Health & Home

Norway Pledges Millions to Growing Anti-Trump Global Abortion Fund

by Nadia Prupis – “At a time when has come under pressure, a joint effort is particularly important” Norway has joined a growing international initiative to counter President Donald Trump’s global anti-abortion measure, signed in January. Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg announced over the weekend that the country would pledge an additional $10 million to support U.S.-backed charities overseas that provide information on abortion—which are now cut off from financial support from the U.S. under Trump’s “global gag rule,” also known as the Mexico City Policy. Trump instituted the funding ban as one of his first moves in office. The Netherlands launched the international fund in response, warning that the ban would cause a shortfall of $600 million over the next four years and put women’s lives at risk around the world. “Norway plays a leading role in the work to promote global health, and is one of the...

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With Mulvaney in Place, Budget Office Preps ‘Hit List’ on Public Programs

by Nadia Prupis – National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, Office of National Drug Control Policy, and Americorps are among targets meant to showcase ‘waste’ of taxpayer funds. With Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-S.C.) confirmed to lead the White House budget office, the Trump administration is getting ready to follow through on plans to slash major domestic programs, the New York Times reported Friday. Work on President Donald Trump’s first budget proposal has been delayed as Republicans worked to get Mulvaney—known for his unyielding stances on safety net programs—approved as head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Now, his office has targeted nine popular and critical programs to axe, according to an early internal OMB memo obtained by the Times. The so-called “hit list” includes, in part, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the...

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For the Insurance Lobby, Old Habits Are Hard to Break

by Maura Calsyn, Kellan Baker, and Topher Spiro – Before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, or ACA, the health insurance industry was like the Wild West, where anything goes. Health insurance companies could discriminate against the old and the ill, keep the sick quarantined in separate pools, and deny coverage for some of the most essential benefits. If insurers did not deny coverage to the old and sick altogether, they restricted their benefits or charged them exorbitant premiums. During the initial rollout of the ACA, however, the insurance industry partnered with both consumer groups and the Obama administration. Their efforts helped increase enrollment and smoothed a difficult first open enrollment period. Over the next few years, insurers continued to engage with consumer groups and the administration to address issues that arose as implementation continued. But with the future of the ACA uncertain, it turns out that old habits are...

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Republicans Finally Unmask Their Healthcare Agenda – And it Isn’t Patient-Centered

by Donna Smith – If you have been inclined to trust in any way that the Republicans in Congress or the Trump-Pence-Ryan regime intend to make things better for you and your family in terms of healthcare policy, think again and stop wondering.  The plan is simple.  They will protect and enhance the insurance companies and other profit centers in healthcare.  No matter how many ads they purchase or how much message tweaking they do, patients are not at the center of the Republican plans. From an article in The Hill this morning, “The Trump administration on Wednesday proposed a regulation aimed at ‘stabilizing’ the ObamaCare marketplace by making changes favorable to insurers…” Just a bit lower in the article, we see the glaring, shocking reality of what the Republicans think of those in need of healthcare.  “The regulation requires people enrolling through extra sign-up periods outside of the normal time...

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Oklahoma and Wyoming Republicans Agree Women Aren’t People

by Laura Clawson – Republicans in Wyoming and Oklahoma are starting to drop the pretense that they consider women to be human beings. In Wyoming, the state Senate is considering three bills that would restrict women’s abortion rights. Two of them are being considered by the agriculture committee. said the labor and health committee is busy with a number of bills and the ag group had more time to thoroughly vet them. Allegations that women are being equated to cattle are ridiculous, the Riverton Republican said. Dude, you’re the one who handed the job of limiting what medical care women can get to the agriculture committee. In Oklahoma, Rep. Justin Henry isn’t trying to be even that subtle as he pushes a bill requiring women to get male approval for abortion. He’s ranking women somewhere below cattle: Ultimately, he said, his intent was to let men have a say....

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Abortion Rights Advocates Working to Turn the Tide

by Gloria Totten – Many of us have been fixed to our screens, watching in horror as President Trump and his colossally unqualified administration roll back progress at an unprecedented pace. But, let’s remember this political moment came, in part, because of relentless attacks by conservatives in the states on the full range of issues: encouraging discrimination against immigrants and LGBTQ individuals, limiting collective bargaining and the right to sue corporations for wrongdoing, encouraging the carrying and use of guns, tearing down environmental and health-care protections, and using voter ID and gerrymandering to tilt elections. This moment was built on a foundation of divisiveness that was sown in the states. The right wing’s broadest attacks, of course, have targeted reproductive rights. Over the past six years, state lawmakers have passed more than 300 restrictions on abortion. Their tactics have been designed to do more than just change state policy. They have...

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With Tom Price Confirmed, Clock is Ticking for Critical Safety-Net Programs

by Deirdre Fulton – Price’s confirmation decried as ‘a body blow to the health and welfare of all Americans’. Putting the nation’s safety net programs at risk, the U.S. Senate confirmed Tom Price as Health and Human Services Secretary early Friday morning. Price, who had represented Georgia in the House of Representatives since 2005, is known as an ardent opponent of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare. During his confirmation hearing in January, Price refused to say whether he would honor President Donald Trump’s campaign trail promises not to cut Medicare and Medicaid spending. He has also led efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, and faced questions about his stock trading during a contentious confirmation process. Friday’s post-2:00am vote was 52-47 along party lines (roll call here), with Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) not voting because her husband was having heart surgery. Physicians for a National Health Program (PHNP) called Price’s confirmation...

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The GOP Plan to Prevent a Repeat of Obama’s Climate Action

by JOHN LIGHT – Congress is moving to get rid of a legal precedent that allowed the EPA to tackle climate change under President Obama. Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, attracted some attention last week for his opposition to a Supreme Court precedent that undergirds many of the regulations put forth by federal agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Communications Commission. Congress has also taken up the cause, pushing new legislation that would undo this precedent. And if Gorsuch would like to pare back agencies’ power using a scalpel, Congress intends to go about the job using a sledgehammer, environmental advocates say. At issue is Chevron deference, also called the Chevron doctrine. Stemming from a 1984 Supreme Court case, Chevron deference is the concept that if Congress makes a vague law, a regulatory agency can fill in the blanks — within reason. A lot of...

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‘Shocking’ Scale of Catholic Church Sex Crimes Revealed

More than 1,250 Catholic priests accused of child sex abuse in Australia with few allegations pursued in cover-up drive. About seven percent of Catholic priests in Australia were accused of sexually abusing children between 1950 and 2010, but few allegations were investigated, an inquiry in Sydney has heard. The scathing figures, released as hearings began on Monday over the allegations dating back decades, were compiled with the cooperation of the church as part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The commission, Australia’s highest level of inquiry, reported 4,444 alleged incidents of sexual abuse by Catholic priests between 1980 and 2015. The inquiry also heard that 1,265 priests and religious brothers and nuns had been accused during a 60-year period ending 2010. “These numbers are shocking. They are tragic and they are indefensible,” Franklin Sullivan, head of the church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, told the commission in Sydney....

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Keeping out Mexican Immigrants won’t Help U.S. Workers

by Bryce Covert – The U.S. once tried to shut out immigrants to increase jobs and wages, but it failed at both goals. President Trump assumed the presidency promising to be “the greatest jobs producer God ever created.” And one way he said he would reach that goal as he campaigned for the White House would be to dramatically reduce immigration. “I will change immigration rules to give unemployed Americans an opportunity to fill good, really good paying jobs,” he said in June. “We don’t have good paying jobs anymore. These will be good paying jobs.” The U.S. tried this approach before. A program that made it easier for agricultural workers from Mexico to work in the United States was ended in the 1960s as an explicit move to increase jobs and pay for U.S.-born workers. But a new paper finds that it didn’t do what leaders at the time wanted: wages...

