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Police: Parents gave newborn daughter drugs to hide infant’s addiction

(CNN)A couple in Utah told police they gave their newborn daughter a pain medication in the hospital to cover up the fact that the child was born addicted to drugs.

Colby Glen Wilde, 29, and Lacey Dawn Christenson, 26, both of Elk Ridge, gave their daughter Suboxone, a prescription pain medication used for pain management and addiction treatment, on the day she was born, according to a press release from the Utah County Sheriff’s Office.
Investigators learned that Christenson had been using heroin and prescription pain medication heavily during her pregnancy, leading to the child being born addicted to the drugs, the press release said.
    The episode occurred April 9, the day the girl was born at Utah Valley Hospital, the sheriff’s office said. The couple told authorities they crushed up Suboxone pills and put the powder on the infant’s mouth and gums while medical staff were out of the room.
    According to the press release, informants told law enforcement that parents of drug-addicted babies sometimes do this to hide signs of addiction from hospitals.
    The couple were not arrested until June 26, when Wilde was taken into custody after an incident at a Walmart in Spanish Fork, Utah, where he was accused of stealing merchandise. Christenson was also in the store and arrested on an outstanding warrant.
    Sheriff’s deputies said that when store employees and bystanders tried to apprehend Wilde, he handed his infant daughter to a stranger, ran to his car and began driving away.
    With the parents in jail, the couple’s three other children — all boys, ages 2, 4 and 8 — were taken into custody by the Utah Division of Child and Family Services. Their now 3-month-old daughter was evaluated at the hospital, and the other children were also drug tested. On June 28, deputies also got a search warrant for the home based upon a tip from someone caring for the couple’s pets while Wilde and Christenson were in jail.
    “Deputies discovered items of drug paraphernalia in many different areas of the home, including next to a baby bassinet, next to a child’s sippy cup, and others,” said the press release. As a result, additional charges were filed against the couple.
    The couple were released from jail on the prior charges — Christenson on June 28, Wilde on July 5 — but deputies served a second search warrant on July 18 because they had information that the parents were still doing drugs. When deputies arrived to do the second search warrant, they found Wilde “actively smoking heroin,” Sgt. Spencer Cannon, public information officer for the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, told CNN.
    Christenson and Wilde were charged with distribution of a controlled substance in a drug-free zone, use of heroin and methamphetamine, endangerment of a child and possession of drug paraphernalia. Cash bail for the pair was set at $10,000. It wasn’t clear Monday if either one of them had an attorney.
    Deputies later learned the results of the children’s drug tests.
    “The oldest child did not test positive for any drugs,” Cannon said. But the three younger ones all tested positive for methamphetamines, while the infant also tested positive for heroin and morphine. Cannon said Christenson was given morphine for pain during the delivery and that was the source of it in the infant.
    To test the children for drugs, authorities tested their hair follicles, Cannon said, adding that “evidence of drugs in the body remains in the hair for longer than it would in blood or other means of testing.”
    Police said they don’t believe the other children were given drugs directly like their infant sibling but that their parents smoked drugs in their presence and the kids ingested the smoke secondhand.
    “They were routinely exposed to secondhand smoke from (the parents’) smoking methamphetamines and heroin,” Cannon said.
    Authorities said that despite the secondhand exposure, the children weren’t exhibiting any signs of ongoing problems from the drugs.
    After the execution of the second search warrant, the couple admitted to investigators that the crushed pills found in their home was the Suboxone used on the daughter in the hospital, Cannon said. Christenson and Wilde told authorities they talked about it with their friends and came up with the plan together.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/24/health/utah-newborn-drugs-trnd/index.html

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    Honorary Alaska ‘mayor,’ Stubbs the cat, dies at 20

    (CNN)In today’s political climate, catty politicians claw for every vote, but the mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska, was different. His ability to unite through cuddles and his fondness for naps made him remarkable, and this mayor — Stubbs the cat — also proved that opposable thumbs aren’t necessary for success in politics.

    The honorary mayor of the small Alaska town, elected as a write-in in 1997 due to a paucity of viable human candidates, died at age 20, according to a Saturday news release from his owners.
    “He was a trouper until the very last day of his life,” Stubbs’ owners said. “You are are a remarkable cat and we will dearly miss you.”

      A life in the spotlight

      Stubbs served Talkeetna for 20 years. His office, at Nagley’s Store, became a destination for locals and tourists alike who sought sage council from the cat.
      And although Stubbs lacked the legislative and rhetorical prowess of a typical politician, he always did well in the polls.
      “Over 75% of visitors ask ‘Where’s the mayor?’ or come in with this statement ‘I have an appointment with the mayor,'” the news release said. “I think we heard those two statements over 100 times a day during our first year.”
      Stubbs’ career wasn’t completely free of controversy, though.
      In 2013, Stubbs suffered a vicious attack from a neighborhood dog that left him sidelined in a hospital.
      But even a punctured lung, fractured sternum and deep lacerations couldn’t keep him from his duties. Stubbs recovered and assumed all his previous mayoral responsibilities.

