Court rules Notre Dame can’t cut off students’ birth control

A federal appeals court held that the Supreme Court’s decision limiting access to birth control in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby does not permit the University of Notre Dame to shut down their health plans that help the school’s students pay for contraceptive coverage — or, at least, the court held that Notre Dame cannot obtain a court order permitting them to do so right now. This is the latest of Notre Dame’s multiple trips to the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Though the court held in 2014 that Notre Dame must comply with an extraordinarily modest obligation under federal law, the Supreme Court asked the Seventh Circuit to reconsider the case in light of Hobby Lobby. For now, the Seventh Circuit concluded, Hobby Lobby does not entitle Notre Dame to the relief that it seeks…

What a can of worms the corrupt wing of SCOTUS has opened. The original victory legalizing birth control over the objections of religious ideologues stood stable and strong for decades until this batch of conservative liars joined the court.

…Justice Sonia Sotomayor…nearly accused her conservative colleagues of lying in Hobby Lobby when they permitted another religious school, Wheaton College, to temporarily opt out of the fill-out-the-form option as well. “Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word,” Sotomayor wrote. “Not so today.”

Notre Dame, however, seeks relief that is even more arcane than the issue in Wheaton College. Wheaton College concerns whether the law grants religious objectors such a sweeping right to refuse to follow the law that they can even refuse to fill out a form that the government provides in order to exempt religious objectors from having to follow the law. Notre Dame, by contrast, has already filled out the form, a fact that led the Seventh Circuit to express “puzzlement about what exactly the university wanted us to enjoin.”…

Notre Dame, in other words, wants the right to force private companies to stop conducting business with its students, presumably by telling those companies that it will refuse to continue to do business with them itself unless those companies agree to stop helping Notre Dame students pay for contraception. Notre Dame is quite literally seeking to impose its religious beliefs on other parties who do not share them…

As the Wheaton College order suggests, a majority of the Supreme Court is open to the argument that permitting a religious objector to fill out a form that exempts them from the law can still be an impermissible burden on that objector’s faith. If the justices go this far, it is unclear that it will even be possible to prevent organizations like Notre Dame from cutting off their workers’ and students’ access to contraceptive health plans.

Dragging us back to the time when religious ideology was allowed to supersede the civil law of the land. Absurd, criminal, about as backwards a decision as one might expect from the minds of those who would not have supported our revolutionary separation from state religion in the first place.

Republicans now control the cemetery vote

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It turns out that one of the Grand Old Party’s biggest—and least discussed—challenges going into 2016 is lying in plain sight, written right into the party’s own nickname. The Republican Party voter is old—and getting older, and as the adage goes, there are two certainties in life: Death and taxes. Right now, both are enemies of the GOP and they might want to worry more about the former than the latter.

There’s been much written about how millennials are becoming a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, but there’s been much less attention paid to one of the biggest get-out-the-vote challenges for the Republican Party heading into the next presidential election: Hundreds of thousands of their traditional core supporters won’t be able to turn out to vote at all.

The party’s core is dying off by the day.

Since the average Republican is significantly older than the average Democrat, far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections. To make matters worse, the GOP is attracting fewer first-time voters. Unless the party is able to make inroads with new voters, or discover a fountain of youth, the GOP’s slow demographic slide will continue election to election. Actuarial tables make that part clear, but just how much of a problem for the GOP is this?…

By combining presidential election exit polls with mortality rates per age group from the U.S. Census Bureau, I calculated that, of the 61 million who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, about 2.75 million will be dead by the 2016 election. President Barack Obama’s voters, of course, will have died too—about 2.3 million of the 66 million who voted for the president won’t make it to 2016 either. That leaves a big gap in between, a difference of roughly 453,000 in favor of the Democrats…

“I’ve never seen anyone doing any studies on how many dead people can’t vote,” laughs William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in demographic studies. “I’ve seen studies on how many dead people do vote. The old Daley Administration in Chicago was very good at that.”

RTFA for details and especially variables critical to both of the two parties if anyone is to take advantage of demographics.

One thing is certain. Dead people don’t vote, at least not as much as they did in Chicago in 1960. Core Republican voters not only oppose change, they fear progress. Core Democrats not only support change broadly, they welcome progress and equal opportunity.

Republicans hope for a narrow discussion of anything but the foolishness that actually guides their decision-making.

Thanks to my favorite recovering Republican

Homes leaving the power grid is a sign of bad public utility policies

SolarCity Corp. Chief Executive Officer Lyndon Rive doesn’t want his customers defecting from the power grid — unless they live in Hawaii.

The biggest U.S. residential solar installer expects to offer by next year a package that combines solar panels, batteries and a back-up generator, and will supply all the power needed by residential customers.

In Hawaii, home to the highest U.S. electricity rates, using the setup to disconnect from the power grid may save people as much as 15 percent compared to their local utility bills, Rive said in an interview on Bloomberg Television.

In other states, utilities would benefit from millions of homes with batteries and solar panels, by tapping the stored electricity during periods of peak demand when the local grid needs extra capacity. Having people disconnect from power grids is a symptom of poorly designed regulations.

“It’s bad policy that got us there,” Rive, 38, said in the interview in San Francisco.

Utilities in states from Arizona to Wisconsin are seeking changes to rates and adding fees for residential customers with solar power, to offset lost revenue from the growth of companies like SolarCity.

Most public utilities are as incompetent as elected officials from the two weasel parties we’re allowed. Instead of working to combine alternative power sources and systems, they’re like craft unions or guilds in the 19th Century trying to protect their fiefdom instead of moving to the collective benefits of modern tech.

Our family is convinced of the benefits of solar technology for all the good reasons – from health and sane energy production to long-range reduced cost. Our public utility here in New Mexico is as backwards as any. Perfectly willing to lie and cheat to maintain their guaranteed profits regardless of environmental and cost negatives. They misstated their cost of maintaining coal-burning plants by a billion dollar$, they’re already trying to push pandering state politicians into a regressive tax on homeowners who convert to solar power – even grid-tied systems.

Useless enemies of progress. It will be their policies that determine whether we go grid-tied or off the grid when we convert our little compound to solar.

Oh yeah. Before going to bed, last night, I caught the end of Rive’s interview with Emily Chang on BLOOMBERG WEST. He obviously has little confidence in either public utilities corporations or state regulators doing anything sensible. He figures Solar City will end up bringing the Hawaiian model as an option to all the mainland states.

2010 BP oil spill blamed for rise in dolphin deaths in Gulf of Mexico


Click to enlargeRon Wooten

A new study by the NOAA concludes that the 2011 BP oil spill, the largest marine-based oil spill in U.S history, is to blame for the ongoing die-off of bottlenose dolphins in the northern Gulf of Mexico.

The new paper — authored by 22 scientists as part of unusual mortality event investigation by the NOAA — confirms the conclusions of a number of other studies. The research validates the findings of a 2011 study that showed live dolphins in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay suffered poor health, adrenal disease, and lung disease linked to contaminants from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill…

The latest findings build on the the 2011 Barataria Bay study. In examining dead dolphins in and around the Louisiana bay — one of the areas most contaminated by spilled oil — between June 2010 and November 2012, researchers found nearly half of all specimens had a thinning adrenal gland cortex.

Contaminants from oil are proven to damage adrenal glands, and adrenal insufficiency can make sea mammals susceptible to a range of other diseases and stressors.

Scientists also found that a third of all deceased dolphins collected and examined across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama had lung lesions consistent with oil contamination. Only 7 percent of the dead or stranded dolphins from non-oil spill areas showed signs of a thinning adrenal cortex, and only 2 percent had lung lesions.

Who will BP repay for the wildlife carnage from the oil spill? They payback business, individual humans. But, the world is diminished by the loss of natural life from the Gulf of Mexico as surely as the loss of income.