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‘A Better Deal’ is more of the same from Dems

(CNN)Democrats would like voters to believe the party’s slogan for its new economic agenda rolled out Monday, “A Better Deal,” describes a program aimed at fighting for regular people — even though it mostly rings like a sales pitch for a discounted item at a shopping mall. Worse, the specifics of the strategy are a path to more electoral failure, because “A Better Deal” embraces falsehoods about economic power while leaving a bankrupt system unchallenged.

Right after the presidential election, I argued that the crisis facing Democrats, which was at least a decade of electoral losses in the making, boiled down to a failure to show voters any clear differences between the parties when it comes to propping up a failed economic system. As it now stands, it’s a system in which lobbyists shower both parties with money, tax cuts for business and keeping taxes too low on the wealthy are a bipartisan goal, health care is still something to leave in the hands of insurance companies and, above all, the glory of the “free market” is extolled by Democrats and Republicans.
Until Democrats display the strength to reject the system, they’ll continue to lose, and “A Better Deal” is just more of the same.
    The stupefying foolishness of the plan is evident in three main points from Monday’s s outline offered in op-eds by Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer and three Democratic House members in which they purport to give the broad strokes of the party’s economic strategy.
    Schumer specifically says the party will fight to increase “workers’ incomes by lifting the minimum wage to $15.” He and the House Democrats also talk a lot about retraining workers to give them skills to get higher-paying jobs. Most of the rest of the mumbo-jumbo is the typical warmed-over “innovation” and “don’t we all love small business” standard fare that excites elite policy wonks but is largely irrelevant to voters.
    Perhaps the most glaring omission here is that none of these party leaders use the word “union” even once. That isn’t entirely surprising: The typical party ethos going back to Bill Clinton has been to minimize the embrace of labor unions, beyond the occasional rhetorical gesture, except when it’s election season (read: when the party needs donations and campaign troops).
    But the “Fight for 15” has been primarily funded by unions, some of whom frankly were dragged into the battle by other affiliated organizations who were less than inspired by the Obama administration’s and congressional Democrats’ support for a paltry minimum wage hike to $10.10. To the consternation of the Wall Street wing of the party, the Bernie Sanders movement made $15-an-hour a central part of its economic message, and forced $15-an-hour as a goal, into the party’s 2016 platform.
    And if raising wages and preserving pensions is what Democrats want, they’re not going to get it without growing the power of unions. Unions built the middle class. Wages are low because, over the past several decades, employers have effectively stolen the productivity gains made by workers and only by revitalizing unions, publicly, aggressively and explicitly, will that change.
    Schumer and the House Democrats compounded this problem Monday by perpetuating the myth that workers need more skills to get “high-paying” jobs and that politicians can ensure they get those skills by, you guessed it, that sure-fire election winner: giving a tax credit to companies. This has been an untenable proposition going back to the 1990s, when then-Labor Secretary Robert Reich flogged his elitist “symbolic analysts” solution, in which workers can all find a place in the creative and knowledge economies, which supposedly fix everything.
    Reality is more difficult. Skills have nothing to do with the class warfare underway in the country. Workers are not dumb. It’s simple: There is no reason a retail worker, janitor or any worker who isn’t “highly skilled” can’t be paid a high wage, other than the lack of power to demand it through collective bargaining.
    Even so, today’s Democrats, with the “A Better Deal” slogan, have the temerity to channel Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s “New Deal” by explicitly stating, as Schumer does in his op-ed, “Our better deal is not about expanding the government.” Shame on them. That position betrays a continued acceptance by Democrats of a decadeslong Republican talking point that demonizes government, adopts the idea that taxes are too high and puts blind faith in the “free market.”
    Our problem has not been a growing government or a spending problem. It’s the priorities political leaders have set and how we raise money. And it’s a continued belief in “free market” neo-liberalism: a system that relies on market mechanisms, argues against expanding the role of the state and social services, and empowers corporations and wealthy individuals at the expense of citizens.
    To take the current policy debate around health care as the perfect example, a large majority of people support universal, single-payer health care, which would entail expanding government’s role. Yet, Schumer is trying to short-circuit universal health care as a party priority, even though it would end up saving businesses and average people hundreds of billions of dollars.

