Health & Home

Eccentric Millionaire Returns Manhattan Building to American Indians

by Amelia Kinney – Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois plans to return his small part of Manhattan to the Lenape Indians by transforming the building into prayer house. Jean-Louis Goldwater Bourgeois, 76, plans to transfer the deed of his $4m West Village House to the Lenape American Indian tribe, also known as the first Manhattanites. The house was purchased under the Goldwater Bourgeois family name in 2006 for $2.2m. An architectural historian and activist, Goldwater Bourgeois told the NY Post “I have a romance with the history of the city, and I have been generally appalled that the land that the city is on has been taken by whites.” He went further to say, “This building is the trophy from major theft. It disgusts me.” Goldwater Bourgeois is referring to the Lenape’s original inhabitation of Mannahatta, meaning “land of many hills”. Original correspondences show Dutch traders purchased the land from the Indians...

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An Orgy of Unnecessary Cruelty

by Robert Reich – The theme that unites all of Trump’s initiatives so far is their unnecessary cruelty. 1. His new budget comes down especially hard on the poor – imposing unprecedented cuts in low-income housing, job training, food assistance, legal services, help to distressed rural communities, nutrition for new mothers and their infants, funds to keep poor families warm, even “meals on wheels.” These cuts come at a time when more American families are in poverty than ever before, including 1 in 5 children. Why is Trump doing this? To pay for the biggest hike in military spending since the 1980s. Yet the U.S. already spends more on its military than the next 7 biggest military budgets put together. 2. His plan to repeal and “replace” the Affordable Care Act will cause 14 million Americans to lose their health insurance next year, and 24 million by 2026. Why is Trump doing...

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Meet Julia, the First Muppet on ‘Sesame Street’ with Autism (VIDEOS)

by Jessica Goldstein – “Sesame Street’ stands for inclusion and acceptance.” The first thing children watching Sesame Street might notice about Julia, the new Muppet on the block, is that she doesn’t want to make eye contact with Big Bird. Sesame devotees — which is to say, toddlers, kids, and their parents — might recognize Julia from her previous appearances on digital Sesame platforms, including ebooks. They’ll already know that Julia is a four-year-old with autism. But for viewers who will meet Julia for the first time when she makes her broadcast debut on April 10, Julia might seem unusual. Then again, maybe not: One in 68 children is diagnosed with autism. Maybe Julia will not seem unusual at all. Maybe she’ll seem totally, completely familiar. “When something is this prevalent, it’s something we have to step up to,” Sherrie Westin, Executive Vice President for Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop, said by phone....

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East Chicago’s Pleas for Clean Drinking Water Go Unanswered as Trump Moves to Weaken EPA

by Mike Ludwig, Truthout | Report – Environmental justice is on the chopping block at the Environmental Protection Agency, and that doesn’t bode well for communities like East Chicago, Indiana, where the agency recently discovered that drinking water is contaminated with lead. Nearly three weeks ago, a number of East Chicago churches and community groups petitioned the EPA to take emergency action and protect the majority-Black community from lead poisoning, which can cause a long list of health problems, especially in children. As of Tuesday, the local leaders and their environmentalist allies had yet to hear back from the agency. The EPA’s inaction in East Chicago comes as Trump’s administration considers massive budget cuts that could crush the agency’s environmental justice program, which is supposed to ensure the fair treatment of low-income communities, Native communities and people of color under environmental law. The agency’s environmental justice office is slated...

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The Failures of the American Health Care Act

by Jeffrey A. Singer – Here are the problems with the House plan to repeal and replace Obamacare. From the time it was enacted, most Americans disliked the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Republicans, promising to “repeal and replace” Obamacare, rode the wave of public dissatisfaction to repeated election victories. The GOP took the House of Representatives in 2010, the Senate in 2014, and the White House in 2016, largely capitalizing on the skyrocketing premiums, rising deductibles, and disappearing choices that characterize Obamacare. Now, as Republicans control both Congress and the White House, they finally have the chance to deliver on their promise. And not a minute too soon. Because the mandates that Obamacare places on health insurance have sent our health insurance system into a death spiral. Premiums continue to soar as insurance companies are pulling out of the market, leaving consumers with fewer and...

