Gerald Anderson’s Mom Lambasts Bea Alonzo: “Ayaw kita para sa anak ko”

Mom of Gerald Anderson lambasted Bea Alonzo The mother of Gerald Anderson, Evangeline ‘Vangie’ Opsima, lambasted Bea Alonzo amid the controversial breakup and the issue of her son with Julia Barretto. For several days, the issue about Bea, Gerald, and Julia has been a trending topic on social media. The three of them already aired […]

The post Gerald Anderson’s Mom Lambasts Bea Alonzo: “Ayaw kita para sa anak ko” appeared first on Philippine News.

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Does Joe Biden Have a Latino-Voter Problem?
Joe Biden leads Donald Trump by a solid margin—about 7 percentage points nationally, as of this writing. He’s built his advantage by improving on Hillary Clinton’s 2016 success with suburban voters, seniors, and college-educated white Americans.But when it comes to Latinos, Biden may have a problem. Although he’s dramatically outpacing Trump among Latinos overall, he’s falling behind Clinton’s pace, including in the key state of Florida. An analysis by Harry Enten at CNN found that Biden’s average lead among Latinos is 9 points lower than Clinton’s around this time four years ago. If Biden can’t close the deal with this crucial constituency, it could spell trouble for him across the country.That Trump’s standing among the Latino community could have improved at all over the past few years might strike many people as utterly shocking. Since he descended that escalator in 2015, Trump has disparaged immigrants as “rapists,” made up horror stories about northbound caravans set on invading the country, locked up immigrant children in despicable conditions, lashed out at Puerto Rico after a hurricane demolished the island, and empowered ICE to do a variety of ghastly things, including separating families and reportedly assaulting detainees in camera blindspots. What’s more, his administration bungled the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed Latinos at a disproportionate rate.[Kristian Ramos: Latino support for Trump is real]Still, a variety of polls show Trump narrowing the Democrats’ historic advantage among Latino voters and possibly pulling even with Biden in Florida. What’s going on?If you ask a pollster, a demographic researcher, or a Latino advocate to explain Biden’s Latino-voter problem—and I’ve asked several—they’ll start with the caveats.Many polls that supposedly show Biden’s weakness have small sample sizes for specific ethnic groups that leave huge margins of error. Latinos have historically been late deciders in elections, which might deflate Biden’s apparent support. Some surveys, such as the Quinnipiac University Poll, are conducted in English only and fail to measure the Spanish-speakers who tend to be left-leaning. And the pandemic has delayed some face-to-face Democratic voter outreach, which means that many Latino voters are hearing from the Biden campaign later than they normally would.Everybody I spoke with agreed that Biden has work to do to bring late-deciding Latinos to the ballot box (or to the mailbox). “I would say that any lack of enthusiasm for Biden is due both to early investment from the Trump campaign to raise its standing among Latinos and to a lack of investment in Latinos from the Biden campaign,” Sindy Benavides, the chief executive officer of the League of United Latin American Citizens, told me.[Read: The neglect of Latino voters]Biden’s issues go back to the Democratic primary, where Bernie Sanders dominated the Latino vote in western states. In California, Sanders won 71 percent of Latinos under the age of 30, according to exit polls. Benavides said Biden should take a page from Bernie Sanders’s successful efforts to mobilize young Latinos early in the Democratic primary. “Bernie was successful among young Latinos because the structure and strategy of the campaign included the Latino community,” she said. “For a lot of Latinos who are focused on surviving this pandemic, who can’t see beyond the next week, or beyond the next day, Biden needs to speak to their urgent concerns.” (A representative from the Biden campaign emphasized that, although the pandemic has made it harder to hold large events with Latino voters, the campaign is planning more direct Latino outreach in the closing weeks to shore up support in Florida and across the country.)