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    The ideological straitjacket “A Better Deal” creates goes deeper than a neglect of history or a refusal to empower citizens. It’s a failure of political philosophy and imagination. Its advocates say they want to protect the promise of Social Security and Medicare. But embracing a growing government would expand Social Security and Medicare, and, then, also fund free college education, and guaranteed annual incomes and a livable pension. We could fund some of that if, for example, we just cast off (a quarter-century after the Cold War ended) the government’s bipartisan priority to underwrite a bloated military and maintain the country’s prominence as the largest weapons merchant in the world, arming repressive regimes like Saudi Arabia.
    Of course, to do any of these things requires a political spine, and leaders who finally admit that the “free market” system cannot be fixed. Until the Democrats get this message, they might as well have a slogan closer to “Better Hygiene, Better Grammar, Better Front Lawns.” At least it won’t mislead.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/24/opinions/democrats-economic-plan-opinion-tasini/index.html

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    Turkish activists decry attack on press freedom as journalists stand trial

    Charges include claims that Cumhuriyet journalists helped the separatist Kurdistan Workers party and Glen movement

    The trial of 17 reporters and executives from Cumhuriyet, one of Turkeys last standing opposition newspapers, is set to begin on Monday with rights activists decrying the continuing muzzling of free speech in one of the worlds largest jailers of journalists.

    The charges include accusations that the newspapers journalists aided the separatist Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) and the Fethullah Glen movement, which is widely believed in Turkey to have orchestrated last years coup attempt, and complaints of irregularities in the elections of the organisations board of executives.

    Rights activists say the trial is an assault on freedom of expression and the accusations are absurd, because Cumhuriyet, the countrys newspaper of record that is committed to secularism, has long warned of the dangers of the Glen movement, which itself has long been at odds with the PKK.

    They argue that the other charges are an attempt at replacing the newspapers board of directors with government appointees more pliable to the ruling partys influence.

    I have been a journalist for a long time and have dealt with this for a long time, said Aydn Engin, a veteran journalist with Cumhuriyet who is also standing trial on Monday, but had been released for health reasons. I will say that I am ashamed and in agony for my country because of these irrational accusations, he said.

    President Recep Tayyip Erdoan and his ruling Justice and Development (AK) party have, for years worked to dismantle or co-opt Turkeys free press. That crackdown has accelerated in the year since last Julys coup, with more than 150 journalists believed to be behind bars in Turkey, the highest in the world ahead of China and Egypt.

    As of March this year, 173 media outlets had been shut down, including newspapers, magazines, radio stations, websites and news agencies. More than 2,500 journalists have been laid off as part of the closures and 800 have had their press cards revoked, according to the Republican Peoples party (CHP), the main opposition bloc.

    The government has also exerted pressure on media outlets that do not toe the official line by pressuring advertisers not to do business with them and pursuing cases of defamation, or by slapping them with large, unpayable fines. After media outlets that once belonged to the Glen movement were seized, the government-appointed trustee boards that have transformed those newspapers and TV stations into a loyalist press.

    These loyalist media outlets are often referred to as penguin media because a TV station that was fearful of antagonising the government during the Gezi protests of 2013 aired a documentary about penguins instead of broadcasting the protests.

    That threat of a trustee board hangs over Cumhuriyet, a newspaper that was founded in 1924 and is the only serious newspaper in circulation that is vehemently opposed to government policies. It has described the crackdown after the coup in which the government dismissed or detained tens of thousands of civil servants, police and military officers, academics, judges and journalists as a witch-hunt, and has repeatedly criticised Erdoan as an authoritarian attempting to destroy democracy.

    Erdoan has described democracy as a train before, said Engin, referring to a quote by the president that described democracy as a train that one can get off from once you reach you destination. Its going to be worse for Cumhuriyet. Maybe it will be a shut down, a quick and painless death, or we will suffocate slowly.

    The newspaper has also joined calls for a ceasefire and peaceful resolution to the conflict with the PKK at a time when the government had opted for a security-focused response amid heightened tensions. The former editor-in-chief, Can Dundar, is in exile after being prosecuted for a 2014 article that revealed the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) was sending weapons across the border into Syria under the guise of humanitarian aid, a story that the authorities say was leaked by Glenist conspirators.

    On Monday, a week of hearings is expected to begin in the Cumhuriyet case against 17 of the newspapers journalists and executives. The case will commence with a reading out of the indictment and opening defense statements, and they expect for the presiding judge to decide whether to release the defendants on bail by Friday.

