Religions still try to impose ideology on employees — courts say NO!

Four Roman Catholic nonprofits in New York must allow employees access to contraception, a federal appeals court panel ruled on Friday, reversing a decision by a lower court that allowed the organizations to get around a requirement in the Affordable Care Act.

Six other circuit courts around the country deciding on similar arguments involving religious groups have come to similar conclusions, the unanimous three-judge panel noted in its decision, which was written by Judge Rosemary S. Pooler for the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York…

Under the Affordable Care Act, religious nonprofits that object on religious grounds to providing contraception can opt out by completing a one-page form. Then, a third party, either an insurance company or a health insurance administrator, takes over providing and coordinating payments for the employees’ contraceptives.

The four New York groups — a Catholic high school in the Bronx and another on Staten Island, as well as two Catholic health care systems — argued that the opt-out sheet imposed a “substantial burden” on their religious freedom. Either they had to offer “access to products and services they find objectionable,” as Judge Pooler summarized it, or they faced high fines…

…Judge Pooler wrote that the opt-out form was, in fact, “a modicum of paperwork” that “relieves, rather than imposes, any substantial burden” on the plaintiffs’ religious freedom.

“Eligible organizations are provided the opportunity to freely express their religious objection to such coverage as well as to extricate themselves from its provision,” she wrote. “At the same time, insured individuals are not deprived of the benefits of contraceptive coverage.”

As an alternative to the opt-out form, which is sent to the federal Labor Department, religious groups may send a letter to the federal Department of Health and Human Services “detailing their religious objections in their own words,” and the government would then notify insurance administrators…

Brigitte Amiri, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed an amicus brief in the case, said: “It’s a huge victory for all the female employees who work at the organizations. The scorecard is really 7-0 in the Courts of Appeals on this issue.”

It’s also another victory for Americans who believe that our Constitution even in early days was a document that guaranteed freedom from religions interfering with civil rights, individually and collectively. Although a few generations of cowards and opportunist politicians in Congress and the White House have diminished the strength of those freedoms – obviously, there are individuals with integrity still within the judicial portion of our government.

Certainly, we run the continued risk of conservative ideologues – and demagogues – trying to defeat that protection through political maneuvering. Again, via Congress and the White House. As limited as we may be by the device of an institutionalized 2-party political system, the electoral college and state-based limitations on voting rights, we must utilize every avenue available to us to protect our rights.

Fortunately, my personal convictions do not include treating my right to vote as a religion. I need not and do not limit that activity to standards of purity. It’s as limited as so many aspects of our life by the choices we have available. That includes the limits of an ignorant, lazy-ass body politic.

Copper pulls gun on man recording him

Raw, uncut recording

A Northern California police officer has been placed on leave after a video surfaced showing him pulling a gun on a man who was recording him on his cellphone.

Rohnert Park officials announced their decision Thursday to place the officer on administrative leave…

Don McComas said he was in front of his home and hooking his boat to a trailer when he saw the officer drive into his neighborhood. The officer, he said, made a few turns and stopped to face McComas. The officer did nothing but point at McComas and his home, McComas said.

McComas became concerned, so he pulled out his cellphone camera and started filming.

The video shows the officer stopping his police SUV and appearing to film McComas with a camera or cellphone.

On the video, McComas moves in closer to record the license plate number on the officer’s vehicle. The officer gets out of the SUV and tells McComas to take his hand out of his pocket.

McComas replies: “No sir, I’ve done nothing. I have done absolutely nothing. No.”…

The video shows McComas backing away as the officer moves the gun toward him.

McComas repeats he did nothing wrong and tells the officer not to touch him.

When McComas asks why the officer stepped out of his vehicle, the officer responds, “You’re taking a picture of me. I am taking a picture of you.” The officer then asked whether McComas was “some kind of a constitutionalist or crazy guy or something like that.”

“Why are you doing this?” the officer asks McComas, who responds, “Why are you sitting here with your gun on me? This is why I am doing this. To protect myself from you….”

As the officer walks away, he tells McComas, “Go ahead, have a nice day and put it on YouTube. I don’t really care.”

Another good reason why you need to have some kind of device with you to record interaction with officialdom of just about any kind IMHO. Cops are the most dangerous, of course, They’re usually carrying a gun – if you’re in the GOUSA.

The uncut quality of the video speaks for itself. This wasn’t a civilian trying to produce the sort of gotcha film beloved of Tea Party agitprop. Just a guy in his neighborhood wondering why a cop wanders up to the front of his driveway and stops.

I would recommend a little more discretion. Putting your cellphone in a shirt pocket might be less likely to set off a creep who already thinks he’s superior to all other mortals.

“Are you a constitutionalist or crazy guy or something like that” pretty much sums it up. That’s what too many coppers think of civilians and our rights.

Psychologists end collaboration with “national security” interrogations


So, why is Gitmo an exception?

The American Psychological Association…overwhelmingly approved a new ban on any involvement by psychologists in national security interrogations conducted by the United States government, even noncoercive interrogations now conducted by the Obama administration…

The vote followed an emotional debate in which several members said the ban was needed to restore the organization’s reputation after a scathing independent investigation ordered by the association’s board.

That investigation, conducted by David Hoffman, a Chicago lawyer, found that some officers of the association and other prominent psychologists colluded with government officials during the Bush administration to make sure that association policies did not prevent psychologists from involvement in the harsh interrogation programs conducted by the C.I.A. and the Pentagon.

The ban was approved by the association’s council by a vote of 156 to 1. Seven council members abstained, while one was recused…

The final vote was met by a standing ovation by many of the council members, as well as the large crowd of observers, which included anti-torture activists and psychology graduate students who had come to the meeting to support the ban. Some wore T-shirts proclaiming “First, Do No Harm,” a reference to the physicians’ Hippocratic oath.

RTFA for all the gory details. I think it stands as mute testimony for the sentiment solidly rooted in many Americans that war criminals like George W Bush and Dick Cheney should stand trial for their crimes.

Members of the APA have been expelled for their role in torture. I think that body would support their prosecution. I hope so, anyway.

Psychologists are also still assigned at the American military prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, where they oversee “voluntary” interrogations of detainees.