Posted: July 21, 2014 Filed under: Gaza, Middle East, morning reads, religious extremists, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights, Russia
We’re going to have to see what I come up with today because I openly admit to being extremely tired. We’ve had all this rain recently and it’s dark and gloomy all the time. Yesterday, it was so hard and heavy that the French Quarter flooded. So, here are a few things to consider before I head back to bed for awhile.
The Boston Globe features an article arguing that Southern Blacks and Hispanics will eventually trump angry, resentful, and backward white Republican voters in the South. If only. The analysis is by Bob Moser. The demographics have to be playing into white backlash which make the South the epicenter of voter suppression laws but it’s also a place where voter turnout is highly irregular.
The question is whether Democrats in these states are better served by following the region’s five-decade-long drift toward the GOP — or by betting that the climate is finally changing in their favor.
It’s a sign of things to come in states like North Carolina, where large influxes of Latino immigrants and “relocated Yankees,” both black and white, are tilting the demographic balance toward the Democrats and inspiring a new progressive movement. But despite Obama’s own surprising Southern breakthroughs — after Al Gore and John Kerry lost the entire region, he won three large Southern states in 2008 and two in 2012, falling just short in North Carolina — the region’s blue future is still a long-term proposition. Candidates like Hagan are stuck between the past, when Southern Democrats’ recipe for victory involved courting white moderates and conservatives, and a future in which they’ll be able to successfully campaign as full-throated, national-style Democrats. To win, Hagan and her compatriots must simultaneously woo independent-minded whites while persuading massive numbers of young voters and nonwhites, who lean left on both economic and social issues, to join them.
It’s an awkward proposition, to be sure. But the Democratic contenders have appeared hell-bent on making it look downright impossible.
But, it appears Georgia may already be in just that state of mind.
In a poll by Landmark Communications released Sunday, Democrat Michelle Nunn has a commanding lead against both of her potential challengers in Georgia’s US Senate race. Against Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) Nunn is up by eight points, 49% to 41%. The poll also shows her with a nice lead against businessman David Perdue as Nunn leads him 48% to 42%. Perdue and Kingston are heading into a GOP primary runoff this coming Tuesday. The survey shows Kingston with a sizable lead as he is ahead by seven points, 48% to 41%.
While Nunn holds leads against both men, the thought is that she’d prefer to face Kingston in the general election. Atlanta-based political analyst Bill Crane had the following to say after this poll was released.
“I think Michelle Nunn would prefer to run against Jack Kingston. Twenty-two year incumbent, PAC money, special interest, her preferred race is the race that I think she’s going to get.”
Nunn taking the Georgia Senate seat would put a huge crimp in the plans of Republicans who feel they can take over the US Senate this November. Currently, the GOP needs to net six seats in the midterm to become the majority party in the Upper Chamber. Losing a Senate seat in a deep-red state that was previously held by a Republican will almost certainly prevent Republicans from taking over the Senate. While it is nearly a given that Democrats will lose seats this November, it is looking more and more promising that they will be able to retain control of the Senate.
There’s all kinds of things happening that have caused me to pull the blankets over my head. The horrors in the Gaza strip, the ongoing downed Malaysian jet catastrophe, and the week long visit of the Army of God to our city. They’re all over our women’s health clinics and they are creepy as creepy gets. Russia’s hand prints are all over the downed commercial airliner. Militants weirdly suggested that the people on the plane were all dead before the plane took off. WTF kind of craziness is this?
In a briefing at the Pentagon on Friday, Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters that it “strains credulity” to think pro-Russian separatists believed to have shot down MH17 didn’t have at least some help from Moscow. Kirby said the Buk is a “sophisticated piece of technology” that would likely require technical assistance from Russia.
Inside a Buk. As you can see, it’s not as easy as just pushing one big red button.
Indeed, Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove said in June the U.S. military’s intelligence was that rebels were being trained in tanks and anti-aircraft capability across the border, before heading back into eastern Ukraine to put it into practice.
According to IHS Jane’s Defense, a resource for intelligence and defense analysis, operating a Buk requires a trained crew. While the government of Ukraine also has Buk missile systems, Jane’s notes that the Ukrainian military has none of the systems in the region near the MH17 crash, as they were overtaken by pro-Russian separatists.
“The system is not a simple system to use. You need at least four to six months of training and ongoing training to operate it,” Ronald Bishop, a former U.S. Air Force missile expert, told Australia’s Warwick Daily News. “To fire this system you need to have highly-specialized military training.”
It finally looks like Europe is getting fed up with Russia and their cronies. The response comes because of the careless treatments of the remains of the victims of the missile attack.
Investigators are still far from an official judgment of what brought down a Malaysia Airlines flight in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 passengers and crew onboard. But the global court of public opinion, the verdict appears to be rendered.
Vladimir Putin is guilty.
The Russian President could once claim a semblance of a role as a global statesmen. But with the downing of a commercial airliner by what U.S. and Ukrainian officials suggest were pro-Moscow rebels using a missile supplied by Russia, Putin was facing a very personal barrage of worldwide condemnation that threatened to result in further sanctions on Russia if it did not rapidly change course in Ukraine.
Australia raised the prospect of banning Putin from a G-20 meeting of the world’s most powerful nations in November if he did not exert more pressure on the rebels who left corpses strewn on the ground for days,contaminated the crash site, and hampered an international investigation. Britain, meanwhile, openly accused the Russian leader of sponsoring “terrorism.” U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, appearing on multiple political talk shows Sunday, called this a “moment of truth” for Russia.
Particularly in Europe – a continent long leery of going too far to pressure Moscow over its support of separatists in Ukraine – initial shock was quickly gathering into outrage and action.
On Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron held a joint phone call on Russia. A Downing Street spokesman said the three leaders agreed that the European Union “must reconsider its approach to Russia and that foreign ministers should be ready to impose further sanctions on Russia when they meet on Tuesday.”
John Kerry gave Fox News a perfect opener during an appearance on Sunday. Fox is about as neocon as you can get and they love it when Israel goes on any killing spree. Kerry’s oops moment is interesting. It’s hard to believe some one as skilled in politics as Kerry didn’t assume a hot mike and inquiring minds.
In an unusual moment during “Fox News Sunday,” host Chris Wallace presented Secretary of State John Kerry with video recorded before he came on air.
Wallace introduced the segment as being in reference to civilians killed in fighting in the Gaza Strip. “While you were on camera and while on microphone,” Wallace said, “you spoke to one of your top aides between the interviews about the situation in Israel.” He then played what the network had recorded. In the clip, Kerry is holding a cellphone conversation with someone. The person on the other end of the call isn’t identified, and the audio from the other participant is staticky.
Kerry’s comments are clear. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” he says, then repeats it. “It’s a hell of a pinpoint operation.” It’s an apparent reference to Israel’s insistence that its incursion into the region would be limited. “It’s escalating significantly,” the person on the phone replies, and Kerry then says: “We’ve got to get over there. I think we ought to go tonight.” He then calls it “crazy” to be “sitting around.”
“When you said it’s a hell of a pinpoint operation,” Wallace asked, are you “upset that the Israelis are going too far?”
“It’s very difficult in these situations,” Kerry said, repeating that the United States supports Israel’s right to defend itself. He then explained his comments by saying, “I reacted, obviously, in a way that anybody does in respect to young children and civilians.”
I’m getting really tired of every one fellating Bibi. He’s got to be high up there on the War Criminals list now and it’s about time we pressure Israel for a regime change. To hate Bibi is not to hate Jewish people. It’s to abhor genocide. I just really have gotten to the point where I hate religion altogether and the Abrahamic brands are just about the worst of it all. It’s just evil. Here’s the resident evil religious whackos plaguing New Orleans for the week. I’m probably going to go do some clinic escorting midweek.
A week of planned anti-abortion protests in the New Orleans area began Saturday morning (July 19) with about 55 people affiliated with Operation Save America gathered at the Causeway Medical Clinic in Metairie.
Shortly after, 40 picketed a private home in Carrollton, some holding posters with graphic images of aborted fetuses. Organizer Rusty Thomas of Waco, Texas, said activists are still arriving and other demonstrations are planned for coming days.
The organization said it was encouraged by anew Louisiana law that opponents say will likely shut down three of the five clinics in the state that perform abortions. The law, which supporters say is aimed at improving patient safety, goes into effect Sept. 1.
Richard Fegan of Mandeville, outside the Metairie location, said, “We’re trying to shut the place down because God gives life and God takes life … this place is trying to be God.”
Planned Parenthood said the protests are sparked by the organization’s upcoming new facility on South Claiborne Avenue in New Orleans. No one was gathered at the construction site Saturday morning.
“Planned Parenthood’s focus is the health and safety of women, men and families in Louisiana,” said Melissa Flournoy, state director of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, in a statement. “These extremist organizations are trying to stop a new health center from serving this community, but in the end they’re only helping us build more support.”
It’s just hard to know what to do with people that just want to inflict their view of the world on the rest of us. What is with all this craziness? It’s like we’ve not gotten much farther than when we crawled out of the caves. At least back then, we could only do limited damage.
Anyway, naptime is calling my name folks! What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: July 3, 2014 Filed under: Civil Liberties, Civil Rights, Crime, Discrimination against women, Domestic terrorism, Feminists, fetus fetishists, GLBT Rights, morning reads, Religious Conscience, religious extremists, Reproductive Health, Republican politics, right wing hate grouups
Today’s beautiful messages and images can be found here.
The reactionary and wildly creative decisions coming out of the Supreme Court are already having ramifications across the country where women, minorities, and the GLBT community are having to fight for their very basic rights. Interestingly enough, we are learning about which corporations want to be citizens and which corporations want to exist for the sole benefits of their owners.
The Hobby Lobby decision is already creating chaos as Notorious RBG and many of us have discussed.
