet buried.  The grief is raw and new.  When death happens, we step out of our ordinary routines. Those who can stop working.  We take time to cry and be with our friends and family.  What to do in grief is complex.   But we can ask African American individual and communities how we can help.

I am disturbed when I see the world operating  largely without acknowledging this grief. Why aren’t flags at half-mast.  Why aren’t we demanding official times of mourning? As with any grieving, we need to acknowledge the pain of those suffering most. We need to be of service whatever that looks like. That doesn't happen when the world continues as usual, even at its new slower speed. 

June 1, 2020 in Margaret Drew, Race | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, May 11, 2020

DOJ, MIchael Flynn and Judicial Independence

Since the 2016 election the human US rights advocates have turned to the federal courts for help.  The courts have not always ruled in favor of human rights advocate, but there were many victories.  Advocates often gave thanks for an independent judiciary. The judiciary has been the only branch of government that has operated within their original design as an independent branch of government. 

The Justice Department's attempt to unwind the convictions of Michael Flynn has a broader purpose than adjusting Mr. Flynn's conviction status.  Attorney General Barr is testing the process to determine if the dismissal mechanism is a successful tool in undermining judicial authority. 

In his exploration for a presidential campaign, President Trump tested how much he could control voters' mind by creating the "birther" movement.  What he learned was that through the most implausible of tools he could create a base of supporters.  This is DOJ's birther moment within the legal system.  How much will DOJ be able to manipulate the judicial branch through established legal mechanisms. 

DOJ's motion to dismiss the Flynn prosecution is a prototype.  And a clever one.  A presidential pardon would accomplish the same result but in an election year this route is a safer route.  In addition, this route  tests the court in determining if the method is one that can be replicated.  Judge Sullivan has been brought into a critical process.  Agreed upon motions are frequently allowed without intensive scrutiny.  But this motion is not like others.  Whichever way Judge Sullivan decides, the ruling will be historic. 

May 11, 2020 in justice systems, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Edging Toward Civil War - The Early Skirmishes

In February two Georgia white men attempted to abduct a black jogger.  When the jogger resisted  he was shot and killed. The prosecutor felt there was insufficient evidence to take the case to the grand jury.

This week a black security guard at a Family Dollar store in Flint, MI was shot in the of the back of the head for requesting that a customer wear a mask or not be served.  

The largest and most aggressive protest against sheltering regulations was in Michigan, a state with a female governor in a state where the city with highest cluster of CORONA 19 is Detroit, a primarily African American city.  

Today President Trump called on citizens to become warriors.  The LA Times reported:

"In recent days, he’s begun describing citizens as “warriors” in the battle against the pandemic and suggested some of those fighters might have to die if that will help boost the economy. "

About six months before his death, I had the privilege  of hearing Congressman Cummings speak.  An audience member asked what scares him most.  Mr. Cummings said that after listening to witnesses at the Michael Cohen hearings, what scared him most is what Trump means when he said that he would not go quietly.  

Assault rifles remain the weapon of choice. Gun sales are on the rise and the President is losing popularity. 

The signal has been given. 

  

May 6, 2020 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Sunday, May 3, 2020

US Does Little To Protect Incarcerated People From COVID

Despite advocacy asking states to release incarcerated individuals  early, the US has released relatively few people in comparison with other countries.   Prisons and jails are not safe for the incarcerated or for staff.  Only a few days ago Governor Cuomo announced that pregnant women women would be released.  But the group of women to be released is narrow.  Only women with convictions for non-violent crimes will be released and only then if their remaining sentence is under six months. 

Release wouldn't be as critical if jails and prisons were otherwise safe spaces.  But those inside report horrid conditions.  There is not effective or even enhanced sanitation.  Women who are suspected of having symptoms are often isolated in deplorable conditions.  At one prison, women were moved to a prion wing that had been closed in years.  The cells are filthy with walls  filled with mold. Others report a shortage of food, and and disinfecting supplies. No efforts are made at physical differences. 

Human Rights Watch issued a report.  While it is NY specific, the report is worth a read.  The frightening conditions described are prevalent in most jails and prisons across the country.

 

 

May 3, 2020 in Incarcerated, Margaret Drew, Prisons | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Human Mobility In The Time of COVID

Ian M. Kysel, Visiting Assistant Clinical Progessor of Law, Cornell Law School sends along this post:

In the hopes that it may be useful in your work, I wanted to share new work on human mobility and human rights in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic: Principles of protection for migrants, refugees, and other displaced persons (which I realize many of you have signed). The final document was endorsed by more than 800 academics around the world. You can find the 14 Principles here and accompanying press release here

These Principles were developed in the past couple of weeks under the auspices of the Program on Forced Migration, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University; the Migration and Human Rights Program, Cornell Law School; and the Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility, The New School. The document’s drafters included: T.  Alexander  Aleinikoff, Chaloka Beyani, Iain Byrne, Francois Crépeau, Joanne Csete, Guy  S.  Goodwin-Gill, Walter Kälin, Ian M. Kysel, Jane  McAdam, Chidi Anselm Odinkalu, Anna Shea, Leah Zamore and Monette Zard (significant credit goes to Alex and Monette and their teams!).