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Budget Will Drive Up Republican Voters’ Energy Bills

by Joe Romm – Two key programs that help the elderly and rural poor reduce their energy bills will be cut. President Trump’s new federal budget continues a remarkable pattern of being gratuitously cruel to his own voters. The just-released budget zeroes out the two major programs designed to help low-income and elderly Americans deal with energy costs: the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). “Families receiving weatherization services see their annual energy bills reduced by an average of about $437, depending on fuel prices,” according to DOE data. In 2010, the program saved low-income families a whopping $2.1 billion. Cutting it will save $121 million. The program, though, is targeted toward low-income Americans, “especially low-income persons who are particularly vulnerable such as the elderly, the disabled, and children.” There is a huge...

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Trump, Ryan Budgets will Kill More Americans Per Year than all Muslim Extremist Attacks Combined

by Hunter – Meals on Wheels. How far do you have to get down the scale of ideological depravity before your pen lands on Meals on Wheels as the thing you need to get rid of to buy those last two more Tomahawk cruise missiles that will finally make America a super-duper-dominant world power again. That’s only one part of the Trump budget that directly targets the poorest Americans, of course. It also cuts home heating assistance, so those same seniors will have a chance to freeze to death before starving. It takes an axe to EPA efforts to clean up pollution, which will have a disproportionate effect on the air and water of those neighborhoods surrounding those worst polluters. While that will likely result in an uptick in everything from childhood asthma to cancer, the Trump budget also slashes medical research funding in an apparent effort to ensure nobody does...

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Death Spiral, Debunked: Facts Undercut Major Argument for GOP Healthcare Plan

by Deirdre Fulton – Republicans’ major argument to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act appears to be, well, bunk. Republicans have spun a lot of stories in their desperate attempt to sell the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare—and among their favorites is the narrative that the law is “imploding,” in a “death spiral,” or otherwise doomed to fail. There are two problems with that argument. First of all, Obamacare is not, in fact, “collapsing.” And secondly, to the extent the ACA is experiencing problems, much of the blame can be placed directly at the feet of Republicans and the insurance companies to whom they are beholden. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis released this week on the GOP’s replacement plan, the American Healthcare Act (AHCA), further exposes the “death spiral” talking point as a myth: “According to the budget office,” the New York Times wrote Wednesday, “the...

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Paul Ryan is an Epic Failure

by Ian Millhiser – Trumpcare was a big test for Ryan, and he failed. Let’s briefly take stock of Speaker Paul Ryan’s career. Elected to Congress in 1998, Ryan spent most of his first decade as a backbencher. His most ambitious proposal in those early years was a plan to privatize Social Security that even the Bush White House labeled as “irresponsible.” Then he became the highest-ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee and, later, a committee chair. In these roles, Ryan revealed his two great talents — convincing his fellow Republicans to vote for laissez-faireproposals that had no chance of becoming law, and convincing Beltway pundits and reporters that he was some kind of policy wonk. By the time Ryan’s reputation as the conservative movement’s Great Wonk convinced presidential candidate Mitt Romney to choose Ryan as his running mate, Ryan was the primary sponsor of just two bills that actually became law. One...

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IOM: 525 Refugees Die at Sea in First Few Weeks of 2017

by Anealla Safdar – Number of drowned in Mediterranean from January to early March higher than last year, raising alarm among rights groups. More refugees have died in the Mediterranean over the first nine weeks of this year compared with the same period in 2016, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM). From January 1 to March 9, at least 521 people drowned while attempting to cross the treacherous sea compared with 471 in the same period a year ago. At least another four refugees died on Friday, bringing the 2017 death toll to 525 people, according to IOM. The figures raised alarm on Tuesday among human rights organisations, which have repeatedly called for safer passages. The rising deaths came as the number of people making the dangerous crossing from Libya more than doubled, with 13,439 arriving in Italy compared with 5,273 a year earlier. IOM spokesman Flavio Di Giacomo...