This week, in the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court ruled that a religious employer could not be required to provide employees with certain types of contraception. That decision is beginning to reverberate: A group of faith leaders is urging the Obama administration to include a religious exemption in a forthcoming LGBT anti-discrimination action.
Their call, in a letter sent to the White House Tuesday, attempts to capitalize on the Supreme Court case by arguing that it shows the administration must show more deference to the prerogatives of religion.
“We are asking that an extension of protection for one group not come at the expense of faith communities whose religious identity and beliefs motivate them to serve those in need,” the letter states.
The Hobby Lobby decision has been welcomed by religious-right groups who accuse Obama of waging a war on religion. But Tuesday’s letter is different: It comes from a group of faith leaders who are generally friendly to the administration, many of whom have closely advised the White House on issues like immigration reform. The letter was organized by Michael Wear, who worked in the Obama White House and directed faith outreach for the president’s 2012 campaign. Signers include two members of Catholics for Obama and three former members of the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
“This is not an antagonistic letter by any means,” Wear told me. But in the wake of Hobby Lobby, he said, “the administration does have a decision to make whether they want to recalibrate their approach to some of these issues.”
This decision is controversial and will remain controversial. It changes how the government can approach the court’s favored religion and possibly other religions.
The first source of controversy is the collapse of a national consensus on a key element of religious liberty: accommodation. Throughout American history, there has been widespread agreement that in our religiously diverse and widely devout country, it is good for the government to accommodate religious exercise. We have disagreed about particular accommodations (may a Muslim police officer wear a beard, despite police department policy?), and especially about whether religious accommodations should be ordered by judges or crafted by legislators. But we have generally agreed that our nation benefits when we help rather than burden those with religious obligations. That consensus seems, quite suddenly, to have evaporated.
A second source of controversy is that many people view the Hobby Lobby case as concerning not just reproductive rights but also, indirectly, rights for gays and lesbians. Advocates for same-sex marriage have long insisted that their own marriages need not threaten anyone else’s, but citizens with religious objections to same-sex marriage wonder whether that is entirely true: Will a small-business owner be sued, for instance, for declining to provide services to a same-sex couple? Conversely, and understandably, gay and lesbian couples wonder why they do not deserve the same protections from discrimination granted to racial and other minorities. For both sides, Hobby Lobby was merely a prelude to this dawning conflict.
The third source of controversy is a change in our views of the marketplace itself. The marketplace was once seen as place to put aside our culture wars and engage in the great American tradition of buying and selling. The shopping mall has even been called the “American agora.” But today the market itself has become a site of cultural conflict. Hobby Lobby is one of many companies that seek to express faith commitments at work as well as at home and that don’t see the workplace as a thing apart from religion. Many companies preach and practice values, religious and otherwise, that are unrelated to market considerations. CVS, for example, recently announced that it would stop selling tobacco products, regardless of how that decision might affect its bottom line.
A country that cannot even agree on the idea of religious accommodation, let alone on what terms, is unlikely to agree on what to do next
Here’s another group of “patriotic, gawd-fearing” amuricans shouting down children and mothers fleeing violence in our neighbor countries. I just continue to find this to be the most appalling story I’ve heard in some time. The Border Patrol, ICE, and every one involved–but these horrible xenophobes–were just following our laws as written. Perhaps, they should know our laws just a little bit better themselves.
The national controversy over a surge of Central American immigrants illegally crossing the U.S. border established a new battleground this week in a Southern California small town where angry crowds thwarted detained migrants from entering their community.
In a faceoff Tuesday with three buses carrying the migrants behind screened-off windows, the demonstrators chanted “Go back home!” and “USA” and successfully forced the coaches to leave Murrieta, CNN affiliate KFMB reported.
The buses instead took the 140 or so undocumented immigrants to U.S. processing centers at least 80 miles away, in the San Diego and El Centro areas, federal officials say.
Counter-protesters squared off with the demonstrators, and a shouting match erupted over the nation’s immigration system, which recently has been overwhelmed with a tide of Central American minors illegally entering the United States alone or with other children.
A mix of poverty, violence and smugglers’ false promises is prompting the Central American inflow.
Unlike undocumented Mexican migrants, who are often immediately deported, the U.S. government detains and processes the Central Americans, who are eventually released and given a month to report to immigration offices. Many never show up and join the nation’s 11 million undocumented population, says the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing Border Patrol agents.
The Latin American immigrants rejected by Murrieta protesters were initially held in Texas, where U.S. facilities are so overflowing that detainees are sent to other states for processing.
The government doesn’t have the room to shelter the children with adults: there’s only one family immigration detention center, in Pennsylvania. To assist the unaccompanied children, President Barack Obama’s administration opened shelters last month on three military bases because federal facilities more designed for adults were overrun with minors.
Tuesday’s busloads of detained Central American immigrants didn’t include any unaccompanied minors, said Murrieta Police Chief Sean Hadden, who put the number of protesters at 125. The children on the buses were apparently in the company of relatives or other adults, said an official with the National Border Patrol Council.
Meanwhile, yet another corporation has decided that open carry of assault weapons in their stores may not create the most hospitable environment for employees or shoppers. Target has joined other companies asking customers to leave their guns at home,
The leadership team has been weighing a complex issue, and I want to be sure everyone understands our thoughts and ultimate decision.
As you’ve likely seen in the media, there has been a debate about whether guests in communities that permit “open carry” should be allowed to bring firearms into Target stores. Our approach has always been to follow local laws, and of course, we will continue to do so. But starting today we will also respectfully request that guests not bring firearms to Target – even in communities where it is permitted by law.
We’ve listened carefully to the nuances of this debate and respect the protected rights of everyone involved. In return, we are asking for help in fulfilling our goal to create an atmosphere that is safe and inviting for our guests and team members.
This is a complicated issue, but it boils down to a simple belief: Bringing firearms to Target creates an environment that is at odds with the family-friendly shopping and work experience we strive to create.
Meanwhile, over in Georgia, the new flout your gun every where has lead to just what you’d expect.
A “misunderstanding” between two armed men in a Georgia convenience store led to an arrest on the very day that the state’s new expansive gun rights law went into effect, according to The Valdosta Daily Times.
Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress summed the incident up for the newspaper.
“Essentially, it involved one customer with a gun on his hip when a second customer entered with a gun on his hip,” Childress said.
According to the Daily Times, the first man, Ronald Williams, approached the second man in the store and demanded to see his identification and firearms license. Williams also pulled his gun from his holster, without pointing it at the second man. The second man responded by saying that he was not obligated to show any permits or identification — then he paid for his purchase, left the store, and called the police.
Police responded to the call around 3 p.m. Tuesday, and Williams was arrested on a charge of disorderly conduct for pulling his gun in the store.
Tuesday was also the day that Georgia’s so-called “guns everywhere” law went into effect, allowing residents to carry guns into bars, nightclubs, classrooms, and certain government buildings. Among other things, the law also prohibits police from demanding to see the weapons permit of someone seen carrying a gun. Childress mentioned that last point when talking to the Daily Times about Tuesday’s incident.
“This is an example of my concern with the new gun law that people will take the law into their own hands which we will not tolerate,” Childress said.
I wanted to share a mass shooting that happened on Bourbon Street last weekend. A beautiful young woman has lost her life in the senseless violence. Another has a lot of damage to her mouth, gums and teeth. All of this happened because one young man got into an argument and his anger and his gun led to indiscriminate firing into the crowd. A total of 10 innocent bystanders were shot.
One of the 10 victims of the weekend shooting on New Orleans’ famed Bourbon Street died Wednesday.
According to the coroner’s office, Brittany Thomas, 21, of Hammond, La., died from her injuries. She is the only victim of the shooting to die.
Thomas had been in critical condition since the early Sunday morning shooting when two gunmen sprayed the crowd with bullets.
Three others were reported in stable condition after Sunday’s shooting: a 35-year-old man from Mississippi, a 19-year-old Arkansas woman and an 18-year-old New Orleans man.
Interim LSU Hospital spokeswoman Siona LaFrance said Wednesday a 21-year-old Australian woman was released from the hospital.
On Sunday, police said nine people were injured in the shooting. Then Monday, they said a person who came into the police department Sunday afternoon also was injured in the violence.
Other victims, not hospitalized, included two New Orleans-area men; a teenage girl and a woman from Alabama; and a Florida man.
The young Australian woman has a Facebook page where you can help her defray the cost of reconstruction. As of writing this, I understand that the “person” of interest has surrendered to the police. His face has been plastered every where for about a day and half.
The shooting took place about 2:45 a.m. Sunday on Bourbon Street and involved “two young men, both armed with firearms, who chose to settle a dispute between themselves without care for anyone else,” Police Supt. Ronal W. Serpas told reporters. They exchanged gunfire, hitting bystanders, he said. Bourbon Street, a hot spot for tourists, is full of bars, restaurants and shops.
This young man’s callous regard for life should land him in jail for a very long time. We’ll see what happens. The suspect is a young white man and the dead girl is a young black woman.
According to the New Orleans Police Department, two men are sought in the shooting that spawned from an argument between them.
“While everyone else was running away, I was running toward the gunfire,” Minsky said. “And, I don’t know, being a curious guy — that’s what I wanted to do — see what was going on basically.”
Minsky described the ordeal as “surreal,” saying he’d never seen multiple people get shot.
“There was a lot of blood, I can tell you that much, you know. And I actually stepped in a pool of blood and didn’t realize it until I was walking toward the person shot in the face,” Minksey said. “That kind of freaked me out a little bit.”
The victim shot in the face was Amy Matthews from Australia. The bullet struck her in her cheek and knocked out all but 10 teeth she told an Australian newspaper. She was released from the hospital this week.
