Yearly Archives: 2013

53 posts

December 22-29 Weekly News Round Up

A round up of current news stories on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues.

By Tess Koenigsmark

Connecticut is now requiring that all health insurance companies in the state provide coverage for medical treatments that are part of a patient’s gender transition.  This is awesome news, since many transgender people can’t afford to pay for procedures such as hormone therapy or surgery out of pocket, and being denied medical treatment has a very real impact on the physical and mental health of transgender people.

It’s that time of year again – best/worst stuff that happened in the past year list time! (If anyone has a less clunky name for this phenomenon, I’m taking suggestions.) RH Reality Check discusses 2013’s best and worst moments for women’s economic status. Topics include the minimum wage, abortion restrictions, and domestic worker legislation.

A comedy about a woman who gets an abortion will be featured at the Sundance Film Festival. There’s a real dearth of representations of abortion in popular culture, and one portraying a woman who is A-OK with her decision is especially rare.

President Obama signed a defense bill on Thursday that includes changes meant to improve the military’s handling of sexual assault. For example, under the new law military commanders will no longer be able to overturn jury decisions. However, the law does not go as far as the proposed Military Justice Improvement Act, which would remove prosecution of sexual assault cases from the military chain of command. While these recent changes are progress, I’m still hoping 2014 sees reform beyond reversing rules that never should have existed in the first place.

The Connecticut legislature has made a number of suggestions to help the unemployed, including addressing bias that harms older unemployed workers.

Connecticut’s healthcare exchange saw a flurry of action right before the December 23 deadline to sign up for health coverage that will take effect January 1. In total, 62,153 people have signed up since the exchange opened. People can continue to sign up for health insurance through the exchange, but coverage will start at a later date.

Happy New Year!

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December 16-22 Weekly Round Up

A round up of current news stories on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

Monday is the last day to sign up for health coverage that takes effect January 1 through Connecticut’s health insurance exchange, Access Health CT. The state is anticipating that the start of coverage under plans purchased through the exchange will be bumpy, but urges people to be patient as they work through any issues.

Additionally, a federal government decision regarding the purchase of “catastrophic” health insurance plans may also complicate Connecticut’s health insurance exchange.

Catholic hospitals are growing, and that’s bad news for women’s health and safety. Religious restrictions followed by Catholic hospitals mean that they do not provide contraception or abortion services, even if a woman’s health or life is in danger. Since not everyone has the luxury of choosing from an array of hospitals (and in an emergency “choice” isn’t really part of the equation), this is a severe threat to women’s ability to access quality health care.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA), which would remove disciplinary proceedings for sexual assault from the military chain of command, is expected to receive a vote when the Senate returns in January. It’s about time.

After becoming the subject of a federal investigation into how it handles sexual assault, Occidental College created an online system where sexual assault victims can anonymously report an assault. The reports are used to track trends, and are not the sole basis of any disciplinary proceedings. Sounds good so far, right? Well, this attempted improvement in tracking campus sexual assault enraged a very nasty corner of the internet known as  “men’s right’s activists” or MRAs, whom I prefer to call “organized misogynists”.  Working under the false and incredibly stupid assumption that men at Occidental would be arrested or dragged through disciplinary proceedings on the basis of anonymous reports, these lovely folks flooded the system with a barrage of false rape reports. Way to show those rape victims who’s in charge.

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December 8-15 Weekly Round Up

A (quick) round up this week of current news stories on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues. We’ll be back to our regular analysis next week.

By Tess Koenigsmark

“Trumbull High, RENT, and Why the Fight for LGBT Equality Didn’t Stop with Marriage”:

“Should Birth Control Sabotage Be Considered a Crime?”

“Michigan Passes Bill Requiring Women to Purchase ‘Rape Insurance’“

“New report serves as indictment of Border Patrol’s “systematic” display of abuse of power”

“New Act Proposes National Paid Family Leave Policy”

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Women The Best

Science confirmed today that women — particularly the Connecticut chapter of the National Organization of Women — are the best.

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Tyler Super Design

Can you believe it?!

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December 1-7 Weekly News Round Up

A round up of current news stories on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

Anti-apartheid revolutionary and former South African president Nelson Mandela passed away on Thursday at the age of 95.  While our nation’s political leaders mourn his passing, it’s easy to forget that not a decade has passed since the US government branded Mandela a terrorist. ThinkProgress offers an interesting article on some of Mandela’s more radical (and, I think, most interesting) political views.

Republicans in Congress are proposing a budget that would end federal long-term unemployment benefits, which the White Houses says would affect 85,100 Connecticut residents. Connecticut Democrats  are fighting the cuts, standing with other Democrats who claim they will not accept a budget that eliminates the benefits.

