Category Archives: National

Trump Rolls Back Birth Control Provision

By Free Radicalindex

On Friday, President Donald Trump’s administration rolled back an Obamacare policy that required companies to provide free birth control with no co-payment. Under the original Obamacare plan, religious institutions who opposed birth control could exempt themselves from the policy. Under Trump’s new provision, companies who have “religious beliefs” or “moral convictions” against offering birth control can now opt out of the program. This will greatly expand the number of employers who do not have to offer birth control.

Under the Obamacare regulation, more than 55 million women have access to free birth control.  In its first year, it saved Americans nearly $1.4 billion. Estimates are now that hundreds of thousands of women can now lose access according to The New York Times.

Critics have cried foul, stating that some companies may have dubious religious or moral convictions yet want to opt out of the program to save money. Moreover, they note that birth control helps saves lives and reduces poverty. It is contradictory for conservatives who oppose abortion to make it more difficult for women to acquire birth control. They have also noted that birth control is not only used to prevent pregnancies but also helps with medical conditions such as endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome.

Yet the GOP has hailed the reform as a victory. House Speaker Paul Ryan called it a “landmark day for religious liberty” and proclaimed that employers now “can freely live out their religious convictions and moral beliefs.”

Nonetheless, the provision is likely to result in new litigation. The National Women’s Law Center, a nonprofit advocacy group, has begun developing measures for a lawsuit since last spring in anticipation of Trump’s reversal.  Trump has already been frustrated several times in his attempts to repeal Obamacare.His own policy initiatives such as immigration restrictions have also faced judicial roadblocks. Opponents hope they will have similar success with the current birth control rollback.

FBI Reports White Nationalists as Much a Threat to US as ISIS

A White Nationalist demonstration in Charlottesville, VA.

A White Nationalist demonstration in Charlottesville, VA.

By MCNS Staff

There is just as large a threat of white nationalist violence in the US as that posed by the Islamic State (ISIS) and similar groups, the FBI suggested Wednesday. But some US Senators notice a difference in the collection of information on the groups that may suggest white nationalism puts America in even greater danger than international groups labeled as terrorist organizations.

Director Chris Wray told the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee that there are currently 1,000 open investigations into domestic terrorist groups and another 1,000 inquiries into groups with Islamist ideology, according to Newsweek.

But the similar numbers were a point of contention on the panel, with several objecting to what they see as a double standard in how white supremacist attacks are investigated, compared with those carried out by people who identify with Islamist ideologies.

Some committee members feel that the numbers aren’t adding up, and that they may indicate that white nationalists are an even bigger threat than suggested by the FBI.

National outlets report that the number of attacks carried out by white supremacists were “almost triple” those of those carried out by people who identified with groups such as ISIS, said Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri. And government data obtained by The Hill suggests the number of white supremacist attacks compared to those from radical Islamist groups was as many as two to one.

“We have had zero hearings on the threat of domestic terrorists and the threat they pose and our response to it,” McCaskill explained, pointing to the number of hearings about ISIS, but none on white supremacists.

It would seem that white nationalism is no more of a priority for the FBI than threats from international terrorist organizations.

“We take both of them very, very seriously,” The Hill reported Wray as saying. “Our focus is on violence and threats of violence against the people of this country. That’s our concern; it’s not ideology.”

Wray also explained that domestic and international terrorism is investigated differently, with crimes such as shooting typically classified as terrorism only if there is a link with an international organization or ideology, according to Newsweek.

“A lot of the [domestic terrorism] cases we bring, we’re able to charge under gun charges, explosive charges, all manner of other crimes,” Wray explained.

“We also work a lot with state and local law enforcement who can sometimes bring straightforward, easy-to-make cases; homicide cases, things like that,” he added.

Judge Rules Black Lives Matter Cannot Be Sued

By Free Radical

Alton Sterling.

Alton Sterling.