We hope that it is useful in your work and also that you might share the principles widely, with law and policymakers, civil society colleagues and academics and on social media platforms as you see appropriate. By visiting this Google Drive Folder, you'll find some social media templates you can use to share with your networks, along with a folder of images for that purpose. We're also posting from the social media channels listed, if you'd like to retweet, quote-tweet, comment, or share.

April 28, 2020 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Gratitude in The Time of COVID-19

Many are recommending gratitude practices as a survival tool during our current isolation.  As one teacher says, it is difficult to be sad if you are grateful.  One of the benefits of isolation is time to reflect.  This can be a time of spiritual growth if we choose to reflect on ourselves and the current state of our world.  Mental health providers support the use of gratitude to enhance well-being.   One study resulted in surprising findings. After ten weeks of gratitude reflections, participants reported better mental health but also that they engaged in more physical exercise.

Practicing gratitude is humbling. As I write this I recognize my place of privilege. As of now, my employment is not threatened and I have a pleasant place to spend my time along with pleasant company.  I do spend a part of each day looking for various ways I can support those who need immediate help.  Perhaps that is part of my gratitude and meditation practices.  

Optimism is a side benefit of gratitude.  Those of us who have resources owe it to ourselves and others to remain optimistic.  Advocates need to maintain optimism to carry on their work for those whose lives and human rights are at extreme risk now.    So sleep (much), drink (water) and be grateful!

April 22, 2020 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 20, 2020

In The Name of COVID-19 - More on Reproductive Rights

A recent post discussed how states have used the COVID 19 emergency to restrict abortion accessibility claiming that abortions are "non-essential" medical services. Now the 5th Circuit has upheld the abortion restrictions issued by Texas that limit medical procedures to essential services only.   While abortion was not directly mentioned, the state's attorney general interpreted the order to include abortions. While federal district courts twice stayed the order as applied to abortions but today the Court of Appeals overruled the District Court and reinstated the ban in its entirety.

The Court reached far back into legal history in order to rationalize its decision.  The Court cited  1905 Supreme Court decision Jacobson v Massachusetts which upheld a mandatory vaccination law during a smallpox outbreak.  The case offered little in the way of analogy.  The orders are vastly different and the Texas ban does not rationalize how the abortion restrictions will assist in containing the COVID-19 threat.  While medication abortions are permitted along with those that would be time-barred during the duration of the ban, the orders discount not only women's autonomy but the psychological and physical harm that women will suffer by delayed procedures. 

 

April 20, 2020 in Gender Oppression, Margaret Drew, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (2)

Friday, April 17, 2020

Reproductive Rights and COVID19

Good strategists know when to seize an opportunity. Texas began the trend by declaring abortion elective surgery permissible only if the mother's physical health is at risk.  Seizing hospitals' cancellations of elective surgery opened a pathway for anti-choice politicians to create circumstances that all but eliminate the possibility for most women to obtain an abortion.    

Other states followed.  Arkansas and Tennessee among them.  Appellate Courts have met challenges to the restrictions in various ways and Planned Parenthood has requested a hearing with the US Supreme Court.  No response has been heard from the court.

Alaska has joined the ban-abortion contingent by declaring abortions non essential unless the life or health of the mother is endangered.  Women in Alaska exemplify the hardship that bans create, particularly in states comprised mostly of a rural population.  Abuse survivors, particularly, Alaskan Natives often experience their abuse without help.  Adverse weather conditions,  remote locations, poverty and few local resources leave survivors in desperate conditions at the hands of their abusers.    The same conditions already inhibit rural Alaskan women from obtaining abortions.  Imposing additional burdens on Alaskan women effectively eliminates their choice.  Travel to another state for the procedure is unaffordable and risky for women in abusive relationships.  Even those in non-abusive circumstances will be restricted by distance and expense.  

The imposed restrictions already have removed choice. To argue otherwise is a fallacy.  COVID19 related unemployment adds an additional stressor that influences women to choose termination of a pregnancy.  The related loss of healthcare and other benefits makes looming or worsening poverty a real possibility for many women.  Imposing the ban at a time when women and families are facing the most serious loss of income and the highest unemployment that the country has experienced is particularly cruel.  Ideology and empathy are not compatible. 

