U.S. News

1 Out Of 3 Dogs And Cats Are Overweight And It’s Costing Us

They say over time you and your dog may start looking like each other, as the BBC reported. Well, at first glance, dogs and cats seem to be just mirroring the human obesity epidemic. Over the past decade, dogs and cats have been getting more and more overweight, according to the recently released Banfield Pet Hospital’s 2017 State of Pet Health. However, a closer look suggests that dogs and cats aren’t just simply mirroring their owners. The geographic distribution of overweight dogs and cats is not quite the same as the geographic distribution of overweight humans.

The Banfield report summarized their BARK Research Team‘s analyses of data on over 2.5 million dogs and 505,000 cats from Banfield’s 975 veterinary hospitals that span 42 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Based on the report, since 2007, the number of overweight dogs has increased by 158%. And cat lovers have gotten more cat per cat with a 169% increase in the number of overweight cats.

Now, more cat per cat may seem great for Instagram pictures or YouTube videos showing a Garfield-like cat rolling around like a beach ball. Just search YouTube for “fat cat” and you’ll get plenty of videos such as this one:

But being overweight hurts your cat (or your dog if you swing that way). As with humans, obesity has serious health consequences for dogs and cats but what’s even worse is that they may be suffering in silence because you don’t speak cat or dog. You can’t hear your cat or dog saying “ugh, walking up those stairs was tough” or “I feel terrible” or “this is really affecting my self-esteem” or “you suck as an owner.” As with humans, obesity can increase the risk of numerous chronic diseases among cats and dogs such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, or various respiratory diseases. Indeed, the report found an 82% increase in arthritis and an 83% increase in tracheal collapse among dogs.

Therefore, just like the human obesity epidemic, the dog and cat obesity epidemic is costing people more money as quantified by the Banfield report. Over a four year period, owners of an overweight dog spend 17% more in healthcare costs and 25% more on medications. That’s a total of $2,026 more per year. For overweight cats, owners spend 36% more on diagnostic procedures and $1,178 more overall per year.

Doesn’t this sound just like the human obesity epidemic…except that the magnitude and costs of the human epidemic are much higher? Sort of. There may be some differences. As Karin Brulliard reports for the Washington Post, the map of dog and cat obesity doesn’t seem to match that of human obesity exactly. For example, Minnesota had the highest percentage of overweight dogs (41%) and cats (46%), even though Minnesota has lower obesity rates than about half the states in U.S. as this map on the MinnPost shows. Nebraska had the second highest dog and cat overweight rates (39% and 43%) while states like Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, which have had some of highest human obesity and overweight rates, ranked on the exact opposite end of the pet list.

Follow me on Twitter @bruce_y_lee and visit our Global Obesity Prevention Center (GOPC)at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Read my other Forbes pieces here.

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Plague Is Found in New Mexico. Again.

The New Mexico Department of Health said this week that two women were found to have plague, bringing the total number of people this year in the state known to have the disease to three.

All three patients — a 63-year-old man and two women, ages 52 and 62 — were treated at hospitals in the Santa Fe area and released after a few days, said Paul Rhien, a health department spokesman.

Health officials in New Mexico have more experience with plague than many might expect: Every year for the last few years, a handful of people in New Mexico have come down with plague. One person has died.

While the word “plague” may conjure images of medieval cities laid to waste by the Black Death, the disease is still a part of the modern world. It is much less common than it once was, but it is no less serious.

 

What Is Plague?

Plague is caused by the bacterium Yersinia pestis, which humans get when they are bitten by rodent-riding fleas. It decimated European cities during the Middle Ages, killing tens of millions of people, but today is found mostly in rural areas.

There are three main types of plague in humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: bubonic plague, pneumonic plague and septicemic plague. All three share general symptoms — like fever, weakness and chills — but each subtype carries its own fearsome markers.

Pneumonic plague causes a rapid and severe form of pneumonia that can lead to respiratory failure and shock. It is the only type that can be spread person-to-person through the air if someone inhales infected water droplets.

Septicemic plague, which attacks a person’s blood cells, can cause skin or other tissue to turn black and die, especially on the extremities, like hands and feet. It is caused by either an infected flea bite or by handling an infected animal.

Bubonic plague is the best-known and common form of the disease. It is marked by the sudden appearance of bulbously swollen and painful lymph nodes (called buboes) in the groin or armpits.

How Deadly Is Plague?

It can be very deadly. Fifty to 60 percent of the cases of bubonic plague are fatal if they are not treated quickly, according to the World Health Organization.