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Trump Leads the Religious Right to the Promised Land

by ADELE STAN – Evangelicals’ alignment with Trump shows their affinity for power over morality. It’s been a heady two weeks for right-wing Christian evangelicals. Never before has a president of the United States — not Reagan or either of the Bushes — delivered so much of their agenda in such short order as Donald Trump has just done. He capped off his string of early valentines to the religious right with the announcement of a Supreme Court nominee who is poised to revoke the rights of women, further tear down the “wall” between church and state and open wider the doors for big monied interests to buy the political system they want. The right-wing press was breathless in its praise for 49-year-old Judge Neil Gorsuch, named by Trump on Tuesday night to ascend to the high court with the seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia, who was a ferocious...

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Neil Gorsuch’s Crusade Against Planned Parenthood

by Ian Millhiser – Rules be damned! In the grand scheme of the law, Planned Parenthood Association of Utah v. Herbert was not an important case. It turned primarily on a factual dispute over whether Utah Gov. Gary Herbert (R) had an unconstitutional motive when he cut off funding to Utah’s Planned Parenthood affiliate, as well as another dispute over whether a three-judge panel that temporarily restored that funding misread a trial judge’s opinion. It was a case that turned upon, in the language that lawyers use, a “question of fact,” rather than on a question of law that could have major implications for future cases. In other words, if the judges hearing this case were wrong about the facts (or about what a specific trial opinion said), while that would obviously have very serious implications for Planned Parenthood, it wouldn’t have any implications for future cases. And yet Judge Neil Gorsuch,...

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Epic: “When some Dr. Dude tries to school you in health care systems and you are having none of it…”

by Magnifico – Dr. Jennifer Gunter, an OB/GYN and pain physician, who blogs on health matters, posted an epic response to, as she puts it: “when some Dr. Dude tries to school you in health care systems and you are having none of it”. Jennifer Gunter @DrJenGunter When some Dr. Dude tries to school you in health care systems and you are having none of it 12:26 AM – 2 Feb 2017 Commenting on her blog post questioning why Dr. Harold Bornstein failed to disclose his patient Donald Trump is taking medications, specifically Propecia, Dr. Terry Clark whined about her “negativity” toward Trump: 2 thoughts on “Why did Trump’s doctor fail to disclose Trump was taking Propecia before the election?” Jen, Is there ANYTHING about Trump that you like or are you going to complain and bitch for the next 4 years? Just curious. Your negativity is nauseating! Maybe you would be more comfortable...

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LA Converts Abandoned Motels into Apartments for Homeless Veterans

by Brianna Acuesta – This creative solution is helping hundreds of homeless veterans find housing. Cities around the world have implemented countless programs and methods to combat homelessness on their streets, especially when many of those homeless people at one point fought in their country’s military. Though many programs fail to meet the needs of homeless people, some are successful in permanently housing these people and even addressing the problems that caused them to turn to the streets in the first place. One such program is an idea adopted by the city of Los Angeles and the organizations working inside the huge city to end homelessness. When the infrastructure of the city began to change, motels that were once constantly busy turned into financial black holes that were no longer viable. As a result, many of these broken down motels were closed and abandoned, becoming useless until Step Up, a group...

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The GOP Effort to Repeal and Replace Obamacare Isn’t Going Very Well

by Peter Suderman – New polls show the health law’s popularity rising as Republicans struggle to come up with a plan. Republicans have finally figured out how to do something that President Obama never managed: make Obamacare more popular. The trick, it seems, is threatening to repeal it. Throughout Obama’s presidency, the health law struggled in the court of public opinion, with nearly every poll showing that more people opposed the law than supported it. Now several recent polls show the law rising in popularity as Republicans begin the process of unwinding it. Approval ratings for the health law rose from 41 percent at the beginning of the year to 47 percent at the end of January, according to a Morning Consult poll released this morning. That tracks with an NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released earlier this month, which found that 45 percent of the public thinks that the law...

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Drug Distributors Penalized For Turning Blind Eye In Opioid Epidemic

by Charles Ornstein – The middlemen between drug companies and pharmacies have been hit recently with fines for their role in not calling out suspicious transactions. “They’re like the quarterback. They distribute the ball,” a former DEA supervisor said. As the toll of the opioid epidemic grows, scores of doctors have lost their licenses and some have gone to prison. Pharmacies are being sued and shuttered. Pharmaceutical manufacturers are under investigation and face new rules from regulators. But penalties against companies that serve as middlemen between drug companies and pharmacies have been relatively scarce — until recently. In the past month, two major drug distributors, also known as wholesalers, have formally agreed to pay millions of dollars to settle claims that they failed to report suspicious orders for controlled substances to the Drug Enforcement Administration, as required by law. McKesson Corp., the largest such company in the U.S., last week agreed...

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Your Turn: Living with Obamacare

by KARIN KAMP – For some the Affordable Care Act is hardly affordable, but for many it’s a lifesaver. Within hours of his inauguration, President Donald Trump made good on his promise to start repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), signing an executive order, his first, that targets the law. Trump’s directive gives federal agencies “authority to grant waivers, exemptions and delays of provisions in the Affordable Care Act,” according to the Associated Press. For now, it’s not clear how it will impact Americans and their health insurance. Trump has promised to make repealing and replacing the ACA a top priority for his first 100 days in office, claiming that “Obamacare has been a catastrophic event.” At least 18 million people who have insurance today would lose their coverage within one year, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, if Republicans move forward with their plan to repeal...

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Here’s What’s Psychologically Wrong With Donald Trump

by Karen Wehrstein – With all the talk of Donald Trump’s mental health status, I’ve decided to do something I’ve put off for a while: write a diary that shows he is a textbook case of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), and spell out what that means in terms of what to expect from him and how to deal with it.  Certainly the term “narcissist” is being applied to him a lot, but most people don’t know the entirety of what that means, psychologically. I am not a psychiatrist or psychologist, but for personal reasons I have educated myself about NPD.  It generally conceals itself and is little understood—but has a devastating effect on the lives of others close to the narcissist or to organizations he is involved with.  Knowing NPD creates a coherent picture that explains Trump’s behaviors. That will help you not only understand Trump, but enable you to spot...

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Doomsday Clock Now Two and a Half Minutes to Midnight

by Deirdre Fulton – The nuclear danger of a Trump presidency, combined with his administration’s climate denialism, heighten the risk of a global catastrophe, according to scientists. The symbolic Doomsday Clock inched closer to midnight on Thursday, and we have President Donald Trump largely to thank for the ominous development. At the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. on Thursday morning, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists‘ Science and Security Board moved the hands of the iconic clock 30 seconds closer to “midnight,” or the end of the world. For the first time in the 70-year history of the clock, “the board has decided to act, in part, based on the words of a single person: Donald Trump, the new President of the United States,” according to a press statement. The nuclear danger of a Trump presidency, combined with his and his administration’s climate denialism, heighten the risk of a global...

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The Netherlands to Counter Trump’s “Global Gag Rule” With International Abortion Fund

by Nika Knight – Fearing for women’s health, Dutch government steps forward to ensure reproductive healthcare programs around the world remain funded. The world has responded with fear and outrage to many of President Donald Trump’s repressive actions since taking office, and the Dutch government immediately announced plans to counter one: the reinstatement of the “global gag rule” which cuts off U.S. funding to any NGO around the world that mentions abortions. Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation Lilianne Ploumen announced the government’s plan for a new international abortion fund on Tuesday. “Banning abortions does not result in fewer abortions,” said Ploumen, according to teleSUR. “It leads to more irresponsible practices in back rooms and more maternal deaths. We must not let this happen.” The Independent adds: told colleagues: “This has far-reaching consequences. First of all, for all those women who have to make, if they want to have...

