Columbia, Jun 23 (AP/UNB) — Twenty Democratic presidential candidates attending a Planned Parenthood forum on Saturday vowed to defend abortion rights under nearly any circumstance while largely ignoring nuances around the issue that have already roiled their party heading into the 2020 election.
The event sponsored by Planned Parenthood Action Fund — the group’s political arm — was the first of the election season centered on abortion. It came on the sidelines of the South Carolina Democratic Party’s state convention, a pivotal gathering of the party faithful in the South’s first primary state.
The candidates were united in decrying a series of tough, recent abortion restrictions approved by Republican-controlled legislatures around the country geared to ultimately provoke a Supreme Court case that could overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.
Those efforts have come alongside attempts to strip taxpayer funding from Planned Parenthood, which abortion rights advocates and some leading medical groups say would make it harder for low-income women to get access to basic health care, not only abortion.
“We’ve been on defense for 47 years and it’s not working,” Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren said of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion. Warren, who turned 70 on Saturday, said trying to restrict abortion usually boils down to sexism.
“You’re not going to lock women back in the kitchen. You’re not going to tell us what to do,” she declared, eliciting a standing ovation from hundreds in the crowd, many sporting pink Planned Parenthood T-shirts.
Most Democratic voters support abortion rights, though the issue doesn’t always energize the party’s base in South Carolina and other conservative states. Despite that, the Democrats vying for the chance to try and unseat President Donald Trump next year were unwavering in their support for the procedure and in their defense of Planned Parenthood — showing just how far the party has moved compared to presidential races in recent memory.
“If President Trump wants a war on America’s women, it’s a war he’s going to have and it’s a war he’s going to lose,” declared New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
California Sen. Kamala Harris promised to create a federal system of “preclearance” mandating that states passing major abortion restrictions be subject to federal review, similar to how states with histories of racial discrimination long had their electoral rules scrutinized under the Voting Rights Act.
Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, said things have come a long way since even the 2016 Democratic primary, when activists had to fight to get moderators at general subject debates to ask about abortion and often faced responses like, “They’re all pro-choice so why should we would waste time talking to that?’”
Even as the party’s top candidates more openly embrace abortion rights, tensions around them have nonetheless already shaken up the 2020 Democratic field. Former Vice President Joe Biden, who leads in early polls, long supported the “Hyde Amendment,” a congressional ban on using taxpayer money to pay for most abortions. But Biden dramatically reversed himself earlier this month amid intense criticism from his fellow Democrats.
Pressed by forum moderators about that change of heart and his overall “mixed record” on abortion rights, Biden responded, “I’m not sure about the mixed record part.”
Later, a tearful audience member declared that the Hyde Amendment did disproportional damage to low-income women who rely on government funding for many health care services, including abortion.
Biden noted that he helped former President Barack Obama pass that administration’s signature health care law which expanded women’s health insurance coverage, including improved access to birth control. He also referred several times to written notes and seemed unnerved by the forum’s 15-minute per candidate limit, joking, “What, do I have 10 seconds left or something?”
The other candidates avoided mentioning Biden by name, and most didn’t reference his Hyde Amendment flip-flop. An exception was New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, who told the crowd, “Can we just be clear that, if you’re a Democrat you’re against the Hyde Amendment, period?”
The forum comes before the field gathers in Miami next week for the first Democratic presidential debates. Gillibrand suggested that the success of male candidates could keep female and minority White House hopefuls from subsequent debates since they’ve struggled to meet minimum, required thresholds in fundraising and polling support to secure invites.
“Pick your top five. Send them money. Make sure they make it to the debate stage,” Gillibrand said of female and minority candidates.
The forum drew some protesters who spent part of the morning outside it, waving black-and-white signs reading, “I am the Pro-life Generation” and “Defund Planned Parenthood.” South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Drew McKissick called the Democratic candidates “a group of radicals.”
“In what is many of these Democrats first visit to South Carolina, it’s amazing to see that their first stop is to go pay homage to the radical pro-abortion lobby at Planned Parenthood,” McKissick said in a statement.
Paris, Jun 23 (AP/UNB) — A frothing cherub fountain constructed of striped fabric drew the eyes and camera lenses of VIP guests at Thom Browne's fantastical Paris Fashion Week show on Saturday. Here are highlights from Browne and other designers for spring-summer 2020 menswear, including the many houses showing co-ed collections.
THOM'S SENSATIONAL SHOW
The incredible fabric fountain led the gaze of guests, who included NBA star Serge Ibaka, inside the Ecole des Beaux-Arts on to a line of frozen human mannequins decked in dramatic A-line doll costumes.
Standing on alabaster plinths, they sported bowling balls for shoes.
A male ballet dancer suddenly appeared wearing a tutu, tailored suit and tie and ballet shoes instead of the balls. His sublime performance enthralled guests, as the human mannequins were slowly undressed, to begin the show.
The fashion house described it as the designer's "secret garden."