Paul Ettestad, the public health veterinarian for New Mexico, said plague can be treated with antibiotics like gentamicin and doxycycline, but it is important to catch it fast.

Pneumonic and septicemic plague can be more serious. The World Health Organization described them as “invariably fatal,” but there are some people who have survived these forms of the disease.

In 2002, a married couple from New Mexico contracted plague at home and developed symptoms while they were on vacation in New York. One of the patients, John Tull, developed septicemic plague.
Mr. Tull’s kidneys nearly failed, and tissue in his feet and hands turned black and began to die. He was placed in a three-month medically induced coma and doctors amputated both his legs below the knee, but he survived.

How Common Is Plague?

Plague is a lot less common now than it was in centuries past, when millions died in repeated plague epidemics. From 2000 through 2009, there were 21,725 reported cases of plague worldwide, according to the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. Of those, 1,612 were fatal.

Most cases of plague diagnosed since the 1990s have been in Africa, particularly Congo and Madagascar, although outbreaks have also happened in Asia and North and South America.

The American Society for Tropical Medicine and Hygiene said 56 plague cases were found in the United States — seven of them fatal — from 2000 through 2009, the last year for which figures were available.

Why Does It Keep Happening in New Mexico?

Plague arrived in the United States around 1900 on ships from China and soon jumped from fleas on urban rodents to fleas on rural rodents, Mr. Ettestad said.

It is now “entrenched” in large swaths of the western United States, with most cases occurring in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, California, Oregon and Nevada, according to the C.D.C.

Plague in New Mexico has been especially persistent, Mr. Ettestad said. The state health department said it was found in four people in 2015, with one death. Four more people were found to have it in 2016; all were successfully treated.

Mr. Ettestad said there were environmental reasons that plague kept popping up in New Mexico. The area is home to vegetation like pinyon and juniper trees, which, he said, support “a wide diversity of rodents and fleas.”

That means that once plague has decimated one rodent species — say, the prairie dog — there are lots of other rodent species nearby it can jump to, like the rock squirrel.

“A lot of people have rock squirrels in their yard, and when they die, their fleas are very good at biting people,” Mr. Ettestad said. “We have had a number of people who got plague after they were bitten by a flea that their dog or cat brought in the house.”

What Should I Do If I Think I Have Plague?

Medical authorities are unanimous on this: If you live or have recently returned from any area where plague is found (like New Mexico) and you develop symptoms of the disease, then you should immediately go to a doctor or hospital.

Sarah Palin Sues The New York Times

 

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) has sued The New York Times over an editorial she alleges defamed her by tying her to the 2011 shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, then a Democratic representative from Arizona.

Palin filed the complaint over an editorial the Times published this month following the shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) at a baseball game in Virginia. Titled “America’s Lethal Politics,” the piece initially linked activity by Palin’s political action committee to another shooting in Arizona in 2011 that killed six people and injured Giffords and a dozen others. That link was never established, and the Times issued a correction and apologized on Twitter for the error.

Palin’s suit alleges the initial editorial defamed her “by publishing a statement it knew to be false: that Mrs. Palin was responsible for inciting a mass shooting at a political event.”

We published an editorial last night on the shooting at the G.O.P. men’s baseball team practice field in Alexandria.

We got an important fact wrong, incorrectly linking political incitement and the 2011 shooting of Giffords. No link was ever established.

Following the editorial’s publication, Palin blasted the Times’ actions as “sickening” and said the “media is doing exactly what I said … should not be done.” She had earlier said she was exploring legal options.

“Despite commenting as graciously as I could on media coverage of yesterday’s shooting, alas, today a perversely biased media’s knee-jerk blame game is attempting to destroy innocent people with lies and more fake news,” she wrote on Facebook after the Virginia shooting. “As I said yesterday, I’d hoped the media had collectively matured since the last attack on a Representative when media coverage spewed blatant lies about who was to blame. There’s been no improvement. The NYT has gotten worse.”

The Times on Tuesday told CNN’s Dylan Byers it had not reviewed the suit, but said it would “defend against any claim vigorously.”

.@NYTimes spox tells me they have not reviewed @SarahPalinUSA’s claim yet “but will defend against any claim vigorously.” Full story to come https://twitter.com/jaketapper/status/879826108941774848 

BILL DE BLASIO (WHITE IDIOT, WHITE FREEMASON, ZIONIST) VOWS TO FIGHT BDS, PROTECT NY JEWISH COMMUNITY

NEW YORK – Mayor Bill De Blasio expressed his commitment to combat the Boycott Divestment and Sanction movement and defend the Jewish community against antisemitism, during an event on Tuesday evening.