On Thursday, fast food workers and supporters protested in cities across the country for higher wages. The protests, part of a movement demanding a $15 an hour wage for fast food workers, were planned for Connecticut as well. The lack of a living wage for fast food workers is an especially salient issue for women, who make up two thirds of the industry’s workers.

It’s unacceptable for UConn officials to receive substantial raises when the university’s tuition continues to rise.

A European company which produces a chemically identical drug to the morning-after pill (also know by the brand name Plan B) produced in the US is changing its labels to reflect that it is not effective on women who weigh over 176 pounds, and begins losing effectiveness in women over 165 pounds. As the FDA considers whether US manufacturers must change their labels, the news should serve as a reminder of the importance of diversity in medical research.

Homelessness has increased in the past year in Connecticut, even as homelessness nationwide decreased. Connecticut recently received $18 million in grants and loans to increase available affordable housing. Hunger also remains high in Connecticut, as highlighted at a symposium called “Rich States, Empty Plates” hosted by the organization End Hunger Connecticut!, which discussed potential long-term solutions for ending hunger.

Male GOP candidates are receiving lessons on how to talk to women. Oh man, what I would give to be a fly on the wall in that workshop!

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November 17-23 Weekly News Round Up

A round up of current news stories on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

The current uproar over UConn President Susan Herbst’s inappropriate response to the accusations by Title IX complainants is not the first time she’s caught flack over statements regarding sexual assault. Sensitive though the subject may be, it doesn’t seem like it should be this difficult to address sexual assault in a tasteful, respectful manner. And, as a general rule, if you don’t how to broach a sensitive topic, how hard is it to consult someone who does?

Marissa Alexander, the Florida woman sentenced to 20 years in prison for firing a warning shot at the ceiling in the presence of her abusive husband, has not been granted bail as she awaits her new trial.

President Obama has announced that, in response to news that many Americans’ insurance plans are being cancelled, insurance companies may continue to offer the cancelled plans for another year. However, Connecticut has rejected Obama’s offer as it is unlikely CT insurance companies would continue to offer cancelled plans even if given the option.

Albuquerque, New Mexico voters rejected a proposed 20-week abortion ban on Tuesday. Strong grassroots organizing, backed by support from larger national organizations, is responsible for defeating the bill. From RH Reality Check, how such laws contribute to the criminalization of all pregnant women.

Connecticut is considering legislation that would change how juvenile offenders are treated, including sentencing and parole. The legislation is being considered in response to Supreme Court decisions that juvenile offenders cannot be treated the same as adults.

A horrifying story of police abuse of power and racial profiling in Miami Gardens: One shop owner in the Florida city is fighting back after police have repeatedly arrested his employees and customers for “trespassing” inside his store.

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November 10-17 Weekly News Round Up

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

By Tess Koenigsmark

Players on the UConn Women’s Basketball team are speaking out against the discrimination of LGBT athletes, just in case you needed any more proof of how awesome they are.

The GOP is upset that insurance companies must now cover maternity care under the Affordable Care Act, with one economic advisor claiming that having a baby is a choice equivalent to buying a Porsche. First of all, no luxury item I’ve ever heard of cries all day and poops on you. Secondly, this is a great example of the paradox of the GOP stance on reproductive rights: the “life” of a fetus is super important, until that fetus is born and becomes just another mooching poor person.

CT Senator Richard Blumenthal and five other Congressional Democrats introduced the Women’s Reproductive Health Act on Wednesday. The legislation would aim to counteract the litany of anti-choice TRAP (targeted regulation of abortion providers) laws that have sprung up in states around the country by creating a basis for challenging such laws in court.

A UConn professor who publicly criticized Susan Herbst’s lack of response to rape culture on campus says the price of speaking out is her dismissal.

Another of the UConn Title IX complainants, Alyssa Palazzo, has gone public. Palazzo witnessed UConn football player Lyle McCombs yelling at his girlfriend outsider Palazzo’s dorm. McCombs was later charged with Breach of Peace for yelling, pushing, and spitting on his girlfriend. Palazzo claims that when she reported the incident to UConn, administrators discouraged her from providing testimony and failed to address her concerns about retaliation. Palazzo wrote an article about her experience for the Huffington Post.

At a legislative hearing in Hartford Wednesday, state representatives heard testimony from both the complainants in the UConn Title IX case and UConn administration on how the university handles sexual assault complaints.

In response to news that many people’s health insurance plans are being cancelled because they don’t meet the requirements set by the Affordable Care Act, President Obama announced Thursday that people will be able to keep their current plans through 2014. While most of the cancelled plans offered very limited coverage to begin with, and some people with cancelled plans may be able to find a better deal through the government’s healthcare exchange, many are predictably upset after Obama’s promises that people would be able to keep their plans if they like them.

