The Cutline
  • Protesters opposed to legislation in Boise, Idaho, March 21, 2012. (Jessie L. Bonner/AP)

    Plenty of pundits on both sides of the ideological aisle have weighed in on the country's ongoing abortion debate and the transvaginal ultrasound mandates passed by several states—what some people argue is part of the GOP's so-called "war on women." But few have actually gone through the procedure—which is why Megan Carpentier, executive editor of the progressive news site Raw Story, decided to have a "completely unnecessary transvaginal ultrasound" and document the experience for readers.

    "It was vigorously uncomfortable," Carpentier wrote, partly "because the technician has to press the wand directly against the areas she wants to get an image of—your uterus, Fallopian tubes and ovaries—so there's more movement and more direct contact with pressure-sensitive areas of your body."

    Carpentier continued:

    You're also not lying flat on your back to facilitate access to the upper reaches of your vagina; and you're being penetrated with a longer, rigid object than is used in a regular pelvic exam. In my case, as the technician explained after, my uterus is "high," or tilted toward my abdomen, so she had to tilt the wand accordingly—and because it was so uncomfortable, she halted the exam before fully exploring my Fallopian tubes or ovaries. If I had been pregnant (which I knew I was not), the exam might have lasted longer as she looked to rule out an ectopic pregnancy and locate the minuscule gestational sac.

    It was not, however, like being raped, despite all the furor-generating headlines and "Doonesbury" cartoons that were printed. It was uncomfortable to the point of being painful, emotionally triggering (and undoubtedly is moreso for victims of rape or incest or any woman in the midst of an already-emotional experience) and something that no government should force its citizens to undergo to make a political point. But it wasn't like being raped—and using language like that not only minimizes rape for its survivors but makes them and other women more frightened of the procedure, which has significant and important medical uses.

    Carpentier even shot a video of the procedure and uploaded it to YouTube.

    Read More »from Reporter undergoes ‘unnecessary’ transvaginal ultrasound to frame abortion debate
  • (Time)

    Time magazine released its annual list of the 100 "Most Influential People in the World" on Wednesday. Among them: Barack Obama; Mitt Romney; Hillary Clinton; Warren Buffett; Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge; Pippa Middleton; Tim Tebow; Jeremy Lin and Matt Lauer.

    The magazine said it picked people "who inspire us, entertain us, challenge us and change our world." And not always for the better. Included on the list were Syrian president Bashar Assad, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and spiritual leader of the Taliban Mullah Mohammed Omar. Somali Islamic militant Sheik Moktar Ali Zubeyr was included in the "rogues gallery" too.

    Anonymous, the controversial Internet "hacktivist" collective, won the magazine's online poll for its inclusion on the 2012 list.

    There are 38 women on the 2012 list, more than any other year, Time said. Adele, Rihanna and "Saturday Night Live" star Kristen Wiig made it, while singer Lana Del Rey--the Internet sensation who had been nominated--did not.

    As with any list, there were other snubs: Romney and fellow Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul were selected, but Newt Gingrich was not. Stephen Colbert, Time decided, was more influential than Jon Stewart.

    There were a few questionable--though not unworthy--inclusions with ties to Time. Former editor Walter Isaacson, who penned Time's cover story on Steve Jobs' death--made the list for his biography of the late Apple founder. Mashable founder Pete Cashmorewhose site was rumored to be close to a sale to Time-corporate sibling CNN earlier this year--made the list for the first time.

    Read More »from Time’s 100 ‘Most Influential People in the World’ list includes Obama, Pippa, Tebow, Kim, Lin, Lauer
  • UPDATE, 1:50 p.m. ET: President Barack Obama condemned the conduct by U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan shown in photos posing with the mangled body parts of suicide bombers, his spokesman said Wednesday.

    Obama is calling for a full investigation, spokesman Jay Carney told reporters aboard Air Force One.

    "The conduct depicted in those photographs is reprehensible," Carney said. "Those responsible will be held accountable."

    12:51 p.m. ET: U.S. defense secretary Leon Panetta denounced photos published on Wednesday by the Los Angeles Times showing U.S. troops in Afghanistan posing with bodies of dead Afghan suicide bombers.

    "These images by no means represent the values or professionalism of the vast majority of U.S. troops serving in Afghanistan today," Panetta said in a statement relayed by Pentagon press secretary George Little.

    Little confirmed that the Pentagon had urged the L. A. Times not to publish the photos.

    "The danger is that this material could be used by the enemy to incite violence against U.S. and Afghan service members in Afghanistan," Little said.

    EARLIER: Photos of U.S. troops in Afghanistan posing with the bodies of dead Afghan suicide bombers were published by the Los Angeles Times early on Wednesday, sparking a military investigation.

    The graphic photostaken in 2010show soldiers, some smiling, posing with dismembered body parts of Afghan insurgents. A soldier from the Army's 82nd Airborne Division provided 18 photos to the paper, which published them online.

    U.S. officials "strongly condemned" the photos. The Army has launched a "criminal investigation," the Times said.

    In a statement to CNN, Gen. John Allen, head of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, said the incident "represents a serious error in judgment by several soldiers who have acted out of ignorance and unfamiliarity with U.S. Army values."

    The U.S. embassy in Kabul released a similar statement: "Such actions are morally repugnant, dishonor the sacrifices of hundreds of thousands of U.S. soldiers and civilians who have served with distinction in Afghanistan, and do not represent the core values of the United States or our military."

    The release of the photos comes at a "particularly sensitive moment for U.S.-Afghan relations," the Times noted:

    In January, a video appeared on the Internet showing four U.S. Marines urinating on Afghan corpses. In February, the inadvertent burning of copies of the Koran at a U.S. base triggered riots that left 30 dead and led to the deaths of six Americans. In March, a U.S. Army sergeant went on a nighttime shooting rampage in two Afghan villages, killing 17.

    The paratroopers that took the macabre photos had been deployed to get "iris scans and fingerprints" of the suicide bombers who had accidentally blown themselves up.

    Read More »from Photos of U.S. soldiers posing with bodies of Afghan suicide bombers spark military investigation

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