Two Democratic congresswomen walked out of a hearing today in the House after a Republican colleague blocked a woman from testifying about a new federal rule that will require most employers to provide free birth control.
U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) left the hearing after House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) prevented the woman from being added to the witness list.
Announced last month, the rule reclassifies birth control as a preventative health measure, which means most employers must cover contraception in their insurance plans with no cost sharing like co-pays or deductibles. Initially, an exemption was granted for churches but not for religiously affiliated schools and hospitals, which angered some Catholic bishops and others.
In a compromise unveiled Feb. 10, President Obama said religiously affiliated schools and hospitals wouldn’t be forced to offer coverage for free contraceptives. Rather, insurers will be required to offer the coverage free to any women who work at such institutions.
That wasn’t good enough for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and some conservative politicians, who said the coverage shouldn’t be required at all.
Issa’s staff informed Democratic members of the committee that the hearing was about religious liberty in general, and not the contraception mandate, in explaining why Sandra Fluke couldn’t testify.
“As the hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the (Obama) administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience, he believes that Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness,” Issa’s staffers wrote in a letter.
Fluke wanted to tell about an incident involving a 32-year-old friend who was diagnosed with ovarian cysts and prescribed birth control pills as the only remedy for her condition. Because the woman’s insurance didn’t cover contraception, the friend couldn’t afford her medication and eventually lost her ovary.
Read what Fluke had planned to tell the panel here.
Eleven people were on Issa’s witness list, led by the Rev. William Lori, the Roman Catholic bishop of Bridgeport, Conn. Eight of Issa’s witnesses are Orthodox Christian, Catholic or evangelical, and represent Christian institutions.
Originally, Issa only planned on calling nine witnesses — all men. After the public flap, he added two women to the list.
Duke Energy announced Thursday night that it will help fund a campaign to raise private and government money to replace the outdated Brent Spence Bridge. It will cost about $2.3 billion to replace the span, which carries traffic from I-75 and I-71 over the Ohio River.
Cincinnati Police Chief James Craig said an audit to determine methods for improving the Police Department’s efficiency is continuing. Among the latest recommendations, the department will no longer seek accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies and that response of a recent shift to 10-hour workdays has been positive.
Three development groups have submitted proposals to Covington officials, each vying to be selected to reshape that city’s riverfront area. One of the proposals, drafted by Corporex Realty & Investment and Jeff Ruby Culinary Entertainment, involves refurbishing the Waterfront Restaurant and creating a floating boardwalk, marina and wharf.
A Cincinnati police officer assigned to the Drug Abuse and Resistance Education (DARE) program was suspended without pay this week after she was charged with tampering with records, securing writings by deception and forgery. Sandra Johnson, 38, allegedly said she taught DARE classes and got paid for them when she didn’t. DARE is among the programs being ended by Chief Craig; he has called it ineffective.
In news elsewhere, German President Christian Wulff resigned from his position today as head of state amid mounting criticism over a home loan scandal. Wulff has been plagued by allegations since mid-December over his connections to wealthy businessmen, initially over an advantageous home loan from a friend's wife. He then faced claims he tried to hush up the story, as well as reports of free vacations accepted from friends.
The Obama administration’s newly formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants to begin monitoring and regulating debt collectors and credit bureaus for the first time. Richard Cordray, the agency’s director, said he wants to ensure people aren’t subjected to abusive practices.
An influential group of scientists issued a report this week pressing U.S. officials to tighten regulations of so-called “fracking” operations to reduce environmental and health risks. The independent review of fracking by professors at the University of Texas in Austin said that the development of shale gas was "essential to the energy security of the U.S. and the world,” but added the process needs more oversight.
The recent brouhaha over a new federal rule that requires insurance coverage of birth control for women reveals that the Roman Catholic Church has lost its influence in U.S. politics, some observers said. An AlterNet article noted that even though the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops remains opposed to a compromise rule pushed by President Obama, many other Catholic groups — including the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities and the Catholic Health Association — are ignoring the conference and accepting it.
Police in Fort Worth, Texas, have arrested 16 students in a major drug bust at Texas Christian University, a conservative evangelical institution. The drugs involved included marijuana, ecstasy pills, a powdered form of ecstasy commonly called “molly” and prescription drugs such as Xanax, hydrocodone and Oxycontin. Four football players were among those arrested.
Do you enjoy looking at slideshows of rich people? Here's a good one, themed “Most Corrupt Members of Congress.” Guess which local Eastside representative made the list … Here's a hint: Jean Schmidt.
