Trump administration rolls back ObamaCare contraceptive mandate

The Trump administration on Friday announced a major rollback of the ObamaCare contraceptive mandate, granting what officials called “full protection” to a wide range of companies and organizations that claim a “religious or moral objection” to providing the coverage.

Trending Articles

Woman’s iPhone saves her from Vegas shooter’s bullet

One of the unlikeliest of heroes emerging from the Las Vegas massacre was…

The decision swiftly ignited a new battle over the Affordable Care Act. Republican lawmakers and faith-based groups hailed the decision as a win for religious liberty, while Democratic officials and groups like Planned Parenthood accused the administration of attacking women’s rights.

By early afternoon, the American Civil Liberties Union announced it was filing a lawsuit challenging the change.

The original mandate, which already has been the subject of multiple legal challenges, required employers that provide health insurance to cover contraceptives. Under the existing policy, churches and houses of worship were exempt, while religious-affiliated groups that object had to allow a third-party administrator or insurer to handle birth control coverage. The 2014 Hobby Lobby decision expanded exemptions to for-profit “closely held” corporations.

But under the new policy unveiled Friday, the Trump administration is expanding the protections to any nonprofit group, non-publicly traded company, or higher education institution with religious or moral objections — and making the third-party provision optional for groups with “sincerely held” religious beliefs.

Publicly traded companies also could claim an exemption if they state religious objections, though a senior Health and Human Services official said they would still have to let a third party cover contraception.

“No American should be forced to violate his or her own conscience in order to abide by the laws and regulations governing our health care system,” said HHS press secretary Caitlin Oakley. “Today’s actions affirm the Trump administration’s commitment to upholding the freedoms afforded all Americans under our Constitution.”

Sister Loraine McGuire with Little Sisters of the Poor speaks to the media after Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the requirement to provide insurance covering contraception under the Affordable Care Act, was heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington March 23, 2016. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts      TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY      - D1AESUEWJUAA

Little Sisters of the Poor outside the Supreme Court on March 23, 2016 after Zubik v. Burwell, an appeal brought by Christian groups demanding full exemption from the contraceptive mandate, was heard.  (Reuters)

The decision was cheered by representatives for the Little Sisters of the Poor, the religious group that took their mandate challenge to the Supreme Court — which in turn punted the case to the lower courts last year.

“HHS has issued a balanced rule that respects all sides –it keeps the contraceptive mandate in place for most employers and now provides a religious exemption,” Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at Becket Law and lead attorney for Little Sisters of the Poor, said Friday. “The Little Sisters still need to get final relief in court, which should be easy now that the government admits it broke the law.”

“This is a landmark day for religious liberty,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement.

Officials stressed that the impact may be limited, even though the rule changes are significant, as some large corporations were grandfathered into the policy and spared from the mandate anyway.

“Of the 165 million women in the U.S., HHS estimates these rules affect at most 120,000, leaving more than 99.9 percent of women without any impact,” an HHS official told Fox News.

An official noted the administration anticipates the groups taking advantage of the change would be those involved in legal battles pertaining to the mandate.

“There are about 200 entities that have participated in lawsuits because of the contraceptive rule, and those entities will benefit from this rule,” a senior HHS official said.

A senior HHS official said there have been more than 50 lawsuits filed against the mandate, and the new rule would provide “relief.”

But the ACLU contended the policy would allow “nearly all employers” to deny contraception coverage if they state an objection.

“This is an unacceptable attack on basic health care that the vast majority of women rely on,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said Friday. “With this rule in place, any employer could decide that their employees no longer have health insurance coverage for birth control.”

And Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., accused the administration of “stooping to a new low.”

“There is no ‘exemption from having reproductive organs,” Wyden said Friday. “This administration needs to end its obsession with attacking women’s rights to receive the health care they deserve.”

The types of contraceptives covered by the mandate are FDA-approved methods: diaphragms, hormonal methods like birth control pills and vaginal rings, implanted devices like intrauterine devices or IUDs, emergency contraception like Plan B, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling. The mandate is not required to cover drugs that serve to induce abortions.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, since the Obama-era rule, the share of women paying for their own birth control pills out of pocket plunged to under 4 percent, compared with 21 percent before the rule.

HHS also rolled out a guidance bulletin on Friday, underscoring the requirements of a section of ObamaCare that “segregates funds” for abortion services. The bulletin reminds employers that abortion coverage has to be kept separate from other premium payments.

In addition to HHS’ announcement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced “20 high-level principles” on religious liberty to “guide all agencies in complying with relevant Federal law.”

