Monday, June 30, 2014

The 12 Best Hobby Lobby Signs At The Supreme Court Today

The 12 Best Hobby Lobby Signs At The Supreme Court Today

"The 12 Best Hobby Lobby Signs At The Supreme Court Today"

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WASHINGTON, DC — Hundreds of people gathered at the Supreme Court on Monday morning in anticipation of a ruling in a highly-watched case in which for-profit companies are seeking a religious exemption to Obamacare’s birth control coverage requirement. Chanting “Separate birth and state, women must control their fate” and “Ho ho, hey hey, birth control is here to stay,” protesters expressed their opposition to the craft chain Hobby Lobby, which doesn’t want to extend coverage for certain types of contraception to its thousands of employees:

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Abigail Bessler and Shannon Greenwood are interns at ThinkProgress.

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Florida judge suspended for courthouse fisticuffs returns to work

Florida judge suspended for courthouse fisticuffs returns to work

ORLANDO Fla. Mon Jun 30, 2014 4:11pm EDT


(Reuters) - A Florida judge who was caught on courtroom video challenging a defense lawyer to a fistfight returned to work on Monday after four weeks of anger management counseling, the court said.
Judge John Murphy of Brevard County will remain in counseling indefinitely and be reassigned to civil from criminal case duty, Chief Judge John Harris said in a statement.
Murphy, during a June 2 hearing in his courtroom, invited veteran assistant public defender Andrew Weinstock to join him outside to settle a dispute over the scheduling of a trial date.
“If you want to fight, let’s go out back and I’ll just beat your ass,” Murphy said on the video.
The challenge came after the judge became angry when Weinstock refused to waive his client's constitutional right to a speedy trial. Under Florida law, defendants have the right to a trial within 90 days for a misdemeanor and 175 days for a felony.
“If I had a rock, I would throw it at you right now. Stop pissing me off. Just sit down,” Murphy can be heard telling Weinstock on the video.
Weinstock refused to sit and could be seen on the video walking out of frame toward the courtroom’s back door.
The video, from a court camera in a fixed position, continued to roll, picking up the sound of loud fighting talk in the hallway and banging noises.
“According to the lawyer, the judge grabbed him about the collar as soon as he walked into the hallway and began punching him in the head, and the lawyer just tried to stop the blows," Weinstock’s boss, Public Defender Blaise Trettis, told Reuters.
Harris wrote in his statement that switching Murphy to civil trials was done to promote efficient administration of justice and should not be seen as punishment, which he noted was beyond his authority.
Harris also wrote that the local chief prosecutor and Trettis had given their unqualified support for Murphy’s return to the bench.
Trettis told Reuters at the time that the incident was out of character for Murphy, who he said had a good reputation.
Murphy has not commented publicly on the incident.

Shelter Allegedly Threatened To Kick Out Homeless Mother For Breastfeeding In Public

Shelter Allegedly Threatened To Kick Out Homeless Mother For Breastfeeding In Public


"Shelter Allegedly Threatened To Kick Out Homeless Mother For Breastfeeding In Public"

Karen Penley claims she was threatened with expulsion from an Oahu homeless shelter for breastfeeding in public
Karen Penley claims she was threatened with expulsion from an Oahu homeless shelter for breastfeeding in public
A homeless mother in Hawaii was told by a shelter that she would be kicked out if she doesn’t cover up while breastfeeding her infant child.
Karen Penley, a young mother living in a homeless shelter in Oahu, claims that after recently breastfeeding her 9-month-old son, a worker approached her and told her to cover up while nursing or she wouldn’t be welcome to stay any longer.