In one of several photos Minsky took on his cellphone, Matthews is seen sitting on a sidewalk on Bourbon Street as a crowd of people attempted to help her, including two U.S. marines.
He also captured an image of an unresponsive woman lying in the middle of the 700 block of Bourbon Street.
During the chaotic moments after the shooting, Minsky said there weren’t many screams in the Vieux Carré.
“There was just a lot of people running around and trying to help each other,” he said. “The person that was shot in the face was probably the person getting the most attention at that immediate moment. But as far as the screams and commotion, I mean, yeah, there are people running and screaming but that all died down after the gunshots ended.”
I can’t believe that this is what the founders– many of whom I am a direct descendant of–planned for our union. How could they have envision this kind of hateful chaos empowered by the Supreme Court who represents the voice of reason, law, and constitutionality, and the House of Representatives which is supposed to be the voice of the people.. I do not find any of these events to be consistent with their dreams and plans for a more perfect union where no one religion would dictate the lives of others, where all were considered equal before the law, and every one had the ability to pursue life and liberty.
Posted: July 1, 2014 Filed under: Affordable Care Act (ACA), birth control, Discrimination against women, Feminists, fetus fetishists, fundamentalist Christians, GLBT Rights, Hillary Clinton, Marriage Equality, morning reads, religious extremists, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights
Why is it that many religious people just cannot live without imposing their views on others? That’s one of the things I’ve been thinking about since the reliably patriarchal side of SCOTUS took one more step to force their favorite flavor of religion on the rest of us. Today’s photo montage is via “The Invisibles”. It is a montage of gay couples during the times when theirs was a “love that dare not speak its name”. There are so many folks that choose to live outside of the conventions of the society into which they were born. I was raised to think that this country was born of the dreams of folks wanting to establish a place where they could not be persecuted for not following the majority’s norms. Our country has not had perfect beginnings. But up until recently, I always felt that we were at least creeping towards a “more perfect union”.
While the plight of the GLBT community is improving and appears to have some forward momentum, there are others that are being shoved back into conformity with lives and values not of their choosing. This includes women, immigrants and many minorities. Why do others feel they have to justify their own lives by persecuting others? We’re headed towards our nation’s birthday. What has happened to the idea of creating our “more perfect union” with “liberty and justice for all”?
So, first I feel like I have to add more to the discussion on the SCOTUS decision that allows privately and tightly held corporations that are not engaged in the business of religion to hold religious beliefs identical to the owners that are supposedly separate from the corporation enough to be indemnified by any illegal activities it undertakes. Hillary Clinton made her views clear on the subject as did Justice Ginsberg writing for the dissent. I will rely on their words here. Hillary Clinton calls the decision “deeply disturbing”.
Presumed 2016 presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton said Monday that the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of Hobby Lobby on Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate was “deeply disturbing” — both for its implications for women’s health care and the religious rights of corporations.
“It’s the first time that our court has said that a closely held corporation has the rights of a person when it comes to religious freedom,” she said during a Q&A at the Aspen Ideas Festival. “I find it deeply disturbing that we are going in that direction.”
“It’s very troubling that a sales clerk at Hobby Lobby who needs contraception, which is pretty expensive, is not going to get that service through her employer’s health care plan because her employer doesn’t believe she should use birth control,” she continued.
Justice Ginsberg wrote a masterful dissent.
On Monday, the Supreme Court sided with Hobby Lobby on the company’s challenge to the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive mandate, ruling that the mandate, as applied to “closely held” businesses, violates the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act. But the divided court’s 5-4 decision included a dramatic dissent from Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who called the majority opinion “a decision of startling breadth.” Ginsburg read a portion of her decision from the bench on Monday.
Addressing the majority of her colleagues — including all but one of the six men sitting on the Supreme Court — Ginsburg wrote:
In the Court’s view, RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on third parties who do not share the corporation owners’ religious faith—in these cases, thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga or dependents of persons those corporations employ. Persuaded that Congress enacted RFRA to serve a far less radical purpose, and mindful of the havoc the Court’s judgment can introduce, I dissent.
The justice goes on to criticize the opinion’s interpretation of the religious freedom law, writing that “until today, religious exemptions had never been extended to any entity operating in ‘the commercial, profit-making world.'”
The reason why is hardly obscure. Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community. Indeed, by law, no religion-based criterion can restrict the work force of for-profit corporations…The distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention. One can only wonder why the Court shuts this key difference from sight.
“In sum,” Ginsburg adds about the free exercise claims at the heart of this case,“‘[y]our right to swing your arms ends just where the other man’s nose begins.’”
Justice Alito got a little prickly in his majority opinion about Ginsburg’s strong criticism of their take on the case:
As this description of our reasoning shows, our holding is very specific. We do not hold, as the principal dissent alleges, that for-profit corporations and other commercial enterprises can “opt out of any law (saving only tax laws) they judge incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs.” Post, at 1 (opinion of GINSBURG, J.). Nor do we hold, as the dissent implies, that such corporations have free rein to take steps that impose “disadvantages . . . on others” or that require “the general public [to] pick up the tab.” Post, at 1–2. And we certainly do not hold or suggest that “RFRA demands accommodation of a for-profit corporation’s religious beliefs no matter the impact that accommodation may have on . . . thousands of women employed by Hobby Lobby.” Post, at 2.1 The effect of the HHS-created accommodation on the women employed by Hobby Lobby and the other companies involved in these cases would be precisely zero. Under that accommodation, these women would still be entitled to all FDA-approved contraceptives without cost sharing.
Ginsburg seems to reply to Alito by suggesting that what Alito sees as a narrow, limited decision is essentially an invitation for lots of future challenges on religious grounds: “Although the Court attempts to cabin its language to closely held corporations,” she writes, “its logic extends to corporations of any size, public or private. Little doubt that RFRA claims will proliferate.”
Further quotes from Ginsburg’s dissent can be read at MOJO.
Here are seven more key quotes from Ginsburg’s dissent in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby:
- “The exemption sought by Hobby Lobby and Conestoga would…deny legions of women who do not hold their employers’ beliefs access to contraceptive coverage”
- “Religious organizations exist to foster the interests of persons subscribing to the same religious faith. Not so of for-profit corporations. Workers who sustain the operations of those corporations commonly are not drawn from one religious community.”
- “Any decision to use contraceptives made by a woman covered under Hobby Lobby’s or Conestoga’s plan will not be propelled by the Government, it will be the woman’s autonomous choice, informed by the physician she consults.”
- “It bears note in this regard that the cost of an IUD is nearly equivalent to a month’s full-time pay for workers earning the minimum wage.”
- “Would the exemption…extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions (Jehovah’s Witnesses); antidepressants (Scientologists); medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin (certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus); and vaccinations[?]…Not much help there for the lower courts bound by today’s decision.”
- “Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution’s] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.”
- “The court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.”
You can read the full dissent here. (It starts on page 60.)
The court attempted a narrow decision but crept into an area of corporate law that could create an interesting situation. Usually, corporations are considered distinct from their owners. Hobby Lobby is a corporation tightly held by a family so the majority view basically carved out this type of corporation and said “it’s different”. However, how can you indemnify owners from corporate malfeasance AND say that this specific corporation that doesn’t have a religious mission reflects this set of owner’s pet superstitions? Could the justices have unintentionally left a back door open to challenge the very basis of incorporation which is to make any corporation its own entity?
The decision’s acknowledgment of corporations’ religious liberty rights was reminiscent of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, a 2010 ruling that affirmed the free speech rights of corporations. Justice Alito explained why corporations should sometimes be regarded as persons. “A corporation is simply a form of organization used by human beings to achieve desired ends,” he wrote. “When rights, whether constitutional or statutory, are extended to corporations, the purpose is to protect the rights of these people.”
Justice Ginsburg said the commercial nature of for-profit corporations made a difference.
“The court forgets that religious organizations exist to serve a community of believers,” she wrote. “For-profit corporations do not fit that bill.”
I wanted to point out the anniversary of a sad day in New Orleans history. I’m not sure how many of you know about the UpStairs Lounge fire of 1973. The arson mass murder of GLBT stands as the largest of its kind in modern history.
On June 24, 1973, an arsonist set fire to a gay bar in New Orleans called the Upstairs Lounge, killing 32 gay men and women in what has gone down in history as thelargest gay mass murder in U.S. history.
Today is the 41st anniversary of that tragedy, which has been documented by Robert L. Camina in the new film “Upstairs Inferno”. According to the first official teaser trailer below, the horrific event led to even more reprehensible acts in its wake – several bodies from within the club were never claimed by family members, those survivors featured in the news went on to lose their jobs and livelihoods, and the New Orleans police department lagged its feet and attempted to cover up the deadly crime.
To this day, no one has ever been charged with setting fire to the UpStairs Lounge.
Many folks believe this is an event that should not be forgotten.
For a complex array of reasons, including homophobia, shame, and despair, the fire and its victims languished in obscurity for years, not taking its proper place in the broader sweep of LGBT history, but this is quickly changing.
“Upstairs”, my musical tragedy commemorating the fire and honoring its victims premiered last year in New Orleans to sold-out audiences, as part of the 40th anniversary memorials and Pride events. A portion of the musical is now playing at the West Village Musical Theatre Festival in New York.
A new book, “The UpStairs Lounge Arson: Thirty-Two Deaths in a Louisiana Gay Bar”, released just last month, is the most extensively-researched and carefully-told history of the subject.
And “Upstairs Inferno”, a documentary by acclaimed filmmaker Robert Camina is currently in post-production.
In addition, Delery, Camino, and I are advocating the inclusion of the UpStairs Lounge site on the National Register of Historic Places.
To commemorate the anniversary of the fire, I spoke with Camina about his documentary.