“The constitutional protection of religious beliefs and the right to exercise those beliefs have served this country well, have made us one of the most tolerant countries in the world, and have also helped make us the free-ist and most generous,” Sessions said in a statement Friday. “President Trump promised that this administration would ‘lead by example on religious liberty,’ and he is delivering on that promise.”

Fox News’ Kristin Brown contributed to this report. 

Brooke Singman is a Politics Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @brookefoxnews.

Courtesy: Fox News

Tropical Storm Nate: Louisiana, Mississippi declare emergencies in coastal areas

The most active hurricane season in more than a decade doesn’t seem to be letting up as Tropical Storm Nate roars toward Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and threatens to hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, likely as a hurricane, this weekend.

Trending Articles

Russian government hackers stole the NSA cyber defense…

Hackers working for the Russian government stole NSA plans and documents…

Louisiana officials declared a state of emergency late Thursday night and ordered people to evacuate coastal areas and barrier islands ahead of the storm’s expected landfall early Sunday.

Mississippi followed suit, declaring a state of emergency for six southern counties in advance to the storm’s arrival. Officials said Friday they will open 11 evacuation shelters in areas away from the immediate coast, and that buses can transport people who can’t drive.

Nate – the 15th system to form in the Atlantic basin – has already claimed 22 lives in Latin America, dumping as much as 6 to 10 inches of rain as it moved over Honduras.

Forecasters said it had maximum sustained winds of 45 mph by Friday morning and is likely to strengthen over the northwestern Caribbean Sea on Friday.

In Louisiana, Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency and mobilized 1,300 National Guard troops, with 15 headed to New Orleans to monitor the fragile pumping system there.

With forecasts projecting landfall in southeast Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane, Edwards urged residents to ready for rainfall, storm surge and severe winds — and to be where they intend to hunker down by “dark on Saturday.”

This year’s ferocious hurricane season has already delivered 15 tropical cyclones over the Atlantic with three out of eight hurricanes – Harvey, Irma and Maria – resulting in mass devastation across the Caribbean and southern United States in a 30-day span.

The National Hurricane Center said the month of September was the most active month on record for a measurement called Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE). It measures the combined strength and duration of tropical storms and hurricanes. The previous record was set in September 2004.

This September six storms formed, making it about 3.5 times more active than an average September from 1981 to 2010.

Hurricane season typically starts June 1 and ends Nov. 30, and on average the Atlantic Basin see two hurricanes by September each year. Since 1950, only 15 storms or hurricanes have hit the Gulf Coast or Florida.

In Nicaragua, Nate’s arrival followed two weeks of near-constant rain that had left the ground saturated and rivers swollen. Authorities placed the whole country on alert and warned of flooding and landslides.

Nicaragua’s vice president and spokeswoman, Rosario Murillo, said that at least 15 people had died in that country due to the storm. She didn’t give details on all the deaths, but said two women and a man who worked for the Health Ministry were swept away by a flooded canal in the central municipality of Juigalpa.

Costa Rica’s Judicial Investigation Organism blamed seven deaths in that country on the storm and said 15 people were missing. Flooding drove 5,000 residents into emergency shelters.

Louisiana’s governor says Nate is forecast to move quickly, rather than stall and drop tremendous amounts of rain on the state. State officials hope that means New Orleans won’t run into problems with its pumps being unable to handle the water.

Edwards warned, however, against underestimating the storm.

Officials ordered the evacuation of part of coastal St. Bernard Parish east of New Orleans ahead of the storm. Earlier Thursday, a voluntary evacuation was called in the barrier island town of Grand Isle south of New Orleans.

New Orleans officials outlined steps to bolster the city’s pump and drainage system. Weaknesses in that system were revealed during summer flash floods.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Lucia I. Suarez Sang is a Reporter for FoxNews.com.

Follow her on Twitter @luciasuarezsang

Courtesy: Fox News

‘Bump stock’ ban opposed by gun owners group, despite NRA stance

The bipartisan call to ban or better regulate “bump stocks” after the Las Vegas gunman appeared to use them to boost his arsenal’s lethality is facing some resistance from gun-rights advocates, even as the National Rifle Association opens the door to new rules.

Trending Articles

Google unveils new Pixel phones, smart speaker as tech…

Google unveiled a bevy of new devices, including two new Pixel…

Gun Owners of America, a nonprofit lobbying group, announced its opposition Thursday to any such restrictions.

“Gun Owners of America opposes a ban on bump stocks,” Executive Director Erich Pratt said in a statement, noting that the Obama administration’s ATF allowed the devices “to help gun owners with disabilities fire their weapons.”

