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‘Despacito’ singers condemn use of song by Venezuelan government

Caracas (CNN)Luis Fonsi, the singer behind the wildly popular song “Despacito,” often applauds others who cover his big hit. But not this time.

On Monday, Fonsi condemned Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for creating an altered version of “Despacito” to promote an upcoming referendum that opponents say will erode the last signs of democracy in the South American nation.
“My music is for all those who want to listen to it and enjoy it, (but it’s) not to be used as propaganda that intends to manipulate the will of a people that’s crying out for liberty and a better future,” Fonsi wrote in a statement posted to his Instagram account.

    A post shared by Luis Fonsi (@luisfonsi) on

    Maduro debuted his version of “Despacito” at a rally on Sunday to promote the July 30 vote. The rhythm and chorus are similar to the original “Despacito,” which is the most streamed song of all time. But the lyrics are entirely different.
    “We have a big message for you, it’s called ‘the constituent,’ which only wants to unify the country,” the song begins, referring to the name of the vote.
    Reggaetn star Daddy Yankee, who sings in a remix of the song with Justin Bieber, also condemned Maduro’s mash-up.
    He said it came as little surprise that someone who had “stolen so many lives” would illegally appropriate a song for a “disastrous marketing plan.”
    “Your dictatorial regime is not only a mockery for my Venezuelan brothers but for the entire world,” he said in an Instagram post Monday.

    Qu se puede esperar? de una persona que le ha robado tantas vidas a jvenes soadores y a un pueblo que lo que busca es un mejor futuro para sus hijos. Que te apropies ilegalmente de una cancin (Despacito), no se compara con el crimen que cometes y has cometido en Venezuela.Es una burla, no tan solo para mis hermanos venezolanos, sino para el mundo entero su rgimen dictatorial. Con ese nefasto plan de mercadeo, usted solo continuar poniendo en evidencia su ideal fascista, que ha matado a cientos de hroes y ms de 2000 heridos. Como co-autor del tema, tambin me uno a las expresiones de la co-autora de la cancin "Despacito" @erikaender. #NoAprobado #BastaYa #venezuelalibre

    A post shared by Daddy Yankee (@daddyyankee) on

    Maduro isn’t the first in Venezuela to use “Despacito” for political means. Venezuelan opposition leaders created a modified version of it to rally voters for an unofficial vote on July 16 against Maduro’s referendum. Fonsi didn’t object to that version.
    Fonsi posted a message earlier in July cheering the release of Leopoldo Lopez, one of Maduro’s biggest political opponents who had been imprisoned since 2014 on disputed charges of encouraging violence. Fonsi also posted a video in June of young Venezuelans singing his song.
    The referendum would replace the opposition-controlled National Assembly with an entirely new institution, the constituent assembly, filled with more than 500 Maduro supporters. He could then rewrite the constitution to his liking and strip political power away from opponents.
    Months of protests against the referendum and Maduro have left close to 100 people dead. On Monday, protesters held a vigil to those who have died. Witnesses told CNN that police dispersed the youth with rubber bullets.

    #Venezuela youth opposition holding vigil for those who have fallen. #police disperse crowd with rubber bullets.

    A post shared by Ma Brocchetto (@mabrocchetto) on

    More than seven million Venezuelans cast ballots in the July 16 vote against Maduro’s referendum. Maduro ignored the results.
    President Donald Trump said in a statement that Maduro “dreams of becoming a dictator.”
    Trump has threatened “strong and swift economic action” if Maduro goes through with the vote. Maduro said the vote is happening regardless of what Trump says or does.
    Against the backdrop of political turmoil, Venezuela is in a severe humanitarian crisis triggered by years of economic mismanagement. Citizens suffer through mass shortages of food and medicine.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/24/americas/despacito-nicolas-maduro/index.html

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    North Carolina police chief helps addicts beat opioid addiction

    Nashville, North Carolina (CNN)He’s only 24 years old, but he struggled with addiction for more than a decade. Thomas Spikes now owes his sobriety to none other than the chief of police in this small eastern North Carolina town.

