Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Black Knights Vs White Knights...Teachers Strike Wheelers Corner 28 30th May 2019

This week the black knights [Government Neo lib's] do battle with the White knights [Teachers and Principals] While I cast my shaddow at the bottom right hand corner

This massive chess board set up in the Square along side the Council Building clearly represents the two forces at logger heads on the issue of Education and the rewards attached to it...

Oh I hear you mutter, teachers are just stirring...after all they are paid pretty well for what they do...

Do you really believe that, when was the last time you actually talked to a teacher? Have we become so thick and ignorant, that we've forgotten how we got our education for free... 

Now if you want to be teacher, an apprentice, almost any thing that involves a university or Polly-tech means that you end up owning thousands, before you collect your first pay check...In fact the teaching profession is simply shrinking by the day...who wants to be a bloody teacher and be lumbered with all that debt...I thought education was free...alas today we've brought into the idiotic US system of a price! I wonder when Chris Hipkins and Paula Bennett plan to pay back the money they got from the state to fund their education... 

The teachers started their strike for better wages and conditions on Wednesday morning at eight am...and the hundreds of cars headed toward or comming from the Manawatu river city bridge...

beeped their horns and waved in support...

If only these same teachers / Principals etc had attended the students strike for the climate that took place a few days earlier...

So what was missing from the teachers strike were the very people they profess to be striking for... The Students... 

Their signs were well worth a read and it would appear that the motorists inthe main gave them support.

It was a pity that the very morning the minister of education, an ex student leader 'Chris Hipkins' had publically stated that nothing the teachers can do will achieve the desired goal of a better offer.

According to the line 'Hipkins' hard line that he is pushing...of take what we offer or take nothing...and I must admit that sounds so "Roger Douglas" 
which is odd comming from an ex protester like Hipkins.

But hey whats new! say one thing but do another...

Still the striking teachers and their supporters continued to make their point, supported by hundreds heading south toward Massey and Linton or heading North toward the city.

The Strikers then united in the Square.

Made a few speeches then commenced the movement around the Square
I am fully supportive of the teachers claims for a decade National ignored them as their wages and conditions were bit by bit reduced via the policies of Neo Libs like Roger Douglas,[Later knighted by the Nats, now that tells you something]

Future students and want-to-be teachers were hit with massive student bills and loans...they had no increases for seven of those ten years... and while wee Chris Hipkins is attempting to make some slight headway...austerity is still his main preached by Douglas and Prebble and our loving Ruth Richardson and her neo lib mates in the national clan.

Go to the Manawatu Standards brilliant report on the march and watch the vid it is most enlightening...

Maybe just maybe the Neo Lib's still existing in the labour party will now get the message...and be bold and fprget light fingered Roger Douglas and his anti-worker behaviour...wipe his memory...let him rot along with the Act Party and all its weird political fans, like Don Brash, Richard Prebble...Labour these days is more RIGHT than are the Nats...

Its time to change, to grow some guts, tax the god dam 1% and lighten the load of the working class...the ones who actually create the wealth...close the gap between the rich and the poor...


Friday, 24 May 2019

Students shame their elders by their courage, lets hope the teachers and principals show half the courage on the 30th of may. Wheelers Corner 27

This weeks Wheelers Corner is all in pictures...why because pictures best tell the real story of just how brave our students were in carrying out their action on behalf of those whose futures we've spent the last couple of hundred years slowly but surely destroying bit by our stupidity...

It was the first time, as I understand it, that a DIE In was used during a march around the Square...I think it was because the participants were younger....

Lucky for us...they didn't really die...but simply acted as if they did...and then after a minute or three they awoke...and stood to the relief of all present....

During this stage an OLD White male, commented to me that all they were doing were holding up the motorists...of course he never understood that unless we do something there may be NO ten or so years...

Of course if you are problems, except that most people are not rich....

This picture gives a clear view that the younger generation are really really scared that our leaders lack the courage and skill to undertake the changes required to get on to the right track that will protect OUR future and our childrens children future... After all why should they trust far we've done nothing other than to lead them astray...

Nelson has shown some courage, and a wee part of Canterbury too has moved an inch or two in the right direction... 