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White House in Deep Denial Over Dumpster Fire Healthcare Plan

by April Hamlin – The Congressional Budget Office released their analysis of the GOP’s Obamacare replacement plan today, and their findings were bad. Really bad. According to the CBO’s report, 14 million people are going to lose their healthcare by the end of the year and 24 million will be without coverage by 2026. But somehow, the White House is in complete denial about what a disastrous bill they are pushing. Health Secretary Tom Price said on Monday afternoon that the administration “strenuously” disagrees with the CBO’s report. Despite the numbers presented to him, he still insists that more people will be covered and costs will be lowered under the Republican plan. The Associated Press  ✔@AP White House says it disagrees “strenuously” with finding that 14M would lose health coverage under GOP plan. http://apne.ws/2mFu3Ql  5:27 PM – 13 Mar 2017 The job of the CBO is to analyze proposed legislation and provide Congress...

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White House Analysis of TrumpCare is Worse than CBO

by databob – As bad as the CBO analysis is — I’m calling TrumpCare ‘Dead Plan Walking’ — it turns out that HHS Secretary Price lied through his teeth. Here’s what Politico is reporting: The executive branch analysis forecast that 26 million people would lose coverage over the next decade, versus the 24 million CBO estimate — a finding that undermines White House efforts to discredit the forecasts from the nonpartisan CBO. Seriously? Here’s what Price had to say after the CBO report came out: “So we disagree strenuously with the report that was put out. We believe that our plan will cover more individuals at a lower cost and give them the choices they want for the coverage that they want for themselves and their families, not that the government forces them to buy,” he told reporters outside the White House. Now, we have to keep in mind that Dr. Tom is...

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CBO: Trumpcare Would Wipe Out Coverage for 24 Million People

by Nadia Prupis – Highly-anticipated report on GOP’s Obamacare replacement plan finds 14 million people would lose coverage in the first two years alone. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on Monday released its score of the GOP’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, projecting that 14 million people would lose coverage by 2018 if the Republican bill is implemented. That number would rise to 24 million by 2026. Additionally, the plan would lead to higher deductibles and other cost-sharing payments. In short, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) wrote on Twitter, “The Republican healthcare plan: less healthcare for you, bigger salaries for healthcare CEOs. Republican priorities!” Bernie Sanders  ✔@SenSanders The Republican health care plan: less health care for you, bigger salaries for health care CEOs. Republican priorities! 4:01 PM – 13 Mar 2017 Opponents of the Republican plan, known as the American Healthcare Act (AHCA), were eagerly awaiting...

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This Weekend saw Massive Town Hall Protests Against Trumpcare and Trump (VIDEO)

by Josh Israel – California Republicans Darrell Issa and Duncan Hunter Jr. faced angry constituents, while Virginia’s Barbara Comstock bravely ran away. On Saturday, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-CA) became the latest Republican legislators to be read the riot act by constituents who are furious about Donald Trump’s administration and his Trumpcare plan. At two gatherings on Saturday, Issa faced about 1,000 people at an Oceanside, California, community center. According to media reports, “hecklers often interrupted what they said were long-winded non-answers” and audience members jeered when Issa dismissed the Affordable Care act as “Obamacare” and claimed it is “not affordable.” Recognizing that the crowd was not happy with his answers or his support of Trump’s agenda, Issa told the audience, “I don’t mind that things are contentious. I just don’t want things to end like the play Hamilton.” (Spoiler: The show ends with a fatal duel.) One...

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From Barry Goldwater to Donald Trump

by César Chelala, Orlando Garcia – Increasingly, members of the psychiatric profession are expressing their concern about President Donald Trump mental health status. In a recent letter to the New York Times, two prestigious psychiatrists, Judith L. Herman and Robert Jay Lifton seriously question his grasp of reality and say, “Soon after the election, one of us raised concerns about Donald Trump’s fitness for office, based on the alarming symptoms of mental instability he had shown during his campaign. Since then, this concern has grown. Even within the space of a few weeks, the demands of the presidency have magnified his erratic patterns of behavior.” They are clear that they are not making a diagnosis but just expressing their concern, saying, “We are in no way offering a psychiatric diagnosis, which would be unwise to attempt from a distance. Nevertheless, as psychiatrists we feel obliged to express our alarm. We fear...

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Fact-Checking Elected Officials on the Affordable Care Act Repeal

by Charles Ornstein – ProPublica is working with other news organizations to collect and analyze letters and emails from elected officials to constituents on the ACA, beginning with a misleading missive by Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt. Dismayed by the results of the 2016 election, Meg Godfrey decided she needed to do more than vote, share social media posts and sign online petitions. So she went to the website of Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and typed a note in support of the Affordable Care Act. “I asked him to use my tax dollars to provide health care to his constituents just like my tax dollars provide health care for him and his family,” she said she wrote. A short while later, Godfrey received an email reply from Blunt, essentially a form letter explaining why he supported the law’s repeal. “When President Obama signed this bill into law, he assured Americans that they...