Connecticut is the only state in which more people have signed up for private insurance than Medicaid through the healthcare exchange. This is at least partially because CT began its Medicaid expansion several years ago. CT’s exchange, Access Health CT, continues to fare better than the exchange run by the federal government.

Washington Post columnist and perpetual waste of ink Richard Cohen attempts to defend the GOP against accusations of racism in his latest article, but instead ends up vulgarly insulting biracial couples. After the Miley Cyrus debacle, why does this guy still have a column?

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November 3-10 Weekly Round Up

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

By Tess Koenigsmark

The Connecticut Permanent Commission on the Status of Women’s Executive Director, Teresa Younger, was on the Melissa Harris-Perry Show to discuss the issue of reproductive healthcare at Catholic hospitals.

The UConn Foundation spent $660,000 on a Hartford house where President Susan Herbst can wine and dine potential donors. The purchase was funded through donations and used no taxpayer money, but such a lavish expenditure at the same time that UConn faces accusations of grossly mishandling sexual assault cases is in poor taste. Where are the donations for the UConn Women’s Center, which advocates for campus victims of sexual violence and has faced recent budget cuts?

An awesome Courant article takes down UConn President Susan Herbst’s unacceptable response to the Title IX complaint filed against the school.

Former UConn football coach Paul Pasqualoni says that he was never informed of a sexual assault allegation against one of his players, contrary to claims by the UConn Police Department. Pasqualoni made the comments in response to allegations by one of the Title IX complainants, Rosemary Richi, that she was assaulted by a UConn football player in 2011. Granted, it may be his word against UConn’s, but Pasqualoni’s statements can only bolster allegations that the UConn Police Department has routinely mishandled sexual assault investigations.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow is largely responsible for exposing Republican Senator Rand Paul’s blatant and persistent plagiarism problem. Instead of owning his mistakes, Paul commented that he wishes dueling were legal so that he could challenge Maddow to a showdown. How is that not a veiled threat of violence? “Oh, yeah, I would totally like to shoot or stab her, but obviously I won’t, since that’s illegal. *winks*”

The Illinois legislature has passed marriage equality legislation, making it the 15th state to approve same-sex marriage. Hawaii’s House of Representatives has also passed marriage equality legislation, which will now head to the Senate for approval.

How the anti-choice war against women is also a war against pregnant women.

Albuquerque, New Mexico could become the first municipality to ban abortion if its voters pass an upcoming ballot measure. If the measure passes, similar challenges are likely to spring up in municipalities across the country.  Here’s one way you can help stop this legislation.

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October 27-November 3 Weekly News Round Up

A round up of current news stories on the state and national level, with a focus on feminist issues

By Tess Koenigsmark

I’m a little late on this one, but it still gives me a sense of excitement to be able to highlight a project that addresses both domestic abuse and the inequities in the criminal justice system. Activists launched a letter writing campaign in support of Marissa Alexander, the Florida woman sentenced to 20 years in jail for firing a warning shot when threatened by her abusive husband. The great part of this campaign is that it asks men to write letters in support of Alexander, thereby challenging men to become more engaged on what is often seen as a “women’s issue”. Brilliant.

The Connecticut Women’s Education and Legal Fund, the Permanent Commission on the Status of Women, the Connecticut Department of Labor, and the U.S. Dept. of Labor Women’s Bureau are hosting a “roundtable on women in science, technology, engineering and math occupations” Tuesday in Hartford. Shout out to all our STEM sisters! Details here.

An update on the battle over NYC’s stop and frisk policy.

A scheduled decrease in Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits (also known as food stamps) went into effect Friday, even though food insecurity remains high. Even worse, Congress is currently negotiating the 2013 Farm Bill and both the House and Senate versions call for cuts to the program.

Technical problems continue to plague the federal government’s new healthcare exchange website, but rollout of Connecticut’s site, Access Health CT, has been relatively smooth by comparison. However, challenges remain for CT’s exchange, with price cited as a top concern.

Connecticut’s Democratic Party has seen a fundraising boom thanks to a new CT law that increases the amount an individual can contribute to political parties. While advocates claim the legislation better aligns CT with federal law, others fear it’s a mistake to allow a greater influx of money into the political system.

A federal court has ruled that the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act is a violation of religious freedoms. However, this fight is far from over and will most likely land at the Supreme Court. I’m no lawyer, but I’ve never understood this reasoning. If employers are allowed to deny coverage for any healthcare they disapprove of on religious grounds, what else does that open the floodgates for?

Limiting credits is not cool, UConn.

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