The lion’s share of published research about the fire comes from Johnny Townsend, author of “Let the Faggots Burn”, and Clay Delery. Did you interview them for the piece and what did you learn?
Well of course Townsend had a lot to contribute, because without his efforts many years ago to interview people, many of the stories would have been lost. So I think he brought a lot of insight to the tragedy that, since so many have passed on, we are not able to access.
Did you get to talk to anyone that Delery and Townsend did not get to talk to?
I don’t think they interviewed Francis Dufrene. We were able to interview him. He was a survivor of the fire. He slipped through the bars and jumped and landed on the pavement. He suffered third-degree burns. He gave us a distinctive perspective of what it was like in the middle of it when the fire started, so we definitely learned a little bit of what it was like the emotions just the mood and a frame of mind of what people going through in there.
As far as you can tell, what was the UpStairs lounge like as a bar?
It was a very comfortable place. Everyone we talked to said that the patrons were like a family. And the word that has come up that you’re very familiar with is “Sanctuary”.
Yes, that’s why I opened my musical with a song of that title. And of course, when a place that is considered a sanctuary is invaded and ruined, it has a profound impact on a community. And I’m not sure I had a whole sense of the impact that it had until I was there last year for the 40th Anniversary to see how the community responded to the memorial events and the play.
Just so you haven’t forgotten with the Republican pogram is these days, I give you a blast from the past from Fat Tony.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made an appearance at the Lanier Theological Library in Houston, Texas on Friday, where he claimed that the success of capitalism was deeply tied to the nation’s religious values.
“While I would not argue that capitalism as an economic system is inherently more Christian than socialism … it does seem to me that capitalism is more dependent on Christianity than socialism is,” Scalia, a devout Catholic, said during his speech,according to the Houston Chronicle. “For in order for capitalism to work — in order for it to produce a good and a stable society — the traditional Christian virtues are essential.”
Unfortunately, I can’t seem to read the part in the new testament where the jesus dude said ANY of that. Evidently, we’re supposed to all follow his brand of religion even if we find it to be complete bunk.
Why can’t we just live and let live?
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
Posted: May 28, 2014 Filed under: Gun Control, misogyny, morning reads, Rape Culture, Real Life Horror, Religious Conscience, religious extremists, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights, Republican politics, right wing hate grouups, Vagina, Violence against women, War on Women, We are so F'd, Women's Healthcare, Women's Rights | Tags: Calhoun High School Georgia, Ellijay Georgia Calhoun High Prom Rape, Southeast Whitfield High School Georgia
Oh, as I write this I am watching the 1955 film, The Rose Tattoo, starring Anna Magnani.
It is fantastic…they do not play it very often on TCM, I’d forgotten how good it was.
You can see the entire film at the link below.
What dialogue there is in this play written by Tennessee Williams.
Take these couple of lines:
Yes…that is so true. There is so many other lines that are spot on in the play/film. Check out this review from the New York Times published December 13, 1955. Movie Review – The Rose Tattoo – Anna Magnani Triumphs in ‘Rose Tattoo'; Film Version of Play by Williams Opens Italian Star and Burt Lancaster Superb
THAT fine Italian actress Anna Magnani, whom American audiences know best from such fine Italian films as “Open City” and “The Miracle,” has a triumphant field day in her first Hollywood and English-speaking film. It is “The Rose Tatoo,” from the play of Tennessee Williams. It opened at the Astor last night.
They say that Mr. Williams wrote the play with Miss Magnani in mind. Her performance would indicate it, for she fits the role—or it fits her—like skin. As the robust Italian-born widow of a truck driver in an American Gulf Coast town, where she baffles her friends with her endless mourning and her Spartan watchfulness over her teen-age daughter who is ripe for love, she splays on the screen a warm, full-bodied, tragi-comic character. And she is grandly assisted by Burt Lancaster in the second lead—and the second half—of the film.
Note well that Mr. Lancaster does not appear until the tale is nigh half told. This has particular significance in the pattern of the film. For the first half of it is a somber and sometimes even morbid account of a woman’s idolization of a dead husband who, everyone but she seems to know was unfaithful to her. And because Miss Magnani is so ardent and intense in conveying the bleakness of this grief, this whole segment of the picture has a curious oppressiveness, which is barely lightened by the squawling and brawling that she either excites or engineers.
The review continues,
Let us be candid about it: there is a great deal more happening inside the widow’s psychological frame than either she understands or Mr. Williams has bothered to analyze in the play or film. It is clear that she has a strong sex complex which stems from a lot of possible things, including her deep religious training. This is not discussed and barely hinted on the screen. Thus one must make one’s own decision about the character’s complete validity and the logic of her eventual conversion to a natural life and the acceptance of her daughter’s love affair.
But, logical or not, Miss Magnani makes the change from dismal grief to booming joy such a spectrum of emotional alterations and personality eccentricities that—well, who cares! She overwhelms all objectivity with the rush of her subjective force. From the moment she and her new acquaintance get together for a good old-fashioned weep (for no particular reason except that they are both emotional), and then go on to obvious courting in a clumsy, explosive, guarded way. Miss Magnani sweeps most everything before her. And what she misses Mr. Lancaster picks up.
The exquisiteness of these two as sheer performers—just for instance, the authority with which she claps her hand to her ample bosom or he snags a runaway goat—would dominate the picture, if the rest of the cast were not so good and Daniel Mann as the director did not hold them under tingling, taut control. Marisa Pavan as the sensitive, nubile daughter; Ben Cooper as the decent sailor whom she craves; Virginia Grey as a tawdry ex-mistress and Sandro Giglio as a gentle priest head a group of supporting players that gives this picture—much of which was shot in Key West—a quality of utter authenticity. Producer Hal Wallis has afforded it the best.
It almost makes me want to get a rose tattoo on my chest. ;)
So today the post will feature pictures from the film…enjoy them.
First up, this link that I posted in the comments the other day. It is a “most excellent” op/ed written by Lauren Jones on the ongoing rape investigation of a Calhoun High School student. GUEST COLUMN: On the R-word
I’ve heard my share of information regarding the alleged perpetrators in this case, and I don’t care to repeat it here. But I will say this: No means no, and wrong is wrong. I don’t think any sexual act that ended up with a young lady going to the hospital was consensual.
And I don’t care whether the alleged perpetrator or perpetrators are star athletes, straight A students, or even carry little old ladies’ grocery bags for them; they deserve justice. They deserve a fair trial. And if the allegations are true, every single person involved needs counseling and support. In order for any kind of abuser to change, he or she must recognize that within themselves is someone who did something wrong and needs help.
I can’t imagine the gravity of what this young lady will have to go through in the years to come. But as a survivor of sexual assault, I know a little about the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I know what it is like to be at the mall or grocery store and see the back of someone’s head and think “Oh God, it’s him,” and suffer a panic attack, even if the person I saw is a complete stranger. I know the anxiety, the humiliation, the fear. The self-blaming reinforced by the blaming of others. It takes years of counseling, and you never get over it. Like the loss of a loved one, you learn to manage it.
I’m angry. I’m sad. I know I’m not alone in that. This young woman did not ask for what happened to her. And but for the choices of a handful of young men, this lady could have gone home that night, breathless from dancing, slightly buzzed and excited about her upcoming graduation. She could have taken a few aspirin and downed a glass of water to cut the hangover in two. Instead, she got pain medicine from an IV that night.
As a community we have to stand behind her and support her, and not sweep this under the rug. RAINN reports that 60 percent of sexual assaults are never reported and 97 percent of rapists never spend a day in jail. So I challenge this community to raise their voices, and educate themselves and their children about sexual violence.
This has to stop.
What a challenge…
It needed to be front paged, so if you missed it, please go and take a look at it now.
Funny that Lauren Jones ends her article very much like another article I will quote from below. But more on that connection later. Just put that little tidbit in the back of your mind.
Okay, there is new Calhoun High School Post Prom Rape Case news!
Gilmer County to hold press conference to discuss suspects and charges concerning alleged rape after Calhoun High School prom – : Police/Fire
The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office will host a press conference today at 2 p.m. to talk about the suspects in the alleged rape that occurred at a cabin in Elijay after the Calhoun High School Prom. The sheriff’s office will discuss the charges that will be received, according to Gilmer County Captain Copeland.
Finally, you have no idea how relieved I am:
Three Calhoun High School students charged in alleged after-prom rape | Times Free Press
Three Calhoun High School students will turn themselves in today for their roles in an alleged rape that occurred at a post-prom party two weeks ago.
The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office has issued warrants for Fields Chapman, Andrew Haynes and Avery Johnson, charging the three men with aggravated sexual battery and underage consumption.
Lawyers for the three men did not return calls seeking comment this morning.
Recent Southeast Whitfield High graduate not charged in rape investigation » Local News »
A recent Southeast Whitfield High School graduate is not among three men charged with the sexual assault of a woman at an alcohol-fueled post-prom party in Ellijay earlier this month.
Fields Chapman, 609 Shenandoah Drive, Andrew Haynes, 263 Thornwood Drive, and Damon Avery Johnson, 321 Doubletree Drive, all 18 and 2014 graduates of Calhoun High School, were each charged by the Gilmer County’s Sheriff’s Office with one count of aggravated sexual assault and one count of possession of alcohol by a minor.
Rhett Harper, the former Southeast Whitfield student who was at the party, was not charged.
Sam Sanders, Harper’s Dalton-based attorney, told The Daily Citizen last week that Harper was only a witness in the case and was no longer a suspect.
The Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office incident report from May 11 lists 16 Calhoun High students — including the three charged — and Harper. Chapman, Haynes, Johnson and Harper were listed as suspects in the rape investigation. Sanders said Harper was at the party, but “did not participate in any sexual assault whatsoever.”