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House Republicans Have no Clue How Many of Their Constituents are on Obamacare

by Aaron Rupar – “I don’t know that number.” On Thursday evening, two House Republicans — Steve King (IA) and Leonard Lance (NJ) — went on Christopher Hayes’ MSNBC show and were asked how many of their constituents have healthcare coverage obtained through an Affordable Care Act exchange. Neither had a clue. Hayes asked King, “How many people in your district are on the exchanges, congressman?” “I don’t know that number. You may have that in front of you, Chris, but I don’t know that number,” King replied. As Hayes pointed out, roughly 11,400 people in King’s district have obtained health care through an ACA exchange in King’s district, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Hayes then pressed King as to whether he knows “what’s gonna happen to them under this bill. Have you talked to constituents, particularly in rural areas, who are going to be paying more out of pocket under this plan?”...

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Meet the Republicans Who Oppose Trumpcare

by Zack Ford – For some it goes too far; for others, it doesn’t go far enough. House Republicans have finally unveiled their plan to undo Obamacare, but not all congressional Republicans are on board with the controversial new plan. For some, the plan is still too liberal. Members of the Republican Study Committee (RSC), a caucus of 170 House conservatives, prepared an analysis critiquing the plan with “major concerns” that it’s too similar to Obamacare. For example, the RSC memo objects to the fact that the plan extends Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion for three years. This, it argues, “will contribute to the worsening of the federal and state budgets” and will leave “the federal government picking up the majority of the bill.” These members simply do not want the federal government spending money to help the lowest-income Americans afford health coverage. In fact, they chide supporters of the plan for allowing the Medicaid...

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Paul Ryan’s Health Insurance Seminar Proves One Thing: He has no Idea How Insurance Works

by News Corpse – Thursday morning Republicans rolled out a presentation of their long-awaited alternative to the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare). It came in the form of a lecture by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan. He stood before the class and gave a PowerPoint aided speech that supposedly spelled out everything you might need to know about the GOP plan. There was just one problem. Well actually, way more than one. But in the broadest terms the single most problematic part of Ryan’s lecture was that it made no sense whatsoever. It failed to address how it would cover everyone who is presently covered. There were no financing specifics to explain how it would be funded. But the most prominent flaw in his presentation was that it revealed that he has no idea what insurance is. Nor does he have any notion of how it works. Ryan summed up...

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Drug Industry CEOs are Profiting off Our Opioid Epidemic

by SARAH ANDERSON – A labor leader whose son was a victim of the opioid epidemic has inspired a campaign to crack down on these pain profiteers. Travis Bornstein never told his friends about his son Tyler’s drug problem. He was too embarrassed. Then, on September 28, 2014, Tyler’s body was found in a vacant lot in Akron, Ohio. The 23-year-old had become addicted to opioid pain killers after several sports-related injuries and surgeries. Unable to afford long-term treatment, he ultimately turned to a cheaper drug — the heroin that killed him. “Now I have no choice but to speak out,” the elder Bornstein, president of Teamsters Local 24 in Akron, told a crowd of thousands at the union’s convention in July 2016. As he proceeded to share the unvarnished tale of how a middle class, star athlete had wound up in that vacant lot, Bornstein lit a fire under the 1.4-million-member...

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Dan Rather Just Took Republicans To The Woodshed For Horrible Healthcare Bill

by Stephen D Foster Jr – This is what legendary newsman Dan Rather thinks about Trumpcare, and it’s an EPIC ass-kicking. On Monday, House Republicans officially passed a bill they dubiously refer to as the “American Healthcare Act, except that is neither American nor is it healthcare. Instead, this bill repeals the Affordable Care Act, which strips tens of millions of Americans of their health insurance coverage while raising the cost of care significantly. The bill does nothing to cover more people and does not improve healthcare one iota. Yet Trump has praised this piece of shit bill as “wonderful.” Dan Rather disagrees and wrote a scathing post on Facebook calling out Republicans and Trump for screwing over the American people. “For seven years we’ve been hearing from Republicans about how horrible Obamacare was, and this was the best they could come up with?” Rather wrote. “A rush job that doesn’t...