“There is a lot of disinformation that is directly targeting the Latino community, including misleading messages about voting by mail and threats that ICE will be lurking at various polling stations,” Benavides said. Biden’s most important challenge in the final weeks is to replace that disinformation with his own story—and a plan for November. Stephanie Valencia, the co-founder of Equis Research, told Politico that Biden remains an unknown among many Latinos, whose support for Biden increases when they learn more about his platform.But Biden can’t resolve his problems simply with get-out-the-vote efforts and PSA campaigns. The most sophisticated Latino pollsters have identified several trouble spots.In Florida, the historically conservative Cuban American cohort has lurched toward Trump in the past few years. After roughly splitting their votes between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama in 2012, Florida’s Cuban Americans are breaking for Trump by about 20 points, according to a recent poll by Equis. (Biden leads non-Cuban Latinos in the state by about 30 points, according to the same poll.) “Trump is clearly doing even better among Cuban Americans than some previous Republicans,” Mark Lopez, the director of Hispanic research at Pew Research Center, told me. “Biden’s weakness in Florida has something to do with the president’s anti-socialist rhetoric” that equates left-wing Democrats with the Castro regime, which Cuban Americans moved north to escape.Even more concerning for Democrats is that young Latino men born in the United States seem to be inching toward Trump, intrigued perhaps by the president’s business persona. No single group has posted a larger statistical bump for Trump than Latino men under the age of 50, according to Equis.Unlike the Cuban American phenomenon, which is confined almost entirely to Florida, this appears to be a national phenomenon. In Arizona, for example, only half of Latino men under 50 say they will vote for Biden, far fewer than the nearly 70 percent of young Latina women. Among older Latinos in Arizona, there is practically no difference between male and female preferences, with Biden’s edge among women at just 3 percent.[Julio Ricardo Varela: What Biden can learn from Sanders about the young Latino vote]The gender gap among young Latino voters is “one of the most significant new developments in the Latino vote today,” Lopez said. It reflects a broader gender gap in the U.S. electorate. As late as the 1970s, there was scarcely any difference between male and female voters. But in the past four decades, women have edged toward the Democratic Party, while men moved into the GOP. In 2016, Clinton won the popular vote by several million ballots with just 41 percent of male support. As net immigration from Mexico and Central America continues to decline, third- and fourth-generation Latino men (i.e., whose grandparents or great-grandparents immigrated to the U.S.) seem to be less likely to consider themselves “Latino” or “Hispanic” and more likely to vote like white men, the GOP’s demographic sweet spot.There is no such thing as a singular Latino electorate. There are only Latino electorates, which vary by state, gender, generation, economic status, and their family’s nation of origin. The challenge for Biden and future Democrats is to find a message that cuts across identities. The right approach in this election is to focus on the intersection of health and economics—and, in particular, on work. Today, Latinos are more likely than the average American to work in low-wage service jobs that expose them to health risks in a pandemic. But this sort of deprivation is not unique to any ethnic group; it is endemic to the service economy and the working class, and its solutions will require working-class policies, such as universal health care and stronger labor protections. To counter Trump’s advantage among Cuban Americans and men, and to maximize turnout among Latino voters predisposed to vote Democratic, Biden needs to do more than unfurl his multi-page résumé. He needs to get specific with Latino voters on pocketbook issues and explain how their lives would improve with him in the White House. That is, he needs to explain how they, too, would win with a Biden victory.