My guess is that Harper gave some up some information in return for not being charged. But that is pure speculation on my part, as nothing has been confirmed from the sheriff office…
News conference later today. Will update you at that time.
Yes, I’ve become obsessed with this case. And like a moth to the flame, the comments at various fora threads or local Calhoun websites suck me in…one thing is certain, these remarks are perfect examples of that hashtag that has made the twitterverse buzz lately. From Will Bunch at Philly.com:
#YesAllWomen: Feminism has its ‘Birmingham moment’
One of the most positive and uplifting characteristics of humans is our ability to take an unspeakable tragedy and not wallow in the despair that it creates, but channel that anger and sadness into something positive that benefits all of us, going forward.
For example, it happened in America in 1963. For years, the moral arc of the struggle for civil rights across the Deep South was bending toward justice…in slow motion. Anger over the Emmett Till case, the resilience of Dr. Martin Luther King and the Montgomery bus boycott, the courage of the Freedom Riders and marchers who faced fire hoses in Birmingham did put government-sanctioned racism on the front burner, and there were some impressive wins. But America — especially on the federal level — was still falling woefully short in ending segregation and other forms of sanctioned discrimination.
On September 15, 1963, in Birmingham, Ala., four monsters associated with the racist Ku Klux Klan placed a dynamite bomb against the 16th Street Baptist Church — a staging area for civil rights protests. Four adolescent girls — Addie Mae Collins, Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, and Cynthia Wesley — were murdered in the bomb blast. The shock of losing four innocent young girls to adult hatred caused many Americans to see the civil rights struggle in a new light, to truly focus on the broader injustice perpetrated against citizens because of the color of their skin. Within two years, Congress moved swiftly to pass both the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, ending an ugly chapter in our history.
I thought about Birmingham this weekend as I heard the grim, sickening news out of Southern California, about how a young man filled with misogynistic rage and inhuman hatred went on a murder spree that claimed six lives…and also as I watched the remarkable reaction that unfolded over the next four days. The news that the killer had posted anti-women rants on YouTube and in a lengthy manifesto, that he’d sworn to slaughter women for spurning his sexual advances and that he subscribed to something called the Men’s Rights Movement caused thousands of women to come out in the open and declare to anyone who will listen that enough is enough.
Oh, but then we here at the blog have had enough of this shit years ago, eh? Attytood goes on to say,
…the sad thing is that the misogyny and sexual objectification of women that motivated him was just extreme manifestation of something far too common. The uncomfortable truth is that we live In a nation where one out of five women are raped or sexually assaulted, millions more are beaten or roughed up by a man, and ALL WOMEN experience various forms of sexual harassment, frequently to the point of fearing for their own safety.
Yes, all women.
On Twitter, the hashtag #YesAllWomen was born as a response to some who were eager to point that the killer (I try to not to glorify mass murderers here by mentioning their names, if possible) does not represent all men (in Twitterese, #NotAllMen.) Of course, not all men are killers, not all men are chauvinist pigs…but that’s not the point. All women in America experience misogyny, harassment, sexual objectification, or forms of abuse that are far worse.
Yes, all women. Say what you will about “hashtag activism” — I understand the quibbles — but you can’t start a national conversation without the first 140 characters. The truths that flew across cyberspace this weekend were both revealing and profoundly depressing. Women openly sharing their breakups in a public coffee shop because of fears over violence, the times they were threatened with physical assault, the non-stop harassment from men who were drunk, or worse.
Did you know that over a million #yesALLwomen tags had been posted in just two days? But here is the disgusting part of this news, the women who started this twitter hashtag activism had to shut down their twitter accounts because of harassment.
Read more about this at the link.
All I can say is those “men’s rights” dickwads post hateful kind of remarks on those Calhoun commentaries. (I can’t really say “dickwads” because there are women who do that shit too. Is cunt to harsh a word? Yes, I am that mad. And if you are offended by that, I direct you to the title of this post and remind you that I am a Sicilian.)
It pisses me off. What the hell is wrong with these people? Young adults committed a crime and they must be charged and arrested and tried. They should not be allowed to get away with this horrible act. It is both disgusting and disturbing to see the many comments blaming the victim, making pathetic excuses for the ones who raped her, and passing the whole incident off as something that got out of control.
So of the folks talk about the fact that Calhoun high school has a “wealthy” student body. That the football team is an elite group. That may be but after thinking about all the crap that has happened lately, especially when you see the comments from the sheriffs office…I don’t think the word “elite” is the correct one to use. I say the word should be Entitled. It is an attitude we see all around us, these “suspects” felt entitled to abuse their victim in the vicious manner they did. Just as they feel entitled to get away with it. The same way the sheriff felt entitled to cast the evening the rape happened as only a party with alcohol that got a “little out of hand.” Seriously, he said that remember?
If you have time, or the stomach for it, read this shit: These commentators feel entitled to post derogatory things about the victim, because she is a woman and they have misogynistic issues from the get go…but also it goes along the line that women are subservient to men, period.
When you take a look at the situation in California, with the mass shooting at Isla Vista just this weekend and Google the pick up artist culture, it is disturbing as hell.(PAU Hate, PAU lingo) These men are f*cked up. Their views are exactly like some of the ones expressed in those threads.
The community needs to support the victim, they need to press the authorities for arrests. Instead many of these assholes are spending their time spreading the hate against women that Attytood ended his piece with:
Friday’s senselessness in Santa Barbara took things to a a new level. It was — sadly, yet of necessity — a “Birmingham moment” for female empowerment in America. What’s less clear, though, is what comes next, of how to translate anger and emotion into social change. The strong chance of electing a female president in 2016 is a positive — but remember that electing a black president in 2008 seems to have done more to provoke racism than to end it.
There are certainly areas — equal pay, sick leave — where government can play a greater role, but the deeper issues cut not just across the media — yes, the media — business and universities, but also the human spirit. Ending hate against women will require real work from all of us.
Much like the challenge that Lauren puts up in her op/ed isn’t it?
You know, when up against the kind of hate like this…that human spirit gets trampled down powerfully low. I am willing to do the work but dammit, sometimes all I feel is defeated and that there is no chance in hell anything will change for the better.
Now the rest of the links in dump fashion because I went on a rant:
Separatists remain resolute in Ukraine after elections and bombardments | Al Jazeera America
ISLA VISTA, Calif.: Isla Vista returning to normal as painful questions linger | MCT National News | McClatchy DC
Did the SEC just drop a big hint about pay-to-play prosecutions? | PandoDaily
The EPA, The Fate of the Planet, and the Neoconfederate Judiciary – Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money
Take a look at the picture on this link: Indigenous people, Brazilia police clash | Al Jazeera America
CANNED HEAT | Gin and Tacos
Christian woman on Sudanese death row gives birth | Al Jazeera America
Robert De Niro Opens Up About His Gay Father – Hollywood Reporter
The World’s Most Content (and Miserable) Countries – 24/7 Wall St.
And that is all I got. It is 5:27 in the morning…I’ve got to get the soup started, making Ropa Veja today.
It is a Spanish dish that takes hours and hours. The soup alone will not be done until 3 or 4 pm…Anyway, y’all have a good day.
Leave some links in the comments, and tell us how you are feeling today.
Posted: March 26, 2014 Filed under: abortion rights, Accommodation and Compromise, Affordable Care Act (ACA), American Gun Fetish, Barack Obama, birth control, Diplomacy Nightmares, Discrimination against women, Egypt, Foreign Affairs, fundamentalist Christians, Gun Control, morning reads, NSA, National Security Agency, Religious Conscience, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights, Republican politics, Russia, SCOTUS, the GOP, U.S. Politics, Ukraine, Violence against women, War on Women, Women's Healthcare, Women's Rights | Tags: China, Crimea, ebola, Guinea, Hobby Lobby, international space center, Justice Kennedy, Liberia, NASA
Oi! Put up your dukes and lets duke it out!
WordPress has fugged up with their editor, which means that the pictures and formatting may be a little off in this post. That said the images are all found on pinterest and are all various vintage picture of women boxing.
Because, the shit going on with the Supremes is something that makes me want to put on a pair of boxing gloves and kick some PLUB #HobbyLobby loving ass.
Justice Kennedy Thinks Hobby Lobby Is An Abortion Case — That’s Bad News For Birth Control | ThinkProgress
“Your reasoning would permit” Congress to force corporations to pay for abortions, Kennedy told Verrilli. This was not the Anthony Kennedy that worried about conservatives imposing their anti-gay “animus” on others, this was the Anthony Kennedy that views abortion as a grave moral wrong. Shortly after Kennedy made this statement, Justice Kagan’s face dropped. It appeared that she’d just figured out that she would be joining a dissenting opinion.
It’s worth noting that Kennedy expressed a different concern than one offered shortly thereafter by Chief Justice John Roberts. Hobby Lobby objects to four forms of contraception on the mistaken ground that these contraceptive methods are actually forms of abortion — a brief filed by numerous medical organizations explains that they are not. Roberts, however, suggested that someone’s mere belief that something is an abortion is enough to trigger an religious exemption to federal law.
More from :
SCOTUSblog: Birth control, business, and religious beliefs: In Plain English
Wednesday round-up : SCOTUSblog
Ugh….but that fucked up crap about the pill being “abortion” aside, last night Boston Boomer put up a tweet in the comments that I think needs to be shared up on the front page.
This brings up a good point, one of the tweets in this thread says that Hobby Lobby responded…
Some of the tweets mention the “myth” of infanticide and forced abortions…which is bullshit. Take a look at this from Telegraph:
Malaysia Airlines missing flight exposes tragedy of China’s ‘orphaned’ one-child parents
Much has been written about the human rights abuses associated with China’s notorious one-child policy: the forced abortions, sterilisations and even cases of infanticide as rural families sought to rid themselves of girls they thought were less useful than boys.