      A steady health decline

      Although he loved the attention as a kitten and younger cat, Stubbs’ life in the public eye eventually began to wear on him.
      He began a retreat from public life in 2015 due to old age, and he cut back on visits to the store, according to the news release.
      By 2017, Stubbs just wasn’t having it anymore.
      “Stubbs did a couple TV shows and more than a handful of interviews, but was not fond of the camera and all the people; it had gotten to be too much for him,” his owners said.
      In the wake of his death, his owners hinted another of their kittens, Denali, may assume his role.
      “We couldn’t have asked for a better understudy than Denali — he really has followed in Stubbs’ pawprints in just about everything.”

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/23/us/mayor-cat-stubbs-dies-at-20/index.html

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      Consultation on changing legal gender to be launched – BBC News

      Image copyright Getty Images
      Image caption The consultation on the 2004 Gender Recognition Act will begin in the autumn

      The UK government is considering plans to make the process of changing legal gender easier.

      Currently, people must be diagnosed with gender dysphoria, a condition where a person’s biological sex and identity does not match.

      The equalities minister says she wants to reform the 2004 Gender Recognition Act to make the process less intrusive.

      LGBT campaign group Stonewall says the current system is “demeaning and broken”.

      The 2004 law says people wanting a change of gender to be legally recognised in the UK need to apply for a Gender Recognition Certificate.

      This is issued by the Gender Recognition Panel, a judicial body which legally determines what gender an individual defines as.

      As well as a diagnosis of gender dysphoria, the person applying must provide evidence that they have been in transition for at least two years.

      ‘Inclusive society’

      The most recent figures, for the three months between January and March 2017, show that 112 people applied to change their gender, with 88% of those being granted the certificate.

      Equalities Minister Justine Greening said when it was first introduced, the Gender Recognition Act was “cutting edge” but now it needs to be updated.

      The consultation on the law will begin in the autumn, she said.

      “This government is committed to building an inclusive society that works for everyone, no matter what their gender or sexuality, and today we’re taking the next step forward.

      “We will build on the significant progress we have made over the past 50 years, tackling some of the historic prejudices that still persist in our laws and giving LGBT people a real say on the issues affecting them.”

      ‘Huge inequalities’

      The proposals come ahead of the 50th anniversary of Parliament voting for the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in 1967.

      The Sexual Offences Act 1967 made private homosexual acts between men over the age of 21 legal.

      Suzanna Hopwood, a member of the Stonewall Trans Advisory Group, said reform was a key priority for removing “huge inequalities” for trans people.

      “It’s vital that this reform removes the requirements for medical evidence and an intrusive interview panel, and finally allows all trans people to have their gender legally recognised through a simple administrative process.”

      Ms Greening also launched a survey to get LGBT people to help shape government policy in the future.

      The government wants people to share their experiences of the health service, in education and at work.

      Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40692782

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      Oxygen therapy brings ‘remarkable’ turnaround for toddler who fell in pool

      (CNN)Eden Carlson’s story might be one in a million.

      The toddler, who suffered brain damage after falling into a swimming pool at 23 months old, has begun to rebuild her brain function after treatment with hyperbaric oxygen therapy, according to a case study published last month in the journal Medical Gas Research.
      “We’re stimulating growth of tissue and inhibiting inflammation and stopping cell death,” said Dr. Paul G. Harch, clinical professor and director of hyperbaric medicine at LSU Health New Orleans School of Medicine.
        Hyperbaric oxygen therapy introduces a greater-than-usual amount of oxygen to patients within a special chamber. The special chamber allows a doctor to control both the pressure and the level of vital gas, explained Harch, who treated the child and is lead author of the case study.
        After months of oxygen treatments, Eden is a “typical 3-year old,” said her mother, Kristal Carlson of Fayetteville, Arkansas.
        “Her cognitive abilities and speech are completely recovered. Most of her fine motor skills have returned,” Carlson wrote in an email. “Today she walks with assistance really well. She can walk independently, also, but not long distances.”

        A mother’s nightmare

        While Carlson was in the shower on February 29, 2016, Eden, who had just learned to walk, slipped through a baby gate and fell into the backyard swimming pool.
        “Her older siblings lost track of her and thought she was with me,” explained Carlson, who is still unsure how long Eden may have been in the water.
        It could have been “as long as 15 minutes,” she said, but was “at least five minutes.”
        Also unclear is how long her heart stopped beating, Harch said.
        “She stopped breathing, obviously, once she was face-down and probably inhaled some water, but we don’t know how long after that her heart stopped and her blood pressure went to zero,” Harch said. “We just know that when Mom got her out of the pool, there was nothing.”
        Carlson said her first instinct was to get her daughter to breathe.
        “So I gave her a couple of breaths and patted her, saying her name,” Eden’s mother said. “Then chest compressions.” Paramedics took over CPR, which was delivered for 100 minutes before Eden’s heart began beating on its own.
        Stabilized, the child was flown to Arkansas Children’s Hospital, where she spent five weeks, her mother recalled. “When we brought her home, she was a vegetable, unable to do anything,” she said. “She had a feeding tube, could not speak, could not sit up, etc.”
        “She was profoundly injured,” Harch said. The hospital sent the child home with a monitor because when she’d fall asleep, she’d stop breathing at times and needed her parents to resuscitate her. “The predictions given to the family by the doctors were a list of never-evers: She will never ever talk, walk or eat on her own.”
        It soon became clear that the doctors and neurologists at Arkansas Children’s Hospital could do nothing more for Eden, so her parents “started googling alternative ways to treat brain injuries,” Carson explained. They found Harch’s website about three weeks after returning home from the hospital and “went from there.”