The Election’s Biggest Threat Is No Longer the Postal Service
President Donald Trump stood on a North Carolina tarmac earlier this month, Air Force One idling behind him, and urged his supporters to commit a crime. He said they should cast the ballots they received in the mail—just as he has done many times in the past—and then they should go to their polling place on Election Day and test the system by trying to vote again. “Let them send it in, and let them go vote,” Trump said. “If their system’s as good as they say it is, then obviously they won’t be able to vote.”Officials in North Carolina were aghast. The executive director of the state’s board of elections, Karen Brinson Bell, issued a statement the next day explicitly warning North Carolinians not to follow the president’s advice. “It is illegal to vote twice in an election,” she said. “Attempting to vote twice in an election or soliciting someone to do so also is a violation of North Carolina law.”Neither the location nor the timing of Trump’s remarks appeared to be a coincidence. North Carolina—the first state in the nation to mail out absentee ballots on a large scale—is where the general election unofficially begins. A few days after the president appeared there, counties across the state started sending more than 700,000 ballots that voters initially requested by mail. That volume is more than 15 times the number of requests from the same time four years ago and represents about 15 percent of the total votes cast in North Carolina in 2016—a reflection of the record interest in voting by mail during the COVID-19 pandemic.This first mass mailing is providing the United States Postal Service with something of a test run, and despite the president’s mischief, North Carolina has recorded few election hiccups in the early going.“It seems like things have been rolling out fairly well,” J. Michael Bitzer, a political scientist at North Carolina’s Catawba College who closely tracks the state’s elections, told me. More than 80,000 mail ballots have already been returned and accepted in North Carolina, and thousands pour into election offices every day.Gerry Cohen, a member of the Wake County elections board, told me he received his ballot the day after the county started mailing them. “I was actually surprised,” he said. “That was much better service than I expected from the last couple of years from the U.S. Postal Service.”That’s a rare endorsement for one of the nation’s most beleaguered agencies at the moment. The 2020 election faces a cluster of overlapping challenges that could complicate voting over the next two months—among them a deadly pandemic, litigation that’s delaying the mailing of ballots, and a president who is spreading disinformation about voting. The Postal Service, besieged by complaints about its new leader and changes to its operations, had been at the top of the list of concerns just a few weeks ago. Now, however, the mail might be the least of the election’s troubles.Leaders of two major postal unions are considerably more confident about USPS’s ability—and commitment—to help carry out the election than they were a month ago, when changes to mail delivery slowed service and prompted Democrats to accuse the newly installed postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, of plotting to sabotage the vote at the behest of President Trump. Following a bipartisan outcry, DeJoy suspended many of the changes he had implemented or planned until after the election. More important, union officials told me, he reaffirmed the Postal Service’s long-standing policy of prioritizing and expediting election mail, and he brought union leaders onto a task force charged with ensuring the smooth running of an election that will feature a record flood of mail ballots. In essence, union officials said, the uproar worked to kick USPS into gear—at least until November.“We will be fine,” Jim Sauber, the chief of staff of the National Association of Letter Carriers and a member of the expanded Postal Service election task force, told me in an interview. “At the moment, I’m feeling pretty good.” Over the summer, a flurry of reports from letter carriers and postal workers first alerted the public to unannounced changes in operations that had caused mail to pile up and trucks to go out nearly empty in some areas. There’s been “a dramatic drop” in those reports from the field, Sauber said, in the weeks since DeJoy announced a pullback on the overhaul he ordered shortly after taking office in June.Of particular importance was DeJoy’s commitment to treat all ballots as first-class mail even if they’re purchased at less-expensive bulk rates, along with his vow to beef up staffing around election time to meet the expected surge of ballots, as the Postal Service has done in years past.“I’m optimistic that the Postal Service is up to the task,” Mark Dimondstein, the president of the American Postal Workers Union, told me. “There’s more commitments and there’s more cooperation, and those are both very important things for making sure this works well.”