A local music teacher says Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy offered him a job and then rescinded the offer after asking him if he is gay. Jonathan Zeng says he went through the school's extensive interview process, was offered a position and then called back in for a discussion about religious questions in his application, during which he was asked directly if he is gay. Zeng says he asked why such information was pertinent, and an administrator said it was school policy not to employ teachers who are gay because they work with children and something about the sanctity of marriage. When contacted by local media CHCA released the following statement:
CHCA keeps confidential all matters discussed within a candidate's interview. We're looking into this matter, although the initial information we have seen contains inaccuracies. We will not be discussing individual hiring decisions or interviews.Cincinnati's deficit isn't going to get better any time soon, according to a new report.
Senate Republicans yesterday blocked a Democratic bill calling for equal pay in the workplace, and the Dems are going to stick it in their faces during this year's campaigns. From the AP:
As expected, the pay equity bill failed along party lines, 52-47, short of the required 60-vote threshold. But for majority Democrats, passage wasn't the only point. The debate itself was aimed at putting Republicans on the defensive on yet another women's issue, this one overtly economic after a government report showing slower-than-expected job growth.
"It is incredibly disappointing that in this make-or-break moment for the middle class, Senate Republicans put partisan politics ahead of American women and their families," Obama said in a statement after the vote.
"Even Mitt Romney has refused to publicly oppose this legislation," added Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "He should show some leadership."
The Washington Post wonders whether Mitt Romney can use Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's template for surviving a recall election to try to win the presidency. It involves “big money, powerful organization and enormous enthusiasm among his base.” Exit polls in the state suggest Obama is ahead, however.
China wants foreign embassies to stop releasing reports and Tweeting about its poor air quality.
Gonorrhea growing resistant to antibiotics? Rut roh.
Dinosaurs apparently weighed less than scientists previously thought. Adjust paper-mache Brontosaurus as necessary.
Facebook is considering letting kids younger than 13 use the site.
The Boston Celtics took a 3-2 series lead over the Miami Heat on Tuesday and could send Bron Bron and Co. back home on Thursday.
The Kentucky Speedway and state of Kentucky will find out
soon whether the $10 million they spent on highway infrastructure
improvements in response to last year’s traffic mess at a NASCAR race
was worth it. The Speedway and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will hold
a news conference today to outline plans to actually get all of the
race attendees into the venue to watch the race rather than sit in
traffic all day and get super mad.
A Cincinnati police officer with a long record of wrecking police vehicles was arrested on Monday and charged with assaulting a woman who he’s already been charged with assaulting once before. The Enquirer detailed the disciplinary history of officer Kevin Jones, who was also charged with two counts of assault from an incident that occurred May 19.
Politico says President Obama’s recent announcement of a new immigration policy that allows many young immigrants who have never been in trouble with the law to stay in the country, and even travel across its borders, was a really smart move. The policy is not permanent, which leaves Mitt Romney to answer the question of whether or not he would repeal it if elected. The idea is reportedly similar to legislation that Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a potential Romney running mate, has been considering introducing.
“This is a stroke of political genius,” Bruce Morrison told me. A former Democratic congressman from Connecticut, Morrison was chairman of the House Immigration Subcommittee, a member of the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform and House author of the Immigration Act of 1990. He’s now an immigration attorney and lobbies on a wide variety of immigration issues.
“Obama has taken Rubio’s idea and put it into action,” Morrison said. “He has given these people a work permit, the ability to remain in this country, but no permanent status.” Their legal status can be terminated at any time. “But it won’t be terminated by Obama,” Morrison said.
A breast cancer survivor who has undergone a double mastectomy has been allowed to swim topless by the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation after stating that wearing a bathing suit over her chest causes pain.
(Jodi) Jaecks opted against reconstructive surgery. "I don't see a need to fake having breasts," she said.
"My ultimate goal is to change policy at beaches and pools, to increase people's awareness of cancer and the realities of the human condition," Jaecks told Reuters.
LeBron James and the Miami Heat won the NBA title last night, completing a 4 games to 1 series victory over the Oklahoma Thunder. It is the first title for James, who has been widely mocked for stating that he’d like to win more titles than Michael Jordan’s six. James, who is 27, won his first a year younger than Jordan did, thought Jordan then won the title in six of eight years.
Two alien plants planets around the same star apparently rise in the night sky of each other, looking like a giant full moon. The planets, Kepler-36b and Kepler-36c, are 1,200 light-years from Earth and 1.2 million miles apart, the closes two planets known.
UPDATE: March organizers called to clarify that although Organizing for America and the AFL-CIO are helping publicize the event and distribute literature, they aren't official sponsors.
ORIGINAL ITEM: A march to support Democratic led efforts to reform the U.S. health care system is scheduled downtown on Oct. 18. The event is sponsored by Organizing for America, a group affiliated with President Barack Obama.