Saturday News: The real handmaid's tale


TRUMP ALLOWS MORE EMPLOYERS TO NOT PROVIDE BIRTH CONTROL TO FEMALE EMPLOYEES: President Donald Trump is allowing more employers to opt out of providing no-cost birth control to women by claiming religious or moral objections, issuing new rules Friday that take another step in rolling back the Obama health care law. Employers with religious or moral qualms will also be able to cover some birth control methods, and not others. Experts said that could interfere with efforts to promote modern long-acting implantable contraceptives, such as IUDs, which are more expensive. The Trump administration's revision broadens a religious exemption that previously applied to houses of worship, religion-affiliated nonprofit groups and closely held private companies. Administration officials said the new policy defends religious freedom. In addition to nonprofits, privately held businesses will be able to seek an exemption on religious or moral grounds, while publicly traded companies can seek an exemption due to religious objections.

TRUMP'S PUBLIC OPINION NUMBERS PLUMMET; 70% SAY HE''S NOT "LEVEL-HEADED": Just 24 percent of Americans believe the country is heading in the right direction after a tumultuous stretch for President Donald Trump that included the threat of war with North Korea, stormy complaints about hurricane relief and Trump's equivocating about white supremacists. That's a 10-point drop since June, according to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The decline in optimism about the nation's trajectory is particularly pronounced among Republicans. In June, 60 percent of Republicans said the country was headed in the right direction; now it's just 44 percent. The broader picture for the president is grim, too. Nearly 70 percent of Americans say Trump isn't level-headed, and majorities say he's not honest or a strong leader. More than 60 percent disapprove of how he is handling race relations, foreign policy and immigration, among other issues.

"TRUMP," SWASTIKA, AND RACIAL EPITHET SPRAY-PAINTED ON MUSLIM CANDIDATE SIGN IN RALEIGH CITY COUNCIL RACE: Baloch (pronounced bal-oh-sh) said she’s not necessarily surprised that some people would react negatively to a Muslim woman running for office. She said she started wearing a scarf in fifth grade and since then has endured verbal harassment on social media and walking on the street. But that doesn’t make it any less “hurtful and traumatizing,” Baloch said. She said she’s running not only because she cares about Raleigh but because she wants to help foster unity. Americans need to have conversations about their differences, she said. “If you have people who understand people from other backgrounds and differences, you can help make the place you’re living in a place where everyone can feel safe,” Baloch said.

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION SET TO REMOVE REGULATIONS ON COAL-FIRED POWER PLANT EMISSIONS: The Trump administration is moving to roll back the centerpiece of President Barack Obama's efforts to slow global warming, seeking to ease restrictions on greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. In a plan expected to be made public in coming days, the Environmental Protection Agency declared the Obama-era rule exceeded federal law by setting emissions standards that power plants could not reasonably meet. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the 43-page document, which underscored President Donald Trump's bid to revive the struggling coal industry. While the Supreme Court has concluded that EPA is obligated to regulate greenhouse gases, "this administration has no intention of following the law," said McCarthy, who led the EPA when the Clean Power Plan was completed. "They are denying it just as they are denying the science. They're using stall tactics to defer action, ignoring the courts and the demands of the American people."

NEXT ON TRUMP'S ATTACK AGENDA: ANTI-NUKE GROUP AWARDED THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE: A campaign group seeking a global ban on nuclear arms won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, given the award by a Nobel Committee that cited the spread of weapons to North Korea and said the risk was growing of nuclear war. ICAN’s Executive Director Beatrice Fihn told Reuters the group was elated. “This. Is. Surreal.” she later tweeted. Two days before her group won the prize, Fihn had tweeted that Trump was “a moron.” She told Reuters she had written this in jest, in the context of news reports that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had used the same word to describe his boss. But she said Trump’s impulsive character illustrated the importance of banning nuclear arms for all countries. “A man you can bait with a tweet seems to be taking irrational decisions very quickly and not listening to expertise, it just puts a spotlight on what do nuclear weapons really mean. There are no right hands for the wrong weapons,” she said.