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LGBT Community Centers See Wave of Vandalism Across the Country

by Zack Ford – It’s part of the broader wave of hate that has spread across the country since the election. Over the past two months, various LGBT centers have been targeted with vandalism. Fortunately, the attacks on these important resource spaces and gathering places have not resulted in anyone being hurt, but the damage is real. The latest pair of incidents took place this week in Tulsa, Oklahoma, at the Dennis R. Neill Equality Center. Shortly after midnight Monday morning, a white four-door truck drove past the center and fired multiple shots across the front door and windows of the center. Tulsa police recovered 13 pellets, but fortunately they did not penetrate the reinforced glass. It was the first time in the center’s 12-year history that it was targeted for a serious act of vandalism. Monday afternoon, a man then entered the Equality Center and began yelling at the staff,...

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How the Media Normalized Trump’s Mental Illness and Put Democracy at Risk

by Socdoc216 – Over the course of his life Donald Trump has exhibited innumerable behaviors demonstrating that he is malevolently aggressive, unbounded by conscience, incapable of recognizing truth or reality, highly erratic and selfish, and in possession of an excessively inflated ego.  For decades the public has been informed of Trump’s behavior, often portrayed as an entertaining but harmless “bad boy” by a news media that had, in large part (but with notable exceptions) morphed into an “infotainment” industry primarily motivated not by its democratic mission to inform the public, but by the profit motive.  This morphing has stymied the ability of the general US population to easily obtain basic factual news, but it has in no way nullified the ability of the infotainment industry to influence the public’s perception of reality.  A noteworthy example of this was the constant, unwarranted mainstream media coverage of Trump previous to and early in...

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These are the People Who Will Suffer Under Trumpcare

by Casey Quinlan – Women, low-income people, and the elderly will all feel the effects of the American Healthcare Act. House Republicans introduced a replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act on Monday that will hurt the country’s most vulnerable populations. The American Healthcare Act would phase out Medicaid expansion under the ACA, gets rid of the individual mandate, charges a 30 percent premium surcharge to people without continuous coverage in the individual market, and defunds Planned Parenthood. Americans most affected by this plan are women, low-income people, the elderly, and people with mental illnesses — but it’s likely that all Americans will lose out under this plan. Women Under the American Healthcare Act, Planned Parenthood is barred from using federal funding for family planning and Americans would not be able to use their tax credits to help them pay for plans that include abortion services. This would leave low-income women to pay...

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Rejecting GOP Ploy, Planned Parenthood Says Women’s Right to Choose is “Non-Negotiable”

by Lauren McCauley – House GOP’s plan cuts off federal funding for abortion providers, effectively destroying access to affordable women’s healthcare services. Women’s healthcare providers are readying for a fight. Refusing to back down from its commitment to women’s choice, Planned Parenthood is now at risk of losing nearly 40 percent of its funding—and is calling for a massive mobilization to resist the attack on women’s health. Ahead of the official release of House Republicans’ the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on Monday evening—which guts funding for any healthcare organization that “provides for abortions”—Planned Parenthood reportedly rejected an offer from the White House to stop terminating pregnancies in exchange for the group to continue receiving federal funds for other essential services. “Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and our values is not a deal that we will ever accept,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned...

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90 Homeless Shelters to be Built in New York Within Next 5 Years

by Amanda Froelich – By 2021, the city aims to reduce the number of people living in shelters by 2,500. The figures might be difficult to comprehend, but consider this: in a city of 8.5 million people, more than 58,000 men, women, and children sleep in homeless shelters. An additional 3,100 sleep on the streets and this equates to 1 in every 147 New York citizens being homeless. Because this is a travesty, the mayor of New York recently unveiled a new plan which intends to reduce the number of people in shelters by 2,500 within the next five years. Mayor Bill de Blasio announced last Tuesday that the city will replace the use of hotels and “cluster” shelters which are scattered around the city with 20 new shelters in 2017 and 20 more in 2018. These structures will be located closer to peoples’ own neighborhoods, that way they will be near...