The event, held at the Mayor’s official residence of Gracie Mansion in Manhattan, aimed to celebrate Jewish heritage and included the participation of local Jewish politicians, Consul-General of Israel Dani Dayan and other leaders of the community. “We know there has been a rise in antisemitism in this country, and we will not tolerate it here in New York City,” De Blasio said. “We honor every faith in New York City, this is part of our mandate and this is something we have to teach the world.” “The message is abundantly clear: we cherish the community, we protect the community, we cannot be great without every one of our communities,” he added.

 

De Blasio also praised Israel as the “answer to industrial oppression going back thousands of years” and spoke about the proximity between the City of New York and the State of Israel.

“There is a lot of history that teaches us why the Jewish people have needed a homeland and finally having a homeland, they deserve to know that that homeland will be protected for the long haul,” he said. “This is why I oppose the BDS movement so strongly.”

The BDS movement, the mayor said, undermines “one of the things that could lead to peace, which is economic opportunity for all in Israel, in the region.”

“I’m saying this as a proud progressive, and as a proud democrat,” he told the audience. “There is no logic, there’s nothing right and just about a movement that seeks to undermine the economy of a place that has been a refuge for the oppressed. It’s as simple as that.”

“We cannot let BDS take away one of the things that could actually lead to peace for everyone,” De Blasio concluded. The mayor’s Jewish heritage celebration is held annually and honors a different Jewish leader every year. Executive Vice President of the New York Board of Rabbis, Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, was Tuesday’s honoree.

Powerful musical recounts Atlanta lynching of falsely accused Jewish man

CHICAGO — Chicagoland theater goers have a must-see play in their midst. Even a century after the events that inspired it, the suburban Writers Theatre‘s new production of Alfred Uhry and Jason Robert Brown’s Tony Award winning show “Parade” is still a devastatingly relevant piece of drama.

This 1998 musical is based on the early 20th century trial and lynching of Leo Frank (Patrick Andrews), a dapper Jewish Brooklynite living in Atlanta. In 1913, Frank is falsely accused of murdering 13-year-old Mary Phagan (Caroline Heffernan), an employee at the National Pencil Factory, where he is her supervisor.

Frank is innocent, but makes for a convenient target. Governor John Slaton (Derek Hasenstab) and prosecutor Hugh Dorsey (Kevin Gudahl) salivate over the thought of convicting “the Jew.” Pandering to an anti-Semitic constituency, a conviction would be a feather in their political caps.

Slimy prosecutor Dorsey coaches witnesses to lie under oath, which they do in spades. Ultimately, the jury, the public, politicians and the media are all complicit in a brutal anti-Semitic character assassination, which leads to a guilty verdict and a death sentence for Frank. The court rejoices in glee amongst a chorus of “hang the Jew.”

Frank’s wife Lucille (Brianna Borger) plays a pivotal role in awakening governor Slaton’s consciousness. Reopening the case, Slaton commutes Frank’s sentence to life in prison, with an indication that Leo will eventually be freed. However, others have different plans — a lynch mob drags Frank from the jail in a violent misappropriation of justice.

“Parade” paints an uncomfortable southern America where racism and anti-Semitism go unchecked. Jews become a scapegoat for class issues and blacks try to keep themselves safe by any means necessary. Nicole Michelle Haskins and Jonah D. Winston play two black servants who, in the song “A Rumblin’ and a Rollin,” reflect on the northern outcry against Frank’s lynching, and the contrasted silence when it comes to the murder of black men.

Jonathan Butler-Duplessis and cast in 'Parade.' (Michael Brosilow)

Director Gary Griffin has elicited brilliant performances from this first-rate cast. Coupled with Michael Mahler’s breathtaking musical direction this leads to a powerful and heartbreaking theatrical experience. Of particular note is Jim Conley (Jonathan Butler-DuPlessis) who steals the show with his heavenly voice.

The stage is sparse, flanked by a Southern style balcony adorned with red, white, and blue bunting. The Confederate and American flags are draped side by side on the back wall. Creative usages of lighting adorn the stage. Shadowy bars fall across Leo as he lies in his prison bed. A rectangle of light is used to represent slain Mary Phagan’s coffin.

