Saudi regime tortures feminist Loujain Al-Hathloul

This 21 May 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Family of Jailed Saudi Feminist Loujain Al-Hathloul: She Was Waterboarded, Flogged & Electrocuted

It’s been a year since women’s right activist Loujain al-Hathloul was detained and jailed in Saudi Arabia for leading a movement to lift the kingdom’s ban on female drivers and overhaul its male “guardianship” system. Despite international outcry, she’s been imprisoned ever since.

During that time, her family says, she’s been held in solitary confinement and faced abuse, including electric shocks, flogging and threats of sexual violence. The Saudi government has resisted calls from human rights groups and lawmakers from around the world to release Loujain and the other jailed activists. We speak with two of Loujain’s siblings, Walid and Lina al-Hathloul.

This 22 May 2019 video from the USA says about itself:

Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul jailed and tortured after leading women’s rights movement

Saudi activist Loujain Al-Hathloul was arrested after fighting for women’s rights in the kingdom. She’s been held for over a year and has only just been told her charges. Her siblings, Lina Al-Hathloul and Walid Al-Hathloul, have been sharing her story from the outside and fighting for her release. “She’s facing a trial, but the trial is really not transparent, because we don’t know when the next session is,” Walid Al-Hathloul says. “We don’t know how everything is going to be processed.”

On Friday, a ghastly execution took place in the Saudi Arabian capital of Riyadh, involving the decapitation and subsequent public crucifixion of Ahmed bin ‘Adhaib bin ‘Askar al-Shamlani al-‘Anzi, who was executed on a number of charges, including … homosexual intercourse: here.


Bee-eaters, hoopoe of Tilos, Greece

Bee-eaters, 10 May 2019

Still 10 May 2019 on Tilos island, Greece. After returning from Livadia, we saw these bee-eaters near Megalo Chorio, late in the afternoon.

Two bee-eaters, 10 May 2019

Their colourful feathers made for a beautiful contrast with the vegetation.

Two bee-eaters, on 10 May 2019

First, there were two birds; at several spots.

Three bee-eaters, 11 May 2019

Then, three birds.

Five bee-eaters, 10 May 2019

Then, five birds …

Five bee-eaters, on 10 May 2019

… at more than one spot.

They rested a bit during their spring migration from Africa to Europe.

In spite of their name, they eat not just bees, but also insects like wasps and mosquitos. There are many bees on Tilos: beekeepers from other islands like Rhodes and Kos bring their hives to Tilos as there are many flowers for them there.

Hoopoe, 10 May 2019

Bee-eaters were not the only birds that day. A hoopoe joined them …

Hoopoe flies, 10 May 2019

… until it flew away.

United States women’s rights demonstrators interviewed

United States women's rights demonstrators

From the World Socialist Web Site in the USA:

Thousands rally across the US to defend abortion rights

By our reporters

22 May 2019

Thousands of people across the United States took to the streets on Tuesday to participate in protests and rallies in support of abortion rights. The nationwide protest was organized by #StoptheBans, a coalition of 50 groups including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood and the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (NARAL).

According to the organizers, there were more than 500 demonstrations, with events in all 50 US states plus Puerto Rico and Ottawa, Canada. The number of demonstrations, mobilizing students, workers and youth, reflected the broad popular support for the right of women to choose and in defense of democratic rights more generally. A CBS News poll published Tuesday showed more than two-thirds of Americans supporting Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision barring states from outlawing abortion.

President Donald Trump is making opposition to abortion rights a major plank in his reelection campaign and has vowed to secure a reversal of Roe V. Wade. Tuesday’s protests were triggered by a series of newly enacted state laws, including in Georgia, Alabama and Missouri, directly challenging that seminal ruling by criminalizing abortion after six or eight weeks of pregnancy and imposing draconian prison sentences on health care professionals who perform the procedure outside of the arbitrary restrictions laid down in the legislation.

Most of these laws define a fertilized egg as a person, potentially making women who have abortions vulnerable to being criminally charged with child abuse, homicide or even murder. The explicit aim of the laws, which are all but certain to be blocked in the courts, is to force the US Supreme Court to reconsider Roe V. Wade. With the addition of two far-right anti-abortion justices appointed by Trump—Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh—there is good reason to believe that the right-wing majority on the court may be prepared to overturn the 1973 decision.

Part of the demonstration in Manhattan, New York City

Members of the Socialist Equality Party (SEP) and the International Youth and Students for Social Equality (IYSSE) attended the rallies and distributed the statement “Mobilize the working class in defense of abortion rights.”

The organizations that sponsored the protests are linked to the Democratic Party, which politically dominated the events. …

But last year, the Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, declared that abortion rights would not be a “litmus test” for supporting Democrats running in the midterm elections. And the Democratic governor of Louisiana announced last Thursday that he would sign the anti-abortion bill working its way through the state legislature.