Such sensational and transgressive spectacles are why Thom Browne so quickly garnered a reputation since moving from New York to Paris in 2017 as one of the most exciting tickets of the fashion week calendar.
Against the backdrop of the fitted, tailored suit that is the house's staple garment this season, Thom Browne took historic fashion items and humorously subverted them.
The codpiece, a covering flap or pouch attached to the crotch of men's pants, was fashioned atop tailored shorts in pale seersucker and a tennis skirt-tutu hybrid.
The oversized "pannier" skirts Marie Antoinette made famous with help from rigid undergarments was the idea behind a giant pair of culottes and a coat which spread out horizontally like the dramatic silhouette of the 18th century French queen.
It's a style that at Thom Browne also spawned ribbed American football helmets, which were sported by models wearing ballet shoes in this highly inventive spring collection.
The message behind the 38 looks was clear: Rules pertaining to culture, gender and history are only there to be broken.
Model Gigi Hadid headlined the Berluti men's show earlier this week, decked out in womenswear.
Moments like these, in which female models are seen showcasing womenswear styles during the so-called men's calendar, are now common at Paris Fashion Week.
Givenchy, Saint Laurent and Kenzo are among the brands that have gone co-ed while showing recent designs.
The Paris fashion industry proudly considers itself to be gender fluid, a forward-looking approach critics have feted.
But the reasoning behind gender-bending in Paris might not be simply a matter of style. New data suggests a financial analysis is at play.
"Simply put, our metrics show that men's collections that feature women get a whole lot more media attention, and that means money for the houses," Jessica Michault, a fashion journalist and senior vice president of industry relations at data analytics company Launchmetrics, said.
"Fashion shows these days are mainly intended as advertising for the brand, and going co-ed pays. Houses do it so stay relevant," Michault added.
What do untied bow ties, combat jackets, zebra prints, sandals, denim shirts and tulle have in common?
Sacai threw the normally unrelated facets of fashions into the creative mix for an eclectic co-ed show at Paris Fashion Week.
One of Japan's most lucrative fashion houses, Sacai has built a reputation for the avant-garde and quirky.
In Saturday's collection, it took the staples of black tie dress — such as the white shirt, bow tie and pocket outline — as a starting point and then had fun with both men's and women's designs.
The palette was muted, mainly black, white and khaki, but the contrasts in the 57-look show were delivered through the intentionally contradictory styles of dress.
A silken bomber jacket paired with shorts followed a grungy shirt worn with office pants and comfortable zebra sandals.
There were some great individual pieces, like a double-layered white shirt with a collar resembling a hoodie.
But this season, did the house's designs lack a little visual punch?
A dash of geometry — through '80s prints, stripes and checks — spiced up the tasteful luxuriance of the Hermes man this season.
Spring saw styles loosen up.
Firstly, this meant loose silhouettes: Such as in baggy smoky or gold-brown pants, or in a pink knit sweater with a diagonal stripe.
But it was also a looser vibe: With sandals and a half-buttoned, white-coffee-colored jacket worn on naked skin.
Beautiful leather bags furthered the show's geometric detailing and honed its mastery in color — with indigo, Prussian blue and black forming the segments on one stand out design.
Veteran designer Veronique Nichanian, it seems, can do no wrong.
Littleton, Jun 22 (AP/UNB) — A flock of ducklings is safe in suburban Denver after a firefighter used a recording of duck calls to coax some of them from a storm drain.
A video from South Metro Fire Rescue shows how a firefighter was able to scoop out four of the birds in the water at the bottom of the drain on Thursday. Four others, though, were hiding in an adjacent pipe.
The firefighter held up his cellphone to an opening in the pipe and played a YouTube video of duck calls. The ducklings walked toward the sound.
The fire district says the ducklings were reunited with their mother, who was nearby.
London, Jun 22 (AP/UNB) — Researchers in Scotland say gray seals can copy the sounds of human words and songs including "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star."
The study by University of St. Andrews researchers showed that three trained seals were able to imitate parts of popular tunes.
The research team's findings were published Thursday, including video footage of the seals. The study gave the researchers a better understanding of the evolution of vocal learning and human language development.
It also suggested that gray seals could be a new model to study speech disorders since they use their vocal tracts the same way as humans.
Jinan, June 22 (Xinhua/UNB)-- Baby red-crowned cranes have been recently spotted foraging in the Yellow River Delta National Nature Reserve, the first recorded natural breeding of the rare species in the area.
As migratory birds, nearly 100 red-crowned cranes flock to the nature reserve in east China's Shandong Province around November each year and migrate to the Zhalong National Nature Reserve in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province for propagation in February or March the following year.
Red-crowned cranes are an endangered species under first-class national protection in China.
It is believed that about 1,500-plus red-crowned cranes live in the wild worldwide, mainly in east Asia. China has the largest population, with more than 1,000 red-crowned cranes.
The 153,000-hectare Yellow River Delta reserve, established in 1992, is known as a paradise for rare migratory birds.