Breaking News: Justice Alito Is A Shmuck And Corporations Are People But Workers And Women Aren’t

Welcome to the USA, everyone. Today the SCOTUS has decided that companies can deny their employees contraception coverage because women aren’t people, and public unions can’t make nonmembers pay fees because why ever would we need to do that. On the former from  NPR:

The Supreme Court has ruled that Hobby Lobby and other closely held for-profit corporations can opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s provisions for no-cost prescription contraception in most health insurance plans. The companies’ owners had objected on the grounds of religious freedom.

The ruling affirms a Hobby Lobby victory in a lower court and gives new standing to similar claims by other companies.

The justices announced their decision Monday morning. We’ll update this post as more information and analysis about the ruling emerge.

The case, Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby, is perhaps the most important decision of the high court’s term, legal analysts say. Burwell, you’ll recall, is Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who became secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services early this month.

Here’s a quick summary of the issue from NPR’s Nina Totenberg:

“In enacting the ACA, Congress required large employers to provide basic preventive care for employees. That includes all birth control methods approved by the FDA. Under the law, religious non-profits were exempted from this requirement, but for-profit corporations were not.
“The Hobby Lobby corporation, which has 500 stores and 16,000 employees, objects to some forms of birth control on religious grounds. 
“But the government points to a long line of cases holding that for-profit companies may not use religion as a basis for failing to comply with generally applicable laws.”

Hobby Lobby and other companies that don’t want to cover contraception cited the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which “provides that the government ‘shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion’ unless that burden is the least restrictive means to further a compelling governmental interest,” says the overview of the case by SCOTUSBlog.

There are also financial considerations in play.

“Hobby Lobby owners contend that the ACA contraception mandate imposes a substantial burden on them because failure to comply results in big fines — $26 million a year for Hobby Lobby if it opts out of providing insurance altogether,” Nina reported in March. “Supporters of the mandate counter that $26 million may be a lot of money, but it is less than the company currently spends on insurance.”

Earlier this month, Julie Rovner ran down some of the specifics about the companies’ resistance.

Hobby Lobby is owned by the Green family, she said, who are evangelical Christians, “and the Hahn family that owns Pennsylvania cabinet-maker Conestoga Wood Specialties are Mennonites.”

While both companies already include many forms of birth control in their health plans, Julie reported, “The owners say they are opposed to some forms of birth control — particularly emergency contraceptives Plan B and Ella, which can be used to prevent pregnancy if taken within 24 hours to as much as five days after unprotected sex — because these contraceptives prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in a woman’s uterus.”

Weekly News Round-Up 6/23/14-6/27/14: America Falls For Soccerball & Iraq Shakes

It’s been a long week. Ramadan approacheth, Iraq has fallen into chaos, Syria is worsening, the Ukraine and Russia are getting along or not depending on the day, futbol players are biting each other, Americans suddenly care about soccer, and no one wants to be nice to Hillary. Happy Friday!

 

nbcnews / A young Chilean fan looks out onto the pitch before the group B World Cup soccer match between the Netherlands and Chile at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo on June 23
nbcnews / A young Chilean fan looks out onto the pitch before the group B World Cup soccer match between the Netherlands and Chile at the Itaquerao Stadium in Sao Paulo on June 23
nbcnews / Clint Dempsey of the U.S. knocks the ball into the net to score against Portugal during their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Amazonia arena in Manaus June 22. The U.S. tied Portugal 2-2
nbcnews / Clint Dempsey of the U.S. knocks the ball into the net to score against Portugal during their 2014 World Cup Group G soccer match at the Amazonia arena in Manaus June 22. The U.S. tied Portugal 2-2
nbcnews / An Afghan refugee carries her child at a special medical camp organized by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with the coordination of Pakistan Medical Dental Association to mark World Refugees Day in Islamabad on June 20. The UNHCR said there were 51.2 million forcibly displaced people at the end of 2013, a full six million higher than the previous year
nbcnews / An Afghan refugee carries her child at a special medical camp organized by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with the coordination of Pakistan Medical Dental Association to mark World Refugees Day in Islamabad on June 20. The UNHCR said there were 51.2 million forcibly displaced people at the end of 2013, a full six million higher than the previous year

Assorted Stand-Outs:

Continue reading “Weekly News Round-Up 6/23/14-6/27/14: America Falls For Soccerball & Iraq Shakes”

LGBT community celebrates Pride Month in Ulaanbaatar

GAY ASIA NEWS

image-toolsUlaanbaatar: The LGBT community in Mongolia is celebrating Pride Month of June with live music, open discussion on equality rights and cultural events.

Three events celebrating LGBT pride were being held in the Mongolian capital of Ulaanbaatar, where half the country’s 2.7 million people live.

The “LGBT Pride (‘Rainbow’) Month” events were organized with help from the American Corner and the LGBT Center,  reports ubpost.mongolnews.mn.

The 10-year-old American Corner helps students, researchers, teachers and the general public learn more about the U.S. and encourages mutual understanding between the United States and Mongolia.

The LGBT Center is as an organization of activists working  to ensure  “Human Rights, Justice and Dignity for All.” The group has been educating the public and organizing events since 2007.

Two of three events for LGBT Pride Month were held at American Corner at the Ulaanbaatar Central Library.

The first event held on June 7 was called…

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Weekly News Round-Up 6/16/14-6/22/14: The ISIS Crisis & Soccerball

Happy Friday, all! It’s been quite the week – ISIS is taking over the world, the Redskins are finally seeing some legal action, racism and sexism abound, and the World Cup has seen defending champion Spain left out in the cold. Your blogger is very excited for today’s 3pm EST match: France v. Switzerland. Start off your weekend with the trailer for Dear White People, which looks wonderful.

policymic / soccerball
policymic / soccerball

Assorted Stand-Outs:

Continue reading “Weekly News Round-Up 6/16/14-6/22/14: The ISIS Crisis & Soccerball”

Explaining ISIS/ISIL – a roundup of things to read

Progressive Geographies

Between the lead-up to the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 and around 2008, I read extensively on what was happening in the country. I wrote several articles and chapters on the territorial, legal and constitutional issues, many of which were re-edited to form parts of my 2009 book Terror and Territory: The Spatial Extent of Sovereignty. (Most of the articles are available open access here.)

Due to other projects, I’ve only kept a partial eye on things since that time, with most of my reading coming from news-sites, good blogs (Juan Cole’s Informed Comment in particular), and some of the academic literature. (For one exception, see this 2010 analysis of a then-newly available document.) But I’ve not been reading in the same way I was before I finished the ‘war on terror’ book manuscript. Other contemporary topics – such as Boko Haram – have taken up more of…

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Breaking: Obama to sign order banning contractors from discriminating against the LGBTQ community

Via WaPo:

President Obama will sign an executive order prohibiting federal contractors from discriminating against gays, lesbians and others on the basis of their sexual orientation – an election-year move that follows years of pressure by gay rights organizations.

Obama’s decision to proceed with the executive order, announced Monday by the White House, immediately delighted gay rights groups, even as it signaled that Obama doesn’t believe broader action by Congress is likely. Obama is set to address a fundraiser hosted by the Democratic National Committee’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender council Tuesday in New York.

“The President has directed his staff to prepare for his signature an Executive Order that prohibits federal contractors from discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity,” a White House official said in a statement. “The action would build upon existing protections, which generally prohibit federal contractors and subcontractors from discriminating in employment decisions on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. This is consistent with the President’s views that all Americans, LGBT or not, should be treated with dignity and respect.”

White House officials didn’t detail the timing of the executive order, which Obama originally promised to pursue in his 2008 campaign. For years since, he has declined to issue the order, citing other administration efforts to advance gay rights and a desire to avoid interfering with efforts in Congress to pass the broader Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which would ban discrimination against gays in the workplace. The Senate has passed ENDA, but the House has declined.

Sunday Findings: This is a post about Texas and a post about rainbows

Happy Sunday, all. It’s hot and sunny in the District. This blog is bouncing around, but as always supports all things queer and all things Texan. On that note…

Via Autostraddle:

Many of Texas’s major cities are rejecting the hardline GOP stance. At the end of May, Houston passed HERO, the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, a comprehensive non-discrimination ordinance that advances the rights of LGB and trans people in housing, public accommodations, employment and more. The ordinance also includes race, military service, disability, sex, pregnancy and other groups in its protections. Houston Mayor Annise Parker, the first openly gay mayor of a major American city, called it her “most personally satisfying” act as mayor. The cities of Austin, Fort Worth, El Paso, San Antonio, Waco, Brownsville and Walker and Dallas Counties also prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender. Public support for marriage equality is increasing steadily — a recent poll from Texas Tech University found that 48% support it and 47% oppose it. And in 2012 the Texas Democratic Party became the first southern Democratic Party to include same-sex marriage in its platform. The state’s marriage ban is currently going through the U.S. Court of Appeals after a U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia ruled it unconstitutional in February.

So I understand why the GOP is scared. They’ve gotten pretty comfortable holding every statewide office and a majority in both houses of the legislature for the last couple decades. They’re digging their heels into the sand as the tide turns. But hateful platform language and fist shaking will not stop the ocean. Texas is too big to smother with such small ideas. My queerness doesn’t need repairing, but the GOP does.

 

Weekly News Round-Up 6/9/14-6/13/14: Hillary, Karachi, Cantor, & Guns

Publishing late Sunday night? Not such a great decision. Let’s give Friday afternoon a go and see how it is! The big stories this week: Karachi’s airport attack…and its second, Bowe Bergdahl, Hillary v. Terry Gross, goodbye Eric Cantor, Iraq’s escalating sh**show, shooting after shooting, and this blog’s personal favorite…THE WORLD CUP. Congrats to Brazil and Mexico so far, while Spain v. the Netherlands rages. 

Assorted Stand-Outs:

AFP / Getty Images
AFP / Getty Images

Continue reading “Weekly News Round-Up 6/9/14-6/13/14: Hillary, Karachi, Cantor, & Guns”