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Media Blackout at Multiple Federal Agencies

by Lauren McCauley – Moves come amid growing concern that Trump and his appointees will suppress scientific innovation and research to advance their own ideological agenda. Though the majority of President Donald Trump’s controversial cabinet nominations have not yet been confirmed, his so-called “beachhead” teams have arrived at their respective agencies, carrying out orders that make clear that the “War on Science” has begun. On Tuesday, BuzzFeed broke the news that scientists at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are no longer allowed to share information about taxpayer-funded research with the public. In an email sent Monday and obtained by the news outlet, Sharon Drumm, chief of staff for the USDA’s primary in-house research arm, the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), told the department: “Starting immediately and until further notice, ARS will not release any public-facing documents…This includes, but is not limited to, news releases, photos, fact sheets, news feeds, and social...

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Sustaining the Momentum of the Women’s March: Where We Go From Here

by Andrea Cristina Mercado, Truthout | Op-Ed – This weekend I marched in Washington, DC, with my younger sister, in a contingent with hundreds of immigrant women, women of color, domestic workers, Native American women, and grassroots environmental activists. Like so many who attended the Women’s March, I was awestruck to see the sheer size of the march, the number of women who mobilized — many of whom had never before attended a march — to proclaim their commitment to fight back against attacks on our bodies, our families, our communities and the planet. It was an outpouring of bold opposition. I witnessed a powerful appetite for action: the desire to not just talk about it, but to put ourselves — our bodies — on the front lines of opposition. More than 700 women gathered immediately after the march for a Women’s Town Hall. Exhausted from hours of walking...

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Reinstating ‘Global Gag Rule,’ Trump Attacks Women Worldwide

by Andrea Germanos – “To be clear, this policy is an attack on women’s bodily autonomy and freedom, and we will see an increase in unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions as a result.” President Donald Trump on Monday signed an executive order reinstating a policy critics call the Global Gag Rule, further cementing reproductive rights advocates’ warning that 2017 would entail an uphill battle for women’s healthcare. Officially known as the Mexico City Policy, the rule, as Nonprofit Quarterly explained, “specifically prohibits international charities from promoting abortion as a method of family planning even if that ‘promotion’ simply entails a physician engaging in a conversation about the option of abortion with a patient.” As such, Kiersten Gillette-Pierce and Jamila Taylor write at Center for American Progress, it “infringes upon women’s fundamental right to make informed decisions about their bodies and their health.” Since it was first signed by President Ronald Reagan...

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Researchers: Obamacare Repeal Could Kill More than 43,000 People Annually

by Joan McCarter – David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandleris, both professors of public health at the City University of New York at Hunter College, Lecturers in Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and founders of Physicians for a National Health Program, have a sobering message for the nation: repealing Obamacare will be lethal for tens of thousands of Americans every year. The story is in the data: The biggest and most definitive study of what happens to death rates when Medicaid coverage is expanded, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, found that for every 455 people who gained coverage across several states, one life was saved per year. Applying that figure to even a conservative estimate of 20 million losing coverage in the event of an ACA repeal yields an estimate of 43,956 deaths annually. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), who is Trump’s nominee to head the...

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What We Saw at Women’s March on Washington (VIDEO)

by Todd Krainin & Joshua Swain – 500,000 people turned out because they see Donald Trump as a threat to social progress. On January 21, an estimated 500,000 people attended the Women’s March in Washington, D.C. as a protest against incoming President Donald Trump. Reason TV spoke with protesters to find out what they fear the most about a Trump presidency and what they hope their rally will accomplish. We also talked with members of the Ladies of Liberty Alliance (LOLA), a feminist group that approaches gender issues from a libertarian perspective. Produced by Todd Krainin and Joshua Swain. Camera by Mark McDaniel, Swain, and Krainin, who also edited.   Reprinted with permission from Reason.com

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Anti-Choice Republicans Likely to Ignore Key Reason for Abortion Rate Decline

by Deirdre Fulton – Experts credit improved contraceptive use with historic decline in abortion rate—so why do Republicans want to gut access to birth control? Improved contraceptive use was a major factor in the just-revealed U.S. abortion rate decline, but Republican attempts to gut critical healthcare programs could reverse those gains, experts warned Tuesday. The Guttmacher Institute, which works to advance reproductive health and rights through research and policy initiatives, announced Tuesday that in 2014, the U.S. abortion rate reached the lowest level ever recorded. In addition, the number of abortions in the U.S. dropped under one million for the first time since 1975. In an analysis published alongside the report, Guttmacher’s Joerg Dreweke argues that while anti-choice organizations are sure to claim that increased abortion restrictions led to the decline, improved birth control use and access “likely played a larger role.” “Several data points support this hypothesis,” he wrote: Births...

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The Simple, Sinister Reason for the GOP’s Never-Ending War on Obamacare

by Jon Perr – The GOP has never been afraid that Obamacare would fail, but that it would succeed House and Senate Republicans this week took the first step this week toward the repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. But without a replacement program in place, the GOP is nevertheless prepared to withdraw health insurance from up to 30 million Americans and jeopardize coverage for over 20 million more. While millions will face the prospect of financial ruin, Republicans will condemn tens of thousands of the newly uninsured to needless deaths—every year. Meanwhile, many hospitals, physicians and insurers will be trapped in a market “death spiral” Republicans alone will be responsible for creating. If President Trump, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan succeed, theirs will be the greatest act of political spite in American history. The question is why. This isn’t about a “better way” to enable health...

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Pot Protesters Welcome President Trump With 4,200 Joints (VIDEO)

by Todd Krainin & Joshua Swain – “We’ve legalized here and we don’t want our rights taken away.” The only place in town Trump supporters and Trump protesters could be found doing something together on inauguration day is “waiting in line for marijuana,” says Adam Eidinger, co-founder of DCMJ, the pro-cannabis advocacy group that was key in making pot legal in the nation’s capital. Eidinger and his colleagues spent the day handing out thousands of free joints to anyone in D.C. who wanted one. It’s a way of “welcoming Donald Trump to Washington,” he says, “and letting him know we’ve legalized here and we don’t want our rights taken away.” Produced by Todd Krainin and Josh Swain. Camera by Swain, Mark McDaniel, and Todd Krainin, who also edited.   Reprinted with permission from Reason.com

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Mnuchin’s Bank Foreclosed on Thousands of Homeowners, but: ‘I’m Proud of our Results’

by Bryce Covert – Steven Mnuchin came under fire during his confirmation hearing for numerous complaints against OneWest. At Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin’s Senate hearing on Thursday, Democratic lawmakers repeatedly brought up the foreclosure practices of the bank Mnuchin previously ran, OneWest. During one particularly heated exchange, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) aired a laundry list of complaints that were made about OneWest’s practices while Mnuchin was CEO. Brown cited the assertion by the community group California Reinvestment Coalition that the bank foreclosed on 60,000 homes across the country and denied three-quarters of borrowers’ applications for loan modifications so that they could avoid foreclosure and stay in their homes. He brought up a consent order that OneWest entered into with the Office of the Comptroller for the Currency (OCC) over “errors that resulted in financial harm.” This included 10,781 loans the OCC determined needed to be remedied, including 23 foreclosures on borrowers...

