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Sept. 26 is World Contraception Day. Its purpose is to educate people about the importance of family planning and access to contraception. Despite the Republicans’ repeated attempts to block women’s access to any kind of reproductive justice, having access to contraception remains a vital part of women’s equality—one that is essential for our health and well-being, and that of our families. 

But in 2017, it is still incredibly difficult to get birth control pills in the United States. Though over-the -counter birth control is available around the world, women here are required to see a doctor in order to get a prescription. 

There are 102 countries in the world where you can buy birth control pills without seeing your doctor, but the United States isn’t one of them.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has endorsed the idea of true access to over-the-counter birth control since 2012 and 76 percent of doctors and 70 percent of other health care providers have said that people should have over-the-counter access.

It’s mind-boggling that in a country as wealthy and resource plentiful as this one, the powers-that-be refuse to figure out how to do this yet. Birth control pills have been around for nearly six decades and we know a lot about them. The medical field has overwhelmingly already agreed that this would be a safe thing to do. And not only is the pill safe but for some women, it may be the only way that they can get reliable contraception. For those who work and don’t have flexible schedules, have child care responsibilities, or live in rural areas where clinics may not be easily accessible or transportation not readily available, getting to a doctor and then a pharmacy to pick up a monthly prescription poses a challenge.

“Our rural health care is affected by health care provider shortages and patients are facing three to six months wait time for any primary care and even longer for speciality care,” [Denicia Cadena, of Young Women United based in New Mexico, said.] “Eleven of the state’s 33 counties have no OB-GYN … These barriers to contraception disproportionately affect people living in rural communities, low income people, and indigenous people.”

Let there be no doubt that women’s health is extremely political. In this age of technology where we have services that allow you to do car-sharing without actual car keys, and others that deliver groceries, alcohol, and clothes to your door, there just isn’t the political will to get FDA approval of over-the-counter birth control.

This is by no means a new thing.

Joe Biden Gets His Own Daily Podcast

Sep. 26th, 2017 01:52 pm
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Posted by Rachel Sadon

Joe Biden Gets His Own Daily Podcast


Listen to Biden's Briefings every day via iTunes, Spotify, TuneIn, Amazon's Alexa, and Google Assistant. [ more › ]
[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

Not a few people have suggested that Pr*sident Donald J. Trump, the guy who has embarrassed even a few Republicans with his 6th grader tweets and colossal ignorance, is wagging the dog over North Korea to distract attention from his political incompetence and the Mueller investigation. Perhaps Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un and his foreign minister are doing the same to divert attention from their problems. 

Do they mean what they say? Or are they just spouting off for the home audience with no intent to go to war? Maybe it’s all just a bluff. But if this competitive waving of twangers is just bluffing with the idea of ratcheting up the bellicose rhetoric until the other side blinks and backs off, it’s a damned risky move. 

So risky, in fact, that retired Admiral James Stavridis told Los Angeles Times reporter Barbara Demick Sunday that he puts the chances of a conventional war in Korea at 50-50 and a nuclear one at 10 percent:

“We are closer to a nuclear exchange than we have been at any time in the world's history with the single exception of the Cuban missile crisis,’’ Stavridis said.

Of course, those odds are just one fellow’s educated guess, and he could be far from the mark. 

But Stavridis is not some Pentagon also-ran engaged in breathless fearmongering. While he has retired from his military career, he’s now dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, chairman of the board of the U.S. Naval Institute and a senior fellow at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. When someone of that stature gives odds of war in that range, it’s wise to pay attention.

Joe Cirincione is someone who has been paying attention. And he thinks the admiral’s nuclear estimate is too optimistic. He’s president of the Ploughshares Fund, a group focused for 35 years on getting us to a world without nuclear weapons. Cirincione worked on the staffs of the House Committee on Armed Services and the Committee on Government Operations for nearly a decade and has written hundreds of articles on nuclear weapons issues. He is not given to hyperbole.

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Posted by StarWars.com Team

It’s almost here. Star Wars Rebels returns for its fourth and final season on October 16 on Disney XD, and we can’t wait. Lucasfilm and Disney released today the official key art for the season — a stunning image featuring the Ghost crew, Thrawn, and more. Check it out below!

Looking for a Star Wars Rebels Season Four mission brief? Get ready with StarWars.com’s viewing guide, discover our highlights from the Season Four trailer, and read our Season Three wrap-up interview with executive producer Dave Filoni.