        ‘Bridging treatment’

        Eden could not be moved, and no hyperbaric oxygen chambers could be found in the Fayetteville area, so Harch treated the girl remotely with a “bridging therapy.”
        Using a normal oxygen tank with tubes to the nose, Harch put the child on “just 2 liters per minute for 45 minutes a day,” with the first treatment exactly 55 days after Eden fell into the pool.
        “We noticed an immediate difference in her,” her mother said. She videotaped Eden’s response to send to Harch.
        He said he saw a positive change in the child’s affect and decided to continue the treatments for three weeks.
        “She was more relaxed, her neuro-storming stopped, she started smiling, laughing, swallowing, tracking with her eyes, and saying words,” Carlson said.
        When Eden’s condition stabilized, her parents took her to New Orleans for treatments in a hyperbaric chamber, using the same amount of oxygen but with added pressure.
        The treatments are spaced out over time in order to allow the brain to improve on its own, said Harch, who is also a co-owner of Harch Hyperbarics Inc., a consulting company.
        “She began saying more words and speaking in sentences,” her mother said. “She started sitting up, crawling, pulling to stand, and trying to walk!”
        The ultimate proof: An MRI scan taken 162 days post-drowning — 27 days after Eden’s 40th oxygen session — compared with one taken in the hospital shows only mild residual injury to the brain, plus a near-complete reversal of brain shrinkage that sometimes occurs in similar cases.

        How does hyperbaric medicine work?

        “It’s not completely understood,” Harch said, explaining that in the late 1950s, doctors in the Netherlands began experimenting with trying to give maximum amounts of oxygen to patients with conditions in which lack of oxygen was a problem, such as gangrene.
        The US Navy also uses hyperbaric oxygen therapy to treat decompression sickness or diver’s disease.
        It wasn’t until 2008 that the medical profession really began to understand “what this therapy is about,” Harch said. “Some doctors took human cells, put them in a Petri dish and put them in a hyperbaric chamber and gave them a typical treatment.” They used mass gene array analysis to measure and analyze gene activity.
        “What they found at the end of 24 hours, 8,101 human genes had either been turned on or turned off, and the largest clusters were those that code for growth and repair hormones — in other words, stimulate tissue growth and heal wounds — and the anti-inflammatory genes,” Harch said. “And the largest clusters of the turned-off ones — and these are temporary, the turning on and turning off of genes — were the pro-inflammatory genes and the ones that code for cell death.”
        Dr. Justin Sempsrott, executive director of Lifeguards Without Borders and medical director of International Surf Lifesaving Association, said Eden’s case is “remarkable” and “shows future direction for rehabilitation after non-fatal drowning.”
        Sempsrott, who was not involved in Eden’s treatment or the case study, noted that it was “done in an academically rigorous way.”
        “The most important determining factor of whether or not a person — adults or children — is going to survive drowning is how long they were under water,” Sempsrott explained. For those known to be underwater for fewer than five minutes, 86% survive with good neurological outcome, and when it’s less than 10 minutes, 77% survive with good neurological outcome.
        People underwater for 15 to 25 minutes are “kind of all over the place,” Sempsrott said. “More than 25 minutes is universally bad outcomes; they are typically neurologically devastated.”
        This is one reason giving breath along with good-quality chest compression is recommended for drowning resuscitation, he said.

        Cold vs. warm water

        “It’s possible to maintain that oxygenation even for a long period of time when someone comes out of the water,” Sempsrott said. “The time she was given CPR and survived is really not unheard of.”
        Generally, though, CPR cannot distribute oxygen throughout the body as effectively as natural breathing.
        Though Harch believes that the cold water in the pool was protective, Sempsrott said that “overwhelmingly,” most people who fall into cold water are simultaneously dying of hypothermia and drowning. “Hibernation state” does not help preserve the organs from harm, he said, though this is a common misperception.
        “They actually have either worse or the same outcomes,” he said.
        In most cases, Semsprott said, “after the news story dies down,” the person with little to no brain function requires round-the-clock care for the rest of their lives.
        “Non-fatal drowning is far more common than fatal drowning,” he said. A conservative estimate is that for every drowning, there are four non-fatal events, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tallies seven non-fatal events for every drowning among children.
        Dr. Paul S. Auerbach, Redlich Family Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said “prevention is the name of the game.”
        “Parents need to understand all the best methods for trying to prevent drowning in children,” said Auerbach, whose complete list of tips in his classic book, “Wilderness Medicine,” begins with the single most important rule:
        Watch your children.
        “Toddlers are at greatest risk for drowning,” he said, though all children under 14 are at a high risk.
        “Teach children to swim, but be advised that such teaching does not absolutely ‘drownproof’ a child,” Auerbach said. “In other words, never let a small child out of your sight when he is near the water, even if he knows how to swim.”

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

        Ultimately, Sempsrott said, Eden’s story is “remarkable” and one he hopes can be reproduced, “because this was an otherwise very common, hopeless, severe brain damage drowning story.” Still, he said, even if this is a one in a million story, for the Carlsons, hyperbaric oxygen treatments have “made all the difference in the world.”
        “We have no doubt that as she grows, the walking will become easier for her,” Carlson wrote of her daughter’s progress. “Eden is doing really well today.”