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Oklahoma Considers Extreme Pro-Discrimination ‘Religious Liberty’ Bill

by Zack Ford – The conservative state fell behind on anti-LGBT legislation in 2016 and is trying to catch up. In 2016, Oklahoma set a record for the most anti-LGBT bills introduced in one session, worsting Texas from the year before. Fortunately, legislative deadlines kept them from advancing, but now one lawmaker is back with what appears to be one of the most extreme “religious liberty” proposals any state has considered. Behind the measure is Sen. Joseph Silk (R), who has an extensive record of particularly anti-LGBT legislation and statements. He calls his new bill, SB 197, the “Oklahoma Right of Conscience Act,” but it explicitly enables discrimination against LGBT people — and possibly just about anyone else! SB 197 ensures that no one ever has to provide any services used in or to promote “a marriage ceremony or celebration of a specific lifestyle or behavior.” Additionally, such denials will be immune to any...

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Trump Nominee Admits Personally Directing Suspicious Stock Purchases (VIDEOS)

by Laurel Raymond – “That was a decision I made, yes,” Price said regarding bio industry purchases, though he denied wrongdoing. Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, Rep. Tom Price, is under fire for allegations of potential insider trading. Several recent reports suggest Price traded medical stock while making decisions about legislation in Congress that directly impacted the medical industry. And at his hearing before the Senate HELP committee on Wednesday, questions about whether Price made unethical and possibly illegal stock trades got even murkier. Price told Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) that he is personally involved in making some decisions about his stocks in the biotech field, and said he made a decision about purchasing stock in a company after talking to another member of Congress who sits on that company’s board. His comments seem to contradict a defense the Trump transition team has offered to brush aside...

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Congressional Budget Office says Obamacare Repeal Would be a Catastrophe

by Ian Millhiser – On Tuesday, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its estimate of how many people will become uninsured if Republicans move forward with their likely plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and the numbers are brutal. Thirty-two million people would lose their health insurance by 2026, and premiums would double in the same time frame. Americans would also see a sharp and immediate drop in insurance rates. According to the CBO, “the number of people who are uninsured would increase by 18 million in the first new plan year following enactment of the bill.” The CBO examined a bill pushed by Republicans in the previous Congress, the “Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act of 2015,” which would phase out provisions of the Affordable Care Act that help make health insurance affordable — including subsidies for plans purchased on Obamacare exchanges and the law’s Medicaid expansion. It would also immediately...

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Trump Nominee, Tom Price, Faces Multiple Allegations of Insider Trading

by Zack Ford – Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) bought stock, then introduced legislation that boosted its value. This week, the Senate will hold confirmation hearings for Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), President-elect Donald Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services. Monday evening, CNN reported that Price may have used his position in Congress for profit in what appears to be insider trading, a new allegation among many that are now clouding his nomination. Last March, Price bought as much as $15,000 in stock in a company called Zimmer Biomet, one the world’s largest manufacturers of knee and hip implants. Within a week of that transaction, he introduced the HIP Act, a bill that would have saved Zimmer Biomet a significant amount of money by delaying implementation of a Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) payment model for hip and knee replacements. After Price introduced the bill, Zimmer Biomet’s political action committee...

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Huge Scientific Study Refutes the Federal Government’s Stance on Marijuana

by Laurel Raymond – It just reinforces what our policy makers should already know.” In the federal drug classification scheme, marijuana is classed at the very top. It is considered to be a Schedule I substance — a category reserved for drugs with a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. For years, however, scientists have done study after study showing that this classification is misguided. On Thursday, the National Academy of Sciences put one more nail in the coffin with one of the most thorough reviews of the research to date: a massive, 396-page report on 10,000 research studies on marijuana, assessing therapeutic benefits and risk factors. The review, conducted by a panel of experts led by Harvard public health researcher Marie McCormack, is broken out into 100 different conclusions — many of which are just assessments of the current state of the research. It is particularly significant, however, that the review states...

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How Republican Budget Cuts Would Make the Opioid Epidemic Even Worse

by Eliza Schultz and Katherine Gallagher Robbins – In 2015, opioid-involved overdoses claimed more than 33,000 lives—a fourfold increase from 1999. Opioid overdoses caused nearly as many deaths in the United States as traffic accidents and twice as many as homicides. The toll of the epidemic is tremendous for those who struggle with addiction, as well as families, communities, and the economy. But while some Republican officials have promised to address addiction and support at-risk populations—President-elect Donald J. Trump pledged in October to provide every individual with addiction “access to the care and the help that he or she needs”—the House Republican agenda will hardly abate the opioid crisis. Instead, it is poised to do immense damage. Indeed, new analysis shows that repeal of the Affordable Care Act alone would strip 222,000 people with an opioid addiction of some or all of their health insurance coverage—and that is not the...

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We’re Suing to Keep Kentucky Politicians Out of the Exam Room

by Andrew Beck, Reproductive Freedom Project – The Kentucky legislature had hardly been gaveled into session on January 3 when lawmakers rushed to pass the latest offensive abortion restriction into law. HB 2 forces doctors to describe an ultrasound to a women seeking an abortion in detail, even if she objects, even if the doctor believes that forcing the description on the woman would be harmful, and—most absurdly—even if the woman is covering her eyes and ears. Lawmakers then took the extraordinary step of attaching an emergency clause to have the law take effect immediately. Just days after this insulting bill was introduced, Gov. Matt Bevin signed it into law. That very day, the ACLU filed a lawsuit to block it from taking effect. The law unconstitutionally comes between a woman and her doctor by requiring that a doctor recite a state-mandated speech while providing an ultrasound — even...

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5 Major takeaways from Ben Carson’s Tearing to Become HUD Secretary (VIDEO)

by Casey Quinlan and Carimah Townes – Trump’s nominee seemed unsure if providing housing is key to fighting poverty. Former neurosurgeon and author Ben Carson is likely to become President-elect Donald Trump’s secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). On Thursday, he sailed through his confirmation hearing before the Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee with little opposition. Carson has no government experience, and reportedly turned down a nomination to become President-elect Donald Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS). But his testimony before the committee provided a glimpse of the types of policies he’ll pursue if confirmed to lead HUD. Here are five takeaways: 1. Carson wants a “holistic” approach to affordable housing, but doesn’t seem convinced that having a house is key Carson repeatedly said he wants to use a “holistic” approach to dealing with issues of poverty, and that he wants to work with the...

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Your Complete Republican-to-English Guide to Understanding the GOP’s Health Care Rhetoric

by Ian Millhiser – We translate their language so you don’t have to. Republicans thought they could come to power and quickly deal Obamacare a mortal wound. Instead, they are in for a long, hard fight with an uncertain outcome. Monday evening, five Republican senators introduced an amendment that effectively extends the GOP’s self-imposed deadline for passing legislation to kill the law. This amendment follows a number of statements by other Republicans questioning what was, until recently, the leading GOP proposal for killing Obamacare. Yet, even as Republican leaders gear up for a long, slow slog to end a law that extends health coverage to 20 million Americans, they have even more ambitious plans for the remainder of America’s health care safety net. Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) plan to privatize Medicare would increase health care costs for seniors by about 40 percent. He hopes to cut Medicaid, the primary program providing health...

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Thousands of Women will go on Strike to Protest Trump’s Inauguration

by Bryce Covert – “Women have the power to disrupt systems, outside the home and inside the home.” The election made Ann want to do something big and bold. As a working mother who is also a first-generation Muslim immigrant — and who declined to give her full name for fear of President-elect Donald Trump’s plans to create a Muslim registry — she has much to be concerned about. “The recent election and just all the negative commentary and hateful remarks around immigration, immigrants, and Muslims and people of color really has impacted me,” she said. “All the rhetoric around taking away women’s reproductive freedoms, even such basic freedoms as access to contraception, the thought of not having that is frightening.” “Even the thought of the Muslim registry…the thought of registering my child, it gives me goosebumps even just saying it,” she added. So on January 20 and 21, inauguration weekend, she will not just be...