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The GOP ‘Make America Sick Again’ Plan was Released, and it’s Worse than You Thought

    by April Hamlin – Republicans finally rolled out their plan to replace the Affordable Care Act on Monday and it is even worse than expected. While the full ramifications of the “Make America Sick Again” plan, (or as Republicans are calling it, the American Health Care Act) are still being discovered as everybody sifts through the 123-page bill, here is a quick overview of what is understood so far. First. the good news. The new plan will keep two important provisions of Obamacare. Protections for pre-existing conditions will remain in place and parents will continue to be able to keep their children on their policies until age 26. Now, the bad. And boy is there a lot of that. Say goodbye to the Medicaid expansion, the one that covers 10 million people in 31 states. As of January 2020, it’s gone. Planned Parenthood, along with any other organization that offers...

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A 16-Year-Old Canadian Girl is Behind Professional Bigot Milo Yiannopoulos’ Downfall

by wagatwe – Remember how Milo Yiannopoulos’ career seemingly exploded into flames in the span of a week? It felt like a long time ago, but the last straw — his resignation from Breitbart as their senior editor — was only 10 days ago. Bananas, right? Well, the story gets even better when you find out how this call came about. Turns out there’s a 16-year-old Canadian high school student who was the brains behind the extremely efficient operation. Vox caught up with this girl, whom they refer to as Julia, to learn why and how she did it. The teen describes herself as “very socially liberal” yet more conservative on economic and foreign policy issues. So why did she target Milo? Well, this is what she told Vox: “I see Milo as this embodiment of the awfulness you see over the past few years with the general tilt of millennial conservatism. It’s diverged from this traditional...

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Health Care Experiment Aims for Healthier Patients, Lower Costs

by Michael Ollove – This tiny state, with a population more rural and less diverse than the country as a whole, is embarking on an experiment that could transform the delivery of health care nationwide. Traditionally, doctors and hospitals are paid for each procedure, treatment or test they provide. But critics say this “fee for service” system drives up costs and harms patients by pushing providers to do as much as possible, regardless of whether it benefits patients. Under Vermont’s plan, to be phased in through 2022, health plans would pay doctors and hospitals based on how well they care for their patients and contain costs, rather than on the volume of services they provide. Some health care plans, public and private, have been experimenting with “pay for performance” systems for more than a decade. But Vermont’s experiment is the most ambitious, aiming to cover 70 percent of the state’s residents...

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Women Who Rely on Planned Parenthood are Fighting Back

by Kira Lerner – A leaked GOP bill would strip its clinics of Medicaid funding. From a distance, the bright pink signs and smiling young women enjoying the early signs of spring outside the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning might have seemed like a celebration. But the occasion was far from it. With Congress ready to introduce legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act — potentially defunding Planned Parenthood and blocking tax credits for abortion providers along with it — the largest women’s health organization is in full fight mode. After hitting Republican lawmakers in their home districts during last week’s recess, the battle now moves to the U.S. Capitol. On Friday, a draft of the GOP’s proposed Obamacare replacement leaked to reporters. In addition to repealing Obama’s signature health care legislation, the bill would strip Planned Parenthood of hundreds of millions of dollars in Medicaid reimbursements and eliminate tax credits from insurance providers who cover...

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Flint Residents Now Have to Pay for Water They Still Can’t Drink

by Nika Knight – State government ends program that helped residents of Flint, Michigan with their water bills after widespread lead poisoning was revealed. The state of Michigan has declared that Flint’s drinking water “meets all federal water quality standards,” ending a program Wednesday that reimbursed residents for most of their water costs in the wake of the lead crisis. Yet Flint residents still can’t drink the water, and the announcement was met with outrage. “They want to make it look like they’ve resolved this thing, that it’s fixed,” Tim Monahan, a carpenter who survived Legionnaires’ disease caused by the poisoned water supply, told the Washington Post. “It’s been three years, and we still can’t drink the water.” Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has appeared eager to declare the water safe. Yet the New York Times reported weeks ago that while the water supply now meets federal standards, because the aged lead-tainted pipes...

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Federal Judge Protects Transgender Students in Pennsylvania School

by Zack Ford – The three students, including the sister of President Trump’s inauguration singer, will be allowed back into the restrooms. At a time of great legal confusion for transgender students, there’s one piece of good news out of Pennsylvania, where a federal judge issued a ruling on Monday protecting trans students at a small district outside Pittsburgh. Judge Mark Hornak, an Obama appointee, issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Pine-Richland School District from enforcing Resolution 2, a policy that prohibited three trans students in the district from using restrooms matching their gender identity. Hornak concluded the students were likely to succeed on a constitutional claim that they had been denied equal protection under the law. “This is wonderful news and a tremendous relief that we can now use the bathroom without feeling isolated and humiliated,” Elissa Ridenour, one of the students, said in a Lambda Legal press release. Prior...

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House Conservatives say They’d Vote Against Leaked Obamacare ‘Replacement’ Plan

by Josh Israel – They are uncomfortable with the idea of preserving coverage for some of the millions of Americans covered under the ACA. Last week, CNN obtained a draft Congressional Republican bill to replace the Affordable Care Act with a plan that would replace subsidies with smaller tax credits, allow insurance to charge senior citizens more, decimate Medicaid, and cause millions of Americans to lose their coverage altogether. On Monday and Tuesday, however, a trio of prominent House Republicans made it clear that even this bill was not conservative enough for them. While the bill would mean the loss of health insurance for millions of Americans, they object to provisions in the bill that would help some people remain covered. Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who chairs the House Freedom Caucus (a group of a few dozen of the most conservative Republicans in Congress), announced on Monday that he could not support that...

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Jeff Sessions: Legal Pot Drives Violent Crime, Statistics be Damned

by Alan Pyke – The Attorney General revives debunked pot-crime link. While the Trump administration has yet to take any formal action on marijuana policy, its words continue to signal a crackdown. On Monday, days after White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters to expect stricter enforcement of federal pot law, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recycled discredited drug war talking points in remarks of his own. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we’re seeing real violence around that,” Sessions said. “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.” In reality, violent crime rates tend to decrease where marijuana is legalized. Denver saw a 2.2 percent drop in violent crime rates in the year after the first legal recreational cannabis sales...

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Biologists Warn Half of All Species to Face Extinction by 2100, as GOP Pushes to Destroy Protections

by Nika Knight – Days after Republican lawmakers speechified about dismantling the Endangered Species Act, biologists ring alarm bells about global mass extinction. Today, 20 percent of all species are at risk of being wiped out, scientists at a Vatican conference on biodiversity warn, and that number may rise to nearly 50 percent by the end of the century. “The living fabric of the world is slipping through our fingers without our showing much sign of caring,” warned the conference organizers. Biologists, ecologists, and economists traveled to Rome from around the world for the workshop titled “How to Save the Natural World on Which We Depend,” which begins Monday, to strategize together on how to limit the mass extinction event caused by rampant over-development, climate change, overpopulation, and unsustainable agricultural practices. The meeting sharply contrasts with last week’s U.S. Senate hearing on how to “modernize the Endangered Species Act ,”...

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Most Republicans Oppose Federal Interference With Marijuana Legalization

by Jacob Sullum – A DOJ crackdown on state-licensed cannabusinesses would be contrary to public opinion, Trump’s promises, and the Constitution. Yesterday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that the Justice Department under newly installed Attorney General Jeff Sessions will be more inclined to enforce the federal ban on marijuana in states that have legalized the drug for recreational use. A large majority of Americans, including most Republicans, think that’s a bad idea, according to poll numbers released the same day as Spicer’s comments. Answering a question from an Arkansas reporter wondering how the DOJ will respond to that state’s new medical marijuana law, Spicer said “there’s two distinct issues here: medical marijuana and recreational marijuana.” He reiterated President Trump’s support for laws that allow patients to use marijuana for symptom relief, which 28 states have enacted. Spicer also noted that Congress has repeatedly approved a spending rider that...

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Indiana is Going Hard Against Abortion This Week

by Maureen Shaw – These measures are extreme, even for Indiana. Indiana is gunning for abortion rights this week. Within a span of two days, Indiana’s House revived its “abortion reversal” bill, and a Senate panel advanced a restrictive bill aimed at curbing minors’ access to abortion care. Even for Indiana, which has a draconian anti-choice record, these measures are extreme in their disregard for women’s health and privacy. On Tuesday, the House Public Policy Committee approved H.B. 1128, which requires, among other things, that “a pregnant woman be informed orally and in writing before an abortion obtained through an abortion inducing drug that the abortion may be possibly reversed.” Last week, the committee approved a similar bill, but was met with resistance by some House Republicans, who cited concerns about a provision requiring abortion providers to perform an ultrasound to determine a fetus’ gestational age. This provision was struck from Tuesday’s...

