June 22, 2017

Guide to Senate and House health bills

Climate change

The Republican war on public healh

Washington Post - The Republican health-care bill wouldn't just unravel the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Republicans are also planning to restructure Medicaid, a program established by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965 that provides health insurance to poor households, pregnant women and elderly patients.

Already, the version of the bill the House passed last month included drastic reductions in Medicaid outlays of about $834 billion over 10 years. GOP senators' own version of the bill, which they made public Thursday, could go even further over the long term.

Both the House and Senate bills aim to set a per-person cap on Medicaid spending in each state. That cap would adjust annually to take into account inflation. Through 2025, both bills would adjust the cap based on a measure of how rapidly medical costs are expanding — a measure known as the CPI-M.

Starting in 2025, however, the Senate bill would change the formula, instead funding Medicaid based on a measure of how rapidly all costs are rising (technically, the Consumer Price Index for urban consumers, or just CPI-U).

Washington Post -  The health-care bill that Senate Republicans released Thursday would eliminate critical funds for core public health programs that make up about 12 percent of the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The money supports programs to prevent bioterrorism and disease outbreaks, as well as to provide immunizations and screenings for cancer and heart disease.

The Senate bill would end funding starting in fiscal 2018, which begins in October. That’s more quickly than the House GOP legislation, which would gut funding for the Prevention and Public Health Fund starting in October 2018.

As a provision of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, the Prevention and Public Health Fund provides the CDC almost $1 billion annually. Since the ACA's passage in 2010, it has been an increasingly important source of money for fundamental CDC programs.

General costs, however, typically rise more slowly than medical costs. After 2025, the increases to Medicaid would no longer be able to keep pace, with the gap growing each year. After a decade or two, that discrepancy would add up to of hundreds of billions of dollars.

Bookshelf: James Baldwin's FBI file

James Baldwin’s 1,884-page FBI file, covering the period from 1958 to 1974, was the largest compiled on any African American artist of the Civil Rights era. James Baldwin: The FBI File reproduces over one hundred original FBI records, capturing the FBI’s anxious tracking of Baldwin’s writings, phone conversations, and sexual habits—and Baldwin’s defiant efforts to spy back at Hoover and his G-men. Compiled by noted literary historian William J. Maxwell, this book also provides an introduction exploring Baldwin's enduring relevance in the time of Black Lives Matte.

Americans far more friendly towards immigrants than Trump

Think Progress - A majority of Americans in every state do not support mass deportation, according to a survey conducted by the nonpartisan Public Religion Research Institute, cutting against President Donald Trump’s executive orders on immigration authorizing the expulsion of undocumented immigrants.

The poll  found only one in ten young adults between the ages of 18 and 29 and one in nine seniors over the age of 65 support an immigration system to “identify and deport” undocumented immigrants. White Americans were twice as likely, at 20 percent, to support mass deportation than other racial groups. Along the political divide, deportation was more supported by Republicans (28 percent) than by Democrats (8 percent).

Trump used to admit he did business with Russia

Salon - Although Trump told NBC in May, “I am not involved in Russia,” he admitted in a 2007 deposition that a real estate development firm known as the Bayrock Group had brought Russian investors to Trump Tower to discuss investing in Moscow, according to a report by Bloomberg.

“It’s ridiculous that I wouldn’t be investing in Russia,” Trump said. “Russia is one of the hottest places in the world for investment.”

Bloomberg also reported that one of the principals at Bayrock is businessman Felix Sater, who reportedly has ties to organized crime in both the United States and Russia. Although Trump has repeatedly insisted that he is only passingly acquainted with Sater, former Bayrock employees insist that Sater often met with Trump at his business empire’s New York City headquarters and guided Trump’s children around Moscow.

They also report that Sater is still in contact with the president and some of his advisers. It is worth noting that the Bayrock Group itself also had an office located in Trump Tower.

While the president likes to downplay his business ties to Russia, his son Donald Trump Jr. once admitted to a real estate conference in 2008 that Trump built a tower in Panama for wealthy Russian clients, according to a report by Time.

“Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets. We see a lot of money pouring in from Russia,” Trump told the crowd.

America's diversity, median age continue to grow

NPR =America's diversity remains on the rise, with all racial and ethnic minorities growing faster than whites from 2015 to 2016, the U.S. Census Bureau says in a new snapshot of the national population. The agency also found the U.S. median age has risen to nearly 38.

Asian and mixed-race people are the two fastest-growing segments of the U.S. population, the U.S. Census Bureau says. Both groups grew by 3 percent from July 2015 to July 2016. In the same 12 months, the non-Hispanic white population grew by just 5,000 people.

Non-Hispanic whites remain the only segment of the U.S. population where deaths outpace births, the agency reports.

"While all other groups experienced natural increase (having more births than deaths) between 2015 and 2016," the Census says, "the non-Hispanic white alone group experienced a natural decrease of 163,300 nationally."

Non-Hispanic whites remain the largest group of Americans, at 198 million, the Census says, followed by Hispanics at 57.5 million and blacks or African-Americans, at 46.8 million.

In some states, the [age] rise has been stark: the median age in Maine, for instance, is now 44.6 — six years older than in 2000. It's one of five states where the median age is 42 or above; the others are New Hampshire, Vermont, West Virginia, and Florida.

The youngest median ages were in Utah (30.8) and Washington, D.C., and Alaska (both with 33.9), the Census says.

How the public feels about the job Trump is doing

President Donald Trump

DNC has worst fundraising May in over a decade

The Hill - The Democratic National Committee had its worst May since 2003, raising just $4.3 million dollars as it struggles to rebound from a series of election defeats, according to Federal Election Commission data.

The last time May fundraising was lower was in 2003, when the DNC raised just $2.7 million.

In contrast, the Republican National Committee raised more than double, notching $10.8 million in May, a record-high amount for an off-year.

Vermont approves medical marijuana

Activist Post - A Vermont bill to fully legalize medical marijuana for qualifying patients was signed into law last week by Gov. Phil Scott. The new measure takes another step toward effectively nullifying the unconstitutional federal prohibition on the same.

Senate Bill 16 expands the existing laws on the books pertaining to medical marijuana to greatly expand access for qualifying patients.

Patients would be able to qualify for medical marijuana if they suffered from one or more of the following ailments listed in S.16:

(A) cancer, multiple sclerosis, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus, acquired immune deficiency syndrome, glaucoma, post-traumatic stress disorder, Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, or the treatment of these conditions, if the disease or the treatment results in severe, persistent, and intractable symptoms;

(B) a disease, medical condition, or its treatment that is chronic, debilitating, and produces one or more of the following intractable symptoms: cachexia or wasting syndrome; chronic pain; severe nausea; or seizures; or

(C) other disease, condition, or treatment as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s health care professional.

NY governor takes step to save an immigrant who helped in 9/11 recovery

Time - New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that he is granting clemency to a 9/11 recovery worker who is being detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Carlos Humberto Cardona was taken into custody by ICE in February after showing up for a check-in with immigration authorities, according to the New York Daily News. He has been held at the Hudson County Correctional Facility in New Jersey ever since.

Cardona pleaded guilty to an attempted drug sale in 1990. He has not had any convictions since.

Rather than removing Cardona from the country, authorities allowed him to be released with supervision and regular check-ins. Cardona suffers from respiratory problems linked to his work cleaning up downtown Manhattan after September 11, 2001. However, the deal was revoked after President Donald Trump signed an executive order changing deportation rules earlier this year.

Cardona applied for clemency in April, the Daily News reported. He is also married to a naturalized citizen and has filed an application with Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services to verify his marriage.

The real Eric Holder

Since Eric Holder is thinking about running for president, we thought some facts about his past would be useful.
The real Eric Holder
How holder blocked the prosecution of banks

CIA spying on home computer routers

Ars Technica- Home routers from 10 manufacturers, including Linksys, DLink, and Belkin, can be turned into covert listening posts that allow the Central Intelligence Agency to monitor and manipulate incoming and outgoing traffic and infect connected devices. That's according to secret documents posted by WikiLeaks.

The 175-page CherryBlossom user guide describes a Linux-based operating system that can run on a broad range of routers. Once installed, CherryBlossom turns the device into a "FlyTrap" that beacons a CIA-controlled server known as a "CherryTree." The beacon includes device status and security information that the CherryTree logs to a database. In response, the CherryTree sends the infected device a "Mission" consisting of specific tasks tailored to the target. CIA operators can use a "CherryWeb" browser-based user interface to view Flytrap status and security information, plan new missions, view mission-related data, and perform system administration tasks.

Missions can target connected users based on IPs, e-mail addresses, MAC addresses, chat user names, and VoIP numbers. Mission tasks can include copying all or only some of the traffic; copying e-mail addresses, chat user names, and VoIP numbers; invoking a feature known as "Windex," which redirects a user's browser that attempts to perform a drive-by malware attack; establishing a virtual private network connection that gives access to the local area network; and the proxying of all network connections.