New York City

Some 1,000 protesters gathered in Foley Square in Lower Manhattan for a spirited and angry rally. Protesters chanted, “Pro-life is a lie, they don’t care if women die.”

The World Socialist Web Site spoke to Will from Queens, an office worker. “I am for a woman’s right to make the decision,” he said. “The government should not be involved, and I am sick of the hypocrisy of the right. They want to control a fetus, but as soon as it grows up to be 18, they ship it off to war.”

A WSWS reporter pointed out that the Democrats shipped young people off to war as well, and Will nodded vigorously. “That’s why I’m a registered independent. The Democratic Party has become corrupted.”

Protestors in New York City

Amanda, a dog-walker who works in Manhattan, is originally from Louisiana. She said: “I’m disgusted by this attack on women and the fact that they want to ruin so many lives. I feel personally offended. I agree with mobilizing the working class. Most of the time it is working class women that suffer from restrictions on abortions.”


Ashley, a team leader at an NGO, said, “I am appalled by what is going on in Alabama, Missouri and Georgia. I am also disgusted with the idea that there is no exception for rape or incest. You need to trust women with their own health. We say it is New York, it can’t happen here. But I am not sure about that anymore.

“If it was actually about life it would look a lot different. In our country, we don’t do well for women’s health. I was just reading that Alabama has a high infant mortality rate, and there is a crisis in health care for women across the board.

“I was reading that roughly 70 percent of the population supports a woman’s right to choose. I personally am for Medicare for all. Even if they are not necessarily for that, across the country polls show that most people are concerned about health care. That should be the focus.”

Los Angeles

A rally in Westwood, Los Angeles attracted a large contingent of High School students. One spoke anonymously, saying, “This is a completely unconstitutional ban on reproductive rights and will make abortion inaccessible for the community. It’s going to affect the poor and underprivileged like people of color the most.”

Anna Weiss, a high school student, told the WSWS, “When I saw what happened I got very scared. It was terrifying to me. I was angry, hopeless, and having this rally here really inspired me to go out and show my support.

“This definitely affects working class people the most. If working class women can’t get an abortion, then it’ll be harder for them to finish high school and college and be able to be successful in life.”

Nashville, Tennessee

Some 200 people attended the noon rally at Legislative Plaza in Nashville. Representatives from Planned Parenthood and the ACLU spoke, along with women who shared their own stories. No elected officials participated.

Allison and Raeven

“Class is definitely an issue,” said Raeven Offutt, 25. “If abortion rights are taken away, people with money may find a way to have safe abortions, but for the lower class, they won’t have the means to have a safe abortion or to take care of themselves.”

“We have people challenging our safety, our right, what we have access to, and that’s scary. That makes me angry, and that’s what brought me here today,” said Kaycee Whiteside, 25.

Ann Arbor, Michigan

Around 2,000 people attended a rally at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Mario and Erinna came to the rally with their young daughter. Erinna said, “I want there to be the right to an abortion. I think it’s crazy that it’s still something that should be debated.”

The protest on the Diag at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor

She responded strongly to the emphasis of our reporters on the question of class. “It’s expensive to get an abortion! It’s thousands of dollars. And what if people need it for medical reasons?”

Mario added, “It’s about the money. We are electing individuals that are funded by the corporations. The US is based on capitalism and money. I agree that we need our own party.”

Mario and Erinna

WSWS campaigners explained that the right to an abortion is fundamentally tied to the fight for socialism and the reorganization of society.

“The economy should be planned scientifically and rationally,” Mario said.

Gina and Andrea are graduates from Eastern Michigan University. “Keep abortion safe and legal,” said Gina. “Otherwise, women will die of unsafe abortions.” Andrea added, “Also, there will be silencing of women who are victims of incest.”

LAWSUIT: ‘CONSCIENCE’ RULE UNDERMINES HEALTH CARE Two dozen U.S. states and municipalities sued the Trump administration to stop it from enforcing a rule that would make it easier for doctors and nurses to avoid performing procedures like abortions, sterilizations and assisted suicide on religious or moral grounds. [Reuters]

NEVADA PASSES PRO-CHOICE ABORTION BILL Bucking the anti-abortion political trends in several other states, the Nevada state Assembly approved a pro-choice bill to remove criminal penalties for people who terminate a pregnancy without consulting a physician. [HuffPost]

ABORTION PROVIDERS FEAR FOR THEIR SAFETY As a re-emboldened anti-abortion movement has emerged, buoyed by recent legislative victories in Alabama, Georgia, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Utah and Arkansas, those who work to protect abortion rights are on high alert for their safety.   [HuffPost]

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, on Thursday signed an abortion ban that would prohibit women from terminating a pregnancy once a fetal heartbeat has been detected. The state House of Representatives passed the ban on Wednesday in a bipartisan vote after the state Senate had approved the bill earlier this month: here.

