Women dress as ‘handmaids’ to protest US anti-abortion bill

Sixteen women in the US state of Ohio have dressed as characters from the dystopian TV show ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ to protest a proposed bill which would ban the most common procedure for second-trimester abortions.


Based on the Margaret Atwood novel of the same name, the show explores a dystopian future in which ‘handmaids’ are captured and forced to become pregnant surrogates after fundamentalists take control of the United States.

Donning white bonnets and red robes, the women staged a silent protest against a state bill which would ban the ‘dilation and evacuation’ abortion method – which health experts say is the safest and most common abortion procedure for women in the 12th to 23rd weeks of pregnancy.

The procedure, described as ‘dismemberment abortion’ in the legislation, involves removing fetal tissue through the cervix using a range of medical instruments.

The wording of the legislation itself borrows from anti-abortion activists’ talking points, describing tools which “slice, crush and/or grasp a portion of the unborn child’s body to cut or rip it off.”

Exemptions exist in cases where the mother’s life is endangered.

The room has really filled up now. The handmaids sit silently. #SB145 #Ohio #ProChoice #HandmaidsTale pic.twitter苏州美甲培训学校按摩论坛,/Bwia6TjbT4

— Rachel Coyle (@RRuby44) June 13, 2017

The legislation is part of a coordinated effort by the National Right to Life anti-abortion lobby group, which has successfully campaigned for similar legislation in several other states.

Roughly eight per cent of abortions in the United States are performed in the second trimester.

Anti-abortion activists say they are seeking to prevent a brutal medical procedure, but opponents of the bill say the move is a cynical attempt to circumvent constitutional abortion rights by blocking a safe and common method.

“Let’s call Senate Bill 145 what it is: part of a broader effort to end access to safe, legal abortion in Ohio,” said NARAL Pro-Choice lobby group Deputy Director Jaime Miracle.

Ms Miracle said the demonstration was inspired by a similar ‘handmaids’ protest in Texas earlier this year.

‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, one of the year’s most critically acclaimed shows, has inspired several similar protests against anti-abortion legislation.

The entire series will be available to Australian viewers on July 6, when it premieres on SBS On Demand.


Samoa’s Fonotia to make test debut against All Blacks

The 29-year-old Fonotia, who spent three seasons with the Crusaders before joining the Ospreys in Wales, will be joined in midfield by former Wellington Hurricanes utility back Alapati Leiua.


Former Auckland scrumhalf Auvasa Falealii and Stade Francais prop Paul Alo Emile could also make their test debuts off the bench in the match, which New Zealand are using to prepare for the British and Irish Lion series.

Scrumhalf Khan Fotualii will lead the side in the absence of regular captain David Lemi and injury to Rey Lee-lo has given Fonotia the chance to win his first cap.

“Obviously losing the experience that both these players bring is crucial and David’s leadership will be missed, however Kahn Fotualii is more than capable of stepping up to lead,” coach Alama Ieremia said in a statement.

“And to be able to replace those players with Alapati Leiua and Fonotia is a good test of the depth we can draw into.

“Obviously we want to put out an experienced team and the All Blacks is not a team you experiment with, so we are wanting to put on a performance that will make our nation and most importantly ourselves proud.”

Samoa have lost all six of their previous tests against New Zealand, most recently a 25-16 reverse in Apia in 2015.

Samoa: 15-Ah See Tuala, 14-Albert Nikoro, 13-Kieron Fonotia, 12- Alapati Leiua, 11-Tim Nanai Williams, 10-Tusiata Pisi, 9-Kahn Fotualii (captain), 8-Faifili Levave, 7-Jack Lam, 6-Piula Faasalele, 5-Faatiga Lemalu, 4-Chris Vui, 3-Census Johnston, 2-Maatulimanu Leiataua, 1-Viliamu Afatia.

Replacements: 16-Seilala Lam, 17-Nephi Leatigaga, 18-Paul Alo-Emile, 19-Taiasina Tuifua, 20-Alafoti Faosiliva, 21-Auvasa Falealii, 22-D’Angelo Leuila, 23-Ken Pisi.

(Reporting by Greg Stutchbury; Editing by Nick Mulvenney)

May promises Macron ‘Brexit is on track’

After days enduring the fallout from her election disappointment, there was a sense of relief for British PM Theresa May as she escaped to Paris to attend meetings with Emmanuel Macron and a soccer friendly between England and France.


