For those fortunate enough to see it, the Berkshire Theatre Group production of A Little Night Music will likely be the highlight of the 2014 summer season. A Little Night Music – along with possessing a superbly written story based on an Ingmar Bergman movie, Smiles of a Summer Night – has music and lyrics by the incomparable Stephen Sondheim and book by his late collaborator, Hugh Wheeler. In addition to its pedigree, this current presentation has a cast that could open next week on Broadway.
It has been clear for some time that Mainline Protestants have gone through a complete transformation. This religious group led by Presbyterians has become a secular humanistic faith far more interested in same sex marriage, abortion privileges, equality in some abstract sense, and fashionable left wing ideologies and tropes than religious doctrines.
Last week the Supreme Court decided, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, known as RFRA, that Hobby Lobby, and other closely held profit making corporations, could claim religious exemptions from federal law, and they could withhold some forms of contraception from their health plans.[i]
On February 18th, 1860, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a feminist founder of the first Woman’s Suffrage Congress, in the United States, said this in a speech to members of the New York State Legislature: “The prejudice against color, of which we hear so much, is no stronger than that against sex. It is produced by the same cause,…..The Negro’s skin and the woman’s sex are both prima facie evidence that they were intended to be in subjection to the white Saxon man.”
A top environmental debate over the past six years has been whether New York state should allow a natural gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing – or fracking. During those six years, effectively New York State has had a moratorium on fracking.
The news was chock-a-block with important health stories this week, including new evidence debunking the vaccine-autism myth and the revelation that researchers conducted a legal albeit ethically questionable study that manipulated the emotions of nearly 700,000 Facebook users. But I want to talk about the 900-lb. gorilla in the room: the US Supreme Court’s decision in the so-called “Hobby Lobby” case (Burwell et al. v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. et al.)
The Court decided yesterday in Harris v. Quinn that at least some of the employees who work under a collective bargaining agreement don't have to share in the costs of negotiating that agreement. The Court says it violated their First Amendment rights. How many unions and employees it will apply to is still unclear but this is not the first move the Roberts Court has made in that direction.[i] Sometimes the patterns matter much more than the individual decisions, whether good or bad.
From the time of the American colonies’ declaration of independence from the Monarch-led Empire of Great Britain (on July 4, 1776), to the establishment of a democratic republic, with its first President, a Congress, Senate, unfinished draft of an as yet incomplete and un-adopted Constitution, nearly two decades would elapse. Still, their absolute belief in the certitude of their enterprise induced them to announce it to a then uninitiated assortment of nations.
Now that the 2014 legislative session is finished, the question is what got done? During this session, high profile bills got passed – such as a new law allowing, in select circumstances, the medicinal use of marijuana. Over the past four years, the budget was completed in time for the beginning of the new fiscal year, a streak unheard of in modern New York State history.