According to the play’s notes, “Parade” is based on one of the first highly publicized cases of anti-Semitism in the United States. One hundred years later with anti-Semitism, xenophobia and racism still on the rise, the play is eerily prescient.

“Parade” is the final production of Writers Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Season. The show has been extended through July 9. Tickets and information can be found here.

LGBT Jews say it’s increasingly difficult to be pro-Israel and queer

NEW YORK (JTA) — For years, Laurie Grauer had waved a rainbow flag emblazoned with a Jewish star at the Chicago Dyke March, sometimes marching near activists waving Palestinian flags. It had never been a problem.

But this year, Grauer was confronted by the LGBT parade’s organizers, questioned about her support for Israel and asked to leave because she was carrying the flag. She was one of three women with Jewish flags kicked out of Sunday’s parade.

Grauer says she was used to Israel being a sensitive issue in queer spaces. But she did not expect to be condemned for displaying her Jewish identity.

“To say that you can only identify one way is very dangerous,” said Grauer, the Midwest manager for A Wider Bridge, a pro-Israel LGBT group. “Here you have this march that is supposed to be something for people that feel oppressed, invisible, marginalized, [where] they can be who they are. I wasn’t pushing my views on people and was told the way you’re expressing yourself is unacceptable.”

The incident at the Dyke March was just the latest in a series of clashes over Israel at activist events for the Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender, or LGBT, community. Being pro-Israel at LGBT events has become difficult, LGBT Jewish leaders say, and at times the opposition to Israel has spilled over into making Jews feel uncomfortable about displaying their identity.

Similar tensions arose earlier in June at the Celebrate Israel Parade in New York City, where activists from the far-left Jewish Voice for Peace infiltrated the parade delegation of Jewish Queer Youth, an LGBT group, and held anti-Israel banners. One of the protesters said he was there to “counter Israel’s pinkwashing” — that is, to stop the pro-Israel LGBT group from using Israel’s relatively progressive attitudes to distract from the Palestinian issue.

Idit Klein, executive director of Keshet, a Boston-based national that works in some 200 communities for LGBTQ equality and inclusion in Jewish life. (courtesy)

Last year, an event featuring an Israeli group at an LGBT conference in Chicago was canceled, then reinstated, and took place amid vocal protest.

Nor are these debates new. In 2011, New York City’s LGBT Community Center agreed to lease space to Queers Against Israeli Apartheid, leading gay adult film star and pro-Israel activist Michael Lucas to call for a boycott of the center. The center relented, opting not to host any groups connected to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“We’ve seen that in a number of different settings, these kinds of incidents have absolutely been increasing in frequency,” said Idit Klein, executive director of Keshet, an LGBT Jewish organization.

The LGBT community is “more likely to be sensitive to and have empathy with others who experience oppression and discrimination. People see injustices being perpetrated against Palestinians by the Israeli government,” she said. “Many don’t necessarily understand the complexity of the history.”

Several Jewish groups have called on the Dyke March to apologize for expelling the activists, but march organizers are standing by their decision. In a statement Sunday, they said the women were expelled because they were pro-Israel activists and the march is anti-Zionist.

The statement noted that Grauer was a member of A Wider Bridge, which the Dyke March called “an organization with connections to the Israeli state and right-wing pro-Israel interest groups.” It also accused Israel of pinkwashing.

“This decision was made after they repeatedly expressed support for Zionism during conversations with Chicago Dyke March Collective members,” the statement read. “The Chicago Dyke March Collective is explicitly not anti-Semitic, we are anti-Zionist. The Chicago Dyke March Collective supports the liberation of Palestine and all oppressed people everywhere.”

Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, one of Newsweek's 50 most influential rabbis. (Courtesy)

Not all Jews have condemned the march for excluding the Jewish women. Jewish Voice for Peace, the group that infiltrated the Celebrate Israel Parade and a backer of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, tweeted its support of the expulsion.

Klein said the tensions over Israel in the broader LGBT community also exist within the LGBT Jewish community. Conversations over Israel in that context become increasingly touchy because people connect their stances on Israel with their overlapping identities.

“There’s an extra layer of identification as a group that experiences injustice, so that adds a layer of intensity,” the Keshet leader said. “It makes it a struggle to enable people to be in one space together. I haven’t figured it out and nor has anyone else.”

Other LGBT Jewish activists linked the tensions over Israel to a general decline in civil discourse. Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum of Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, a New York City LGBT synagogue, said acrimony on social media has spilled over into on-the-ground events.