    “He saved my life for sure,” he said. “I owe a lot to him and the program.”
    That program, called the HOPE initiative, is a collaboration between Nashville’s town manager, Hank Raper, and Chief Thomas Bashore. As deaths from opioids continue to dramatically rise across America, topping the list for unintentional deaths at a higher rate than car accidents, North Carolina saw more than a 340% increase from 2010 to 2016.
      “There’s no clear characteristic of what a heroin or opioid addiction looks like. It’s not a white problem, it’s not a black problem, it’s not a Hispanic problem, middle class, working class, upper class. It affects all peoples of all walks of life,” Raper said.
      So, the conversation began on how this small town of 5,400, where everyone knows their neighbors, could get ahead of the problem. The HOPE initiative, modeled after the innovative “Angel” program in Gloucester, Massachusetts, which opens the way for addicts to get police assistance and medical help without fear of arrest, is a way of rethinking law enforcement’s role in responding to this growing epidemic.
      “They walk into the front door, if they have drugs or paraphernalia on them at any time, they can turn it in to us at that time, and have no charges filed. And we facilitate them into recovery,” Bashore said.

      Drugs, but no arrest

      So far the department has seen paraphernalia, syringes, cookers, pipes and injection “rigs” turned in. “We have actually had individuals who have brought in heroin bags and turned that over because they knew that they were going to get into recovery and they didn’t want that around when they got out,” Bashore said.
      Possession of heroin in North Carolina is a felony charge and having paraphernalia is a misdemeanor. Bashore and Raper met with the county’s district attorney to ensure he was on board with not charging people. He was in full support.
      HOPE, which is not an acronym but the town’s offer of help in capital letters, kicked off on February 9, 2016. Eight days into the program, the first addict came into the police department.
      “It was eye-opening, recalled Bashore. “That individual came in and we spent the better part of 7 hours getting him processed. Only then did I leave the hospital and come back to the police department to start calling facilities to start having him placed, after he left detox. You can spend hours on the phone, calling facilities, saying, “Do you have a bed?”

      Chief escorts addicts to detox

      Bashore has driven many of the 172 men and women of HOPE to a detox facility himself. He has built personal relationships with several rehabilitation facilities across the state that now alert him when there is space available. And the business card he passes out has his personal cellphone number.
      “My cellphone, it rings all the time. Each participant who comes through the program and all their family members have it. So, when they need something, they reach out,” Bashore said.
      HOPE has created a positive result between the police and the community. Bashore said he wants people to understand that substance abuse is a disease and the police department’s intention is to be “supportive not only for their benefit, but for the community benefit.”
      Since the program began, Bashore said, crime is down 40% in the town, about 45 miles northeast of Raleigh. “We’ve had a pretty significant drop in our crimes that are associated with substance-abuse disorder. Things like shoplifting and larcenies and breaking into cars.”
      HOPE is not limited to residents of Nashville. People from all over the state have walked through the police station doors, as well as people from California and Pennsylvania.
      The program comes at no cost to the participants. It is funded through small grants, fundraisers and donations.
      “The chief paid for the first two months that I was there and the rehab I was at,” recalled Spikes. Four months removed from rehab, he is now sober after being involved with drugs and alcohol for more than half his life.

      Unlikely friendship

      Spikes told CNN he first used drugs when he was 12 years old. “It started off with just smoking weed,” he said, “then occasional pills, and it progressed through the years.” His addiction became a $200 to $300 a day habit at its worst.
      Heroin became his drug of choice. He was caught with it in October 2016 and sent to jail. His arrest led to his first encounter with Bashore.
      Spikes was skeptical of police and their offer to help. “You don’t talk to cops, you don’t associate with them, they’re not your friends,” he said.
      That changed quickly. Spikes said he recognized Bashore was solely there to help him, no questions asked. The chief “never tried to pry into anything in my life in that era,” Spikes said, “(He doesn’t) care who you hang out with, what kind of drugs you do.”
      Spikes has cycled through countless rehab facilities, but said his life made a complete turnaround because of the chief and the HOPE initiative. “He saved my life for sure because if it wasn’t for the HOPE Initiative, I wouldn’t have gotten help.”
      As he hops back on the tiller in the hot summer sun, he smiles and says, “My life has done a 180. I’m working, I have a vehicle, a house, I have a beautiful girlfriend with a baby on the way.”
      And as for Bashore, he lives up to the name of his program. He hopes to continue to battle the opioid epidemic in his town, one addict at a time.
      “Of those 172 people that have come through the program, I’ve actually been to two funerals. Knowing what the alternative could have been for Thomas … (who) just recently disclosed to me that his girlfriend’s pregnant, he’s going to be a father,” he said. “So, that’s an amazing thing. That touches me deeply.”

