The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a pair of cases on whether corporations may refuse to provide insurance coverage for contraception to their workers based on the religious beliefs of the corporations’ owners.
The cases present a new challenge to President Obama’s health care law. The Supreme Court in 2012 upheld another part of the law, one that requires most Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty.
The Obama administration has exempted many religious groups from the law’s requirements for contraception coverage. But it said for-profit corporations could not rely on religious objections to opt out of compliance with the law. The lower courts are divided over whether such corporations may object to generally applicable laws on religious liberty grounds.
Lower courts have been split on the subject so far, setting up the Supreme Court battle over whether or not the Affordable Care Act can require for-profit companies to provide their employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives. How do you see this ending?
16:46 // 2 weeks ago
The Texas Board of Education gave preliminary approval Thursday to dropping algebra II as a requirement for high school graduation, over the objections of critics who say the state is watering down its academic standards.
Eliminating the algebra II mandate for most students was part of a major overhaul of graduation, standardized testing and curriculum requirements unanimously approved by the Texas Legislature in May. The shake-up was meant to give students the flexibility to focus on career and vocational training not just college prep courses.
Oh. Just putting American educational standards further behind other countries…
13:27 // 2 weeks ago
When the media and members of Congress say the NSA spies on Americans, what they really mean is that the FBI helps the NSA do it, providing a technical and legal infrastructure that permits the NSA, which by law collects foreign intelligence, to operate on U.S. soil. It’s the FBI, a domestic U.S. law enforcement agency, that collects digital information from at least nine American technology companies as part of the NSA’s Prism system. It was the FBI that petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to order Verizon Business Network Services, one of the United States’ biggest telecom carriers for corporations, to hand over the call records of millions of its customers to the NSA.
But the FBI is no mere errand boy for the United States’ biggest intelligence agency. It carries out its own signals intelligence operations and is trying to collect huge amounts of email and Internet data from U.S. companies — an operation that the NSA once conducted, was reprimanded for, and says it abandoned.
Essentially doing the work the NSA can’t do and working together to ultimately put together the massive surveillance programs we’ve learned about over the last few months.
There’s also this: The United States government says Americans have no right to challenge the NSA (er, FBI) surveillance. As a huge fighter for freedoms myself, this is all outrageous.
15:29 // 2 weeks ago
Afghanistan’s president declined to sign a security deal approved by a group of Afghan elders, delaying the process to plan for a United States’s military presence after 2014.
Hamid Karzai said Sunday he would not sign the Bilateral Security Agreement unless the conditions of “security,” “peace” and “a proper election” on April 5 had been met, the Associated Press reports. The Loya Jirga, a national consortium of Afghan leaders and tribe elders who overwhelmingly approved the deal, urged Karzai to approve it before the end of the year.
President Barack Obama’s administration has warned Afghanistan leaders that if the deal is not approved before next year, it could compromise the agreement to allow U.S. soldiers to remain to train and assist government security with a mounting Taliban insurgency.
The never-ending debate over the United States and Afghanistan relations continue. Political differences over the long up-and-down history between the two nations have delayed reaching a such agreement on Afghanistan security provided by the U.S. past 2014.
12:50 // 2 weeks ago