Mother Jones


Trump Administration Guts Obamacare Birth Control Rule

Mother Jones

The Trump administration officially issued a new rule Friday that weakens the Affordable Care Act's mandate requiring employers to provide free birth control as part of health insurance plans. To do so, they had to file paperwork with the government indicating their objection, in turn triggering separate contraceptive coverage for employees provided directly by the insurance company. The Trump administration's new rule expands this exemption, allowing virtually any organization, not just a religious one, to opt out of the mandate if they feel contraception coverage violates their religious beliefs or "moral convictions"--a much broader (and murkier) standard than before. But by eliminating the requirement that objecting groups inform the government when they opt out of birth control coverage, it's possible Trump's new rule will provide a defacto end to this litigation.


The Legal Case for DACA

Mother Jones

It only took a few hours for the first lawsuit to be filed against the Trump Administration for its decision on Tuesday morning to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, known as DACA. At a press conference in Washington D.C., Attorney General Jeff Sessions called Obama's implementation of the policy in 2012 "an unconstitutional exercise of authority," and rescinded it in order to retain what he calls the country's "unsurpassed legal heritage." MJ: Both President Trump and AG Jeff Sessions in their statements claimed that the DACA program contributed to the child migrant crisis, which hit a peak in 2014. SYL: The attorneys general of ten states threatened to file suit today, claiming that the DACA program was illegal.


"My Guilt Will Never Go Away"

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Think of scenes from Tim O'Brien's iconic Vietnam War book, The Things They Carried, William Manchester's World War II odyssey, Goodbye Darkness, William Styron's Sophie's Choice, or films like William Wyler's The Best Years of Our Lives and Oliver Stone's Platoon. She was perhaps typical when she told the makers of the documentary film National Bird that, in helping carry out drone strikes which killed people across the globe by remote control, "I lost part of my humanity." This reality led me, as my book developed, to interview now-elderly Japanese who had experienced World War II as children. The Department of Veterans Affairs now acknowledges moral injury and its effects, and in 2014 Syracuse University created the Moral Injury Project to bring together vets, doctors, and chaplains to work on how to deal with it.


Botched 911 Call in Tamir Rice Case Results in 8-Day Suspension

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Recordings of the initial 911 call and the radio dispatch to officers, released by the Cleveland police department in November [2014] showed that the details about Rice's suspected age and fake gun never reached [Officers] Loehmann and Garmback. But Hollinger refused to answer investigators' questions about why she did not input the details about Rice's suspected age and possibly fake gun, per the advice of her union-provided attorney. Hollinger declined to comment to Mother Jones about her role in the case, citing the ongoing investigation and the Cleveland police department's "stringent rules" about making public statements. Although a grand jury declined to indict the officers involved in the shooting, Timothy Loehmann and Frank Garmback, the two face an ongoing internal investigation into their conduct.


Trump's Plan to Slash Weather Forecast Funding Is Terrible News for Farms

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But to provide its forecasts, the Weather Service leans heavily on another NOAA program, the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, which operates the satellite that deliver crucial data. In my time farming vegetables in western North Carolina, my co-workers and I relied heavily on weather forecasts to make decisions on when to sow seeds (best before a rain) or cover frost-vulnerable crops to protect them from an unseasonable cold snap. I asked a spokesman for the US Farm Bureau Federation, a Big Ag lobbying outfit that made a huge fuss over the EPA water rule that Trump recently rescinded, what the group thought of the proposed cuts to NOAA's satellite program. Trump's recent executive order protected farmers from an EPA crackdown that's purely imaginary.


Moscow Thanks You for Sharing Its Cute Cat Pics

Mother Jones

RT publishes stories that elevate fringe voices left and right--Michael T. Flynn, Trump's national security adviser, has been an RT commentator--with the apparent goal of sowing distrust in the American government. Should we happen to share that Binney story on Twitter, we compound the problem by enlisting the help of bots and fake accounts posing as real people. That's where we're headed: AI and machine learning algorithms will analyze your online habits, personal data (calendar, relationships, work history, places traveled), and communication preferences (say, that you like strong narratives over short informational pieces). Because our attention is increasingly sucked up by fake news and salacious headlines, we're excluding credible independent voices now.


Here Are All the Sneaky Tricks Candidates Use to Dodge Debate Questions

Mother Jones

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton will finally face-off in their first presidential debate tonight, in an event that's expected to draw a record-breaking 100 million viewers. Presidential debates, unlike those held during the primaries, are supposed to be, well, more presidential: there are specific rules governing how long candidates are supposed to speak and topics are set in advance. It's likely they'll dodge difficult questions, hurl insults, and in some cases, change the subject entirely. We The Voters has assembled a star-studded crew, including director Morgan Spurlock and actors and actresses such as Rosario Dawson, Tom Arnold, and Mario Cantone, to produce videos that break down the 2016 campaign in an approachable, entertaining way, so voters can get to the polls knowing exactly what's at stake.


But If You Don't Learn Cursive, How Will You Read the Declaration of Independence in the Original?

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Since the advent of the Common Core standards--which emphasizes keyboard skills over nicely shaped P's and Q's--it's been common knowledge for years that teachers are abandoning cursive in droves, spending classroom time instead on new technology and typing. John Hancock's "John Hancock" appears prominently on the Declaration of Independence. With handwriting under threat by typewriters, Austin Palmer introduces a smaller, faster writing style, taught via militaristic "drills." From a Louisiana poll test: "Write every other word in this first line and print every third word in same line (original type smaller and first line ended at comma) but capitalize the fifth word that you write."


Missouri Transgender Inmate Sues After State Denies Hormone Treatment

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The Missouri inmate, 37-year-old Jessica Hicklin, says hormone therapy was recommended by doctors at Potosi Correctional Center to treat her gender dysphoria, a medical diagnosis that's often given when a mismatch between a person's gender identity and biological sex causes severe distress. Federal prisons are required to provide inmates with individualized medical care, including hormone therapy, but that's not true at the state level. Missouri, like some other states, has what's called a "freeze frame policy," which means an inmate can only receive hormone therapy in a state prison if he or she was receiving it prior to incarceration. Last year, the Department of Justice weighed in on a similar case in Georgia, where a transgender woman named Ashley Diamond sued the state's department of corrections for its freeze frame policy in February 2015.


The Obama Administration Finally Revealed How Many Civilians Have Died in Drone Strikes

Mother Jones

The Obama administration announced on Friday that the United States has killed a much lower number of civilians in drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia than have been previously estimated by outside researchers. The report is the first time the Obama administration has provided official estimates of the death toll in the secretive drone war. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a London-based investigative news outlet, calculates that the Obama administration has killed at least 325 civilians in drone strikes outside of war zones (and possibly hundreds more). The government's report acknowledged that official numbers would vary from outside estimates.