Monday, June 30, 2014

'Department of Defense Releases Strategy to Counter Weapons of Mass Destruction'

The following was released today by the U.S Department of Defense. It is unedited here:

Today the Department of Defense released its strategy for countering weapons of mass destruction (WMD). This strategy will direct the department's efforts to prevent hostile actors from acquiring WMD, contain and reduce WMD threats, and ensure that DOD can respond effectively to WMD crises.

"The pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and potential use by actors of concern pose a threat to U.S. national security and peace and stability around the world," Secretary Hagel writes in the foreword to the strategy. The constant evolution of WMD materials, tactics and technologies calls for flexible and innovative solutions from the full range of DOD tools and capabilities. This strategy places a premium on cooperative efforts to shape the environment and early action to prevent threats before they fully emerge.

The Department of Defense Strategy for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction seeks to ensure that the United States and its allies and partners are neither attacked nor coerced by hostile actors with WMD. "This strategy provides foundational guidance for enacting the department's countering WMD policies, plans, and programs and advances a comprehensive response to existing and developing WMD threats," Secretary Hagel writes. The strategy recognizes that, as we have seen in Syria, "instability in states pursuing or possessing WMD or related capabilities could lead to dangerous WMD crises" and calls upon DOD to improve collaboration and cooperation to reduce and eliminate such threats.

Recognizing that fiscal constraints require DOD to make strategic choices, the strategy emphasizes the importance of cooperating with partnersincluding other U.S. departments and agencies, allies and partners, and international bodies to achieve countering WMD goals.

Endorsing the strategy, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin E. Dempsey writes "Our capability to defeat aggression will not be undermined by the threatened or actual use of WMD."

Read the full strategy here.

A fact sheet on the strategy can be found here.

Connecticut politicians react to Hobby Lobby ruling

Per the Associated Press: "The Supreme Court says corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women." (scroll down to read the entire ruling)

After the ruling, Connecticut politicians and others reacted to it.

Here are some of the reaction (from emailed releases; more will be added as received):

U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3, (senior Democrat on the subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of Health and Human Services):

"Today's decision by the Supreme Court is a serious step backwards for women's health and will negatively affect not just women, but their families as well. The idea that a corporation's rights should be placed above the rights of women is outrageous. Women should be able to make their own health care decisions regardless of where they work and without interference from their bosses. Covering effective preventive services, which include contraception, is a critical part of the Affordable Care Act and should not be dependent on whether your boss says you can have access to basic health care."

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.:

Today, the Supreme Court held for the first time that the religious rights of corporations trump the personal freedoms of American women. This decision undermines millions of American women's access to birth control. Religious liberty is about the right to practice your religion, not the right to impose your religion on your employees. Congress must act to restore workers' right to make their own health care decisions.”

Gov. Dannel Malloy:

“While we should all respect each other’s right to hold different positions based on religious beliefs, women should not be denied access to reproductive healthcare benefits due to the personal beliefs of their employer. Today’s decision from the Supreme Court is an affront to that very basic and fundamental idea,” said Governor Malloy. “In our diverse society, it is unconscionable that the religious beliefs of a private, for-profit employer can dictate the kind of medical care that is available to an employee.  We will review this decision and assess the impact it may have in Connecticut.”

Lt. Gov. Wyman:

“Providing the option of contraceptive coverage is part of serving the healthcare needs of women, it is just that simple,” said Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman. “Carving out exemptions to medicines or treatment is tantamount to restricting access—it puts women at risk and that is unacceptable. This Supreme Court decision reminds us that we have a lot left to do in our fight for equity for women.”

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5,:

“Today’s ruling is misguided and extremely troubling,” Esty said. “A woman’s health care decisions should be made by the woman and her doctor—not her employer. The Supreme Court has extended the notion of corporate personhood to an extreme. Whether it is allowing corporations to flood money into our political elections in Citizens United or unduly restricting access to basic health care in today’s Hobby Lobby decision, the court is setting a dangerous and damaging precedent for our democracy.

“Every American deserves access to high-quality health care coverage and should have the ability to make their own medical and religious decisions, regardless of where they work. Birth control is basic, preventive health care relied on by millions of women and their families. Access to birth control is directly linked to the declining maternal and infant mortality rate, a reduced risk of ovarian cancer, fewer unintended pregnancies and abortions, and better overall health and quality of life for women. Quite simply, access to effective birth control makes an enormous difference in women’s health and lives.  I strongly disagree with today’s ruling, which is a major step backwards in our pursuit for women’s rights and gender equality.

“I intend to work with my colleagues on legislation to reverse the Supreme Court’s misguided ruling to ensure basic protections for women’s health." Already, over 27 million women have benefited from the Affordable Care Act’s provision that requires insurance companies to cover birth control with no out-of-pocket cost.

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen:
 "While my office is reviewing today's Supreme Court decisions – including what effect, if any, that Harris v. Quinn may have on home healthcare workers in the state of Connecticut – both of these decisions, while narrow in their scope, are disappointing.  I am deeply concerned about the impact of the decisions on working families and particularly about the disproportionate impact that the decisions may have on women in our country's workforce.
"My office joined with partner states on amicus briefs in both of these cases, and we will continue to support the rights of workers and the rights of women under our state and federal laws."
Christine A. Palm, communications director, Permanent Commission on the Status of Women:
“This appalling decision by the Supreme Court further erodes a woman’s autonomy over her own body and healthcare,” said Christine Palm, PCSW Communications Director. “To invest corporations with the power to be a regulating force over private matters sets a very bad precedent, and it cannot be overlooked that this decision affects women, not the full spectrum of the workforce.”

 Read or download the full ruling here:


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Read the Supreme Court case on abortion clinic buffer zones

The Associated Press reported that "The Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a 35-foot protest-free zone outside abortion clinics in Massachusetts."

Read the ruling here:


Monday, June 16, 2014

Pentagon Press Secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby on the USS Mesa Verde in Arabian Gulf

The following is a statement issued by the  U.S. Department of Defense related to Iraq (unedited here)

"Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered the amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde into the Arabian Gulf today. The ship has completed its transit through the Strait of Hormuz.

It's presence in the Gulf adds to that of other U.S. naval ships already there -- including the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush -- and provides the commander-in-chief additional options to protect American citizens and interests in Iraq, should he choose to use them.

USS Mesa Verde is capable of conducting a variety of quick reaction and crisis response operations. The ship carries a complement of MV-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft.

USS Mesa Verde is part of the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, which departed Norfolk, Virginia, in February and is operating in the region on a routine deployment to support maritime security operations."

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