Archive for Katie Balevic

Jewish communities react to the possible overturning of Roe v. Wade, which could violate their First Amendment rights

Pro-choice and anti-abortion activists in Texas
Pro-choice and anti-abortion activists at the capitol in Texas.
  • A leaked opinion shows the Supreme Court is ready to overturn Roe v. Wade.
  • The Jewish faith allows abortion and even requires it if the health of the mother is at risk. 
  • Jewish organizations say restricting abortion access would violate their religious freedoms.

As the country responds to a leaked Supreme Court opinion that indicated the sitting justices are prepared to overturn Roe v. Wade, Jewish organizations say a possible ban on abortion would violate their First Amendment rights. 

"I think for too long, we've allowed a small group of loud voices from the religious right to dictate the narrative in this country about faith and abortion, but it is simply not true. People of faith support abortion access and people of faith support compassionate healthcare laws," Sheila Katz, the CEO of the National Council of Jewish Women, told Insider. "And in this case, it would be a violation of our religious freedom to not have access to abortion."

On May 2, Politico published a leaked opinion written by Justice Alito indicating the Supreme Court may be prepared to overturn the federal right to an abortion without undue government interference established by Roe v. Wade in 1973.

If the justices ultimately overturn Roe, at least 12 states will immediately impose near-total bans on abortion.

Supporters say an abortion ban would protect unborn children, a belief largely shaped by Christian religious views which claim life begins at conception. For Jews and others who don't share the religious view that life begins at conception, a total abortion ban may not only prevent access to necessary medical care but also violates religious freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to practice one's faith without government intervention.

"We are proud that Jewish tradition regards abortion as essential health care, not only permitting the termination of pregnancy, but even requiring it when the life of the pregnant person is in danger," Rabbi Hera Person said in a statement following the Supreme Court leak. "Restricting access to reproductive health care impedes the freedom of religion granted by the First Amendment, including a Jewish person's ability to make decisions in accordance with their religious beliefs."

Katz added that Jews "feel really strongly about reproductive freedoms." To them, abortion falls at the cross-section of economic justice, racial justice, healthcare access, and religious freedom, she said.

"So in the Jewish community, all of those issue areas are deeply Jewish for many different reasons, but the notion that the Supreme Court might dictate when life begins according to only one religious tradition is deeply problematic and concerning to us," Katz told Insider, adding that she was "devastated, outraged, and sad" about the possible overturning of Roe.

83% of Jewish people believe abortion should be legal in most or all cases, according to a study by the Pew Research Center, compared to 61% of the total US population. A full 70% of Americans surveyed by Pew Research do not support the overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

While the Court emphasized that the leak does not represent the final decision in the case, Katz said the NCJW is "exploring every possibility of what it looks like for us to fight back against" the leaked opinion on the grounds of religious freedom. 

"We've known that this is a real possibility that Roe v. Wade is getting overturned, but seeing it in writing made it all the more real. And for us, for the National Council of Jewish Women, just one person being forced to be pregnant is one person too many," Katz told Insider.

"Our moral values compel us to ensure that people aren't forced to be pregnant or forced to give birth."

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Exxon Mobil will ban ‘external position flags’ like the LGBTQ rainbow pride flag from being flown outside its offices

In this April 23, 2018, file photo, the logo for ExxonMobil appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
The logo for Exxon Mobil appears above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.
  • Exxon Mobil will prohibit corporate offices from flying the LGBTQ pride flag outside of their offices. 
  • Exxon banned "external position flags" including the pride and Black Lives Matter flags, Bloomberg reported.
  • In response, employees in Houston are refusing to represent Exxon in the city's annual pride parade.

Exxon Mobil will prohibit corporate offices from flying the LGBTQ pride flag outside of their offices. 

In a policy first reported by Bloomberg, Exxon banned "external position flags," including the LGBTQ-rights flag and the Black Lives Matter flag. The decision comes ahead of nationwide Pride Month celebrations in June, frustrating several employees at the company's headquarters in Houston, Texas. 

"Corporate leadership took exception to a rainbow flag being flown at our facilities" last year, Exxon's PRIDE Houston employee group said in an email seen by Bloomberg. "PRIDE was informed the justification was centered on the need for the corporation to maintain 'neutrality.'" 

Following the announcement, members of Exxon's PRIDE group in Houston are refusing to represent the company in the 44th annual Houston LGBT+ Pride Celebration in June, Bloomberg reported. 