StarWars.com. All Star Wars, all the time.

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

Campaign Action

Puerto Rico's 3. 5 million citizens, U.S. citizens, are facing "near-death conditions" following Hurricane Maria. "Just yesterday, we have been canvassing one by one all of our elderly homes, finding our elderly―and I’m not kidding―we [had] to transfer 11 of them in near-death conditions, no food, no water, no electricity and really the sanitary conditions were deplorable," reports San Juan's mayor, Carmen Yulín Cruz.

So what's the U.S. House of Representatives doing about it? Nothing, unless you count scheduling a vote on an unconstitutional abortion ban some kind of help.

Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced Tuesday that the House would vote on the "Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act," on Oct. 3. The bill last passed the House in 2015 but was blocked by Senate Democrats.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), would make it a crime to perform or attempt an abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy, with the possibility of a fine, up to five years in prison, or both.

They're tweeting about this with a hashtag #theyfeelpain. Funny how they use the hashtag #theyfeelpain bill for fetuses but not for people, oh, needing Medicaid. Or medical marijuana. Or for people starving and stranded in Puerto Rico.

It's always time for some red meat for the base when you're a Republican. They can't deliver Obamacare, so they might as well do this. Or, you know, spend some time trying to actually save actual living people.

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

With just four days to go in this round of trying to kill Obamacare and every indication that they are going to fail, Republicans are planning the next totally partisan assault. The only way Obamacare is going to be repealed is with Republican votes, so they chose to get the job done through the budget reconciliation process, which can't be filibustered in the Senate. Since it's not likely to happen this time, they're talking about trying it again with the next budget resolution.

There is nothing to suggest Obamacare repeal would get any easier in the coming months and doing so may significantly hobble the Republican majority's other chief legislative priority: tax reform. But facing a floundering repeal push, wrath from the base and a frustrated President Donald Trump, Republicans may have no other choice but to keep pushing to uproot the law.

"We've got to do both," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said of tackling both Obamacare repeal and tax reform next year. "They're complicated by necessity. So I don't think that takes away the complications. But I think we're supposed to be able to handle complications."

Hatch added, however: "If it's used to screw everything up, I'm not for that."

Here's how it could be done: While the Senate parliamentarian has ruled that the repeal push under fiscal 2017 must die after Sept. 30, Republicans could provide reconciliation instructions for both health care and tax reform in the fiscal 2018 budget resolution that Congress must pass to again unlock the fast-track procedural powers. That might entail some procedural hurdles, but one GOP aide said Monday that because the Finance Committee has jurisdiction over about 95 percent of health care policy, "it's not like we couldn't slip it in anyway."

Sure, they'll just slip it in, because that's the way the world's greatest deliberative body works these days. That's not guarantee, however, that they'll have any greater luck with either the so-far non-existent tax plan than they've had with their pathetic attempts at coming up with a healthcare proposal that even Republican could agree on. In seven years.

JAM THE PHONE LINES. Call your senator at (202) 224-3121 and tell them to just stop playing with our lives.  (After you call, please tell us how it went.)

[syndicated profile] dcist_feed

Posted by Chris Kelly

Weekly Music Agenda, Featuring Zola Jesus


Also, Rainer Maria reunite at the Rock & Roll Hotel, A$AP Mob take over Echostage, and more. [ more › ]
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Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III is set to make a speech at Georgetown University. The topic of that speech: free speech. The environment of the speech: anything but.

More than 130 students who had followed official channels to register for a seat in the auditorium were told they could attend, Lauren Phillips, a student at the school, wrote in an email Monday night. But the students were later suddenly uninvited because they were not part of a group that, Phillips believes, would ensure a sympathetic audience.

The attorney general of the United States, in a speech at a major university on the topic of “free speech,” is requiring a sympathetic audience scoured of any student who might object to anything he says. That’s despite the fact that in applying for these seats the students agreed not to disrupt Sessions’ speech. It’s a level of delicacy that makes snowflakes look like cast iron.

… students “find it extraordinarily hypocritical that AG Sessions would lecture future attorneys about the importance of free speech on campus while actively excluding the wider student body...”

It’s no coincidence that this comes at the same time that Donald Trump is actively attacking athletes who want to use their free expression to highlight racial inequality in the justice system. The Trump regime is attempting to redefine “free speech” as “speech that supports Trump.”

