Story 1: Supreme Court Rules Against EPA Power Plant Mercury Limits — Videos
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A Rare Loss for Environmentalists at the Supreme Court
The justices had given the EPA wide latitude to limit air pollutants before ruling against the agency on Monday.
Despite its conservative tilt, the Supreme Court has given environmentalists a rather remarkable run of success over the last decade. The justices’ 2007 ruling that the EPA could regulate greenhouse gas emissions under the Clean Air Act set the stage for much of the Obama administration’s ambitious agenda to combat climate change. And just last year, the government largely prevailed in two cases challenging the limits it had placed on industry emissions.
On Monday, that winning streak came to an end when the Supreme Court’s five Republican-appointed justices blocked the Obama administration’s regulations on the emission of mercury and other toxins from coal-fired power plants. The 5-4 decision found that the EPA had violated the Clean Air Act by not considering the cost of compliance before deciding to limit mercury pollution. The government had argued that it considered the cost throughout its process of writing the mercury rules, but not at the outset. Writing for the majority, Justice Antonin Scalia said the EPA failed to meet the law’s requirement that it regulate those pollutants only after determining, based on impact studies, that it was “appropriate and necessary” to do so. He cited the agency’s own finding that the mercury rule would carry a nearly $10 billion annual cost while generating direct benefits of just $4 billion to $6 billion a year.
Read naturally in the present context, the phrase “appropriate and necessary” requires at least some attention to cost. One would not say that it is even rational, never mind “appropriate,” to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits.
No regulation is “appropriate” if it does significantly more harm than good. There are undoubtedly settings in which the phrase “appropriate and necessary” does not encompass cost. But this is not one of them.
The sharp-tongued Scalia finally had the chance to author a majority opinion after writing a series of fiery, colorful dissents against the court’s rulings in favor of Obamacare and same-sex marriage. He compared the EPA’s logic in arguing that it did not initially need to consider the cost of regulations to a consumer who decides to “buy a Ferrari without thinking about cost, because he plans to think about cost later when deciding whether to upgrade the sound system.” Sparring with Scalia in the dissent, Justice Elena Kagan called the comparison “witty but wholly inapt”:
A better analogy might be to a car owner who decides without first checking prices that it is ‘appropriate and necessary’ to replace her worn-out brake-pads, aware from prior experience that she has ample time to comparison shop and bring that purchase within her budget.
Aside from the Ferrari metaphor, Scalia’s opinion was fairly dry and—dare we say it—bland. Even more importantly for environmental advocates, it was narrow. The ruling did not touch the EPA’s ambitious Clean Power Plan to limit carbon emissions from coal plants, and it said nothing about the substance of the mercury rules—only how they were promulgated. Finally, the court left it entirely up to the EPA to determine how it would consider cost when deciding whether to regulate. “This is clearly a loss,” said John Walke, the clean air director for the Natural Resources Defense Council. But, he told me on Monday, “it’s a narrow loss that turns on a disagreement over the meaning of the word ‘appropriate’ in context. So it’s hard to see it having broader judicial implications or ideological implications, notwithstanding the split. It’s certainly not an ideological broadside against either the EPA or environmental regulations.”
The practical impact of the ruling is also unclear. The case was remanded to a lower court, and environmental advocates said that at minimum, the EPA would have to go back and undertake additional cost studies of the mercury rule. The agency noted that because the regulation was issued three years ago, industry “investments have been made and most plants are already well on their way to making emissions reductions.” Advocates said it was unlikely that plants that had shuttered rather than comply with the rule would reopen and that some companies even found that the compliance costs came in under projections. (The deadline for compliance was this April, although some companies received an extension.) “Much of the industry has kind of moved on,” said Sean Donahue, an attorney who argued the case on behalf of the Environmental Defense Council and public health advocates before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. “Whether they like this rule or not, they’ve decided they could live with it.”
The big question is what, if anything, the Supreme Court’s ruling in the mercury case portends for court challenges to the Obama administration’s more recent regulatory agenda on climate change. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader who has accused the president of waging a “war on coal,” seized on the ruling to urge Republican governors to resist complying with the EPA’s climate regulations:
While much of the damage of this regulation has already been done, the ruling serves as a critical reminder to every governor contemplating the administration’s demands to impose more regressive—and likely illegal—regulations that promise even more middle-class pain. Clearly, there is no reason to subject their states to such unnecessary pain before the courts have even had a chance to weigh in, especially if the Supreme Court simply ends up tossing the regulation out as we saw today.
Environmental advocates don’t seem that worried. The difference in law between the mercury rule and the climate regulations, Walke said, was “apples and oranges.” And the narrow nature of Scalia’s ruling doesn’t offer much of a signal either way about how the Court might rule on EPA regulations going forward. Monday’s ruling may have been a defeat for environmentalists, but it wasn’t a rout.
Supreme Court Blocks Obama’s Limits on Power Plants
By ADAM LIPTAK and CORAL DAVENPORT JUNE 29, 2015
A coal-fired power plant in Ghent, Ky. Industry groups and about 20 states challenged the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to regulate emissions — one of the Obama administration’s most ambitious environmental initiatives.CreditLuke Sharrett for The New York Times
Industry groups and about 20 states had challenged the E.P.A.’s decision to regulate the emissions, saying the agency had failed to take into account the punishing costs its rule would impose.
The Clean Air Act required the regulation to be “appropriate and necessary.” The challengers said the agency had run afoul of that law by deciding to regulate the emissions without first undertaking a cost-benefit analysis.
Writing for the majority, in the 5-to-4 decision, Justice Antonin Scalia wrote: “It is not rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits. Statutory context supports this reading.”
The E.P.A. had argued that it was not required to take costs into account when it made the initial determination to regulate. But the agency added that it had done so later in setting emissions standards and that, in any event, the benefits far outweighed the costs.
The two sides had very different understandings of the costs and benefits involved. Industry groups said the government had imposed annual costs of $9.6 billion to achieve about $6 million in benefits. The agency said the costs yielded tens of billions of dollars in benefits.
In dissent, Justice Elena Kagan wrote: “The agency acted well within its authority in declining to consider costs at the opening bell of the regulatory process given that it would do so in every round thereafter — and given that the emissions limits finally issued would depend crucially on those accountings.”
The decision, Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-46, does not strike down the rule, but it means the E.P.A. will have to review and rewrite it, taking costs into consideration.
“The E.P.A. will have to do more homework on costs,” said Sean Donahue, who represents environmental and public health groups that signed on to the agency’s case. “But I’m very confident that the final rule will be up and running and finally approved without a great deal of trouble. This is a disappointment. It’s a bump in the road, but I don’t think by any means it’s the end of this program.”
An E.P.A. spokeswoman, Melissa Harrison, said the agency intended to move forward with the rule.
Ms. Harrison said that since the court’s ruling was about how and when the agency considered costs in its decision about limiting mercury and other toxic emissions and not the agency’s authority to limit them over all, the E.P.A. was committed to protecting the public “from the significant amount of toxic emissions from coal- and oil-fired electric utilities and continue reducing the toxic pollution from these facilities.”
The mercury regulation was one in a series of new Clean Air Actregulations from the Obama administration that President Obama hopes to build into a major environmental legacy. Later this summer the agency is expected to release a set of landmark climate change rules limiting greenhouse gas pollution from power plants — restrictions that have faced legal challenges from industry.
In the term that ended in June 2014, the justices heard cases on two other sets of Clean Air Act regulations — one aimed at limiting power plant pollution that wafts across state lines, the other at cutting planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. The E.P.A. won the first case and largely prevailed in the second, though the Supreme Court indicated that it remained prepared to impose limits on the agency’s regulatory authority.
“From its ozone to greenhouse gas to navigable waters rules, the E.P.A. continues to burden the public with more and more costs even as so many are still struggling to get by and improve their lives in this economy,” said Kevin McCarthy of California, the House majority leader. “The Supreme Court’s decision today vindicates the House’s legislative actions to rein in bureaucratic overreach and institute some common sense in rule making.”
Among the remaining questions is whether the current rule will stay in place as the E.P.A. completes its revision of the language, and how long that revision will take.
“The Obama administration will be hard pressed to get that job done before it goes out of office,” said Richard Lazarus, a professor of environmental law at Harvard.
In the meantime, companies could be forced to comply with the existing regulation. The question will go before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which has frequently decided in favor of Mr. Obama’s E.P.A. rules.
“Given the fact that the E.P.A. has already done a detailed cost benefit analysis justifying the rule, and the fact that the majority of the affected industries have already invested heavily in compliance, there is a good chance that the D.C. Circuit will allow the rule to remain on the books” while the agency makes its revisions, said Patrick Parenteau, an expert on environmental law at Vermont Law School.
Scott Segal, who lobbies on behalf of electric utilities for the firm Bracewell & Giuliani, said the decision should come as a warning to the Obama administration as the E.P.A. prepares to unveil the climate changeregulations this summer.
“They’ll need to take a hard-nosed economic analysis that the Supreme Court calls for,” he said.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday ruled the Obama administration should have considered compliance cost when it decided to limit emissions of mercury and other hazardous air pollutants mainly from coal-fired power plants, a setback for the government that leaves the legal status of the regulation in limbo.
The court ruled in a 5-4 decision, with its five conservative justices in the majority, against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The rule stays in effect for the time being, with the case returning to an appeals court, which will decide whether or not it should be thrown out.
“EPA is disappointed that the court did not uphold the rule, but this rule was issued more than three years ago, investments have been made and most plants are already well on their way to compliance,” the agency said in a statement.
The EPA “remains committed to ensuring that appropriate standards are in place to protect the public from the significant amount of toxic emissions from coal and oil-fired electric utilities and continue reducing the toxic pollution from these facilities,” the agency added.
Justice Antonin Scalia, writing on behalf of the court, said that a provision of the Clean Air Act that said the EPA can regulate power plants for mercury and other toxic pollutants if it deems it “appropriate and necessary” must be interpreted as including a consideration of costs. The EPA had decided it did not have to consider costs at that stage of the process.
“The agency must consider cost – including, most importantly, cost of compliance – before deciding whether regulation is appropriate and necessary,” Scalia wrote.
The EPA says the rule, which went into effect in April, applies to about 1,400 electricity-generating units at 600 power plants. Many are already in compliance, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said.
The legal rationale adopted by the court is unlikely to have broader implications for other environmental regulations, including the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan that would cut carbon emissions from existing power plants, according to lawyers following the case.
William Yeatman, a fellow at the conservative-leaning Competitive Enterprise Institute, said the impact is “circumscribed” due to the “narrowness and uniqueness” of the legal provision the court was examining.
Richard Revesz, director of the Institute of Policy Integrity at New York University School of Law, said that “nothing in this decision would in any way call into question the legal legitimacy of the Clean Power Plan.”
Industry groups and 21 states appealed after an appeals court upheld the regulation in June 2014. The challengers said the EPA’s refusal to consider the estimated $9.6 billion-a-year costs would lead to bigger electricity bills for Americans.
Among companies opposing the rule was Peabody Energy Corp, the nation’s largest coal producer. Exelon Corp, the biggest U.S. nuclear power plant operator, was one of several power companies supporting the rule.
The ruling gave an immediate lift to shares of Peabody and other coal mining companies, which have been dogged by concerns over the costs of the regulation and slumping coal prices as power companies turn increasingly to natural gas to generate electricity. Peabody shares were up 9 percent and rival Arch Coal shot up 13 percent. The Dow Jones Coal Index was up 1.36 percent after touching a 12-year low just before the ruling was issued.
The 2012 mercury regulation, which covered oil-fired plants as well as coal-burning ones, was targeted by Michigan and other states in addition to various industry groups, including the National Mining Association.
When the EPA issued the regulation, it outlined what it saw as the rule’s costs and benefits, including preventing up to 11,000 premature deaths annually. The agency also said the regulation could generate billions of dollars in benefits including a reduction in mercury poisoning, which can lead to developmental delays and abnormalities in children. Overall, the EPA said the benefits could be worth up to $90 billion a year.
Vickie Paton, general counsel of the Environmental Defense Fund, which backed the Obama administration, said the EPA should be able to address the concerns raised by the court because it has “already analyzed the economics showing that the health benefits for our nation far outweigh the costs.”
The case was the third recent Supreme Court test of President Barack Obama’s air pollution regulations. The administration mostly came out on top in the two previous cases.
In April 2014, the court upheld a regulation limiting air pollution across state lines. In June 2014, the court largely upheld the government’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from major utilities.
Industry groups and states are gearing up to challenge EPA’s plans to issue new regulations aimed at curbing carbon emissions from existing power plants.
The three consolidated cases are Michigan v. EPA, 14-46, Utility Air Regulatory Group v. EPA, 14-47, National Mining Association v. EPA, 14-49.
On December 16, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized the first ever national standards to reduce mercury and other toxic air pollution from coal and oil-fired power plants. More than 20 years after the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, some power plants still do not control emissions of toxic pollutants, even though pollution control technology is widely available.
There are about 1,400 coal and oil-fired electric generating units (EGUs) at600 power plants covered by these standards. They emit harmful pollutants including mercury, non-mercury metallic toxics, acid gases, and organic air toxics including dioxin.
Power plants are currently the dominant emitters of mercury (50 percent), acid gases (over 75 percent) and many toxic metals (20-60 percent) in the United States.
While newer, and a significant percentage of older power plants already control their emissions of mercury, heavy metals, and acid gases, approximately 40 percent of the current EGUs still do not have advanced pollution control equipment.
The other big sources of mercury have already reduced their emissions.
In 1990, three industry sectors made up approximately two-thirds of total U.S. mercury emissions: medical waste incinerators, municipal waste combustors, and power plants. The first two of these sectors have been subject to emissions standards for years and as a result have reduced their mercury emissions by more than 95 percent. In addition, mercury standards for industries such as cement production, steel manufacturing and many others have reduced mercury emissions from these sources.
Sources of Mercury Emissions in the U.S.
1990 Emissions tons per year (tpy)
2005 Emissions (tpy)
Municipal Waste Combustors
Medical Waste Incinerators
The final rule establishes power plant emission standards for mercury, acid gases, and non-mercury metallic toxic pollutants which will result in: preventing about 90 percent of the mercury in coal burned in power plants being emitted to the air; reducing 88 percent of acid gas emissions from power plants; and reducing 41 percent of sulfur dioxide emissions from power plants beyond the reductions expected from the Cross State Air Pollution Rule.
The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards provide regulatory certainty for power plants. Additionally, these standards level the playing field so that all plants will have to limit their emissions of mercury as newer plants already do.
Use of widely-available controls will reduce harmful air toxics and help modernize the aging fleet of power plants, many of which are over 50 years old.
Widely-available control technologies that reduce mercury and other air toxics
Existing Control Technologies to Address Toxic Pollutants
The MATS sets standards for all Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPs) emitted by coal- and oil-fired EGUs with a capacity of 25 megawatts or greater. These are called national emission standards for hazardous air pollutants (NESHAP), also known as maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards. Coal- and/or oil-fired electric utilities emit many of the 187 hazardous air pollutants listed in the Clean Air Act.
Emissions standards set under the toxics program are federal air pollution limits that individual facilities must meet by a set date. MACT for new sources must be at least as stringent as the emission reduction achieved by the best performing similar source. Existing source MACT standards must be at least as stringent as the emission reductions achieved by the average of the top 12 percent best controlled sources. These standards must address all hazardous air pollutants emitted at a source category.
Setting a MACT standard is a two step process:
The “MACT floor” is established based on what is currently achieved by sources – costs may not be considered.
EPA may regulate “beyond the floor” where justified – costs and other issues must be considered.
Existing sources generally will have up to 4 years if they need it to comply with MATS.
This includes the 3 years provided to all sources by the Clean Air Act. EPAs analysis continues to demonstrate that this will be sufficient time for most, if not all, sources to comply.
Under the Clean Air Act, state permitting authorities can also grant an additional year as needed for technology installation. EPA expects this option to be broadly available.
EPA is also providing a pathway for reliability critical units to obtain a schedule with up to an additional year to achieve compliance. This pathway is described in a separate enforcement policy document. The EPA believes there will be few, if any situations, in which this pathway will be needed.
In the unlikely event that there are other situations where sources cannot come into compliance on a timely basis, consistent with its longstanding historical practice under the Clean Air Act, the EPA will address individual circumstances on a case-by-case basis, at the appropriate time, to determine the appropriate response and resolution.
In EPA’s 40 year history, the Clean Air Act has not impacted power companies’ ability to keep the lights on in communities across the United States. EPA’s analysis shows that the MATS rule and the Cross State Air Pollution Rule will not adversely affect resource adequacy in any region of the country. More information is available in EPA’s resource adequacy analysis (PDF)(9pp, 418k).
A number of other analyses have reached conclusions consistent with EPA’s, including a report from the Department of Energy (PDF).
Story 1: Will A Greece Default On Debt Trigger A World Recession? — Bubbles Bursting? — Greek Odious Debt Default On The Brink — Jump! — Greece Defaults! — Videos
Greece misses 1.5 billion euro IMF payment 01:12
Greece officially defaults 02:28
Greece defaults on $1.7 billion payment
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Analysis: Who is to blame for Greece’s debt crisis?
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Greece and the Euro Breakup; Why the US Dollar Is Facing an Even Bigger Crisis
Ep. 89: Greece is a sideshow. U.S. is the Main Event.
Greek Economic Crisis: Three Things to Know
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Greece on the Brink – Documentary [HD]
DONNA SUMMER – I feel love (1977) HD and HQ
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Greece’s bailout expires, country defaults on IMF payment
By ELENA BECATOROS and DEREK GATOPOULOS
y to fall into arrears on payments to the fund. The last country to do so was Zimbabwe in 2001.
After Greece made a last-ditch effort to extend its bailout, eurozone finance ministers decided in a teleconference late Tuesday that there was no way they could reach a deal before the deadline.
“It would be crazy to extend the program,” said Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbleom, who heads the eurozone finance ministers’ body known as the eurogroup. “So that cannot happen and will not happen.”
(AP) An elderly man passes a graffiti outside an old bank in Athens, Tuesday, June 30,… Full Image
“The program expires tonight,” Dijsselbleom said.The brinkmanship that has characterized Greece’s bailout negotiations with its European creditors and the IMF rose several notches over the weekend, when Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced he would put a deal proposal by creditors to a referendum on Sunday and urged a “No” vote.
The move increased fears the country could soon fall out of the euro currency bloc and Greeks rushed to pull money out of ATMs, leading the government to shutter its banks and impose restrictions on banking transactions on Monday for at least a week.
But in a surprise move Tuesday night, Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis hinted that the government might be open to calling off the popular vote, saying it was a political decision.
The government decided on the referendum, he said on state television, “and it can make a decision on something else.”
(AP) A demonstrator waves a Greek flag during a rally organized by supporters of the YES… Full Image
It was unclear, however, how that would be possible legally as Parliament has already voted for it to go ahead.Greece’s international bailout expires at midnight central European time, after which the country loses access to billions of euros in funds. At the same time, Greece has said it will not be able to make a payment of 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) to the IMF.
With its economy teetering on the brink, Greece suffered its second sovereign downgrade in as many days when the Fitch ratings agency lowered it further into junk status, to just one notch above the level where it considers default inevitable.
The agency said the breakdown of negotiations “has significantly increased the risk that Greece will not be able to honor its debt obligations in the coming months, including bonds held by the private sector.”
Fitch said it now considered a default on privately-held debt “probable.”
(AP) People stand in a queue to use an ATM outside a closed bank, next to a sign on the… Full Image
Hopes for an 11th-hour deal were raised when the Greek side announced it had submitted a new proposal Tuesday afternoon, and the eurozone’s 19 finance ministers held a teleconference to discuss it.But those hopes were quickly dashed.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said she ruled out further negotiations with Greece before Sunday’s popular vote on whether to accept creditors’ demands for budget reforms.