With both countries experiencing recent acts of terrorism, there was a sense of mutual defiance and unity before both teams took to the pitch.

Earlier, Theresa May was keen to present a “business-as-usual” face in a press conference with the French President, declaring the United Kingdom’s negotiations to exit the European Union would proceed as planned.

“And I believe that with the good process that’s been set out by the EU for those negotiations, which start next week, and with the willingness and intent on both sides to build that future partnership then we will see an arrangement for Brexit that will be in the interests not just of the United Kingdom but of the remaining 27 members of the European Union.”

Emmanuel Macron says it’s not too late for a change of heart from Britain.

“Of course the door remains open, always open until the Brexit negotiations come to an end. That being said, a sovereign decision was taken by the British people and that’s to come out of the European Union and I very much respect the decisions taken by the people but until negotiations come to an end there’s always the possibility to re-open the door but let’s be clear and organised and once negotiations have started we should be well aware it will be more and more difficult to move backwards.”

Moving forward, there are signs Theresa May is making progress in her negotiations to stay in power.

An agreement is close with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) that would allow her to lead a minority government in the UK after her conservative party lost its parliamentary majority in Thursday’s election.

DUP leader Arlene Foster says she expects to reach a deal “sooner, rather than later”, while remaining tight-lipped on the details of just what it will entail.

“Well I’m not going to negotiate over the airwaves, but I think there’s been a lot of commentary around the issues we’re talking about, and it won’t surprise anyone that we’re talking about matters of course that pertain to the nation generally, bringing stability to the UK government, in and around issues on Brexit, obviously around counter-terrorism and then doing what’s right for Northern Ireland in respect of economic matters.”

But Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein has warned a potential agreement for the DUP to prop up a minority conservative government with its ten votes in the British parliament is causing fear and anxiety in Northern Ireland.

There are fears it could undermine a peace settlement that brought an end to three decades of violence.

Sinn Fein MP Barry McElduff says the DUP’s policies should be exposed to the British public.

“Their homophobia, their sexism, their sectarianism and their anti-Irish regressive politics. Maybe every cloud has a silver lining and maybe people here will begin to understand what they are actually dealing with in the DUP.”

Their warnings came as MPs returned to Westminster for the first time since the election.

The once-derided Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn is still revelling in the outcome….

Speaker: “I call the Leader of the Opposition Jeremy Corbyn….”

Corbyn: “Democracy is a wondrous thing and can throw up some very unexpected results!”

Those results have put Theresa May on the brink.

And as her cabinet meets to outline its legislative plans, to be presented to parliament by the Queen, Jeremy Corbyn is offering what would have been considered impossible not so long ago.

“I’m sure we all look forward to welcoming the Queen’s speech, just as soon as the coalition of chaos has been negotiated. Mr Speaker, just to let the House know and the rest of the nation know, if that’s not possible, the Labour party stands ready to offer strong and stable leadership in the national interest.”



Cosby’s fate in balance as clock ticks down on verdict

The 79-year-old legendary entertainer, once loved by millions as “America’s Dad,” risks being sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted on three counts of aggravated indecent assault.


The 12-member jury on Tuesday headed into a 12th hour of deliberations, after failing to reach a verdict late Monday and asking Judge Steven O’Neill to read extensively from Cosby’s original deposition given in 2005.

The pioneering black comedian arrived at Montgomery County Court in Norristown, Pennsylvania dressed in a dark suit and tie to await the verdict.

Each charge in the closely-watched case — one of the biggest US celebrity trials in years — is punishable by up to 10 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.

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The trial, which saw six days of testimony and arguments, heaped disgrace on the award-winning actor lauded as a hero by African Americans and revered by whites for smashing through racial barriers in a five-decade entertainment career.

Around 60 women came forward to publicly accuse Cosby in recent years of being a serial sexual predator alleging that he drugged and assaulted them over a span of 40 years in cities across the United States.

Several of those accusers have attended the trial, but the allegations lodged by 44-year-old Canadian Andrea Constand dating back to January 2004 were the only criminal case brought against him.

Andrea Constand walks to the courtroom for Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial AAP

The vast majority of the alleged abuse happened too long ago to prosecute.

Cosby attained his greatest fame for his role as Cliff Huxtable, a benevolent father and affable obstetrician on “The Cosby Show” from 1984 to 1992.


One of the most popular television series in history, it jettisoned a man raised by a maid and a US Navy cook into a life of fame and wealth.