But the disappearance of MH370 has cast light a less well-known but equally devastating phenomenon: that of the “orphaned” parents who, through accident or illness, lost the only child the Chinese government allowed them to have.
There are an estimated one million so-called “shidu” families in China, with state media reporting that around 76,000 new families are “orphaned” each year.
“When you lose your only child, it feels like the sky has fallen in,” said one bereaved Shanghai mother, who lost her only daughter and her husband to a 2012 car accident.
“Because of the one-child policy a million families have lost their offspring forever,” added the woman, who requested anonymity because of the politically sensitive nature of the subject. “It is an ethical tragedy. Nobody can take away the pain.”
Recent months have seen several major Chinese cities and provinces including Beijing and Shanghai start to change the controversial birth control policy, relaxing family planning rules so parents who are both only children can now have two children.
On the subject of lost children…grown children…the numbers have gone up in the death toll over in the Washington state landslide claims up to 24, more than 100 missing.
The number of dead climbed to as high as 24 with the recovery Tuesday of two more bodies and another eight believed to have been located in the debris.
Authorities did not immediately release the identities of the dead nor did they provide details about where the bodies were found.
At least 176 people are unaccounted for. Officials have stressed those unaccounted for are not necessarily all victims of the disaster. They say they believe many names have been duplicated.
Three sheriff’s deputies who specialize in missing persons cases have begun reviewing the lists to get a more accurate count, Snohomish County Emergency Management Director John Pennington said.
And if death from plane crash or mudslide is not depressing enough, how about Ebola: W Africa scrambles to prevent Ebola spread
West African nations scrambled to contain an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus suspected to have killed at least 59 people in Guinea, with symptoms of the disease reported in neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia as well.
The spread of Ebola, one of the most lethal infectious diseases known, has spooked nations with weak health care systems. In Guinea’s southeast, home to all the confirmed cases, residents are avoiding large gatherings and prices in some markets have spiked as transporters avoid the area.
Health authorities in Liberia said they had now recorded eight suspected cases of Ebola, mainly in people who crossed the border from Guinea.
Five of these had died but tests were still being carried out to check if the cases were indeed Ebola, the Reuters news agency reported.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) said a total of 86 suspected cases, including 59 deaths, had been reported in southeastern Guinea near the border with Sierra Leone and Liberia.
This next quote is very scary:
“People are really frightened. They have seen people die in a matter of just two or three days. They are constantly worried who is going to be the next fatality,” said Joseph Gbaka Sandounou, who manages operations for aid agency Plan International in Guekedou.
On to more “newsy” link goodness. Major Garrett has a piece up over at National Journal: Obama Tries to Put Putin in His Place—Again
Moments after deflecting a question about his diminished influence on the world stage, President Obama described Russia as a “regional power” operating in Crimea out of weakness, not strength.
Noting Russia’s long-standing influence in all of Ukraine, Obama said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea “indicates less influence, not more.”
I guess that’s why Ukraine’s defense minister resigned and Ukrainian troops bugged out of Crimea, leaving it to Russian forces. This is the only “off ramp” that matters in Crimea. Ukraine and its rhetorically florid Western allies took it. Not Putin.
Even as the White House insists Crimea is not “lost” (Putin can find it without satellite imagery, after all), the grudging language of concession seeps from every corridor of Ukrainian talks here.
“It’s not a done deal in the sense that the international community by and large isn’t recognizing the annexation of Crimea,” Obama said, before acknowledging the “facts on the ground” favored Russia. “It would be dishonest to say there is a simple solution to resolving what has already taken place in Crimea.”
Obama and European leaders are rattled and resentful, thunderstruck that the wispy bonds of international “norms” could be so easily shredded. Fearful of the precedent they appear incapable of reversing, and desperate to limit Putin’s ambitions to Crimea, the G-7 nations have effectively conceded Crimea. They threatened “sectoral sanctions” if Putin further bulldozed international law by gobbling up more of Ukraine or plowing into Moldova. Weak or strong, Putin enforces the new Crimean status quo. All he’s lost is Russia’s G-8 membership pin and decoder ring.
Read the rest at the link.
One of our astronauts hitched a ride yesterday. Leaving politics behind, Russian-U.S. crew blasts off for space | Reuters
Two Russian cosmonauts and a U.S. astronaut blasted off for six-month stay aboard the International Space Station on Tuesday, a partnership unaffected by the political rancor and economic sanctions triggered by Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
The Russian Soyuz rocket carrying cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Artemyev and NASA astronaut Steven Swanson lifted off at 5:17 p.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The trip to the space station, a $100 billion research laboratory that flies about 260 miles above Earth, was scheduled to take about six hours. However, an unknown problem caused the crew’s Soyuz capsule to skip two planned steering maneuvers, delaying the crew’s arrival until Thursday.
“The crew is in no danger. The Soyuz (is) equipped with plenty of consumables to go even beyond the next two days, should that be become necessary. Nobody expects that that will be the case,” mission commentator Rob Navias said during a NASA Television broadcast.
My son has a sinus infection, and was home from school yesterday…so he watched the launch live.
At Least Russia and the U.S. Still Get Along in Outer Space – NationalJournal.com
NASA, however, is not worried about the Ukraine crisis taking a toll on space exploration.
“We do not expect the current Russia-Ukraine situation to have an impact on our long-standing civil space cooperation with Russia, which goes back decades, including our partnership on the International Space Station program,” said NASA spokesman Joshua Buck in a statement to National Journal. “We are confident that our two space agencies will continue to work closely as they have throughout various ups and downs of the broader U.S.-Russia relationship.”
The International Space Station has indeed weathered terrestrial political storms in the past. “It doesn’t appear that we are affected by what’s going on diplomatically with the Russians,” Al Sofge, director of NASA’s human exploration and operations division, has said of the conflict in Syria and Russia’s protection of American whistle-blower Edward Snowden. “I don’t know that we’ve ever even discussed it.”
After 16 years in orbit, the International Space Station is truly a bilateral effort. The station, divided into American and Russian segments, uses American solar arrays and power systems, Russian life-support systems, and a navigation system that comes from both nations.
The U.S. and Russia first collaborated in space in July 1975, when a Soviet Soyuz capsule carrying two cosmonauts docked with a U.S. Apollo module carrying three astronauts. In the 1990s, after the Soviet Union collapsed, the U.S. asked Russia to join its work on the International Space Station. Russia was too financially strapped to build a program of its own, BBC’s Melissa Hogenboom explained in 2012, and the U.S. was behind schedule on the project and needed help.
This “reluctant codependency,” as NBC space analyst James Oberg dubbed it, persists to this day. At the International Space Station, Russia depends on NASA’s electronics and communications technology, which are more advanced. The U.S. depends on Roscosmos, the Russian federal agency, to send its astronauts to space. After NASA retired its space-shuttle program in 2011, Russia became the sole nation with the capability of carrying astronauts and cargo to and from space. Even U.S. national security satellites are powered into orbit on an American rocket with a Russian-built rocket engine.
While Jake was watching that rocket take off, I told him the Russians would not mess up that arrangement, they are getting paid. How much?
Right now, NASA pays $70.7 million per seat to send its astronauts to space on Russian Soyuz capsules, $8 million more than a previous agreement. But by 2017, NASA officials say the U.S. should be able to send its astronauts to the International Space Station on its own, thanks to private American spaceflight companies.
I will put this other link here for you, Zandar Versus The Stupid: Last Call For One Hell Of A Coincidence, where an article in the Business Insider by Michael Kelley is asking the question:
U.S. officials think that Russia recently obtained the ability to evade U.S. eavesdropping equipment while commandeering Crimea and amassing troops near Ukraine’s border.
The revelation reportedly has the White House “very nervous,” especially because it’s unclear how the Kremlin hid its plans from the National Security Agency’s snooping on digital and electronic communications.
One interesting fact involved is the presence of Edward Snowden in Russia, where he has been living since flying to Moscow from Hong Kong on June 23.
In July, primary Snowden source Glenn Greenwald told The Associated Press that Snowden “is in possession of literally thousands of documents that contain very specific blueprints that would allow somebody who read them to know exactly how the NSA does what it does, which would in turn allow them to evade that surveillance or replicate it.”
So it’s either a crazy coincidence that the Russians figured out how to evade NSA surveillance while hosting the NSA-trained hacker, or else it implies that Snowden provided the Russians with access to the NSA’s blueprint.
No doubt Kelley’s article is going to draw a massive screed from Double G and the usual suspects. But as the people who support Snowden’s actions remind us, we need to have a serious debate about American intelligence capabilities, and that includes debating the consequences of someone with the vast knowledge of these capabilities defecting to a foreign country.
I’ve said on a number of occasions that the actions of Snowden and his partners are not consistent with the goal of reigning in the NSA through existing means, but very consistent with the goal of taking it upon themselves to irreparably damage our intelligence-gathering abilities as a lesson to the Unites States government.
The threats have been made that if anything happens to Snowden, the full trove of information would be leaked.
It’s a reasonable question to ask if that’s already happened.
So, over at CNN they are looking for news since their 24/7 coverage of MH Flight 370 is coming to a close….Two CNN Producers Arrested in Sad Attempt to Break into the WTC Site
Two CNN producers were arrested today after trying—and failing miserably—to break into the World Trade Center site for a story about people who successfully broke in.
A CNN spokesperson said that producers Connor Boals, 26, and Yon Pomrenze, 35, were on assignment “but were not asked to sneak onto the WTC site.”
According to reports, the pair first tried to talk their way past security guards into the heavily guarded construction site. When that failed, they tried scaling a nearby fence. Both times officers merely turned them away.
The tipping point came on their third attempt, when they tried to forcibly push their way through a security checkpoint.