      See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/23/health/north-carolina-police-help-opioid-addicts/index.html

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      Where the elderly take care of each other — because no one else will

      Tokyo, Japan (CNN)In a elementary school turned nursing home, Tasaka Keichi jokes with a group of cheerful old women.

      At 70, he could be mistakenfor a resident, but Tasaka isn’t thinking of retiring anytime soon. Instead, the former tofu-maker is forging a second career as a caregiver to the elderly in Tokyo’s Cross Hearts nursing home.
      “I always had an interest in care-giving and pensioners don’t receive much in Japan so I’m really thankful that this opportunity existed here for me,” Tasaka told CNN.
        “I’m old too so I can understand what these seniors are going through. I actually feel like I’m hanging out with the residents here as opposed to caring for them”

        Catering to a ‘super-aged’ nation

        With its fast-declining birthrate and growing cohort of old people, Japan is considered a “super-aged” nation, where more than 20% of the population is over 65. By 2020, there will be 13 such countries in the world.

        To cope with a growing labor shortage that’s set to hit the care-giving and industrial sectors the hardest, and in the hopes of reinvigorating a stalling economy, the Japanese government has encouraged more seniors and stay-at-home mothers to re-enter the workforce.
        In many ways, Tasaka is a trailblazer for this incentive. For the past five years, he’s ferried daycare residents to and from their homes, and helped feed and provided companionship to others.
        He lives in one of the facility’s neighboring apartment complexes and is just one of a couple of dozen employees over 65, who work alongside both younger Japanese and foreign staff. In many countries, these jobs would be filled by foreign workers but Japan lacks a concrete immigration policy has resulted in older citizens staying in employment for longer.
        The facility — which has a waiting list of several hundred — sets their official retirement age at 70, but lets people who want to work do so until 80. The common retirement age in Japan is between 60 and 65, but doctors recently proposed raisingitto 75.
        Despite efforts to encourage more senior citizens to work for longer, 80.5% of companies in Japan still set their official retirement age at 60, according to a 2015 survey conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
        In 2013, the government passed a law requiring companies to raise the mandatory retirement age to 65. But full compliance isn’t required until 2025.

        This has created a situation where many companies rehire senior workers at lower salaries once they pass retirement age, according to Atsushi Seike, an economist at Keio University in Japan.
        “There should be more pressure on companies to extend mandatory retirement to 65 as a decline in wages really discourages older workers to continue working,” he said.

        Developing second careers

        Cross Hearts executive director Seiko Adachi told CNN that many of her more senior charges are motivated through their interaction with younger workers and older residents.
        “Growing old is the first step in losing something, whether that be your sibling, your parent, or your role in society … the good thing about elderly carers, is that they really understand how our elderly residents are feeling,” she said.
        “It’s also good preventative care for them as if they feel like they have a place to go, that will keep them going.”
        According to Adachi, the key to engaging more senior employees is by helping them focus on their care-giving job, not as a part-time wage-filler, but as a second career that they can really develop.
        For some, the possibilities appear endless.
        “I want to study for another care-giving license and take on a managerial role later on,” Tasaka said with a grin. “I don’t feel limited by my age.”

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/22/asia/japan-nursing-home-old-workers/index.html

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        Spicer’s exit will not lift White House siege as walls close in

        Washington (CNN)In a White House under siege, something had to change.