I searched the growd and I only saw one PNC Councillor [Brent Barrett] was brave enough to attend the protest to support Manawatu students in their wonderful stand for mother earth... 
where was the Mayor, the Deputy Mayor and the other invisible 14 Councillors: were they all too busy...or deaf to hear the plea, Of course I may have missed a hidden Councillor or Mayor hiding up stairs in the Council I understand it some of our Councillors are young moms, what sort of a future do they think they are leaving for the younger generation. Or is Toyota more important than our future...after we gave them hundreds of thousands for free...they are the third of forth richest motor company in the world...and we donate rates to stupid can one get. 
Go to the reference below to see Lily Thomas and her latest hand painted sign: 

Sunday, 19 May 2019

Make Friday a day of action, join our youth in the Square at noon 24th May 2019

Teachers are striking at the end of MAY: But the young students are striking on Friday the 24th May 2019...
Are teachers and principals supporting their active students...this is a key question...lets hope both teachers and particularly Principals show some leadership and assist their, socially minded students to make a stand for our environments future:
This young person protested at an earlier protest by schools a couple of months was world wide and really shook up England and parts of the EU and some locations in the fact it sent a shiver down the non-existent spine of dear Donald T...the bravest of the brave!

So on Friday at noon join the youngsters and teenagers as they show us the way to change the way we do things climate wise.
Young Lily Thomas and her T shirt and sign says it all...

If she can stand tall, then we should join with her and her the Square...and show our Council and a few of our school Principals...that actions speak louder than words...

I think the students would believe and get in behind the teachers strike if the teachers and principals got in behind the students... 

Action learning is a lot more meaningful when doing takes preference over simply talking or telling.

So make a commitment now to support your / our young people, these young people may well ask you one day..."What did you do! to prevent the destruction of our planet!!! 

What would you answer be:  

So if you've got the time and the energy regardless of your age, come down to the Square Round-about near the Council Chamber at NOON and join in the Students march for Climate change. Bring you children and friends and their children and friends...we are all in this together... 

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Douglas Richardson returns to haunt our teachers. Wheelers Corner 26 May 2019

Bryan Bruce

Bryan Bruce is one of NZs most respected documentary makers and public intellectuals who has tirelessly exposed NZs neoliberal economic settings as the main cause for social issues. This is what he wrote in the daily blog: I quote:

"As a former teacher let me be clear I’m 100% behind our educators in their efforts to get better pay and conditions.
Shaping the lives and fostering the talents and ambitions of future New Zealanders is a tough and important job that has been underrated ever since the introduction of neoliberal economics in 1984 which wants to measure everything in terms of immediate dollar outcomes.
The cry from our Minister of Education that “ there is no more money “ is, economically speaking, just dumb.
Minister of Finance Grant Robertson is operating a neoliberal self- imposed austerity regime
Running our country is not like running a household. There are many solutions we could discuss to get the money needed. Taxing the 10% of us who own 60% of the wealth of our country in order to get them to pay their fair share would be a good start.
We could borrow the money at very low interest rates from overseas
( we have one of the lowest rates of overseas debt in the OECD ) and for goodness sake the government owns a bank! It allows private banks to print money by issuing mortgages – there WAS a time when our government was in change of that business.

So I have no sympathy for Labour finally having to deal with the misery it sowed back in 1984 when it thought trickle- down theory was such a good idea.
But the duplicity of National in trying to claim that the teachers going on strike is somehow down to mismanagement by Labour is frankly gob-smacking in its hypocrisy.
National put neoliberalism on steroids. They grossly under funded education and displayed an ignorance of modern teaching and learning practices that was, quite frankly, appalling .
No. We are here at this moment in education because learning is not a commodity . It is a gift we should give to our children and young people because they and we all benefit in the long run from their ability to make their way in a future that none of us can imagine but will determine what kind of lives we can all enjoy tomorrow.
Pay our teachers -our people makers- and pay them well. Reduce their workload. Give them our support for their strike action because they are not doing this lightly.
Oh and tell our government they need to rethink how they are running our economy.
Capital needs to be made to work for the State. Not the other way around.
Kia kaha teachers!

So said Bryan Bruce.

