August 12-18 Weekly News Round Up

Weekly News Round Up 

A roundup of current news story on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

 Access Health CT, Connecticut’s health care exchange, is holding several “Healthy Chats” in the next few weeks to answer residents’ questions about the healthcare exchange. The first was held in Meriden on Tuesday. If you currently don’t have insurance or are paying too much for your coverage and want to know how you could benefit from the exchange, consider attending one of the upcoming conversations.

A new study by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that many people will see significant savings in the new health care exchanges enacted by the Affordable Care Act. On average, federal subsidies will reduce the cost of premiums by a third.

Mark Greenberg, a GOP candidate challenging Representative Elizabeth Etsy for CT’s 5th district seat, is apparently unconcerned with running a clean campaign. A recent fundraising letter for Greenberg’s campaign alleges that Congress (including Representative Etsy) has been granted an exemption from the Affordable Care Act. Trashing the Affordable Care Act in an attempt to rile up conservative voters has become a go-to strategy for the GOP, but Greenberg’s accusations are an epic distortion of the bill.  “Spin” is one thing, outright lies are quite another.

Some other developments in CT’s electoral races: Danbury mayor Mark Boughton has launched an exploratory bid for governor, and is describing himself as the Republican candidate who’s more in touch with the middle class.  State Representative Penny Bacchiochi is running for lieutenant governor unattached to a gubernatorial campaign.

Senator Blumenthal has partnered with a Norwich veteran to demand that the Department of Veteran Affairs provide equal benefits to same-sex spouses of veterans. Carmen Cardona, an 18-year veteran of the Navy, is suing the VA after she was denied a monthly increase in her disability compensation because she is married to a woman. The Defense Department announced Wednesday that same-sex spouses of current military members will begin  receiving benefits, making the VA’s refusal to provide same-sex benefits to veterans all the more baffling.

The transfer of prisoners from a federal women’s prison in Danbury has been delayed after a group of senators, including CT Senator Chris Murphy, voiced concerns.

Last week, I talked about NARAL Virginia’s undercover investigation into crisis pregnancy centers. This week, an intern sent undercover gives a heartfelt account of her disturbing experiences.

Ohio lawmakers are seeking to reintroduce the “heartbeat bill”, which would ban abortion after the fetal heartbeat can be detected. This can be as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, before many women are even aware they’re pregnant, meaning that the bill’s passage would effectively be an abortion ban. It goes without saying that the bill is a complete violation of Roe v. Wade.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has called for an end to mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent drug offenders, and for more low-risk offenders to be given rehab or community service in lieu of prison time.  Several CT organizations are praising the move. Holder’s announcements mark a much-needed change in direction from the “war on drugs” policies that have devastated communities of color.

In other awesome criminal justice reformation news, a judge has ruled New York City’s controversial “stop and frisk” law to be unconstitutional. While Mayor Bloomberg continues to insist that the law makes NYC safer, saying at a press conference, “I worry for my kids and I worry for your kids”, you have to wonder just whose kids he’s talking about. An astounding majority of the people stopped under the law are young black and Latino men, and I doubt “stop and frisk” is helping their parents sleep more soundly.

North Carolina has passed a voter ID/voter suppression law that reminds us exactly why the Voting Rights Act was so important.

The Dream Defenders leave the capitol after a month long sit-in, and mark the next chapter of their work with a march on Governor Scott’s home.

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