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/21/health/oxygen-therapy-drowning-brain-damage/index.html

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        What we need to learn from Linkin Park frontman’s death

        (CNN)It’s a tragic day for the music industry. The lead singer of Linkin Park, Chester Bennington, was found dead in his Los Angeles home at 41. Sadly authorities were treating the case as a possible suicide. Eerily, Bennington died on what would’ve been his dear friend Chris Cornell’s 53rd birthday — the Soundgarden frontman hung himself on May 18, 2017. Both men are now part of a long, disturbing history of rock and roll and untimely death.

        Linkin Park was a groundbreaking rock band that shattered the music industry with 2000’s “Hybrid Theory.” In an era of overly sweet pop music with boy bands and copycat starlets, the group was a refreshing mix of angst, grit and raw emotion.
        Chester Bennington’s melodic but rugged voice helped spawn rock classics like “In the End,” “Numb” and “What I’ve Done.” Arguably, one of Linkin Park’s most brilliant (and unexpected) moments was pairing with Jay-Z for 2004’s “Collision Course.” The album was a mashup of Jay and Linkin Park, and launched the single “Numb/Encore.” Not since Aerosmith and Run-DMC did “Walk this Way” had people heard this perfect fusion of rock and hip hop. The six-track album was critically acclaimed and a smash hit, going to number one on the Billboard album chart and selling over two million copies.
          One thing no one can deny is the significant pain in Bennington’s voice. He clearly purged his anguish through his music. Bennington was open with his history of abuse and struggles with drugs and alcohol, which he claimed helped him create some of the band’s biggest songs. When describing the song “My Suffering,” he told the music website Noisecreep.com in 2009 it’s “literally about (how) being an alcoholic and a drug addict has paid off for me in many ways. I have been able to tap into all the negative things that can happen to me throughout my life by numbing myself to the pain, so to speak, and kind of being able to vent it through my music.”
          He said that another song, “Crawling,” is “probably the most literal song lyrically I’d ever written for Linkin Park and that’s about feeling like I had no control over myself in terms of drugs and alcohol. That feeling, being able to write about it, sing about it, that song, those words sold millions of records, I won a Grammy, I made a lot of money. I don’t think I could’ve been inspired to create something like that by watching someone else go through that. So in a lot of ways that’s been very constructive for me.” This sentiment is sadly familiar for many artists who are obviously struggling with pain or addiction and see the battle as a space of creativity.

            Linkin Park singer on his past, drug use (2009)

          Tragically, when I think about artists like Kurt Cobain, Chris Cornell and so many more, I can’t help but wonder what is the price for singing the lifelong blues? Do you have to suffer for your art to create? Even back to the days of Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix, all of whom died too young, these artists were living every note, lyric and chord of their music.
          Sure, pain and angst create great music. But considering the phenomenal artists we have lost in the past few years to suicide and inner demons, it is long past time to prioritize real mental health over the sporadic catharsis of bars and chords. According to Health.com, musicians are fifth in the top ten professions with high rates of depressive illness.
          If you make a choice to not suffer for your art, can you still be a great artist? The answer is, yes. When Adele released her “25” album, she admitted she would no longer thrive off of depression to create. When Mary J. Blige was criticized for “getting happy,” she specifically told me in an interview for BET.com, “Some of them (fans) are mad at me for making the switch, but I would’ve died over there. Literally, I’d be six feet under.” Thankfully, Mary and Adele made the switch.

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          I hope there is a lesson that can be learned in the deaths of Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington. We need to support our artists to be healthy and loved even when they evolve out of the sadness that inspired our favorite songs. Depending on pain to create is a dangerous road to travel. I can’t help but wonder about the sonic and vocal brilliance we will, now, never get from Chester Bennington.
          Long live a god of rock.

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/20/opinions/lesson-in-chester-bennington-death-opinion-cane/index.html

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          Who are the parole board members deciding O.J.’s fate?

          (CNN)At least four people will determine Thursday whether OJ Simpson will soon be released from prison.

          If the first four members of the Nevada parole board attending Simpson’s hearing in Carson City don’t all vote the same way, then two other commissioners will be called upon to try to reach a majority.
          If it’s an even split at 3-3, Simpson will have to wait for a new hearing in January, by which time a new commissioner will give the board seven members.
            Here’s what the state of Nevada has revealed on its website about each parole board member:

            Connie S. Bisbee

            • Position:
            • Chairwoman

            • Will attend hearing?
            • Yes, she will preside over the hearing. Was also at Simpson’s 2013 parole hearing

            • Years on Parole Board: 14 total, eight as chairwoman
            • Most recent former job:
            • Associate warden of programs for the Nevada Department of Corrections

            • Other jobs:
            • Judicial services director in northern Florida until 1999, US Air Force

            • Education: Criminal justice, Troy (Alabama) State University; master’s degree in Counseling and Human Development, Troy State

            Tony Corda

            • Position:
            • Commissioner

            • Will attend hearing?
            • Yes, was also at Simpson’s 2013 parole hearing

            • Years on Parole Board: Eight years
            • Most recent former job:
            • Associate warden of programs at Northern Nevada Correctional Center, 2 years