Now if that does not stir the blood, then there is a possibility that the reader is brain dead...and I sincerely hope you are not in that category. Bryan Bruce and his truthful and honest statements surely leads us toward acceptance that the train wrecker that was Roger Douglas and Richard Prebble and the super depressing strange lady Ruth Richardson who floated in after their departure to the ACT party. Of course the Roger Douglas evil apprentices in the form of Grant Robertson etc, still exist'll need to use all your fingers to count the neoliberalist clan that still exists in the Labour Party and especially New Zealand First. 

The real problem is that they have convinced themselves that [stealing, robbing, double dipping] from the public purse is OK these days...

Speaking of  a worthy Strike, I wonder if the teachers will support the strike below? Lets hope so!

Friday, May 24, 2019 at 12:30 PM – 3 PM

Speaking of teachers again...this from Stuff says it all...from the National party perspective: here is an intro:

"A Wairarapa school teacher was shocked by her local MP's suggestion to "look elsewhere" if she didn't like her employment circumstances.
Greytown primary school teacher Alex Southall wrote to Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott of the National Party saying it was time for action over teachers' pay and conditions.
"I was shocked by that response. I was like 'Wow, if that's how valued we really are, that's so sad'," Southall said.
Scott told Southall although he supported increased wages for teachers he believed teachers should find another job if they were not happy."

After a quick read you may decide that should you be unhappy being a teacher, you can always simply give it a miss, and grow grapes or make a bottle or two of wine...because that's want National would recommend...of course you'll need access to a few million dollars, and government start up grants from the regional development grant [Just have a chat to whats his name  again, Oh yes Shane (Blue movie) Jones] he will see you right...

But wait, if teachers give up on teaching who will look after our kids? Who will teach them to read and write? These skills don't come easily for some...In the words of John Key, "Show some guts" and let the market manage the future...the market always knows best...yeah right. I see ANZ has just put a hold on Key's Air NZ directors I suppose he'll quit and go live in Hawaii again.

So this rant naturally leads me to recommend that you support the teachers, and the youngsters who are striking for Climate Action on Friday May the 24th at 12.30 in the Square near the Council Chamber. Come along and support them...and you teachers encourage your students and their parents to attend...

2 One last plea: You may like to consider this:

This is urgent. We have under 2 weeks to stop the Minerals Forum in Dunedin, a conference promoting the expansion of the coal industry in Aotearoa.
At this point in the climate crisis, we cannot afford to further the interests of the coal industry. We must cut ties with this polluting industry and throw our full weight behind a fast and just transition to 100% renewable energy for all. Join us to stop the Minerals Forum from going ahead!

When our cities host such events, they support the social license of the coal industry. At the Minerals Forum, the coal industry will promote the expansion of our largest coal mine, Stockton, and the exploration for more underground coal deposits on the West Coast. All the while, there is no mention of a just transition for workers into sustainable, long-term jobs. As for the climate crisis, it is posed as an economic hurdle for the coal industry to “adapt without compromising their business nor the coal industry”.
Mayor of Dunedin Dave Cull has a reputation as one of New Zealand’s most progressive Mayors on climate change matters. He has consistently taken a stand against the fossil fuel industry until now.
  • In 2015, he led Dunedin City Council to be the first city council in Aotearoa to implement a socially responsible investment policy and divest $1.4 million from coal, oil, and gas.
  • In 2017, as President of LGNZ (Local Government New Zealand), he was the first signatory on the Local Government Leaders' Climate Change Declaration.
  • That same year he voted along with the majority of his councillors to support a moratorium on oil and gas exploration.
We have just 11 days to urge Mayor Dave Cull to stand by his climate leadership and reject hosting the Minerals Forum in a council venue. There is no place for a coal-sponsored conference in the buildings of a city council that has divested from fossil fuels.

