A crucial test for pro-life advocates in Kansas this week; beleaguered Kentuckians brace for more flooding and federal judge delivers a victory to members of the Air Force who requested exemption from the COVID-19 vaccine on religious grounds.
Those stories and more below. But first, some words of wisdom to begin your day.
“Your Monday morning thoughts set the tone for your whole week. See yourself getting stronger, and living a fulfilling, happier and healthier life.” – Germany Kent
- Kansas Abortion Vote Tests Political Energy in Post-Roe America
From The NY Times:
On Tuesday, Kansans will decide whether to pass a constitutional amendment that could lead to far-reaching abortion restrictions or an outright ban on the procedure.
In the final days before Kansans decide whether to remove abortion rights protections from their State Constitution, the politically competitive Kansas City suburbs have become hotbeds of activism.
In neighborhoods where yard signs often tout high school sports teams, dueling abortion-related messages now also dot front lawns. A cafe known for its chocolates and cheese pie has become a haven for abortion rights advocates and a source of ire for opponents. Signs have been stolen, a Catholic church was vandalized earlier this month and tension is palpable on the cusp of the first major vote on the abortion issue since Roe v. Wade was overturned in June.
There may be no greater motivator in modern American politics than anger. And for months, Republican voters enraged by the Biden administration have been explosively energized about this year’s elections. Democrats, meanwhile, have confronted erosion with their base and significant challenges with independent voters.
- Manchin touts inflation reduction bill, says ‘I’m not getting involved’ in upcoming elections
Senator Joe Manchin, D-W.V., made the morning talk show rounds on Sunday to talk about the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, a revival of President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better economic bill that collapsed earlier this year.
The inflation bill, which Democrats are attempting to pass through reconciliation, aims to reform the tax code, cut health-care costs and fight climate change. It will invest more than $400 billion over a decade by closing tax loopholes, mostly on the largest and richest American corporations. It would also reduce the deficit by $300 billion in the same decade-long timeframe.
“This is all about fighting inflation,” Manchin told Jonathan Karl on Sunday’s “This Week” on ABC.
Manchin insisted that the bill isn’t a spending bill, but instead is focusing on investing money.
- Kentucky’s governor warns residents to brace for more flooding
As parts of Kentucky continue to assess the damage from the past week’s floods, Gov. Andy Beshear is warning residents of more rain and potential flooding to come Sunday night into Monday morning.
“Next couple days are going to be hard,” Beshear said in a statement posted to YouTube. “We’ve got rain and maybe even a lot of rain that’s going to hit the same areas. Please pray for the people in these areas. And if you are in the areas that are going to get hit by rain, make sure you stay safe. Make sure you have a place that is higher ground. Go to a shelter. Just please, please be safe.”
At least 26 people have been killed as a result of the flooding, but that number is most certainly higher. Beshear noted that officials are aware of additional bodies being recovered, but until they can confirm those deaths they are not including them in the total number of casualties.
- Judge Blocks Administration from Enforcing Vaccine Mandate on Air Force Servicemembers
From the Daily Citizen:
A U.S. federal district court judge has blocked the administration from enforcing the COVID-19 vaccine mandate on servicemembers in the Air Force, Space Force and Air National Guard who have requested religious exemptions to the mandate, Fox19 reports.
Judge Matthew McFarland in the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Ohio, an appointee of former President Donald J. Trump, said that the denial of these servicemembers’ requests for religious exemptions were “violations of [the] Airmen’s constitutional rights to practice their religions as they please.”
The judge preliminarily enjoined (temporarily stopped) the Air Force from “taking, furthering, or continuing any disciplinary or separation measures against the members of the Class for their refusal to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.”
In a statement following the ruling, one of the plaintiffs in the case, Joe Dills, who has served in the Air Force reserves since 2013, said he believed the Air Force wasn’t taking his request for religious exemption seriously.
- Conservative Country Star John Rich’s Song ‘Progress’ Hits No. 1 After Release on Truth Social
From the Daily Citizen:
Conservative country music star John Rich’s new song “Progress” has hit Number One on the music charts. Rich bypassed “woke” record labels and released the song directly to former President Donald J. Trump’s new social media app Truth Social and Rumble.
The overtly political song touches on several current hot button political issues, from the crisis in Afghanistan to the Build Back Better bill.