April 17, 2020 in Margaret Drew, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

At Last. DOJ Finds NJ Women's Prison Violates Constitutional Rights

The Department of Justice began investigating the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in 2018.  The Justice Department report was released this week.  The primary finding was of rampant sexual abuse of incarcerated women by correctional officers and other staff.  Since the investigation began DOJ reports:

In May 2018, an Edna Mahan correction officer was found guilty of five counts of sexually abusing prisoners. According to the sentencing judge, the “pervasive culture” at Edna Mahan allowed this correction officer to abuse his “position of authority to indulge in [his] own sexual stimulation.”

In July 2018, another Edna Mahan correction officer pled guilty to three counts of official misconduct after he admitted sexually abusing three separate prisoners.

In January 2019, another correction officer pled guilty to official misconduct charges after admitting that he repeatedly sexually abused two Edna Mahan prisoners over a period of several years. In sentencing him, the New Jersey court concluded that the officer had “sexually assaulted a vulnerable population.”

Others have been indicted. 

As reported by the NY Times, “Sexual abuse should not be a part of any prisoner’s punishment,” Eric S. Dreiband, the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement accompanying the report, the result of an investigation by the division and the U.S. attorney’s office in New Jersey. “Women prisoners at Edna Mahan are at substantial risk of sexual abuse by staff because systemic deficiencies discourage prisoners from reporting sexual abuse and allow sexual abuse to occur undetected and undeterred.”

Incarcerated women have complained for decades of the sexual and other abuse they are subjected to while confined.  Edna Mahan's women were no different.  The women endured years of abuse, which included being forced to have sex with other women while staff observed.  The report went on to say that “Our society requires prisoners to give up their liberty, but that surrender does not encompass the basic right to be free from severe unwanted sexual contact.”  The question has to be asked - why did it take years of reporting for any significant investigation to be done?  Other incarcerated women report similar abuses at a wide number of facilities but life is often more difficult for them if they report the abuse.  The women of Edna Mahan were courageous in their reporting but not after years of being threatened into silence.

Most incarcerated women lost their liberty for non-violent crimes.  Most incarcerated women were abused during their pre-incarceration years.  These women do need prison.  They need services.  Whether the needed help is for substance abuse,  mental health, education or reunification with children, prisons to not provided supportive environments that will assist women to have healthy lives. The abolition of prisons for women and girls is a national movement, led by the National Council of Incarcerated Women and Girls.  

Those interested in joining the abolitionist movement will readily find local organizations leading the efforts locally.  Prisons for women have a sordid history of physical and sexual abuse of women and failure to provide services even at the level male provided to incarcerated men.   Time indeed is up on the incarcerated of women and girls.  

April 14, 2020 in Gender Violence, Margaret Drew, Prisons | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

No Where To Go: Intimate Partner Abuse In The COVID-19 Pandemic

Many articles have surfaced reporting the increase in domestic violence since the beginning of self-quarantine imposed by many countries during the pandemic.  Survivors of gender violence have enforced psychological, if not physical, boundaries, dependent upon the whims of the abusive partner.  Targets of intimate partner abuse are accustomed to being tracked by their abusers.  Constant texting, following, and other surveillance are part of an abused partner's daily routine.  

Now many survivors are trapped with their abusers.  Because of lockdowns, self-quarantines and other measures designed to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus, many families experiencing abuse are now forced to be with the abuser 24 hours a day.  Other additional stressors are unemployment, being with children 24 hours a day, and increased substance abuse. Calls to domestic violence hotlines have increased significantly.

The United Nations asked that countries make the safety of domestic violence survivors a priority and and few have made special accommodations part their response to the pandemic. But how?  No country has made anti-domestic violence a priority beyond basic and inadequate resources and certainly have not made significant inroads into changing the cultural acceptance of abuse.  Some countries have converted women's shelters into health facilities.    Some shelters have introduced measures barring new victims for fear of further spreading the virus.  Few replacement shelters have become available during the interim.

Chickens are coming home to roost.  Governments have not been aggressive in addressing the root causes of abuse or in providing adequate remedies for those who have experienced intimate partner violence.  Advocates are often only able to provide temporary relief to the abused.  Legal systems may provide limited relief but are not the answer to a long term solution. The tools needed to provide independence such as sufficient financial support, housing, and education are and always have been in short supply for survivors. 

Few tools are available to help under these circumstances. Police can conduct wellness checks.  Neighbors can report disturbances.  But those measures are stopgap, as well, unless backed up by long term remedies addressed in part above.  After years of education and advocacy addressing intimate partner abuse, the current reality is evidence that we have come no closer to eradicating violence from our culture than when we started. How will this inform advocates' next steps?