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Rand Paul May Disrupt the GOP’s Terrible Plan to Repeal and Delay Obamacare

by Peter Suderman – The Kentucky senator says he doesn’t support a rollback of the health law without a replacement in place. When the year began, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s number one priority was to quickly move forward with a plan to repeal Obamacare—but in a way that delayed the repeal while the GOP settled on some sort of replacement plan. That plan came with many potential pitfalls, and now it looks as if it may not work out after all—thanks in large part to opposition from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky). McConnell’s intention was to use the reconciliation process, which allows the Senate to pass certain types of bills that are directly relevant to the budget with a simple majority, to strip out certain key components of the law, including its individual mandate, taxes, and insurance subsidies. Those changes, however, would not go into effect for somewhere between two and...

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The GOP’s Obamacare Repeal Effort is in Serious Trouble

by Tara Culp-Ressler – Republicans may not actually have the votes. Republicans in Congress are hoping to make a big political statement this month by rushing to repeal Obamacare. Considering that Republicans are about to control the White House and two chambers of Congress, that legislative goal may seem like it’s firmly within reach. But the GOP’s repeal effort is actually in serious trouble. Republicans’ Obamacare strategy — known as “repeal and delay” — is losing support from several moderate lawmakers who don’t want to move forward with repeal before the party has landed on a replacement plan. If they hold out, there’s no way Obamacare repeal can move forward. On Monday evening, five GOP senators introduced a measure that would essentially slow down the repeal effort working its way through Congress. Republican leaders are trying to repeal Obamacare by passing a budget bill that includes provisions to dismantle key parts of the health care law....

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Under Jeff Sessions, Drug Legalization and Sentencing Reforms will go up in Smoke

by Alice Miranda Ollstein – Donald Trump’s nominee for Attorney General is one of Washington’s most anti-marijuana lawmakers. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and hundreds of thousands of people are arrested every year for smoking, growing, or selling the drug. But over the past eight years, President Obama has commuted the sentences of hundreds of nonviolent drug offenders serving decades-long prison terms — signing more commutations than any other president in history. He encouraged a bipartisan effort in Congress to lower harsh mandatory sentences for drug offenders. He expanded the amount of marijuana grown for medical research. His Justice Department opted to leave alone states that decriminalized and legalized marijuana to varying degrees. Under his tenure, eight states and the District of Columbia legalized recreational marijuana, and nearly 30 states now allow its use in some form. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Donald Trump’s nominee to become the nation’s next Attorney General, opposed...

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Trump Has to Rescue Obamacare or Admit He’s a Liar

by Bernie Sanders – The president-elect might have forgotten his campaign promises. But we won’t. It didn’t take long. During the first week of 2017, the new Republican Congress has begun efforts to dismantle America’s health-care system. Their long-standing goal, consistent with their right-wing ideology, is to take away health insurance from tens of millions of Americans, privatize Medicare, make massive cuts to Medicaid and defund Planned Parenthood. At the same time, in the midst of grotesque and growing income and wealth inequality, they’re preparing to allow pharmaceutical companies to increase drug prices and to hand out obscene tax breaks for the top one-tenth of 1 percent. Let me be absolutely clear: The impact of repealing large pieces of the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are planning to put on Donald Trump’s desk on his first day in the White House, would be devastating. If Republicans get their way, 30 million Americans, 82 percent of whom are from working families, will lose their health insurance. With Medicare privatized, seniors will see...

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Thousands Of Free Joints Will Be Passed Out In DC On Inauguration Day

by Amanda Froelich – For the 58th Presidential Inauguration, 4,200 free “legally grown cannabis” joints will be passed out to activists who support the legalization of recreational marijuana nationwide. In case you missed it, the real winner of the 2016 U.S. election was marijuana. Donald Trump won the electoral college vote and Hillary Clinton the popular vote, but more Americans supported the recreational legalization of cannabis than either main Presidential contender.  Now, approximately 20% of all Americans live in a state where recreational marijuana is legal, and 28 states have approved medical marijuana. This development is expected to bring $7 billion in annual sales to the cannabis industry, which will positively benefit the country’s economy. Not only is the herb safer than alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs, as it kills 0 people per year, it is an effective anti-anxiety and pain-relieving substance. Additionally, CBD oil (which doesn’t contain THC, the psychoactive compound)...

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Oxfam: Ten Multinational Corporations Control Most Food Brands

by Dave Johnson – Take a look at Oxfam’s report, “Behind the Brands: Food justice and the ‘Big 10’ food and beverage companies.” A Food System In Crisis The Behind the Brands report explains, “For more than 100 years, the world’s most powerful food and beverage companies have relied on cheap land and labor to produce inexpensive products and huge profits. But these profits have often come at the cost of the environment and local communities around the world, and have contributed to a food system in crisis.” Explaining the campaign, the report says, “Oxfam’s campaign focuses on 10 of the world’s most powerful food and beverage companies – Associated British Foods (ABF), Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg, Mars, Mondelez International (previously Kraft Foods), Nestlé, PepsiCo and Unilever – and aims to increase the transparency and accountability of the ‘Big 10’ throughout the food supply chain.” “Big Ten” Infographic The report...

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The Three Big Reasons Republicans Can’t Replace Obamacare

by Robert Reich – Republicans are preparing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and have promised to replace it with something that doesn’t leave more than 20 million Americans stranded without health insurance. Yet they haven’t come up with a replacement. And they won’t, for three reasons. First, Republicans say they want the replacement to be “market-based.” But Obamacare is already market based – relying on private, for profit health insurers. That’s already a problem. The biggest health insurers – Anthem, Aetna, Humana, Cigna, and United Health – are so big they can get the deals they want from the government by threatening to drop out of any insurance system Republicans come up with. Several have already dropped out of Obamacare. Even now they’re trying to merge into far bigger behemoths that will be able to extort even better terms from the Republicans. Second, every part of Obamacare depends on every...

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Paul Ryan Pledges GOP’s First Legislative Action Will Defund Planned Parenthood

by Tara Culp-Ressler – The GOP will try to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood in one fell swoop. With majorities in Congress and the impending inauguration of Donald Trump, Republican lawmakers are wasting no time pursuing policy goals that threaten to imperil millions of Americans’ access to health care. This week, GOP leaders moved forward with a plan to repeal Obamacare through a process called budget reconciliation, which will allow them to avoid a filibuster from their Democratic colleagues. Through this budget process, Republicans are asking House and Senate committees to produce legislation by January 27 that includes dismantling key parts of Obamacare. But it doesn’t stop there. On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) confirmed that the GOP-sponsored budget resolution will also include provisions to strip funding from Planned Parenthood — the biggest provider of reproductive health services in the country. “Planned Parenthood legislation would be in our reconciliation bill,” Ryan told...

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In 2 Minutes, Cory Booker Shows the GOP What #Resistance Looks Like as he Defends Planned Parenthood

by Leslie Salzillo – In response to the GOP’s plan to defund Planned Parenthood, New Jersey’s Senator Cory Booker knocked it out of the park this week during a press conference. Here is transcript followed by the short and stunning YouTube video of Booker demonstrating and explaining how a real #Resistance can, does, and will work. TRANSCRIPT: Patty Murray: I call again on all members, Republican and Democrat, who stood with this time and time again, for people across the country, men and women who understand the impacts of what this is — to stand up and fight back now before it’s too late. Cory Booker: So, I don’t have a message for fellow Republican elected, because they’re not depending on Planned Parenthood in their neighborhoods. They’re well paid comfortable people. I have a message for every American, Democrat, and Republican who rely on these services or know people that do,...