            • Other jobs:
            • Correctional officer, classification analyst at Department of Corrections

            • Education: Criminal justice, University of Nevada at Reno

            Adam Endel

            • Position:
            • Commissioner

            • Will attend hearing?
            • Yes, was also at Simpson’s 2013 parole hearing

            • Years on Parole Board: Eight years
            • Most recent former job:
            • Associate warden of programs at Ely State Prison, 8 years

            • Other jobs:
            • Correctional officer, caseworker III, and associate warden of programs, 18 years total

            • Education: Criminal justice administration, BS, Central Missouri State University

            Susan Jackson

            • Position:
            • Commissioner

            • Will attend hearing?
            • Yes, was also at Simpson’s 2013 parole hearing

            • Years on Parole Board: Nine years
            • Most recent former job:
            • Senior investigator with the Nevada Department of Public Safety, 15 years

            • Other jobs:
            • Agent with Nevada State Gaming Control Board; senior investigator with the Attorney General’s Office

            • Education: FBI Academy

            Ed Gray

            • Position:
            • Commissioner

            • Will attend hearing?
            • No, will watch from Las Vegas

            • Years on Parole Board: 10 years
            • Most recent former job:
            • Parole board case hearing representative, 14 years

            • Other jobs:
            • US Air Force and US Civil Service

            • Education: Post-secondary and adult education, BS, University of Nevada at Las Vegas; Human resource management, associate degree, Community College of the Air Force; Business management, associate degree, Community College of Southern Nevada

            Michael Keeler

            • Position:
            • Commissioner

            • Will attend hearing?
            • No, will watch in Las Vegas

            • Years on Parole Board:
            • 11 years

            • Most recent former job:
            • Southern Nevada Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services and Southern Nevada Adult Mental Health Service

            • Other jobs:
            • Public services intern, case manager, teaching parent, clinical social work intern, clinical social worker, supervisor, psychiatric emergency services director, inpatient administrative coordinator, clinic director, and services coordination director, all with state of Nevada.US Army veteran.

            • Education: Social work, undergraduate and graduate degrees, University of Nevada at Las Vegas

            Vacant position

            Christopher DeRicco will become the seventh parole board member. He takes the place of Lucille Monterde, who served for three years.

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/19/us/oj-simpson-parole-board/index.html

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            Al Gore Calls For Single-Payer Health Care

            NEW YORK Al Gore called for single-payer health care on Tuesday, one day after a revolt by GOP senators dashed Republican hopes of passing a bill to repeal Obamacare.

            Speaking at an event to promote his new climate change documentary, the former vice president said health insurance companies have failed to offer cost-effective coverage, even under the Affordable Care Act. A government-run, single-payer system would provide taxpayer-funded basic health care coverage for everyone.

            The private sector has not shown any ability to provide good, affordable health care for all, Gore told a packed auditorium at Borough of Manhattan Community College. I believe we ought to have single-payer health care.

            The statement makes the 2000 presidential nominee one of the first high-profile Democrats to advocate the so-called Medicare-for-all option since Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) failed yet again this week to rally at least 50 of 52 Republican senators to pass a bill to repeal President Barack Obamas signature health care law. Lacking the votes to flat-out repeal the law without a replacement, President Donald Trump vowed to stand by and allow Obamacare to collapse without the support needed from his agencies.

            Gore blamed what he called the morass surrounding the passage of Obamacare in 2009 for tanking a cap-and-trade bill at the time in the Senate. The legislation would have established a limit on planet-warming carbon emissions and a system in which big companies could trade permits to pollute.

            In 2009, President Obama passed it in the House and he succeeded, but it was different when it came to the Senate, Gore said at the 90-minute talk hosted by The New York Times to publicize his new movie, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. I think we could have passed it in the Senate in 2009, and we could have gone to the climate negotiation in Copenhagen with a stronger hand, but thats water under the dam.

            Daniel Zuchnik via Getty Images
            Former Vice President Al Gore speaks at a TimesTalks event in Tribeca in New York on Tuesday.

            Gore did not include a universal government health care option in his platform during his unsuccessful bid for the White House in 2000. But, in 2002, indicated he favored such a policy.

            I think weve reached a point where the entire health care system is in impending crisis, Gore said at an ABC News panel at the time. I have reluctantly come to the conclusion that we should begin drafting a single-payer national health insurance plan.

            Progressives, backed by strong grassroots support from the partys base, moved swiftly to embrace single-payer proposals as the long-anticipated Republican assault on Obamacare began this year. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) launched a Medicare for all push in March. In June, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) called it the next step for Democrats. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) endorsed the policy last month, declaring, we should have Medicare for all.

            Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), widely considered a contender for the 2020 presidential race, said earlier this month that as a concept, Im completely in support of single pay, but insisted, weve got to work out the details, and the details matter on that.

            Others on the establishment wing of the party have been more reluctant. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) ducked questions about universal government care, saying only that he was looking at Sanders bill, which hasnt yet been publicly released. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has refused to sign on to Ellisons bill, and flatly said no when asked in May if single-payer health care should be part of the partys 2018 platform.

            Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/al-gore-single-payer_us_596eb69ae4b00db3d0f3ec88

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            Senate will vote to repeal Obamacare without replacement, after new healthcare bill stumbles

            Republican Mitch McConnell calls for vote on clean repeal, after senators Mike Lee and Jerry Moran come out against latest effort to replace Obamacare

            Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has announced that the Senate will vote on a clean repeal of Obamacare without any replacement, after two Republican senators broke ranks to torpedo the current Senate healthcare bill.

            Senators Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas came out on Monday night in opposition to McConnells Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the Senate version of the controversial healthcare reform bill that passed the House in May.

            Senate Republicans hold a bare 52-48 majority in the Senate and two members of the GOP caucus, the moderate Susan Collins of Maine and the libertarian Rand Paul of Kentucky, already opposed the bill, along with all 48 Democrats. The announcement from Moran and Lee made it impossible for Republicans to muster the 50 votes needed to bring the BCRA bill to the floor.

            Instead, McConnell announced late on Monday night that the Senate would vote on a bill to simply repeal Obamacare without any replacement in the coming days.

            The Kentucky Republican said in a statement: Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.

            He added that in the coming days the Senate would vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act with a two-year-delay. The Senate passed a similar bill in 2015, which was promptly vetoed by Barack Obama.

            McConnells plan echoes a statement made by Donald Trump in a tweet on Monday night, in which the president urged a repeal of Obamacare with any replacement to come in the future.

            Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in! Trump wrote.

            The announcement from Lee and Moran came as Trump was having dinner at the White House with a number of senators who support the bill. Trump talked to several conservatives on the phone over the weekend, including Lee, in an attempt to win their support.

            In a tweet, Lee noted that he could not support this version of the bill. Moran used the same language on Twitter. Both voted for a clean repeal of the Affordable Care Act in 2015, albeit with the expectation that it would be vetoed by Obama and not become law.

            In an op-ed in The Resurgent, a conservative online publication, Lee cited the fact that the current bill did not incorporate an amendment that he introduced with Ted Cruz to allow insurance companies to offer bare-bones insurance plans. In Lees argument, the mandate that insurance companies cover pre-existing conditions resulted in a hidden tax which meant that middle-class families are being forced to pay billions in higher health insurance premiums to help those with pre-existing conditions.

            In a statement, Moran took a slightly different tack. He said: There are serious problems with Obamacare, and my goal remains what it has been for a long time: to repeal and replace it. This closed-door process has yielded the BCRA, which fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address healthcares rising costs. The Kansas Republican also warned that the current legislation leave[s] the federal government in control of everyday healthcare decisions which Moran said made it more likely that our healthcare system will devolve into a single-payer system, which would require a massive federal spending increase.

            The announcement came shortly after a Senate vote on the healthcare bill was delayed due to the hospitalization of John McCain. The Arizona senator had a blood clot removed from above his left eye on Friday night and was unable to fly to Washington as a result. On Saturday, McConnell said the Senate would defer consideration of the bill while McCain recovered. A number of other moderate Republican senators have yet to take positions on the bill, most notably Dean Heller of Nevada.

            Although a repeal of Obamacare without providing for a immediate replacement has long been popular with conservatives, many other Republicans have been skeptical of this approach because of the potential political cost.

            In contrast, McCain said in a statement that Republicans should start the process of passing a health care bill over. Congress must now return to regular order [and] hold hearings, said the Arizona Republican.

            In a statement, the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer, said: This second failure of Trumpcare is proof positive that the core of this bill is unworkable.

            He added: Rather than repeating the same failed, partisan process yet again, Republicans should start from scratch and work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long-term stability to the markets and improves our healthcare system.

            Lauren Gambino contributed reporting

            Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/17/republican-health-bill-senators-oppose-vote

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            Children ‘exercise less as they get older’ – BBC News

            Image copyright Science Photo Library

            The number of children doing an hour of exercise a day falls by nearly 40% between the ages of five and 12.

            Figures suggest that by the final year of primary school, just 17% of pupils are doing the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity every day.

            A spokesman for Public Health England described the drop in activity levels as “concerning”.

            More than a third of children in England are overweight by the time they leave primary school.

            A new survey from Public Health England and Disney looked at the effects of physical activity on children’s emotional wellbeing

            More than 1,000 children aged five to 11 were questioned, with their parents acknowledging that being active made their children feel happier (79%), more confident (72%), and more sociable (74%).

            But the survey also found that children’s overall happiness declined with age, with 64% of five-and six-year-olds saying they always felt happy, compared with just 48% of 11-year-olds.

            “Children’s physical activity levels in England are alarmingly low, and the drop in activity from the ages of five to 12 is concerning,” said Public Health England’s Eustace de Sousa.

            “Children who get enough physical activity are mentally and physically healthier, and have all-round better development into adulthood – getting into the habit of doing short bursts of activity early can deliver lifelong benefits.”

            Currently, just 23% of boys and 20% of girls, between the ages of five and 15, meet the national recommended level of activity, according to an NHS report published last December.

            “Not being very good” was cited by many children as the reason they did not take part in some physical activities, with older children more likely to be self-conscious than their younger counterparts: 29% of 11-year-olds compared with 17% of five-year-olds.

            As part of the Change4Life campaign, Sport England and Disney have joined forces to launch a 10 Minute Shake Ups programme, encouraging children to take part in accessible activities across the school holidays.

            “The 10 Minute Shake Ups provide a load of fun activities to get kids moving more,” said Olympic marathon swimmer Keri-anne Payne, who is backing the campaign.

