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Michigan to institute harsher penalty for female genital mutilation

(CNN)A series of new laws passed in Michigan strengthen penalties for female genital mutilation practices in the state. Performing FGM or transporting another person in the state for the purpose of undergoing FGM will be punishable by up to 15 years in prison, 10 years more than the federal penalty for the crime.

The new legislation comes only a few months after the state became the backdrop for the first federal case involving FGM in the United States. Six people were charged for either committing or assisting in performing female genital mutilation on two 7-year-old girls, who were brought into Michigan from Minnesota. FGM is illegal in the United States for girls under 18 and is punishable by up to five years in prison, according to national law.

Stronger punishment

    FGM is a painful surgical procedure to remove part of the clitoris or clitoral hood to suppress female sexuality. The World Health Organization considers the practice a human rights violation for both girls and women.
    No religious texts require FGM. Yet some cultures and sects believe the practice makes for better wives by making girls more acceptable in their communities. The practice aims to reduce a woman’s libido to ensure premarital virginity and marital fidelity.
    In addition to increasing prison sentences for those involved in FGM, the series of 12 bills passed by the Michigan legislature would revoke the license of any health professional who assists in or commits the procedure.
    The laws state that saying the operation is “required as a matter of custom or ritual” will not be an acceptable defense for committing the crime. Parental consent is also not a legal defense, according to the new laws.
    Governor Rick Snyder signed all 12 bills into law on Tuesday.
    “Those who commit these horrendous crimes should be held accountable for their actions, and these bills stiffen the penalties for offenders while providing additional support to victims,” Snyder told CNN in a statement. “This legislation is an important step toward eliminating this despicable practice in Michigan while empowering victims to find healing and justice.”

    The original case

    Dr. Fakhruddin Attar, 53, his wife, Farida Attar, 50, and Detroit emergency room physician Jumana Nagarwala, 44, were arrested and indicted in the initial case back in April. The Attars and Nagarwala face one count of conspiracy to commit female genital mutilation, two counts of female genital mutilation and one count of conspiracy to obstruct an official proceeding. Nagarwala and Fakhruddin Attar also face one count of conspiracy to transport a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.
    “Dr. Attar is not aware of any crimes that occurred at his clinic,” Attar’s defense attorney, Mary Chartier, said. “He has confidence that he will be vindicated through the justice system because he has done nothing to violate the law.”
    Since the initial indictment, three more people have been indicted in the same case, bringing the total number of people charged for an initial incident that dates back to February up to six. The case is ongoing.
    According to the complaint, the FBI had received information that FGM procedures were being performed at a clinic where Dr. Attar was the director. Court documents do not indicate the source of the information.
    The Attars and Nagarwala are members of the Dawoodi Bohra community, a sect of Islam, said Victoria Burton-Harris, an attorney for Tahera Shafiq, one of the three people charged since April.
    “There was no mutilation of any genitals, of any kind,” Burton-Harris said. “There was no federal crime committed of any type. This is, quite honestly, ignorance of religion that has caused fear and an outright attack on this particular sect of Muslims.”

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/12/us/female-genital-mutilation-laws-michigan/index.html

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    LeEco delays payroll until August due to financial constraints

    Some LeEco employees in China will not get paid until August. According to an official statement provided to TechCrunch, Leshi Holdings, LeEcos holding company has decided to postpone Julys payroll until August 10th. This is at least the third time this year LeEco has delayed paying some of its workers.

    Right now, it seems only employees in China will not get a paycheck into August. Sources within LeEco say the company has not yet announced delaying paying US workers, though in the past it reportedly did so without telling employees. Gizmodo and Bloomberg point to two separate incidents where LeEco missed paying their workers on time in 2017.

    The statement says that it has contacted the affected employees and guarantees full payment to individuals social insurance and housing fund.