        Press secretary Sean Spicer’s resignation Friday let off a pressure valve, allowing an administration that is being pummeled on multiple and multiplying fronts the chance, at least for once, to dictate its own story.
        But Spicer’s departure after the most fraught six months of antagonism between the press and a West Wing that anyone can remember, is just one move in a shuffle of personnel and tactics that augurs an aggressive White House fightback that is likely to intensify the current discord in Washington.
          Trump has beefed up his legal team and escalated his rhetoric in an apparent attempt to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller, and any results of his probe into alleged collusion between his campaign team and Russian officials.
          Trump appears to be trying to revive his organization in an attempt to break out of a prolonged funk that has to a great extent wasted the first six months of his term — a time when presidents are usually at the apex of their power.
          But the reshuffle will not address what many critics see as the root of the crises that are assailing the White House the behavior and political conduct of the President himself. Scaramucci made that much clear.
          “The President himself is always going to be the President. I was in the Oval Office with him earlier today, and we were talking about letting him be himself, letting him express his full identity,” he said.
          “I think he’s got some of the best political instincts in the world, and perhaps in history.”
          Trump’s own behavior in recent days, in which he has all but declared war on both Mueller and his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions as well as revived questions over the Russia investigation in an astonishing interview with the New York Times, appeared at the least to call Scaramucci’s assessment of his political sense into question.
          His heated interventions also appear to be betraying the rising pressure inside the White House at the expanding allegations and investigations marching inexorably closer to the administration and the Trump family.
          News broken by CNN Friday that Mueller’s investigators asked the West Wing staff to preserve documents relevant to a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer last year confirmed that the White House itself is now in Mueller’s crosshairs.
          Mueller is also moving inexorably closer to the thing Trump cares about most — his family — with both his son-in-law Jared Kushner and Donald Jr. under scrutiny over their past history of meetings with Russian intermediaries.
          Trump’s warning in the Times interview that it would be a “violation” if Mueller probed his personal finances, could indicate that he believes the special counsel is targeting tax returns he has refused to release.
          Trump’s position is that his and his family’s financial dealings are off limits, even though Mueller might view them as a possible tool to see whether his business history poses any conflicts of interests to the President’s current role.
          “The President’s point is that he doesn’t want the special counsel to move beyond the scope and outside of its mission,” Sanders told reporters after Scaramucci had vacated the podium. “And the President’s been very clear, as have his accountants and team, that he has no financial dealings with Russia.”
          The Russia pressure is not going to relent next week either.
          Key members of the Trump campaign team, including Donald Jr., Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort have been asked to give testimony on Capitol Hill that would send Russia fever into overdrive.
          Meanwhile, the White House is still struggling for the kind of “wins” that Trump promised. Despite introducing new measures to curtail illegal immigration, there are few other obvious successes for the new communications team to trumpet. While jobs creation has remained steady and strong, the economy has not yet exploded into growth. And though the stock market has been on a bull run, many presidents find that tying their performance to the markets is a perilous practice.
          Scaramucci’s first job, in his first appearance at the podium in the White House Briefing Room on Friday, was to insist that the walls are not closing in around Trump. And he appeared to be performing as much for the President as the journalists in front of him and the audience watching at home.
          “I’ve seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire, I’ve seen him at Madison Square Garden with a topcoat on, standing in the key and hitting foul shots and swishing them — he sinks three-foot putts,” Scaramucci said.
          “I don’t see this as a guy who’s ever under siege. This is a very, very competitive person. Obviously there’s a lot of incoming that comes into the White House. But the President’s a winner and what we’re going to do is we’re going to do a lot of winning.”
          Scaramucci’s attitude to his new job appears, for public consumption at least to be that Trump is actually doing a great job as president, but that his successes have simply not been properly communicated to the nation.
          “When you look at the individual state by state polls, you can see the guy’s doing phenomenally well,” Scaramucci said. “It’s indicating to me that the president is really well loved. There seems to be a disconnect in terms of some of the things that are going on and we want to connect that.”
          Scaramucci’s smooth, urbane performance was in contrast to the antagonistic and defensive performances from the podium that characterized much of Spicer’s tumultuous tenure as White House spokesman.
          But it was a contrast in style more than it was a contrast in substance.
          He punted on the question of Trump’s unproven assertion that millions of illegal votes cost him victory in the popular vote against Hillary Clinton in last year’s election. But he was careful not to contradict the President in one of his most infamous falsehoods, suggesting that questions of credibility and truthfulness will continue to be an issue once he is running the show.
          “If the president says it, … let me do more research on it, My guess is that there’s probably some level of truth to that,” Scaramucci said.