 

Last Thursday a federal judge in Louisiana ruled that Black Lives Matter as an entity cannot be sued. The case stems from a lawsuit filed by an unnamed Baton Rouge police officer who alleged that he was injured at a July 9 2016 rally following the death of Alton Sterling. The suit named Black Lives Matter and activist Deray McKesson who attended the protest as liable. Sterling was unarmed and was shot and killed by Baton Rouge police who answered a call for a man who allegedly sold CDs outside a place of business.

U.S. District Judge Brian A. Jackson threw out the case, which some observers have deemed as frivolous, arguing that “‘Black Lives Matter,’ as a social movement, cannot be sued. In like manner, a person cannot plausibly sue other social movements such as the Civil Rights movement, the LGBT rights movement, or the Tea Party movement.”

The suit also incorrectly labeled McKesson as the Black Lives Matter “leader and founder.” McKesson is not the founder, head, or designated national representative of the largely decentralized movement.

Jackson pointed out that a specific organizational entity arising out of a social movement such as the NAACP or the All-African People’s Revolutionary Party can be held liable. Yet the largely amorphous Black Lives Matter movement, often represented as a hashtag, can not. The judge reasoned, “attempting to sue a hashtag … For reasons that should be obvious, a hashtag — which is an expression that categorizes or classifies a person’s thought — is not a ‘juridical person’ and therefore lacks the capacity to be sued.”

This is a welcome victory among advocates seeking to end the very long and troubling history of police brutality and unchecked violence in the United States. It is also timely as demonstrations, some under the banner of Black Lives Matter, have been continuous in St. Louis following the controversial acquittal of Jason Stockley on September 16.

Trump Curses NFL Athletes and Rescinds Invite from Warriors

Stephen Curry is one of many athletes that have criticized Trump's conservative rhetoric recently.

Stephen Curry is one of many athletes that have criticized Trump’s conservative rhetoric recently.

By MCNS Staff

Donald Trump cursed NFL players who have silently protested the killing of African-Americans by police by kneeling or sitting during the US National Anthem. He also withdrew an invitation for the NBA Champion Golden State Warriors to visit the White house, all this past weekend.

“Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired,” Trump said at a campaign rally in Alabama on Friday.

It was clear that Trump targeted Colin Kaepernick as well as other NFL athletes with his remark. Therefore Colin’s mother, Teresa Kaepernick, responded to Trump for cursing NFL players rather than white supremacists that murdered a woman and seriously injured others in Charlottesville, Va.

“In Charlottesville, he would not call out the Nazis, not call out the white supremacists, but he’s calling out these guys who are peacefully kneeling and asking for their country to do better,” she told Deadspin. Also, on Friday she tweeted, “Guess that makes me a proud bitch.”

Richard Sherman of the Seattle Seahawks tweeted “The behavior of the President is unacceptable and needs to be addressed. If you do not Condemn this divisive Rhetoric you are Condoning it!!”

In a show of support, Music legend Stevie Wonder said he was “taking a knee for America.”  He continued, “but not just one knee, I’m taking both knees” at the Global Citizen Festival in New York on Saturday.

Additionally, Stephen Curry told ESPN this past Friday that he did not want to attend any White House visit due to his disagreement with Trump’s policies. In response, Trump rescinded an invitation for the entire NBA championship team Saturday morning by stating “Going to the White House is considered a great honor for a championship team. Stephen Curry is hesitating, therefore invitation is withdrawn!”

Curry responded by saying “I don’t know why he feels the need to target certain individuals rather than others.” He continued, “I have an idea of why, but, it’s just kind of beneath, I think, a leader of a country to go that route. It’s not what leaders do.”

LeBron James tweeted “U bum @StephenCurry30 already said he ain’t going!” to Trump. He continued, “So therefore ain’t no invite. Going to White House was a great honor until you showed up!”

However, Washington DC’s Mayor Muriel Bowser extended a welcome to the team, saying in a statement, “While you’re here, Warriors, we are happy to identify ways for you to celebrate equality, diversity, and inclusion — what we call DC values.” She continued, “And if anyone ever tells you that you cannot come to DC, tell them Mayor Bowser invited you.