SPLASH! News for March 20, 2017

Dive Into the News of the Day

Photo Credit: Kiran Opal


Former Law Student: Gorsuch Told Class Women ‘manipulate’ Maternity Leave

NPR – A former law student of Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, alleges that in a course she took from Gorsuch at the University of Colorado Law School last year, the judge told his class that employers, specifically law firms, should ask women seeking jobs about their plans for having children and implied that women manipulate companies starting in the interview stage to extract maternity benefits.

The concerns were shared in a letter, posted Sunday evening by the National Employment Lawyers Association and the National Women’s Law Center, written by Jennifer Sisk, a 2016 graduate of the University of Colorado Law School. It was sent on Friday to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
In an interview with NPR, Sisk says she wrote the letter “so that the proper questions could be asked during his confirmation hearings,” which begin Monday before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Other students in the class have not come forward publicly.

Ryan Signals Compromise on Health Care for Older Americans

TIME – Days before a pivotal vote, House Speaker Paul Ryan said Sunday he will seek changes to a GOP health care bill to provide more help to older people. The new willingness to compromise was a bid for more support from moderate Republicans, who expressed continuing unease about the plan to replace Barack Obama’s health law unless significant changes were made.

Ryan insisted that he felt “very good” about the bill’s prospects but acknowledged that House leadership was “making fine-tuning improvements to the bill to reflect people’s concerns.”

A House vote was scheduled for Thursday.

“We believe we should have even more assistance. And that’s one of the things we’re looking at for that person in their 50s and 60s because they experience higher health care costs,” the Wisconsin Republican said.

Under the GOP plan, older people who are not yet eligible for Medicare stand to be the biggest losers. It would shrink the tax credits they use to help buy insurance and it would increase their premiums because the bill allows insurers to charge more as people age and become more susceptible to health problems.


MS Court Blocks Law that Would Have Shuttered State’s only Abortion Clinic

PBS – A federal court in Mississippi on Friday ruled against a state law that would have shut down the state’s lone abortion clinic in the capital city of Jackson.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant in 2012 signed a bill into law that would have required abortion clinic doctors to secure special privileges to admit patients to local hospitals.

A lawsuit was filed soon after by the legal group Center for Reproductive Rights on behalf of the Jackson Women’s Health Organization challenged the law.\

A federal court judge allowed the law to move forward but stopped the state from closing the clinic.
Friday’s ruling follows a successful legal challenge last year against a Texas state law similar to Mississippi’s. In June, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a Texas law requiring abortion clinics in the state to have surgical facilities and hospital admitting privileges.

Nancy Northup, president and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, called Friday’s ruling “the latest victory for women’s health and rights.”


Germany, Japan Push Trade Deal as Merkel Seeks Anti-Trump Allies

Bloomberg – German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called for a concerted effort to defend free trade, expanding the list of economic powers joining together to counter the U.S. shift toward protectionism.

Barely 48 hours after Merkel and President Donald Trump clashed on economic policy at their first White House meeting, the German leader called for the swift conclusion of a trade accord between Japan and the European Union. That followed a renewed German-Chinese commitment to open markets on the eve of her trip to Washington and Merkel’s backing for a free-trade accord between the EU and Mercosur, the South American economic bloc.

“Of course we want fair markets, but we don’t want to put up barriers,” Merkel said Sunday evening in a speech in Hanover, Germany, pushing back against Trump’s pledge to enact “America First” policies. “At a time when we have to quarrel with many about free trade, open borders and democratic values, it’s a good sign that Germany and Japan aren’t quarreling about that.”


US Stocks to Give Back Part of Last Week’s Gain

MarketWatch – U.S. stock futures on Monday pointed to a dip at the open, as investors waited to hear from a Federal Reserve official for more inspiration after last week’s interest rate hike.
Chicago Fed President Charles Evans will appear in a television interview and then speak in New York later in the day.

S&P 500 futures fell by 4.20 points, or 0.2%, to 2,371.00, while Dow Jones Industrial Average futures dropped by 15 points, or 0.1%, to 20,848.00. Nasdaq-100 futures shed 3.25 points, or 0.1%, to 5,405.25.

Last week, the S&P 500 gained 0.2%, the Dow rose fractionally, and the Nasdaq Composite tacked on 0.7%. The S&P and Dow finished 0.7% and 1% below their March 1 record closes, respectively, while the Nasdaq ended less than 0.1% below its all-time closing high, hit as the month began.


Lawmakers seek FBI, NSA Answers on Russia Connection at Rare Public Hearing

Reuters – Representatives Devin Nunes, chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, and Adam Schiff, the panel’s top Democrat, have called FBI Director James Comey and NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers to testify as part of their committee’s probe into allegations that Russia meddled in U.S. elections.

Other congressional committees also are investigating the matter, mostly behind closed doors. But amid a furor over whether Moscow tried to influence the 2016 presidential race on Trump’s behalf, lawmakers said they would make public as much of their probes as possible.

Russia denies attempting to influence the election.

Comey and Rogers are not expected to reveal much in public about the probes, which include information that is classified Top Secret and also separated into different compartments, each of which requires a separate clearance.

But the hearing could become heated as Republicans balance support for their party’s leaders and Democrats vent frustration over Republican congressional leaders’ refusal to appoint a special prosecutor or select committee to investigate

Written by Pamela Getz

Writer and Activist. Follow Pamela on Twitter @goddesspamela.

Pamela Getz is Editor of International Affairs for Progressive Army and a member of its Editorial Board.

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SPLASH! News for March 20, 2017