“Before the planned referendum is carried out, we will not negotiate over anything new,” the dpa news agency quoted Merkel as saying.
Greece’s latest offer involves a proposal to tap Europe’s bailout fund — the so-called European Stability Mechanism, a pot of money set up after Greece’s rescue programs to help countries in need.
(AP) The word “NO”, referring to the upcoming referendum, is written in red paint outside… Full Image
Tsipras’ office said the proposal was “for the full coverage of (Greece’s) financing needs with the simultaneous restructuring of the debt.”Dijsselbloem said the finance ministers would “study that request as we should” and that they would hold another conference call Wednesday, as they had also received a second letter from Athens that they had not had time to read.
Dragasakis said the new letter “narrows the differences further.”
“We are making an additional effort. There are six points where this effort can be made. I don’t want to get into specifics. But it includes pensions and labor issues,” he said.
European officials and Greek opposition parties have been adamant that a “No” vote on Sunday will mean Greece will leave the euro and possibly even the EU.
(AP) Demonstrators shout slogans during a rally organized by supporters of the YES vote… Full Image
The government says this is scaremongering, and that a rejection of creditor demands will mean the country is in a better negotiating position.In Athens, more than 10,000 “Yes” vote supporters gathered outside parliament despite a thunderstorm, chanting “Europe! Europe!”
Most huddled under umbrellas, including Athens resident Sofia Matthaiou.
“I don’t know if we’ll get a deal. But we have to press them to see reason,” she said, referring to the government. “The creditors need to water down their positions, too.”
The protest came a day after thousands of government supporters advocating a “No” vote held a similar demonstration.
(AP) Demonstrators gather under the rain during a rally organized by supporters of the… Full Image
On Monday, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker made a new offer to Greece. Under that proposal, Tsipras would need to accept the creditors’ proposal that was on the table last weekend. He would also have to change his position on Sunday’s referendum.Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas said the offer would also involve unspecified discussions on Athens’s massive debt load of over 300 billion euros, or around 180 percent of GDP. The Greek side has long called for debt relief, saying its mountainous debt is unsustainable.
A Greek government official said Tsipras had spoken earlier in the day with Juncker, European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi and European Parliament president Martin Schulz.
Meanwhile, missing the IMF payment will cut Greece off from new loans from the organization.
And with its bailout program expiring, Greece will lose access to more than 16 billion euros ($18 billion) in financial support it has not yet tapped, officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity because talks about the program were still ongoing.
On the streets of Athens, long lines formed again at ATM machines as Greeks struggled with the new restrictions on banking transactions. Under credit controls imposed Monday, Greeks are now limited to ATM withdrawals of 60 euros ($67) a day and cannot send money abroad or make international payments without special permission.
The elderly have been hit particularly hard, with tens of thousands of pensions unpaid as of Tuesday afternoon. Many also found themselves completely cut off from any cash as they do not have bank cards.
The finance ministry said it would open about 1,000 bank branches across the country for three days beginning Wednesday to allow pensioners without bank cards to make withdrawals. But the limit would be set at 120 euros for the whole week.
With negotiations have broken off in dramatic fashion last week, a cacophony of voices on Syriza’s Left have vowed to prioritise domestic obligations unless creditors finally unlock the remainder of its €240bn bail-out programme. Greece only avoided going bust earlier this month after the government has asked for a Zambia-style debt bundling which will now be due on June 30.
The rhetoric is a far cry from February, when Greece’s finance minister pledged his government would “squeeze blood out of a stone” to meet its obligations to the Fund.
Although no nation has ever officially defaulted on its obligations in the post-Bretton Woods era, Greece would join an ignominious list of war-torn nations and international pariahs who have failed to pay back the Fund on time.
What happens after a default?
In choosing to bundle up four separate June repayments, Greece avoided triggering an immediate default.
But in the event of a delayed repayment, according to IMF protocol, Greece could be afforded a 30-day grace period, during which it would be urged to pay back the money as soon as possible, and before Ms Lagarde notifies her executive board of the late payment.
However, with talks have broken down in acrimonious fashion between the country and its creditors, Ms Lagarde has said she will renege on this and notify her board “immediately”.
Having spooked creditors and the markets of the possibility of a fatal breach of the sanctity of monetary union, Greece may well stump up the cash if an agreement to release the country more emergency aid is reached (that’s looking increasingly unlikely however).
But should no money be forthcoming however, the arrears process may well extend indefinitely.
Greece’s other creditor burden would also start piling up, with the government due to pay another €6.6bn to the European Central Bank in July and August.
Stopping the cash
Although the exact process is uncertain, falling into a protracted arrears procedure could have major consequences for continued financial assistance from Greece’s other creditors – the European Central Bank and European Commission.
“If Greece defaults to the IMF, then they are considered to be in default to the rest of the eurozone,” says Raoul Ruparel, head of economic research at Open Europe.
“Such a scenario would risk the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) cancelling all or part of its facility or even declaring the principal amount of the loan to be due immediately,” say analysts at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Should the EFSF take such a decisive move, it could activate a range of cross default clauses on Greek government bonds held by private investors and the ECB. These clauses state a default to one creditor institution applies to all.
The political and market damage that may ensue would be substantial. Popular sentiment in creditor nations would turn against the errant Greeks, while the position of the ECB in particular could quickly come under the spotlight.
The central bank has kept Greek banks on a tight leash, maintaining that it would only restore normal lending operations to the country once “conditions for a successful completion of the programme are in place”.
A wave of defaults may force the ECB into finally pulling the plug on the emergency assistance it has been providing in ever larger doses since February.
What would happen if Greece left the euro? In 60 seconds
Scrambling for funds
Whatever the outcome, Greece on many measures, is all but bankrupt.
In addition to the half a billion euros plus it owes the Fund this month, the Leftist government will still be paying back the IMF until 2030. In total, its repayment schedule stretches out over the next 42 years to 2057.
Greece makes new aid proposal, seeks debt restructuring
ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece has submitted to creditors a new two-year aid proposal calling for parallel debt restructuring, the office of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Tuesday, in what seemed like a last-ditch effort by Athens to resolve an impasse with lenders.
The statement came hours before Athens was set to default on a loan to the International Monetary Fund. It was unclear how creditors would respond.
“The Greek government proposed today a two-year deal with the ESM (European Stability Mechanism) to fully cover its financial needs and with parallel debt restructuring,” the government said in a statement.
“Greece remains at the negotiating table,” the statement said, adding that Athens would always seek a “viable solution to stay in the euro.”
If Greece defaults on its debt, it will be the biggest default by a country in history.
Greece is expected to miss a €1.5 billion ($1.7 billion) debt payment on Tuesday. That won’t be enough to put it in the record books yet, but it could eventually make Greece default on its entire debt load: €323 billion ($360 billion).
This isn’t the first time Greece has been on the brink. Greece already holds the record for the biggest default ever by a country from 2012 when it went into technical default and had to restructure about $138 billion of its debt. Back then, Greece was quickly bailed out by its European peers. That’s unlikely to happen now.
The Greek government pulled its negotiators from talks with European officials Friday after little progress was made on a debt payment plan and economic reforms. Greece has called for a referendum vote on July 5 on the latest proposal from Europe and the International Monetary Fund.
Greece already holds the record: Greece’s 2012 technical default shattered the previous record set by Argentina in 2001, when the South American nation defaulted on $95 billion in debt. While there are parallels between the two countries, experts say this potential Greek default could be much worse.
“Things are incredibly dire,” says Anna Gelpern, a Georgetown University professor. “For political reasons and market-confidence reasons, they need to deal with the debt…It’s not clear to me how they deal with it without defaulting on anyone.”
Greece won’t officially be in default right away. The International Monetary Fund generally gives countries a month after missing a debt payment before it declares a country in defaulted. However, the markets will most likely judge Greece to be in default by July 1.
Greece’s debt is spread out across the board. Greece owes money to the International Monetary Fund, Germany, France, Greek banks and several others.
But consider this: Whatever happens to Greece, it’s likely to be a long process. Argentina is still in default. But a key difference is that Greece has four times the debt load of Argentina — the next worst default — but Greece’s economy is only half the size of Argentina’s.
While Greece would be the biggest sovereign default, Lehman Brothers had over $600 billion in assets when it filed for bankruptcy in 2008. A Greek default would be smaller and unlikely to rattle the global financial system like Lehman, but it would have a long-lasting impact on the Greek people.
Here are some of the worst sovereign defaults since 2000.
1. Greece — $138 billion, March 2012. Despite going into a technical default, the Greek government is propped up by bailout funds from its European peers. Those bailout funds eventually lead to the current dilemma.
2. Argentina — $95 billion, November 2001. Argentina’s currency was “pegged” or equal to one U.S. dollar for years — a currency exchange that eventually proved to be completely inaccurate. Like Greece is doing this week, Argentina also clamped down on Argentines trying to take money out of the banks. It didn’t help. The country’s economy was nearly three times smaller just one year later, according to IMF data. In July 2014, Argentina went into a technical default after it missed a debt payment to its hold out creditors.
3. Jamaica — $7.9 billion, February 2010. Massive government overspending for years and rapid inflation pushed Jamaica into default five years ago. At the time, over 40% of the government’s budget went to paying debts. Its economy, which depends on tourism, suffered when the U.S. recession began in late 2008.
4. Ecuador — $3.2 billion, December 2008. Ecuador pulled a fast one on its creditors. With a debt payment looming, the Ecuardor’s government, led by President Rafael Correa, just said no to its creditors. He claimed the debt, some which was owned by American hedge funds, was “immoral.” Rich in resources, Ecuardor could have made debt payments, but intentionally chose not to.
Despite Lagarde’s initial reluctance, IMF on the hook for Greece
By By Anna Yukhananov | Reuters – 21 hours ago
By Anna Yukhananov
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – As French Finance Minister in 2010, Christine Lagarde opposed the involvement of the International Monetary Fund in Greece.
Now as the country stands on the edge of defaulting on a 1.6 billion euro ($1.8 billion) payment to the Fund, Lagarde’s tenure at the head of the IMF since 2011 will be shaped by Greece, which holds a referendum on Sunday that could pave the way to its exit from the euro.
By its own admission the Washington-based institution broke many of its rules in lending to Greece. It ended up endorsing austerity measures proposed by the European Commission and European Central Bank, its partners in the troika of Greece’s lenders, instead of leading talks as it had done with other countries such as Russia and in the Asian financial crisis.
“I think the IMF has missed the opportunity (on Greece), because it has not fully leveraged the lessons it learned from the previous crises it was involved in, due to this asymmetric relationship within the troika,” said Domenico Lombardi, a former IMF board member.
That the IMF lent to Greece at the behest of Europe, which has nominated every IMF Managing Director since the inception of the Fund in 1946, may expose the institution to greater scrutiny, especially as it has $24 billion in loans outstanding to Greece in its largest-ever program.
“When it was clear that the Greek program was underperforming, they did not push back sufficiently against the euro zone, which had at the time a misguided policy emphasis on only austerity,” said Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, a fellow at the Peterson Institute in Washington.
The involvement of the Fund in Greece and its continued support for decisions driven by eurozone governments caused a deep split in the institution.
Some IMF economists had misgivings about lending to Greece in 2010 within the constraints of the so-called “troika” of lenders, where the Fund would be the junior partner to the European Central Bank and the European Commission.
IMF board members also protested the “exceptional” size of the program, as Athens did not meet the Fund’s criteria for debt sustainability, meaning it would have trouble repaying.
Yet swayed by the fear that contagion in Athens could spread to French and German banks, the IMF agreed to participate in a joint 110-billion-euro bailout of Greece with the Europeans.
“The Europeans have a third of the voting rights (at the IMF), and they have appointed the managing director since the beginning, so essentially it is the governance that has driven the Greek program,” said Lombardi who is now with the Canada-based Center for International Governance Innovation.
Later, the Fund admitted that its projections for the Greek economy had been overly optimistic. Instead of growing after a year of austerity, Greece’s economy plunged into one of the worst recessions to ever hit a country in peacetime, with output falling 22 percent from 2008 to 2012.
While the euro zone’s insistence on drawing a direct link between euro membership and Greece’s debt sustainability and the negotiating tactics of the Greek government have exposed both to questions of credibility, the Fund stands charged as well.
“The IMF’s reputation, too, has been shaken from widespread criticism of the Greek program, including its own admission of its failures,” said Lombard Street Research economist Konstantinos Venetis.
TEMPTATION TO GO BIG
If Greece does default on all $24 billion it owes to the Fund, that will dwarf previous delinquencies from countries like Sudan, Zimbabwe and Somalia.
While the IMF was worried about contagion when it made the loans, it also had institutional incentives for wanting to bail out troubled countries, said Andrea Montanino, a former IMF board member who left the Fund in 2014 after participating in reviews of Greece’s second bailout in 2012.
“The IMF is in a preferred creditor status; the more you lend, the more you earn,” said Montanino, now with the Atlantic Council.
The IMF’s heavy involvement in large bailouts for euro zone countries, which included Ireland and Portugal, have enabled it to build up its reserve buffers in recent years. It is now aiming to store away some $28 billion by 2018.
From interest and charges on the Greek program alone, the IMF has earned some $3.9 billion since 2010, according to figures on the IMF’s website.
“I think the Greek lesson is in the future, the IMF will be much more careful,” said Montanino.
Greece is widely expected to miss a crucial payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) on Tuesday—hours before its bailout officially ends at midnight and the country is left with few, if any, financial lifelines.
Greek officials have already warned the country is unable to pay the 1.6 billion euros ($1.8 billion) due to the IMF by 6 p.m. ET, after reforms-for-aid talks with creditors broke down at the weekend.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the president of the Eurogroup, subsequently tweeted on Tuesday that there would be a teleconference to discuss an “official request” from the Greek government “received this afternoon” at 1 p.m. ET.
The Greek government on Tuesday proposed a new, two-year bailout deal with the European Stability Mechanism. This would be to “fully cover its financing needs and the simultaneous restructuring of debt,” according to a translated press release from the office of the Greek Prime Minister.
Yannis Behrakis | Reuters
A protester waves a Greek flag in front of the parliament building during a rally in Athens, Greece, June 22, 2015.
This comes at a time when Greece’s financial future is in jeopardy. The country will potentially have no access to external sources of cash, once its funding from the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) expires at midnight.
Meanwhile, Greece’s banking system is being kept afloat by emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) from the European Central Bank, which is up for review on Wednesday.
Against a backdrop of uncertainty, Tsipras has called a referendum on July 5 of the Greek people on whether to accept the bailout proposals—and accompanying austerity measures—proposed by creditors.
Tsipras has urged the public to vote “no” to more austerity.
“The Greek government will claim a sustainable agreement within the euro. This is the message of NO to a bad deal at the referendum on Sunday,” the translated statement from the prime minister’s office said on Tuesday.
‘Running out of notches’
Meanwhile, credit ratings agencies are increasingly nervous about the country’s solvency.
Fitch Ratings downgraded Greek banks on Monday to “Restricted Default,” after Athens imposed capital controls to prevent an exodus of deposits from Greece.
In addition, Standard & Poor’s (S&P) lowered Greece’s credit rating to CCC- from CCC, saying the probability of the country exiting the euro zone was now 50 percent.
Moritz Kraemer, chief rating officer of sovereign ratings at S&P, told CNBC on Tuesday that the group was “actually running out of notches” for Greece.
“We have the rating at CCC- and that’s pretty much the lowest rung that we have on our scale,” he told CNBC Europe’s “Squawk Box.”
If Greece misses its payment on Tuesday, then the IMF will consider it in “arrears” – a technical term used by the IMF, which is similar to default.
If a country is in arrears to the IMF, it means it won’t get any future aid until the bill is repaid.
Although the IMF payment is dominating headlines, S&P’s Kraemer said that Greece’s bailout program ending at midnight was just as significant.
“Basically after that we’re back to square one,” he said. “So even if there was to be a change of heart in Athens and they did decide to take the creditors’ offer, that’s legally no longer possible as the program would have elapsed.”
Greece’s debt crisis: It all started in 2001…
Yannis Behrakis | Reuters
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
In international law, odious debt, also known as illegitimate debt, is a legal theory that holds that the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable. Such debts are, thus, considered by this doctrine to be personal debts of the regime that incurred them and not debts of the state. In some respects, the concept is analogous to the invalidity of contracts signed under coercion.
When a despotic regime contracts a debt, not for the needs or in the interests of the state, but rather to strengthen itself, to suppress a popular insurrection, etc, this debt is odious for the people of the entire state. This debt does not bind the nation; it is a debt of the regime, a personal debt contracted by the ruler, and consequently it falls with the demise of the regime. The reason why these odious debts cannot attach to the territory of the state is that they do not fulfil one of the conditions determining the lawfulness of State debts, namely that State debts must be incurred, and the proceeds used, for the needs and in the interests of the State. Odious debts, contracted and utilised for purposes which, to the lenders’ knowledge, are contrary to the needs and the interests of the nation, are not binding on the nation – when it succeeds in overthrowing the government that contracted them – unless the debt is within the limits of real advantages that these debts might have afforded. The lenders have committed a hostile act against the people, they cannot expect a nation which has freed itself of a despotic regime to assume these odious debts, which are the personal debts of the ruler.
There are many examples of similar debt repudiation.
Patricia Adams, executive director of Probe International, a Canadian environmental and public policy advocacy organisation and author of Odious Debts: Loose Lending, Corruption, and the Third World’s Environmental Legacy, stated: “by giving creditors an incentive to lend only for purposes that are transparent and of public benefit, future tyrants will lose their ability to finance their armies, and thus the war on terror and the cause of world peace will be better served.” In a Cato Institute policy analysis, Adams suggested that debts incurred by Iraq during Saddam Hussein‘s reign were odious because the money was spent on weapons, instruments of repression, and palaces.
A 2002 article by economists Seema Jayachandran and Michael Kremer renewed interest in this topic. They propose that the idea can be used to create a new type of economic sanction to block further borrowing by dictators. Jayachandran proposed new recommendations in November 2010 at the 10th anniversary of the Jubilee movement at the Center for Global Development in Washington, D.C.
In December 2008, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa attempted to default on Ecuador’s national debt, calling it illegitimate odious debt, because it was contracted by corrupt and despotic prior regimes. He succeeded in reducing the price of the debt letters before continuing paying the debt.
Story 1: Gay Hollywood Mafia Money and Propaganda Succeeds — Supreme Court Ignores States Rights, Will of American People, United States Constitution And Bill of Rights and Rules in Favor of Same Sex Gay Marriage — Betrayal of Oath of Office — End The Two Party Tyranny — Videos
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
Representatives shall be apportioned among the several states according to their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each state, excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.
No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of President and Vice President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the United States, or under any state, who, having previously taken an oath, as a member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of any state legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any state, to support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove such disability.
The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the United States nor any state shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and claims shall be held illegal and void.
The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
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From the Vault • Barack Obama • SEP 1995
22-CityView presents Barack Obama speaking at the Cambridge Public Library. Recorded on September 20,1995, this originally aired on Channel 37 Cambridge Municipal Television as an episode of the show “The Author Series.” In this episode Obama discusses his book “Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance,” which at the time had just been released a few months previously.
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Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority in the historic decision, said gay and lesbian couples had a fundamental right to marry.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” he wrote. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”
The decision, which was the culmination of decades of litigation and activism, set off celebrations across the country and the first same-sex marriages in several states. It came against the backdrop of fast-moving changes in public opinion, with polls indicating that most Americans now approve of the unions.