“There’s a hole in this country where its heart used to be, And Old Glory’s divided, on fire in the street … They say Building Back Better will make America great … If that’s a wave of the future, all I’ve got to say,” reads the first verse.
“They invite the whole world to come live in our land … And leave our countrymen dying in Afghanistan … They say let go of Jesus and let government save … You can have back your freedoms if you do what we say.”
- Federal Court Delivers Legal Victory for Religious Hiring Rights at Faith-Based Schools
From the Daily Citizen:
The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has delivered an important religious freedom victory to religious schools in a case it decided on July 28.
Roncalli High School in Indianapolis, Indiana, is a Catholic educational institution. It terminated a counselor named Lynn Starkey in 2018 after she informed the school administration that she was in a same-sex relationship, in violation of her contract and centuries-old Catholic teaching.
Starkey responded to her termination by suing the school under federal non-discrimination laws as well as state law claims. The school defended against the lawsuit by relying on the First Amendment doctrine called the “ministerial exception,” which shields religious organizations from government interference in their hiring decisions when it comes to employees who inculcate others with the faith principles of the institution.
The U.S. Supreme Court has, in the last 10 years, ruled in a couple important cases involving religious schools and their employees, including Hosanna-Tabor Evangelical Lutheran Church & School v. EEOC and Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru, both of which were decided in favor of school hiring practices. The high court’s explanation in those cases of what it considered to be “ministers” for First Amendment purposes included much more than simply ordained heads of churches or institutions such as schools.
- Biden tested positive for COVID again Sunday after getting ‘rebound’ case
From the NY Post:
The White House doctor said President Biden “continues to feel well” but tested positive for coronavirus again on Sunday – a day after he came down with a “rebound” case of COVID-19.
Dr. Kevin O’Connor said the president, 79, will continue to remain in isolation at the White House.
“He will continue to conduct the business of the American people from the Executive Residence,” O’Connor wrote in a letter released by the White House.
“As I have stated previously, the president continues to be very specifically conscientious to protect any of the Executive Residence, White House, Secret Service and other staff whose duties require (albeit socially distanced) proximity to him,” the physician wrote.
- Stuck on a delayed plane? Here are your rights as an airline passenger
From The Hill:
Passengers aboard a recent American Airlines flight were delayed for several hours at Charlotte Douglas International Airport amid mechanical and weather-related issues. The flight, which was scheduled to leave for New York at 1:07 p.m. on July 24, didn’t depart until shortly after 7 p.m. that evening, and only after passengers were transferred to another plane, American Airlines confirmed.
Some passengers had complained of limited air conditioning or beverages during the nearly six-hour delay, the Charlotte Observer reported. One passenger, herself a Charlotte Observer reporter, claimed another traveler began “having a mental breakdown” during the wait and that some people had even “started sobbing.”
American Airlines issued a statement acknowledging the frustrating situation, but as far as the Federal Aviation Administration is concerned, the carrier appeared to abide by all rules and regulations for passengers awaiting takeoff.
According to the Department of Transportation, airlines are allowed to keep passengers on a departing flight for up to three hours (or four for an international flight) before they are required to start moving the plane “to a location where passengers can safely get off.” There are exceptions, of course, which are allowed “only for safety, security, or air traffic control-related reasons.”
- ‘Star Trek’ actress Nichelle Nichols dead at 89
From the Fox News:
“Star Trek” actress Nichelle Nichols died on Sunday, according to a post shared by her son Kyle on her official Facebook page. She was 89.
“I regret to inform you that a great light in the firmament no longer shines for us as it has for so many years,” he wrote.
“Last night, my mother, Nichelle Nichols, succumbed to natural causes and passed away. Her light however, like the ancient galaxies now being seen for the first time, will remain for us and future generations to enjoy, learn from, and draw inspiration.”
Nichols was known for playing Lieutenant Nyota Uhura on all three seasons of the original show, which ran from 1966-1969. She also starred in each of the six “Star Trek” films from 1979 through 1991.
Kyle added in the post: “Hers was a life well lived and as such a model for us all. I, and the rest of our family, would appreciate your patience and forbearance as we grieve her loss until we can recover sufficiently to speak further. Her services will be for family members and the closest of her friends and we request that her and our privacy be respected.
He signed off with the signature “Star Trek” send off, “Live Long and Prosper.”