News Briefs for the Week of Mar. 15, 2017

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Check out the latest news from around the nation!

 

ACLU Launches Nationwide Training On Protest, Resistance

(AP) The American Civil Liberties Union staged a nationwide training event Saturday to make sure people are aware of their rights as protesters and urge organized, public resistance by those opposed to policies of President Donald Trump.

Organizers said the event at a sports arena on the University of Miami campus was livestreamed to locations in all 50 states. ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero said 200,000 people had signed up to attend one of an estimated 2,000 local events.

The event, staged in town hall style, was aimed at capitalizing on numerous demonstrations since Trump's election in November and to make sure people know their rights to protest, Romero said. He said priority issues are immigration, the First Amendment free speech and religious freedom rights, civil and reproductive rights and rights of gay, lesbian and transgender people.

"We will bring all the lawsuits necessary to defend these rights," Romero said. "We'll do the work in the courts. You do the work in the streets. People are motivated. They want to be engaged."

The ACLU also launched a new grassroots online organizing platform called PeoplePower.org. It's billed as a way for people considering a local protest or rally to connect and coordinate with others around the country with similar intentions, and to provide details of ACLU initiatives.

Another plan is creation of "freedom cities" around the country that would encourage local officials to pass laws resisting Trump policies such as stepped-up deportations of people living in the country illegally, said Faiz Shakir, ACLU national political director.

 

House GOP Health Bill Would Cut Women's Services

(AP) Women seeking abortions and some basic health services, including prenatal care, contraception and cancer screenings, would face restrictions and struggle to pay for some of that medical care under the House Republicans' proposed bill.

The legislation, which would replace much of former President Barack Obama's health law, was approved by two House committees on Thursday. Republicans are hoping to move quickly to pass it, despite unified opposition from Democrats, criticism from some conservatives who don't think it goes far enough and several health groups who fear millions of Americans would lose coverage and benefits.

The bill would prohibit for a year any funding to Planned Parenthood, a major provider of women's health services, restrict abortion access in covered plans on the health exchange and scale back Medicaid services used by many low-income women, among other changes.

Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the top Democrat on the Health, Labor, Education and Pensions Committee, said the legislation is a "slap in the face" to women. She said it would shift more decisions to insurance companies.

"You buy it thinking you will be covered, but there is no guarantee," Murray said.

House Republican leaders said the bill, which is backed by President Donald Trump, will prevent higher premiums some have seen under the current law and give patients more control over their care.

"Lower costs, more choices not less, patients in control, universal access to care," House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., said Thursday.

The abortion restrictions and cuts to women's health care could draw opposition from some Republican women.

 

Court: Discrimination Against Gay Workers Not Prohibited

(AP) A federal appeals court says employers aren't prohibited from discriminating against employees because of sexual orientation.

A three-judge panel of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday ruled 2-1 that a 1964 civil rights law doesn't protect against workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Jameka Evans sued her former employer, Georgia Regional Hospital in Savannah, alleging she was discriminated against and effectively forced from her job as a security guard because she is a lesbian and didn't conform to gender norms.

The majority opinion says the court was bound by precedent set in 1979. However, the dissenting judge says a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling prohibiting discrimination because someone doesn't conform to gender stereotypes would apply in the Evans case.

Evans' attorneys say they'll ask the full 11-judge appeals court to rehear the case.


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