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Campaign Action

This announcement comes just hours after Donald Trump sent out a series of tweets appearing to blame Puerto Rico for its problems following the devastation of Hurricane Maria. Trump’s visit will come nearly two weeks after Maria hit the island, where more than three million U.S. citizens may go up to six months without electricity:

President Trump will travel to Puerto Rico next Tuesday to survey damage from Hurricane Maria, which has ravaged the island and left Americans there without power and struggling to find food and clean water.

As Mark Sumner noted, leaders on the island have been begging for relief, because what has actually gotten there has been woefully inadequate. “Donald Trump could have ordered the armed forces to conduct an emergency air evacuation of the island, moving hundreds of thousands of the most directly threatened to safety. He didn’t.”

The people of Puerto Rico are suffering, and it took days of public shaming for someone in the White House to finally schedule a visit as Trump has made his racist attacks on athletes his main priority on Twitter. It’s safe to assume many Americans in Puerto Rico would much rather see an Air Force One full of supplies and food rather than one full of Trumps.

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

Now that he’s completed his plan to bring mining and clear-cut logging to National Monuments, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zink has looked around his own department. And according to the AP, what he’s determined is that one third of the Interior Department is composed of traitors,

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said Monday that nearly one-third of employees at his department are not loyal to him and President Donald Trump, adding that he is working to change the department’s regulatory culture to be more business friendly.

The Trump regime is one in which you can head up a department whose name you’ve forgotten and whose purpose you never knew, run something that doesn’t even interest you, or head up a department you actively want to destroy, so long as you show the one critical trait: Loyalty to Trump.

Dedication to the nation is off the table. Efficiency is not an issue. Knowledge is an actual detriment. Loyalty is what counts. People who don’t realize that are getting in the way of making arbitrary decisions and implementing “business friendly” decisions.

Zinke said he wants to speed up permits for oil drilling, logging and other energy development that now can take years.

“The president wants it yesterday,” Zinke said, referring to permits for energy development.

So Zinke has no option but to shed those people and offices who insist on studying an area before it’s destroyed in favor of new people in new places who know to salute first, ask questions never.

Zinke said he is pursuing a major reorganization that would push much of the agency’s decision-making outside Washington and move several agencies, including the Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Land Management, to undetermined Western states.

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Posted by Staff

       




The longtime Rockville institution is back to serving up elegance and fresh seafood with a dash of panache. [ more › ]
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Campaign Action

Five—that's the total number of U.S. citizens who were finally allowed to remain in the Senate Finance Committee's hearing on the GOP's Graham-Cassidy healthcare repeal bill. As large hearing rooms that could have accommodated hundreds of onlookers sat empty, Republican Finance chair Orrin Hatch gaveled the meeting to order with about 20 disabilities rights activists present. Outside the hearing room doors, a line of hundreds of interested citizens snaked through the halls. But even 20 proved too many when they started chanting, "No cuts to Medicaid! Save our liberty!”

After they were forcibly removed by Capitol Police, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank writes:

[Finance Committee Chairman Orrin] Hatch returned after seven minutes and started scolding: “If you can’t be in order then get the heck out! . . . Shut that door and keep it shut!”

Who he was yelling at wasn’t clear, because after the mayhem the cops had allowed only five spectators to remain in the room — and three of them looked like lobbyists.

That’s right: Five members of the public allowed to witness the lone hearing for a plan that would cut more than a trillion dollars from health care, deny health insurance to millions and dump the whole health-care mess on ill-equipped states.

As Milbank quipped: “Maybe the Senate janitor’s closet was already booked?”

It’s honestly hard to believe Republicans even allowed this farce of a hearing to move forward. They apparently weren’t even sure the version of the Graham-Cassidy bill they were examining was the one that would come to vote. 

x

Cassidy says he *thinks* this is the final version of #GrahamCassidy that senators may vote on later this week

— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) September 25, 2017

As Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) noted in her statement announcing her opposition to the monstrosity:

Sweeping reforms to our health care system and to Medicaid can’t be done well in a compressed time frame, especially when the actual bill is a moving target. Today, we find out that there is now a fourth version of the Graham-Cassidy proposal, which is as deeply flawed as the previous iterations. The fact that a new version of this bill was released the very week we are supposed to vote compounds the problem.