The statement of intent between Dunedin City Council and the venue operators, Dunedin Venues states the business should "exhibit a sense of social and environmental responsibility by having regard to the interests of the community in which it operates.” It’s obvious hosting a conference which promotes the expansion of the coal industry is at odds with this statement. Call on Mayor Dave Cull to strengthen the venue hiring policy to rule out the fossil fuel and mining industries from using the city's publicly-owned venues.
Last year, hundreds of us linked arms in peaceful resistance to the Petroleum Summit in Wellington. Only three weeks later the government announced an end to offshore oil and gas permits. In the following months, our local 350 Wellington group set out on a campaign to have the summit banned from council-owned venues. Then just last week, the Petroleum Summit opted to take its business underground, keeping the date and venue of the next Petroleum Summit a secret.
Our presence makes an impact. When we come together to take action, we raise the moral question of whether our cities and institutions should associate with the industry most responsible for the ecological collapse. We must hold these industries to account. We must continue to erode the social licence of the fossil fuel industry because, without it, they can’t keep doing business digging and burning coal.
Together we can stop the fossil fuel industry from being able to promote this out of date agenda. Together we can shut the Minerals Forum down.
Let’s do this!
Claudia and the 350 Aotearoa team
P.S. If you can make it to Dunedin, there are two events to get involved with. 
1) A coalition of local activists is planning the resistance to Stop the Minerals Forum from going ahead altogether. 
2) Coal Action Network Aotearoa is hosting a Coal in Aotearoa discussion day in Dunedin on Sunday 26th. 

Our own Donald Trump....Pony tail Key now Sir John.
Carly Thomas Peter I meant to message you. The photo of the girl in the student Strike in one of your blogs was my daughter Lily. I’m happy for you to use her name 🙂



Thursday, 9 May 2019

Lucy Gray tells it as it is....Wheelers Corner 25 11th May 2019

Lucy is a name well used in the Poems of Wordsworth and others...

The story of Lucy was both sad and tragic.

Lost in a storm...and lets not forget Lucy in the sky with diamonds...

Today we have a new kiwi special Lucy who is not planning to go away...especially to an early grave...she seeks to protect not only her future but every ones future.

Pushed there by the foolish behaviour of her elders and their elders. And the cycle of greed that over runs our world by the mega wealthy 1%

I received this email from Peter Grove:
Lucy Gray [left] makes a plea:

Peter W,

Have you seen the item in today's news that featured Lucy Gray making her point about the right for the kids to be concerned for their futures and their demands for REAL action, rather than the meaningless lip service being given to the subject that we are seeing from politicians and world leaders world-wide.

I was very pleased that she picked up on the hypocrisy of teacher organisations criticising SS4CC by making her point the teachers strike all the time for better wages. But object to the kids striking for their futures.

Peter G.

After reading the Stuff item: You can decide for yourself what you want about the issue, but some teachers and others are sadly depressing both in content and intelligence: here is an example: 

Our political leaders criticised them as "waggers" and time-wasters; they felt more could be achieved in another day spent at school rather than taking to the streets to highlight their elders' perceived shortcomings.

Principals and other school leaders have also criticised the movement. Their response has been similarly patronising.

Secondary Principals' Association president Michael Williams said any protesters would be wasting their time, that the chances of effecting any change were "probably zero".

So the teachers who went on strike were simply waggers! SPA Williams must then accept that his organisation have a zero chance of success. 
Teachers strike.

But of course not everyone is an unbiased adult. And to show how wrong Williams was and is: This from XR Manawatu

Last Friday we woke up to some good news from the UK - MP's in the House
of Commons have approved a motion to declare an environment and climate
Now we need to see the political will and legislative powers to back
this up but it is a monumental step in the right direction following
Scotland and Wales declaring climate emergencies earlier in the week.
Non-violent direct action works.

Back on that infamous day the 15th of March 2019 400 hundred plus marched around the Square in PN and around the world, not once but twice, proves the energy of our youth. It was a wonderful sight watching the young people led the protest march...
Young protester in PN.

I took this photo of this young girl / woman without getting her name, if you know her name could you simply let me know so I can contact her parents and seek permission to use her picture in the if you recognise her please let me know. 

Being the 15th of March and murder of 51 innocent individuals attending their Mosque in Christchurch, so the very first protest of the climate strike by young people rather came second in the MSM... 

This of course was only the first step as the various branches of Extinction rebellion around NZ and around the world. 

Peter Grove who sent me the note at the start of this  report has joined XR London branch and is now really wrapt up in what is happening, And Peter is in his age is no barrier to becoming active.