In a statement to Insider, Exxon Mobil said "the updated flag protocol is intended to clarify the use of the ExxonMobil branded company flag and not intended to diminish our commitment to diversity and support for employee resource groups."

"We're committed to keeping an open, honest, and inclusive workplace for all of our employees, and we're saddened that any employee would think otherwise," human resources vice president Tracey Gunnlaugsson said in the statement. 

The company will allow employees to display flags with logos representing their employee resource groups, Bloomberg reported. In lieu of the traditional, widely recognized pride flag, Exxon's policy allows employees to fly a flag that represents the company's PRIDE group but that does not feature the company's logo prominently.

In the email seen by Bloomberg, members of Exxon's PRIDE Houston employee group said flying the Pride flag is a way for corporations "to visibly show their care, inclusion and support for LGBTQ+ employees." The company's PRIDE employee resource group has approximately 3,000 members globally.

"It is difficult to reconcile how ExxonMobil recognizes the value of promoting our corporation as supportive of the LGBTQ+ community externally (e.g. advertisements, Pride parades, social media posts) but now believes it inappropriate to visibly show support for our LGBTQ+ employees at the workplace," the PRIDE group said in the email. 

The company has developed a reputation for lagging behind on gay rights issues. In 1999, Exxon acquired Mobil and later eliminated Mobil's policies protecting employees from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 

It wasn't until 2015 that Exxon amended its anti-discrimination policies to include sexual orientation and gender identity, the New York Times reported. 

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Fox’s Laura Ingraham targets Disney and Apple, telling companies boycotting ‘Don’t Say Gay’ law to ‘stay in your lane’

Laura Ingraham on Fox News.
Laura Ingraham on Fox News.
  • Fox's Laura Ingraham told Disney and Apple to "stay in your lane" regarding LGBTQ+ legislation.
  • Ingraham also said the Justice Department needs to consider which companies "need to be broken up."
  • Her comments come after Florida enacted a law that has been deemed the "Don't Say Gay" bill by activists.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham told corporations like Disney and Apple to "stay in your lane" regarding recent anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. 

In her segment on Friday, Ingraham accused Disney of "mischaracterizing the laws that they spend millions of dollars lobbying against as anti-LGBTQ when in reality, these laws are aimed at protecting kids and women." 

Her comments come after Florida enacted a law that has been dubbed the "Don't Say Gay" bill by LGBTQ activists and Democrats. The legislation, officially called the Parental Rights in Education bill, limits what instructors can say to children about gender identity and sexual orientation. 

"These businesses should really learn this lesson now before it's too late: Stay in your lane," Ingraham said. "Because if your CEOs want to dive into contentious political issues, about which they know nothing apparently, expect to be treated like any lame political pundit, on, let's say, MSNBC."

Ingraham also blasted Apple, which, according to POLITICO, has spent extensive resources lobbying against anti-LGBTQ legislation nationwide. At the outset of her segment, Ingraham referred to the two companies as "the mouse and the apple versus America."

"When Republicans get back into power, Apple and Disney need to understand one thing: Everything will be on the table – your copyright and trademark protection, your special status within certain states, and even your corporate structure itself," Ingraham said.

She added: "The antitrust division at (the Department of) Justice needs to begin the process of considering which American companies need to be broken up once and for all for competition's sake, and ultimately for the good of the consumers who pay the bills."

The Fox host also lambasted companies who issued support for the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, accusing them of "kowtowing to one set of political activists at the expense of common sense and fair play."

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Ukraine wants to live freely, not according to ‘other people’s sick fantasies,’ Zelenskyy says, an apparent jab at Putin

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the leaders of the European Council during their summit in Brussels from Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 24, 2022.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks to the leaders of the European Council during their summit in Brussels from Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 24, 2022.
  • President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said Ukraine wants to live freely, not according to "other people's sick fantasies."
  • Zelenskyy did not directly name President Vladimir Putin in his address on the Russian invasion. 
  • The Ukrainian president vowed that his troops would continue to respond to the Russian assault with "hatred and contempt."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Sunday said his country wants to live freely, not according to "other people's sick fantasies."

"Ukraine is united in its desire to live freely, to live independently, and for the sake of its own dreams, not other people's sick fantasies," Zelenskyy said in his Sunday address

The jab did not directly name Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has continued his brutal assault on Ukraine. President Joe Biden urged on Saturday that Putin "cannot remain in power," though the White House and the US Secretary of State later walked the comment back, saying Biden was not calling for a regime change. 