Pratt added, “Any type of ban will be ignored by criminals and only serve to disarm honest citizens.” He said it’s “sad to see some Republicans quickly call for a vote on gun control.”

“Bump stocks” can be used to effectively convert semi-automatic rifles to fire so rapidly as to simulate an automatic weapon. The devices were found on guns used by Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock, who killed 59 and injured hundreds Sunday night.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have quickly moved to consider new rules and a possible ban on the devices, in a rare point of concurrence for Republicans and Democrats in the gun control debate.

NRA CALLS FOR ATF REVIEW OF ‘BUMP STOCKS’

In a major development, the NRA called Thursday for a federal review of “bump stocks” and suggested new rules might be needed, in its first statement on the Las Vegas shooting.

FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2013, file photo, an employee of North Raleigh Guns demonstrates how a "bump" stock works at the Raleigh, N.C., shop. The gunman who unleashed hundreds of rounds of gunfire on a crowd of concertgoers in Las Vegas on Monday, Oct. 2, 2017, attached what is called a "bump-stock" to two of his weapons, in effect converting semiautomatic firearms into fully automatic ones. (AP Photo/Allen Breed, File)

In this Feb. 1, 2013, file photo, an employee of North Raleigh Guns demonstrates how a “bump” stock works at the Raleigh, N.C., shop. Lawmakers are considering banning the devices in the wake of the Las Vegas shooting.  (AP)

“The NRA believes that devices designed to allow semi-automatic rifles to function like fully-automatic rifles should be subject to additional regulations,” the NRA said.

“In Las Vegas, reports indicate that certain devices were used to modify the firearms involved,” the NRA said. “Despite the fact that the Obama administration approved the sale of bump fire stocks on at least two occasions, the National Rifle Association is calling on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (BATFE) to immediately review whether these devices comply with federal law.”

But GOA, which on its website features a quote from ex-GOP Rep. Ron Paul calling the group the only “no compromise” gun lobby, tweeted, “No law — including a ‘bump stock’ ban — would’ve stopped the Las Vegas shooting.”

While some congressional Republicans are on board with a “bump stock” review, others are not.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., called the issue a distraction.

“Proposed ‘bump fire stock’ ban is a red herring that would lead to ban of other firearms and accessories,” he tweeted.

Missouri students protest ‘racist’ Jewish comedic rapper

Missouri students protest ‘racist’ Jewish comedic rapper
Students at Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri, are criticizing the appearance of Jewish comedic rapper ‘Lil Dicky’ at a campus event, claiming he is racist and sexist. In protest they are organizing an alternative event.

In an open letter, the group of 16 students, many leaders from minority  advocacy groups, complained they weren’t being listened to when they raised concerns about Lil Dicky’s nomination due to his alleged racism and sexism, according to Campus Reform.

“We must…hold the student body of this university more generally culpable for this terrible decision [to invite Lil Dicky],” the students wrote.

Talent for the campus WILD event is selected by Social Programming Board, a student union, and then issued as a survey for vote sent out to all undergraduate students at Washington University. Each semester students are charged $254 as an activity fee and part of that goes to fund WILD.

“It is disturbing that so many of our classmates – the people we study, work and live with – chose a known racist to represent them on the main stage of WILD,” wrote the students. “In making that decision, our fellow Wash U. students either did not consider the effects that their votes would have on their black friends and classmates, or worse, knew that their choice would offend us, and did not care.”

Lil Dicky’s work often mocks contemporary rock culture and attempts to be “relatable,” though some find his satire offensive and even racist, and accuse him of indulging in white privilege.

Lil Dicky, born David Andrew Burd, worked in advertising before branching out into comedy and acting. His first music video, ‘Ex-boyfriend,’ went viral in 2013.

Shane Rossi, a student, complained to Student Life that Dicky uses “sexist and misogynistic” references in his music, and Keona Kalu told the paper that the rapper appropriates black culture in his music and twists hip-hop culture for personal gain.

Seven students are staging an “Alternative Wild” event as a form of protest, promising that it will feature performances designed to make marginalized students feel comfortable.

“I think there can be a level of separation [between artists and what they produce],” Clayton Covington, one of the co-hosts of the alternative event, explained to Campus Reform. Adding that Dicky “puts himself in the situation as a white rapper in [a] predominately black art form.

Courtesy: RT

International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons receives the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has been awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The organization was chosen from among more than 300 nominations.