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) finally decided she would be principled on Monday afternoon, ending the will-she-or-won't-she speculation about the latest really awful Obamacare repeal attempt from her Republican colleagues. That should be the death blow to the bill, with Sens. John McCain (R-AZ), Rand Paul (R-KY), and Ted Cruz (R-TX) also saying they will vote no. But no one trusts Paul to do anything he says he will, and Cruz is just holding out for a bribe or two, so this isn't over yet. In fact, leadership seems to be thinking, forcing a vote on this terrible bill might make it pass.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Tex.) did not rule out the possibility of holding a vote on the proposal despite clear signs that it did not have sufficient support to pass. Many Republicans feel pressure from voters to keep pushing to repeal the ACA before moving on to other issues.

“There are a lot of people who want to vote yes and be recorded as voting yes,” Cornyn said, adding that the Republican conference would decide the matter Tuesday, when lawmakers will meet for the first time since leaving for recess last week. “I think there is some advantage to showing you’re trying and doing the best you can.”

There's also got be more than a few who would much rather not to have to take this vote at all, particularly after the Congressional Budget Office score noting that it couldn't even predict how many people would lose coverage, particularly since the bill seems to be rather a moving target—would senators even really know what it was they were voting on?

This is what they'll be evaluating today at their weekly conference meeting—who they can bribe, who they can threaten and who are lost causes and if holding a vote could force 50 of them to destroy healthcare for millions. (By the way, it's been nearly a week since anyone checked in with House Speaker Paul Ryan on the prospects for the House to rubber stamp whatever the Senate sends them, something senators might want to think about today.)

Clearly, though, leadership is thinking that they can force this by forcing the vote and that they can browbeat senators into keeping the promise of repealing Obamacare—and none of their other promises about protecting people with pre-existing conditions or making sure everyone is covered or that it would be affordable. We'll see today how many of the rank and file are willing to jump off that cliff.

This round of Trumpcare clearly isn’t going to be really dead until October 1st. ANYTHING can happen this week. Call your senators at (202) 224-3121 and urge them to vote “NO." (After you call, please tell us how it went.)

[syndicated profile] dcist_feed

Posted by Christina Sturdivant

D.C. Police Officer Dies In Howard County Car Crash


Police say Barry Martin Eastman's car crossed over the double line on a Howard County road "for an unknown reason." [ more › ]
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Posted by Rachel Sadon

Morning Roundup: More Than 10 Crashes Reported On BW Parkway


Plus, another day of summer-like fall weather, the Pop-Up Bar's Iron Throne is staying put in D.C., and more in the news. [ more › ]
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Posted by BeauHD

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: The U.S. National Security Agency conducted targeted surveillance over the past year against 106,000 foreigners suspected of being involved in terrorism and other crimes, using powers granted in a controversial section of law that's set to expire at the end of this year. The number of foreigners targeted under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act rose from 94,000 in fiscal year 2015, according to U.S. intelligence officials, who asked not to be identified discussing the information. The program lets agencies collect the content of emails and other communications from suspected foreign criminals operating outside the U.S., but it has become a flash point with some lawmakers for potential infringement of Americans' constitutional rights. Congress has to decide by year-end whether to renew the NSA's power under Section 702, a program that came to light when former government contractor Edward Snowden revealed classified government documents in 2013. While the intelligence officials cautioned that changes would limit its effectiveness, lawmakers including Senate Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, have indicated they'll seek adjustments to ensure against abuses.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

[syndicated profile] dailykos_feed

On Monday evening, Donald Trump finally got around to mentioning Puerto Rico for the first time since Hurricane Maria finished passing over the island. And what he delivered was a level of cruelty usually reserved for four-year-olds holding  a magnifying glass above ants.

x

Texas & Florida are doing great but Puerto Rico, which was already suffering from broken infrastructure & massive debt, is in deep trouble..

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 26, 2017

Trump followed this initial tweet with a couple of followup. They did not make things better.

It’s old electrical grid, which was in terrible shape, was devastated. Much of the island was destroyed, with billions of dollars owed to Wall Street and the banks which, sadly, must be dealt with. Food, water, and medical are top priorities — and doing well. #FEMA 

Donald Trump finally deigned to notice three and a half million Americans in Puerto Rico. Americans without power, without shelter, and—despite Trump’s afterthought—without clean water, without adequate food or medical care. Americans living in the shattered ruins of their homes unable to even communicate with loved ones to let them know they’re still alive. And he blamed them. 

It took Donald Trump five full days to respond to the devastation wrought by Hurricane Maria on the lives of 3.5 million Americans in Puerto Rico, and when he finally did so his comments on Twitter were so devoid of empathy it threatened to spark a new controversy.

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