“It’s become less respectful, more with a tremendous character assassination, and that deeply saddens me,” Kleinbaum said. “The larger political world has become that way. Social media has created a platform for people who don’t care about nuance.”

Three years ago Kleinbaum’s synagogue, which regularly joins the Celebrate Israel Parade, faced criticism from some of its pro-Israel members for its sympathy to the Palestinians and criticism of Israeli policy.

And if it is not just the left, it’s not just Israel either, said Mordechai Levovitz, executive director of Jewish Queer Youth. He’s seen people berated or excluded from activist circles because they are politically conservative or too openly religious. Israel is doubly complicated, he added, because it connects both to a political issue and ethnic identity.

Protesters at the June 4, 2017 New York Celebrate Israel Parade march with the Jewish Queer Youth and hold up a sign saying 'Queer Jews for a Free Palestine.' (Mordechai Levovitz)

“This is rooted in an approach that’s all about shutting other people down instead of hearing people who disagree with your point of view,” Levovitz said. “Israel is a very complex issue for Jews because it doesn’t have to do with a state’s policy, it has to do with your identity. How can you say you can have pride in one aspect of your identity but not the other?”

Jewish LGBT leaders hope they can stem these trends through dialogue and explanation, distinguishing Israel’s politics from the nation’s right to exist, and Israel from Judaism. Kleinbaum will attend a roundtable of LGBT leaders across communities Wednesday where she will share her personal experience regarding Israel.

“People are behaving in an anti-Semitic way without knowing that’s what they’re doing,” said Lilli Kornblum, past president of Or Chadash, a former LGBT synagogue in Chicago. “They may be more open to understanding the nuances of the community. My goal between now and next year’s Dyke March is we’ve got a year to sit down and talk about this. I’m much more likely now to go” to the march next year.

In the meantime, the women who were kicked out of the march have said they feel anguished. But Grauer said that although she was pained by the incident, she has been supported by activists from across the wider LGBT community.

“I was really hurt and betrayed in that safe environment,” Grauer said of the Dyke March. “I can’t say I’m being betrayed by the queer community as a whole. When you have people like that who also speak up, I can never say I was betrayed.”

GOP Health Care Plan Crushes Working-Class Blacks and Whites, but Not the Middle-Class Whites Who Elected Trump

As the drama crests this week surrounding possible Senate passage of an extraordinarily punitive health care bill, we should ask, why is the GOP so heartless? Why are Republicans bent on cutting access to care for the most vulnerable people, especially the poor—including the white working-class voters who were said to be a pillar of Trump’s base?

After the election, many in mainstream and progressive media said that Trump’s base, and indeed the wave that lifted the GOP into its congressional majority today, were white working-class voters who abandoned Democrats en masse. The Atlantic heralded Trump’s “blue-collar” rise on “class, not ideology.” The AP pointed to “both parties’ working-class whites.” Thomas Frank—whose 2004 book, What’s the Matter With Kansas, traced the rise of white conservatives—described Trump’s base as mostly “working-class whites” worried about the economy.

It turns out that most of the Americans who helped elect Trump and the GOP are white, but they are not poor. In his crusade to dismantle Obamacare and cut Medicaid’s future appropriations by a quarter, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is not turning on his voters; according to recently released national survey data, those who voted for Trump and the GOP in 2016 are overwhelmingly white, yes; but the majority of them are not poor and not working class.

“A few weeks ago, the American National Election Study—the longest-running election survey in the United States—released its 2016 survey data. And it showed that in November 2016, the Trump coalition looked a lot like it did during the primaries,” blogged Duke University’s Nicholas Carnes and Vanderbilt University’s Noam Lupu for the Washington Post. “Trump’s voters weren’t overwhelmingly poor. In the general election, like the primary, about two-thirds of Trump supporters came from the better-off half of the economy.”

“In short, the narrative that attributes Trump’s victory to a ‘coalition of mostly blue-collar white and working-class voters’ just doesn’t square with the 2016 election data,” they said, explaining that most pollsters incorrectly assumed that the 70 percent of Americans who don’t have college degrees were working class and poorer—and many are not.

“Many analysts have argued that the partisan divide between more and less educated people is bigger than ever. During the general election, 69 percent of Trump voters in the election study didn’t have college degrees. Isn’t that evidence that the working class made up most of Trump’s base? The truth is more complicated: many of the voters without college educations who supported Trump were relatively affluent,” they wrote.

In the survival-of-the-fittest world of American capitalism and GOP politics, there’s no shortage of right-wingers bashing the poor, whether they are white or not. That mindset clearly has spilled over into those promoting the GOP’s health care bills, where a schism is emerging between the voters in the GOP’s 2016 base and those McConnell’s bill is targeting.

A typical example emerged this weekend on CBS-TV’s Face the Nation, where Ben Domenech, the Federalist’s founder and publisher, smeared Ohio’s Medicaid disability recipients as unworthy of public benefits.

“When Governor Kasich, you know, pushed for the Medicaid expansion in Ohio, he ended up having to throw 34,000 disabled people off of the program because it incentivized adding these working, able-bodied adults over people who actually were in the system who had disabilities or had other dependence,” he said, repeating the GOP’s old trope of deadbeats on welfare.

There’s nothing new about this undercurrent in the GOP. Last year, writing in the National Review, Kevin D. Williamson went after poor whites (drawn to Trump) as people who could do the nation a favor by dying.

“The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die,” he wrote. “Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs….The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles.”

How much of this attitude is reflected in the Republicans’ health care bills? The answer is plenty. The House-passed bill takes $820 billion out of future Medicaid appropriations over the next decade, rapidly phases out government subsidies for insurance premiums bought by individuals on government exchanges and deregulates insurance without any coverage requirements or price controls. While those policies will cause chaos across the economic spectrum, including the middle class, the poor are the hardest hit.

The Senate bill has even harsher elements than the House bill. It would cut Medicaid more by turning it into a rationed-care system where states receive grants, and adopt a stingy new formula for annual increases. Health policy experts have noted McConnell’s plan wants “lower-income people to pay more.” Its use of tax credits to offset premium increases and deductibles will be of little use to the working-class poor and lower-income seniors, a new analysis from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities found.

Just as mainstream media mischaracterized those who elected Trump and the GOP, it’s likely they are missing the same ingredient in who would be hurt most by the GOP’s health care proposals: non-GOP voters. It’s not just blue states that would see the largest rollbacks—as they are the states that most aggressively embraced Obamacare and its expansion of Medicaid. It’s also poorer people, working-class whites and non-whites, who, as the American National Election Study notes, didn’t elect Trump and the GOP.

Where McConnell’s plan is likely to fall off the rails is from the chaos it would bring to more middle-class and affluent whites—or red rural states like Alaska and Maine with high health care costs. That is, if his efforts to please corporate health care interests are seen as backfiring on Tea Partiers who infamously yelled, “Hands off my Medicare.” (Late Monday’s release Congressional Budget Office analysis may provide that catalyst, projecting the Senate bill will leave 22 million Americans uninsured by 2026.)

But as policy experts dug into the Senate bill on Monday, their analyses seemed to confirm that McConnell’s bill wasn’t targeting his party’s better-off base. One newly discovered provision would lock out anyone who missed an insurance payment from buying a new policy for six months. One-third of those with pre-existing conditions had this coverage gap in the past two years, but they tend to be poorer. Another report found the bill could push seniors out of nursing homes paid by Medicaid, as a subsidy of Medicare.

Those likely to be hardest hit include working-class whites, but they were not Trump’s voters, the analysis by Duke University’s Nicholas Carnes and Vanderbilt University’s Noam Lupu underscored. “According to the [American National] Election study, white non-Hispanic voters without college degrees making below the median household income made up only 25 percent of Trump voters. That’s a far cry from the working class-fueled victory many journalists have imagined.”

No one ever accused McConnell of not knowing what he is doing.

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America’s democracy and voting rights. He is the author of several books on elections and the co-author of Who Controls Our Schools: How Billionaire-Sponsored Privatization Is Destroying Democracy and the Charter School Industry (AlterNet eBook, 2016).

Florida cop makes up law to ticket black man for walking without identification

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/06/watch-florida-cop-makes-up-law-to-ticket-black-man-for-walking-without-identification/

 

According to the Miami Herald, a police officer in Jacksonville, Florida incorrectly cited a law requiring identification for drivers when giving a ticket to a black man for jaywalking and for not having an ID on him, as shown in a viral video the man in question posted on social media.

The video posted by 21-year-old Devonte Shipman on June 20 shows Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Officer J.S. Bolen confronting Shipman for jaywalking.

“Miami Beach, 1962?” the Herald report asked. “No, Jacksonville, 2017.”

When Shipman asked the officer what he’d done wrong, the cop told him that he was fining him for jaywalking, which costs $65. Bolen then asked the young man for his ID, and when he told the officer he didn’t have it, Bolen “snapped.”

“That’s another infraction,” Bolen said. “In the state of Florida, you have to have an ID card on you identifying who you are or I can detain you for seven hours until I figure out who you are.”

According to the Herald, however, the officer got the law wrong — Florida Statute 322.15 requires licensed drivers to always have their licenses when driving and can incur a $136 fine if they do not, but no such law exists for walking without a license.

“Bolen also gave Shipman a citation for failing to obey a pedestrian control signal, another $62.50 fine,” the Herald noted.

Emotional Donald Trump supporter (White Idiot) explains that his family ‘won’t be insured’ if Obamacare goes away

http://www.rawstory.com/2017/06/watch-emotional-donald-trump-supporter-explains-that-his-family-wont-be-insured-if-obamacare-goes-away/

 

An emotional Donald Trump supporter on Tuesday told CNN’s Don Lemon he wouldn’t be able to afford health insurance if it weren’t for Obamacare, the signature legislation the president has promised to repeal.

Lemon also spoke with pastor and veteran Janice Hill, whose daughter would have died without the Affordable Care Act.

“You’re a life long republican, yet you and your wife are insured through Obamacare,” Lemon said to guest Don Riscoe. “What will happen to that insurance if Obamacare is repealed?”

“We probably won’t be insured,” a visibly upset Riscoe replied.

“You okay?” Lemon asked.
“Yes,” he said. “We won’t be insured if Obamacare goes away. We won’t be able to afford premiums.”

“I know we can’t afford $1,000 a month,” he continued. “I don’t know the exact number but … we wouldn’t be able to afford coverage without the infrastructure.”

Riscoe said Obamacare “does have problems” that need to get fixed. “I hope that there’s something that will be in place that we can still have coverage for myself and a lot of others,” Riscoe said.

Pastor Hill told Lemon the bill’s plan to slash funding for Medicaid is really what’s going to hurt.
“When they take away Medicaid, it’s not only going to hurt my daughter who is not on Medicaid now because she’s working full time, but it’s going to hurt the people in my state. It’s going to hurt veterans, which i’m a veteran. Ten percent of veterans are on medicaid.”

“It’s going to hurt the employment rate,” she continued. “It’s going to hurt people’s access to health coverage. They’re not going to go for any kind of preventive care. It’s going to be critical when they do go. It’s going to cost more money. This bill doesn’t make sense.”

Vote Delayed as G.O.P. Struggles to Marshal Support for Health Care Bill

WASHINGTON — Facing intransigent Republican opposition, the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, on Tuesday delayed a vote on legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act, dealing another setback to Republicans’ seven-year effort to dismantle the health law and setting up a long, heated summer of health care battles.

Mr. McConnell faced resistance from across his conference, not only from the most moderate and conservative senators but from others as well. Had he pressed forward this week, he almost surely would have lacked the votes even to begin debate on the bill.

“We will not be on the bill this week, but we’re still working toward getting at least 50 people in a comfortable place,” said Mr. McConnell, who is known as a canny strategist but was forced to acknowledge on Tuesday that he had more work to do.

The delay pushes Senate consideration of the bill until after a planned recess for the Fourth of July, but it does not guarantee that Republican senators will come together. Opponents of the bill, including patient advocacy groups and medical organizations, plan to lobby senators in their home states next week. Senators are likely to be dogged by demonstrators. Democrats vowed to keep up the pressure, and some Republican senators have suggested that their votes will be difficult to win.

After meeting with President Trump at the White House, Mr. McConnell told reporters that if Republicans could not come to an agreement, they would be forced to negotiate a deal with Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.

“The status quo is simply unsustainable,” Mr. McConnell said. “It’ll be dealt with in one of two ways: Either Republicans will agree and change the status quo, or the markets will continue to collapse, and we’ll have to sit down with Senator Schumer. And my suspicion is that any negotiation with the Democrats would include none of the reforms that we would like to make.”

Republicans have promised for seven years to repeal the health law, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic achievement. But Mr. McConnell’s announcement on Tuesday was yet another major stumble in the unsteady quest by Republican congressional leaders to deliver a repeal bill to the desk of Mr. Trump, who has yet to sign his first piece of marquee legislation.

Mr. McConnell, the chief author of the Senate repeal bill, can afford to lose only two of the 52 Republican senators, but more than a half-dozen have, for widely divergent reasons, expressed deep reservations about the bill.

Mr. Trump, meeting with Republican senators at the White House, declared, “We’re getting very close.”

“This will be great if we get it done,” he said. “And if we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like, and that’s O.K., and I understand that very well.”

Mr. McConnell wrote his bill behind closed doors, betting he could fashion a product that would show significant improvement over the bill that was narrowly approved by the House last month. And he laid out an aggressive timeline for its passage, hoping to secure Senate approval roughly a week after unveiling the legislation.

Yet on Tuesday, just five days after releasing the bill, Mr. McConnell had to bow to reality: Republican senators were not ready to move ahead with the bill.

At least a small number might never be — raising questions about whether Mr. McConnell will be able to win over the votes for passage.

“It’s difficult for me to see how any tinkering is going to satisfy my fundamental and deep concerns about the impact of the bill,” said Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, who was among the lawmakers prepared to vote against taking up the bill this week.

Mr. McConnell and his leadership team are hoping to replicate the feat of Speaker Paul D. Ryan, who revived the House’s repeal bill and pushed it to passage six weeks after it appeared to be dead.

“I would hope, by the end of the week, that we have reached basically a conclusion with regard to the substance and the policy of this,” said Senator John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the Senate Republican leadership.

Senator Susan Collins of Maine, center, was among the lawmakers prepared to vote against taking up the bill this week. CreditStephen Crowley/The New York Times

Then, he said, it is just a question of timing.

Democrats are unified against the repeal bill, but they were not celebrating on Tuesday.

“The mantra on our side is never to underestimate Mitch McConnell,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut.

Mr. Schumer said: “We know the fight is not over. That is for sure.” Over the next few weeks, he said, Mr. McConnell “will try to use a slush fund to buy off Republicans, cut back-room deals, to try and get this thing done.”

At least four Republican senators — Ms. Collins, Dean Heller of Nevada, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Rand Paul of Kentucky — had said they would vote against the motion to begin debate, enough to ensure it would fail. Other Republicans also appeared reluctant about moving forward with the bill.

“I’m just grateful leadership decided, let’s take our time, give this more thought and try and get this right,” said Mr. Johnson, who had been critical of the desire by Republican leaders to hold a vote this week.

After Mr. McConnell’s announcement, three other Republicans announced their opposition to the bill in its current form: Jerry Moran of Kansas, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Rob Portman of Ohio.

Ms. Capito and Mr. Portman, who announced their opposition together, expressed concern about how the bill would affect Medicaid and the opioid crisis, which has had devastating effects in their states.

The release of a Congressional Budget Office evaluation on Monday made it much more difficult for party leaders to win over hesitant Republican members. The budget office said the Senate bill would leave 22 million more people uninsured after 10 years, and many people buying insurance on the individual market would have skimpier coverage and higher out-of-pocket costs.

The Senate Democratic whip, Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, said the report by the Congressional Budget Office “did more to strike a dagger to the heart of this Republican repeal than anything else.”

In 2026, the budget office said, 15 million fewer people would have Medicaid coverage under the Senate bill than under the Affordable Care Act, and seven million fewer people would have coverage they purchased on their own. Faced with deep cuts in Medicaid, the report said, state officials would face unpalatable choices: restrict eligibility, eliminate services, reduce payments to health care providers and health plans, or spend more of their own money.

Appearing in Washington, Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio cited the 22 million projection and expressed bewilderment that fellow Republicans would be on board with the bill.

“And they think that’s great?” he asked. “That’s good public policy? What, are you kidding me?”

Doctors, hospitals and other health care provider groups have come out strongly against the Senate bill, as have patient advocacy groups like the American Heart Association. But business groups were ramping up their support. In a letter on Tuesday, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce urged senators to vote for the bill.

The Senate bill “will repeal the most egregious taxes and mandates” of the Affordable Care Act, allowing employers to create more jobs, said Jack Howard, a senior vice president of the group. The bill, he noted, would repeal a tax on medical devices and eliminate penalties on large employers that do not offer coverage to employees.

A separate letter expressing general support for the Senate’s efforts was sent by a coalition of business and employer groups including the National Association of Home Builders, the National Restaurant Association and the National Retail Federation.

But Senate conservatives found themselves squeezed between business sentiment and their conservative base. The Club for Growth, a conservative group, came out against the Senate measure on Tuesday. The organization’s president, David McIntosh, noted that congressional Republicans had “promised to repeal every word” of the Affordable Care Act.

“Only in Washington does repeal translate to restore,” he said. “Because that’s exactly what the Senate G.O.P. health care bill does: It restores Obamacare.”