Zelenskyy on Sunday warned that Ukrainian troops would continue to resist the invasion. Ukrainian military intelligence found that Russia plans to split Ukraine into two parts, like a "North and South Korea in Ukraine."

"The answer to Russian troops will be one – hatred and contempt," Zelenskyy said. "Everyone in Ukraine has united and has been devoting all their energy to the defense of our state for more than a month already."

He went on to detail a litany of abuses and crimes Russia has inflicted during its invasion

"But now you, the Russian occupiers, are creating this problem," Zelenskyy said. "With these explosions and killings. With your crimes. You are deporting our people. You are bullying our teachers, forcing them to repeat everything after your propagandists. You are taking our mayors and Ukrainian activists hostage." 

 

Zelenskyy also urged Western allies to supply more weapons for the fight, asking if the West was scared of Russia in "ping-pong" discussions about providing assistance to Ukraine.

He also admonished Russian propaganda, saying the "occupiers committed another crime against history" and "historical justice." Russia has claimed it is the victim of "cancel culture," telling its citizens that the invasion is merely a "special military operation" that is going "according to plan." Russia has also cracked down on journalists reporting on the war there, forcing many Western media outlets to leave the country or suspend their broadcasts. 

"But we are working against lies all over the world. Let Russia know that the truth will not remain silent. And let every nation in the world feel the depth of Russia's injustice against Ukraine. Against everything that keeps the world within morality and humanity," Zelenskyy said on Sunday. 

"The occupiers committed another crime against history. Against historical justice," he added. 

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Zelesnkyy suspends Ukrainian opposition parties with ‘ties’ to Russia, warns of ‘harsh response’ if they don’t comply with ban

In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, early Sunday, March 20, 2022.
In this image from video provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks from Kyiv, Ukraine, early Sunday, March 20, 2022.
  • Ukrainian President Zelenskyy banned the activities of political opposition parties in the country. 
  • In an address Sunday, Zelenskyy said that "everyone must now take care of the interests of our state." 
  • The Ukrainian Ministry of Justice will "immediately take comprehensive measures" to enforce the ban, Zelenskyy said. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced a ban on activities by political opposition parties in the country. 

"Given the full-scale war waged by the Russian Federation and the ties of some political structures with this state, any activity of a number of political parties during the martial law is suspended," Zelenskyy said in a video address on Sunday.

The 11 opposition parties named were: Opposition Platform - For Life, Shariy Party, Nashi, Opposition Bloc, Left Opposition, Union of Left Forces, State, Progressive Socialist Party of Ukraine, Socialist Party of Ukraine, Socialists Party, and Volodymyr Saldo Bloc.

"I want to remind all politicians from any camp: wartime shows very well the meanness of personal ambitions of those who try to put their own ambitions, their own party or career above the interests of the state, the interests of the people," Zelenskyy said in the address. 

"Any activity of politicians aimed at splitting or collaborating will not succeed. But it will get a tough response," he added. "The activities of those politicians aimed at division or collusion will not succeed, but will receive a harsh response."

The Ukrainian Ministry of Justice will "immediately take comprehensive measures" to enforce the ban," Zelenskyy noted. 

"Everyone must now take care of the interests of our state, the interests of Ukraine," Zelenskyy said. "Because it's for us. Because it is for the sake of life." 

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Sen. Lindsey Graham warns a Russian invasion of Ukraine will ‘destroy the US-Russia relationship for decades’

Sen. Lindsey Graham.
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham.
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham warned that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would "forever change" US-Russia relations. 
  • Graham called for immediate sanctions against Russia, citing Russian President Vladimir Putin's "provocation."
  • The White House last week warned Russia could invade before the Winter Olympics conclude.

Sen. Lindsey Graham warned on Sunday that a Russian invasion of Ukraine would destroy US-Russian relations for years to come. 

"If Russia invades the Ukraine, you will destroy the US-Russian relationship for decades, and every president in the near term will be put in a box when it comes to dealing with Russia," Graham said. "So I hope Putin understands that."

The South Carolina Republican made the comments on ABC News "This Week" on Sunday, calling for a stronger sanctions package to be passed by Congress.

"I'm convinced that we could do more in Congress and should. We've been working in a bipartisan fashion for about three weeks now to come up with pre-invasion, post-invasion sanctions, and the White House keeps pushing back," Graham said. 

 

Democrats and the White House have proposed sanctions that take effect pending an invasion, while Republicans have argued for sanctions to preclude an invasion, Politico reported. 