    LeEco is also now facing a $100M lawsuit from Vizio, the US-based TV maker it attempted to purchase. The lawsuit alleges Vizio executives mischaracterized the financial health of the company and intended to use the purchase to spin publicity and obtain records Vizios confidential customer data.

    Todays news is just another entry in the tale of LeEcos downfall.

    Over the last several months, LeEco started spiraling out of control. Deals fell through, workers were laid off and billions in recent investment couldnt right the ship. In May the outspoken founder and CEO Jia YT Yueting resigned from his post as CEO from the publicly traded unit Leshi. Then, five days ago, he stepped down as Leshis Chairman. This came a day after news broke that a Shanghai court had, in response to unpaid loans, frozen more than $180 million in assets belong to himself, his wife and three LeEco affiliates.

    LeEco faces great challenges, and I will take on all the responsibility, I will persist in my duties until the end for the sake of our employees, users, customers and investors, Jia wrote on Weibo, Chinas Twitter.

    Just yesterday news broke that Faraday Future, an electric vehicle company with ties to LeEco and Yueting, is scrapping plans to build a massive manufacturing facility in the Nevada desert.

    At this point it seems LeEco is nearing the end of its life. The company was once called the Netflix of China and lead by a charismatic CEO who seemed intent on turning his company into a worldwide force almost overnight. It scaled too quickly, didnt understand new markets and is now facing the consequences.

    Contact Matt Burns at matt@techcrunch.com if you have any additional information regarding this story, LeEco or Faraday Future. All communication is confidential unless specified otherwise.

    Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/07/11/leeco-delays-payroll-until-august-due-to-financial-constraints/

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    Most Medicaid Enrollees Are Happy With Coverage As It Is, Report Shows

    The GOPs plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is premised, in part, on the idea that Medicaid fails to serve its enrollees with adequate access to doctors. But Medicaid recipients feel otherwise, according to aCenters for Medicare and Medicaid Services analysis.

    While numerous studies have found that Medicaid increases access to care,not a lot of them have focused on how satisfied Medicaid patients are with the care they receive, according to a press release on the new report. It turns out those patients are pretty happy with it.

    The CMS analyzed patient data collected from December 2014 to July 2015 and found that Medicaid enrollees rated their overall health care at 7.9 on a scale of zero to 10, with 10 being the best care possible. Forty-six percent gave their Medicaid coverage a score of 9 or 10, while only 7.6 percent gave scores under 5. Ratings were similar in Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states.

    In terms of physician access, 84 percent of the enrollees said they hadnt had a problem getting all the care that they or their physician believed was necessary in the past six months, and 83 percent reported having a regular source of care. The mean percentage of beneficiaries able to get all needed care was slightly higher in Medicaid expansion states than in non-expansion states (85.2 percent versus 81.5 percent). Just 3 percent of enrollees reported not being able to get care because of long waiting times or physicians not accepting their insurance. Two percent reported lacking a usual source of care because no doctors take my insurance.

    We found that Medicaid enrollees are generally satisfied with their coverage across multiple demographic groups and state expansion choices, wrote the authors, Drs. Michael Barnett and Benjamin Sommers. We also found little evidence that low physician participation rates are a key barrier to care for most Medicaid enrollees, consistent with prior studies of access to care in Medicaid.

    The doctor participation rate in Medicaid has been a key argument used by those who want to roll back the program. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has claimed thatone out of every three physicians in this nation arent seeing Medicaid patients.House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) saidmore and more doctors just wont take Medicaid.The implication is that Medicaid patients cannot access care, a situation that has worsened since the Affordable Care Act expanded the health care program for the low-income and disabled.

    But experts have said that isnt universally true.The participation rate varies by state, and its largely tied to reimbursement rates. For example, Montana pays primary care doctors the same rate for Medicaid and Medicare, and has a Medicaid doctor participation rate of 90 percent.

    Themost recent figuresfrom the Centers for Disease Control and Preventions National Center for Health Statistics are for 2013, showing the percentage of physicians accepting new Medicaid patients was 68.9 percent, while 84.7 percent accepted new privately insured patients and 83.7 percent accepted new Medicare patients.Thats based on a national survey of more than 4,000 office-based physicians.

    Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/most-medicaid-enrollees-are-happy-with-coverage-as-it-is_us_5963925ee4b02e9bdb0e4aa7

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    Charlie Gard: High Court to hear new evidence in case – BBC News

    Image copyright PA
    Image caption Charlie Gard has been in intensive care since October

    The High Court will hear fresh evidence in the case of terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard later.

    Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) has referred the case back to court after reports of new data from foreign healthcare facilities.

    Charlie’s parents had made several unsuccessful challenges to a decision to end the 11-month-old’s life support.

    On Sunday his parents handed in a 350,000-signature petition calling for him to travel to the US for treatment.

    Charlie inherited the faulty RRM2B gene, affecting the cells responsible for energy production and respiration and leaving him unable to move or breathe without a ventilator.

    GOSH describes proposed experimental therapies as “unjustified” and said the treatments being offered are not a cure.

    However, the hospital’s decision to go back to court came after researchers at two international healthcare facilities said they have “fresh evidence about their proposed experimental treatment”.

    Image copyright Reuters
    Image caption Charlie’s parents have launched a high-profile campaign in the hope of getting their son further treatment abroad

    Charlie’s mother Connie Yates and father Chris Gard, from Bedfont in west London, said they are determined to continue their fight for their son to have nucleoside therapy.

    Mr Gard said they needed a specialist in Charlie’s condition and therefore need to send him to America to “give him the chance he deserves”.

    Ms Yates added: “We have seven doctors supporting us from all around the world.

    “There is up to 10% chance that this treatment may work and that’s a chance worth taking.

    “He’s our son, he’s our flesh and blood. We feel that it should be our right as parents to decide to give him a chance at life.

    “There is nothing to lose, he deserves a chance.”

    Image copyright PA
    Image caption Connie Yates and Chris Gard raised more than 1.3m for experimental treatment for Charlie

    US President Donald Trump and the Vatican have supported the parents’ campaign for Charlie to be treated abroad, but a leading expert has described interventions from high-profile figures as “unhelpful”.

    Professor Neena Modi, president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health said in an open letter that Charlie’s situation is “heartbreaking” for his parents, but added that even well-meaning interventions from outsiders can be unhelpful.

    Mr Gard said: “If we won the court case and we got to America, and then within the first week of treatment he started suffering and he was in pain, we would let him go.

    “This isn’t about us. This is about Charlie and giving him the chance he needs.”

    Mr Justice Francis is due to hear fresh submissions on Monday afternoon.

    Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-40552026

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    Ivanka Takes Her Dad’s Seat as Merkel Stands Up to Trump

    HAMBURG, GermanyIvanka Trump might say that she tries to stay out of politics," but that didnt stop her from sliding into her fathers chair in the middle of a meeting on Africa, Health and Migration when President Trump had to step out and escape the earnest and nitty gritty affair that is his perception of the G20 for another cheeky one-to-one on the sidelines.

    It is very well known that she works at the White House, Merkel explained briskly to an intrigued Wall Street Journal reporter at a press conference later.

    While Chancellor Merkel also said that negotiations with the United States continue to be very difficult, especially on trade, Trumps unofficial advisor appeared at a panel today to take credit for one of the only concrete new things introduced this summit the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative, a World Bank project that focuses on promoting womens entrepreneurship in developing country.

    I am very proud of Ivanka, President Trump said at the panel. He joked that Ivanka being his daughter might be the only bad thing she has going.

    The first daughters presence at the summit today seemed to captivate at least one other attendee, Russian G20 Sherpa Svetlana Lukash who took a break from tweeting her government's propaganda about the 2016 election, to promote the first daughter. Yesterday, Lukash sent a now-deleted tweet stating, "Pres Putin points to G20 partners on absence of real evidence & confirms that Russia had never interfered in US election." Today, Lukash tweeted several pictures of Ms. Trump, including one where she looks professional and at ease talking to Theresa May and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball. Ivanka reportedly raised Britains work on modern slavery and asked if Mays government could send her information on it.

    Unlike her father, step-mother and Rex Tillerson, Ivanka Trump also did not experienced any reported difficulties getting around a city that is increasingly beginning to resemble a lord of the flies scenario. While Melania Trump spent yesterday besieged in her guest house, Ivanka dined at the Four Seasons on Thursday night, where the chief reporter of Hamburgs daily paper shyly approached the, in his words, experienced model, in order to ask for a selfie.

    President Trump, in the meantime, stands ready to be turned into a footnote on the international circuit once more, and this time in actual writing. The final communiqu this afternoon pits 19 other G20 countries that consider the Paris Agreement to be irreversible against him.

    And the presidents team didnt exactly smooth things over when they insisted on adding the threat that the US will work together with other member states in order to help them access fossil fuels more cleanly and efficiently.

    Environmental activists are happy that the isolation of the United States is becoming visible, but this is not primarily what Merkel was going for. As summit host she was determined to send a strong signal that all other nations would remain loyal to the Paris agreement and worked hard to persuade some of the other nations to stand up to President Trump. Although, another major factor, according to environmental lobbyist Christoph Bals, were the obvious economic arguments for continuing to endorse the Paris Agreement.

    But Hamburgs residents for one, may not be paying much attention to this strong signal right now, as they are busy dealing with their burned out cars and smashed windows, which represent the carnage of a summit that city dwellers did not want and, in contrast, have made the G20 look increasingly like a flashy red carpet event.

    So perhaps it is fitting that the first daughter is having such a nice time.

    Read more: http://www.thedailybeast.com/ivanka-takes-her-dads-seat-as-merkel-isolates-the-us

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    California Traffic Sign Hacked To Warn People Of ‘Asian Drivers’

    Drivers in Napa, California, over the Fourth of July weekend came across a surprising traffic sign warning people of Asian drivers.

    A motorist pulled over to film the illuminated sign, which read caution asian drivers, on Sunday night, according to CBS Sacramento.

    The original sign displayed a detour alert for a local bridge replacement project, Vince Jacala, a spokesman for Californias Department of Transportation, also known as Caltrans, told HuffPost on Friday.

    Caltrans officials were alerted of the hacked sign late Sunday evening after a driver reported it to the Napa Police Department. Jacala said Caltrans immediately removed the sign once notified.

    Caltrans policy is to always lock the sign control boards which also require a secret code to operate, Jacala said. He warned that anyone who sees an altered highway sign should contact authorities immediately as bogus information can be not only be a distraction but also create a safety hazard.

    The prank in Napa over the weekend referred to a popular racist myth: that all Asian people are bad drivers.

    Though people have been peddling the stereotype for years the Urban Dictionary entry for Asian driver is filled with racist and offensive descriptions it has no scientific basis.

    In fact,studies have proven the bad Asian driver myth wrong. One 2011 study from Canadapublished in the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention revealed quite the opposite, with results suggesting that recent immigrants from China and India are less likely to be involved in a car crash than long-term residents.

    Data collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also revealed that Asians and Pacific Islanders had the lowest car accident fatality rates of all ethnicities in the U.S.between 1999 and 2004.

    Will these studies stop people from believing the stereotype that all Asian people are bad drivers? Probably not. And were pretty sure that petty signs like this wont help either.

    Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/caution-asian-drivers-napa-traffic-sign_us_595ef341e4b0d5b458e9678e

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    Virginia executes inmate for killing 2 men during escape

    A Virginia man who killed a hospital security guard and a sheriff’s deputy after escaping from custody in 2006 was executed Thursday after an unsuccessful campaign to spare the inmate’s life over concerns about his mental health.

    William Morva, 35, was pronounced dead at 9:15 p.m. after a lethal injection at the Greensville Correctional Center in Jarratt. It was the first execution carried out in Virginia under a new protocol that makes more of the lethal injection procedure secret.

    Morva’s execution came hours after Virginia’s Democratic governor announced that he would not spare Morva’s life despite pressure from mental health advocates, state lawmakers and attorneys who said the man’s crimes were the result of a severe mental illness that made it impossible for him to distinguish between delusions and reality.

    In denying a clemency petition, Gov. Terry McAuliffe concluded Morva received a fair trial. The Democratic governor noted that experts who evaluated the man at the time found he didn’t suffer from any illness that would have prevented him from understanding the consequences of his crimes. He also said prison staff members who monitored Morva for the past nine years never reported any evidence of a severe mental illness or delusional disorder.

    “I personally oppose the death penalty; however, I took an oath to uphold the laws of this Commonwealth regardless of my personal views of those laws, as long as they are being fairly and justly applied,” McAuliffe said in a statement.

    Morva was awaiting trial on attempted robbery charges in 2005 when he was taken to the hospital to treat an injury. There, he attacked a sheriff’s deputy with a metal toilet paper holder, stole the deputy’s gun, and shot an unarmed security guard, Derrick McFarland, in the face before fleeing. A day later, Morva killed another sheriff’s deputy with a bullet to the back of the head. The deputy, Eric Sutphin, had been searching for Morva near Virginia Tech’s Blacksburg campus when he was shot.

    Experts who examined Morva for his trial said he suffered from personality disorders that resulted in “odd beliefs.”

    After his trial, a psychiatrist diagnosed him with delusional disorder, a more severe mental illness akin to schizophrenia that made him falsely believe, among other things, that he has life-threatening gastrointestinal issues and that a former presidential administration conspired with police to imprison him, his attorneys said.

    Before his escape, Morva told his mother that his health was “dwindling” and that someone in jail wanted him dead. His lawyers argued that Morva escaped and killed the men because he was under the delusion that he was going to die in jail.

    Relatives described Morva as a happy child who began to deteriorate mentally as a teen. In the years before the killings, Morva regularly slept in the woods and was known around Blacksburg as “Crazy Will” and “Barefoot Will” for his tendency not to wear shoes, even in winter. He was banned from Virginia Tech’s campus after police found him half naked on a bathroom floor.

    Morva is the third inmate to be executed since McAuliffe took office in 2014. In April, he granted clemency to Ivan Teleguz, saying jurors in the murder-for-hire case were given false information that may have swayed sentencing.

    Among those who had urged McAuliffe to spare Morva’s life were mental health advocates, two United Nations human rights experts and representatives from the Hungarian Embassy. Morva’s father was born in Hungary and Morva is a Hungarian-American dual national.

    Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2017/07/06/virginia-executes-inmate-for-killing-2-men-during-escape.html

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    Rep. Steve Scalise back in intensive care unit

    (CNN)Rep. Steve Scalise has been readmitted to the intensive care unit “due to new concerns for infection,” a statement from his office said.

    His condition is listed as serious, according to the statement.
    Scalise, the Republican House majority whip who represents Louisiana, was critically injured when a man shot him during the GOP baseball team’s practice for a charity game June 14.
      Scalise sustained a single gunshot wound to his left hip and suffered “significant damage” to his blood vessels, bones and some internal organs, his doctor said last month.
      The congressman’s condition subsequently improved, and he was released from the MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s intensive care unit less than two weeks ago.
      Another update on Scalise is expected Thursday, according to his office.
      During the shooting at the congressional baseball practice, the gunman injured Scalise, congressional staffer Zach Barth, Tyson Foods lobbyist Matt Mika and two members of the Capitol Police force, Crystal Griner and David Bailey.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/05/politics/steven-scalise-health/index.html

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      Grenfell fire: Survivors left ‘frustrated’ by authorities – BBC News

      Image copyright PA
      Image caption Grenfell Tower survivors gathered at the Olympia conference centre in London for the meeting

      Survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire have expressed frustration at a lack of information from authorities, during a meeting with police and a coroner.

      During the three-hour private gathering, Westminster coroner Dr Fiona Wilcox is said to have described the flats’ interiors as “apocalyptic”.

      Police also faced questions as to why there had not as yet been any arrests.

      It comes after officials said all survivors who want to be rehoused had been offered temporary accommodation.

      The fire on 14 June killed at least 80 people, although police say the final toll will not be known for many months.

      The meeting was held at the Olympia conference centre in West Kensington on Tuesday evening.

      Lotifa Begum, a coordinator for the charity Muslim Aid, told the Press Association some of those in attendance were “very upset and angry”, while several became overwhelmed and had to leave.

      Ms Begum said many families “would have appreciated a lot more time and notice” before the meeting was held.

      Media playback is unsupported on your device

      Media captionGrenfell Tower survivor Antonio is living in a hotel and has turned down two flats.

      It has been reported that people were told before the meeting they would not be allowed to directly question Dr Wilcox or Met Police Commander Stuart Cundy. They were also told to email their questions in by 11:00 BST on Monday.

      Meanwhile, the Grenfell Response Team says 139 formal offers of housing have now been made to survivors, after Prime Minister Theresa May promised housing would be offered to those in need by Wednesday.

      However, only nine offers have been accepted and many are still in hotels.

      A spokesman for North Kensington Law Centre – which represents more than 100 Grenfell victims – said many of the offers had been unsuitable.

      In other developments:

      • Family and friends of missing Jessica Urbano released balloons to mark her 13th birthday
      • Cladding from 190 high-rise buildings in England has failed combustibility tests, the government says – an increase of nine since the last update
      • Buildings at London’s King’s College Hospital, Sheffield’s children’s hospital and the North Middlesex Trust have also failed fire safety tests
      • A contractor which the Evening Standard says was responsible for fire alarms at Grenfell Tower is reportedly being investigated for fraud. Lakehouse has been accused of installing defective safety equipment in hundreds of London properties, but the company denies any wrongdoing
      • Communities and Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid has said public policy failings over several decades may have contributed to the disaster

      It comes amid growing pressure for Sir Martin Moore-Bick – the judge leading the inquiry into the fire – to stand down.

      Labour’s Emma Dent Coad, MP for Kensington, has described him as “a technocrat” who lacked “credibility” with victims.

      On Monday, lawyers representing some of the families also called for him to quit.

      Media playback is unsupported on your device

      Media captionEmma Dent Coad tells BBC’s Today a “technocrat” is not what’s needed

      Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn stopped short of demanding his resignation, but said he should “listen to residents”, while Mayor of London Sadiq Khan warned he must urgently improve relations with the area.

      But one senior minister, Lord Chancellor David Lidington, said he had “complete confidence” in Sir Martin, whom he believed would lead the inquiry “with impartiality and a determination to get to the truth and see justice done”.

      Get news from the BBC in your inbox, each weekday morning

      Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40502495

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      Will Neera Tanden’s call not to let Trump’s tweets distract penetrate Keith Olbermann’s bunker?

      Neera Tanden, president of the Center for American Progress, is making a concerted effort to keep Obamacare in place, though the tactics such as forming a human chain around the Capitol in protest seem about as productive as “Handsmaid’s Tale” (or zombie) cosplay get-togethers or queer dance protests outside Mitch McConnell’s house.

      On Saturday, however, Tanden gave some cogent advice that her field army in the mainstream media is unlikely to heed: don’t let President Trump’s tweets distract from the health care bill. We only wish the GOP had it together enough to make this scenario actually happen.

      Read more: http://twitchy.com/brettt-3136/2017/07/01/will-neera-tandens-call-not-to-let-trumps-tweets-distract-penetrate-keith-olbermanns-bunker/