Obama Lifts Global Abortion "Gag Rule"
President Barack Obama today signed an executive order lifting a ban on U.S. funding for international family planning groups that perform abortions or provide counseling about the procedure.
The order rescinds the Mexico City Policy, also known as the "gag rule," which President Ronald Reagan originally instituted in 1984 and President Bill Clinton rescinded and President George W. Bush revived in 2001.
The decision had been eagerly expected by family planning groups, women's health advocates and others, who hoped it would restore millions of dollars of funding to programs providing health care, contraceptive services, HIV prevention and other care around the world.
"For eight long years the global gag rule has been used by the Bush administration to play politics with the lives of poor women across the world," said Gill Greer of the International Planned Parenthood Federation in London. "In rescinding this disastrous and unjust policy, President Obama has returned the United States to the international consensus on women's health."...
...The lifting of the Mexico City Policy does not permit U.S. funding to be used to provide abortions but allows funding to resume to groups that provide other services, including counseling and referrals for abortions. Critics argued the policy resulted in more abortions by denying women access to contraceptives.
Obama Reverses Bush Policies On Detention and Interrogation
President Obama took dramatic steps yesterday to reverse Bush administration policies on the detention and interrogation of suspected terrorists, ordering the closure of the U.S. detention camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and banning the use of controversial CIA interrogation techniques. But he left open the question of how his administration will deal with any detainees it concludes are too dangerous to be released.
Flanked by 16 retired generals and admirals, Obama signed executive orders fulfilling his pledge to end what he has called torture and to abolish a facility that became a lightning rod for international criticism. His action drew praise from human rights groups as well as politicians and statesmen around the globe.
Obama insisted that the overarching message of his first national security orders was unequivocal: "The United States will not torture."
...The four executive orders signed by Obama in the White House's Oval Office had been largely telegraphed in advance and were in keeping with major campaign promises. The one closing Guantanamo Bay called for moving out all prisoners "no later than one year from now," after the case-by-case review.
...Obama's executive order on CIA interrogations mandated a permanent halt to the agency's use of secret prisons as well as coercive measures such as waterboarding. The order essentially puts the CIA out of the incarceration business and imposes strict limits on how the agency handles suspected terrorists who may be held temporarily for questioning.
The CIA -- together with all other government agencies -- would have to rely on the same 16 interrogation techniques approved for military interrogators in a guidebook known as the Army Field Manual.
...CIA renditions would continue to be permitted during the task force review, an official said. Renditions, he said, could be both useful and justifiable in some cases, but "there will not be renditions to any country that engages in torture."
Ready to sign Lily Ledbetter/Fair Wage Bill
A wage-discrimination bill that narrowly failed less than a year ago moved closer to becoming law last night, when the Senate passed the legislation and sent it back to the House for final consideration.
The measure, approved 61 to 36, would overturn a Supreme Court decision to make it easier for women to sue employers for pay inequity, regardless of when the discrepancies took place. It may become the first legislation signed by President Obama, who campaigned in favor of it.
The bill, dubbed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, was introduced after a Supreme Court ruling in 2007 rejected a $360,000 award in back pay to Lilly Ledbetter, an Alabama woman who worked for Goodyear Tire and Rubber. Ledbetter had discovered a large gap between her salary and that of her male colleagues, stretching back years.
The discrepancy cost her lost wages and also lowered her retirement earnings because her Social Security and 401(k) contributions were based on her salary. But the court ruled that Ledbetter's case was not allowed under the 1964 Civil Rights Act because the statute of limitations on claims was 180 days after the alleged discrimination took place.
...Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-Md.), a main sponsor, noted that all 16 female senators voted in favor of the measure last night. "We've had an enormous victory," she declared...
I'm not going to address foreign policy, esp. wrt the Mideast and/or "the Muslim world" (not an ideal choice of words, there); a lot of people aren't best pleased at this point, and I can see why. I guess all I will say at this point is that the people who were having kittens about him being some sort of seekrit radical Islamic anti-Israel sympathizer ought to check into their nearest Reality Adjustment Center.
But not, please note, before the people who're -calling- themselves feminists and Democrats yet decided that -somehow-, McCain/Palin would be a preferable option. The above three stories? Any of it? Would not be happening. If you are stringently anti-abortion, think Gitmo serves a good purpose and waterboarding is just fine when it comes to terrorists and "bad people," are less concerned about employees getting fair pay than "frivolous lawsuits," then you are at least being logically consistent in continuing to think Obama is the ruination of this fair land, and wring hands and gnash teeth accordingly.
If not, however...well...-waves merrily-
And yes, I still think Favreau's a sexist dick. A good speechwriter, but a sexist dick. Execrate Rick Warren. Don't like some of the rhetoric, even still. Etc.
In the greater scheme of things, at the -moment-, I can't say I'm all that arsed.
Policy. Remember policy? Yeah, I sure do, and I can't wait to keep talking about more changes being made, and that need to be made, so pressure needs to be put on the new administration to make it happen. Fuck knows there's a lot to cover.