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/21/politics/donald-trump-sean-spicer-crises/index.html

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          Tennessee county inmates get reduced jail time for getting a vasectomy

          (CNN)Yes, you read that right. Inmates in White County, Tennessee, can shave 30 days off their jail sentence if they undergo an elective birth control procedure.

          Both male and female inmates can volunteer for the new program. Women receive a Nexplanon implant in their arm, which provides up to three years of continuous birth control. Men undergo a vasectomy. The procedures are free and conducted by the Tennessee Department of Health.
          General Sessions Judge Sam Benningfield signed a standing order on May 15 enforcing the program.
            “I hope to encourage them to take personal responsibility and give them a chance, when they do get out, not to be burdened with children,” Benningfield told CNN affiliate WTVF. “This gives them a chance to get on their feet and make something of themselves.”
            Since the program started, 32 women and 38 men have volunteered. The men are currently waiting to have the vasectomies performed.
            “I understand it won’t be entirely successful, but if you reach two or three people, maybe that’s two or three kids not being born under the influence of drugs. I see it as a win-win,” Benningfield said.

            Controversy over new program

            Not everyone is enthusiastic about the idea. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway and the ACLU are speaking against the ethics and legality of it.
            “Those decisions are personal in nature and I think that’s just something the court system should not encourage or mandate,” Dunaway told WTVF.
            Dunaway has instructed his staff not to make any arrangements involving the birth control program.
            “Offering a so-called ‘choice’ between jail time and coerced contraception or sterilization is unconstitutional,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN executive director, in a statement.
            “Judges play an important role in our community — overseeing individuals’ childbearing capacity should not be part of that role.”

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/20/us/white-county-inmate-vasectomy-trnd/index.html

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            To fix health care, look to state governors

            (CNN)The recent collapse of Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare can be blamed on disagreements about policy more than anything else.