Like Peter G I too am no chicken 79 this year...Extinction Rebellion Manawatu is holding its AGM at Snails on: If you a member or orginal supporter

So if you feel up to it why not come along and see if you can help... Our next meeting is Monday 13th May, 7pm, Snails 103 Taonui Street. Everyone is welcome - please do join us.
Please join the Facebook group and add your voice to the local discussion.


We are healing from the shock of the 15th of March, both here and allover NZ. This item from the Manawatu Standard and covers the eforts of Andy Hickman to inter connect with the various religious communities within our society. 

Was good to see this in the 6pm slot as a top story tonight. Was this the first time the #climatecrisis has been covered in prime time news? I wonder what the general population thought watching from their couches in their living rooms. I am hoping that slowly but surely it’s getting through!

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Wheelers Corner 24, May 4th 2019Government makes a belated move to assist the poor...yeah right

 "The welfare expert advisory group says too many people are leading desperate lives with seriously inadequate incomes - and that's causing toxic levels of stress. It’s made 42 recommendations, but the government says it can’t implement them all at once". Checkpoint RNZ. Tell me something new!!!

This from No Right Turn: Still the best blog in my neck of the woods:

Friday, May 03, 2019

Removing WINZ's boot from people's necks
If you've ever had to interact with New Zealand's welfare system, then you'll know that its a punitive nightmare. Beneficiaries are kept on benefits deliberately set at below starvation levels, with punitive clawbacks preventing them from supplementing their income or moving into the workforce via part-time work. Meanwhile, a Victorian definition of relationships that is inconsistent with all other law on the topic (and internally inconsistent in whatever way benefits WINZ) turns WINZ into a Saudi-style morality police snooping on the sex lives of its victims. All to satisfy the cruelty and viciousness of the rich, or those who have a little and lack the imagination to consider that they or their families might ever suffer misfortune (or simply be a student).
The Greens demand an inquiry into this punitive system as the price of support for a Labour government, and they got it. Now it has reported back, and there will be change:

The Government will remove a benefit sanction which saw solo mothers who did not name their child's father penalised up to $28 per week and increase the amount that beneficiaries can earn through employment before their benefit is cut.

Minister for Social Development Carmel Sepuloni announced the changes on Friday in response to a report from the Welfare Expert Advisory Group.

The report warned urgent and fundamental change was needed to redress a level of financial support so low in New Zealand that too many were living in desperate situations. It stated the current system no longer met the needs of the more than 600,000 Kiwis it was supposed to support.

However, Sepuloni said the Government had decided against a recommended move to increase benefit levels by up to 47 per cent immediately so Kiwis could "live in dignity", and was instead "looking at a staged implementation" of change.

This is going to make a difference, and a big one. And while the timing of the report's delivery relative to the budget cycle basicly rules out an immediate increase (the budget having been nailed down months ago), I hope they'll be moving on that soon. Because while removing WINZ's boot from people's necks is good, fundamentally what beneficiaries need is more money, so they can meaningfully participate in society. And in Labour wants to plead poverty on that, maybe they should have implemented a capital gains tax (or one of its alternatives e.g. a land tax, or an outright wealth tax) so we can afford the sort of society we want, rather than being constrained by self-imposed austerity". [NRT blog comment ends].

Ian Ritchie had this to say about the RNZ Checkpoint statement:

My experience includes that of a Ministry whose staff ignored court decisions against them.
It is not just the detail that needs changing but the culture and the attitudes. We have been  waiting a long time for this to happen. Ian

Thanks Ian, I too would love to see an attitude change in WINZ... the blame game is out dated and stupid if the real goal is to help those who need help. But it worries me that Labour appears to agree with the present state of affairs but are being held back by their neo-liberal history that was installed by Roger Douglas that great helper of the needy...yeah-right.