Joining Wave of GOP Anti-Choice Attacks, Louisiana’s Democratic Governor Signs Abortion Ban Authored By Democrat: here.

UN CALLS U.S. ABORTION LAWS ‘TORTURE’ United Nations deputy high commissioner for human rights Kate Gilmore said the abortion restrictions recently passed in several U.S. states are a “crisis” akin to “torture.” “This is gender-based violence against women,” she said. [HuffPost]

ADMINISTRATION MOVES TO HALT FETAL TISSUE RESEARCH The Trump administration announced new rules that will sharply reduce and possibly end government funding for studies that use tissue from aborted fetuses. Such research has been instrumental in developing treatments for polio, cystic fibrosis, hemophilia, and other conditions. [HuffPost]

British Conservatives causing more Grenfell disasters?

Firefighters and Grenfell fire disaster survivors demonstrate in London, England

From daily News Line in Britain:

Tories have taken no action to stop another Grenfell

22nd May 2019

NEARLY two years since the Grenfell fire, in which 72 people lost their lives, the government has done nothing to adequately prepare fire and rescue services for a similar incident, the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) warned yesterday.

The FBU calls on the government to end the postcode lottery of public safety by implementing:

1. A national review to understand the scale of failed compartmentation in residential buildings.

2. National standards for the pre-determined attendance – the number of firefighters and fire engines that would initially be sent – for fires in high-rise blocks.

‘The Westminster Fire Minister, Nick Hurd MP, has repeatedly claimed that fire services are prepared for a Grenfell-type fire,’ declared the FBU yesterday.

‘The Minister appears oblivious to one of the key factors at Grenfell Tower – the failure of compartmentation, the principle whereby buildings are built divided into fire-resistant compartments.

The government has failed to assess the risk of the failure of compartmentation, putting both firefighters and the public at risk.’

Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: ‘We’re shocked at the utter complacency of the Fire Minister. 72 people died at Grenfell Tower, a fire for which London Fire Brigade had not planned.

‘Yet the minister still does not grasp the severity, or even the basic details, of the risk across the country.

‘It’s no longer possible to claim that a fire like Grenfell is unforeseeable.

‘Firefighters were placed in an impossible situation that night. But two years on, the government still has not provided the planning and resources necessary to prepare firefighters for what are now completely foreseeable risks.

‘It is extremely worrying that as part of their pre-determined attendances, some services only plan to send two engines to a fire in a high rise building. That is nowhere near enough to tackle a blaze which occurs when compartmentation fails, like it did at Grenfell.

‘Fire and rescue services are clearly basing their pre-determined attendances upon a situation where compartmentation works.

‘But at Grenfell it was the failure of compartmentation that caused the fire to spread so rapidly and virtually none are prepared for such an incident.

‘Even with this optimistic assumption, the levels of attendance are mostly utterly inadequate. The difference in pre-determined attendances is also deeply worrying – there is no reason why which part of the country a building is located in should determine the safety of its residents.’

Grenfell proved the UK government’s utter complacency on fire safety. We need robust national standards to make sure that the lessons from that night are applied everywhere.’

Cuts to fire and rescue services have continued after Grenfell, despite calls from the FBU to halt austerity measures in the wake of the tragedy.

English fire funds from central government were cut by another 15% from 2016/17 to 2019/20.

Another North Kensington fire

A FIRE broke out in Whitstable House on Monday evening, just a stone’s throw from Grenfell Tower in west London, and, while the landings filled up with smoke, no smoke alarm sounded.

Local resident Paul Meade said: ‘I live here in Whitstable House and I live on the fifth floor. The smoke was coming through the rubbish shoot and filling up the landing.

‘I called the Fire Brigade and within five minutes they turned up.

‘I was knocking door to door to get everyone out, ringing the bells when I got downstairs as well.

‘After the terrible fire at Grenfell Tower, we cannot take any chances.

‘People are not staying in their flats after Grenfell, so they came downstairs.

‘The fire was in the communal bins at the bottom of the flat and the firefighters put it out very quickly and told everyone it is OK and they can go back into the building.

‘Next month on June 14 it will be two years since the Grenfell fire. No fire alarm rang at Whitstable House, no smoke alarm sounded. They should have smoke alarms on every landing.

‘After the Grenfell Tower fire you would think that they would have installed alarms.

‘This council,’ Meade said, referring to Kensington & Chelsea Council, ‘needs to be kicked out. It is simple. They are not doing their job.’