            “Being active is not just for Olympians, it’s for everyone. “

            Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40609517

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            How the middle class hoards wealth and opportunity for itself

            American society is dominated by an elite 20% that ruthlessly protects its own interests

            When I was growing up, my mother would sometimes threaten my brother and me with electrocution. Well, thats not quite right. In fact, the threat was of lessons in elocution, but we wittily, we thought renamed them.

            Growing up in a very ordinary town just north of London and attending a very ordinary high school, one of our several linguistic atrocities was failing to pronounce the t in certain words. My mother, who was raised in rural north Wales and left school at 16, did not want us to find doors closed in a class-sensitive society simply because we didnt speak what is still called the Queens English. I will never forget the look on her face when I managed to say the word computer with neither a p nor a t.

            Still, the lessons never materialised. Any lingering working-class traces in my own accent were wiped away by three disinfectant years at Oxford University. (My wife claims the adolescent accent resurfaces when I drink, but she doesnt know what shes talking about shes American.) We also had to learn how to waltz. My mother didnt want us to put a foot wrong there either.

            In fact, we did just fine, in no small part because of the stable, loving home in which we were raised. But I have always been acutely sensitive to class distinctions and their role in perpetuating inequality. In fact, one of the reasons I came to the United States was to escape the cramped feeling of living in a nation still so dominated by class. I knew enough not to think I was moving to a socially mobile utopia: Id read some of the research. It has nonetheless come as something of a shock to discover that, in some important respects, the American class system is functioning more ruthlessly than the British one I escaped.

            In the upper-middle-class America I now inhabit, I witness extraordinary efforts by parents to secure an elite future status for their children: tutors, coaches and weekend lessons in everything from French to fencing. But I have never heard any of my peers try to change the way their children speak. Perhaps this is simply because they know they are surrounded by other upper-middle-class kids, so there is nothing to worry about. Perhaps it is a regional thing.

            But I think there is a better explanation. Americans tend to think their children will be judged by their accomplishments rather than their accents. Class position is earned, rather than simply expressed. The way to secure a higher status in a market meritocracy is by acquiring lots of merit and ensuring that our kids do, too. What ones parents are like is entirely a matter of luck, points out the philosopher Adam Swift. But he adds: What ones children are like is not. Children raised in upper-middle-class families do well in life. As a result, there is a lot of intergenerational stickiness at the top of the American income distribution more, in fact, than at the bottom with upper-middle-class status passed from one generation to the next.

            Drawing class distinctions feels almost un-American. The nations self-image is of a classless society, one in which every individual is of equal moral worth, regardless of his or her economic status. This has been how the world sees the United States, too. Historian Alexis de Tocqueville observed in the early 19th century that Americans were seen to be more equal in fortune and intelligence more equally strong, in other words than they were in any other country, or were at any other time in recorded history. So different to the countries of old Europe, still weighed down by the legacies of feudalism.

            British politicians have often felt the need to urge the creation of a classless society, looking to America for inspiration as, what historian David Cannadine once called it, the pioneering and prototypical classless society. European progressives have long looked enviously at social relations in the New World. George Orwell noted the lack of servile tradition in America; the German socialist Werner Sombart noticed that the bowing and scraping before the upper classes, which produces such an unpleasant impression in Europe, is completely unknown.

            This is one of many reasons socialist politics struggled to take root in the United States. A key attraction of socialist systems the main one, according to Orwell is the eradication of class distinctions. There were few to eradicate in America. I am sure that one reason Downton Abbey and The Crown so delight American audiences is their depictions of an alien world of class-based status. One reason class distinctions are less obvious in America is that pretty much everyone defines themselves as a member of the same class: the one in the middle. Nine in ten adults select the label middle class, exactly the same proportion as in 1939, according to the pollsters Gallup. No wonder that politicians have always fallen over each other to be on their side.

            But in recent decades Americans at the top of the ladder have been entrenching their class position. The convenient fiction that the middle class can stretch up that far has become a difficult one to sustain. As a result, the modifications upper or lower to the general middle class category have become more important.

            Class is not just about money, though it is about that. The class gap can be seen from every angle: education, security, family, health, you name it. There will also be inequalities on each of these dimensions, of course. But inequality becomes class division when all these varied elements money, education, wealth, occupation cluster together so tightly that, in practice, almost any one of them will suffice for the purposes of class definition. Class division becomes class stratification when these advantages and thus status endure across generations. In fact, upper-middle-class status is passed down to the next generation more effectively than in the past, and in the United States more than in other countries.

            One benefit of the multidimensional nature of this separation is that it has reduced interdisciplinary bickering over how to define class. While economists typically focus on categorisation by income and wealth, and sociologists tend more towards occupational status and education, and anthropologists are typically more interested in culture and norms, right now it doesnt really matter, because all the trends are going the same way.

            It is not just the top 1% pulling away, but the top 20%. In fact, only a very small proportion of US adults 1% to 2% define themselves as upper class. A significant minority about one in seven adopts the upper middle class description. This is quite similar to the estimates of class size generated by most sociologists, who tend to define the upper middle class as one composed of professionals and managers, or around 15% to 20% of the working-age population.