[Read: What really scares voting experts about the Postal Service]From the beginning, the Postal Service has insisted that it has both the capacity and the funding to handle a surge in mail ballots. The doubts have instead centered around DeJoy, a GOP donor who won the postmaster general’s job only after Trump was able to fill open seats on the USPS board of governors, which appointed DeJoy. In appearances before Congress last month, he defended the operational changes he ordered in the name of efficiency, even as he promised the Postal Service’s full support in facilitating mail-in voting. The postal unions remained concerned about the long-term impact of those changes, and in interviews over the past several days, I could detect a hint of frustration that the narrow, but understandable, focus on the election was obscuring their deeper worry about the direction of USPS under DeJoy’s leadership.The APWU, for example, believes the Trump administration is on a mission to degrade public support for the Postal Service so it can put the agency up for sale. The public outcry over DeJoy’s overhaul has made that harder, but once the election is over, union leaders wonder, will people simply move on?“We’re pleased there’s been some pullback on these policies between now and the election,” Dimondstein told me, “but the post office is not just about mail ballots, as important as they are. And it’s not just about now until November, as important as that is.”I asked Dimondstein whether he trusted DeJoy. “Well, that’s kind of a loaded question,” he replied with a nervous laugh. “I’ve always said, and I’m going to continue to say, we have deep concerns about how he got there and what he represents and, obviously, what he’s doing,” Dimondstein told me. “He has said a lot of the right things, but how we judge him as postmaster general is by his deeds.” He recalled the wise words of an old friend who once told him, “Watch the feet.”Not everything has gone smoothly for the Postal Service so far. Colorado is suing the agency over a postcard it sent to more than 160 million American voters encouraging them to request ballots from their state at least 15 days before the election. Because Colorado is one of several states that votes entirely by mail, it sends every registered voter a ballot automatically—they don’t need to request one. Its secretary of state, Jena Griswold, said the USPS mailer would cause confusion among Colorado voters, “undermine confidence in the election” and suppress votes. She said that when she urged the Postal Service not to send the postcard to voters in Colorado, it refused.A federal judge initially ruled in Colorado’s favor and issued an injunction against the Postal Service, although most of the postcards had already gone out. A person familiar with USPS operations told me the postcard mistake was a case of “complete incompetence.” Yet the incident appears to be an example of well-intentioned imprecision rather than malicious chicanery; like election officials and campaigns in both parties, the Postal Service is trying to encourage voters to plan ahead, particularly if they are voting by mail for the first time. “Our mailer was intended to be general, all-purpose guidance on the use of the mail, and not guidance on state rules,” USPS spokesperson Martha Johnson told me.Many states will begin mailing out ballots to millions more voters over the next week, including in the battlegrounds of Wisconsin, Minnesota, Michigan, and Georgia. The biggest worries, however, are about delays and snafus that have little to do with the mail itself. In Pennsylvania, counties could not begin sending out ballots as early as state law allowed because the state supreme court had yet to rule on a lawsuit over whether the Green Party’s presidential ticket will appear on the ballot. The court issued its ruling against the Green Party on Thursday, clearing the way for ballots to go out. (“We really don’t consider ourselves to be behind at this point,” Wanda Murren, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania Department of State, told me before the ruling. “This is not big alarm bells going off.”) In Ohio, officials are still fighting over how many drop boxes will be deployed to make it easier for voters to submit their completed ballots. Wisconsin narrowly avoided a delay in the mailing of more than 1 million ballots after its supreme court ruled against adding the Green Party to the ballot, which would have forced counties to reprint ballots—a process that would have taken multiple weeks.Another cause for concern is the millions of voters who will be participating by mail for the first time. In a few counties in North Carolina, as many as 10 percent of ballots have been rejected so far, in most cases because the voter did not have the signature of a witness as required by law. The rate of rejected ballots is higher for Black voters, which Bitzer and Cohen each said might be explained by the fact that Black voters are less likely to have voted by mail before. Election officials will follow up with voters whose ballots are rejected to help them correct the ballots so they can be counted, which is one reason why officials have been encouraging voters to return their ballots as early as possible.Voters can return their ballots by mail or in person, and lines have already been forming at election offices in the state more than seven weeks ahead of Election Day.(North Carolina does not allow drop boxes; two years ago, Republican operatives were caught illegally collecting absentee ballots in a voter-fraud scheme that led to the invalidation of a congressional election.) Gerry Cohen’s wife didn’t get her ballot for several days, a delay he attributed to the county sending out the initial ballots in waves, as opposed to all at once. Cohen mailed his ballot back and dropped off his wife’s in person. North Carolina has a ballot-tracking service that voters can sign up for, and at 6 a.m. the day after Cohen returned his wife’s completed ballot, she received both a recorded phone call and an email informing her that it had been accepted. “We could have chosen a text, too,” Cohen told me, “but we figured two forms were enough.”When I asked Cohen what worried him most about the election, his reply wasn’t the post office. Instead, he pointed toward the president: “Misinformation and disinformation,” he told me.A few days after we spoke, Trump seized on a local news report that officials in one North Carolina county had accidentally mailed parts of two ballots to a few hundred voters. “RIGGED ELECTION in waiting!” the president tweeted. The director of the Mecklenburg County board of elections called the snafu “more of an embarrassment than an issue” and noted that the state system would prevent someone from actually casting multiple ballots.[Read: The question at the heart of the Postal Service crisis]None of those issues fall under the purview of the Postal Service, which has scrambled in recent weeks to offer reassurance about its own role in the election. For now, DeJoy appears to have succeeded at least in quelling fears that his changes that slowed down the mail were implemented with the election in mind, as some Democrats charged. “I don’t have any real concerns that there’s a cabal out to undermine the election,” Sauber told me. He pointed to a simpler explanation, in which an inexperienced new boss came in and ordered an overhaul before he really understood the operation he was running. “He’s a logistics expert,” Sauber explained. “He thinks this is his sweet spot, his knowledge area, and he wanted to make a big splash and set the tone. What happened is a lot of managers ran wild trying to impress the new boss.”Sauber told me he was more worried about the resurgence of the pandemic this fall, which could impact service if an outbreak forced postal workers or letter carriers off the job in a crucial region in the weeks before the election. “That’s a more likely danger than any kind of political sabotage,” he said.In Iowa, a retail clerk from Waterloo named Kimberly Karol was one of the postal workers who sounded the alarm about mail piling up and the removal of sorting equipment over the summer. Karol, the president of the Iowa affiliate of the postal workers union, told me that not much had improved in the weeks since—with one notable exception. “As far as the election goes, I think it’ll go smoothly,” she told me. Karol said managers had begun to use overtime again to compensate for chronic staffing shortages, and she described how postal managers would coordinate with election officials to make sure ballots were the first mail delivered in the morning. “It’s going to be the election mail that’s going to be the highest priority. So I don’t see any issue with election mail,” Karol said. “My concern is for mail in general after that point.”
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The 4-Degrees-Celsius Election
The federal government spends roughly $700 billion a year on the military. It spends perhaps $15 billion a year trying to understand and stop climate change.I thought about those numbers a lot last week, as I tried to stop my toddler from playing in ash, tried to calm down my dogs as they paced and panted in mid-morning dusk light, tried to figure out whether my air purifier was actually protecting my lungs, tried to understand why the sky was pumpkin-colored, and tried not to think about the carcinogen risk of breathing in wildfire smoke, week after week.The government has committed to defending us and our allies against foreign enemies. Yet when it comes to the single biggest existential threat we collectively face—the one that threatens to make much of the planet inhabitable, starve millions, and incite violent conflicts around the world—it has chosen to do near-nothing. Worse than that, the federal government continues to subsidize and promote fossil fuels, and with them the destruction of our planetary home. Climate hell is here. We cannot stand it. And we cannot afford it either.[Read: This is your life on climate change]Again and again, Republicans have insisted that it is clean energy and a safer, stabler homeland that we cannot possibly afford. “The Paris climate accord is simply the latest example of Washington entering into an agreement that disadvantages the United States to the exclusive benefit of other countries, leaving American workers, who I love, and taxpayers to absorb the cost in terms of lost jobs, lower wages, shuttered factories, and vastly diminished economic production,” Donald Trump said, pulling out of the agreement, citing its “draconian financial and economic burdens.”But the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates that global warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels would cause something like $50 trillion in economic damage by the end of the century. The warmer the planet gets, the more expensive the consequences, and some scientists now