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July 4, 2014

The Supreme Court on Thursday evening unveiled its latest ruling around birth control and religious freedom — and if you disliked the Hobby Lobby decision earlier this week, you're going to hate this one.

The latest ruling allows Wheaton College to skirt ObamaCare's contraceptive provisions as long as the evangelical school informs the government of its religious objections to providing its staff and students with any type of birth control. Previously, the government required a non-profit with religious objections to sign a form handing over responsibility of providing contraceptive coverage to its insurer or health care plan administrator — now, presumably, the government would handle the hand off.

Saying the decision "undermines confidence in this institution," Justice Sotomayor wrote a scathing dissent, accusing the court of backtracking key elements of its Hobby Lobby decision. "Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word," Sotomayor wrote. "Not so today."

She said the ruling set up unworkable regulations that risked "depriving hundreds of Wheaton's employees and students of their legal entitlement to contraceptive coverage" and allowed "hundreds or thousands of other objectors" a similar way out.

She was joined in her dissent by the court's two other female justices. In fact, the decision broke down completely across gender lines — the court's male justices comprised the majority opinion — suggesting that the court's battle over religious freedom and reproductive rights is only going to get more contentious. Nico Lauricella

1:19 a.m. ET
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By now, the elephants, antelopes, and zebras know the sound of the water truck, and wait patiently as their dry waterhole is replenished with what Patrick Kilonzo Mwalau calls a "very precious commodity."

Mwalau is the founder of Tsavo Volunteers, which brings water to parched areas of Tsavo, Kenya, where animals are desperate for a drink. Heavy rains aren't expected until November, and at least four times a week, Mwalau and his team rent trucks that deliver 12,000 liters of water to two different watering holes 27 miles away. Each truck costs $250, and Mwalau has started a GoFundMe to help with the costs. "We have many elephants concentrating in very few water holes, fighting to drink water, and this has made the smaller elephants lacking water," Mwalau, known as the "Elephant Guardian," wrote on the GoFundMe page. "They become very thirsty and they end up spending a lot of time and energy walking very far distances with young ones searching for water."

Donations have started to stream in, and permanent solutions are now possible. "Elephants are becoming endangered from poaching and we need to save the ones we have left by providing water for them until the drought peril is over," Mwalau said. Catherine Garcia

12:27 a.m. ET

President Trump had a big weekend, and Jimmy Fallon's caricature of the 45th president laid out the highlights on Tuesday's Tonight Show. "In case you didn't hear the news, I'll tell you now: I shot four under par, my best golf score yet," he said. "But that's not what the fake news media reported on, so it's time for me to take matters into my own, abnormally gigantic hands. The only way to ensure that the news you're watching isn't fake is if I'm the one delivering it, which is why I'm starting the Trump News Network." With a snap of his fingers, Fallon's Trump was behind the TNN anchor desk.

The first Trump news story was about the super-real attack in Sweden. (Just ask Sweden!) "Nextly, President Me just announced his pick for national security adviser, H.R. McMaster," Fallon's Trump said. "Now normally when I'm talking to H.R. it's because one of my female employees is threatening to sue, but now H.R. is going to stand for Huge Ratings." His next segment was on sports, touting a "new study" that "finds that golf is totally work." After a brief weather report from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (Jo Firestone), Trump ditched today's fake stories for tomorrow's, hitting his "Bad Things Button." It created some bad news for Finland, if you can believe it. You can watch Fallon's borderline too-close-to-reality-for-parody TNN rollout below. Peter Weber

February 21, 2017

Fielding questions from her constituents for a whole 45 minutes wore down Sen. Joni Ernst (R-Iowa) on Tuesday, causing her to flee and the audience to roar.

Ernst was in the tiny town of Maquoketa, population 6,062, for a roundtable with veterans. When she arrived at city hall, slipping through a side door, she found 100 people crammed inside the room, CNN reports, with dozens more filling the hallways and atrium. The microphone being used by constituents repeatedly cut in and out, frustrating people in the room who couldn't hear what was being said, and Ernst only took one question from a non-veteran, a man who asked her about the Affordable Care Act. When she uttered the words "health savings accounts," Ernst was met with a chorus of boos.

The meeting came to a jarring end after only 45 minutes, despite a long line of people waiting at the microphone to ask more questions, causing the crowd to boo and jeer. One of the attendees, Deb Sperry, 61, told CNN she drove 45 miles to the event because Ernst "never has any type of town hall or meeting with her constituents" where she lives. The senator says she is in the "early stages" of visiting every county in Iowa, but critics say Ernst's visits often take the form of private tours of factories and businesses and she hasn't had any public events in towns where people outnumber livestock. If Tuesday's meeting — which ended with the crowd shouting "We want our voices heard!" and "Your last term!" as she made a hasty exit — is any indication of the events to come, Ernst might want to consider holding her next roundtable in an undisclosed corn field. Catherine Garcia

February 21, 2017

For about an hour on Tuesday, the Statue of Liberty had a caption: "Refugees Welcome."

Activists moved quickly in the early afternoon, unfurling a 3-by-20 foot banner with the pro-refugee message and affixing it to the public observation deck at the top of the statue's pedestal, National Park Service spokesman Jerry Willis told the New York Daily News. This violated park rules, Willis said, which prohibit items from being attached to the statue.

On Twitter, a group calling itself "Alt Lady Liberty" claimed it was behind the banner, saying they are "private citizens who felt like we needed to say something about the America we believe in." One of the activists said their grandparents met in a refugee camp in the aftermath of World War II, and President Trump's executive order banning refugees from entering the U.S. hit close to home. "We wanted to send a reminder about America when we're at our best — the country that's a beacon of freedom to the world, built by immigrants," the activist said. "Walling off countries or entire religions is against our values." Catherine Garcia

February 21, 2017
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While the welcome Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell received from the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce was warm, it was downright frosty outside, where hundreds of protesters gathered chanting, "Shame on Mitch! Shame on Mitch!"

The Kentucky Republican is spending the week in his home state, and on Tuesday, he spoke with the Chamber of Commerce about rolling back regulations and the Affordable Care Act. Protesters assembled outside hours ahead of McConnell's appearance, with one demonstrator, Debbie Rowe, telling WLKY she was there because she doesn't "feel that Mitch McConnell represents the people of Kentucky anymore. I think he represents Washington and his own pocket."

Safely inside the building, McConnell said that even though he disagreed with the protesters, he was "proud" of them for showing up. "They don't share my agenda, but I respect their right to be there," he told WLKY. President Trump doesn't share McConnell's sentiments, tweeting on Tuesday night that "the so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!" Trump must have missed McConnell's comments after his meeting with the Chamber of Commerce, when he said the president "would serve himself better by not having as many controversies surrounding his statements because it tends to take us off message." Catherine Garcia

February 21, 2017
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A federal judge in Austin issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday that keeps Texas from cutting off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood over videos released by anti-abortion activists.

In his ruling, Judge Sam Sparks said state health officials did not present any evidence of any violations by the program and "such action would deprive Medicaid patients of their statutory right to obtain health care from their chosen qualified provider." There are 34 Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas, serving more than 120,000 patients, including 11,000 on Medicaid. Planned Parenthood affiliates in the state received $4.2 million in Medicaid funding in the 2015 fiscal year, and Planned Parenthood estimates it received about $3 million in 2016. The organization says that none of that money went to abortions, but rather services like HIV and cancer screenings.

In 2016, following the release by an anti-abortion group of heavily edited videos it claimed showed Planned Parenthood representatives discussing prices for fetal tissue collected from abortion, a Texas grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing and indicted two anti-abortion activists involved in the video for document fraud, with those charges later dismissed, Reuters reports. Catherine Garcia

February 21, 2017
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Months after it came to light that Wells Fargo employees created as many as 2 million fraudulent accounts in the names of bank customers without permission, the company announced Tuesday that it has fired four senior managers. They will not receive a bonus for 2016 and will forfeit their unvested equity awards and vested outstanding options, Wells Fargo said.

The board unanimously agreed to terminate Shelley Freeman, former Los Angeles regional president and current head of consumer credit solutions; Pamela Conboy, Arizona lead regional president; Matthew Raphaelson, head of community bank strategy and initiatives; and Claudia Russ Anderson, former community bank chief risk officer. Wells Fargo did not explain how the fired executives were connected to the unauthorized accounts scandal.

The bank agreed in September to pay an $185 million settlement with several agencies, including the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and said it fired around 5,300 workers in connection with the scandal. Last month, Wells Fargo reported that 200,000 fewer checking accounts were opened and new customer credit card applications dropped 47 percent compared with the same month a year earlier. Catherine Garcia

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