That coup de grâce got Boals and Pomrenze cuffed and booked on criminal trespass, obstruction of governmental administration and disorderly conduct charges.
Sad…sad…sad…when all they had to do was head on over to Jersey: Body parts injure 4 after man killed by train
A man was struck and killed by a train Tuesday in a gruesome scene that left others on the New Brunswick Station platform injured.
Preliminary eyewitness accounts suggest that the man was struck after leaning into the path of the oncoming train while standing on the station platform.
As a result of the collision, at least four other people waiting on the platform were struck by parts of the man’s body, officials said.
The incident happened at about 5 p.m. EDT and involved a New York-bound Northeast Corridor train carrying about 300 passengers, NJ Transit spokesman John Durso said.
Three of the four people who were hurt went to the hospital with injuries…eek! Now that is a “story” those producers could have gotten into…dirty laundry there. Literally.
Back to the MH370 for a moment: Families of Flight MH370 Victims Issue Blistering Statement | Vanity Fair
The families on the receiving end didn’t take kindly to the message or the manner in which it was delivered. Families gathered in Beijing read a blistering rebuke of Malaysian Airlines and authorities on Monday:
“At 10pm on March 25, the Malaysian prime minister sent a statement to the families of MH370 passengers without any direct evidence that MH370 crashed in the south Indian ocean and no people survived.
From March 8 when they announced that MH370 lost contact to today, 18 days have passed during which the Malaysian government and military constantly tried to delay, deceive the passengers’ families and cheat the whole world.
This shameless behaviour not only fooled and hurt the families of the 154 passengers but also misguided and delayed rescue actions, wasting a large quantity of human resources and materials and lost valuable time for the rescue effort.
If the 154 passengers did lose their lives, Malaysia Airlines, the Malaysian government and military are the real executioners who killed them. We the families of those on board submit our strongest protest against them.
We will take every possible means to pursue the unforgivable crimes and responsibility of all three.”
Malaysia Airlines claims a representative for the company told the assembled families in person, and that phone calls and SMS messages were only sent to relatives who were not in the family-support center.
The rest of the links are in quick dump fashion:
What happens when a female student in a hot pink top walks through Cairo University? – News – Student – The Independent
Wearing a pink top and tight jeans, the young woman is whistled and shouted at as she makes her way through the site amongst a growing group of men following her.
University guards are seen in the clip, which has gone viral on social media, escorting her off the premises after she hid in a toilet to escape the group, who were allegedly trying to remove her clothes.
The school Dean blamed the girl of course…video at the link.
From the fuckwads in my state, In Georgia, Carry a Gun, Just Not in the Capitol – NYTimes.com
There’s a lot of concern about new legislation in Georgia that expands how people can buy, carry and use guns. It reduces some licensing requirements and provides Georgians with a stronger “Stand Your Ground” defense should they feel threatened and decide to open fire. Some critics were calling it the “guns everywhere” law. That’s so unfair. Georgia’s lawmakers are not allowing everyone’s safety to be endangered by gun-slinging people. They are deeply concerned, for example, with their own.
The bill, passed on Thursday and awaiting the governor’s signature, will, among other things, allow people to carry concealed weapons into more places — including ones, like bars, which conveniently enough are spots where they are likely to be put to use.
They may also be carried in unsecured areas of airports. Even toting a gun in secured areas will merely be a misdemeanor in Georgia as long as you did it by mistake. After all, who among us has not had the embarrassing experience of forgetting they were carrying their Glock semiautomatic through airport security?
Republican lawmakers in the Georgia House tried — and failed — to require colleges and churches to allow concealed weapons. The law bans them on college campuses (thank goodness for that, at least) and requires armed Georgians to get permission from their church before they go to Sunday services packing heat.
But, while patting themselves on the back for protecting the Second Amendment rights of their fellow citizens and dismissing any notion that guns could be a danger to the public, Georgia lawmakers were careful to continue to ban the carrying of weapons in government buildings with security checkpoints, like the Capitol itself, though guns are welcomed in buildings without screening.
How thoughtful of them.
Barbara Boxer: Why no Viagra complaints? – Tal Kopan – POLITICO.com
As the Supreme Court heard arguments Tuesday about the Obamacare mandate on birth control coverage, Sen. Barbara Boxer questioned why those up in arms about the requirement have no problem with most insurance covering Viagra.
“I have never heard Hobby Lobby or any other corporation, I could be wrong, or any other boss complain that Viagra is covered in many insurance plans, practically all of them, or other kinds of things, you know, for men, which I won’t go into,” Boxer said Tuesday on MSNBC’s “Jansing & Co.”
Yeah, isn’t every sperm sacred?
After 27 years, Burger King Baby finds birth mom, feels pure joy
A woman who, as a newborn, was abandoned in the bathroom of a Pennsylvania fast-food restaurant said Tuesday she has found her birth mother just three weeks after launching a search that garnered worldwide attention.
Next…another blast from 80s’ past, an interview with Boy George: Boy George Discusses New Album, Gender Identity, Madonna And More
If you’re ever given 60 minutes to sit down with Boy George, one of the most beloved pop icons of the 20th century, in a private club on the west side of Manhattan in the middle of February, take them.
In the course of that hour, you’ll not only be treated to stories about how as a teen, his brothers would cross the street so they didn’t have to be seen with him and find out if he ever considered transitioning to the other end of the gender binary, but you’ll also quickly realize that he is one of the most thoughtful — and refreshingly honest — interview subjects you’ve ever had the pleasure of encountering.
Next, tales of animals…remember that zoo in Copenhagen? The one that killed the young giraffe and butchered it then fed it to the lions?
Look what the zoo did to the lions: Danish zoo that killed giraffe puts down four lions
Two lions and their two 10-month-old cubs, all from the same family, were put down on Monday to make way for a new male after the zoo failed to find a new home for the felines.
Copenhagen Zoo said in a statement: “Because of the pride of lions’ natural structure and behaviour, the zoo has had to euthanise the two old lions and two young lions who were not old enough to fend for themselves”.
The cubs “would have been killed by the new male lion as soon as he got the chance,” it added.
WTF? Am I right?
On the case of inbreeding and genetic defects…no I am not talking about Banjoville, Birth Defects In Last Woolly Mammoths Suggest Inbreeding May Have Led To Species’ Extinction
Scientists studying 12,000-year-old mammoth fossils unearthed near the North Sea discovered that many of them had extra ribs along their neck vertebrae. Cervical ribs, while innocuous on their own, are usually a sign that something went wrong during the animal’s development and are associated with chromosome abnormalities and even cancer.
Researchers found that cervical ribs were 10 times more common in woolly mammoths from the North Sea than in modern elephants. Scientists were stunned to find such a high rate of cervical ribs among European woolly mammoths.
“The high incidence and large size of the cervical ribs [in woolly mammoths] indicates a strong vulnerability, given the association of cervical ribs with diseases and congenital abnormalities in mammals,” the researchers noted in a study published in the journal PeerJ. “The vulnerable condition may well have contributed to the eventual extinction of the woolly mammoths.”
Scientists theorized that there are two possible explanations for the high frequency of cervical ribs in the last of the mammoths. The first is that there was rampant inbreeding among the last mammoth populations. This theory fits nicely with the idea that climate change fragmented the woolly mammoth’s habitat, isolating small pockets of the animals from each other. These groups would have lost their genetic variation through inbreeding, which would have made them susceptible to abnormalities and disease.
The second theory is that woolly mammoth mothers suffered prenatal stress due to outside factors like famine and disease.
And finally, Goats are far more clever than previously thought
Goats learn how to solve complicated tasks quickly and can recall how to perform them for at least 10 months, which might explain their remarkable ability to adapt to harsh environments, say researchers at Queen Mary University of London.
Writing in the journal Frontiers in Zoology today, the scientists trained a group of goats to retrieve food from a box using a linked sequence of steps; first by pulling a lever with their mouths and then by lifting it to release the reward.
The goats’ ability to remember the task was tested after one month and again at 10 months. They learned the task within 12 trials and took less than two minutes to remember the challenge.
“The speed at which the goats completed the task at 10 months compared to how long it took them to learn indicates excellent long-term memory,” said co-author Dr Elodie Briefer, now based at ETH Zurich.
Before each learning session, some of the goats had the opportunity to watch another goat to demonstrate the task.
Dr Briefer added: “We found that those without a demonstrator were just as fast at learning as those that had seen demonstrations. This shows that goats prefer to learn on their own rather than by watching others.”
Wow, I wonder if a goat could learn that the birth control pill does not = an abortion? Yeah, they sound like they are smarter than some of the Supremes sitting on the bench.
Have a great day, and let us know what you are reading and thinking about today.
Posted: March 25, 2014 Filed under: morning reads, Real Life Horror, religion, religious extremists, Reproductive Health, Reproductive Rights, SCOTUS, U.S. Politics, War on Women, Women's Healthcare, Women's Rights, worker rights | Tags: abortion, Affordable Care Act, Antonin Scalia, Are Women Human?, Are Women People?, Birth Control, Citizen's United, contraception, Hobby Lobby, Manhattan Declaration, Obamacare, religious freedom, Sandra Fluke, U.S. Constitution
Question for today: Are women human? Are we people in the eyes of our government? We’ve been told that corporations are people. We know that white men are people–that was established by the U.S. Constitution when it was ratified in 1789. Since that time, there have been amendments that granted some rights to non-white men and to women. We can vote now. Does that mean our government recognizes our humanity?
Today our ultra-conservative, mostly Catholic Supreme Court will hear two cases that bring this question to the forefront, and the Court’s decisions may give us some answers to the question of whether American women are officially people with individual rights.