predict that if the global community fails to act, temperatures will rise 4 degrees Celsius by 2100. If we do not limit emissions, economic activity across 22 vital American business sectors could decline by half a trillion dollars on an annual basis, one study found. No country save for India is expected to bear a heavier financial burden from climate change than the United States. (India’s anticipated damage is so high because of its already hot climate and large GDP.)A warming planet is destroying the country’s physical infrastructure: In 2019 alone, the United States experienced more than a dozen billion-dollar weather events, and 2020 might be worse. Fires in California and Oregon are incinerating homes, businesses, schools, power lines, and roads. Hurricanes in the Gulf Coast are swamping mobile homes and carrying away cars and livestock. The United States faces the potential task of relocating towns and cities and fortifying others, trapped in an endless cycle of destruction and rebuilding.Climate change is damaging American productivity too, sapping away output from millions of workers and thousands of businesses. Researchers have estimated that every workday above 86 degrees Fahrenheit costs a given county $20 per person in lost income, with other studies showing workers who toil outside, such as construction workers and farmers, facing the worst and harshest effects. Temperature increases screw with the economy’s “basic elements, such as workers and crops,” the researchers Tatyana Deryugina and Solomon M. Hsiang argue.Climate change is killing Americans. Wildfires, heat waves, mudslides, hurricanes, and floods lead to hundreds if not thousands of deaths every year. But those are only the direct fatalities. Climate change is increasing rates of conditions such as heatstroke. Climate change is worsening birth outcomes, leading to more premature deliveries and maternal deaths. Climate change is putting the world at risk of famine, and the United States at risk of hunger.The air we are breathing is toxic because of our addiction to fossil fuels. As Dave Roberts writes at Vox, ditching gas would be worth it for the effects on air pollution alone. The researcher Drew Shindell of Duke University has testified that keeping the world to a 2-degrees-Celsius pathway would prevent 4.5 million premature deaths, 3.5 million hospitalizations and emergency-room visits, and 300 million lost workdays over the next 50 years.Climate change is also increasing rates of domestic abuse, pumping up the number of gun deaths, leading to more violent interactions with police officers, inciting resource conflicts, and raising the likelihood of war and civil conflicts. We all are at greater risk of violent death because of climate change, and not just as a result of changes in the weather. Trump sees himself as the law-and-order candidate, the man who can restore peace and security to the country. But homes across the West Coast are burning down. Some of my fellow Californians were recently immolated. My unhoused neighbors are suffering from smoke-induced asthma in the middle of a respiratory pandemic.[Leah Stokes: How can we plan for the future in California?]The Paris Agreement, the Green New Deal, cap-and-trade legislation, renewable-energy mandates: These things are not expensive. They are cheap compared with the cost of climate change. And they are necessary investments in our collective security, no less important or vital than investments in our military. Instead of subsidizing fossil fuels, the government could be creating millions of green jobs that would save the lives of millions around the planet. This election, and every election from here on out, is existential on this issue: If 2016, per the conservative writer Michael Anton, was the Flight 93 election, 2020 is the 4-degrees-Celsius election. Politicians can choose the safer, greener path for all of us, or the path to oblivion.What price would we put on breathing without fear? What price would we put on keeping our children safe? What price would we put on being freed of this terror?
NYS distributing $300 weekly jobless benefits to 2.26 million residents
The Cuomo administration finally distributed unemployment insurance benefits this week to 2.26 million New Yorkers — $1.9 billion in total — just weeks after the White House accused the state of dragging its feet on the matter. The state Labor Department said the jobless New Yorkers received retroactive federal Lost Wage Assistance benefits of $300...
A White police chief lays out why BLM protests matter in small towns
Even though there hasn't been a single Black Lives Matter protest in the predominantly White city of Canal Fulton, Ohio, their White police chief wrote an article welcoming them, saying "the Black community needs us."
5 things to know for September 18: coronavirus, election 2020, USPS, Taiwan
Here's what else you need to know to Get Up to Speed and On with Your Day.
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Wanted: People who want to get paid to taste cheeseburgers
For burger lovers out there, a dream job has opened up: getting paid to eat cheeseburgers.
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'Next Usain Bolt' Armand Duplantis breaks another world record
Armand Duplantis may only be 20 years old but he is already a track and field superstar.
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Scientists win award for giving an alligator helium and making it shout
A team of scientists who put an alligator in a helium-filled box and made it shout have won an Ig Nobel Prize, a prestigious(ish) award that commemorates the science world's more unorthodox experiments.
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We fled the smoke out West and just kept going
Tess Taylor recounts how her family fled California for a chance to breathe air free of smoke. From the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where ash was still falling, they just kept going east - to Salt Lake City and ultimately to South Dakota, where they paused to see blue sky and take respite from the toll of devastation.
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The Weaponization of the Free-Exercise Clause
There was a time when the Constitution’s protection of the “free exercise” of religion was a sort of shield, a protection for religious minorities from the prejudices of the powerful. No longer. The Supreme Court’s conservative majority is in the process of transforming this First Amendment clause into a sword that politically powerful Christian conservatives can use to strike down hard-fought advances in civil rights, especially for LGBTQ individuals and women.At issue is whether religious believers who object to laws governing matters such as health care, labor protections, and antidiscrimination in public accommodations should have a right to an “exemption” from having to obey those laws. In recent years, religious pharmacists have claimed that they should not be required to fill prescriptions for a legal and authorized medical procedure if that procedure is inconsistent with their beliefs. A court clerk whose religion defined marriage as a union of a man and woman has claimed a free-exercise right to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples who have a constitutional right to marry. Religious business owners, such as bakers and florists, who object to same-sex marriage have claimed a right to refuse service to same-sex couples. And employers have successfully asserted a right to deny their workers health-care benefits that they would otherwise be entitled to, such as contraception or abortion counseling.[Read: The separation of church and state is breaking down under Trump]Providing such religious exemptions has required a dramatic change in the law by the Supreme Court. In 1990, in Employment Division v. Smith, the Supreme Court held that the free-exercise clause of the First Amendment cannot be used as a basis for an exception to a general law, no matter how great the burden on religion, unless the government’s action can be shown to be based on animus to religion. The case involved a claim by Native Americans for a religious exception to an Oregon law prohibiting consumption of peyote.Justice Antonin Scalia wrote the opinion for the Court ruling against the Native Americans and explained that it would be impossible to provide religious exemptions from civic obligations whenever a person disagreed with the law—there are just too many civic obligations and too many different religious views about those obligations. Also, if the government were to begin down this path, it inevitably would face the impossible task of defining a “religious” belief. Such an approach would force the Court to make intrinsically controversial and discriminatory decisions about which religious views were most deserving of special accommodation and which social values should be considered less important than the favored religious views.This decision was in line with the approach taken by the Supreme Court, in almost all cases, through American history. Courts long held that the Constitution did not require an exception to general laws on account of religious beliefs—that parents could not deny medical aid to their children, that they could not have them work in violation of child-labor laws, even if the work involved dispensing religious literature, that religious schools could not violate laws against racial discrimination, and that a Jewish Air Force psychologist could not ignore the uniform requirement by wearing a yarmulke.Unfortunately, the conservative justices on the current Court reject Scalia’s reasoning and may be about to overrule Employment Division v. Smith. If they do so, the Supreme Court’s conservative majority will in essence be saying that the views of Christian conservatives are more important than legal protections for workers and people who seek to engage in ordinary commercial activity without suffering discrimination.The first sign of this shift came with the 2014 decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, when for the first time in American history, the Court held that the religious beliefs of a business’s owner allowed it to refuse to provide employees with a benefit required by law. Under the Affordable Care Act, employers are required to provide health-insurance coverage, including coverage for contraceptives for women. The Affordable Care Act had already carved out an exemption for religious not-for-profit organizations, so that, for example, a Catholic diocese would not have to provide contraceptive care to its employees. (Legislatures can choose to give religious exemptions, even though the Constitution does not require them.) But at issue in Hobby Lobby were the rights of the owners of a purely secular business. The five conservative justices held that a family-owned corporation could deny contraceptive coverage to women employees based on the business owners’ religious beliefs.