Pope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst
July 26, 2022
Some Good News
- There are 40% more tigers in the world than previously estimated (NPR)
- No More Pet Store Puppies? New York May Finally Ban Sales. (NYT, $)
“The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.” – James Madison
Pope For The Best, Prepare For The Worst
Following SCOTUS’ recent anti-abortion ruling, concern is surging in some Democratic-led states where abortion remains legal that options for reproductive health care are dwindling due to the expansion of Catholic hospital networks. Services like contraception, sterilization, and certain procedures for handling pregnancy emergencies are widely available at secular hospitals, but generally forbidden at Catholic facilities under directives set by the Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Lois Utley, a specialist in tracking hospital mergers, says that in over 20 municipalities in blue or purple states the only acute care hospitals are Catholic. “We are definitely sliding backwards in terms of comprehensive reproductive health,” Utley warned. “Catholic systems are taking over many physician practices, urgent care centers, ambulatory care centers, and patients seeking contraception won’t be able to get it if their physician is now part of that system.” In rural Putnam, Connecticut, officials are considering a bid by Catholic-run Covenant Health to merge with Day Kimball Healthcare, an independent but financially struggling hospital and health care system. “We need to ensure that any new ownership can provide a full range of care, including reproductive health care, family planning, gender-affirming care, and end-of-life care,” said the Democratic attorney general.
Catholic Health Association President Sister Mary Haddad said hospitals offering obstetric services provide a wide range of prenatal and postnatal care while assisting in a half million births annually. But as she reminded, “Catholic hospitals do not offer elective abortions.” Protocols differ for dire emergencies when the mother “suffers from an urgent, life-threatening condition during pregnancy.” Catholic health clinicians can then provide all medically indicated treatment even if it threatens the unborn baby. But in states banning abortions except to save the mother’s life, the concern is that doctors governed by such bans – whether state law or Catholic directive – may hesitate to provide treatment even as the mother begins showing ill effects from a pregnancy-related problem.
California Senator Scott Wiener (D) is among those warily monitoring the proliferation of Catholic health care providers, who operate 52 hospitals in his state. The hospitals provide “superb care to a lot of people, including low-income communities,” Wiener said. But they “absolutely deny people access to reproductive health care.” “It’s the bishop, not professional standards, that are dictating who can receive what health care. That is scary.” (ABC News)
Activists Executed In Myanmar
- In the year since Myanmar’s military junta violently seized power, thousands of people have been imprisoned, including Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. At least 1,500 protesters have been killed, with thousands more possibly killed in the armed conflict. At least 117 political prisoners were sentenced to death, although no death sentence had been carried out in Myanmar in over thirty years.
- That changed Monday, when, despite international appeals for restraint, the junta executed four pro-democracy activists, including two prominent resistance leaders. Kyaw Min Yu, 51, aka Ko Jimmy, and Phyo Zeya Thaw, 41, were convicted on terrorism charges and sentenced to death in closed-door trials last fall.
- Experts say the execution of renowned activists is part of a wider strategy the junta hopes will terrorize people into submission, and indeed, it sent shock waves through the country. “It’s unbelievable,” said the deputy foreign minister for a shadow administration operating in exile since the coup. “These were political prisoners…They killed them without any of the right procedures, without any due process.” (WaPo, $)
A Flight Of Nancy
- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to scrap her plans to lead a congressional delegation to Taiwan last April after testing positive for Covid. At the time, China warned against making such a trip, saying it would “take strong measures.”
- Last week, Pelosi renewed plans to visit Taipei August 1 in what would be the highest-level delegation from the U.S. to the self-governing island in 25 years. Again, China warned it would take “resolute and forceful measures” if the trip took place. Tensions between Washington and Beijing over the issue of Taiwan have heightened in recent months and President Biden has expressed some concerns about Pelosi’s trip.
- But the House leader said it’s important to show support for Taiwan, and on Sunday, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo offered to join Pelosi on her reported trip, tweeting: “Nancy, I’ll go with you. I’m banned in China, but not freedom-loving Taiwan. See you there!” (CNN)
Additional World News
- At least 17 Haitian migrants found dead off Bahamas coast (CNN)
- Bus falls off a bridge in Kenya, leaves 21 dead (ABC)
- Why is Tunisia’s new proposed constitution so controversial? (Al Jazeera)
- Chinese military has become more aggressive and dangerous, says US chief of staff (Guardian)
- Volcanic eruption in Japan forces evacuations in 2 towns (AP)
- Erdogan Remains a Headache for Biden, Even After Ukraine Deal Help (NYT, $)
- North Korea pushes traditional medicine to fight COVID-19 (AP)
Democracy Or Hypocrisy?