National security advisor Jake Sullivan on Friday said there is a "credible prospect" that Russia could invade Ukraine before the Winter Olympics conclude on February 20. President Joe Biden said it would be "wise" for Americans in Ukraine to leave immediately, adding that he would not send troops to rescue Americans who stay in the country. 

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Sunday said she believed Russian President Vladimir Putin was prepared to invade Ukraine, but said she hoped sanctions imposed by the US would deter him.  

"If we were not threatening the sanctions and the rest, it would guarantee that Putin would invade. Let's hope that diplomacy works," Pelosi, a California Democrat, said.

Graham called for immediate action, saying Congress needs to pass a package that "would destroy the ruble and cripple the Russian economy so Putin could see it in writing." He added that the potential invasion and resulting sanctions would leave Russia's relationship with the US "forever changed." 

"He should be punished now. What I can't get over is that the world is allowing him to do all this without consequence," Graham said, citing how Putin annexed Crimea in 2014 and now has amassed over 100,000 troops at the Ukrainian border. 

"He's paying no price at all, so I'd like to hit him now for the provocation and have sanctions spelled out very clearly, what happens to the ruble and his oil and gas economy. I think that's what's missing," Graham said. 

"We're talking way too much and we're doing too little," he added. 

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Mike Lindell says he’s sending MyPillows to all the ‘brave truckers’ in Canada trucker protest

mike lindell
MyPillow CEO Michael Lindell laughs during a press conference in Des Moines, on February 3, 2020.
  • Mike Lindell, CEO of MyPillow, pledged to send pillows to truckers in the Canadian protests.
  • The Canadian trucker protests over COVID-19 vaccine mandates have caused massive traffic jams across major trade routes. 
  • The convoy has garnered right-wing support, and some are discussing staging similar protests in the US.

Mike Lindell, the CEO of MyPillow, pledged to send pillows to the truckers in the Canadian trucker convoy that has blocked major arteries across the US-Canada border.

"All of our employees are busy making pillows right now for the truckers in Canada. We're going to try and get them through. I'm not going to say what day or you know there will be obstructionists," Lindell told the Right Side Broadcasting Network

"We're gonna get these brave truckers, and it's going on around the world now. It's amazing. We're winning," Lindell, said about the "Freedom Convoy," a group of truckers who have blocked roads in Canada's capital Ottawa since late January to protest against the country's COVID-19 vaccine mandates. He pointed to Canadian provinces that have pulled back their COVID mandates amid the protest. 

 

The trucker blockade has exacerbated supply chain issues, including a shortage of fruits and vegetables at small grocery stores that import from the US.

While US business groups have called on the Canadian government to quickly resolve the protest, the trucker convoy has garnered right-wing support in the US. Fox News applauded the trucker-led protest and Jesse Powell, CEO of crypto exchange Kraken, who is one of the thousands of donors supporting the protestors

"I encourage all the truckers don't give up and say 'Okay, we'll compromise halfway.' No. We want all our freedoms," Lindell said. 

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Marco Rubio says January 6 rioters should be ‘prosecuted’ but the committee is a ‘partisan scam’ trying to ‘harass’ Republicans

Sen. Marco Rubio.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida.
  • Sen. Marco Rubio said the January 6th Committee is a "partisan scam" that is targeting Republicans.
  • In an interview with CBS News on Sunday, Rubio said the vice president cannot overturn an election.
  • It comes after the chairwoman of the RNC said the Capitol rioters "engaged in legitimate political discourse."

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio on Sunday lambasted the January 6th committee as a "partisan scam" that is targeting Republicans. 

Rubio conceded that the vice president cannot overturn an election but still had scathing remarks for the committee investigating the attack on the Capitol. It comes days after former Vice President Mike Pence said he did not have the authority to overturn the election, despite claims he could by former President Donald Trump. 

"I looked at it, had analyzed it, and came to the same conclusion that vice presidents can't simply decide not to certify an election," Rubio said on Sunday on CBS News' "Face the Nation." "I just don't think a vice president has that power." 

 

Rubio added that those who broke the law on January 6 should be prosecuted, but he also blasted the January 6 committee's investigation into the riot. To date, 768 people have been charged in the Capitol insurrection, and 178 rioters have pleaded guilty. Also, a number of former White House aides have cooperated with the panel, including top advisors to former VP Mike Pence. 

"If you entered the Capitol and you committed acts of violence and you were there to hurt people, you should be prosecuted," Rubio said. "But the January 6th commission is not the place to do this. That's what prosecutors are supposed to do. This commission is a partisan scam."