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Why the Emerging Bill to Repeal the Affordable Care Act Will Fail

by Topher Spiro and Harry Stein – Last week, the House majority released an outline for repealing the Affordable Care Act, or ACA. Although the document provides no new details, it does provide enough information to evaluate the adequacy of financing, the likely policies needed to pay for new tax credits for health insurance, the likely effects on tax credit levels, and the political hurdles to such an approach. This analysis is based exclusively on numbers from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, or CBO. Although the congressional majority will claim that the emerging repeal bill represents a simultaneous replacement of the ACA, the math does not add up. Using CBO estimates, the Center for American Progress calculates that the repeal bill will cut the Medicaid expansion by $277 billion over 10 years. To finance new tax credits for health insurance, the repeal bill will likely cut Medicaid—including funding for nursing homes...

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Support for 2010 Healthcare Law Reaches New High

by HANNAH FINGERHUT – With congressional Republicans discussing proposals to replace the Affordable Care Act, public support for the 2010 health care law has reached its highest level on record. Currently, 54% approve of the health care law passed seven years ago by Barack Obama and Congress, while 43% disapprove, according to a national Pew Research Center survey conducted Feb. 7-12 among 1,503 adults. Throughout the law’s history, opinions about the Affordable Care Act have tended to be more negative than positive — or, less frequently, divided. As recently as December, about as many approved (48%) as disapproved (47%) of the law. The new survey finds that when those who disapprove of the law are asked about what should happen to it now, more want GOP congressional leaders to focus their efforts on modifying the law than on getting rid of it. One-in-four adults want Republican leaders to modify the law, while...

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Nine Therapists Share Their Opinions on Trump’s Fitness for Office

by HalBrown – This is an open article. If you are a psychotherapist and willing to have your opinion published in the body of the article, put it on as a comment and include your degree and profession. Living in a world in which I see or hear Donald Trump on at least a daily basis, it would be peculiar of me not to notice or wonder what drives him. The trick is to figure out what the behaviors mean and whether they are a threat to the country. A few of the most disturbing behaviors that I have seen in Donald Trump have been the mocking of people he perceives as weak and the degree to which he denies, lies about or distorts information. In my experience as a therapist, I have worked with people who have been harmed by trauma, including emotional abuse – as children. As a...

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Judge: Texas can’t Kick Planned Parenthood out of Medicaid

by MARISSA EVANS – U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks ruled Tuesday afternoon that Texas clinics affiliated with Planned Parenthood can continue to care for patients under the state’s Medicaid program, a phew-worthy victory for reproductive rights advocates and a loss for the state’s GOP leaders. In a 42-page ruling, Sparks wrote that the state’s arguments in the case were “the building blocks of a best-selling novel rather than a case concerning the interplay of federal and state authority through the Medicaid program.” “After reviewing the evidence currently in the record, the Court finds the Inspector General, and thus , likely acted to disenroll qualified health care providers from Medicaid without cause,” the ruling read. “Such action would deprive Medicaid patients of their statutory right to obtain health care from their chosen qualified provider.” The ruling comes more than a year after Planned Parenthood first sued Texas to...

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Florida Supreme Court Reminds Politicians That Women Are Capable of Making Their Own Decisions

by Julia Kaye – Every day, people face important medical decisions. When tough choices arise, we consult with our health care providers about the pros and cons of different treatment options. We meditate on our goals and fears. Some of us will turn to family or friends for advice. Some of us will pray. No one goes to the state capitol building to ask a politician their opinion. Yet when it comes to a woman’s decision to end her pregnancy, politicians feel entitled to insert themselves into the equation. We all agree that a woman seeking abortion care, like every other patient, should receive all medically appropriate information. But in dozens of states, legislators demand that a woman who has decided to have an abortion — unlike any other patient seeking any other form of medical care — delay her procedure by a certain amount of time (typically 24 hours...

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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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