2. From the Pen of Richard Swainson: its well worth a read:

Any argument for New Zealand as a 'monoculture' is naive nonsense

Destiny Church senior pastor Derek Tait reaches out to a member of the Muslim community during the call to prayer and peace vigil outside the Masjid Al Noor Mosque.
Destiny Church senior pastor Derek Tait reaches out to a member of the Muslim community during the call to prayer and peace vigil outside the Masjid Al Noor Mosque.
OPINION: There's a lot of talk these days about the "monoculture". That sense of a truly communal experience. The feeling of being part of a societal whole. 
Sure, the vast majority of us stood with Jacinda Ardern after Christchurch, our empathy for the victims and their families sustained by that sense of shared humanity. 
But at the same time, if you were a middle-class Pākehā, brought up to observe religion in the breach, inclined toward Friday night drinks, not pray sessions, you were just as aware of points of difference. 
It's true that we are all immigrants in this country, but it's equally certain we live in a time of heightened sensitivities, where one's gender, one's ethnicity, one's sexuality, one's religion or lack thereof, assumes an importance that threatens to overwhelm that which we have in common. 
Destiny Church members reclaim Christchurch 'for Jesus'
Kiwis encouraged to wear headscarves to support Muslim community
Super Rugby: Crusaders name change will be 'particularly challenging': expert 
A community gathers at the clock tower in Feilding, Manawatū, to show their support, love and unity for the people of Christchurch following the mosque shootings.
A community gathers at the clock tower in Feilding, Manawatū, to show their support, love and unity for the people of Christchurch following the mosque shootings.
The idea we are "one people" is politically charged, meaning one thing out of Ardern's mouth and quite another when pronounced by Don Brash. In the case of the latter, laws suits are apparently pending.

George Orwell said: "We are are all equal, but some are more equal than others." The line resonates louder every day, a rallying cry for both Left and Right, the perpetually offended signalling their virtue, the entrenched old guard smarting at the new truths of the whippersnapper generation.

The old adages we once thought defined us as a nation today seem at best reductive, gross simplifications that covered up a vast array of different cultural practices and allegiances. 

 "Rugby, racing and beer" has a strong, masculine ring to it, but I fear the teetotalling strain has always run just as strongly through our history, just as gambling was never everybody's cup of tea and plenty of working-class folk have always had a greater affinity with league than union.  
Even wars and rugby tours, the type of experiences that supposedly bound the country together, excluded plenty. 
Conscientious objectors, indigenous mindful of Treaty betrayal, proto-feminists aghast at the injustices of the patriarchy, sensitive artistic types indifferent to sport, outright Leftists who damn rugger as "bread and circus" entertainment for the masses, all sat on the outside. 
Gallipoli and Monte Casino meant little to them. The Invincibles' unbeaten run and the great triumph over the Boks in 1956 left them cold.
Brian Tamaki's self-serving brand of Old Testament bollocks seems almost quaint in this context.
"The Apostle" insists New Zealand is "a Christian nation". He seeks to reclaim Christchurch "for Jesus".  Given the tragic history of the city in the last few years, does he assume Jehovah's boy has been absent and that as a consequence Satan has run amuck? 
Or was it God Himself who sent the earthquakes, the inclement weather and the Australian gun man, a Sodom and Gomorrah judgment upon the wicked and the sinful? 
Religious logic is well nigh impossible to fathom, but one aspect tends to transcend denomination or faith – the deity is invariably praised for the good stuff and gets let off the hook when it comes to the rest. 
The gross insensitivity involved in Tamaki ramming his profit-driven pronouncements down the throats of the recently bereaved is hard to square with New Testament ideals of loving one's neighbour as one's self. If Christianity means trumpeting the superiority of your belief systems, of kicking the other guy when he's down, we are all much better off without it.

Moreover, I don't think New Zealand can be defined by its past flirtation with faith, however much vestiges remain in the likes of the national anthem and our court and legislative system. That's not to say there were not once a great many New Zealanders who believed, rigorous observation of the Sabbath and lip service paid at weddings, funerals and school assemblies. 
In the same manner that "rugby, racing and beer" falls short though when it comes to describing our essence, so the presumption of widespread Christianity is difficult to square with generations of non-believers, not to be mention those who worshiped something else entirely, be it the oval ball, Phar Lap, or Allah.
I fear the monoculture has always been a myth. We are creatures of more localised community. 
John Lennon once noted, accurately if sans modesty, that The Beatles were "more popular than Jesus". 
If the Fab Four's moment has now passed, I would say that the concluding episodes of Game of Thrones will attract more punters than Destiny Church, even in a city that bears Christ's name.
Richard Swainson is a Stuff columnist


Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Women should be scared...Wheelers Corner 23

This report from "Democracy Now" Gives Women World Wide a reason to be scared: Trump has lied yet again as he serches for support from a mob of Anti-choice supporters who are also religious nut cases: Intelligent but nutty at the same time, it is possible to be both intelligent yet nutty: After reading the report I believe no woman can vote for TRUMP.

