The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday set the stage for a massive showdown between the federal government of the United States and American Christians who believe the government has no right to force them to act against their faith by mandating that they buy, provide or facilitate health-care coverage that includes sterilizations, contraception, or abortion-inducing drugs.
HHS released a new proposed regulation under the Obamacare law that the department presented as an accommodation to religious “organizations” that object to providing sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs in their health care plans. However, the proposal does not truly expand the exceedingly narrow religious exemption presented in the initial regulation, which was finalized last year, and continues to offer no exemption at all to Christian individuals or business owners.
“There really is no expansion of the religious exemption,” said Leonard Leo, a Washington attorney, who is a board member of The Catholic Association, a group of Catholic lay persons dedicated to applying the teachings and principles of the church to the issues of the day.
“The HHS mandate announcement today changes nothing, it is just another accounting gimmick and the HHS mandate continues to be a violation of civil rights, religious freedom and First Amendment rights,” said Maureen Ferguson, senior policy advisor to The Catholic Association. “Catholic institutions and other faith based organizations, including hospitals and universities and private employers, still do not get their First Amendment rights back and are still being forced to either violate their faith or pay crippling government fines for practicing their faith.”
The original regulation, finalized by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in January 2012, said virtually all health care plans in the United States must provide all women of child-bearing age with cost-free coverage for sterilizations, contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs.
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Yet another student has been suspended for having something that represents a gun, but isn’t actually anything like a real gun.
This time, Daniel McClaine, Jr., a freshman at Poston Butte High School in Tan Valley, Arizona, made the mistake of setting a picture of a gun as the desktop background on his school-issued computer.
The picture shows an AK-47 lying on a flag, reports KNXV-TV. The gun isn’t his, McClaine assured the ABC affiliate in Phoenix. He found it on the Internet and liked it, partly because he is interested in serving in the military after graduation.
A teacher reportedly ratted McClaine out after noticing the Soviet-era rifle on the computer. McClaine originally received a three-day suspension.
After McClaine’s father contacted the local press, Florence Unified School District officials suddenly decided that the younger McClaine could return to school on Monday.
District policy states that students cannot use school-issued laptops to send or display “offensive messages or pictures,” explains KNXV. Students also cannot use them to produce, retrieve, send or forward images that are considered “harassing, threatening or illegal.”
It’s not clear who determines what is “offensive” or “threatening,” or the basis upon which the determination was made in this case.
McClaine maintained that he read the guidelines but did not think that a picture of a gun could threaten or offend anyone.
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A Washington, D.C., conservative radio station has refused to sell airtime for a political statement from the writer-actor-singer who performed for years as television’s Buck Howdy – deeming it too “controversial.”
“How sad that we live in a time when a message supporting the Constitution is deemed too controversial,” Grammy-winning musician Steve Vaus, creator of the Buck Howdy character, told WND today.
He has recorded a song that defies those advocating gun confiscation with one of the slogans of the Texas Revolution, “Come and take it.”
Vaus said he had attempted to purchase air time on WMAL News/Talk to play his recording, but was rejected.
An email from General Sales Manager Todd Freundlich, forwarded by Vaus, said, “After reviewing the spot with my program director we have determined that it is too controversial for us to air.”
His email continued, “Sorry that we can’t help you with this but if I can answer any additional questions please let me know.”
It doesn’t appear, however, that the bump in the road will stop Vaus.
“Nothing will stop me from getting this message heard in Washington, D.C. If I have to stand in front of the White House and the Capitol Building with a boom box so be it,” Vaus said.
He had requested the prices and information for a one-minute spot, he said.
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A 70-year-old women’s high school basketball coach shot and killed one would-be mugger and injured another while walking two players to their cars Friday night in Detroit, WXYZ-TV reported.
Police said the coach, who has not been named, was approached by two teens who tried to rob him in the parking lot of Martin Luther King High School as he walked with two girls around 7:30 p.m, WDIV-TV reported. One of the attackers died and the other was taken to the hospital in serious condition.
Sources told WXYZ the coach was also a reserve police office with a license to carry a concealed pistol. One of the teens was also armed with a gun.
According to WDIV, both teens were students at the high school, though the one who died had recently been expelled.
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GPs are to be forced to hand over confidential records on all their patients’ drinking habits, waist sizes and illnesses.
The files will be stored in a giant information bank that privacy campaigners say represents the ‘biggest data grab in NHS history’.
They warned the move would end patient confidentiality and hand personal information to third parties.
The data includes weight, cholesterol levels, body mass index, pulse rate, family health history, alcohol consumption and smoking status.
Diagnosis of everything from cancer to heart disease to mental illness would be covered. Family doctors will have to pass on dates of birth, postcodes and NHS numbers.
Officials insisted the personal information would be made anonymous and deleted after analysis.
But Ross Anderson, professor of security engineering at Cambridge University, said: ‘Under these proposals, medical confidentiality is, in effect, dead and there is currently nobody standing in the way.’ Nick Pickles, of the privacy group Big Brother Watch, said NHS managers would now be in charge of our most confidential information.
He added: ‘It is unbelievable how little the public is being told about what is going on, while GPs are being strong-armed into handing over details about their patients and to not make a fuss.
‘Not only have the public not been told what is going on, none of us has been asked to give our permission for this to happen.’
The data grab is part of Everyone Counts, a programme to extend the availability of patient data across the Health Service.
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