Watch video01:12

Anti-nuclear campaign ICAN wins 2017 Nobel Peace Prize

The Norwegian Nobel Comittee on Friday named the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) as the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

The committee said ICAN had received the prize for “its work to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons and for its ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons.”

“We live in a world where the risk of nuclear weapons being used is greater than it has been for a long time. Some states are modernizing their nuclear arsenals and there is a real danger that more nations will try to procure nuclear weapons, as exemplified by North Korea. Nuclear weapons pose a constant threat to humanity and all life on earth,” the Nobel Committee said.

ICAN activists protesting at North Korean embassy in Berlin (picture-alliance/dpa/B. Pedersen)ICAN has protested at the North Korea-USA conflict

 

It added: “It is the firm conviction of the Norwegian Nobel Committee that ICAN, more than anyone else, has in the past year given the efforts to achieve a world without nuclear weapons a new direction and new vigor.”

The committee also emphasized that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to ICAN was meant to send a signal to nuclear-armed states to consider their responsibilities with regard to disarmament.

Positive international reactions

A spokeswoman for the German government said Germany supported the goal of a world without nuclear weapons and congratulated the committee on its decision.

The UN called the award “a good omen” for the eventual ratification of a treaty banning nuclear weapons that was signed by 122 countries in July.

ICAN played a major role in bringing about the treaty. However, the agreement is largely symbolic, as none of the nine known world nuclear powers signed up to it.

NATO reservations

NATO has given a far more reserved reception to the announcement of ICAN’s win, saying “realities” of global security must be considered in all bids to ban nuclear weapons.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said it was good that the Nobel Committee had drawn attention to the issue of disarmament with its choice and that the alliance continued to be committed to creating the conditions for a world free from nuclear weapons.

But he reiterated his criticism of the recent treaty, saying that a “verifiable and balanced reduction of nuclear weapons” as enshrined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should be the emphasis for now. NATO would remain a nuclear alliance as long as nuclear weapons existed, he added.

Read more: States sign nuclear weapons ban shunned by nations with nukes

Coalition of grassroots groups

According to its own description, the Geneva-based ICAN brings together grassroots non-government groups in more than 100 nations to form a coalition. It started off in Australia, and was officially launched in Vienna in 2007.

Read more: What is ICAN, winner of Nobel Peace Prize 2017?

In a statement released after the announcement of its win, ICAN called it a “great honor” to have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The prize was a tribute not only “to the tireless efforts of milions of campaigners and concerned citizens worldwide,” but also to “the survivors of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki — the hibakusha — and victims of nuclear test explosions around the world,” the statement said.Nukeless nations sign ban shunned by atomic powers

‘Risk of ending the world’

The prize “sends a message to all nuclear-armed states and all states that continue to rely on nuclear weapons for security that it is unacceptable behavior,” ICAN executive director Beatrice Fihn
told reporters in Geneva.

In an interview with the news agency AFP this week, Fihn said there was an urgent need to rid the world of nuclear weapons.

Beatrice Fihn (picture-alliance/Kyodo)Fihn: Nuclear weapons risk ending the world

“Nuclear weapons have the risk of literally ending the world,” she said.

“As long as they exist, the risk will be there, and eventually our luck will run out.”

The announcement of the Peaze Prize laureate is the culmination of a week in which Nobel prizes have been awarded in medicinephysicschemistryand literature.

Each prize is worth 9 million kronor (€944,597, $1.1 million). The prize ceremonies take place annually in the Swedish capital, Stockholm, except that for the peace prize, which is held in Oslo, Norway.

Read more:  Nuclear weapons: Who are the world’s haves and have nots?

Much-anticipated prizes

With the exception of the prize for economics, which is to be awarded next week, all the Nobel prizes were established by the Swedish industrialist Alfred Nobel (1833-96), the inventor of dynamite.

Last year’s Nobel Peace Prize went to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos for his efforts to end the long civil war in his country.

This year, the five-member Nobel Committee, which is appointed by the Norwegian parliament, sorted through 318 nominations, including 215 individiduals and 103 organizations. It does not release the names of nominees for 50 years.

The prize honors not only accomplishments, but also  intentions in the field of peacemaking.

tj/rt (AP, dpa)

DW RECOMMENDS

AUDIOS AND VIDEOS ON THE TOPIC

Courtesy: DW

Iran nuclear deal: Donald Trump says Tehran not living up to ‘spirit’ of agreement

US President Donald Trump is expected to take a step toward scrapping the nuclear accord with Iran by “decertifying” Tehran’s compliance the landmark deal. It’s part of what some expect to be a harder US line with Iran.