The select committee is trying to "embarrass and smear and harass as many Republicans as they can get their hands on," the Florida Republican added.

Earlier this week, the Republican National Committee chairwoman said the January 6 committee was persecuting "ordinary citizens who engaged in legitimate political discourse."

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GOP Sen. Susan Collins says it’s unlikely she will back a Trump 2024 presidential bid because there are ‘many other qualified candidates’

Sen. Susan Collins.
Sen. Susan Collins appeared on ABC News.
  • Sen. Susan Collins said it is "very unlikely" that she would support former President Donald Trump in 2024.
  • Trump has teased a 2024 run but has not committed to running for president. 
  • In 2016, Collins wrote a Washington Post op-ed, which she said she would not vote for Trump.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine on Sunday it is unlikely she will back former President Donald Trump in a potential 2024 run for president. 

"Well, certainly, it's not likely given the many other qualified candidates that we have that have expressed interest in running. So it's very unlikely," Collins told ABC News's "This Week" when asked by George Stephanopoulos about a potential Trump run. 

The former president has not committed to running again in 2024, but he has attended political rallies

"Well, we're a long way from 2024," Collins added.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, Arkansas Sen. Tom Cotton, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio are among the Republicans who have expressed interest in a 2024 bid

On Sunday, Collins also criticized Trump's recent promises regarding the infamous Capitol insurrection. During his Saturday rally in Conroe, Texas, Trump said he would consider pardoning those charged in the January 6 insurrection. 

"Let me say this, I do not think ... that President Trump should have made that pledge to do pardons. We should let the judicial process proceed," Collins said. "January 6th was a dark day in our history." 

Ahead of the 2016 election, Collins wrote in a Washington Post op-ed that she would not vote for Trump because he "does not reflect historical Republican values."

During Trump's first impeachment in 2020, Collins voted to acquit the president, saying she believed "the president has learned from this case." In his second impeachment following the January 6 attack on the Capitol, Collins voted to convict Trump

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Former anchor Gretchen Carlson says Fox News has devolved ‘into non-fact-based conspiracy theories’ and ‘outright dangerous rhetoric’

Gretchen Carlson.
Former Fox News personality Gretchen Carlson.
  • Former Fox News Gretchen Carlson slammed the network for spreading "outright dangerous rhetoric."
  • She called on Republicans to speak out against misinformation "for the safety of our democracy."
  • In 2016, Carlson won a sexual-harassment lawsuit against the late Roger Ailes, who served as Fox News' chairman and CEO.

Former Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson slammed the network and its on-air personalities for spreading what she called "outright dangerous rhetoric."

"Conservative television news is certainly not the conservative news that was out there, even just five years ago," Carlson told CNN's Jim Acosta in an interview Friday. 

Since the Trump era, Carlson said conservative media had "morphed into eradicating any other point of view." 

"It's gone from an opinion, which was fine, to completely devolving into non-fact-based conspiracy theories, and outright dangerous rhetoric, in my mind," she said. "And I think it's a complete disservice to our country."

A Fox News spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment on Sunday. 

Several top Fox News anchors, including Sean Hannity and Laura Ingraham, were in contact with former President Donald Trump's team during the riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, asking the then-president to tell his supporters to leave the grounds, Insider previously reported.

Publicly, however, the on-air personalities took a different stance on the insurrection, suggesting groups like Antifa were responsible for the riot.

Carlson said it's possible that media figures on both sides of the political aisle have advised the White House "depending on who happens to be in the office" but still condemned the actions of her former colleagues.  

"I think the bigger story coming out of that is how disingenuous it was to be sending those texts of warning while then going on the air to the American people and doing a complete injustice and disservice by saying something completely opposite and ginning up this whole reaction that it was just fine and patriotic for people to be there on January 6," Carlson said. 

Carlson, who worked at Fox News for a decade from 2006 to 2016, said there was a "big difference" between having conservative opinions and supporting conspiracy theories. 

In 2016, Carlson reached a $20 million settlement in a sexual-harassment lawsuit against the late Roger Ailes, who served as the network's longtime chairman and CEO. Carlson's story led a dozen other women to come forward and allege that they had also been sexually harassed by Ailes, including former star anchor Megyn Kelly.

"I wish more of them would have the courage to do what I did, quite honestly, and come forward and take on a behemoth," Carlson said. "For the safety of the Republican Party, and for our democracy, I wish more would because this is not going to end well."

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