From MSNBC: Supreme Court to hear birth control case
Depending on whom you ask, Tuesday morning’s oral argument at the Supreme Court is about whether Obamacare can keep treading on religious liberty – or it’s about a woman’s right to access contraception on her employee insurance plan, no matter what her employer thinks of it. Either way, it is the first time the Affordable Care Act will be at the nation’s highest Court since it was first largely upheld as constitutional. The same two men as in that case, current Solicitor General Don Verrilli and former Bush administration solicitor general Paul Clement, are facing off to argue over a narrower provision.
Before the Supreme Court decides whether the contraceptive coverage required of insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act violates a 1993 law governing religious liberty, it has to settle the threshold question: Does a corporation even have religious liberty?
I think the question about the rights of women is far broader than that. Without access to birth control and abortion, a woman has no real autonomy as a human being. If she becomes pregnant–even through rape–she loses the ability to make choices about her future life. It has been a relatively short period of time since women have had the power to make those choices. But that power has led to other advances for women–such as the right to prosecute a rapist or an abusive boyfriend or husband, the right to have credit in her own name, the right to an education, and entry into careers from which women were previously blocked. We can only hope that the justices see clearly what their decisions will mean for women’s lives and women’s personhood.
Back to the MSNBC article:
Hobby Lobby Stores, an Oklahoma-based, evangelical-owned craft chain with about 13,000 employees, and Conestoga Wood Specialties, a small Mennonite-owned cabinet maker in Pennsylvania, sued the administration and got two very different answers from the lower courts. The Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals declared of Hobby Lobby that “such corporations can be ‘persons’ exercising religion.” In ruling on Conestoga’s bid for exemption from the requirement, the Third Circuit disagreed: “For-profit secular corporations cannot exercise in religious exercise.”
The companies are among the 47 for-profit corporations that have objected to their company plans complying with the minimum coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act. Under those regulations, contraception is covered fully, without a co-pay, as preventive care. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood object to a handful of contraceptives that they speculate can block a fertilized egg, which is neither documented in the science nor the medical definition of abortion. Other for-profit plaintiffs object to any birth control coverage at all….
The Obama administration says that the government has a compelling interest in women’s health and in gender equality. The Department of Health and Human Services agreed to classify contraceptives as preventive care after considering testimony from medical experts, who cited the country’s high rate of unintended pregnancy and the persistence cost barriers to accessing effective birth control.
Some legal experts argue that to rule for Hobby Lobby would be imposing religion on others, by forcing the women who work for such companies to pay the cost of their employers’ religion. Frederick Gedicks, a law professor at Brigham Young, has even argued in a brief before the Court that doing so would violate the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
What will SCOTUS decide?
At NPR, Nina Totenberg offers some scary quotes from Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby:
“We believe that the principles that are taught scripturally is what we should operate our lives by … and so we cannot be a part of taking life,” explains Hobby Lobby President Steve Green.
“It’s our rights that are being infringed upon to require us to do something against our conscience,” adds CEO and founder David Green.
Using birth control is “taking a life?” Apparently one of the arguments Hobby Lobby is using that–contrary to scientific facts–some forms of birth control are equal to abortion. So is every sperm is sacred too? Should men be prosecuted for masturbating? But those questions are not likely to be asked, because it is already legally established that men are people.
At the WaPo, Sandra Fluke writes: At the Supreme Court, a potential catastrophe for women’s rights.
Unlike my congressional testimony in 2012, which was about Georgetown University — a Catholic-affiliated university — refusing to include contraception in student insurance because it was a religiously affiliated school, the institutions arguing before the Supreme Court are not houses of worship or religious non-profits. The Affordable Care Act already includes special arrangements for those types of organizations. These are private, for-profit corporations — a craft store and a cabinet manufacturer — that want to be excluded from health insurance and employment laws because of bosses’ personal views.
Laws that include religious protection have never given corporations the right to have religious views, and it would be a terrible idea to make such an enormous change to our legal precedent now. Our laws protect individuals’ private religious beliefs, but when you cross over into the public sphere to become a corporation and make a profit off of the public, you must abide by the public’s laws.
Depending on the court’s rulings, the cases’ outcomes could deny millions of women coverage of any or all forms of birth control, limiting women’s ability to control their reproductive health, plan their pregnancies and manage their lives. As I testified, women also need birth control for many other medical reasons, including relief of painful health problems like endometriosis.
And, Fluke argues, recognizing a right for corporations to hold religious views will open the door to
Allowing any private employer to dictate which laws fit inside its religious beliefs could upset the necessary balance of both religious liberty and employee health and safety laws. Depending on the exact ruling, any for-profit corporation could cut off its employees’ insurance coverage for blood transfusions, vaccinations or HIV treatment — all of which some Americans have religious objections to. Any critical health coverage the boss doesn’t agree with could be eliminated.
Furthermore, SCOTUS could not limit these proposed “religious freedoms” to Christians.
Although this country predominantly descends from a Judeo-Christian tradition, our valuable religious protection laws ensure that anyone is free to practice any religion they want, including religions whose belief systems and practices many of us would disagree with vehemently. In fact, far-ranging beliefs that are not associated with any organized religion could be used to justify a corporation’s practices as well.
Sahil Kapur of TPM points out that Justice Scalia, who might be expected to vote in favor of a corporate “right to religious freedom,” will have to deal with one of his previous rulings: Justice Scalia’s Past Comes Back To Haunt Him On Birth Control.
In 1990, Scalia wrote the majority opinion in Employment Division v. Smith, concluding that the First Amendment “does not require” the government to grant “religious exemptions” from generally applicable laws or civic obligations. The case was brought by two men in Oregon who sued the state for denying them unemployment benefits after they were fired from their jobs for ingesting peyote, which they said they did because of their Native American religious beliefs.
“[T]he right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability,” Scalia wrote in the 6-3 majority decision, going on to aggressively argue that such exemptions could be a slippery slope to lawlessness and that “[a]ny society adopting such a system would be courting anarchy.”
“The rule respondents favor would open the prospect of constitutionally required religious exemptions from civic obligations of almost every conceivable kind,” he wrote, “ranging from compulsory military service, to the payment of taxes, to health and safety regulation such as manslaughter and child neglect laws, compulsory vaccination laws, drug laws, and traffic laws; to social welfare legislation such as minimum wage laws, child labor laws, animal cruelty laws, environmental protection laws, and laws providing for equality of opportunity for the races.”
That opinion could haunt the jurist if he seeks to invalidate the birth control rule.
“Scalia will have to reckon with his own concern in Smith about the lawlessness and chaos created by liberal exemptions to generally applicable law,” said Adam Winkler, a constitutional law professor at UCLA. “For him to uphold an exemption now is to invite more of the lawlessness that he warned about.”
At Think Progress, Ian Millhiser addresses the right wing organizations that have waged a concerted war against women’s rights during the past several years: Read This One Document To Understand What The Christian Right Hopes To Gain From Hobby Lobby.
2009 was a grim year for social conservatives. Barack Obama was an ambitious and popular new president. Republicans, and their conservative philosophy, were largely discredited in the public eye by a failed war and a massive recession. And the GOP’s effort to reshape its message was still in its awkward adolescence. If the conservative movement had a mascot, it would have been a white man dressed as Paul Revere and waving a misspelled sign.
Amidst this wreckage, more than two hundred of the nation’s leading Christian conservatives joined together in a statement expressing their dismay at the state of the nation. “Many in the present administration want to make abortions legal at any stage of fetal development,” their statement claimed, while “[m]ajorities in both houses of Congress hold pro-abortion views.” Meanwhile, they feared that the liberals who now controlled the country “are very often in the vanguard of those who would trample upon the freedom of others to express their religious and moral commitments to the sanctity of life and to the dignity of marriage as the conjugal union of husband and wife.”
The signatories to this statement, which they named the “Manhattan Declaration,” included many of America’s most prominent Catholic bishops and clergy of similar prominence in other Christian sects. It included leaders oftop anti-gay organizations like the National Organization for Marriage, and of more broadly focused conservative advocacy shops such as the Family Research Council. It included university presidents and deans from Christian conservative colleges. And it included the top editors from many of the Christian right’s leading publications.
Perhaps most significantly, however, the document’s signatories includes Alan Sears, the head of one of the two conservative legal groups litigating what are likely to be the two most important cases decided by the Supreme Court this term. Indeed, the Manhattan Declaration offers a virtual roadmap to understanding what religious conservatives hope to gain from Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood v. Sebelius, two cases the justices will hear Tuesday which present the question whether a business owner’s religious objections to birth control trump their legal obligation to include it in their employee’s health plan.
Read the gory details at the link.
Finally, I ask that everyone read this year-old article at Time Magazine by Jessica Winter, Subject for Debate: Are Women People? It is both darkly humorous and deadly serious.
All my adult life, I’ve been pretty sure I’m a sentient, even semi-competent human being. I have a job and an apartment; I know how to read and vote; I make regular, mostly autonomous decisions about what to eat for lunch and which cat videos I will watch whilst eating my lunch. But in the past couple of months, certain powerful figures in media and politics have cracked open that certitude.
You see, like most women, I was born with the chromosome abnormality known as “XX,” a deviation of the normative “XY” pattern. Symptoms of XX, which affects slightly more than half of the American population, include breasts, ovaries, a uterus, a menstrual cycle, and the potential to bear and nurse children. Now, many would argue even today that the lack of a Y chromosome should not affect my ability to make informed choices about what health care options and lunchtime cat videos are right for me. But others have posited, with increasing volume and intensity, that XX is a disability, even a roadblock on the evolutionary highway. This debate has reached critical mass, and leaves me uncertain of my legal and moral status. Am I a person? An object? A ward of the state? A “prostitute”? (And if I’m the last of these, where do I drop off my W-2?)
Please go read the whole thing. It’s not long.
So . . . those are my recommended reads for today. What stories are you following? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread.