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On Monday, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg penned a blistering dissent to the Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling that the government can't require certain employers to provide insurance coverage for methods of birth control and emergency contraception that conflict with their religious beliefs. Ginsburg wrote that her five male colleagues, "in a decision of startling breadth," would allow corporations to opt out of almost any law that they find "incompatible with their sincerely held religious beliefs."

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.)

Source

Christian right secession fantasy: Spooky neo-Confederate talk grows louder at the fringes
The religious right is spooked and making scary new allies. Some worry theocratic violence will soon be on the rise

A Saturday ago at the annual conference of the Faith and Freedom Coalition, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal accused President Obama and other Democrats of waging a war against religious liberty and all but openly threatened a violent revolution, AP reported:

“I can sense right now a rebellion brewing amongst these United States,” Jindal said, “where people are ready for a hostile takeover of Washington, D.C., to preserve the American Dream for our children and grandchildren.”

Of course, Jindal’s speech didn’t come out of nowhere. Jindal is notorious as a weather vane, not a leader. So this is a clear sign of the need to take threats of right-wing violence seriously — and to look to its justifications as formulated on the Christian right.
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By: Sarah Jones

Monday, June, 30th, 2014, 12:02 pm



woman scorned

Until today, many women would argue that feminism was unnecessary because that fight had been won. Even showing them the last several years of Republican attempts to steal their freedom from them legislatively didn’t move them. But Monday’s Supreme Court ruling is something that will impact a majority of women in America.

The Supreme Court just gave Republicans their dream decision in the Hobby Lobby case, so now women who want birth control will have to go ask their Big Daddy boss for it. In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, this very conservative court voted to give corporations the right to refuse to cover contraception. (The way Republicans have argued this is totally not slut shaming at all, it’s just that if you sluts want sex, you’ll have to pay for it on your own, Lazy Lucys.)

Of course, women know that birth control is used for more than just birth control. Women use it for all kinds of medical reasons that the boys in the Republican Party don’t seem to understand, but then, they believe in legitimate rape and shutting that whole thing down so who can blame them.

Here’s the question via SCOTUS blog:




Whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), 42 U.S.C. §§ 2000bb et seq., 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, allows a for-profit corporation to deny its employees the health coverage of contraceptives to which the employees are otherwise entitled by federal law, based on the religious objections of the corporation’s owners.



The answer is, of course, yes. This court loves them some corporations and so a corporation’s right to impose their religion is more important than a woman’s access to life saving birth control under a medical insurance plan. Let’s just say that somewhere in America right now there is a group of women coming up with a religion that is against pacemakers and Viagra and they are very much looking forward to proving their point.

But before that happens, there is an election this year. And nothing motivates people to get out the vote like being spat on collectively and publicly, so thanks SCOTUS!

GAME ON. Women are already fighting back:

Terry O’Neill, the President of the National Organization for Women, quickly sent out an email calling for donations, “NOW is going all out this year to educate and mobilize voters, tell them where the candidates stand, and make sure these voters get to the polls on Election Day. But we can’t do it without your help!”

Debra L. Ness, President, National Partnership for Women & Families, issued a statement calling the ruling shocking, “Today’s U.S. Supreme Court rulings in the Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. cases are deeply troubling – even shocking, in that the Court is allowing some bosses to deny women coverage for something as basic as birth control. Whether it affects 500 or 5,000,000 women, this is a dangerous and appalling intrusion that takes the country backward and undermines women’s health…

Women who thought, in 2014, that their birth control coverage was secure now have to stop and consider the views of their bosses. That is truly outrageous.

As Justice Ginsberg said in her dissent: ‘Working for Hobby Lobby or Conestoga, in other words, should not deprive employees of the preventive care available to workers at the shop next door …’ We could not agree more.

Birth control is basic, essential health care for women. It is dangerous for everyone that the Court allowed bosses control over our health care.

This is as troubling as any Supreme Court ruling in recent years. We will not rest until every woman in this country has coverage for the birth control she needs.”

Amanda Metskas, President of the Secular Coalition for America, said today’s decision by the court will allow employers to impose their religious beliefs on their employees and interfere with the employees’ personal health care decisions.

“This is a sad day for anyone who believes in true religious freedom. With this decision the Supreme Court set a terrible precedent for religious interference in individual choice,” Metskas said. “This decision allows for-profit business owners to impose their religious preferences and practices on their employees, leaving the religious freedom of millions of Americans at the mercy of their individual employers.”

Yeah, women are not pleased and they are just getting warmed up. And as anyone on the receiving end of a woman’s justified anger can tell you, an angry woman is an opponent who should not be underestimated.

I’d wager that all of the men who enjoyed sex without babies are also not impressed. That’s kind of a big tent.

That noise you just heard was death rattle gasp of the GOP tent. The Republican Party now officially stands for taking access to birth control (life-saving) away from women, as well as regulating a woman’s eggs even before they are implanted. That’s a super interesting way of standing for “freedom”, but one that will not stand the test of time.

Binders Full of Women will get out the vote this fall. They will keep voting until this travesty is put to rest. Thanks, SCOTUS, for waking up the women of America.




I have been traveling to East Asia (and many other parts of the world) for more than 25 years and over that time one of the things that has always struck me is how intelligent the general public in countries like Japan appear to be. It's not that there aren't dummies in East Asia, but it always seems that the average level of education and ability to think about the world intelligently and critically is impressively widespread. I've often thought about why this is the case and also why the same seems more difficult to say about the U.S. The answer, I think, can be found in a comment science fiction writer Isaac Asimov made about the U.S. while being interviewed in the 1980s: "There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge."

Asimov is right on the mark, and this cult of ignorance is the most serious national security issue facing the U.S. today. It is more important than the external threats from terrorists or the rise of a politically and economically powerful China. And a major part of the reason it is such a major issue for Americans to fix is that our immediate competitors, particularly those in Asia, have managed to create a culture in which rather than a cult of ignorance, a cult of intelligence plays a major role in shaping attitudes about the world and, thus, policies about dealing with other countries.

Many Americans are aware that the U.S. does not score well on measure such as international student assessment tests when compared to other industrial countries. For example, the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) the top five societies for math were Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Japan-- the U.S. is not in the top ten. It is better by 8th grade, where the same societies are in the top five (although the order changes) and the U.S. makes number 9. Roughly the same pattern can bee seen for science results. This doesn't seem too bad, but in a different testing organization's measure, the Programme for International Student Assessment, the U.S. does not fare quite so well, scoring 36th for math, 28th for science, and 24th for reading. With the exception of science, where Finland is ranked 5th, all of the top five countries in this measure are from East Asia.

American policy has generally worked from the assumption that the problem lies in basic weaknesses in the structure of our educational system with its inherent inequalities and the way in which our school curricula are constructed. These certainly have contributed to comparatively weak scores. I have long been convinced that one of the reasons Japan's educational system is better than the U.S.--at least in the sense that a very broad swath of the general public receives a good and equal education through high school--is related to funding. The U.S. system generates inherent inequalities in school funding by depending upon property taxes. Even in states where there is some (usually grudging) redistribution of wealth to support public schools in poor areas (in Texas it is called the Robin Hood law), it is obvious that children in wealthy areas receive a better education with far greater academic and other resources than those in poorer areas. In Japan, because there is a national curriculum and a significant portion of the funding for public schools comes from the national government, in addition to funding from prefectural and municipal governments, there is considerably less inequality in distribution of and access to quality education than in the U.S.

Unfortunately, the troubles with the U.S. education system are much deeper than distribution of funding or curriculum weaknesses, although these are both a byproduct of the cultural issue that Asimov observes. The troubles lie in the cult of ignorance and anti-intellectualism that has been a long-standing part of American society and which has become increasingly evident and powerful in recent years through the propagandizing and proselytizing of groups like the Tea Party and the religious right.

The fundamental reason that countries in places like East Asia present such a significant challenge to the U.S. politically and economically is not because they have a lot of people or big militaries, or seem to be willing to grow their economic and political might without concern for issues like damage to the environment (China). The problem is that these countries have core cultural values that are more akin to a cult of intelligence and education than a cult of ignorance and anti-intellectualism. In Japan, for example, teachers are held in high esteem and normally viewed as among the most important members of a community. I have never run across the type of suspicion and even disdain for the work of teachers that occurs in the U.S. Teachers in Japan typically are paid significantly more than their peers in the U.S. The profession of teaching is one that is seen as being of central value in Japanese society and those who choose that profession are well compensated in terms of salary, pension, and respect for their knowledge and their efforts on behalf of children.

In addition, we do not see in Japan significant numbers of the types of religious schools that are designed to shield children from knowledge about basic tenets of science and accepted understandings of history--such as evolutionary theory or the religious views of the Founding Fathers, who were largely deists--which are essential to having a fundamental understanding of the world. The reason for this is because in general Japanese value education, value the work of intellectuals, and see a well-educated public with a basic common knowledge in areas of scientific fact, math, history, literature, etc. as being an essential foundation to a successful democracy.


Americans need to recognize that if the cult of ignorance continues, it will become increasingly difficult to compete politically and economically with countries that highly value intelligence and learning. Nowhere is this more problematic in the U.S. than among a growing number of elected officials who are products of that cult of ignorance and who, thus, are not equipped to compete with their international peers. Why is this a problem of national security? Because a population and its leadership need to have the knowledge and intellectual skills necessary to analyze world affairs in an intelligent and sophisticated way and to elect intelligent, capable representatives. The problem is not really with our educational system; it is with our educational culture. Americans need to remember the words of Thomas Jefferson, who wrote to Charles Yancey on January 6, 1816: "if a nation expects to be ignorant & free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was & never will be."

This article also currently appears in The Diplomat.

By John W. Traphagan. Professor of Religious Studies, University of Texas, Austin.

Source


Former Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Illinois), the outspoken, tea party-backed congressman who was ousted in 2012 after just one term in Congress, went on a Twitter rampage Thursday evening after being kicked off his own radio program for using racial slurs on-air.

Walsh, who has hosted "The Joe Walsh Show" on a conservative Chicago radio station since early 2013, took to Twitter to complain about being cut off by the station's management. Walsh, by his own account, used several epithets during a discussion on the Redskins' controversial name, including the n-word:

Joe Walsh @WalshFreedom
The station keeps cutting me off. I don't know why
5:34 PM - 19 Jun 2014

Joe Walsh @WalshFreedom
And here comes to the General Manager. It appears I can say Redskins, which is supposedly offensive, but when I say other words, commercial
5:43 PM - 19 Jun 2014

Joe Walsh @WalshFreedom
If Redskins is just like the "n-word" why can I say Redskins on-air without being dumped out into a commercial?
5:49 PM - 19 Jun 2014

Walsh says he was then told he would be removed from the airwaves:

Joe Walsh @WalshFreedom
Just got kicked off the air until further notice. Tried to have honest discussion about racist terms and management censored my language.
6:20 PM - 19 Jun 2014

Joe Walsh @WalshFreedom
Found out if I said Redskins or Cracker or Redneck Bible Thumper, I could stay on. But if I said Nigger or Spick, they cut me off.
6:22 PM - 19 Jun 2014


Walsh is no stranger to controversy.

Earlier this year, he accused gay rights activists of being "constitutional terrorists" during the debate over a proposed Arizona bill allowing businesses to refuse to serve LGBT customers on religious grounds. In 2013, he encouraged Americans to "break the law" in protest of the Affordable Care Act. And during his 2012 reelection battle, he repeatedly leveled sexist attacks at Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth.

The ex-congressman also has a history of racially-charged remarks. In 2012, he claimed that Democrats want Hispanic Americans to "be dependent on government, just like they got African Americans dependent on government." Earlier that same year, he claimed President Barack Obama was only elected because of his race.


By Mollie Reilly. Posted: 06/19/2014 10:28 pm EDT.

Source
Scott Esk, a Republican Tea Party candidate in Oklahoma, got into a debate on Facebook last summer in which he advocated killing homosexuals.

I think we would be totally in the right to do it,” Esk wrote in comments uncovered by Oklahoma journalist Rob Morris. “That goes against some parts of libertarianism, I realize, and I’m largely libertarian, but ignoring as a nation things that are worthy of death is very remiss.”

When pressed, Esk added: "I never said I would author legislation to put homosexuals to death, but I didn’t have a problem with it."

Esk is running for the state's House of Representatives. The primary is scheduled for June 24.

When contacted by Morris, who runs the news outlet Moore Daily, Esk didn't deny making the comments or back down from the rhetoric.

"That was done in the Old Testament under a law that came directly from God and in that time there it was totally just. It came directly from God," Esk said, adding: "I have no plans to reinstitute that in Oklahoma law. I do have some very huge moral misgivings about those kinds of sins."

The Raw Story notes that in other Facebook posts, Esk has said that laws punishing gays should be instituted locally so people "can decide for themselves whether they want to live in a particular community based in part on how things like this are dealt with.”


The comments have quickly gone viral, drawing attention to other parts of his platform... and those views aren't any less extreme.

Esk wants to "punish abortionists severely for their committing of murder" and punish federal bureaucrats who try to enact the provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

In addition, he's against all forms of gun licenses, wants to cut education funding "which I don’t consider a proper function of government" and believes "the EPA, FDA, OSHA, etc." "have no legitimate reason for existing, since they’re unConstitutional."

Esk wants to make divorce more difficult as well. He's calling for jury trials for divorce cases and an end to no-fault proceedings.

"I also don’t buy into the notion that it’s unfair to make somebody stay in a marriage he’s unhappy with," Esk wrote.

Esk was married for 15 years until "frivolous divorce raised its ugly head in the Esk home
," he notes on his campaign website.
(You can see him speak more about divorce in the video at the source.)

Esk's Facebook page contains other stunners, including a December 2013 post written shortly after Nelson Mandela's death in which he called the former South African president a "communist thug" and a "low-life."

And in November 2013, he wrote of calling 911 to report "a large group of Mexicans" gathered at an Oklahoma City mall geared toward Latino shoppers because he "suspected that many of them were guilty of being here illegally."

His long rant notes that police didn't respond to his emergency call.


Esk was a computer programmer in the state's Department of Public Safety, but has "since gravitated toward courier work." He also owns a window-washing business.

"I look forward to applying Biblical principles to Oklahoma law," Esk writes on his website.

By Ed Mazza. Posted: 06/11/2014 10:05 pm EDT.

Source has videos.
Sudanese authorities are to free a woman who was sentenced to death for having abandoned the Islamic faith, a foreign ministry official says.

Meriam Ibrahim, who gave birth to a daughter in custody, will be freed in a few days, the official told the BBC.

Abdullahi Alzareg, an under-secretary at the foreign ministry, said Sudan guaranteed religious freedom and was committed to protecting the woman.

Khartoum has been facing international condemnation over the death sentence.

In an interview with The Times newspaper, British Prime Minister David Cameron described the ruling as "barbaric" and out of step with today's world.

The UK Foreign Office this week said that it would push for Ms Ibrahim to be released on humanitarian grounds.

Apostasy debate

Ms Ibrahim, 27, was brought up as an Orthodox Christian, but a Sudanese judge ruled earlier this month that she should be regarded as Muslim because that had been her father's faith.

She refused to renounce her Christianity and was sentenced to death by hanging for apostasy.

On Wednesday, she gave birth to a daughter in her prison cell - the second child from her marriage in 2011 to Daniel Wani, a US citizen.

The court said Ms Ibrahim would be allowed to nurse her baby for two years before the sentence was carried out.

The court had earlier annulled her Christian marriage and sentenced her to 100 lashes for adultery because the union was not considered valid under Islamic law.

Sudan has a majority Muslim population and Islamic law has been in force there since the 1980s.

The ruling has revived a debate over apostasy, with liberal and conservative scholars giving different opinions over whether - and how - the act of abandoning the Islamic faith should be punished.

Source

I hope Meriam Ibrahim and her family will have a safe place to live after this ordeal. Poor woman, these fuckers only caved because of the international pressure to save face. And don't even get me started on how they wanted to keep her alive for two years to nurse the child - it's very indicative of how they view women - fuckholes, incubators and milk dispensers, with no thought spent on how her murder will affect the child's development once they killed her.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), who has recently come under fire for failing to name a single source to justify his assertion that “there’s no scientific evidence” to prove humans are contributing to climate change, is defending his comments by claiming that at least he knows the science about abortion.

In an interview with Sean Hannity on Wednesday, the senator said that liberals who criticize him for ignoring climate science are revealing their “hypocrisy” because they ignore the science supporting the idea that life begins at conception. Rubio claimed this concept is a “proven fact” that people on the left are ignoring.

“Let me give you a bit of settled science that they’ll never admit to. The science is settled, it’s not even a consensus, it is a unanimity, that human life begins at conception,” Rubio said. “So I hope the next time someone wags their finger about science, they’ll ask one of these leaders on the left: ‘Do you agree with the consensus of science that human life begins at conception?’”

If Rubio is trying to use abortion politics to prove that he and his Republican colleagues have a clear grasp of science, though, he waded into the wrong issue area.Read more...Collapse )
WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Monday narrowly upheld the centuries-old tradition of offering prayers to open government meetings, even if the prayers are overwhelmingly Christian and citizens are encouraged to participate.

The 5-4 ruling, supported by the court's conservative justices and opposed by its liberals, was based in large part on the history of legislative prayer dating back to the Framers of the Constitution.

Defending a practice used by the town of Greece, N.Y., the majority ruled that opening local government meetings with sectarian prayers doesn't violate the Establishment Clause as long as no religion is advanced or disparaged, and residents aren't coerced.

The alternatives, the conservative justices said, would be worse: having government officials and courts "act as supervisors and censors of religious speech," or declaring all such prayers unconstitutional.

"As a practice that has long endured, legislative prayer has become part of our heritage and tradition, part of our expressive idiom, similar to the Pledge of Allegiance, inaugural prayer, or the recitation of 'God save the United States and this honorable court' at the opening of this court's sessions," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote.

Justice Elena Kagan wrote the principal dissent for the court's liberal bloc, arguing that the intimate setting of local government meetings, the participate of average citizens and the dominance of Christian prayer-givers put the policy out of bounds.

"When the citizens of this country approach their government, they do so only as Americans, not as members of one faith or another," Kagan said. "And that means that even in a partly legislative body, they should not confront government-sponsored worship that divides them along religious lines."

The long-awaited ruling came seven years after two women -- a Jew and an atheist -- took the town to court, and six months after oral arguments in November.

The legal tussle began in 2007, following eight years of nothing but Christian prayers in the town of nearly 100,000 people outside Rochester. Susan Galloway and Linda Stephens took the board to federal court and won by contending that its prayers – often spiced with references to Jesus, Christ and the Holy Spirit – aligned the town with one religion.Collapse )

Source

In January the Satanic Temple announced plans to erect a monument glorifying the Dark Lord on the front lawn of the Oklahoma Statehouse. An Indiegogo campaign was launched with what seemed like a somewhat lofty goal of $20,000, but by the time donations ended almost $30,000 had been raised. Now an artist trained in classical sculpture is toiling away in New York, crafting a Baphomet figure sitting beneath a pentagram and flanked by two children gazing upward in loyalty. When it is finished, it will be cast in bronze and, the Satanists hope, eventually displayed in Oklahoma.

The statue is a direct response to the state's installation of a Ten Commandments monument outside the Capitol in 2012. State Representative Mike Ritze paid for the controversial statue with his own money, and therefore it was considered a donation and OK to place on government property. Following that line of reasoning, the Satanic Temple submitted a formal application for their monument.

As Trait Thompson of the Oklahoma Capitol Preservation Commission told CNN last December, “Individuals and groups are free to apply to place a monument or statue or artwork.” The applications are then approved or rejected by the Commission. Unfortunately, the state has placed a halt on issuing permits for any other monuments until a lawsuit filed by the ACLU against Ritze’s Commandments monument is settled.

Nonetheless, the Satanists are building this thing, and I was offered an early peek at the work in progress by Temple spokesperson Lucien Greaves. Greaves told me he has received numerous threats from people who want to attack the sculpture, but that he “wouldn’t expect these outraged and nearly insensible reactionaries to actually know how to assault a bronze monument without severely hurting themselves in the process.” Still, he’s not taking any chances. The Temple is building a mold of the sculpture so they can pop these things out like evil, terribly expensive action figures whenever they need a new one.

“Depending on our insurance policy,” Greaves said, “we may be able to cast two from the destruction of one, expediting our arrival to the next battleground.”

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source: VICE has several more pictures!
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