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Come up with a Real Health Care Plan, Biggest U.S. Doctors Group Tells the GOP

by Tara Culp-Ressler – Republicans are forging ahead with Obamacare repeal before they have any idea what to replace it with. The largest group of doctors in the country is cautioning Republican leaders to come up with a real plan to replace Obamacare before forging ahead with repeal. On Tuesday, Republicans took the first step toward rolling back the law, introducing a budget resolution that will allow Congress to sidestep a Democratic filibuster and dismantle key parts of Obamacare. Republican leaders have signaled they plan to use this budget process to produce legislation by January 27 that includes repealing portions of health reform. But repealing Obamacare is the easy part. What to do next is much harder — and GOP lawmakers don’t have that part figured out. Although Republicans have been railing against Obamacare for the better part of six years, they haven’t come up with any concrete policy ideas to reshape our nation’s complicated...

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About Seven in Ten Americans Oppose Overturning Roe v. Wade

by HANNAH FINGERHUT – More than 40 years after the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, 69% of Americans say the historic ruling, which established a woman’s constitutional right to abortion in the first three months of pregnancy, should not be completely overturned. Nearly three-in-ten (28%), by contrast, would like to see it overturned. Public opinion about the 1973 case has held relatively steady in recent decades, though the share saying the decision should not be overturned is up slightly from four years ago. In January 2013, 63% said this, which was similar to views measured in surveys conducted over the prior two decades. Democrats have long been more likely than Republicans to say Roe v. Wade should not be overturned, but the partisan gap has grown wider over time.  Today, 84% of Democrats and those who lean Democratic say the Supreme Court should not completely overturn the ruling, up 9 percentage points...

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“Green is Gold” is the Feel Good Marijuana Movie You’ve Been Waiting For (TRAILER)

by C.M. WATTS – Ready for the next great marijuana film? Because these clips from the recently released movie, Green is Gold, are bound to tug on your heart strings. Green is Gold is an award-winning, heartwarming movie following a 13-year-old boy as he moves in with his older brother after his father’s incarceration. But his older brother’s occupation of growing marijuana leads the two down a tangled path of brotherhood, family and learning how to get buy in this world. Writer, directed and star Ryon Baxter presents a different look at those active in the marijuana industry of the prohibition era. With each clip – including the TWB exclusive below – viewer can see each characters reactions to what most would consider seemingly “normal” life events. However, from their past and current experiences, the world or marijuana teaches them so much more. Green is Gold Learn more at...

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President to Help Dem Lawmakers Strategize on Saving Obamacare

by Deirdre Fulton – Wednesday’s meeting between Obama and congressional Democrats will come ahead of a nationwide campaign to highlight the benefits of the Affordable Care Act. Aiming to stave off Republican efforts to swiftly repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) upon returning to Capitol Hill next week, President Barack Obama will meet with congressional Democrats on Wednesday morning for an urgent strategy session. The January 4 meeting in the Congressional Visitors Center auditorium was called in a notice sent to lawmakers on Friday; it will reportedly last for “at least one hour.” A White House official said Obama will use the meeting to “share his perspective about the dangers posed by Congressional Republicans’ stated strategy to repeal the ACA before proposing any replacement, creating chaos in the health system in the short run—and holding hostage Americans’ health care—while Republicans develop their plan.” As Common Dreams reported last month, repealing the...

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Quietly, Trump and Republicans Are Gunning to Destroy Medicaid

by Deirdre Fulton – As Democrats focus on Obamacare and Medicare, there’s a “quieter war” on Medicaid brewing. Medicaid, the nation’s healthcare program for the poor and disabled, is on the chopping block under President-elect Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress—and it will take “intense focus by progressives” to ensure it doesn’t meet a dire fate. In fact, former National Economic Council director Gene B. Sperling wrote Sunday in a New York Times op-ed, “if Democrats focus too much of their attention on Medicare, they may inadvertently assist the quieter war on Medicaid—one that could deny health benefits to millions of children, seniors, working families, and people with disabilities.” As Democrats prepare for battles over the two programs, “the Republican effort to dismantle Medicaid is more certain,” Sperling warned—a prediction echoed this week by multiple news outlets. “Neither Mr. Trump nor Senate Republicans may have the stomach to fully own the political risks...

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Girding for GOP Healthcare Attack, Leading Dems Plan to Mount ‘First Stand’

by Andrea Germanos – Trio of lawmakers says nationwide events needed to rally opposition to likely targeting of Obamacare, Medicare, Medicaid. Leading Democrats in the U.S. House and Senate on Wednesday urged their colleagues to help mobilize a national stand against Republican threats to “vital and necessary health programs.” Authored by incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (N.Y.), House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.), and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who will serve on the Senate Democratic leadership team as outreach coordinator, the letter (pdf) calls for a day of action just before Donald Trump takes office—Jan. 15—in the face of a likely Republican budget bill poised to repeal Obamacare and gut Medicare and Medicaid. The bill, they write, could include: Taking away healthcare coverage for over 30 million Americans by dismantling the healthcare system; Ending guaranteed Medicare benefits for millions of older Americans by converting Medicare into a voucher program; Slashing...

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Russian Officials Finally Admit Olympic Doping was an ‘Institutional Conspiracy’

by Lindsay Gibbs – They’re not apologizing, though. In the past, Russian officials have vehemently denied allegations of widespread doping, going so far as to call reports “baseless libel.” But now they are changing their tone. “It was an institutional conspiracy,” Anna Antseliovich, the acting director general of Russia’s national anti-doping agency, told the New York Times in a series of interviews conducted in Moscow. This reversal comes just weeks after Canadian lawyer Richard McLaren delivered the second part of his report on Russian doping, part of an independent investigation commissioned by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). McLaren found that more than 1,000 Russian athletes in 30 sports were part of the state-sponsored doping program, which dates back to at least 2011. The breadth of the Russian doping scandal is unprecedented. In May, an explosive New York Times interview with Dr. Grigory Rodchenkov, the former director of Russia’s anti-doping laboratory, revealed...

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Rights Icons Join Women’s March as Organizers Aim to Build “Movement for Dignity”

by Nadia Prupis – “Together we are bridging the historical struggles for women’s rights and civil rights to the current intersectional movement for dignity and human rights.” The Women’s March on Washington, a mass mobilization to champion women’s rights, is growing as President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration approaches. Organizers announced on Tuesday that several high-profile supporters, including Gloria Steinem and Harry Belafonte, will be joining the January 21 march as honorary co-chairs. Planned Parenthood has also signed on as a partner. “This is a historic moment to come together to protect the progress we’ve made,” Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said in a statement. “We will send a strong message to the incoming administration that millions of people across this country are prepared to fight attacks on reproductive health care, abortion services, and access to Planned Parenthood, as they intersect with the rights of young people, people of color, immigrants, and people...

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Ted Cruz to Introduce Bill Allowing Discrimination Against LGBT Americans Nationwide

by Hunter   – Led by Sen. Ted Cruz, Republicans will be wasting no time in their efforts to roll back civil rights for LGBT Americans. would prohibit the federal government from taking “discriminatory action” against any business or person that discriminates against LGBTQ people. The act distinctly aims to protect the right of all entities to refuse service to LGBTQ people based on two sets of beliefs: “(1) marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman, or (2) sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.” The intentionally broadly-written law would, in other words, enshrine the “right” of any private business to deny service to gay Americans outright if they are personally opposed to marriage equality. It would not merely allow businesses to deny their services in same-sex marriage ceremonies themselves: it would allow any business to...