The court’s four more liberal justices joined Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion. Each member of the court’s conservative wing filed a separate dissent, in tones ranging from resigned dismay to bitter scorn.
In dissent, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. said the Constitution had nothing to say on the subject of same-sex marriage.
“If you are among the many Americans — of whatever sexual orientation — who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal. Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”
In a second dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia mocked the soaring language of Justice Kennedy, who has become the nation’s most important judicial champion of gay rights.
“The opinion is couched in a style that is as pretentious as its content is egotistic,” Justice Scalia wrote of his colleague’s work. “Of course the opinion’s showy profundities are often profoundly incoherent.”
As Justice Kennedy finished announcing his opinion from the bench on Friday, several lawyers seated in the bar section of the court’s gallery wiped away tears, while others grinned and exchanged embraces.
Justice John Paul Stevens, who retired in 2010, was on hand for the decision, and many of the justices’ clerks took seats in the chamber, which was nearly full as the ruling was announced. The decision made same-sex marriage a reality in the 13 states that had continued to ban it.
Outside the Supreme Court, the police allowed hundreds of people waving rainbow flags and holding signs to advance onto the court plaza as those present for the decision streamed down the steps. “Love has won,” the crowd chanted as courtroom witnesses threw up their arms in victory.
Justice Kennedy was the author of all three of the Supreme Court’s previous gay rights landmarks. The latest decision came exactly two years after his majority opinion in United States v. Windsor, which struck down a federal law denying benefits to married same-sex couples, and exactly 10 years after his majority opinion in Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down laws making gay sex a crime.
In all of those decisions, Justice Kennedy embraced a vision of a living Constitution, one that evolves with societal changes.
“The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times,” he wrote on Friday. “The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a charter protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning.”
This drew a withering response from Justice Scalia, a proponent of reading the Constitution according to the original understanding of those who adopted it.
“They have discovered in the Fourteenth Amendment,” Justice Scalia wrote of the majority, “a ‘fundamental right’ overlooked by every person alive at the time of ratification, and almost everyone else in the time since.”
“These justices know,” Justice Scalia said, “that limiting marriage to one man and one woman is contrary to reason; they know that an institution as old as government itself, and accepted by every nation in history until 15 years ago, cannot possibly be supported by anything other than ignorance or bigotry.”
Justice Kennedy rooted the ruling in a fundamental right to marriage. Marriage is a “keystone of our social order,” he said, and of special importance to couples raising children.
“Without the recognition, stability, and predictability marriage offers,” he wrote, “their children suffer the stigma of knowing their families are somehow lesser. They also suffer the significant material costs of being raised by unmarried parents, relegated through no fault of their own to a more difficult and uncertain family life. The marriage laws at issue here thus harm and humiliate the children of same-sex couples.”
Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan joined Justice Kennedy’s majority opinion.
In dissent, Chief Justice Roberts said the majority opinion was “an act of will, not legal judgment.”
“The court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the states and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs,” he wrote. “Just who do we think we are?”
In his own dissent, Justice Scalia said the majority opinion represented a “threat to American democracy.”
The majority and dissenting opinions took differing views about whether the decision would harm religious liberty. Justice Kennedy said the First Amendment “ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths.” He said both sides should engage in “an open and searching debate.”
Chief Justice Roberts responded that “people of faith can take no comfort in the treatment they receive from the majority today.”
Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., in his dissent, saw a broader threat from the majority opinion. “It will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy,” Justice Alito wrote. “In the course of its opinion, the majority compares traditional marriage laws to laws that denied equal treatment for African-Americans and women. The implications of this analogy will be exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.”
Gay rights advocates had constructed a careful litigation and public relations strategy to build momentum and bring the issue to the Supreme Court when it appeared ready to rule in their favor. As in earlier civil rights cases, the court had responded cautiously and methodically, laying careful judicial groundwork for a transformative decision.
It waited for scores of lower courts to strike down bans on same-sex marriages before addressing the issue, and Justice Kennedy took the unusual step of listing those decisions in an appendix to his opinion.
Chief Justice Roberts said that only 11 states and the District of Columbia had embraced the right to same-sex marriage democratically, at voting booths and in state legislatures. The rest of the 37 states that allow such unions did so because of court rulings. Gay rights advocates, the chief justice wrote, would have been better off with a victory achieved through the political process, particularly “when the winds of change were freshening at their backs.”
Justice Kennedy rejected that idea.
“It is of no moment whether advocates of same-sex marriage now enjoy or lack momentum in the democratic process,” he wrote. “The issue before the court here is the legal question whether the Constitution protects the right of same-sex couples to marry.”
Later in the opinion, Justice Kennedy answered the question. “The Constitution,” he wrote, “grants them that right.”
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples. Supreme Court rules gay couples nationwide have a right to marry
From Miller Lite to Maytag, here’s how popular brands reacted to the SCOTUS ruling this morning.
Elizabeth Nolan Brown|
Not very long ago, even the token gay television character could cause an uproar, and while popular brands may have voiced unequivocal support for some sort of nebulous gay “pride,” many avoided staking a position on the controversial political question of same-sex marriage. Today, with the U.S. Supreme Court declaring “the right of same-sex couples to marry” throughout the country, brands from Miller Lite to Maytag were quick to react in support the decision on social media. It all may be a bit hokey and opportunistic, but the extent to which iconicly American brands aren’t worried about alienating customers with pro-gay-marriage messages perhaps shows us more than anything that America is ready for marriage equality to be the law of the land. Here’s a sampling of brand tweets this morning about the SCOTUS marriage decision:
@MillerLite: As long as you are you, #ItsMillerTime. #LoveWins
@TheMaytagMan: Here’s to finding the one who completes you. #SCOTUSMarriage
@Cheerios: And now, no one can tell you otherwise. #LoveWins
Supreme Court rules gay couples nationwide have a right to marry
By Robert Barnes
The Supreme Court on Friday delivered a historic victory for gay rights, ruling 5 to 4 that the Constitution requires that same-sex couples be allowed to marry no matter where they live and that states may no longer reserve the right only for heterosexual couples.
The court’s action marks the culmination of an unprecedented upheaval in public opinion and the nation’s jurisprudence. Advocates called it the most pressing civil rights issue of modern times, while critics said the courts had sent the country into uncharted territory by changing the traditional definition of marriage.
“Under the Constitution, same-sex couples seek in marriage the same legal treatment as opposite-sex couples, and it would disparage their choices and diminish their personhood to deny them this right,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. He was joined in the ruling by the court’s liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
All four of the court’s most conservative members — Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. — dissented and each wrote a separate opinion, saying the court had usurped a power that belongs to the people.
How same-sex marriage became legal across the country VIEW GRAPHIC
Reading a dissent from the bench for the first time in his tenure, Roberts said, “Just who do we think we are? I have no choice but to dissent.”
In his opinion, Roberts wrote: “Many people will rejoice at this decision, and I begrudge none their celebration. But for those who believe in a government of laws, not of men, the majority’s approach is deeply disheartening.”
[It’s the first time Roberts has had such a bold statement from the bench]
Scalia called the decision a “threat to American democracy,” saying it was “constitutional revision by an unelected committee of nine.”
In a statement in the White House Rose Garden, President Obama hailed the decision: “This ruling is a victory for America. This decision affirms what millions of Americans already believe in their hearts. When all Americans are truly treated as equal, we are more free.”
Obama said change on social issues can seem slow sometimes, but “sometimes there are days like this when that slow and steady effort is rewarded with justice that arrives like a thunderbolt. This morning the Supreme Court recognized that the Constitution guarantees marriage equality. In doing so they’ve reaffirmed that all Americans are entitled to equal protection under the law. . . . Today we can say in no uncertain terms that we have made our union a little more perfect.”
How people outside the court reacted to the gay marriage ruling
View Photos A sea of cheering, rainbow flag-waving people filled the sidewalk in front of the Supreme Court to celebrate the decision.
There were wild scenes of celebrations on the sidewalk outside the Supreme Court, as same-sex marriage supporters had arrived early, armed with signs and rainbow flags. They celebrated the announcement of a constitutional right to something that did not legally exist anywhere in the world until the turn of the new century.
Jim Obergefell, who became the face of the case, Obergefell v. Hodges, when he sought to put his name on his husband’s death certificate as the surviving spouse, said: “Today’s ruling from the Supreme Court affirms what millions across the country already know to be true in our hearts: that our love is equal.”
“It is my hope that the term gay marriage will soon be a thing of the past, that from this day forward it will be simply, marriage,” he said. “All Americans deserve equal dignity, respect and treatment when it comes to the recognition of our relationships and families.’’
But Austin R. Nimocks, senior counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a pro-traditional marriage group, said: “Today, five lawyers took away the voices of more than 300 million Americans to continue to debate the most important social institution in the history of the world. That decision is truly unfortunate. . . . Nobody has the right to say that a mom or a woman or a dad or a man is irrelevant. There are differences that should be celebrated. Millions of Americans still believe that.’’
[Opponents of gay marriage are divided on whether to resist the ruling]
This country’s first legally recognized same-sex marriages took place just 11 years ago, the result of a Massachusetts state supreme court decision. Now, more than 70 percent of Americans live in states where same-sex couples are allowed to marry, according to estimates.
The Supreme Court used cases from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee, where restrictions about same-sex marriage were upheld by an appeals court last year, to find that the Constitution does not allow such prohibitions.
Kennedy has written the Supreme Court’s most important gay rights cases: overturning criminal laws on homosexual conduct, protecting gays from discrimination and declaring that the federal government could not refuse to recognize same-sex marriages performed where they were legal.
He often employs a lofty, writing-for-history tone, and Friday’s decision was no different.
Referring to the couples who brought the cases before the court, Kennedy wrote: “It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions.”
Kennedy did not respond directly to the court’s dissenters, but he addressed the argument that the court was creating a new constitutional right. The right to marriage is fundamental, he said. The difference is society’s way of thinking who may marry, he said.
“The limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples may long have seemed natural and just, but its inconsistency with the central meaning of the fundamental right to marry is now manifest,” he wrote. “With that knowledge must come the recognition that laws excluding same-sex couples from the marriage right impose stigma and injury of the kind prohibited by our basic charter.”
Scalia declared that Kennedy’s writing style was “as pretentious as its content is egotistic.”
And Roberts, in a biting dissent far more harsh than his usual style, said the decision was “an act of will, not legal judgment” with “no basis in the Constitution or this court’s precedent.”
“The court invalidates the marriage laws of more than half the states and orders the transformation of a social institution that has formed the basis of human society for millennia, for the Kalahari Bushmen and the Han Chinese, the Carthaginians and the Aztecs,” Roberts wrote. “Just who do we think we are?”
The questions raised in the cases decided Friday were left unanswered in 2013, when the justices last confronted the issue of same-sex marriage. A slim majority of the court said at the time that a key portion of the Defense of Marriage Act — withholding the federal government’s recognition of same-sex marriages — was unconstitutional. In a separate case, the court said procedural issues kept it from answering the constitutional question in a case from California, but that move allowed same-sex marriages to resume in that state.
Since then, courts across the nation — with the notable exception of the Cincinnati-based federal appeals court that left intact the restrictions in the four states at issue — have struck down a string of state prohibitions on same-sex marriage, many of them passed by voters in referendums.
When the Supreme Court declined to review a clutch of those court decisions in October, same-sex marriage proliferated across the country.
Public attitudes toward such unions have undergone a remarkable change as well. A recent Washington Post-ABC poll showed a record 61 percent of Americans say they support same-sex marriage. The acceptance is driven by higher margins among the young.
[Interactive: See how gay rights have spread around the world over 224 years]
When the justices declined in October to review the string of victories same-sex marriage proponents had won in other parts of the country, it meant the number of states required to allow gay marriages grew dramatically, offering the kind of cultural shift the court often likes to see before approving a fundamental change.
The Obama administration had urged the court to find that the Constitution requires such restrictions be struck down, and Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr. made the case on behalf of the administration at the court’s oral arguments in April.
“In a world in which gay and lesbian couples live openly as our neighbors, they raise their children side by side with the rest of us, they contribute fully as members of the community . . . it is simply untenable — untenable — to suggest that they can be denied the right of equal participation in an institution of marriage, or that they can be required to wait until the majority decides that it is ready to treat gay and lesbian people as equals,” he said.
The Supreme Court’s ruling followed a swell of courts striking down state bans on same-sex marriage and a surge in public support for such marriages. Still, the high court’s 5 to 4 ruling was a historic and narrow victory for gay rights.
The court’s four most conservative members dissented, and each of them wrote a separate opinion decrying the decision. Justice Antonin Scalia, unsurprisingly, wrote the fieriest dissent, needing just two sentences to say that the majority’s decision is a “threat to American democracy.”
He the decision a “judicial Putsch,” says it is delivered in a style “as pretentious as its content is egotistic” and — at one point — follows a quote from the majority opinion with “Really?” and another with “Huh?” In a footnote, Scalia says that if he ever joined an opinion that opens the way the majority opinion does, “I would hide my head in a bag.” He then adds: “The Supreme Court of the United States has descended from the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Story to the mystical aphorisms of the fortune cookie.” Scalia was not a fan.
For more on how Scalia explained his decision and how the other justices explained theirs, head to Post Nation.
The paragraph gay marriage supporters will never forget
Kennedy is responding to opponents of gay marriage who argue that it undermines the traditional sanctity of an ancient institution by redefining it. The point of same-sex unions is not to weaken marriage, he argues, but to expand it in the nation as a whole and honor it more fully in their own lives.
These lines echo the final paragraph of Loving v. Virginia, the case in which the Supreme Court threw out laws banning interracial marriage in 1967.
And the passage is also reminiscent of the conclusion of Griswold v. Connecticut, an important case from 1965 on contraception among married couples.
“Marriage is a coming together for better or for worse, hopefully enduring, and intimate to the degree of being sacred,” Justice William O. Douglas argued. “It is an association that promotes a way of life, not causes; a harmony in living, not political faiths; a bilateral loyalty, not commercial or social projects. Yet it is an association for as noble a purpose as any involved in our prior decisions.”
One issue receiving considerable attention in the popular press is same-sex marriage and the current loosening of social constraints against gay marriage. Same-Sex Marriage , defined as marriage between two people of the same biological sex and/or gender identity, is a new social phenomenon, “leading to a new type of family formation. In modern times same-sex marriage did not exist until the twenty-first century when an increasing number of countries began permitting same-sex couples to marry legally. In addition, beginning in the late twentieth century there has been a growing global movement to regard marriage as a fundamental human right to be extended to same-sex couples. These events are extraordinary given that even during most of the twentieth century, homosexuals were closeted and the concept of same-sex marriage was inconceivable, perceived by nearly all as an oxymoron.” (Chamie, Joshph, and Barry, M. 2011. “Same-Sex Marriage: A New Social Phenomenon.” Pppulation Council37(3): 529-551)
Marriage equality has made significant gains with public opinion and within state legislature, since Massachusetts legalized same-sex marriage within its borders in 2004. A result of the change in legal status in same-sex marriage is the growth in the marriage industry for gay men and lesbians. “Currently, as of 15 October 2014, 29 states and the District of Columbia, and ten Native American tribal jurisdictions allow and fully recognize same-sex marriages: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin. There are 21 states, and 2 territories (Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin islands), that explicitly prohibit same-sex marriages in their constitutions and/or by statute, including: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and Wyoming. Of these states banning same-sex marriage, the following states have been declared that same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional, but the rulings have been stayed: Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan and Texas.” (“Same-Sex Marriage Fast Facts.” 2014. CNN U.S. October 14. (http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/28/us/same-sex-marrage-fast-facts/))
“As a result of successful legal challenges and related social and policy developments, same-sex marriage is generating a combination of elation, controversy, and opposition in many countries around the world, notably in the United States. Indeed, the legal recognition of same-sex marriage has emerged as one of the most socially, politically, and legally divisive issues of the day. While most reactions to this new form of marriage and family formation have been intense and vocal, many commentators as well as the general public have little factual knowledge about same-sex marriage. All too often, public opinion and attitudes concerning same-sex marriage are based on apprehension, misconception, and hearsay.” (Chamie, Joshph, and Barry, M. 2011. “Same-Sex Marriage: A New Social Phenomenon.” Pppulation Council37(3): 529-551)
Attitudes Towards Same-Sex Marriage
During the 21st century, public support for same-sex marriage has grown considerably, and national polls conducted since 2011 show that a majority of Americans support legalizing it.
“On May 9, 2012, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president legalize same-sex marriage through popular vote.” ( Stein, Sam. 2012. ” Obama Backs Gay Marriage.” Huff Post Politics, May 5. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/obama-gay-marriage_n_1503245.html))
“Support for same-sex marriage jumped 21 percent points from 2003, when Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, to 2014. Currently, a majority (55%) of Americans favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to legally marry, compared to 41% who oppose. In 2003, less than one-third (32%) of Americans supported allowing same-sex couples to legally marry, compared to nearly 6 in 10 (59%) who opposed.” (“Survey A shifting Landscape: A decade of Change in American Attitudes about Same-Sex Marriage and LGBT Issues.” 2014. Public Religion Research Institute, January 26. (http://publicreligion.org/research/2014/02/2014-lgbt-survey/))
Prevalence of Same-Sex Households
“According to the Census Bureau, the same-sex couples households in the US in 2010 were 646,464.” (Amy Roberts and Caitlin Stark. 2014. “By the numbers: Same-sex marriage.” CNN Politics, October 6. (http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/11/politics/btn-same-sex-marriage/) One study demonstrated how using linked micromaps can improve mapping of same-sex couples household data. This study found that “an estimated 1 percent of US couple households, from 2006 through 2010, were same-sex couples households, and the percentage of same-sex couples household is much higher in metropolitan areas than in non-metropolitan areas. It found that the reason that Washington D.C. has the highest percentage of same-sex households because Washington D.C. itself is a central city.” (Mast, Brent, D. 2013. “Visualizing Same-Sex Couple Household Data With Linked Micromaps.” US Department of Housing and Urban Development15(2):267-271.)
Same-Sex Marriage Experience
Aine Marie Humble examined married older same-sex couples’ experiences of transitioning into marriage in order to explore how and why these couples in mid-to later life decided to marry and the characteristics of their weddings and wedding planning. She found that getting married for many older same-sex couples is even harder than for younger same-sex couples, because older cohorts of same-sex couples could not easily dispel the internalized beliefs “such as same-sex couples could never marry and marriage was not for them due to the fact that they have lived most of their lives through years of homophobia and heterosexism, which has affected their worldviews. Moreover, some older same-sex couples, particularly those in long-term relationships, may already view themselves as married and thus do not initially see the need for the legal marriage.” (Humble, Aine, M., 2013. “Moving from Ambivalence to Certainty: Older Same-Sex Couples Marry in Canada.” Canadian Journal on Aging 32(2): 131-144)
Pamela J. Lannutti examined the ways in which legally recognized same-sex marriage has affected the lives of same-sex couples in order to see how same-sex marriage is benefiting and challenging these couples on the individual and interpersonal levels. She found that “all of the couples that she had interviewed with expressed some way in which same-sex marriage improved or strengthened their romantic relationship, and others expressed that it contributed to a closer emotional bond between them. However, some participants expressed that they were stressed out during their marriage decision process or planning their weddings, because they lacked support from their families-of-origin.” (Lannutti, Pamela, J. 2007. “”This is Not a Lesbian Wedding”: Examining Same-Sex Marriage and Bisexual-Lesbian Couples.” Co-published simultaneosly in Journal of Bisexuality 7(3/4): 237-260; and: Bisexuality and Same-Sex Marriage 7(3/4): 237-260.)