            As David Azerrad of the Heritage Foundation writes: There is little appetite in America for policies that significantly restrict the ability of parents to do all they can, within the bounds of the law, to give their children every advantage in life. That is certainly true. But then Azerrad has also mis-stated the problem. No one sensible is in favour of new policies that block parents from doing the best they can for their children. Even in France the suggestion floated by the former president, Franois Hollande, to restore equality by banning homework, on the grounds that parents differ in their ability and willingness to help out, was laughed out of court. But we should want to get rid of policies that allow parents to give their children an unfair advantage and in the process restrict the opportunities of others.

            Most of us want to do our best for our children. Wanting ones childrens life to go well is part of what it means to love them, write philosophers Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift in their 2014 book Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationships. But our natural preference for the welfare and prospects of our own children does not automatically eclipse other moral claims. We would look kindly on a father who helps his son get picked as starting pitcher for his school baseball team by practising with him every day after work. But we would probably feel differently about a father who secures the slot for his son by bribing the coach. Why? After all, each father has sacrificed something, time in one case, money in the other, to advance his child. The difference is team selection should be based on merit, not money. A principle of fairness is at stake.

            So, where is the line drawn? The best philosophical treatment of this question I have found is the one by Swift and Brighouse. Their suggestion is that, while parents have every right to act in ways that will help their childrens lives go well, they do not have the right to confer on them a competitive advantage in other words, to ensure not just that they do well but that they do better than others. This is because, in a society with finite rewards, improving the situation of one child necessarily worsens that of another, at least in relative terms: Whatever parents do to confer competitive advantage is not neutral in its effects on other children it does not leave untouched, but rather is detrimental to, those other childrens prospects in the competition for jobs and associated rewards.

            The trouble is that in the real world this seems like a distinction without a difference. What they call competitive advantage-conferring parental activities will almost always be also helping-your-kid-flourish parental activities. If I read bedtime stories to my son, he will develop a richer vocabulary and may learn to love reading and have a more interesting and fulfilling life. But it could also help him get better grades than his classmates, giving him a competitive advantage in college admissions. Swift and Brighouse suggest a parent should not even aim to give their child a competitive advantage: It would be a little odd, perhaps even a little creepy, if the ultimate aim of her endeavours were that her child is better off than others.

            I think this is too harsh. In a society with a largely open, competitive labour market, it is not creepy to want your children to end up higher on the earnings ladder than others. Not only will this bring them a higher income, and all the accompanying choices and security, it is also likely to bring them safer and more interesting work. Relative position matters it is one reason, after all, that relative mobility is of such concern to policymakers. Although I think Brighouse and Swift go too far, they are on to something important with their distinction between the kind of parental behaviour that merely helps your own children and the kind that is detrimental to others. Thats what I call opportunity hoarding.

            Opportunity hoarding does not result from the workings of a large machine but from the cumulative effect of individual choices and preferences. Taken in isolation, they may feel trivial: nudging your daughter into a better college with a legacy preference [giving applicants places on the basis of being related to alumni of the college]; helping the son of a professional contact to an internship; a single vote on a municipal council to retain low-density zoning restrictions. But, like many micro-preferences, to borrow a term from economist Thomas Schelling, they can have strong effects on overall culture and collective outcomes.

            Over recent decades, institutions that once primarily served racist goals legacy admissions to keep out Jewish students, zoning laws to keep out black families have not been abandoned but have been softened, normalised and subtly re-purposed to help us sustain the upper-middle-class status. They remain, then, barriers to a more open, more genuinely competitive and fairer society. I wont insult your intelligence by pretending there are no costs here. By definition, reducing opportunity hoarding will mean some losses for the upper middle class.

            But they will be small. Our neighbourhoods will be a little less upmarket but also less boring. Our kids will rub shoulders with some poorer kids in the school corridor. They might not squeak into an Ivy League college, and they may have to be content going to an excellent public university. But if we arent willing to entertain even these sacrifices, there is little hope. There will be some material costs, too. The big challenge is to equalise opportunities to acquire human capital and therefore increase the number of true competitors in the labour market. This will require, among other things, some increased public investment. Where will the money come from? It cant all come from the super-rich. Much of it will have to come from the upper middle class. From me andyou.

            This is an extract from Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That is a Problem, and What To Do About It by Richard V Reeves (Brookings Institution Press, 2017)

            HOW TO STAY AHEAD – OR PLAY FAIR

            As parents, we naturally want our children to flourish. But that laudable desire slides into opportunity hoarding when we use our money, power or position to give our own children exclusive access to certain goods or chances. The effect is to strengthen class barriers.

            1. Fix an internship using our networks. Internships are becoming more important but are too often stitched up privately. Its worse if theyre unpaid. Instead: insist on paid internships, openly recruited.

            2. Take our own kids to work for the day. Children learn what work is from adults. Instead: try bringing somebody elses kid to work, perhaps by partnering with local charities.

            3. Be a Nimby. By shutting out low-income housing from our neighbourhoods with planning restrictions, we keep less affluent kids away from our local schools and communities. Instead: be a Yimby, vote and argue for more mixed housing in your area.

            4. Write cheques to PTA funds. Many of us want to support the school our children attend. This tilts the playing field, however, since other schools cant do the same. Instead: get your PTA to give half the donations to a school in a poor area.

            Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/jul/15/how-us-middle-classes-hoard-opportunity-privilege