 

  

 

April 8, 2020 in Domestic Violence, Gender Violence, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Transgender Update

March 31st was transgender visibility day.  With the national focus on COVID-19, we see and hear less news about the ongoing personal and legislative attacks on sexual minorities. An earlier post addressed the restriction of human rights during the epidemic and the danger that the restricted rights will not be restored.  This is also a time when harmful actions unrelated to COVID-19 are being attempted while the disease diverts our attention.

Idaho is an example of enacting insidious anti-transgender laws. As trans people prepared to celebrate Visibility Day, Indiana Governor Brad Little signed anti-transgender legislation into law.  One bill prohibits transgender women and girls from participating in sports consistent with their gender identity.    The second bill forbids transgender and non-binary people from changing the gender markers on their birth certificates. 

Even if the laws are found to be unconstitutional, they achieve the underlying purpose of raising anti-trans hostility.  Similar bills are introduced in other states. So long as anti-transgender publicity has momentum, discrimination and violence against trans and non-binary people will escalate.  

While our mobility may be determined by COVID-19, our advocacy should not be.  

 

 

April 2, 2020 in Margaret Drew, Sexuality, Transgender | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, March 26, 2020

The Earth Gives Us A Chance

The skies over Wuhan have dramatically reduced air pollution.  Maps show a significant reduction in nitrogen dioxide since factories closed and transportation restricted.  NASA maps from January 1 and February 25, 2020 show a 30% drop in NO2, which is created through the use of fossil fuels.  "According to NASA scientists, the reduction in NO2 pollution was first apparent near Wuhan, but eventually spread across the country." 

“This is the first time I have seen such a dramatic drop-off over such a wide area for a specific event,” said Fei Liu, an air quality researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Liu recalls seeing a drop in NO2 over several countries during the economic recession that began in 2008, but the decrease was gradual. Scientists also observed a significant reduction around Beijing during the 2008 Olympics, but the effect was mostly localized around that city, and pollution levels rose again once the Olympics ended.

Italy is experiencing similar environmental improvements. Satellite photographs show a decrease in air pollution.  Industrialized northern Italy, in particular, was plagued with serious pollution since well prior to the Coronavirus explosion.  For decades, cruise ships have long polluted the bay leading to the canals.   And boat traffic in the canals is vastly down.

These environmental improvements may be temporary.  Indications are Venice canals have reduced sharply pollution levels. Now residents report that for the first time in decades they can see fish swimming in the canals.  However, there is no evidence that governments will change their environmental habits or tie any stimulus packages to environmental improvements.   Indeed, some of the biggest polluters, the airlines,  may be recipients of large influxes of federal funds. To date, no government has tied stimulus funds to changeover to alternative energy systems.

The earth is offering us a chance to repair environmental harms.  Is anyone listening?

 

March 26, 2020 in Environment, Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Mindful Mondays

Coping in this new environment can be challenging. Maintaining our own mental health is crucial so that we can support our students in their education and their adjustments.  Technology certainly will help immensely, keeping us in touch real time with others can provide emotional support.  FaceTime and other technologies help keep relationships going.

For spiritual support and maintaining calm consider participating in Mindful Mondays which are offered at 3 pm eastern time.  Brought to you by the Mindfulness in Law Society Mindful Mondays are for people in the legal profession.  If you have thirty minutes, you might want to join in a twenty minute practice with 5 minutes for discussion at the beginning an end.  Group meditation is powerful, whether in person or via the web.  Maintaining community while experiencing isolation is a powerful way to protect our physical and emotional health.  

Various practices are offered throughout the week as MILS also partners with the Mindfulness Center at Brown University School of Public Health to offer the weekly Tuesday Pause (15 minutes) and Wednesday Mindfulness Program (45 minutes, including some discussion).  Check it out!  

 

 

March 18, 2020 in Margaret Drew | Permalink | Comments (1)

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Senator Schuman, Please Be Quiet!

Did Senator Chuck Schumer think he was speaking for women when he threatened two Supreme Court Justices?  At a rally organized by the Center for Reproductive Rights and held on the Courthouse steps, Senator Schumer remarked "I want to tell you, Gorsuch, I want to tell you, Kavanaugh.  You have released the whirlwind and you will pay the price! You won't know what hit you if you go forward with these awful decisions."  All while the abortion case of June Medical Services LLC. v. Russo was being argued to the Court.  Did Mr. Schumer think that he represented women's sentiments?  Male righteousness and bravado are exactly what is not needed in the fight to save reproductive rights.

Why are men speaking for women anyway?  If men want to help women, they need to show up without speaking up.  What would help is a million silent men marching behind women supporting their demands to save abortion rights and protesting gender violence.   Let women lead.

 

March 15, 2020 in Margaret Drew, Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (1)