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Licensing Medical Marijuana Stirs Up Trouble for States

by Rebecca Beitsch – The seven lucky balls that popped out of the Arizona Department of Health Services lottery machine in October produced big winners — not in the state’s Powerball game, but in the competition to make money in the medical marijuana industry. The prize winners were granted licenses to open a medical marijuana dispensary in a state where patients with prescriptions to treat conditions such as glaucoma and cancer spent $215 million last year on marijuana products. Arizona’s public health officials awarded most licenses based on rules designed to place new dispensaries within range of the greatest number of medical-marijuana patients. But when it wasn’t clear which applicant was in the most patient-dense area, they used a lottery to randomly select the winners, hoping to sidestep conflict. States have struggled with how to give out potentially lucrative medical marijuana licenses — trying to balance public health concerns against an...

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Texas says Abortions Increase the Risk of Cancer and Mental Illness. FALSE !

by Maureen Shaw – Despite what the state says, abortion access does not increase the risk of cancer or mental illness. Despite suffering a major defeat at the Supreme Court this past June, Texas simply can’t stop — won’t stop — undermining reproductive rights. Earlier this month, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) released an updated edition of its abortion booklet — ironically titled “A Woman’s Right to Know” — which unapologetically promotes debunked links between abortion, breast cancer, and adverse psychological risks. A pregnant person considering termination in the Lone Star state may very well believe that her physical and mental health are at risk if she obtains an abortion. Texas already requires a 24-hour waiting period for abortion, after mandated counseling that includes information on breast cancer, fetal pain and mental health effects. But the updated DSHS booklet spreads further misinformation. With regards to mental health, the booklet says, “Women report a range of emotions after...

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NAACP Pushes for National Economic Boycott of North Carolina

by Alice Miranda Ollstein – Civil rights activists are also preparing lawsuits and mass protests to pressure the state’s Republican majority. Late Wednesday night, North Carolina Republicans reneged on their promise to repeal HB2, known colloquially as the “bathroom bill.” The legislation contained a number of controversial provisions, but chiefly banned transgender people from using the bathroom of the gender with which they identify and barred cities from passing laws protecting LGBT people from discrimination. The law has already cost the state hundreds of jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars. On Thursday, the North Carolina NAACP announced it will turn up the heat on the state. The group plans to file lawsuits against the state, organize mass protests, and call for an economic boycott to pressure lawmakers to repeal HB2 and other legislation they say infringes on civil rights. “Enough is enough,” said Reverend Dr. William Barber, the president of the...

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In Historic Decision, Canada Declares Internet Access a Fundamental Right for All

by Lauren McCauley – National telecom agency promises to connect all Canadians, from Quebec to Yukon, to high-speed broadband. In what is being described as a “historic” decision that will have a significant impact, particularly on the lives of those living in rural and First Nations communities, Canada’s telecom agency on Wednesday issued a new rule declaring high-speed internet a basic service “necessary to the quality of life” of all Canadians. “The future of our economy, our prosperity, and our society—indeed, the future of every citizen—requires us to set ambitious goals, and to get on with connecting all Canadians for the 21st century,” said Jean-Pierre Blais, chair of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), at a news conference. “These goals are ambitious. They will not be easy to achieve and they will cost money. But we have no choice.” Under the new broadband strategy, the CRTC aims to provide 100...

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After ‘Pivotal Year’ for Reproductive Rights, Advocates Ready for Trump-Era Battles

by Deirdre Fulton – Despite major Supreme Court victory, 2016 saw the enactment of at least 60 bills restricting access to reproductive healthcare across the country. 2016 was a “pivotal year” for women’s health, according to a 50-state report card released Monday by the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR)—and given signals from the incoming Trump administration, “2017 will undoubtedly bring new challenges and new opportunities for action.” This year brought a historic U.S. Supreme Court victory in Whole Woman’s Health vHellerstedt, which CRR president Nancy Northup described as “the most important abortion rights ruling in a generation.” The decision struck a major blow to the more than 300 abortion restrictions—also known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers, or TRAP, laws—enacted by state legislatures since 2011. But 2016 also saw the enactment of at least 60 bills restricting access to reproductive healthcare across the country, and the introduction of hundreds more—including nearly...

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Sanders Calls for Investigation of Big Pharma Drug Pushers

by Lauren McCauley – From 2007-2012, the Big Three wholesalers earned a combined $17 billion while they collectively shipped 423 million pain pills to West Virginia. Drug-pushing, multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical companies should be “investigated and prosecuted,” declared Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in response to revelations that out-of-state drug wholesalers have been pouring highly-addictive and lethal opioids into rural West Virginia towns, reaping profits while countless suffer. Bernie Sanders  ✔@SenSanders Large, multi-billion dollar corporations should not make billions pushing addictive drugs. They should be investigated and prosecuted. https://twitter.com/wvgazettemail/status/810521005680656384 … 3:18 PM – 20 Dec 2016 Reporter Eric Eyre with the Charleston Gazette-Mail published a two-part investigative series this weekend exposing what looks like the Big Pharma behemoths profiting off the state’s overdose epidemic. According to “previously confidential drug shipping sales records sent by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey’s office,” and obtained by the Gazette-Mail, “drug wholesalers...

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Disabled Children in Texas are the First to Feel the $350 Million in State Cuts to Medicaid

by Walter Einenkel – $350 million in budget cuts to Texas’ Medicaid have gone into effect. Don’t worry though, it mostly affects disabled children’s therapy. We all know that God doesn’t like therapists of any sort—physical, speech, occupational, or psychological. They reduce revenue for some Texas therapy providers. Opponents say they’ll force providers to close, and could cost roughly 60,000 children access to speech and occupational therapists.    Health and Human Services Commission spokeswoman Carrie Williams said the cuts were implemented Thursday to “achieve savings,” as directed by state lawmakers.   This plan was put into place over a year ago by Texas’s brightest lawmakers, and went through a lawsuit that the Texas Supreme Court refused to hear. The Supreme Court’s announcement means that a lower court’s decision, which found the lawsuit lacked standing, will remain in place, clearing the way for state officials to begin cutting payments to in-home therapists by...

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CEO of Opioid Company that Funded Arizona’s Anti-Pot Campaign Charged with Bribing Doctors

by Mother Mags – Can you say hypocrisy? Of all the states that had marijuana propositions on the ballot this year, either legalization or medical weed, only Arizona rejected the measure. The state passed a medical pot referendum in 2010, and Prop 205 was an initiative similar to Colorado’s decriminalization law. Until a few weeks before the election it appeared 205 would pass by about 10 points. Then a well-funded anti-205 campaign kicked into gear, with 24/7 TV commercials and state officials, including the governor, attorney general, and other GOP leaders, going on their Reefer Madness tour (the Democratic Party supported 205). The TV spots said Colorado’s experience with legal pot was terrible: schools didn’t get the money they were promised and many more students were getting high. All of it was a lie. The fear-mongering ads were so dishonest that Colorado legislators sent a letter to Arizona’s anti-205 officials telling them to quit lying about Colorado....

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“Fight’s Not Over”: Obama Blocks States From Defunding Planned Parenthood

by Nadia Prupis – Planned Parenthood praised new measure, but warned reproductive rights will likely be under attack from ‘extremists’ like Mike Pence and Tom Price. The Obama administration on Wednesday issued a final rule that prohibits states from cutting federal funding to Planned Parenthood chapters and other clinics that provide abortions, a measure that will go into effect before President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration and will require a time-consuming effort to revoke. The rule, issued by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), requires that state and local governments give out federal funds to qualified healthcare providers that offer family planning and preventive services, regardless of whether the providers also perform abortions. (The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal money from directly funding abortions.) Dr. Karen Scott, chief medical officer in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, said in a statement Wednesday, “This rule will strengthen access to essential services...