“Everybody knows you, Mr Cosby,” a police officer told him while taking down his original deposition in the case in 2005. “Not really,” he replied.

Constand took the stand last week, keeping her composure under a fierce barrage of cross-examination from the defense, which sought to portray their relationship as consensual, and Cosby’s accuser as a liar.

“I wanted it to stop,” she testified.

At the time a 30-year-old director of women’s basketball at Temple University, where the actor sat on the board of trustees, she said the assault left her “humiliated” by someone she had thought of as a friend and mentor.

Related reading

She said Cosby gave her three pills and wine before touching her breasts, putting his fingers in her vagina and putting her hand on his erect penis after she sought his advice about moving to Canada and switching careers.

Cosby maintained in his deposition that he gave Constand the antihistamine Benadryl to relieve stress and had consensual relations, accusing her of lying.

At trial, he refused to testify.

After taking the pills, Constand said, she had trouble talking and difficulty moving and was suffering double vision, before briefly losing consciousness.

“In my head, I was trying to get my hands to move, get my legs to move, but I was frozen and those messages didn’t get there,” she said, her voice breaking.


 The prosecution spent five days building their case. But the defense team called just one witness to the stand and rested their case in just a handful of minutes.

While Cosby’s wife of 53 years, Camille, has stood by him, she has largely stayed away from court and his celebrity friends have largely deserted him.

Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played his daughter Rudy on “The Cosby Show,” attended the opening statements, but left at lunchtime on the first day.

The prosecution leaned on Cosby’s words in the 2005 deposition, in which he admitted obtaining sedatives with a view to having sex.

In closing statements, they portrayed the actor as a sexual predator who deliberately drugged Constand so she would be unable to resist.

The defense savaged Constand’s credibility and painted their relationship as one that involved many meetings, and saw her call the star 53 times after the incident.

“Don’t let her declare victim,” defense lawyer Brian McMonagle implored the jury.

Constand initially settled the case with a civil suit in 2006, but it was re-opened in 2015 when new evidence apparently came to light.

The judge will determine the sentence 60-90 days after the verdict and Cosby could technically walk free as there is no mandatory minimum punishment.

PM wants ‘patriotism’ from would-be citizens as counter-terror move

The Prime Minister has linked the issue of terrorism with the government’s planned changes to citizenship as it pressures Labor to support the reforms.


Malcolm Turnbull says uncontrolled migration has created an ‘existential threat’ in other countries.

Addressing parliament on national security and terrorism, he said those who wish to live in Australia as citizens should be required to demonstrate their loyalty to Australia.

“There is no more important title in our democracy than ‘Australian citizen’, and we should make no apology for asking those who seek to join our Australian family to join us as Australian patriots, committed to the values that define us, committed to the values that unite us.”

The citizenship changes will include new English language requirements and questions based on what the government calls “national values”.

Immigration Minister Peter Dutton would also be given new powers to overturn citizenship decisions made by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.

The opposition says they need to see the legislation in full before they decide on whether to support it.

But Labor’s citizenship spokesman, Tony Burke, says he’s not convinced the changes will do anything to prevent terrorism, given those seeking citizenship have already been living here for years.

“How can it be that it only applies to people who are permanent residents – all of whom are already here? If it’s a national security issue, how can it be applying to people who are already here and if they are a naitonal security problem, why are they permanently living here?”

The Prime Minister hit back, saying a values-based citizenship test would reduce the risk of terrorism.

“If he does not think that a strongly integrated society, based on commitment and sharing the values that make us the nation that we are, if he thinks that has got nothing to do with national security then he totally misunderstands the nature of the threats we face.

Mr Turnbull said a recent funding boost for the Federal Police is already helping the fight against domestic terrorism.

And he says recently implemented metadata retention laws are helping law enforcement agencies track online terrorism activities.

In his response, Opposition leader Bill Shorten offered Labor’s support for the government’s counter-terrorism efforts.

He agrees there’s more work to be done in cyberspace, where terrorists are using encrypted messages and payments to avoid detection.

“We need to track and target terrorists as they seek to hide and obscure their financial dealings through electronic currencies like bitcoin. We can allow them no sanctuary, no place to rest, we must dislodge them from wherever they hide. In doing this, though, we must always be mindful of the rule of law and the proper protections of our citizens.”

The government and Labor are both calling for social media companies to do more to stop the spread of extremist material.