Watch video00:24

Trump on Iran

Should US President Donald Trump decide not to recertify Iran’s compliance, US Congressional leaders would have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose the sanctions on Tehran that were suspended under the agreement hammered out by world powers and Iran in 2015.

Ahead of the October 15 recertification deadline, several officials familiar with White House deliberations told the French news agency AFP that Trump has made clear he does not want to certify Iran’s compliance with the treaty.

“They have not lived up to the spirit of the agreement,” said Trump in a meeting with military leaders on Thursday. “The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence and chaos across the Middle East.”

Despite previously also commenting on the “spirit” of the agreement, the Trump administration has twice confirmed that Tehran is sticking to the deal.

Trump: ‘You will be hearing about Iran very shortly’

“That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions,” he said. “You will be hearing about Iran very shortly.”

Trump is expected to announce his stance next week ahead of a deadline to report on whether Iran is complying with the agreement. Trump will reportedly say the agreement – reached in 2015 after years of negotiations between Iran and six world powers – is not in the US national interest.

“We must not allow Iran … to obtain nuclear weapons,” Trump said.

A key adviser, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis recently said the United States should not scrap the deal. A number of international leaders also called on the president to keep the agreement.

Read more: European leaders insist accord is working

Watch video02:05

In 2016, US and EU lifted sanctions on Iran (17.01.2016)

The president’s possible decision doesn’t mean the deal will be scrapped, but it would open the door to changing it, the Washington Post reported.

“I think you will see that announced in short order. And that will be a comprehensive strategy, with a unified team behind him supporting that effort,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Thursday.

Trump complained about the deal during the 2016 presidential campaign and last month at the UN General Assembly called it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the US has ever entered into.”

Iranian authorities have said Tehran would not be the first to violate the accord, under which Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in return for lifting most international sanctions, which had crippled its economy.

French President Emmanuel Macron said last month there was no alternative to the nuclear accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Watch video01:41

Tehran claims successful medium-range missile test

jbh/sms (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

DW RECOMMENDS

AUDIOS AND VIDEOS ON THE TOPIC

Courtesy: DW

Iran nuclear deal: Donald Trump says Tehran not living up to ‘spirit’ of agreement

US President Donald Trump is expected to take a step toward scrapping the nuclear accord with Iran by “decertifying” Tehran’s compliance the landmark deal. It’s part of what some expect to be a harder US line with Iran.

Watch video00:24

Trump on Iran

Should US President Donald Trump decide not to recertify Iran’s compliance, US Congressional leaders would have 60 days to decide whether to reimpose the sanctions on Tehran that were suspended under the agreement hammered out by world powers and Iran in 2015.

Ahead of the October 15 recertification deadline, several officials familiar with White House deliberations told the French news agency AFP that Trump has made clear he does not want to certify Iran’s compliance with the treaty.

“They have not lived up to the spirit of the agreement,” said Trump in a meeting with military leaders on Thursday. “The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence and chaos across the Middle East.”

Despite previously also commenting on the “spirit” of the agreement, the Trump administration has twice confirmed that Tehran is sticking to the deal.

Trump: ‘You will be hearing about Iran very shortly’

“That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions,” he said. “You will be hearing about Iran very shortly.”

Trump is expected to announce his stance next week ahead of a deadline to report on whether Iran is complying with the agreement. Trump will reportedly say the agreement – reached in 2015 after years of negotiations between Iran and six world powers – is not in the US national interest.

“We must not allow Iran … to obtain nuclear weapons,” Trump said.

A key adviser, US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis recently said the United States should not scrap the deal. A number of international leaders also called on the president to keep the agreement.

Read more: European leaders insist accord is working

Watch video02:05

In 2016, US and EU lifted sanctions on Iran (17.01.2016)

The president’s possible decision doesn’t mean the deal will be scrapped, but it would open the door to changing it, the Washington Post reported.

“I think you will see that announced in short order. And that will be a comprehensive strategy, with a unified team behind him supporting that effort,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said on Thursday.

Trump complained about the deal during the 2016 presidential campaign and last month at the UN General Assembly called it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the US has ever entered into.”

Iranian authorities have said Tehran would not be the first to violate the accord, under which Iran agreed to restrict its nuclear program in return for lifting most international sanctions, which had crippled its economy.

French President Emmanuel Macron said last month there was no alternative to the nuclear accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Watch video01:41

Tehran claims successful medium-range missile test

jbh/sms (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

DW RECOMMENDS

AUDIOS AND VIDEOS ON THE TOPIC

Courtesy: DW

%d bloggers like this: