NASCAR has joined the growing number of businesses to criticize a controversial Indiana law that critics say allows discrimination against gay people.
The nation’s leading stock car racing organization, which is set to hold a major race Indianapolis in July, said Tuesday it’s disappointed by the so-called religious freedom law signed last week by Gov. Mike Pence.
“We will not embrace nor participate in exclusion or intolerance,” said NASCAR, which is based in Florida and North Carolina. “We are committed to diversity and inclusion within our sport and therefore will continue to welcome all competitors and fans at our events in the state of Indiana and anywhere else we race.”
The statement came even as Pence said in a press conference that he would “fix” the law to clarify that it does not condone discrimination against gays and lesbians.
PENCE: “I think it is explained by the fact this was grossly mischaracterized by advocates who oppose the bill and quite frankly from sloppy reporting for the first several days, so I really do believe that. I mean look, if I read some of the stuff about this bill, I would have had the same concern millions of Hoosiers had and people across the country have had. It just isn’t so. When President Clinton signed the bill in 1993 they said the Religious Freedom Restoration Act was the most important legislation considered by Congress since the First Amendment was approved. When state senator Barack Obama voted for this bill in Illinois, it was with broad, bipartisan support. One of the great pieces of legislative history of religious freedom restoration act is it is a way of bringing people together, consensus.
Last week, Governor Mike Pence of Indiana signed into law the Indiana Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). Almost immediately, an uproar ensued, claiming that the law was discriminatory — that it provided a license for businesses to discriminate against gay and lesbian customers. Entirely lost in this kerfuffle has been the simple fact that the Indiana law is modeled on the 1993 federal law of the same name, and that counterparts have been adopted in 19 other states. Further, four federal courts of appeals and the Obama Justice Department have all taken the position that RFRA can be used as a defense in private suits involving the enforcement of laws that substantially burden free exercise of religion. Important debates over the intersection of faith and equality are impaired when they are overtaken by misguided rhetoric, rather than being informed by the history and context of how our legal system has treated this issue. […]
Joining the Second, Eighth, Ninth, and D.C. Circuits in finding that RFRA can be asserted as a defense in a private cause of action is the Holder Justice Department. In August of 2012, the United States Government stated that Wheaton College, if sued by an employee for failing to provide insurance that covered contraceptives, “in its defense of such an action, would have an opportunity to raise its contention that the contraceptive coverage requirement violates” RFRA. Yes, you read that right. The Obama Administration held that a corporation, albeit a non-profit one, could defend itself against a private claim from an employee by asserting that the Obamacare’s contraception mandate imposes a “substantial burden” on its free exercise of religion. That is to say, the most controversial aspect of the new Indiana religious-freedom law was blessed by Attorney General Eric Holder’s Justice Department. This position is directly at odds with the views of Sotomayor, Posner, and others. Again, none of this was particularly controversial until fairly recently.
Maybe you don’t want to pose with cheese eating grin for the camera, makes it a lot easier to identify you.
ST. LOUIS • Police have arrested three suspects in an attack last week in which a MetroLink rider was beaten after one of several men asked him about the Michael Brown “situation.”
A police source confirmed the arrests Monday evening and said more information would be released soon.
A video posted to Facebook appears to show the attack March 23 on the 43-year-old man, and MetroLink released surveillance images of suspects.
Police said the victim, who is white, was punched and kicked by three black men, one of whom had made the reference to the teen killed in Ferguson by a police officer Aug. 9.
The assault took place about 8:54 p.m. as the eastbound train was nearing the Forest Park Metrolink platform, police said. The victim told police he was seated when the three men approached him from behind.
Hotel accommodations for First Lady Michelle Obama’s two-day trip to Cambodia required 85 rooms and cost taxpayers $242,500, according to a government contract released Friday.
Mrs. Obama traveled to Siem Reap, Cambodia on March 21 to promote a girls education initiative. A contract was awarded on March 3, citing the “unusual and compelling urgency” of the First Lady’s trip.
Mrs. Obama and a delegation of senior high-level U.S. government officials stayed at the Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf and Spa Resort, according to a justification and approval document for the visit.
The trip required 85 single rooms, five office suites, five sleeping suites, and one conference room for 14 nights. Mrs. Obama herself only stayed in Cambodia for two days, leaving on March 22.
The Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra is listed as a luxury five-star hotel.
“The Siem Reap hotel, which elegantly combines Khmer and French architectural design, features landscaped gardens, [five] restaurants and bars, meeting facilities, a luxury spa and the largest free form swimming pool in Cambodia,” according to Accor, the French hotel operator that manages the hotel. “The leading luxury resort in Siem Reap also boosts a world-class 18-hole golf course at the Phokeethra Country Club, which is only a 25 [minute] drive from the hotel.”
But don’t worry, she’s totally ready to be President of the United States.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Rodham Clinton emailed her staff on an iPad as well as a BlackBerry while secretary of state, despite her explanation she exclusively used a personal email address on a homebrew server so that she could carry a single device, according to documents obtained by The Associated Press.
The State Department released a total of four emails between Clinton and her top advisers as part of a Freedom of Information Act request filed in 2013 by the AP, which sought Clinton’s correspondence with senior advisers over a four-year period relating to drone strikes overseas and U.S. surveillance programs.
While limited, the emails offer one of the first looks into Clinton’s correspondence while secretary of state. The messages came from and were sent to her private email address, hosted on a server at her property in Chappaqua, New York, as opposed to a government-run email account.
They show that Clinton, on at least one occasion, accidentally mingled personal and work matters. In reply to a message sent in September 2011 by adviser Huma Abedin to Clinton’s personal email account, which contained an AP story about a drone strike in Pakistan, Clinton mistakenly replied with questions that appear to be about decorations.
“I like the idea of these,” she wrote to Abedin. “How high are they? What would the bench be made of? And I’d prefer two shelves or attractive boxes/baskets/ conmtainers (sic) on one. What do you think?”
Former State Department official Hillary Mann Leverett said on MSNBC’s “The Cycle” that Iran had been “caricatured” as a crazy Islamic dictatorship, when really its political system is as “profound” as the United States, and the Ayatollah is kind of like Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
HOST TOURE NEBLETT: Hillary, I think it’s valuable and important to point out to Americans the folks that we’re talking to on the other side from Tehran are sophisticated, many are American-educated as you just said. Many Americans would say, aren’t they taking orders and reporting back to the Ayatollah?
LEVERETT: You know, it’s a very interesting system. It’s, again, been caricatured in the United States for so long as this kind of crazed Islamist dictatorship when in fact it’s a political experiment, I think as profound as perhaps the American system or the French system, trying to fuse Islamism with participatory politics.
Ayatollah Khamenei is in a sense like our Supreme Court justice: he has the final say, but he also does that not just in a legal way, but in a political way. Underneath him, there are very much empowered parts of the system, not just a president but parliament, armed forces, just like the way our Pentagon often as a say in terms of budget and policy, theirs does too.
Harry Reid’s a class act all the way… said nobody.
Las Vegas (CNN) – There are two constants about Harry Reid that have stuck with him since he was a tough young man, taught to box by a manager named Spike: Never be a quitter and never look back.
So when the Senate Democratic Leader surprised the political world late last week, announcing he would hang up his political gloves at the end of his fifth term, he made clear that it wasn’t his health or fear of electoral defeat that led him to step aside. And he sure didn’t offer any regrets about the many political scrapes and tussles he started — and survived — during his lengthy and illustrious career.
That toughness was on display in an exclusive television interview with CNN chief congressional correspondent Dana Bash, when the man who was Senate majority leader for the last eight years said he and his wife, Landra, considered quitting politics seven years ago but decided to stay to spite a newspaper that was pushing for him to leave.
“Frankly, one newspaper here in Nevada kept beating up on me and I said, ‘I’m not going to let the bastards beat me,’ and so I decided to run a last time,” Reid said.
Florida Democrats keep lining up behind U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Fla., in the 2016 U.S. Senate race but U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., continues to leave the door open to running.
The latest Florida Democrat to get in line behind Murphy was U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-Fla., who announced on Monday she was backing him in the Senate race. The seat is currently held by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. Expected to launch a presidential campaign in the weeks to come, Rubio has said he won’t run for a second term in the Senate if he runs for president.[…]
Grayson spoke with Tyrel Ventura, the son of former Gov. Jesse Ventura, Reform-Minn., last week on the inaugural episode of “Watching the Hawks,” a show on RT America geared toward millennials
“Have you made a decision about running for the Senate?” Ventura asked.
“No I haven’t,” Grayson said. “I’m waiting to see what the people want.”
“I think that the people would be very pleased to see you [in the Senate],” Ventura replied.
“You move to Florida; I want your vote,” a smiling Grayson said.
The commander of the Basij militia of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said that “erasing Israel off the map” is “nonnegotiable,” according to an Israel Radio report Tuesday.
Militia chief Mohammad Reza Naqdi also threatened Saudi Arabia, saying that the offensive it is leading in Yemen “will have a fate like the fate of Saddam Hussein.”
Naqdi’s comments were made public as Iran and six world powers prepared Tuesday to issue a general statement agreeing to continue nuclear negotiations in a new phase aimed at reaching a comprehensive accord by the end of June.
In 2014, Naqdi said Iran was stepping up efforts to arm West Bank Palestinians for battle against Israel, adding the move would lead to Israel’s annihilation, Iran’s Fars news agency reported.
“Arming the West Bank has started and weapons will be supplied to the people of this region,” Naqdi said.
“The Zionists should know that the next war won’t be confined to the present borders and the Mujahedeen will push them back,” he added. Naqdi claimed that much of Hamas’s arsenal, training and technical knowhow in the summer conflict with Israel was supplied by Iran.
President Obama said Monday he supports the recommendations of a military commission that would reduce the size of traditional military retirement pay by about 20 percent and offer a new defined-contribution benefit for troops who leave before 20 years of service.
In a letter to congressional leaders, Mr. Obama said the proposals are “an important step forward in protecting the long-term viability of the all-volunteer force, improving quality-of-life for service members and their families, and ensuring the fiscal sustainability of the military compensation and retirement systems.”
Mr. Obama said he has directed his advisers to refine some recommendations, and that the White House will report to Congress on any proposed changes by April 30.[…]
The Military Compensation and Retirement Modernization Commission issued a report in January report calling for shrinking the size of traditional military retirement pay by about 20 percent and offering a defined-contribution benefit for troops who separate before 20 years of service. Lawmakers of both parties raised sharp questions about the panel’s stated belief that the changes will satisfy service members while also saving money for the Treasury.
The commission’s proposal include decreasing the “multiplier” that the Pentagon uses to calculate traditional retirement pensions from 2.5 to 2.0, lowering the initial value of retirement checks by 20 percent.
With its natural wood floors and plush upholstery, Carafem aims to feel more like a spa than a medical clinic. But the slick ads set to go up in Metro stations across the Washington region leave nothing to doubt: “Abortion. Yeah, we do that.”
The Maryland clinic, opening this week in Montgomery County’s tony Friendship Heights, specializes in the abortion pill. The advertising reflects its unabashed approach — and a new push to de-stigmatize the nation’s most controversial medical procedure by talking about it openly and unapologetically.
Plagued by political setbacks in recent years, abortion rights activists are now seeking to normalize abortion, to put a human face on the women getting the procedure and, in some cases, even putting a positive spin on it.
In Los Angeles County, groups recently sent women door-to-door in conservative neighborhoods to talk about their abortion experiences in the hopes of changing minds. A series of Democratic lawmakers have publicly acknowledged having undergone the procedure. And new online projects solicit personal testimonials, including from women who have no regrets about terminating their pregnancies.
At Carafem, staff members plan to greet clients with warm teas, comfortable robes and a matter-of-fact attitude.
“We don’t want to talk in hushed tones,” said Carafem President Christopher Purdy. “We use the A-word.”
The head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said the Keystone XL pipeline would not be disastrous for the climate.
Gina McCarthy’s comments on Monday came despite her agency’s position that low oil prices could mean that Keystone will have more of an impact on the climate than previously thought.
Politico’s Mike Allen asked McCarthy if Keystone would be a “disaster” for the climate.
“No,” McCarthy responded at an event Politico hosted, “I don’t think that any one issue is a disaster for the climate.”
Keystone’s climate impact was the focus of a letter the EPA sent in February to the State Department, which is evaluating whether to approve the Canada-to-Gulf Coast oil pipeline, which would carry oil sands from Alberta.
The EPA said that with oil prices so low, Keystone might spur more oil sands production than would happen without the pipeline.
McCarthy said that the EPA’s comments only state the fact oil sands and their refining process emit more greenhouse gases than other petroleum products and that State should examine the impact of low oil prices.
“It was simply the normal way in which EPA comments, which is to take a look at the analysis … and to make sure that people are looking at the changes in oil prices and what that means,” she said.