Pamela J. Lannutti’s another study examined same-sex couples’ attractions to marriage and obstacles that challenged them when considering marriage. She found that the primary reason why same-sex couples decide to marry is because it would offer greater legal protections and civil benefits for their committed relationship. Another reason is that it would make it easier to bring children into their lives or protect their relationships with the children they already had. In terms of obstacles of same-sex marriage, the majority of these couples (41%) expressed that family disapproval, usually parental disapproval, was an obstacle to their marriage.
Chamie, Joshph, and Barry, M. 2011. “Same-Sex Marriage: A New Social Phenomenon.” Population Council 37(3): 529-551.
Mast, Brent, D. 2013. “Visualizing Same-Sex Couple Household Data with Linked Micromaps.” US Department of housing and Urban Development 15(2): 267-271.
Humble, Aine, M., 2013. “Moving from Ambivalence to Certainty: Older Same-Sex Couples Marry in Canada.” Canadian Journal on Aging 32(2): 131-144
Lannutti, Pamela, J. 2007. “”This is Not a Lesbian Wedding”: Examining Same-Sex Marriage and Bisexual-Lesbian Couples.” Co-published simultaneously in Journal of Bisexuality 7(3/4): 237-260; and:Bisexuality and Same-Sex Marriage 7(3/4): 237-260.)
Democratic donor Steve Elmendorf said he believes Obama’s announcement will “energize people for Obama at all levels. It’s not just about the LGBT community…everybody all the way up to the maximum [donors] will be excited.”
“It’s going to create some real energy for the campaign, not just for the donor community, but among people who care about this issue,” he added.
Obama already had significant financial support from LGBT donors. About one in six of Obama’s top campaign “bundlers” are gay, according to a Washington Post analysis. But the president’s reluctance to publicly come out in favor of gay marriage was a sticking point for some potential donors.
“It’ll be a big boost for donors,” one gay lobbyist said of the Wednesday announcement. “It’s been very frustrating to the gay community that he’s done so much that there is just this one issue. It’s the civil rights issue of our generation.” The lobbyist added that independents are the most likely donors to be swayed by Obama’s new stance, since many gay donors have already been supportive of Obama.
One gay bundler told Capital City New York that it will be “immeasurably easier” for him to raise money for Obama in the LGBT community and among progressives more broadly.
“Whether it’s for shoe leather or whether it’s for financial contributions, I think it will engage people,” said Chuck Wolfe, president of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, noting that much of the community’s support and financial donations already go to Obama. Obama has helped usher in a new era of gay rights at the federal level, helping pass the controversial repeal of the military “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal.
A heightened enthusiasm for the president in the LGBT community following this announcement could spur donors to shell out big bucks for his campaign, especially given conservative Republicans push on this issue in other states like Minnesota and GOP presumptive nominee Mitt Romney’s opposition to gay marriage.
Obama’s public announcement came just a day after North Carolina, a swing state for the presidential election in November, voted on a state ballot measure that prohibits marriage or rights to same-sex couples.
Elmendorf dismissed critics of Obama’s timing.
“We’re in a presidential campaign so everyone is going to say it’s politically motivated,” Elmendorf said. “I take him at his word. It’s not unusual for people of his age and demographic.”
The vast majority of money from gay and lesbian rights groups goes to Democratic candidates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In the 2010 election cycle, 96 percent of the $1.3 million given to federal candidates by LGBT organizations’ PACs and employees went to Democrats.
Still, some LGBT advocates say there’s been a lull in enthusiasm since last year’s repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy for gays in the military.
“There’s been a drop off in participation and enthusiasm and even knowledge that we’re not done,” said Denny Meyer, a spokesman for American Veterans for Equal Rights.
But the shift on gay marriage could energize voters as well as donors who have burned out, he said. “The president making a policy change like that could result in people realizing … you have to make this happen by voting for people who will pass this.”
Obama’s decision to publicly support gay marriage didn’t appease all gay activists, and Republicans accused the White House of trying to have it both ways on the contentious issue.
Clarke Cooper, head of Log Cabin Republicans, wrote in an email that “LGBT Americans are right to be angry that this calculated announcement comes too late to be of any use to the people of North Carolina, or any of the other states that have addressed this issue on his watch.”
Futher, Cooper said that the administration has, “manipulated LGBT families for political gain as much as anybody, and after his campaign’s ridiculous contortions to deny support for marriage equality this week Obama does not deserve praise for an announcement that comes a day late and a dollar short.
Story 1: Supreme Court Obamacare Attack On American Consumer Sovereignty and Individual Freedom — Big Government Tyranny and Coercion — Videos
“The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”
“Each of us has a natural right, from God, to defend his person, his liberty, and his property.”
~ Frederic Bastiat
“Liberty is always freedom from the government.”
“The fact is that, under a capitalistic system, the ultimate bosses are the consumers.
The sovereign is not the state, it is the people.”
“The common man is the sovereign consumer whose buying or abstention from buying ultimately determines what should be produced and in what quantity and quality.”
“It is important to remember that government interference always means either violent action or the threat of such action.
The funds that a government spends for whatever purposes are levied by taxation.
And taxes are paid because the taxpayers are afraid of offering resistance to the tax gatherers.
They know that any disobedience or resistance is hopeless.
As long as this is the state of affairs, the government is able to collect the money that it wants to spend.
Government is in the last resort the employment of armed men, of policemen, gendarmes, soldiers, prison guards, and hangmen.
The essential feature of government is the enforcement of its decrees by beating, killing, and imprisoning.
Those who are asking for more government interference are asking ultimately for more compulsion and less freedom.”
~Ludwig von Mises
“In a democracy, the power to make the law rests with those chosen by the people. Our role is more confined —’to say what the law is.’ … That is easier in some cases than in others. But in every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”
~Chief Justice John Roberts
“Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of. Who would ever have dreamt that ‘Exchange established by the State’ means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government’? Little short of an express statutory definition could justify adopting this singular reading.”
“We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”
~Justice Antonin Scalia
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The Truth About Obamacare
In Upholding Obamacare’s Subsidies, Justice Roberts Rewrites the Law—Again
Time to start calling the Affordable Care Act SCOTUScare.
By Peter Suderman
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts has rewritten the law to save Obamacare—again.
Roberts’ majority opinion today in King v. Burwell, which ruled that the Obama administration’s decision to allow health insurance subsidies flow through the law’s federal exchanges, leaves no doubt that Roberts considers it his duty to keep the law afloat.
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” he writes. “If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”
And so Roberts decided that a law which explicitly and repeatedly states that subsidies are limited to exchanges “established by a State,” and which defines “State” as one of the 50 states or the District of Columbia, actually allows subsidies in exchanges established by a State or the federal government. Roberts’ decision does not interpret Obamacare; it adds to it and reworks it, and in the process transforms it into something that it is not.
Roberts has not merely tweaked the law; he has rewritten it to mean the opposite of what it clearly means. Why include the phrase “established by a State under Section 1311″—the section dealing with state-based exchanges—except to limit the subsidies to those particular exchanges? Roberts’ opinion reconceptualizes this limiting language as inclusive.
The Chief Justice frames his decision as a form of respectful deference to congressional intent. As my colleague Damon Root noted earlier, his opinion cautions that in “every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan.”
But Roberts’ opinion is far more than a fair reading of the legislative plan; it is a Court-imposed decision as to what that plan must be.
As Justice Antonin Scalia writes in a scathing dissent, Roberts presumes, with no definitive evidence, that his interpretation is the one that Congress intended. “What makes the Court so sure that Congress ‘meant’ tax credits to be available everywhere?” Scalia asks. “Our only evidence of what Congress meant comes from the terms of the law, and those terms show beyond all question that tax credits are available only on state Exchanges.”
Roberts’ opinion declares its intent to uphold the law’s basic policy scheme, arguing that there would be adverse insurance market effects to a decision in favor of the challengers. In other words, there would have been policy implications to a ruling for the plaintiffs. That is almost certainly true, but it is not an excuse to rewrite the clear language of the law.
As Scalia says in the dissent, “The Court protests that without the tax credits, the number of people covered by the individual mandate shrinks, and without a broadly applicable individual mandate the guaranteed-issue and community-rating requirements ‘would destabilize the individual insurance market.’ If true, these projections would show only that the statutory scheme contains a flaw; they would not show that the statute means the opposite of what it says.” The majority has decided how Obamacare’s policy scheme should work, and redrafted the statute accordingly.
If Roberts had truly wanted to defer to Congress, he could have ruled that the law means what says rather than what it does not, and effectively handed the issue back to the legislature, letting Congress decide whether and how to update the law in accordance with its own wishes. Instead, Roberts made the choice for Congress—taking its power to craft law for itself. As Scalia writes, “the Court’s insistence on making a choice that should be made by Congress both aggrandizes judicial power and encourages congressional lassitude.”
This is not the first time that Roberts has rewritten the law in order to uphold it. In 2012, he declared that the law’s individual mandate to purchase insurance was unconstitutional under the Constitution’s Commerce Clause—and yet upheld it by declaring that the law’s penalty was instead permissible as a tax. In the same decision, he also found that the law’s threat to revoke all federal Medicaid funding from states that decline to participate in Obamacare’s expansion of the program was unconstitutionally coercive. But rather than strike the whole thing down, Roberts rewrote it, allowing the Medicaid expansion, and the rest of the law, to continue but without the same threat to state budgets.
In his dissent, Scalia argues that there’s a pattern to these rulings. “Under all the usual rules of interpretation, in short, the Government should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved.”
If anything, it’s even worse. What Roberts has saved is not the law so much as the Obama administration’s dubious, textually unsupported interpretation and implementation of Obamacare. This is not judicial restraint. It is judicial hubris.
And while it would be overstatement to say that this damages the legitimacy of the Court, it certainly reflects on the legacy and status of the law. As even Roberts admits in his opinion, the law “contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting” and generally “does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation.” It is a shoddy, messy piece of legislation, held together, barely, by Supreme Court duct tape.
At this point, then, the law is as much a joint project between the administration and the Roberts court as it is a creation of Congress. As Scalia snarks at the end of his dissent, “we should start calling this law SCOTUScare.” Regardless of what we call it, that’s effectively what it has become.
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday handed the Obama administration a major victory on health care, ruling 6-3 that nationwide subsidies called for in the Affordable Care Act are legal.
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” the court’s majority said in the opinion, which was written by Chief Justice John Roberts. But they acknowledged that “petitioners’ arguments about the plain meaning … are strong.”
The majority opinion cited the law’s “more than a few examples of inartful drafting,” but added, “the context and structure of the Act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”
Roberts was joined by the court’s liberal justices, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, as well as by Anthony Kennedy.
In his dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia said: “We should start calling this law SCOTUScare,” an apparent reference to the fact the Supreme Court has now saved the Affordable Care Act twice. Scalia called the majority’s reading of the text “quite absurd, and the court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so.”
As NPR’s Nina Totenberg reported in March, opponents of the law contended “that the text of the law does not authorize subsidies to make mandated insurance affordable in 34 states.”
At issue were six words in one section of the law. As Nina pointed out: “Those words stipulate that for people who cannot afford health coverage, subsidies are available through ‘an exchange established by the state.’ ” She added:
“The government [contended] that those words refer to any exchange, whether it is set up by the state itself or an exchange run for the state by the federal government in accordance with individual state insurance laws and regulations. The challengers [said] the statute means what it says and no more.”
The court agreed Thursday with the government’s position.
The decision comes three years after a bitterly divided high court upheld the Affordable Care Act as constitutional by a 5-4 vote.
President Obama made a statement on the ruling late Thursday morning, saying the Affordable Care Act “is here to stay.”
SCOTUS rules 6-3 in favor of administration in major defeat for critics of the health law.
Obamacare’s health insurance subsidies will live, thanks to the Supreme Court.
The High Court has ruled 6-3 in favor of the administration to uphold the subsidies in Obamacare’s federal exchanges. The case challenged the administration’s decision, through the Internal Revenue Service, to allow subsidies in the 36 exchanges run by the federal government under the law.
The challengers argued that the plain text of the law, which states that subsidies are only available in an exchange “established by a State,” defining “State” to mean the 50 states or the District of Columbia, prohibited subsidies in the federal exchanges. The administration argued that the IRS rule allowing those subsidies was consistent with the overall structure of the law, and with congressional intent.
Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts sided with the administration’s position, saying that although the health law contains “more than a few examples of inartful drafting,” the Court nevertheless believes that the relevant section of the law “can fairly be read consistent with what we see as Congress’s plan, and that is the reading we adopt.” The complete ruling can be read here.
Basically, the Supreme Court, decided they’d rather squint at the law and look at its general shape rather than bother too much with the plain meaning of the relevant text.
This is a major victory fo the administration and backers of the health law, whose decision to ignore the plain text of the law has been blessed by the Court. It’s also a big loss for critics of Obamacare, who hoped to see the law’s implementation restrained by its legislative text, and for straightforward interpretation of congressional statute.
What it means is that the crazy array of post-King scenarios that many had speculated about over the last few months will never come to pass. Obamacare stays the same, in terms of both policy and politics. It’s a ruling for the status quo.
Reason will have much more on this throughout the day.
Supreme Court Allows Nationwide Health Care Subsidies
The Supreme Courtruled on Thursday that President Obama’s health care law allows the federal government to provide nationwide tax subsidies to help poor and middle-class people buy health insurance, a sweeping vindication that endorsed the larger purpose of Mr. Obama’s signature legislative achievement.
The 6-to-3 ruling means that it is all but certain that the Affordable Care Act will survive after Mr. Obama leaves office in 2017. For the second time in three years, the law survived an encounter with the Supreme Court. But the court’s tone was different this time. The first decision, in 2012, was fractured and grudging, while Thursday’s ruling was more assertive.
“Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them,” Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote for a united six-justice majority. In 2012’s closely divided decision, Chief Justice Roberts also wrote the controlling opinion, but that time no other justice joined it in full.
Demonstrators expressed their support for the Affordable Care Act outside of the Supreme Court on Thursday.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
In dissent on Thursday, Justice Antonin Scalia called the majority’s reasoning “quite absurd” and “interpretive jiggery-pokery.”
He announced his dissent from the bench, a sign of bitter disagreement. His summary was laced with notes of incredulity and sarcasm, sometimes drawing amused murmurs in the courtroom as he described the “interpretive somersaults” he said the majority had performed to reach the decision.
“We really should start calling this law Scotus-care,” Justice Scalia said, to laughter from the audience.
In a hastily arranged appearance in the Rose Garden on Thursday morning, a triumphant Mr. Obama praised the ruling. “After multiple challenges to this law before the Supreme Court, the Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” he said, adding: “What we’re not going to do is unravel what has now been woven into the fabric of America.”
The ruling was a blow to Republicans, who have been trying to gut the law since it was enacted. But House Speaker John A. Boehner vowed that the political fight against it would continue.
“The problem with Obamacare is still fundamentally the same: The law is broken,” Mr. Boehner said. “It’s raising costs for American families, it’s raising costs for small businesses and it’s just fundamentally broken. And we’re going to continue our efforts to do everything we can to put the American people back in charge of their health care and not the federal government.”
The case concerned a central part of the Affordable Care Act that created marketplaces, known as exchanges, to allow people who lack insurance to shop for individual health plans. Some states set up their own exchanges, but about three dozen allowed the federal government to step in to run them. Across the nation, about 85 percent of customers using the exchanges qualify for subsidies to help pay for coverage, based on their income.
The question in the case, King v. Burwell, No. 14-114, was what to make of a phrase in the law that seems to say the subsidies are available only to people buying insurance on “an exchange established by the state.”
A legal victory for the plaintiffs, lawyers for the administration said, would have affected more than six million people and created havoc in the insurance markets and undermined the law.
Chief Justice Roberts acknowledged that the plaintiffs had strong arguments about the plain meaning of the contested words. But he wrote that the words must be understood as part of a larger statutory plan. “In this instance,” he wrote, “the context and structure of the act compel us to depart from what would otherwise be the most natural reading of the pertinent statutory phrase.”
This was challenging, he said, in light of the law’s “more than a few examples of inartful drafting,” a consequence of rushed work behind closed doors that “does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation.”
But he said the law’s interlocking parts supported a ruling in favor of the subsidies, particularly given that a contrary decision could have given rise to chaos in the insurance markets. A ruling rejecting subsidies in most of the nation would have left in place other parts of the law, including its guarantee of coverage regardless of pre-existing conditions, its requirement that most Americans obtain insurance or pay a penalty, and its expansion of Medicaid.
Without the subsidies, many people would be unable to afford insurance, and healthier consumers would go without coverage, leaving insurers with a sicker, more expensive pool of customers. That would raise prices for everyone, leading to what supporters of the law called death spirals.
“The statutory scheme compels us to reject petitioners’ interpretation,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote, referring to the challengers, “because it would destabilize the individual insurance market in any state with a federal exchange, and likely create the very ‘death spirals’ that Congress designed the act to avoid.”
In dissent, Justice Scalia wrote that the majority had stretched the statutory text too far.
Copies of the court’s ruling in favor of nationwide health insurance subsidies were rushed to television news reporters.CreditDoug Mills/The New York Times
“I wholeheartedly agree with the court that sound interpretation requires paying attention to the whole law, not homing in on isolated words or even isolated sections,” Justice Scalia wrote. “Context always matters. Let us not forget, however, why context matters: It is a tool for understanding the terms of the law, not an excuse for rewriting them.”
“Reading the act as a whole leaves no doubt about the matter,” he wrote. “ ‘Exchange established by the state’ means what it looks like it means.”
Justice Scalia said the decision had damaged the court’s reputation for “honest jurisprudence.”
The court, he said, had taken into its own hands a matter involving tens of billions of dollars that should have been left to Congress.
“It is up to Congress to design its laws with care,” he added, “and it is up to the people to hold them to account if they fail to carry out that responsibility.”
Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito Jr. joined Justice Scalia’s dissenting opinion.
Chief Justice Roberts rejected the argument that Congress had limited the availability of subsidies in order to encourage states to create their own exchanges, a notion that had occurred to almost no one at the time the law was enacted.
Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have established their own exchanges. Under the law, the federal government has stepped in to run exchanges in the rest of the states.
“The whole point of that provision,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote, “is to create a federal fallback in case a state chooses not to establish its own exchange. Contrary to petitioners’ argument, Congress did not believe it was offering states a deal they would not refuse — it expressly addressed what would happen if a state did refuse the deal.
The case started when four plaintiffs, all from Virginia, sued the Obama administration, saying the phrase meant that the law forbids the federal government to provide subsidies in states that do not have their own exchanges.
The plaintiffs challenged an Internal Revenue Service regulation that said subsidies were allowed whether the exchange was run by a state or by the federal government. They said the regulation was at odds with the Affordable Care Act.
Judge Roger L. Gregory, writing for a three-judge panel of the court, said the contested phrase was “ambiguous and subject to multiple interpretations.” That meant, he said, that the I.R.S. interpretation was entitled to deference.
The Supreme Court’s ruling was more forceful. “This is not a case for the I.R.S.,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. “It is instead our task to determine the correct reading.”
In a 6-3 ruling authored by Chief Justice Roberts, the Court held that subsidies are available on the federal exchanges. Those voting in the majority were Roberts, Kennedy, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan.
Had the court ruled otherwise, it would have put all of Obamacare in jeopardy, since 38 states do not have exchanges and Obamacare is too expensive for most people without a subsidy.
The issue was whether only state-established exchanges could issue tax credits, or whether the federal exchanges could also. Challengers to IRS regulations pointed to the words “established by the State” in the legislation as clear and unambiguous that subsidies were limited to state exchanges.