- Last Tuesday, the House passed the Respect For Marriage Act to codify legal same-sex marriage nationwide, fearing that the conservative majority on the Supreme Court will rescind the right after it overturned Roe v. Wade last month. The vote was 267-157, with 47 Republicans joining a unanimous Democratic caucus in supporting the legislation.
- One Republican who voted against the bill was Representative Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania. Three days after voting “no” to protecting gay marriage, the Congressman and his wife were in attendance as their gay son married “the love of his life.” Thompson’s press secretary confirmed the couple’s attendance.
- “Congressman and Mrs. Thompson were thrilled to attend and celebrate their son’s marriage on Friday night as he began this new chapter in his life,” the secretary said in an email. She added that the Thompsons are “very happy” to welcome their new son-in-law “into their family.” (NBC News)
86 The 76ers
- There are fewer than 50 Chinatowns across the country, some larger and more vibrant than others. Many took root in parts of cities considered red-light districts. As cities grew and changed around those communities, many Chinatowns have been threatened by gentrification or development.
- Such is the case with Philadelphia’s Chinatown, just now bouncing back after losing business during the pandemic. Residents chat in Mandarin on the steps of apartment buildings as vendors sell traditional Chinese food to families walking by. The apartments are full of low-income and elderly people, and new immigrants who feel safe among their own. And the last thing they want to contemplate is a giant new Philadelphia 76ers arena just a block from their Chinatown archway.
- 76Devcorp is the development company behind the proposed $1.3 billion arena. Even though neither the property owner nor the development company reached out to the community for input before making the announcement, 76Devcorp promises to be sensitive to residents’ needs. It’s something residents have often heard before, as other proposals have taken homes for a convention center and even tried cutting off parts of the community with an interstate highway. (AP News)
Additional USA News
- After a sizzling weekend, heat in the Pacific Northwest will intensify while the Northeast is expected to see relief (CNN)
- A takeover hot spot, 6th Street Viaduct is shut down by LAPD for second night in a row (LAT, $)
- Alex Jones’ Sandy Hook defamation trial set to finally begin in Texas (NBC)
- These former Trump advisers are trying to do the impossible: Make Trumpism about the future (Politico)
- Jan. 6 panel believes there is evidence Trump committed crimes related to riot (Axios)
- Indiana may soon ban abortion if Republican lawmakers can agree on how far to go (NPR)
- Farmers forced to sell their cows as drought conditions worsen across US (CNN)
Don’t Rook Now
- For those of you who didn’t see the video on social media last week, here’s what happened at the Moscow Chess Open competition tournament. A seven-year-old boy was playing chess with an artificial intelligence-powered robot, as one does. The machine reaches for and grabs one of the boy’s chess pieces, and quickly discards it from the board. Before the robot’s arm fully retracts, the boy attempts to make another move, pushing one of his rooks into the same place as the recently removed piece.
- This discombobulates the robot, which extends its mechanical claws back toward the board, grabbing the boy’s index finger instead of a chess piece, then holding it in place for at least 15 seconds. Two bystanders were able to pry open the claws and release the boy’s finger, but it was already fractured. The president of the Moscow Chess Federation told the Russian state news agency Tass: “The child made a move, and after that it is necessary to give time for the robot’s response, but the boy hurried, the robot grabbed him.. [and] broke the child’s finger — this, of course, is bad.”
- “I tried to warn you!” tweeted Garry Kasparov, a Soviet-era World Chess champion who was defeated in a 1997 match against Deep Blue, a chess-playing supercomputer developed by IBM scientists. The boy continued playing in the tournament with his finger in a cast. (NBC News)
- Woman charged in hotel shooting told police victim was child molester (WaPo, $)
- How an AP reporter broke the Tuskegee syphilis story (AP)
- Diana Kennedy, author who elevated the cuisine of Mexico, dead at 99 (NBC)
- In Japan’s Okinawa, women are reviving hajichi tattoo art (WaPo, $)
- The Kyiv museum staff who stayed to protect cherished artefacts (Al Jazeera)
- The future of remote work, according to 6 experts (Vox)
- Chinese space station nears completion as laboratory module successfully docks (CNN)
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