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The Coat Hanger Comes of Age

by Jessica Goldstein – Evaluating the power — and limitations — of a pre-Roe symbol in a post-Roe world. The foundation of the Ohio Statehouse is more than 18 feet deep and was constructed by inmates from the Ohio Penitentiary. The Statehouse itself, a limestone Greek revival in downtown Columbus, took 22 years to build. Construction started on Independence Day, 1839, and it wasn’t until after the foundation and ground floors were built that skilled tradesmen complained about the missed opportunity for work and replaced prison laborers at the site. If, as 2017 dawns, a new Statehouse were to be constructed, and were prison labor employed for this task, among the fourth-degree felons pouring the foundation could be any doctor who provided an abortion to a woman who was more than 20 weeks along in her pregnancy — this thanks to the one-two punch of an abortion-restriction bill Governor John Kasich signed on Tuesday and a 2013 bill that...

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John Kasich’s Anti-Abortion Bait and Switch

by Casey Quinlan – More extreme abortion bans distract from anti-abortion lawmakers’ real strategy. Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed a bill that would ban abortion at six weeks on Tuesday. On the same day, he signed a 20-week abortion ban into law. Although some Ohio Republicans, buoyed by the prospect of a Donald Trump administration, argued that a six-week ban would survive the courts, the 20-week ban was always the main goal for pro-life groups and conservative lawmakers. Anti-abortion activists and lawmakers have debated over whether to fight hard for more extreme bans or the more politically viable 20-week ban, but 20-week bans are the most popular restriction pushed by conservative lawmakers. The powerful pro-life group, National Right to Life Committee, is pushing for a 20-week ban on the federal level. Under Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court can’t ban an abortion before 24 weeks — when the fetus is viable — but Republicans...

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As Prices ‘Skyrocket,’ 20 States Sue Drug Companies for Collusion

by Deirdre Fulton – ‘We have evidence of widespread participation in illegal conspiracies across the generic drug industry,’ says Connecticut attorney general. Twenty state attorneys general filed a lawsuit on Thursday against several pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of entering into “numerous illegal conspiracies” to fix generic drug prices at consumers’ expense. The federal lawsuit (pdf) names generic drug-makers Heritage Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc., Citron Pharma, LLC, Mayne Pharma (USA), Inc., Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., and concerns two drugs: doxycycline hyclate delayed release, an antibiotic used to treat a range of conditions including respiratory tract infections, and glyburide, an oral diabetes medication. It was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut and labels Heritage as the “principal architect and ringleader” that helped organize a “wide-ranging series of conspiracies” to fix prices. “My office has dedicated significant resources to this investigation for more than...

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Federal Judge Concludes Transgender Worker can Sue for Sex Discrimination

by Zack Ford – Discrimination based on gender conformity is discrimination based on sex. A federal court in Kentucky is allowing a transgender workplace discrimination suit to proceed, recognizing that mistreatment in regards to gender identity constitutes illegal discrimination on the basis of sex. Plaintiff Mykel Mickens sued General Electric Appliances (GE) for harassment and disparate treatment in the workplace. He was not permitted to use the men’s restroom, so he had to use a facility much farther away from his work station, and he was then disciplined for how long his breaks were to accommodate that journey. Mickens also had a conflict with an employee, but though GE addressed a complaint one of his white, female colleagues had with that employee, his complaint went unaddressed. He says that when he disclosed that he was transgender to his supervisor, he was singled out and reprimanded for conduct no one else was reprimanded...

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San Francisco Judges Dismiss 66,000 Arrest Warrants Against The City’s Homeless

by Whitney Webb – San Francisco chief judge John Stewart and his colleagues dismissed thousands of cases against the homeless for “quality-of-life” crimes such as sleeping on sidewalks because it “was the right thing to do.” The United States, despite often advertising itself as the world’s “most developed” nation, has a major problem with homelessness, with approximately 3.5 million currently living with no place to call home. Even though vacant houses outnumber the nation’s homeless by more than five to one, most of them end up sleeping in public places or out in the street. In cities around the country, the homeless are frequently criminalized as are those who offer them food and other forms of human kindness. Despite the widespread maltreatment of the homeless, judges in San Francisco have been dismissing thousands upon thousands of arrest warrants targeting the homeless because “it was the right thing to do.” Many...

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Oklahoma Republicans Mandate New Anti-Abortion Signage in the State’s Public Restrooms

by Hunter – As part of the Republican Party’s ongoing efforts to turn America into a society based on The Handmaid’s Tale (if it had been written by George Orwell), Oklahoma Republicans have forced through some new, properly theocratic signage. Oklahoma plans to force hospitals, nursing homes, restaurants and public schools to post signs inside public restrooms directing pregnant women where to receive services as part of an effort to reduce abortions in the state. The provision for the signs was tucked into a law that the Legislature passed this year that requires the state to develop informational material “for the purpose of achieving an abortion-free society.” The signs must be posted by January 2018. No money was allocated to the signs, which means nursing homes (sigh) will have to put up the anti-abortion signage on their own dime. And it includes nursing homes because it includes all public bathrooms in the...

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Texas Sued (Again) for Latest ‘Insult’ to Women

by Deirdre Fulton – Lawsuit filed to halt rule imposing ‘funeral ritual on women who have a miscarriage management procedure, ectopic pregnancy surgery, or an abortion.’ Reproductive health advocates have filed a lawsuit against the state of Texas for its latest unconstitutional attack on women’s right to access safe and legal abortion. The suit (pdf), filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on behalf of several Texas healthcare providers, demands that the state halt implementation of a regulation, finalized late last month by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS), requiring the burial or cremation of embryonic and fetal tissue that results from abortions, miscarriages, or ectopic pregnancy surgery. The Center for Reproductive Rights had warned (pdf) in August that the regulation would “almost certainly trigger costly litigation.” According to the suit, the new rule “burdens women seeking pregnancy-related medical care. It imposes a funeral ritual on women who have a miscarriage management procedure,...

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Sanctuary Cities Vow to Defend ‘Basic Human Decency’ From Trump

by Andrea Germanos – With Donald Trump‘s inauguration just over a month away, it will soon become clear whether he intends on using beginning days in the White House to try to follow through on his promise to end federal funding for sanctuary cities. Scores of such cities, however, are standing resolute, with officials from over three dozen of them publicly reaffirming their commitment to “basic human decency.” Sanctuary cities, sometimes called Fourth Amendment cities, as The Atlantic‘s CityLab has described, offer some protection to undocumented immigrants because they “keep local policing and federal immigration enforcement separate by asking local police to decline ‘detainers’—non-binding requests from ICE asking for extended detention of inmates they suspect are deportable.” In contrast to claims made by proponents of harsh immigrant crackdowns, research has shown that “designating a city as a sanctuary has no statistically significant effect on crime.” In fact, it is harsh immigration...

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House Republicans Just Introduced Bill To Slash Social Security

by Stephen D Foster Jr – The Republican effort to let Social Security “whither on the vine and die” just became reality as Donald Trump prepares to take office and become their puppet. Last month, House Speaker Paul Ryan made it clear that he wants to privatize Medicare and phase it out. That means anybody who is on Medicare or hoped to be on it soon are shit out of luck because Ryan’s plan gives Medicare to private insurance companies, which means higher costs to get insurance and paying more for healthcare, even if the government offers pathetic vouchers to help pay for it. But now Republicans have unveiled their plan to cut Social Security as well. On Thursday, GOP Rep. Sam Johnson of Texas introduced the Social Security Reform Act of 2016 or H.R. 6489. The bill claims to be “saving” Social Security even though it is fully solvent through...

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