The Court rejected this assertion:
These provisions suggest that the Act may not always use the phrase “established by the State” in its most natural
sense. Thus, the meaning of that phrase may not be as clear as it appears when read out of context. [at 11.]
As he did in upholding an Obamacare constitutional challenge in 2012, Roberts found a way to read the law so as to save the law:
The upshot of all this is that the phrase “an Exchange established by the State under [42 U. S. C. §18031]” is properly viewed as ambiguous. The phrase may be limited in its reach to State Exchanges. But it is also possible that the phrase refers to all Exchanges—both State and Federal—at least for purposes of the tax credits. If a State chooses not to follow the directive in Section 18031 that it establish an Exchange, the Act tells the Secretary to establish “such Exchange.” §18041. And by using the words “such Exchange,” the Act indicates that State and Federal Exchanges should be the same. But State and Federal Exchanges would differ in a fundamental way if tax credits were available only on State Exchanges—one type of Exchange would help make insurance more affordable by providing billions of dollars to the States’ citizens; the other type of Exchange would not.2 [at 12-13]
The Court found Obamacare so “inartfully drafted” that the Court essentially wrote the law for Congress through “statutory interpretation.”
The Affordable Care Act contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting. (To cite just one, the Act creates three separate Section 1563s. See 124 Stat. 270, 911, 912.) Several features of the Act’s passage contributed to that unfortunate reality. Congress wrote key parts of the Act behind closed doors, rather than through “the traditional legislative process.” Cannan, A Legislative
History of the Affordable Care Act: How Legislative Procedure Shapes Legislative History, 105 L. Lib. J. 131, 163 (2013). And Congress passed much of the Act using a complicated budgetary procedure known as “reconciliation,” which limited opportunities for debate and amendment, and bypassed the Senate’s normal 60-vote filibuster requirement. Id., at 159–167. As a result, the Act does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one mightexpect of such significant legislation….
Anyway, we “must do our best, bearing in mind the fundamental canon of statutory construction that the words of a statute must be read in their context and with a view to their place in the overall statutory scheme.” Utility Air Regulatory Group, 573 U. S., at ___ (slip op., at 15) (internal quotation marks omitted). After reading Section 36B along with other related provisions in the Act, we cannot conclude that the phrase “an Exchange established by the State under [Section 18031]” is unambiguous. [at 14-15]
Nowhere in any of the opinions is the term “Gruber” mentioned. Jonathan Gruber, one of the architects of the law, stated on numerous occasions that there was a specific purpose of the language to exclude the federal exchange, so as to pressure states to get subsidies for their citizens by establishing exchanges.
Architect of Obamacare: Only get tax credits if buy on state exchanges
The Court rejected the Gruber view of Congressional intent:
The whole point of that provision is to create a federal fallback in case a State chooses not to establish its own Exchange. Contrary to petitioners’ argument, Congress did not believe it was offering States a deal they would not refuse—it expressly addressed what
would happen if a State did refuse the deal.
Having found the term “established by the State” ambiguous, the Court read it in a way such as to save Obamacare and prevent a “death spiral” of the law:
Given that the text is ambiguous, we must turn to the broader structure of the Act to determine the meaning of Section 36B. “A provision that may seem ambiguous in isolation is often clarified by the remainder of the statutory scheme . . . because only one of the permissible meanings produces a substantive effect that is compatible with the rest of the law.” United Sav. Assn. of Tex. v. Timbers of Inwood Forest Associates, Ltd., 484 U. S. 365, 371 (1988). Here, the statutory scheme compels us to reject petitioners’ interpretation because it would destabilize the individual insurance market in any State with a Federal Exchange, and likely create the very “death spirals” that Congress designed the Act to avoid. [at 15]
Reliance on context and structure in statutory interpretation is a “subtle business, calling for great wariness lest
what professes to be mere rendering becomes creation and attempted interpretation of legislation becomes legislation itself.” Palmer v. Massachusetts, 308 U. S. 79, 83 (1939). For the reasons we have given, however, such reliance is appropriate in this case, and leads us to conclude that Section 36B allows tax credits for insurance purchased on any Exchange created under the Act. Those credits are necessary for the Federal Exchanges to function like their State Exchange counterparts, and to avoid the type of calamitous result that Congress plainly meant to avoid. [at 21]
Roberts and the majority did not want to be the ones to take down Obamacare, and that drove everything:
Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter. Section 36B can fairly be read consistent with what we see as Congress’s plan, and that is the reading we adopt. [at 21]
Scalia’s dissent, joined by Thomas and Alito, was stinging, and in my opinion correct as to the absurdity of the Court contorting itself to save the law (as Roberts did in the original Obamacare challenge):
The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says “Exchange established by the State” it means “Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.” That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so. [at 1]
Scalia points out that the words have a plain meaning:
This case requires us to decide whether someone who buys insurance on an Exchange established by the Secretary gets tax credits. You would think the answer would be obvious—so obvious there would hardly be a need for the Supreme Court to hear a case about it. In order to receive any money under §36B, an individual must enroll in an insurance plan through an “Exchange established by the State.” The Secretary of Health and Human Services is not a State. So an Exchange established by the Secretary is not an Exchange established by the State—which means people who buy health insurance through such an Exchange get no money under §36B.
Words no longer have meaning if an Exchange that is not established by a State is “established by the State.” …. [at 2, italics in original]
Scalia argued — persuasively — that the overriding goal seems to be saving Obamacare, not exercising normal judicial interpretation of plain language:
“[T]he plain, obvious, and rational meaning of a statute is always to be preferred to any curious, narrow, hidden sense that nothing but the exigency of a hard case and the ingenuity and study of an acute and powerful intellect would discover.” Lynch v. Alworth-Stephens Co., 267 U. S. 364, 370 (1925) (internal quotation marks omitted). Under all the usual rules of interpretation, in short, the Government should lose this case. But normal rules of interpretation seem always to yield to the overriding principle of the present Court: The Affordable Care Act must be saved. [at 2-3]
Scalia wrote that the majority opinion rewrote the law “with no semblance of shame”:
The Court interprets §36B to award tax credits on both federal and state Exchanges. It accepts that the “most natural sense” of the phrase “Exchange established by the State” is an Exchange established by a State. Ante, at 11. (Understatement, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!) Yet the opinion continues, with no semblance of shame, that “it is also possible that the phrase refers to all Exchanges—both State and Federal.” Ante, at 13. (Impossible possibility, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!) [at 3]
Scalia then delivered the best line of the day. Looking back over multiple decisions from the Court to rewrite Obamacare in order to save it, Scalia insisted that the law now should be called SCOTUScare:
Today’s opinion changes the usual rules of statutory interpretation for the sake of the Affordable Care Act. That, alas, is not a novelty. In National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U. S. ___, this Court revised major components of the statute in order to save them from unconstitutionality. The Act that Congress passed provides that every individual “shall” maintain insurance or else pay a “penalty.” 26 U. S. C. §5000A. This Court, however, saw that the Commerce Clause does not authorize a federal mandate to buy health insurance. So it rewrote the mandate-cum-penalty as a tax. 567 U. S., at ___–___ (principal opinion) (slip op., at 15–45).
The Act that Congress passed also requires every State to accept an expansion of its Medicaid program, or else risk losing all Medicaid funding. 42 U. S. C. §1396c. This Court, however, saw that the Spending Clause does not authorize this coercive condition. So it rewrote the law to withhold only the incremental funds associated with the Medicaid expansion. 567 U. S., at ___–___ (principal opinion) (slip op., at 45–58). Having transformed two major parts of the law, the Court today has turned its attention to a third. The Act that Congress passed makes tax credits available only on an “Exchange established by the State.” This Court, however, concludes that this limitation would prevent the rest of the Act from working as well as hoped. So it rewrites the law to make tax credits available everywhere.
We should start calling this law SCOTUScare. [at 20-21, emphasis and hard paragraph breaks added.]
The legacy of this Court, Scalia wrote, will live on just as Obamacare, but in infamy:
Perhaps the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act will attain the enduring status of the Social Security Act or the Taft-Hartley Act; perhaps not. But this Court’s two decisions on the Act will surely be remembered through the years. The somersaults of statutory interpretation they have performed (“penalty” means tax, “further [Medicaid] payments to the State” means only incremental Medicaid payments to the State, “established by the State” means not established by the State) will be cited by litigants endlessly, to the confusion of honest jurisprudence. And the cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.
From ‘Jiggery-Pokery’ to ‘SCOTUScare,’ Read the Best Quotes From Today’s Obamacare Ruling
Justice Antonin Scalia’s flair for the dramatic shines through, while Chief Justice John Roberts plays it straight.
Supporters of the Affordable Care Act react with cheers as the opinion for health care is reported outside of the Supreme Court in Washington on Thursday .
By U.S. News Staff
Thursday’s 6-3 ruling by the Supreme Court upholding the validity of tax credits that help millions of people afford health insurance under the Affordable Care Act came down to a literal matter of interpretation.
At issue were words in the law that subsidies could be distributed for health coverage purchased through “an Exchange established by the State.” The plaintiffs argued the law should be read literally, nullifying subsidies provided through exchanges that relied on the federal government. The Obama administration countered that the law never intended to limit subsidies in such a way.
Chief Justice John Roberts authored the court’s majority opinion, and was countered by Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent. Here are some select quotes from both.
Chief Justice John Roberts authored the court’s majority opinion.
“The upshot of all this is that the phrase ‘an Exchange established by the State under [42 U. S. C. §18031]’ is properly viewed as ambiguous. The phrase may be limited in its reach to State Exchanges. But it is also possible that the phrase refers to all Exchanges—both State and Federal—at least for purposes of the tax credits.”
“It would be odd indeed for Congress to write such detailed instructions about customers on a State Exchange, while having nothing to say about those on a Federal Exchange.”
“The Affordable Care Act contains more than a few examples of inartful drafting. Several features of the Act’s passage contributed to that unfortunate reality. Congress wrote key parts of the Act behind closed doors, rather than through ‘the traditional legislative process’ … As a result, the Act does not reflect the type of care and deliberation that one might expect of such significant legislation.”
“The statutory scheme compels us to reject petitioners’ interpretation because it would destabilize the individual insurance market in any State with a Federal Exchange, and likely create the very ‘death spirals’ that Congress designed the Act to avoid.”
“In petitioners’ view, Congress made the viability of the entire Affordable Care Act turn on the ultimate ancillary provision: a sub-sub-sub section of the Tax Code. We doubt that is what Congress meant to do.”
“In a democracy, the power to make the law rests with those chosen by the people. Our role is more confined —’to say what the law is.’ … That is easier in some cases than in others. But in every case we must respect the role of the Legislature, and take care not to undo what it has done. A fair reading of legislation demands a fair understanding of the legislative plan. Congress passed the Affordable Care Act to improve health insurance markets, not to destroy them. If at all possible, we must interpret the Act in a way that is consistent with the former, and avoids the latter.”
Justice Antonin Scalia authored the court’s dissenting opinion.
“Today’s interpretation is not merely unnatural; it is unheard of. Who would ever have dreamt that ‘Exchange established by the State’ means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government’? Little short of an express statutory definition could justify adopting this singular reading.”
“We should start calling this law SCOTUScare.”
“The Court holds that when the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act says ‘Exchange established by the State’ it means ‘Exchange established by the State or the Federal Government.’ That is of course quite absurd, and the Court’s 21 pages of explanation make it no less so.”
“Yet the opinion continues, with no semblance of shame, that ‘it is also possible that the phrase refers to all Exchanges—both State and Federal.’ (Impossible possibility, thy name is an opinion on the Affordable Care Act!)”
“The Court’s next bit of interpretive jiggery-pokery involves other parts of the Act that purportedly presuppose the availability of tax credits on both federal and state Exchanges.”
“Much less is it our place to make everything come out right when Congress does not do its job properly. It is up to Congress to design its laws with care, and it is up to the people to hold them to account if they fail to carry out that responsibility.”
“The somersaults of statutory interpretation they have performed (‘penalty’ means tax, ‘further [Medicaid] payments to the State’ means only incremental Medicaid payments to the State, ‘established by the State’ means not established by the State) will be cited by litigants endlessly, to the confusion of honest jurisprudence. And the cases will publish forever the discouraging truth that the Supreme Court of the United States favors some laws over others, and is prepared to do whatever it takes to uphold and assist its favorites.”
Decreasing the number of uninsured is a key goal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which provides Medicaid coverage to many low-income individuals in states that expand and Marketplace subsidies for individuals below 400% of the poverty line. Baseline estimates show that over 41 million individuals were uninsured in 2013, prior to the start of the major ACA coverage provisions, and early evidence suggests that the ACA has reduced this number. This brief describes trends in coverage leading up to the ACA, reviews early estimates of the impact of the ACA on the uninsured, examines the characteristics of the uninsured population, and summarizes the access and financial implications of not having coverage.
Summary: Key Facts about the Uninsured Population
What was happening to the uninsured leading up to the ACA?
Trends in the uninsured have historically tracked economic conditions, with the number of uninsured people increasing during recessionary periods when people lost their jobs. Public programs provided a safety net during the Great Recession and prevented many from going uninsured. On the eve of the ACA, as the economy stabilized, coverage losses slowed. However, over 41 million people were still without coverage in 2013.
What has been happening to the uninsured under the ACA?
As of 2014, the ACA helps expand coverage to millions of currently uninsured people through the expansion of Medicaid eligibility and establishment of Health Insurance Marketplaces. The ACA also includes reforms to help people maintain coverage and make private insurance affordable and accessible. Early evidence on coverage in the first few months of 2014 indicates that the number of uninsured has declined since the availability of these new provisions.
Why are so many Americans uninsured?
The high cost of insurance has been the main reason why people go without coverage. In 2013, 61% of uninsured adults said the main reason they were uninsured was because the cost was too high or because they had lost their job. Many people do not have access to coverage through a job, and gaps in eligibility for public coverage in the past have left many without an affordable option. Even after ACA coverage expansions, Medicaid eligibility for adults remains limited in states that did not expand their programs.
Who are the uninsured?
Most of the uninsured are in low-income working families. In 2013, nearly 8 in 10 were in a family with a worker, and nearly 6 in 10 have family income below 200% of poverty. Reflecting the more limited availability of public coverage, adults have been more likely to be uninsured than children. People of color are at higher risk of being uninsured than non-Hispanic Whites.
How does the lack of insurance affect access to health care?
People without insurance coverage have worse access to care than people who are insured. Almost a third of uninsured adults in 2013 (30%) went without needed medical care due to cost. Studies repeatedly demonstrate that the uninsured are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases.
What are the financial implications of lack of coverage?
The uninsured often face unaffordable medical bills when they do seek care. In 2013, nearly 40% of uninsured adults said they had outstanding medical bills, and a fifth said they had medical bills that caused serious financial strain. These bills can quickly translate into medical debt since most of the uninsured have low or moderate incomes and have little, if any, savings.
What was happening to the uninsured leading up to the ACA?
The number of uninsured people steadily increased throughout most of the past decade due to decreasing employer sponsored insurance coverage and rising health care costs. The recent recession led to a steep increase in uninsured rates from 2008 to 2010 as a high jobless rate led millions to lose their employer sponsored coverage.1Medicaid and CHIP prevented steeper drops in insurance coverage, as many Americans became newly eligible for these programs when their income declined during the recession. From 2011 to 2013, uninsured rates dropped as the economy improved and early provisions expanding coverage under the ACA went into effect.
The share of the nonelderly population with employer-sponsored coverage declined steadily between 2000 and 2010, dropping nearly ten percentage points over the decade.2 In 2011, this trend ended as the share with employer-sponsored coverage held nearly constant at around 58% between 2011 and 2013. This break in trend was likely due to uptake of the ACA provision that allowed young adults to continue as dependents on parents’ private plans until age 26. It also reflects improving economic conditions. The unemployment rate peaked at 10.0 percent in October 2009. From 2010 on, the unemployment rate improved steadily, corresponding with a drop in the uninsured rate from 2010 to 2013 (Figure 1).
The share of people covered by Medicaid increased significantly during the recent recession due to the weak economy and loss of jobs, which led to declining family incomes and decreasing employer-sponsored coverage among families. Between 2007 and 2013, over 10 million people—primarily children—gained Medicaid coverage. These gains offset some of the loss of employer coverage over the period.
In 2013, the uninsured rate among nonelderly individuals was at 16.7%, a level comparable to pre-recession uninsured rates (Figure 1). Still, many uninsured individuals had been uninsured for long periods, often five years or more,3 indicating that their lack of coverage was related to forces outside the recession. With the major ACA coverage provisions going into effect in 2014, many are newly-insured.
What has been happening to the uninsured under the ACA?
Under the ACA, as of 2014, Medicaid coverage is expanded to nearly all adults with incomes at or below 138% of poverty in states that expand, and tax credits are available for people who purchase coverage through a health insurance Marketplace. Early data suggest that the ACA has helped expand coverage to millions of previously uninsured people, but some—particularly poor adults in states that do not expand Medicaid—are still left without affordable coverage.
As of mid-April 2014 (after the first open enrollment period), over 8 million people selected plans through the federal or state Marketplaces.4 The vast majority of Marketplace enrollees (85%) were eligible for premium tax credits. Many Marketplace enrollees are newly-insured. A survey of people with private non-group plans after open enrollment found that nearly six in ten (57 percent) of those with Marketplace coverage were uninsured prior to purchasing their current plan.5 Other data from insurers suggest a large increase in the individual market in the first quarter attributable to the ACA.6
Enrollment data also show that as of July 2014, Medicaid enrollment has grown by 8 million since the period before open enrollment (which started in October 2013).7 This growth is an increase of 14% in monthly Medicaid enrollment.8 Enrollment increases were higher (20%) among states that chose to expand Medicaid eligibility. These data suggest that Medicaid enrollment growth is related to ACA expansions.9
Early survey data suggest that the uninsured rate is falling. The early release of estimates from the first quarter (January through March) of the 2014 National Health Interview Survey indicates that the uninsured rate dropped for nonelderly individuals in the first quarter of 2014 by a full percentage point relative to the first quarter of the previous year.10 However, the NHIS early results were not likely to have captured most or all of the ACA’s effects, as many people enrolled in coverage after survey data were collected. NHIS early results also show that states that chose to expand Medicaid saw significant declines in uninsured rates among adults from 2013 to the first quarter of 2014 (Figure 2). States that did not choose to expand Medicaid did not see corresponding declines. Several private polls and surveys also indicate that the uninsured rate has been decreasing since the period prior to ACA open enrollment. While these surveys have different methodologies and often have high error margins that make point estimates unreliable, they are all in agreement that the uninsured rate has dropped in 2014.
Even with the availability of new coverage options, millions remain uninsured. Previous analyses show that many poor adults in states that do not expand Medicaid will continue to be at risk to be uninsured.11 People of color, people living in the South,12 and individuals living in rural areas are especially at risk to be left out of ACA coverage expansions.13
Why are so many Americans uninsured?
Insurance is expensive, and few people can afford to buy it on their own. Most Americans obtain health insurance coverage through an employer, but not all workers are offered employer-sponsored coverage. Also, not all who are offered coverage by an employer can afford their share of the premiums. Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) cover many low-income individuals, particularly children. However, Medicaid eligibility for adults remains limited in some states, and few people can afford to purchase coverage on their own without financial assistance.
Uninsured individuals report that cost poses a major barrier to purchasing coverage. In 2013, 61% of adults said that the main reason they are uninsured is either because the cost is too high or because they lost their job, compared to 1.7% who said they are uninsured because they do not need coverage (Figure 3). Under the ACA, financial assistance is available to help many uninsured people afford coverage.