[Read: When the religious doctor refuses to treat you]The dissenters, led by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, pointed out that “the distinction between a community made up of believers in the same religion and one embracing persons of diverse beliefs, clear as it is, constantly escapes the Court’s attention,” and wondered about religious employers who were offended by health coverage of vaccines, or equal pay for women, or medications derived from pigs, or the use of antidepressants. At the very least, there is a compelling interest in protecting access to contraceptives, which the Supreme Court has deemed a fundamental right.In June 2020, the Court ruled in Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey Berru that teachers at a Catholic school could not sue for employment discrimination. The two cases before the Court involved a teacher who had sued for disability discrimination after losing her job following a breast-cancer diagnosis and a teacher who had sued for age discrimination after being replaced by a younger instructor.Previously, in Hosanna-Tabor Lutheran Evangelical Lutheran Church and School v. EEOC (2012), the Court said that a narrow exception protects religious organizations from being held liable for choices they make about their “ministers,” which traditionally have been considered “exclusively ecclesiastical questions” that the government should not second-guess. But now the Court has expanded that exception to all religious-school teachers, meaning that the schools can discriminate based on race, sex, religion, sexual orientation, age, and disability with impunity.This reflects a Court that is likely to expand the ability of businesses to discriminate based on their owners’ religious beliefs. A few years ago, the Court considered in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission whether a baker could refuse, on account of his religious beliefs, to design and bake a cake for a same-sex couple. This should be an easy decision: People should not be allowed to violate antidiscrimination laws because of religious beliefs, or any beliefs. For more than half a century, courts have consistently recognized that enforcing antidiscrimination laws is more important than protecting freedom to discriminate on account of religious beliefs. A person cannot invoke religious beliefs to refuse service or employment to Black people or women. Discrimination by sexual orientation is just as wrong. Although the justices in this case sidestepped the question of whether the free-exercise clause requires such an exemption, a number of other courts have ruled that compliance with general antidiscrimination laws might impose an impermissible burden on the free exercise of the owner’s religious beliefs, at least when the beliefs are Christian and the protected class includes gay and lesbian people. Moreover, the religious right has demanded that it is entitled to such exemptions.In recent months, the Court expanded civil-rights protection for gay, lesbian, and transgender individuals, but there is reason to fear that the conservative justices are about to undercut this. In June 2020, the Supreme Court ruled that the federal law Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination based on sex, forbids employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. But Justice Neil Gorsuch’s majority opinion left open the possibility of giving an exception to employers who discriminate because of their religious beliefs. The Court should emphatically reject such claims. Selling goods and hiring people on the open market is not the exercise of religion, and stopping discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity is a compelling government interest that judges should not dismiss because members of a favored religion disagree with the policy.[Chase Strangio: The trans future I never dreamed of]Unfortunately, the Court appears to be headed in exactly the opposite direction. Next term, which begins in October, the Court will consider, in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia, whether free exercise was violated by a city’s barring a Catholic Social Services agency from participating in placing children in foster care, because the agency refused to certify same-sex couples as foster parents—in violation of the city’s general nondiscrimination policy. One of the questions before the Court is whether to “revisit” Employment Division v. Smith.Five justices may be about to do just that—paving the way for the Court to allow religious organizations and persons to ignore nondiscrimination laws that protect the LGBTQ community, as well as ignore federal requirements to provide full health benefits to women.Creating a free-exercise right to flout laws that protect other people would entangle judges in endless claims about which religions deserve this special treatment, to the great detriment of true religious liberty. Conservative Christians claim that if they are not given a privileged position in the political system to harm people in these ways, the government is demonstrating hostility to religion. But requiring religious people in the ordinary course of their lives to follow the rules that apply to everyone else is not hostility; it is equality.
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Armand Duplantis breaks another pole vault world record
Having broken the indoor pole vault world record in February this year, yesterday at the Diamond League meeting in Rome, Armand "Mondo" Duplantis broke the outdoor world record too.
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