By Amy Goodman & Denis Moynihan
'Before he became president, Donald Trump described himself as pro-choice. Now, he can’t do enough to deny women control of their own bodies. Marching in lockstep with Vice President Mike Pence and some of the most anti-choice members of his right-wing coalition, Trump has gone global in his crusade, watering down a United Nations Security Council resolution aimed at stopping rape and sexual violence in war.

His acting U.N. ambassador threatened to veto any resolution containing language referring to “reproductive health.” The goal of the demand, most observers agree, is to ensure that women who are raped in war should not receive any help terminating pregnancies. This episode is just the most recent in the accelerating and increasingly successful campaign to criminalize abortion, waged by a vocal, well-funded minority in this country.

For close to half a century, the right to a safe, legal abortion has been guaranteed by the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade decision. For many years, the divided court consistently reaffirmed Roe v. Wade. With the surprise retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy, though, and his replacement with controversial, conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh, the balance on the court has shifted markedly to the right, and the future of Roe is entirely uncertain.

Confident that the current Supreme Court would now overturn Roe v. Wade if given a chance, anti-choice activists and their allies in Republican-controlled state legislatures are pushing a new wave of anti-abortion bills. This will set the stage, they hope, for a Supreme Court decision eliminating a woman’s right to privacy and to make her own health care decisions, enshrined in Roe v. Wade.

“The extreme nature of this year’s bills is unprecedented,” the pro-choice Guttmacher Institute noted in a recent report. “Legislation under consideration in 28 states would ban abortion in a variety of ways.” Among the slew of strategies employed are trigger bans, which would make abortion completely illegal in a state should Roe be overturned; gestational age bans, which make abortion illegal after a fetus has gestated six, 12 or 18 weeks, or some other length of time (these are often referred to as “fetal heartbeat” bills); reason bans, which bar abortions for reasons of a fetus’s sex, race or disability; and method bans, which bar certain types of abortion procedures.

Add to that the TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws that impose extraordinary, cumbersome regulations, which the majority of small clinics cannot afford to follow. These laws don’t enhance patient safety, but force facilities that provide abortions to meet an array of onerous conditions like having corridors of a certain width and exam rooms of a specific size. The financial costs of meeting these arbitrary regulations often force clinics to shut down.

While over two-thirds of Americans are pro-choice, anti-choice activists have the edge in state governments, with Republicans controlling roughly two-thirds of statehouses and 27 of the country’s 50 governorships. But progressive legislators in some states are pushing bills to protect access to safe, legal abortion, enhance availability of contraception and expand sex education. Likewise, federal courts continue to strike down the most egregious and unconstitutional efforts to control women’s reproductive health decisions.

Recently, Trump’s Department of Health and Human Services issued what pro-choice advocates call the “Title X gag rule,” barring physicians from giving patients the full range of options when considering reproductive health. In Oregon on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Michael J. McShane issued a preliminary injunction against the gag rule, calling it a “ham-fisted approach to public health policy.”

Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said of McShane’s ruling: “While this is a victory for patients and doctors, this relief is preliminary, and we will continue to fight the Trump-Pence administration in court and in Congress to ensure our patients’ health and rights are protected.”

Back at the United Nations, the Trump-Pence administration has expanded the anti-choice agenda globally by removing any reference to “sexual and reproductive health” from the U.N. Security Council’s resolution on conflict-related sexual violence. Outraged at the U.S. position, France’s U.N. ambassador said, “It is intolerable and incomprehensible that the Security Council is incapable of acknowledging that women and girls who suffered from sexual violence in conflict, and who obviously didn’t choose to become pregnant, should have the right to terminate their pregnancy.”

The U.S. administration also removed the word “gender” from the resolution, and weakened references to the International Criminal Court, making it harder for women and girls to seek justice.

Donald Trump himself has been accused of sexual harassment and sexual assault by no less than 16 women. Is this really the world leader who should be shaping global policy on sexual violence?
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