Not all workers have access to coverage through their job. Most uninsured workers are self-employed or work for small firms where health benefits are less likely to be offered.14 Low-wage workers who are offered coverage often cannot afford their share of the premiums, especially for family coverage.15,16
Workers usually enroll in employer-sponsored health insurance if they are eligible.17 However, it has become increasingly difficult for many workers to afford coverage. In 2014, the average annual total cost of employer-sponsored family coverage was $16,834, and the worker’s share averaging $4,823 per year.18 Between 2004 and 2014, total premiums have increased by 69%, and the worker’s share has increased over 81%.19 Starting in 2015, under the ACA, employers with 50 or more workers will be penalized if they do not offer affordable coverage. As of 2014, the ACA provides Marketplace tax credits or Medicaid coverage for many employees without access to affordable employer-sponsored insurance.20
In 2013, over 51 million nonelderly individuals were covered by Medicaid and CHIP.21 Historically, Medicaid was only available to low-income children, parents, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and the elderly. While states have increasingly expanded eligibility for children over time, eligibility for parents remained much more limited before ACA coverage expansions.22
As of September 2014, 28 states are moving forward or will be moving forward with expanded Medicaid eligibility for most nonelderly individuals under 138% FPL.23 This expansion will fill in historical gaps in eligibility for public coverage. However, in states that do not expand their Medicaid programs, eligibility for adults remains limited: the median eligibility level for parents is just 47% of poverty, and adults without dependent children are ineligible in nearly all states not expanding.
Who are the Uninsured?
The majority of the uninsured are in low-income working families. Reflecting the more limited availability of public coverage, adults are more likely to be uninsured than children. People of color are at higher risk of being uninsured than non-Hispanic Whites.
Based on the most recent data that is available (which reflects coverage prior to the major ACA provisions), over six in ten of the uninsured have at least one full-time worker in their family, and 16% have a part-time worker in the family (Figure 4).
Individuals below poverty are at the highest risk of being uninsured, and this group accounted for 27% of all the uninsured in 2013 (the poverty level for a family of three was $19,530 in 2013). In total, almost nine in ten of the uninsured are in low- or moderate-income families, meaning they are below 400% of poverty (Figure 3).
While a plurality (46%) of the uninsured are White, non-Hispanic, people of color are at higher risk of being uninsured than White non-Hispanics. People of color make up 40% of the population but account for over half of the total uninsured population. The disparity in insurance coverage is especially high for Hispanics, who account for 19% of the total population but more than 30% of the uninsured population. Hispanics and non-Hispanic Blacks have significantly higher uninsured rates (25.6% and 17.3%, respectively) than Whites (11.7%).24
About eight in ten of the uninsured are U.S. citizens and 19.7% are non-citizens. Uninsured non-citizens include both lawfully present and undocumented immigrants. Undocumented immigrants and legal immigrants residing in the U.S. for less than five years are ineligible for federally funded health coverage.
Uninsured rates vary widely by state and by region, with individuals living in the South and West the most likely to be uninsured (Figure 5). This variation reflects different economic conditions, availability of employer-based coverage, demographics, and eligibility for public coverage.
How does the lack of insurance affect access to health care?
Almost a third of uninsured adults (30%) in 2013 went without needed care each year due to cost (Figure 5). Studies repeatedly demonstrate that the uninsured are less likely than those with insurance to receive preventive care and services for major health conditions and chronic diseases.25, 26, 27, 28 Research also has suggested that insurance can decrease likelihood of depression and stress.29
Health providers can choose to not provide care to the uninsured. Only emergency departments are required by federal law to screen and stabilize all individuals. However, the uninsured are not necessarily more likely to use the emergency room than those with insurance.30 If the uninsured are unable to pay for care in full, they are often turned away when they seek follow-up care for urgent medical conditions.31
The uninsured receive less preventive care and recommended screenings than the insured. In 2013, only 1 in 3 uninsured adults (33%) reported a preventive visit with a physician in the last year, compared to 74% of adults with employer coverage and 67% of adults with Medicaid.32 Uninsured older adults (ages 50-64) were far less likely than their insured counterparts to report having been screened for cancer in the past five years.33
Receiving needed care is especially important for the uninsured since they are generally not as healthy as those with private coverage. The uninsured are at higher risk for preventable hospitalizations and for missed diagnoses of serious health conditions.34 After a chronic condition is diagnosed, they are less likely to receive follow-up care and as a result are more likely to have their health decline.35 Lack of follow-up attributed to being uninsured can delay the detection of certain cancers, which can result in adverse outcomes.36 It follows that the uninsured also have significantly higher mortality rates than those with insurance.37,38
The uninsured report higher rates of postponing care and forgoing needed care or prescriptions due to cost compared to those enrolled in Medicaid and other public programs (Figure 6). A seminal study of health insurance in Oregon found that the uninsured were less likely to receive care from a hospital or doctor than newly insured Medicaid enrollees.39A follow-up study found that newly insured Medicaid enrollees were much less likely to delay care because of costs than the uninsured.40
What are the financial implications of lack of coverage?
The uninsured often face unaffordable medical bills when they do seek care. These bills can quickly translate into medical debt since most of the uninsured have low or moderate incomes and have little, if any, savings.
Those without insurance for an entire year pay for one-fifth of their care out-of-pocket.41 They are typically billed for any care they receive, often paying higher charges than the insured.42
Medical bills can put great strain on the uninsured and threaten their physical and financial well-being. The uninsured are significantly more likely than individuals covered by employer coverage, non-group insurance or Medicaid to have trouble paying medical bills (Figure 7). Almost 40% of uninsured adults have outstanding medical bills.
A study based on the Oregon Health Insurance Experiment found that the uninsured were more likely to experience financial strain from medical bills and out-of-pocket expenses than those with Medicaid coverage. The uninsured were also more likely than the insured to have to postpone care because of costs.43
The uninsured live with the knowledge that they may not be able to afford to pay for their family’s medical care, which can cause anxiety and potentially lead them to delay or forgo care. Almost three-quarters (70%) of the uninsured are not confident that they can pay for the health care services they think they need, compared to 13% of those with employer coverage and 37% with Medicaid.44
The average uninsured household has no net assets.45 Without sufficient income or assets to pay their medical bills, uninsured individuals often see their debts accumulate while their credit ratings are compromised. Medical debts contribute to almost half of all bankruptcies in the United States.46
Over 41 million nonelderly individuals were uninsured in 2013. This figure represents the baseline against which most changes in the ACA will be measured. While we do not yet know the full effect of the major coverage provisions of the ACA, early evidence indicates that it is working to expand insurance to those who need it.
Going without coverage can have serious health consequences for the uninsured because they receive less preventive care, and delayed care often results in more serious illness requiring advanced treatment. Being uninsured also can have serious financial consequences. The ACA holds promise for many people who will gain access to health insurance coverage, but monitoring how coverage changes and who is left out of coverage expansions is also important.
Virgil Kane is the name
And I served on the Danville train
‘Till Stoneman’s cavalry came
And tore up the tracks again In the winter of ’65
We were hungry, just barely alive
By May the 10th, Richmond had fell
It’s a time I remember, oh so well
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the people were singing
They went, “Na, na, la, na, na, la
“Back with my wife in Tennessee
When one day she called to me
“Virgil, quick, come see,
There goes Robert E. Lee!
“Now, I don’t mind chopping wood
And I don’t care if the money’s no good
You take what you need
And you leave the rest
But they should never
Have taken the very best
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And all the people were singing
They went, “Na, na, la, na, na, la”Like my father before me
I will work the land
And like my brother above me
Who took a rebel standHe was just 18, proud and brave
But a Yankee laid him in his grave
I swear by the mud below my feet
You can’t raise a Kane back up
When he’s in defeatThe night they drove old Dixie down
And the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And all the people were singing
They went, “Na, na, la, na, na, la”The night they drove old Dixie down
And all the bells were ringing
The night they drove old Dixie down
And the people were singing
They went, “Na, na, la, na, na, la”
The Band, The Weight
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This is What “Political Correctness” Has Done to Our Society (Funny 1992 Sketch)
The History of Political Correctness (Complete)
Political Correctness: The Control of Thought and Speech
CULTURAL MARXISM: The Corruption of America
Bill Whittle on The Narrative: The origins of Political Correctness
Bill Whittle – Racism – Democrats and Republicans switch sides?
Confederate flag controversy amid S.C. grieving
Both the flags of the United States and state of South Carolina flew at half-mast to honor the nine victims of the Charleston church shooting. Yet the Confederate flag was not lowered. Elaine Quijano reports on the controversy.
The CONFEDERATE FLAG: Views from the Heart of Dixie
BATTLE OF GETTYSBURG
Battle Of Gettysburg | Civil War Documentary
Ken Burns The Civil War Episode 4 Simply Murder 1863 Ken Burns Documentary
Black on Black Crime —
Where is the damn outrage?
Ferguson Shooting, Myth Of Whites Killing Blacks, and Black On Black Crime
Why Isn’t Black on White Crime Reported in the Mainstream Media Like White on Black Crime?
PJTV: What the Bible Really Says About Abortion
Dr. Benjamin Carson Got Real on President Obama
78 percent of Abortions are Black or Hispanic Babies
Obama’s Eugenics Team Revealed by Dr. Webster Tarpley
Black Abortion Stats
Fit vs. UnFit, Eugenics, Planned Parenthood & Psychology, Mind Control Report
Against the USA, Naked Communist Conspiracy Theory, NWO, Mind Control Report
One World Government & Collectivism – G. Edward Griffin
War on the Weak: Eugenics in America
MAAFA 21 [A documentary on eugenics and genocide]
Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood’s Racist Founder
Hillary Clinton In Black Church “All Lives Matter”
Hillary Clinton Exposed, Movie She Banned From Theaters Full Movie
Eugenics Glenn Beck w/ Edwin Black author of “War Against the Weak” talk Al Gore & Margaret Sanger
A BRIEF HISTORY OF MENTAL ILLNESS
All about SSRI antidepressants (Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Luvox, Citalopram, Celexa, Lexapro)
PROOF INSIDE – Depression is NOT a Chemical Imbalance – MOAI SSRIs Danger Side Effects Suicide
Elyn Saks: A tale of mental illness — from the inside
The Band 1994-4-22 Complete Show
The Band – The Last Waltz – Full Concert – 11/25/76 – Winterland (OFFICIAL)
The Band – The Last Waltz (full album)
The Complicated Political History Of The Confederate Flag
The Confederate flag flies near the South Carolina Statehouse, Friday, June 19, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Tensions over the Confederate flag flying in the shadow of South Carolina’s Capitol rose this week in the wake of the killings of nine people at a black church in Charleston, S.C.
Rainier Ehrhardt/Associated Press
Last week’s tragic shooting at Mother Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C., that killed nine black parishioners gathered for a Bible study has renewed the debate over one of the most controversial Southern symbols — the Confederate flag.
On Monday, a cascade of both Republicans and Democrats endorsed removing the Confederate flag from the statehouse in Columbia. South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley held a press conference Monday afternoon, flanked by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, to call for the flag to be removed. She was joined by the state’s Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham — who is running for president — and Tim Scott — the chamber’s only African-American Republican.
Demonstrators carry Confederate flags as they leave the entrance of the South Carolina Statehouse after the removal of the flag in Columbia, S.C., on July 1, 2000.
Eric Draper/Associated Press.
In December 1860, South Carolina was the first state to secede from the Union just months after Abraham Lincoln, from the anti-slavery Republican Party, was elected president. In April 1861, the first shots of the Civil War were fired at Fort Sumter, S.C.
Ten other states would eventually follow South Carolina in secession, forming the Confederate States of America. However, of the three flags the Confederacy would go on to adopt, none are the Confederate flag that is traditionally recognized today. The “Stars and Bars” flag, currently the subject of controversy, was actually the battle flag of Gen. Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.
After the war ended, the symbol became a source of Southern pride and heritage, as well as a remembrance of Confederate soldiers who died in battle. But as racism and segregation gripped the nation in the century following, it became a divisive and violent emblem of the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacist groups. It was also the symbol of the States’ Rights Democratic Party, or “Dixiecrats,” that formed in 1948 to oppose civil-rights platforms of the Democratic Party. Then-South Carolina Gov. Strom Thurmond was the splinter group’s nominee for president that same year; he won 39 electoral votes.
Now, the flag is a frequent emblem of modern white supremacist groups. The alleged Charleston shooter, Dylann Storm Roof, was photographed holding the Confederate flag in images on his website. Not all southerners, who believe the flag should be flown, however, see it as a racist symbol. They see it, instead, as a symbol of southern pride or as a way to remember ancestors who fought in the Civil War.
Why is it flying at the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C.?
The Confederate flag flies on the dome of the Statehouse in Columbia, S.C., in 2000.
Eric Draper/Associated Press
The flag was first flown over the state Capitol dome (passed by the Democratic Legislature) in 1962 to mark the centennial of the start of the Civil War, but many saw it as a reaction to the civil-rights movement and school desegregation. For nearly four decades, it continued to be a controversial issue in the Palmetto State. A 1994 nonbinding referendum placed on the GOP primary ballot found that three-in-four voters said the flag should keep flying. That same year, black ministers and the NAACP threatened a boycott of the state if the flag didn’t come down, and business leaders sued to remove the flag.
But in 2000, a compromise was reached — the battle flag would be removed from atop the dome and a smaller, square version would be placed at a less-prominent place on the Statehouse grounds — on a 20-foot pole next to the 30-foot Confederate monument. But that didn’t end the controversy, and many years of protests, criticism and boycotts followed.
What is the process to remove the flag in South Carolina?
The “Get In Step” marchers pass by a small group of Confederate Flag supporters Tuesday, April 4, 2000, near Wells, S.C., on their way to Orangeburg on the third day of the march to Columbia to have the flag taken down from the Statehouse.
Mary Ann Chastain /Associated Press
According to the 2000 change, a two-thirds majority in both the state House and Senate is required to remove the flag. However, there may be a workaround, and the law itself could be changed by a simple majority. ThePost & Courier has a running tally of state lawmakers and how they stand on the issue. At her press conference, Haley said if the Legislature doesn’t finish its session by acting to remove the flag, she will call an additional session.
Also under the 2000 compromise: lowering the flag requires approval of the Legislature, which is why even after Haley ordered the American and South Carolina flags ordered to half-staff following last Wednesday’s massacre, the Confederate flag remained at full staff.
What other states have had controversies about the Confederate flag?
Protesters close their eyes in silent prayer as they stand on the South Carolina Statehouse steps during a rally to take down the Confederate flag, Saturday, June 20, 2015, in Columbia, S.C.
Rainier Ehrhardt/Associated Press
Many Southern states’ current flags are inspired by the “Rebel flag.” Georgia’s flag was changed to incorporate part of the Confederate flag into its own in 1956. From 2001 to 2003, a new flag that removed the more prominent emblem was adopted, and instead itfeatured the state seal with past flags at the bottom. The design was widely panned, though, and, in 2003, a new state flag was adopted. The new design instead draws from parts of the actual flag of the Confederate States of America and not the Confederate battle flag.
Mississippi’s state flag remains the only one in the U.S. that still features the battle flag prominently. In 2001, Magnolia State voters decidedto keep the current flag by a wide margin. The University of Mississippi, or “Ole Miss,” has also faced controversy. In 1997, waving Confederate flags at football games was banned. “Colonel Reb,” their Confederate soldier mascot, was retired in 2003 and, “From Dixie With Love” was dropped from the marching band set list.
What have top Republicans and presidential candidates said about the flag?
The question of whether to remove the controversial flag has played a role in presidential politics thanks to the state’s early primary status.
Among current 2016 hopefuls, only Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has explicitly endorsed the controversial flag’s removal, noting he decided to remove it from the Florida statehouse grounds to a museum during his tenure.
Before Haley’s press conference, other GOP candidates, and potential candidates, had walked a line on the flag, either declining to weigh in or underscoring that it’s a decision that should be up to South Carolina. But afterward, there was a flood of support from many candidates. Here’s a brief roundup of where others stand and stood:
Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker had said he wouldn’t weigh in until after funerals of the Charleston victims. But then he tweeted this afternoon, “I am glad @nikkihaley is calling for the Confederate flag to come down. I support her decision.”
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said he hoped the state would “make the right choice for the people of South Carolina”; as a state legislator, he voted for a bill that would have kept the Confederate flag on the Florida Capitol grounds in order to protect historical monuments.
Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry also said in a statement that he supported Haley’s decision, saying it “honors the people of Charleston, and the families of the victims of last week’s horrific hate crime. Removing the flag is an act of healing and unity, that allows us to find a shared purpose based on the values that unify us. May God continue to be with the families of the victims in Charleston, and the great people of South Carolina.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet The Press” that the decision was “not an issue for someone running for president.”
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz told the Washington Post that it was a matter for South Carolinians to decide, but that “I understand the passions that this debate evokes on both sides.”
John Kasich would support removing the flag before Haley’s press conference and afterward he said, “the flag should come down.”
Mitt Romney, the 2012 GOP nominee, supported its removal in the past. He tweeted: “[T]o many, it is a symbol of racial hatred” and should be taken down.
Several Republican members of Congress have also said they support the Confederate flag’s removal; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., endorsed the flag’s removal, calling it “a painful reminder of racial oppression.” And, he added, “the time for a state to fly it has long since passed.”
After Haley’s press conference, Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus also issued a statement saying that he “support[s] the call by Governor Haley and South Carolina leaders to remove the Confederate battle flag from state house grounds.”
African-American Pastor Horrified at How Many Black Babies Abortion Kills
BY REBECCA DOWNS
The Rev. Elaine Flake of Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York has recently learned of and reacted to the statistics of black women having abortions in New York City.
Flake reacted in disbelief, initially wondering if the statistics were even true.
The Christian Post, reporting on the Rev., dedicates one paragraph to such statistics of black women, as well as links to a previous article of theirs:
As CP has reported, citing the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene: “Black women in New York City aborted more than half of their pregnancies in 2012, topping the number of abortions recorded by women of every other racial or ethnic group in the city.” The report revealed that more than any other ethnic group in NYC, black women were the leading abortion patients and also had the highest pregnancy and miscarriage rates.
The Christian Post mostly focuses on Rev. Flake’s reactions to the abortion trend, as well as many other troubling statistics for the black community on marriage, miscarriages and out of wedlock pregnancies.
Millions of black babies have been aborted. The number amount to more than 16 million, actually. These rates create skewed ratio too, considering that, according to the 2010 census data, blacks made up 12.6% of the population. And, as Abort73.com broke down:
In 2009, a total of 286,623 blacks died in the U.S.14 That same year, an estimated 1.21 million abortions took place in the United States.15 If 35.4% were performed on black women, that means almost twice as many blacks were killed by abortion as by all other causes.
As the state health report mentions, it is not just that the abortion rate of black babies nationwide is alarming, but in New York City. As if such statistics could not be more of a cause for shock and concern, the rate at which black women abort their babies in New York City, the Reverend’s own back yard, is even more troubling.
In New York City, 37 percent of all pregnancies ended in abortion in 2012. According to 41 Percent NYC, that’s nearly twice the national average. Queens, where Greater Allen A.M.E. Cathedral of New York is located has an abortion rate that is lower than that, but only slightly so, at 35 percent.
These are overall abortion rates for New York City though. If the above statistics for New York City are not disturbing enough, the specifics for blacks in the area will be.
Black women obviously need support then, but are they really getting it? Unfortunately, the answer may be that they are not getting as much help as truly needed.
Rev. Flake mentions that she is not aware of women in her church having dealt personally with abortion, since no one has ever gone to her:
CP suggested that with such a large congregation in Queens, it was likely some women belonging to The Greater Allen A.M.E Cathedral have had to personally deal with the issue of abortion. Pastor Flake agreed that it was likely, saying, “I would imagine, I’m not sure. No one has ever come to me, but I would think with that kind of percentage that that could be the case.”