            For seven years, Republicans at all levels of government were able to articulate the simple message that President Barack Obama’s signature health care law had to go, and a set of better, market-based policies needed to replace it.
            But once the GOP captured control of the White House and both houses of Congress, it became clear that the devil really was in the details. Within their own ranks, Republicans remain divided on fundamental questions of policy — whether to change how Medicaid is financed, whether there should to be tax credits to help low-income Americans afford private insurance, and how far to go in deregulating the marketplace.
              So, what’s next? Republicans may soon vote on a bill that will mirror the 2015 legislation they passed (and Obama vetoed) repealing large parts of Obamacare, without an accompanying package of replacement reforms. This approach, dubbed “repeal and delay” because it offsets the repeal of Obamacare by two years, raises significant concerns. It would introduce dramatic uncertainty into the health care system, place the most vulnerable among us at risk of losing the coverage they need, and punt on the important work of replacing Obamacare with reforms that could actually lower costs and expand choices for consumers.
              The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated the impact of “repeal-and-delay” and found that, while it would decrease budget deficits significantly, it would also leave 32 million more Americans uninsured in 10 years, as compared to Obamacare. Moreover, a recent survey from the Associated Press and the University of Chicago showed that, by a 2-to-1 margin, those polled believed that Obamacare should not be repealed until a replacement was available.
              This suggests that Republicans would be the ones who would “own” the political consequences for rising premiums, diminishing choices, and lost coverage during the two years before Obamacare is actually repealed — a period of time that includes a crucial midterm election.
              Plus, the notion that a two-year delay would be an action-forcing mechanism is sheer folly. It is an approach that has never been particularly effective at encouraging policymaking amongst members of Congress on even the most urgent of priorities (see the much-maligned budget sequester for evidence of this).
              But there is another route.
              Despite the many policy differences between Republicans that torpedoed the recent repeal-and-replace effort, there was common ground between Senators (and many governors, as well as members of the House) on the value of federalism and state-led reforms in our health care system. This concord should form the basis of any future GOP discussions about the fate of Obamacare, or what should go in its place. It might even jumpstart bipartisan discussions about the future of health reform, as some Democrats have suggested that state-focused solutions are a reasonable step forward.
              A number of existing legislative proposals speak to this emerging consensus.
              The stalled GOP Senate bill included a notable provision that dramatically expanded upon a state innovation provision contained in Section 1332 of Obamacare. This section of current law allows states to waive many of the law’s mandates and requirements so long as they establish health solutions that don’t increase the federal deficit, and furnish coverage that is at least as affordable, comprehensive and widespread as that provided for by Obamacare.
              The Senate bill basically eliminated these guardrails and deemed state reform plans presumptively valid, so long as they did not increase the federal deficit. Many conservatives cheered this change and believed it would create an “escape hatch” from Obamacare for many states, particularly those governed by conservative leaders.
              Earlier this year, Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine — two skeptics of the Senate Republican legislation — introduced their own bill that, at core, would allow states the option of implementing Obamacare (with its mandates and requirements) or designing their own health systems, with some or none of Obamacare’s regulatory structure.
              Their legislation would keep many of Obamacare’s tax hikes in place, but send this money to states that, at a minimum, elected to maintain protections for those with preexisting health conditions. While most conservatives balked at the notion of retaining so many of Obamacare’s tax increases, the federalist core of the Cassidy-Collins proposal should be appealing to Republicans looking for a way forward.
              Finally, Senator Lindsey Graham has a proposal that mirrors many elements of the Cassidy-Collins proposal (in fact, media reports indicate that he worked with Cassidy on his plan) that would retain almost all of Obamacare’s tax hikes, as well as its protections for patients with preexisting conditions, in return for block grants to states. These grants would give states significant flexibility in each pursuing the solutions that suit their citizens best.
              Republicans have long advocated for solutions that empower governors and state elected officials to address major public policy challenges. Reforms such as the landmark 1996 welfare reform legislation, which granted states significant latitude to design safety net programs that suited their populations best, illustrate the value that such an approach can have.

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              Health care is an area where federalism not only has the potential to lead to more innovative solutions, but to forge consensus between conservatives — and maybe even across the partisan divide.

              Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/19/opinions/health-care-federalism-opinion-chen/index.html

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              Republicans Worry Theyll Suffer Politically After Health Care Setback

              WASHINGTON Republicans failed again this week to find the votes to pass an Obamacare repeal bill, and now theyre facing an uncomfortable prospect: going home for a monthlong recess in August without a single major legislative accomplishment under their belts.

              After three GOP senators refused to support the latest bill aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act just enough senators to tank the entire effort Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday that hes throwing in the towel and abandoning the effort, for now.

              Its a stunning failure by Republicans who have been promising for the last seven years to repeal the health care law. It also means GOP lawmakers could face a conservative backlash that threatens their partys prospects in the 2018 midterm elections.

              McConnell brushed off a question about how hell explain to voters why Republicans wasted the last seven months on a failed health care push and have nothing else to show for that period of time.

              Well, we have a new Supreme Court justice, he said, boasting that Republicans also repealed some Obama-era regulations this year. He said theres still a year and a half left in this Congress, which gives Republicans time to work on other priority issues.

              Well be moving onto tax reform, infrastructure, theres much work left to be done for the American people, McConnell offered.

              But that doesnt change the fact that Republicans have failed to deliver on their No. 1 campaign issue. GOP leaders talked big in January about repealing Obamacare immediately. Their timeline slid, however, as Republicans in the House and Senate disagreed on how rapidly to move and how much to undo a law that many Americans including influential Republican governors whose states expanded Medicaid have come to rely on.

              The House passed a Obamacare repeal bill in May that, if enacted into law, would leave 23 million more people uninsured, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate. Even some Republicans who voted for the legislation thought it stunk, but had hopes that it could be a starting point for the Senate to take up and build on.

              Sincethats not happening, Republicans who voted for that bill are worried they may have walked that plank for nothing and could become the targets of Democratic attacks next year.

              From the right or the left, whether youre a moderate or a strong conservative, there would be concerns on that front, because its a good 30- or 60-second ad if theres not something to point to, Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) said Tuesday.

              Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said the collapse of the Senate health care bill makes the next few weeks critical.

              If we dont make Obamacare repeal done, it makes it a lot more difficult to go home and say, Look what weve accomplished, he said though he predicted that Republicans would eventually be successful.

              Other Republicans who voted for the House health care bill, however, dismissed the notion that they ought to be concerned about their political futures.

              I dont think of the bill in those terms whatsoever, said Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), who authored the amendment that ultimately helped pass the House bill. To look at a health care bill that affects millions of lives, to look at it through the lens of does it hurt or help me, that to me is really inappropriate and cynical.

              Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a vulnerable California Republican whose district Democrat Hillary Clinton won in last years presidential election, similarly dismissed the question.

              I dont care, he said. I mean, [Obamacare] is already hurting my state.

              Beyond Capitol Hill, some conservative pundits fumed as Obamacare repeal appeared to be unraveling. Radio show host Hugh Hewitt, for one, ranted on Twitter about the handful of Republicans who stood in the way of getting it done.

              Hewitt said everyone knows the list to blame for failing to repeal the law, and named senators who at some stage opposed the bill on the table: Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). He even called for removing one of them from office, even if that means a Democrat ultimately wins the Senate seat in 2018.

              But to be clear, it began w/ @DeanHeller. If #RepealPlus2Years fails he has to be replaced, even if by a D, Hewitt tweeted.

              Some senators are just as peeved as Hewitt, including one senator Hewitt complained about. Paul, whos been calling for completely doing away with Obamacare, with or without a replacement, grumbled about his moderate colleagues who stood in the way of fully repealing the law.

              Theyre going to have to go home and explain why they used to be for it and now theyre no longer for it. Thats a big change in peoples opinion, he said.

              Theres some variation of repeal, certainly, that must pass, Pauladded, or these people really dont believe anything they said.

              Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/health-care-senate-suffer_us_596e8606e4b0a03aba85ab4e

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              Lindsey Graham: John McCain is like his old self again after surgery

              (CNN)Sen. Lindsey Graham said his closest friend in the Senate, Sen. John McCain, is like his old self again after surgery Friday to remove a blood clot above his left eye.

              Graham said he spoke with McCain by phone on Sunday after the surgery in Arizona. He said McCain was doing much better and already itching to get back to Washington, though his doctors have told him he can’t fly for a week while he recovers.
              “He sounded like a different person. He clearly was a hurting guy,” Graham said. “I think they relieved the pressure and he sounded like the old John McCain, dying to get back and talking about driving across the country. I said no.”
                Graham told CNN’s Manu Raju that McCain had not been feeling well in the run-up to the surgery and was “getting forgetful.”
                “He’d been traveling a lot, we wrote it off that he was tired, but he was getting forgetful — and you know he just wore himself out traveling all around the world,” Graham said. “I’m glad they found out what I thought was the cause.”
                Later on Monday, Graham told CNN he wanted to retract that statement, saying that he did not mean to say that McCain was getting forgetful.
                The Senate has delayed consideration of the health care bill this week with McCain’s absence, as his vote at the moment would almost surely be needed for Republicans to get to 50 “yes” votes to pass the bill. McCain’s office has said he’ll be out at least a week.
                Graham, a South Carolina Republican, spoke to McCain again by phone on the way to Monday evening’s Senate vote — the first that McCain was missing following the surgery .
                Graham said it was a major surgery, but also has led a good outcome.
                “He’s got to heal up or he’ll take a step backwards,” Graham said. “I think they don’t want him to fly for a week. But I think he would walk back if they’d let him. … He’s dying to get back and for the sake of his family I hope he doesn’t have to stay there over a week.”
                In addition to the health care vote, McCain is supposed to lead debate on the annual National Defense Authorization Act on the Senate floor.
                Graham said it wasn’t clear yet if McCain would be back next week.
                “I don’t know. If it were up to him, he’d be on his way now,” he said. “But he … for once in his life, listen to his doctors. … He’s been hit pretty hard so it’s going to take a while.”

                Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/17/politics/lindsey-graham-john-mccain/index.html

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                Terminally-ill man in right-to-die fight – BBC News

                The High Court is to begin hearing the legal challenge of a terminally-ill man who wants the right to die.

                Noel Conway, who is 67 and has motor neurone disease, wants a doctor to be allowed to prescribe a lethal dose when his health deteriorates further.

                He said he wanted to say goodbye to loved ones “at the right time, not to be in a zombie-like condition suffering both physically and psychologically”.

                Any doctor who helped him to die would face up to 14 years in prison.

                Mr Conway, of Shrewsbury, told the BBC: “I will be quadriplegic. I could be virtually catatonic and conceivably be in a locked-in syndrome – that to me would be a living hell. That prospect is one I cannot accept.”

                MPs reject ‘right to die’ law

                British man dies at Dignitas centre

                Assisted dying debate: The key questions

                Mr Conway, a retired college lecturer, was once fit and active but motor neurone disease is gradually destroying all strength in his muscles.

                He cannot walk and increasingly relies on a ventilator to help him breathe. As his disease progresses, he fears becoming entombed in his body.

                Mr Conway is too weak to come to court from his home but his lawyers will say he wants the right to a peaceful and dignified death while he is still able to make the decision.

                Mr Conway is being supported by the campaign group Dignity in Dying.

                The last major challenge to the law was turned down by the Supreme Court three years ago.

                It ruled that while judges could interpret the law it was up to Parliament to decide whether to change it.

                In 2015 MPs rejected proposals to allow assisted dying in England and Wales, in their first vote on the issue in almost 20 years.

                Supporters of the current legislation say it exists to protect the weak and vulnerable from being exploited or coerced.

                The case is expected to take up to four days.

                Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40615778

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                McConnell delays health care vote while McCain recovers from surgery

                (CNN)Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Saturday that the Senate will delay consideration of the Republican health care bill while Sen. John McCain recovers from surgery for a blood clot.

                McConnell tweeted that the Senate will work on other legislative issues and nominations next week and “will defer consideration of the Better Care Act” while McCain is recovering.
                McCain is in Arizona after having a blood clot removed from above his left eye. His office said the clot was discovered during an annual physical and removed Friday at the Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix.
                  “Thanks to @MayoClinic for its excellent care — I appreciate your support & look forward to getting back to work!” McCain’s verified account tweeted Saturday.
                  Senate Republicans unveiled a revised version of their health care bill Thursday, and GOP leaders had planned a vote, or at least to take the procedural steps toward a vote, in the upcoming week.
                  That procedural vote could have come as early as Tuesday.
                  McConnell needs the support of 50 of 52 GOP senators to proceed to a floor debate on the bill, and two senators — Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky — have already said they will not support that motion.
                  McCain said in a statement Thursday: “The revised Senate health care bill released today does not include the measures I have been advocating for on behalf of the people of Arizona.” McCain said that he would file amendments that would address concerns of leaders from his state about how the bill would affect Medicaid.
                  His office released a statement saying McCain, 80, is resting at his home.
                  “His Mayo Clinic doctors report that the surgery went ‘very well’ and he is in good spirits,” his office said. “Once the pathology information is available, further care will be discussed between doctors and the family.”
                  Doctors ordered a week of rest, the statement from McCain’s office said.
                  The other Republican senator from Arizona praised McCain.
                  “I have never known a man more tenacious and resilient than John McCain,” Jeff Flake said. “I look forward to seeing him back at work soon. In the meantime, Cheryl and I extend our best wishes to John, Cindy and the entire McCain family and pray for his speedy recovery.”
                  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, tweeted: “Praying for a speedy recovery for my friend @SenJohnMcCain.”

                  Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/15/politics/john-mccain-blood-clot/index.html