Penley told Hawaii News Now about the incident. “He’s like, ‘You must cover to nurse your baby.’ And I was like, ‘I have the right not to cover.’ And he goes, ‘I have the right to refuse services.’ In other words…kick me out, make me leave,” Penley said.
Like most states, Hawaii prohibits discrimination against mothers who are nursing their children in public.
Connie Mitchell, Executive Director of the Institute for Human Services (IHS), the government agency that runs the shelter, denies Penley’s claim. “We asked her to be sensitive to the other guests…but we’re not kicking her out,” Mitchell said. “If she leaves, it’s going to be her own choice.” Mitchell said Penley was offered a private room and she refused, but according to Penley, the air conditioning in the room is broken and covering up while breastfeeding gets too hot.
IHS runs the only 24-hour emergency homeless shelter in Oahu.
Penley is just the latest example in a long line of women who have faced discrimination for feeding their young children in public. Last month, a photo of a woman graduating from Cal State-Long Beach went viral, generating controversy simply because she was breastfeeding her child during the ceremony. College students in Texas have also been fighting for the right to breastfeed in public, asking through a social media campaign why mothers should be forced to feed their children in the bathroom.
“I want all breast feeding moms to know they’re not doing anything wrong,” Penley told Hawaii News Now. “We shouldn’t have to cover because we’re not being perverts. We’re feeding our children and our children deserve it.”

Student loan interest rates to increase

Student loan interest rates to increase

WASHINGTON (AP) — Interest rates go up Tuesday for students taking out new federal loans. This hike is relatively minimal but could foreshadow more increases to come.
The change stems from a high-profile, bipartisan deal brokered last year by Congress and signed by President Barack Obama that ties the rates to the financial markets.
Interest rates go from 3.86 to 4.66 percent on undergraduate Stafford loans. Graduate student loans go from 5.41 percent to 6.21 percent. Interest rates on Plus loans for parents go from 6.41 percent to 7.21 percent.
For every $10,000 borrowed, the average borrower under the hike will pay back about $4 more every month when they begin paying back the money — about the price of a fancy latte.
If the economy continues to improve, however, these kinds of rate hikes could continue. Congress stipulated that the rates for new loans be reset annually, but that borrowers keep the rate they were given for the life of the loan.
The compromise in Congress was reached after rates doubled last July.
Students take out new loans each year, so by the time they graduate they could be repaying loans that have different interest rates.

Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of, estimates that today’s freshman could potentially see rates the same or higher than they were when Congress acted by the time they graduate. When Congress acted, rates for undergraduate students were at 6.8 percent.
“The real concern is that the interest rates have nowhere to go but up,” Kantrowitz said.
The deal did include some caps. Interest rates will not top 8.25 percent for undergraduates. Graduate students will not pay rates higher than 9.5 percent, and parents’ rates top out at 10.5 percent.

President Obama Delivers Statement on Immigration Reform

President Obama Delivers Statement on Immigration Reform

President Obama delivered a speech on immigration reform from the White House on June 30, 2014. (Credit: CNN)
President Obama delivered a speech on immigration reform from the White House on June 30, 2014. (Credit: CNN)
Obama is expected to announce plans to “fix as much of our broken immigration system as we can” through executive action, according to a White House official.
Obama will say that Congress’ failure to pass a comprehensive immigration reform measure has worsened problems on the border. White House officials had held out hope until recently that the House might consider some form of immigration legislation and because of that had resisted pressure for executive action on the subject, but Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told Obama last week that the House would not vote this year, the official said.
Obama also plans to announce that Secretary of State John F. Kerry and Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson will travel to Central America in July to try to enlist regional governments in an effort to reduce the number of children coming across the border from Mexico.
He will ask Johnson and heads of other government departments to report to him by the end of the summer on “steps he can take without Congress but within his existing authorities” to improve the system for deporting people in the country illegally and fix other problematic aspects of the immigration system.
President Barack Obama said Monday he was starting "a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress," adding that he directed his team to recommend steps he can take this summer and that he would then act on those steps "without delay."

Obama said he plans to take executive action on immigration reform after House Speaker John Boehner told him last week the House won't vote on a comprehensive bill this year, a White House official said.

Obama will make a statement on immigration at the White House later Monday to announce some steps, including a request for emergency funds as the United States grapples with a surge of undocumented children and adults crossing the border from Mexico.

According to the official, Obama will order a shift in security resources to border regions and call for additional action he can take "without Congress but within his existing authorities to fix as much of our broken immigration system as we can."

The President also sent Congress a letter asking that legislators work with him on providing additional money and leeway to deal with the situation on the southern border.

On Sunday, an administration official told CNN the money will go to securing appropriate space for the detention of children but also stemming the tide of immigrants.

The government hopes to increase its ability to investigate and dismantle smuggling organizations as well as quickly return children and adults to their home countries if they do not qualify for asylum, according to that official.

So far, the federal government has struggled to process and accommodate the influx of illegal human traffic but specifically the spike in children.

U.S. authorities estimate that between 60,000 to 80,000 children without parents will cross the border this year in what the White House is calling an "immediate humanitarian crisis."

Earlier in June, the White House announced a plan to spend millions in a government-wide response by sending aide to governments in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador to help with crime and violence prevention.

In mid-June, Vice President Joe Biden also spoke with leaders in the three countries as well as Mexico about working together to promote security.

Biden's objective was to emphasize that adults arriving with their children in the United States don't meet the requirements for a policy that defers deportation for children brought to the United States before June 15, 2012.

Obama also spoke with Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto about the issue and has warned families who see the dangerous trip as the best option for their children.

Obama Will Take Executive Action To Fix Immigration System

"Obama Will Take Executive Action To Fix Immigration System"

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Undocumented immigrants rally outside the White House to ask the President to stop deportations.
Undocumented immigrants rally outside the White House to ask the President to stop deportations.
During a press conference Tuesday, President Obama said that he would pursue executive steps that he can take without the need of Congressional approval to fix immigration reform. Obama said House Republicans’ refusal to pass immigration reform has led him to adopt changes unilaterally, without further delay.
Obama said that he didn’t want to use administration relief because he preferred to see “permanent fixes” through bipartisan legislation, but criticized House Republicans for failing to “pass a darn bill.” He has ordered Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson and Attorney General Eric Holder to conduct the review.

“If House Republicans are really too concerned about me taking too many executive actions, the best solution to that is passing bills,” he explained. “Pass a bill. Solve a problem. Don’t just say no.”
“I’m beginning a new effort to fix as much as I can on my own,” he said. “As a first step, I’m moving available resources to the border. We’re going to refocus our efforts when we can. … I will see what additional actions that my administration can do on our own to fix as much of the immigration system as we can.”
Obama also addressed the unaccompanied child crisis, calling on Congress to authorize a $2 billion emergency fund to stem the influx, such as stepping up deportation efforts and sending more immigration judges to South Texas.
“The problem is that our system is so unclear that folks don’t know what the rules are,” he added. The Republican “argument seems to be that because the system is broken, we shouldn’t make the effort to fix it.
Obama announced that House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told him last week that the House would not move on immigration reform this year, according to the Associated Press. Obama previously ordered a delay for the DHS Secretary Johnson to release a review of the administration’s deportation policies. Obama had hoped that Congress would approve an overhaul on immigration reform, which would provide a permanent pathway to citizenship that would outlast his presidency in a way that an executive action would not.
House Democrats announced last week that they would put pressure on the President to halt deportations and distributed a manual to Congressional members that guides them to intervene with deportation proceedings. Activists have also turned up pressure on Obama, whom they have labeled as the Deporter-In-Chief, to expand his presidential initiative known as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which establishes temporary legal presence and a two-year deportation reprieve, to all immigrants who have not committed serious offenses and are not national security risks.
A reporter shouted out at the end of the press conference if the President would expand the DACA program, but the President did not respond.
By some accounts the Obama administration has already authorized more than two million deportations by April.

G.M. Announces Vast Expansion of Its Recalls

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In a vast expansion of its safety crisis, General Motors recalled more than 8.4 million vehicles worldwide on Monday, bringing its total figures for the year above 28 million cars — more than the 22 million recalled last year by all of the automakers combined.
Among the recalled vehicles, G.M. said it was aware of seven crashes, eight injuries and three fatalities. About 8.2 million of the newly recalled cars have ignition defects that lead to inadvertent key rotation, and are models of the Cadillac CTS and SRX, and the Chevrolet Malibu, Monte Carlo and Impala, as well as the Oldsmobile Intrigue and Alero, and Pontiac Grand Am and Grand Prix. The model years range from 1997 to 2014.
Almost all of G.M.'s recalls have come since the automaker in February began recalling 2.6 million older Chevrolet Cobalts and other small cars with a defective ignition switch that it has tied to at least 13 deaths and 54 crashes. Earlier Monday, Kenneth R. Feinberg, who was retained by G.M. to develop a victim compensation program, announced the provisions to deal with claims of injury and wrongful death.
“We undertook what I believe is the most comprehensive safety review in the history of our company because nothing is more important than the safety of our customers,” G.M.'s chief executive, Mary T. Barra, said in a statement. “Our customers deserve more than we delivered in these vehicles. That has hardened my resolve to set a new industry standard for vehicle safety, quality and excellence.”
Trading in G.M. stock was suspended on the New York Stock Exchange while the announcement was made.

GOP losing women again: Hopelessly backwards contraception politics make comeback

GOP losing women again: Hopelessly backwards contraception politics make comeback

The new Hobby Lobby ruling sets up another political fight over contraception, which Republicans always lose

GOP losing women again: Hopelessly backwards contraception politics make comebackRick Santorum, Mike Huckabee (Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Supreme Court’s ruling today in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, which said that employers with religious objections cannot be impelled to pay for contraceptive coverage for its employees, has reignited one of the more lopsided political fights of the current era: the War on Contraception. Given the gusto with which Republicans and conservatives dive into political fights surrounding contraception, the casual observer could be forgiven for assuming that the issue has been a winner for them in the past. The precise opposite is true. It’s toxic for the GOP.
But they keep going back, again and again, owing to the conservative base’s ideological rigidity and the party’ overriding animosity towards the Affordable Care Act.
The top officials and organs of the Republican Party all put out statements this morning celebrating the Hobby Lobby ruling and taking shots at the Obama administration. The Republican National Committee cast the decision as a victory for “religious freedom” over government intrusion. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell said “the Obama administration cannot trample on the religious freedoms that Americans hold dear.” And Speaker John Boehner, who is currently planning to sue the administration for government overreach, said the decision is “another defeat for an administration that has repeatedly crossed constitutional lines in pursuit of its Big Government objectives.”
The real driving force behind these fights is the conservative sexual morality that casts contraception as an enabler of sinful licentiousness. Professional Republicans try to disguise this by reframing the fight as one of religious liberty or government tyranny, but activists and pundits who don’t have to care what other people think of them are far less guarded and happily give away the game.
Salon’s Jim Newell points out that over the last four years, ever since the Tea Party ascendance, the Republican Party’s performance with unmarried women has been increasingly terrible. It’s a problem that Republicans themselves are sensitive to – RNC chair Reince Priebus said in Marchthat “we basically have a single-women problem under 35-ish.” Part of the reason they have this problem is that they keep starting fights over contraception, and they keep losing.
Back January 2012, Republicans and conservatives started an election-year fight over Obamacare’s contraception mandate, calling it a threat to religious liberty and government tyranny – the same sorts of statements we’re hearing today. The problem they faced then is the same problem they have now: the public, by and large, approves of access to contraception andtends to view it more as a women’s health issue than a question of religious liberty. This left them wide open to Democratic “War on Women” attacks, and Republicans, wary of alienating voters ahead of the election, quietly backed off.
There’s not a whole lot to lead one to believe the issue will be any better for Republicans this time around. Young, unmarried women still generally hate the GOP, and the reemergence of the contraception fight could get them politically reengaged ahead of the midterms. And there’s always a tone-deaf Republican waiting in the wings to say something boneheaded and turn himself into a mascot of Republican antagonism towards women (think Mike Huckabee and “Uncle Sugar”).
The big difference is that now the Republicans have a Supreme Court opinion to wave around in defense of their anachronistic take on the politics of contraception, though I suspect Sam Alito’s take on reproductive health won’t be any more palatable than Rick Santorum’s.