Women are suffering in silence through the confusion of unplanned pregnancies and the pain of abortion while they lacked the necessary support. Let Rev. Elaine Flake be an example of the church being more involved to help women then.
Rev. Flake was in attendance at the Women’s Power Breakfast and participated in a “Black Church Panel,” along with her husband, who also leads the church alongside her. The two events were part of a conference organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
As the leader of a mega-church of 23,000 people and participating at such events, Rev. Elaine Flake is no stranger to taking initiative it would seem. Now that she is aware of the rate of which her race is being killed off in her own city, perhaps she and others will answer the call to end this genocide of innocent black babies in the womb.
Hillary Clinton’s speech Tuesday at a historic black church in Missouri was mostly well-received by the audience, but three words angered some of the activists she was hoping to appeal to.
Clinton spoke to frequent applause about religion, racism, access to education, repairing communities and the shooting last week in Charleston, S.C.
The church where Clinton spoke, Christ the King United Church of Christ, is in Florissant, Mo., fewer than 5 miles from where the rioting and protesting happened in Ferguson.
But she’s now facing criticism on social media after using the phrase “all lives matter” — which has been used by some as pushback to the phrase “black lives matter.” The latter phrase, which hung on a banner outside the church, was widely used by protesters in Ferguson and other cities.
Before using the phrase, Clinton was retelling an anecdote about the lessons she learned from her mother.
“I asked her, ‘What kept you going?’ Her answer was very simple. Kindness along the way from someone who believed she mattered. All lives matter.”
To some in the pews, what Clinton said fell flat. Or worse:
“With her statement that all lives matter, that blew a lot of support that she may have been able to engender here,” said Renita Lamkin, a pastor at the St. John AME Church in St. Charles. She is white and while protesting in Ferguson was hit in the gut with a rubber bullet. Her passion comes in part because her children are African-American.
“My children matter,” she said. “And I need to hear my president say that the lives of my children matter. That my little black children matter. Because right now our society does not say that they matter. Black lives matter. That’s what she needs to say.”
Clinton’s campaign points out she did say “black lives matter,” late last year. But that didn’t stop a flood of complaints on Facebook and Twitter after Clinton’s speech:
Gabrielle Kennedy, also in audience at the church, had a more charitable reaction.
“I knew when she said it that there would be people who would not be happy with that. But I am of the belief that it’s a process,” she said.
And some on Twitter defended Clinton’s comment, including Democratic strategist and former Bill Clinton campaign advisor Donna Brazile:
‘It Takes Time’
In nearby Ferguson, burned-out businesses are still boarded up on West Florissant Avenue. Charles Davis, owner of the Ferguson Burger Bar, counts his blessings.
“We were saved by God. Nothing happened to us,” Davis said.
But business still isn’t back to where it was. And neither is the community. Ferguson is trying to heal from the wound ripped open when a black 18-year-old was shot by a white police officer.
“It takes time. A year is not long enough. But what people should understand is a lot of changes that needed be made has been made,” he said.
Many of the activists who rose up after the shooting of Michael Brown were on hand when Clinton spoke.
She spoke about the recent shooting in Charleston, and asked, “How do we make sense of such an evil act? An act of racist terrorism perpetrated in a house of God?” Clinton also praised the ability of the families of the victims to look at the accused gunman and offer forgiveness.
After her speech, still in front of an audience, Clinton sat down for an hourlong discussion with community leaders. Kennedy, who was there, gives Clinton credit for coming to Missouri and listening.
“What you saw on that stage there, in the pulpit area there, how we take care of ourselves. This is us doing us, and it’s fabulous stuff,” Kennedy said.
A pastor delivered a final prayer before Clinton left. And in it, she called for this to be the beginning of a conversation. Not the end.
Story 1: Another Republican Party Sellout of American People — Trade Partnerships and Agreements Will Be Used To Change Immigration and Visa Policies Through Trade In Service Agreement (TISA) and Pacific Union — Videos
U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions: Trade Promotion Authority Legislation Is Not Good For Americans
.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, R., Alabama, on June 18, 2015, spoke on the senate floor to address his concerns on the Trade Promotion Authority legislation. He spoke at length and in a round about way said the legislation is seditious and treasonous.
Today, June 23, 2015, Sessions released the following statement after the passing of the TPA:
“Americans increasingly believe that their country isn’t serving its own citizens. They need look no further than a bipartisan vote of Congress that will transfer congressional power to the Executive Branch and, in turn, to a transnational Pacific Union and the global interests who will help write its rules.
The same routine plays out over and again. We are told a massive bill must be passed, all the business lobbyists and leaders tell us how grand it will be, but that it must be rushed through before the voters spoil the plan. As with Obamacare and the Gang of Eight, the politicians meet with the consultants to craft the talking points—not based on what the bill actually does, but what they hope people will believe it does. And when ordinary Americans who never asked for the plan, who don’t want the plan, who want no part of the plan, resist, they are scorned, mocked, and heaped with condescension.
Washington broke arms and heads to get that 60th vote—not one to spare—to impose on the American people a plan which imperils their jobs, wages, and control over their own affairs. It is remarkable that so much energy has been expended on advancing the things Americans oppose, and preventing the things Americans want.
For instance: thousands of loyal Americans have been laid off and forced to train the foreign workers brought in to fill their jobs—at Disney, at Southern California Edison, across the country. Does Washington rush to their defense? No, the politicians and the lobbyists rush to move legislation that would double or triple the very program responsible for replacing them.
This ‘econometarian’ ideology holds that if a company can increase its bottom line —whether by insourcing foreign workers or outsourcing production—then it’s always a win, never a downside.
President Obama, and allies in Congress, have won this fast-track vote. But, in exchange, they may find that they are losing something far greater: the trust of the American people. Americans have a fundamental, decent, and just demand: that the people they elect defend their interests. And every issue to come before us in the coming months will have to pass this test: does it strengthen, or weaken, the position of the everyday, loyal American citizen?”
TPA passes senate! (Traitors)
Sen. Ted Cruz on the Mark Levin Show
Victory for Obama as the Senate gives him the go ahead to negotiate Pacific Rim trade deal
ALERT: Senator Jeff Sessions Issues Dire Warning on TPP
McConnell Lauds the Advancement of Trade Promotion Authority
U.S. Senate Sells Out America!
Republican Senators Sell Out America!
Trade Promotion Authority
Senate advances fast-track trade bill for Obama
he Senate on Tuesday voted to advance President Obama’s trade agenda, approving a measure to end debate on fast-track authority.
The 60-37 motion sets up a vote on final passage on Wednesday. If the Senate approves fast-track or trade promotion authority (TPA), it would then be sent to Obama’s desk to become law.
Fast-track authority would allow Obama to send trade deals to Congress for up-or-down votes. The White House wants the authority to conclude negotiations on a sweeping trans-Pacific trade deal.
Thirteen Democrats backed fast-track in Tuesday’s vote, handing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a major legislative victory. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) voted against the procedural motion.
The Democrats cast “yes” votes even though the trade package did not include a workers assistance program for people displaced by increased trade. The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program was a part of the last fast-track package approved by the Senate in May, but became a key part of opposition to the package among Democrats in the House.
To move fast-track forward, the White House and GOP leaders in both chambers decided to break TAA away from fast-track and to try to approve both in separate votes.
After the Senate votes Wednesday on final passage for fast-track, it will take a procedural vote on a package that includes TAA and trade preferences for African countries known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
McConnell has promised both bills, as well as a customs and enforcement bill favored by Democrats, will reach Obama’s desk by the end of the week.
“If we all keep working together and trusting each other, then by the end of the week the President will have TPA, TAA and AGOA and Preferences on his desk — with Customs in the process of heading his way too,” he said on the floor.
The House has already passed fast-track but it must still vote on the package including TAA, which faces opposition from conservatives.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reiterated on Tuesday his pledge to vote again on TAA as soon as it clears the upper chamber.
“The House will consider TAA once it passes the Senate as part of a new trade preferences bill. And we are ready to go to conference on the customs bill. Our goal is to get TPA and TAA to the president’s desk this week and deliver this win for the American people,” he said in a statement.
The Senate vote to end a filibuster against fast-track appeared in doubt until the final moment as a group of pro-trade Democrats balked at McConnell’s decision to split it off from TAA, a move made necessary to circumvent opposition in the House.
Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Chris Coons (Del.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) refused to say publicly how they would vote.
McConnell’s margin for error shrank further when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is running for president, announced he would vote to block the bill, declaring in a Breitbart.com op-ed that it had “become enmeshed in corrupt Washington backroom dealmaking.”
Other Republican White House hopefuls, including Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, oppose fast-track.
Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the senior Democrat on the Finance Committee, held talks with other pro-trade Democrats late into the evening Monday to address their concerns.
He delivered an impassioned speech in favor of the bill shortly before the vote, arguing that it would allow the United States to keep pace with China in the competition for Asian markets.
“This is our chance to set a new course. This is our chance to put in place higher standards in global trade on matters like labor rights and environmental protection, shine some real sunlight on trade agreements and ensure that our country writes the rules of the road,” he said.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who co-wrote the trade bill with Wyden, argued the vast majority of global economic growth will take place outside of the United States over the next decade.
“If our workers, farmers, ranchers and service providers are going to be able to compete in these growing markets, we must have open access to these markets and fair trade rules to boot,” he said on the floor.
Opponents led by Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) warned fast-track would cost thousands of American jobs and allow multi-national companies to evade U.S. law.
Brown reproached his colleagues for voting to give Obama fast-track authority while having little idea of the shape of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade accord that will receive expedited consideration in Congress as a result.
“We’ve gotten the worst of both worlds because we’re voting on TPA and we haven’t been able to see what’s in TPP,” Brown said before the vote.
The AFL-CIO waged a fierce lobbying campaign against fast-track for months.
“It will do nothing to prevent repeating the mistakes of failed trade policies that have contributed to stagnating wages, increasing inequality and the closure of more than 60,000 factories since 2000,” the union wrote in a letter dated Monday.
Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other business leaders applauded the development.
“Today’s vote is an important step towards revitalizing our economy, creating more good American jobs, and reasserting our country’s global economic leadership,” Donohue said in a statement.
Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) missed the vote. McConnell said Corker would have voted “yes” if he had been present, while Brown noted that Lee and Menendez would have voted “no.”
SESSIONS WARNS TPA WOULD CREATE ‘PACIFIC UNION’ AKIN TO EUROPEAN UNION
by JEFF POOR 10 Jun 2015 1302
In a joint appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show on Wednesday,
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
warned against the passage of the so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) currently being considered by the Congress.Sessions argued it was more than just a framework for a process for the president of the United States to use in negotiating trade agreements, but instead was creating an economic union with wide-ranging powers.
“I’ve been there three times and I can tell you it is far more than a trade agreement,” he said. “It is a creating of an economic union. The congressional resource said it is a wide-ranging political and economic partnership that is created where the Sultan of Brunei gets one vote. The president of the United States gets one vote. Twelve countries – they have the ability to add other treaties and pass them. They have the ability to deal with climate issues, wage issues and environmental issues. There’s just no doubt about that.”
The junior Alabama senator went on to explain that he felt it was being kept secret because if the public were aware of this union, which he likened to the European Union, it would be stopped dead in its tracks.
“I think it’s because if the trade commission – if the international commission, the Pacific union that is being created here – were made public, it wouldn’t go anywhere. I just don’t think it has any chance – look, England found out after they joined the EU they can’t fox hunt anymore.”
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How climate-change doubters lost a papal fight
By Anthony Faiola and Chris Mooney
Pope Francis was about to take a major step backing the science behind human-driven global warming, and Philippe de Larminat was determined to change his mind.
A French doubter who authored a book arguing that solar activity — not greenhouse gases — was driving global warming, de Larminat sought a spot at a climate summit in April sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Nobel laureates would be there. So would U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs and others calling for dramatic steps to curb carbon emissions.
After securing a high-level meeting at the Vatican, he was told that, space permitting, he could join. He bought a plane ticket from Paris to Rome. But five days before the April 28 summit, de Larminat said, he received an e-mail saying there was no space left. It came after other scientists — as well as the powerful Vatican bureaucrat in charge of the academy — insisted he had no business being there.
“They did not want to hear an off note,” de Larminat said.
The incident highlights how climate-change doubters tried and failed to alter the landmark papal document unveiled last week — one that saw the leader of 1 billion Catholics fuse faith and reason and come to the conclusion that “denial” is wrong.
Wearing a yellow raincoat, Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he arrives in Tacloban, Philippines, in January. (Wally Santana/AP)
It marked the latest blow for those seeking to stop the reform-minded train that has become Francis’s papacy. It is one that has reinvigorated liberal Catholics even as it has sowed the seeds of resentment and dissent inside and outside the Vatican’s ancient walls.
Yet the battle lost over climate change also suggests how hard it may be for critics to blunt the power of a man who has become something of a juggernaut in an institution where change tends to unfold over decades, even centuries. More than anything, to those who doubt the human impact of global warming, the position staked out by Francis in his papal document, known as an encyclical, means a major defeat.
“This was their Waterloo,” said Kert Davies, executive director of the Climate Investigations Center, who has been tracking climate-change deniers for years. “They wanted the encyclical not to happen. And it happened.”
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Papal advisers say Francis signaled his intent to draft a major document on the environment soon after assuming the throne of St. Peter in March 2013. His interest in the topic dates to his days as a bishop in Buenos Aires, where Francis, officials say, was struck by the effects of floods and unsanitary conditions on Argentine shantytowns known as “misery villages.”
In January, Francis officially announced his goal of drafting the encyclical — saying after an official visit to the Philippines that he wanted to make a “contribution” to the debate ahead of a major U.N. summit on climate change in Paris in December.
But several efforts by those skeptical of the scientific consensus on climate change to influence the document appear to have come considerably later — in April — and, maybe, too late.
In late April, the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, a free-market group that serves as a hub of skepticism regarding the science of human-caused global warming, sent a delegation to the Vatican. As a Heartland news release put it, they hoped “to inform Pope Francis of the truth about climate science: There is no global warming crisis!”
It was meant to coincide with the same April meeting that de Larminat was trying to attend. Heartland’s activists were not part of the invited contingent, either, Heartland communications director Jim Lakely said.
“It was a side event,” he said. “We were outside the walls of the Vatican. We were at a hotel — literally, I could throw a football into St. Peter’s Square.”
Seven scientists and other experts gave speeches at the Heartland event, raising doubts about various aspects of the scientific consensus on climate change, even as several also urged the pope not to take sides in the debate. It’s impossible to know how that influenced those in the Vatican working on the pope’s document — which one Vatican official said was at “an advanced stage.” But Lakely said his group did not see much of its argument reflected in the final document.
“We all want the poor to live better lives, but we just don’t think the solution to that is to restrict the use of fossil fuels, because we don’t think CO2 is causing a climate crisis,” Lakely said. “So if that’s our message in a sentence, that message was not reflected in the encyclical, so there you go.”
The father of conservative movement-building through direct mail, Richard A. Viguerie, issued a forceful denunciation of Francis, his encyclical and his priorities, calling the pope’s message on climate change “a confusing distraction that dilutes his great moral authority and leadership.”
Mr. Viguerie’s post does not address the substance of the encyclical; rather, it argues at length that the pope should not be writing about climate change “at a time when Catholics, indeed Christians of all denominations, are facing persecution” as well as “a host of moral and spiritual challenges”:
While the pope fiddles with one controversial political issue that is not at the core of spiritual matters, our spiritual culture is burning.
He goes on to assert that the Catholic clergy has “abandoned the teaching of morals” and “sees, hears, and knows few sins,” while “the liberals’ true agenda is to destroy religion” and, he says, the environmental movement has socialist roots.
Those who most fervently deny the scientific consensus on climate change have ridiculed Pope Francis. Steven Milloy, who regularly denounces climate scientists on his website and on Twitter, posted a series of strident messages after a draft of the encyclical leaked earlier this week. Mr. Milloy is linked to the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute and has also argued against the scientific studies that suggest that secondhand smoke causes cancer.
In recent Twitter posts, he called some of the leaked portions of the encyclical “adolescent, insipid, primitive, embarrassing,” as well as “a stumbling, bumbling PR disaster for Red Pope.”
Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change
By JIM YARDLEY and LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Pope Francis on Thursday called for a radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles to confront environmental degradation and climate change, blending a biting critique of consumerism and irresponsible development with a plea for swift and unified global action.
The vision that Francis outlined in a 184-page papal encyclical is sweeping in ambition and scope: He describes relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment and says apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology and political shortsightedness are to blame.
The most vulnerable victims, he declares, are the world’s poorest people, who are being dislocated and disregarded.
Francis, the first pope from the developing world, used the encyclical — titled “Laudato Si’,” or “Praise Be to You” — to highlight the crisis posed byclimate change. He places most of the blame on fossil fuels and human activity, while warning of an “unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequence for all of us” if corrective action is not taken swiftly. Developed, industrialized countries were mostly responsible, he says, and are obligated to help poorer nations confront the crisis.
“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” he writes. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
The Vatican released the encyclical at noon on Thursday, three days after an Italian magazine posted a leaked draft online, to the fury of Vaticanofficials. The breach led to speculation that opponents of Francis in the Vatican wanted to embarrass him by undermining the release.
Even so, religious figures, environmentalists, scientists, executives and elected officials around the world awaited the official release, and scheduled news conferences or issued statements afterward. News media interest was enormous, in part because of Francis’ global popularity, but also because of the intriguing coalition he is proposing between faith and science.
“Humanity is faced with a crucial challenge that requires the development of adequate policies, which, moreover, are currently being discussed on the global agenda,” Cardinal Peter Turkson said at a news conference at the Vatican. “Certainly, ‘Laudato Si’ ’ can and must have an impact on important and urgent decisions to be made in this area.”
In his encyclical, read by a nun at the Vatican on Thursday, Francis focused on the harm climate change poses to the poor.CreditMax Rossi/Reuters
Francis has made it clear that he hopes the encyclical will influence energy and economic policy and stir a global movement. He calls on ordinary people to press politicians for change. Catholic bishops and priests around the world are expected to discuss the encyclical in services on Sunday. But Francis is also reaching for a wider audience, asking in the document “to address every person living on this planet.”
Even before the encyclical, the pope’s stance against environmental destruction and his demand for global action had already thrilled many scientists. Advocates of policies to combat climate change have said they hoped that Francis could lend a “moral dimension” to the debate.
“Within the scientific community, there is almost a code of honor that you will never transgress the red line between pure analysis and moral issues,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder and chairman of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “But we are now in a situation where we have to think about the consequences of our insight for society.”
Francis has been sharply criticized by those who question or deny the established science of human-caused climate change, and also by some conservative Roman Catholics, who see the encyclical as an attack on capitalism and as political meddling.
Governments are now developing domestic climate-change plans to prepare for aUnited Nations summit meeting on the issue in Paris in December. The meeting’s goal is to achieve a sweeping accord in which every nation would commit to new policies to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. Many governments have yet to present plans, including major emitters like Brazil, which has a large Catholic population. The encyclical is seen as an unsubtle nudge for action.
“It gives a lot of cover to political and economic leaders in those countries, as they make decisions on climate change policy,” said Timothy Wirth, vice chairman of the United Nations Foundation.
Catholic theologians say the overarching theme of the encyclical is “integral ecology,” which links care for the environment with a notion already well developed in Catholic teaching: that economic development, to be morally good and just, must take into account people’s need for things like freedom, education and meaningful work.
“The basic idea is, in order to love God, you have to love your fellow human beings, and you have to love and care for the rest of creation,” said Vincent Miller, who holds a chair in Catholic theology and culture at the University of Dayton, a Catholic college in Ohio. “It gives Francis a very traditional basis to argue for the inclusion of environmental concern at the center of Christian faith.”
Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas, left, and Cardinal Peter Turkson presented the 184-page papal encyclical on Thursday.CreditAndrew Medichini/Associated Press
He added: “Critics will say the church can’t teach policy, the church can’t teach politics. And Francis is saying, ‘No, these things are at the core of the church’s teaching.’ ”
Francis tapped a wide variety of sources in his encyclical, partly to underscore the universality of his message. He cites passages from his two papal predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and draws prominently from a religious ally, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He also cites a ninth-century Sufi mystic, Ali al-Khawas.
“This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church,” Francis writes. The Bible teaches human beings to “till and keep” the garden of the world, he says. “ ‘Tilling’ refers to cultivating, plowing or working, while ‘keeping’ means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving.”
His most stinging rebuke is a broad critique of profit-seeking and the undue influence of technology on society. He praises achievements in medicine, science and engineering, but says that “our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience.”
Central to Francis’ theme is the link between poverty and the planet’s fragility. The pope rejects the belief that technology and “current economics” will solve environmental problems, or “that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth.”
“A huge indictment I see in this encyclical is that people have lost their sense of ultimate and proper goals of technology and economics,” said Christiana Z. Peppard, an assistant professor of theology, science and ethics at Fordham University in New York. “We are focused on short-term, consumerist patterns.”
Encyclicals are letters to the clergy and laity of the church that are considered authoritative. Catholics are expected to try to sincerely embrace their teachings. But more specific assertions in them can be categorized as “prudential judgments,” a phrase that some critics have invoked to reject Francis’ positions on issues like climate change or economic inequality.
Many conservatives will be pleased with the encyclical’s strong criticism of abortion, and its dismissal of arguments that population control can be an answer to poverty. However, Francis sharply criticizes the trading of carbon credits — a market-based system central to the European Union’s climate policy — and says it “may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”
Above all, Francis frames the encyclical as a call to action. He praises young people for being ready for change, and said “enforceable international agreements are urgently needed.” He cites Benedict in saying that advanced societies “must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency.”
“All is not lost,” he writes. “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”
St. Francis of Assisi’s hymn Laudato Si’ spoke of “Brothers” Sun and Fire and “Sisters” Moon and Water, using these colorful phrases figuratively, as a way of praising God’s creation. These sentimental words so touched Pope Francis that he named his encyclical after this canticle (repeated in paragraph 87 of the Holy Father’s letter).
Neither Pope Francis nor St. Francis took the words literally, of course. Neither believed that fire was alive and could be talked to or reasoned with or, worse, worshiped. Strange, then, that a self-professed atheist and scientific advisor to the Vatican named Hans Schellnhuber appears to believe in a Mother Earth.
The Gaia Principle, first advanced by chemist James Lovelock (who has lately had second thoughts) and microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, says that all life interacts with the Earth, and the Earth with all life, to form a giant self-regulating, living system.
This goes far beyond the fact that the Earth’s climate system has feedbacks, which are at the very center of the debate over climate change. In the Gaia Principle, Mother Earth is alive, and even, some think, aware in some ill-defined, mystical way. The Earth knows man and his activities and, frankly, isn’t too happy with him.
This is what we might call “scientific pantheism,” a kind that appeals to atheistic scientists. It is an updated version of the pagan belief that the universe itself is God, that the Earth is at least semi-divine — a real Brother Sun and Sister Water! Mother Earth is immanent in creation and not transcendent, like the Christian God.
What’s this have to do with Schellnhuber? In the 1999 Nature paper “‘Earth system’ analysis and the second Copernican revolution,” he said:
Ecosphere science is therefore coming of age, lending respectability to its romantic companion, Gaia theory, as pioneered by Lovelock and Margulis. This hotly debated ‘geophysiological’ approach to Earth-system analysis argues that the biosphere contributes in an almost cognizant way to self-regulating feedback mechanisms that have kept the Earth’s surface environment stable and habitable for life.
Geo-physiological, in case you missed it. Cognizant, in black and white. So dedicated is Schellnhuber to this belief that he says “the Gaia approach may even include the influence of biospheric activities on the Earth’s plate-tectonic processes.” Not the other way around, mind you, where continental drift and earthquakes effects life, but where life effects earthquakes.
Although effects such as the glaciations may still be interpreted as over-reactions to small disturbances — a kind of cathartic geophysiological fever — the main events, resulting in accelerated maturation by shock treatment, indicate that Gaia faces a powerful antagonist. Rampino has proposed personifying this opposition as Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.
Mother Earth gets the flu and instead of white blood cells and a rise in temperature to fend off the infection, it sends white ice and a decrease in temperatures. How? Geophysiologically! I remind the reader that our author, writing in one of the world’s most prominent science journals, does not use these propositions metaphorically. He proposes them as actual mechanisms.
Schellnhuber echoes the theme of a cognizant, i.e. self-aware, planet in another (co-authored) 2004 paper in Nature 2004, “Climbing the co-evolution ladder,” suggesting again that mankind is an infection, saying that mankind “perturbs … the global ‘metabolism’” of the planet.
Schellnhuber, a one-time quantum physicist who turned his attention to Mother Earth late in his career, was also co-author of a 2009 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper “Imprecise probability assessment of tipping points in the climate system,” which asked select scientists their gut assessment about the arrival of various “tipping points.” Tipping points are a theme of Schellnhuber’s research (see inter aliathis and this).
Tipping points are supposed moments when some doom which might have been avoided if some action had been taken, is no longer possible to avoid and will arrive no matter what. Tipping points have come and gone in climate forecasts for decades now. The promised dooms never arrive but the false prophets never quit. Their intent is less to forecast than to induce something short of panic in order to plead for political intervention. When the old tipping point is past, theorists just change the date, issue new warnings and hope no one will notice.
One of the tipping points Schellnhuber asked about was the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, depending on what the temperature did. All of the selected experts (who answered the questions in 2004 and 2005) gave moderate (~15-25%) to quite high probabilities (50-80%) for this event to have occurred by 2015. The ice did not melt.
Schellnhuber presented more tipping points to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 2014 in the co-authored paper, “Climate-System Tipping Points and Extreme Weather Events.” In that paper, Schellnhuber has a “scientific” graph with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Adam “flicking” a planet earth over a methane tipping point, such that the earth would roll down into a fiery pit labeled the “Warming Abyss.” Hell on earth.
The Problem of People
Schellnhuber is most famous for predicting that the “carrying capacity” of the earth is “below” 1 billion people. When confronted with this, he called those who quoted him “liars.” But he then repeated the same claim, saying, “All I said was that if we had unlimited global warming of eight degrees warming, maybe the carrying capacity of the earth would go down to just 1 billion, and then the discussion would be settled.” And he has often said that this temperature tipping point would be reached — unless “actions” were taken.
The man is suspicious of people. In that same interview he said, “If you want to reduce human population, there are wonderful means: Improve the education of girls and young women.” Since young women already know where babies come from, and since this knowledge tends neither to increase nor decrease population, the “education” he has in mind must be facts about how to avoid the consequences of sex. Austin Ruse discovered a 2009 talk in which Schellnhuber said the earth “will explode” due to resource depletion once the population reaches 9 billion, a number that the UN projects in 2050. Presumably he wants earth to avoid that fate, so he mustsupport the population control that Pope Francis so clearly repudiated in his encyclical.
Confirmation bias happens when a scientist manipulates an experiment so that he gets the outcome he hoped he would get. When Schellnhuber invites only believers in tipping-points-of-doom to characterize their guesses of this doom, his view that the doom is real will be confirmed. And when he publishes a paper that says, “Scientists say world is doomed” the public and politicians believe it. Scientists skeptical of the doom are dismissed because they are skeptics. This isn’t good science. It’s really bad religion, and a pagan one at that.
Global warming research is characterized by an insider’s club. If you believe, you’re in. If you doubt, you’re out. This is also so at the Pontifical Academies of Science where Schellnhuber was appointed by Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. The bishop locked scientists with contrary views out of the process, scientists he has repeatedly dismissed as “funded by the oil industry.” Given this, how likely is it that the Holy Father was fully aware of the views of the chief scientist who advised him?
Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change
“…On June 2, as Congress debated global warming legislation that would raise energy costs to consumers by hundreds of billions of dollars, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) released an 880-page book challenging the scientific basis of concerns that global warming is either man-made or would have harmful effects.
In “Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC),” coauthors Dr. S. Fred Singer and Dr. Craig Idso and 35 contributors and reviewers present an authoritative and detailed rebuttal of the findings of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on which the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress rely for their regulatory proposals.
The scholarship in this book demonstrates overwhelming scientific support for the position that the warming of the twentieth century was moderate and not unprecedented, that its impact on human health and wildlife was positive, and that carbon dioxide probably is not the driving factor behind climate change.
The authors cite thousands of peer-reviewed research papers and books that were ignored by the IPCC, plus additional scientific research that became available after the IPCC’s self-imposed deadline of May 2006.
The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) is an international panel of nongovernment scientists and scholars who have come together to understand the causes and consequences of climate change. Because it is not a government agency, and because its members are not predisposed to believe climate change is caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, NIPCC is able to offer an independent “second opinion” of the evidence reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). …”
SSRI Stories is a collection of over 6,000 stories that have appeared in the media (newspapers, TV, scientific journals) in which prescription drugs were mentioned and in which the drugs may be linked to a variety of adverse outcomes including violence.
This updated site includes the stories from the previous site and new ones from 2011 to date. We have used a new “category” classification system on the new stories. We are working back through previously SSRI Stories to bring them into the new classification system. In the meantime use the search box in the upper right column to search through both the old and the new stories.
SSRI Stories focuses primarily on problems caused by selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), of which Prozac (fluoxetine) was the first. For more see About SSRIs. Other medications prescribed as antidepressants that fit the “nightmares” theme of the collected stories are sometimes included.
Jefferson Airplane – White Rabbit (Grace Slick, Woodstock, aug 17 1969)
Jefferson Airplane – Somebody to love
Dylann Roof makes first South Carolina court appearance
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Best 7 minutes on gun control I have ever seen!
In this segment of his Virtual State of the Union, the Virtual President talks about why politicians want to talk about gun control rather than crime control, and delivers the factual evidence and historical truths that make the case for the Second Amendment self-evident.
Dr Susan Gratia-Hupp – Survivor of the 1991 Kileen TX Lubys Shooting Massacre
Hupp and her parents were having lunch at the Luby’s Cafeteria in Killeen in 1991 when the Luby’s massacre commenced. The gunman shot 50 people and killed 23, including Hupp’s parents. Hupp later expressed regret about deciding to remove her gun from her purse and lock it in her car lest she risk possibly running afoul of the state’s concealed weapons laws; during the shootings, she reached for her weapon but then remembered that it was “a hundred feet away in my car.” Her father, Al Gratia, tried to rush the gunman and was shot in the chest. As the gunman reloaded, Hupp escaped through a broken window and believed that her mother, Ursula Gratia, was behind her. Actually however, her mother went to her mortally-wounded husband’s aid and was then shot in the head.
As a survivor of the Luby’s massacre, Hupp testified across the country in support of concealed-handgun laws. She said that if there had been a second chance to prevent the slaughter, she would have violated the Texas law and carried the handgun inside her purse into the restaurant. She testified across the country in support of concealed handgun laws, and was elected to the Texas House of Representatives in 1996. The law was signed by then-Governor George W. Bush.
The Animals – The House of the Rising Sun
“House Of The Rising Sun”
There is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God, I know I’m oneMy mother was a tailor
She sewed my new blue jeans
My father was a gamblin’ man
Down in New OrleansNow the only thing a gambler needs
Is a suitcase and trunk
And the only time he’s satisfied
Is when he’s on a drunk[Organ Solo]Oh mother, tell your children
Not to do what I have done
Spend your lives in sin and misery
In the House of the Rising SunWell, I got one foot on the platform
The other foot on the train
I’m goin’ back to New Orleans
To wear that ball and chainWell, there is a house in New Orleans
They call the Rising Sun
And it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God, I know I’m one
The Moody Blues – Nights In White Satin
Charleston shooting: Dylann Roof’s stepmother defends ‘smart’ boy ‘drawn in by internet evil’
The stepmother of Dylann Roof, the 21-year-old charged with nine counts of murder for the shooting at a church in Charleston, has spoken out in his defence.
Paige Mann, who was married to Mr Roof’s father for 10 years and helped raise him, said that her stepson was so smart that he became bored in school and was a germophobe for some time.
“He went to catechism, he went to church,” Ms Mann said. “He was locked in his room looking up bad stuff on the computer.”
In an interview with the New York Daily News, she said: “Something on the computer drew him in – this is Internet evil. We just thought he was a lazy, this-generation kind of kid.”
Mr Roof’s manifesto, published online, shows how the 21-year-old’s views hardened after the shooting of Travyon Martin in Florida in 2012. Ms Paige claimed that it was only after her step-son began living with his mother over the past few years that he became a recluse.
Mr Roof sat with members of the Emanuel African Methodist Epsicopal Church for nearly an hour before he allegedly shot nine of them dead, including the pastor.
Divorce papers filed by Ms Paige in 2008 claim that Franklin Roof had hit her and that any hope Dylann had of a normal home left with her, it was reported by the Inquisitr.
According to the manifesto, which was updated just hours before the fatal attack, he believed that he had no choice but to carry out the attack on the church and “chose Charleston because it is the most historic city in my state”.
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Affidavits spell out chilling case against Dylann Roof
As a subdued Dylann Roof made his first official appearance Friday on charges of killing nine people at a historic black church, police affidavits offered grim details of the murder case, including an allegation that the gunman fired multiple shots into each victim and stood over them to issue “a racially inflammatory statement.”
The documents also said that Roof’s father and uncle contacted police to positively identify the 21-year-old as the suspect after authorities issued photos of the gunman within hours of the attack at the Emanuel AME Church in downtown Charleston Wednesday evening.
As those details trickled out, the suspect’s family issued a statement expressing sadness and offering condolences to the families of the victims:
Dylann Roof’s father, according to the court documents, told investigators that his son owned a .45-caliber handgun. The documents note that .45-caliber casings were found at the scene of the shootings.
The affidavits allege that Roof, wearing a fanny pack apparently to hide a weapon, spent an hour with the parishioners before opening fire on the group. Before leaving the scene of the carnage, he allegedly “uttered a racially inflammatory statement” over the bodies to a witness who was apparently allowed to survive to convey the message.
Roof was returned to South Carolina after waiving his extradition rights following his arrest Thursday near Shelby, N.C., about 245 miles northwest of Charleston.
He appeared at ease when he allegedly told investigators shortly after his capture that he had launched the attack that left nine dead, a federal law enforcement official said. The official, who is not authorized to comment publicly, said that the suspect expressed no remorse and appeared “comfortable” with what he had done.
Authorities have determined that Roof legally obtained a .45-caliber handgun earlier this year, using money likely provided as birthday gift from his family, the official said. The weapon was purchased at gun store near Columbia, S.C.
Statements made by some family members of victims were particularly powerful.
Charleston shooting: What is a ‘hate crime’?
Appearing by video link from jail, the 21-year-old Roof, who was handcuffed and wore a striped jail jumpsuit, often pursed his lips, closed his eyes, or stared at the floor as the relatives of five victims spoke to the court at the bond hearing.
“You took something really precious away from me, I will never talk to her again, never hold her again, but I forgive you,” said the daughter of one of the victims, Ethel Lance. “You hurt me, you hurt a lot of people but God forgive you and I forgive you.”
Roof appeared wan and subdued, his distinctive bowl hair, shown in surveillance photos outside the church on the night of the killings, stringy and unkempt. He stood with his hands cuffed behind his back. Two heavily armed guards stood behind him.
Bethanee Middleton-Brown, sister of another victim, DePayne Middleton-Doctor, addressed the hearing amid sniffles and sobs in the tiny courtroom.
She said her sister “taught me me that we are the family that love built, we have no room for hate, so we have to forgive. And I pray to God for your soul and I also thank God that And I also thank God I won’t be around when your judgment day comes with him.”
Although the court legally could not issue any bond in on the murder charges, Magistrate James Gosnell Jr. set Roof’s bond on a related weapons possession charge at $1 million.
Roof, who often swallowed hard as the judge asked questions, spoke only three times, answering “yes, sir” and “no, sir” to questions about his employment status. Roof is unemployed.
At the opening of the emotional, 13-minute hearing, Gosnell addressed the court, saying Charleston is a strong, loving community with “big hearts.”
“We are going to reach out to everyone, all the victims, and we will touch them,” he said. “We have victims — nine of them — but we also have victims on the other side.
“There are victims on this young man’s side of the family. No one would have ever thrown them into the whirlwind of events that they have been thrown into … We must find it in their heart to also help his family as well.”
In Washington, meanwhile, Justice Department spokeswoman Emily Pierce said the federal inquiry into the church shooting is ongoing.
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Pierce said the investigation will not only consider possible hate crime violations, but prosecutors also will review the shooting as a possible “act of domestic terrorism.”
“This heartbreaking episode was undoubtedly designed to strike fear and terror into this community, and the department is looking at this crime from all angles,” Pierce said.
Charleston, South Carolina Mayor Joseph Riley said although he doesn’t condone the death penalty, he thinks prosecutors will seek it in the Emanuel AME church shooting. VPC
Gov. Nikki Haley, speaking on NBC’s Today show on Friday, said that “we will absolutely will want him to have the death penalty” for the fatal shooting of nine members of a Bible study group at the Emanuel AME Church on Wednesday evening.
Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr., said at a news conference Friday that though he’s not a proponent of the death penalty, it’s the law in South Carolina and he expects it will be sought in the church shooting. “If you are going to have a death penalty, certainly this case would merit it,” Riley said.
Shelby police officials did not interview Roof formally, according to WBTV, a Charlotte TV station, which quotes an unidentified source as saying the suspect was videotaped during the entire time he was at the Shelby police department.
The source told WBTV that Roof spoke freely, told investigators he had been planning the attack for a period of time, had researched the Emanuel AME Church and targeted it because it was a historic African-American church.
According to WBTV’s source, Roof told investigators he had a Glock handgun hidden behind a pouch he was wearing around his waist. He also told investigators he thought he’d only shot a few people and when told he actually had killed nine people, he appeared to be somewhat remorseful, according to the source.
During the recorded conversation, Roof reportedly told investigators he actually thought he would be caught in Charleston before fleeing and was headed to Nashville when he was captured. When asked why he was going to Nashville, he reportedly told investigators “I’ve never been there before.”
Police alleged that Roof opened fire on worshipers after sitting with them for at least an hour. The victims included the pastor, Clementa Pinckney, 41, who was also a state senator.
The 21-year-old man accused of killing nine people as they worshiped at a Charleston, South Carolina church has a criminal past. Dylann Roof was arrested twice this year and images of him posted to social media seem to show a racist ideology. WCNC
Roof allegedly told police he “almost didn’t go through with (the shooting) because everyone was so nice to him,” other sources told NBC News’ Craig Melvin.
Police say they thought Roof was the lone gunman within hours of the bloody attack on the church, which was founded in 1816. Asked whether authorities believe Roof had acted alone, Mullen said: “We don’t have any reason to believe anyone else was involved.”
A one-time acquaintance of Roof’s told the Associated Press that he would rant that “blacks were taking over the world” as the pair got drunk on vodka.
Roof railed that “someone needed to do something about it for the white race,” said the former friend, Joseph Meek Jr., according to the AP.