    This trial offers the government another opportunity to change course in its campaign against Turkeys independent media, said Tobias Garnett, a human rights lawyer with P24, an organisation that advocates for press freedom and supports Turkish journalists on trial. Journalism is not a crime. Prosecutors should stop dressing up legitimate criticism as terrorism and harassing journalists through the courts.

    Blent zdoan, the managing editor of Cumhuriyet, said in an interview with the Guardian that the trial was not just about press freedom, but about the governments campaign in the aftermath of the coup more broadly.

    Its not just a struggle for free press, he said. Our arrested colleagues are people of a high moral and intellectual calibre. Its for everyone who lost their jobs, those who have been on hunger strike. Theyre struggling for both of us. Thats why I believe its a new start.

    The arrest of journalists has earned Ankara criticism from abroad. Late last month, the UN human rights councils working group on arbitrary detentions issued a legal opinion arguing that the arrest of the Cumhuriyet staff contravened the universal declaration of human rights and was arbitrary. The panel of experts called on the Turkish government to release the journalists.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/24/turkish-activists-decry-attack-press-freedom-journalists-stand-trial

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    Pence calls on GOP to ‘step up to the plate’ on health care bill

    (CNN)Vice President Mike Pence is increasing the pressure for Republicans to pass health care legislation, calling on senators to “step up to the plate” and keep their seven-year promise.

    The elevated rhetoric comes as the Republican health care legislation hangs by a tenuous thread.
    The Senate is expected to vote on a plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act next week, but what exactly that will be has yet to be announced. The Senate Republican leadership is urging members to pass a procedural vote to begin debate, but with Arizona Sen. John McCain out as he deals with newly diagnosed brain cancer, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only lose one member of his conference and still advance a bill.
      As of now, there’s no indication the votes are there.
      “We’re going to vote on whether to proceed to a bill,” Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said Thursday. “And I know people are fixated on what bill are we going to vote to proceed on — but the problem with that is that this is a unique process where every senator can offer amendments to change the bill. So it really is irrelevant what technical vehicle we proceed to. This is just strictly, are we going to start the debate, so people can offer amendments and so we can at some point finish.”
      President Donald Trump echoed Pence in a tweet Saturday morning.
      “The Republican Senators must step up to the plate and, after 7 years, vote to Repeal and Replace,” Trump wrote. “Next, Tax Reform and Infrastructure. WIN!”
      “ObamaCare is dead and the Democrats are obstructionists, no ideas or votes, only obstruction,” he continued in a follow-up tweet. “It is solely up to the 52 Republican Senators!”
      Pence reiterated the message Saturday night, saying he and the President “are going to keep fighting every single day until this Congress puts this bill on [Trump’s] desk.”
      “President Trump said it plainly the other day when he had every senator over to the White House,” Pence added. “He said he had pen in hand. He’s ready to act and the Senate health care bill, we believe, is the right bill at the right time to begin to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
      For now, the Trump administration is trying to come up with some kind of Obamacare replacement bill that will satisfy moderates. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma has been meeting in both group and individual settings with moderate hold-outs, hoping to convince them that there is a way to protect low-income people in their states once Medicaid expansion ends.
      A new Congressional Budget Office score Thursday showed that Republicans had more than $200 billion more to spend on health care and still make their budget target. That may give leaders and the White House some room to negotiate.
      But spending more money to win votes is making some Republicans uncomfortable.
      “It’s beginning to feel like there is a lack of coherency in what we’re doing, and it’s almost becoming a bidding process. Let’s throw $50 billion here, let’s throw $100 billion there. And again, it may write itself, but it’s making me uncomfortable right now,” said Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/22/politics/pence-ohio-gop-dinner/index.html

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      The week in patriarchy: Trump clearly doesn’t understand health insurance

      If you dont realize by now that a total clown is in charge, nothing is going to change that. At least its Friday

      If you want to be able to sleep this weekend, do yourself a favor and dont read the New York Times expansive interview with Donald Trump. The president makes little sense as he answers questions about everything from Russia to Jeff Sessions and healthcare and if you were already worried about whose hands the country is in, this piece will not put your mind at ease. For example, it seems pretty evident that the president of the United States has no idea how health insurance works.

      I used to see interviews like this and be a bit pleased because the more coverage of Trumps stupidity the better. But if you dont realize by now that a total clown is in charge, theres no interview or expose thats going to change that. So join me this week in a good old fashion wallow: things are bad, the president is bad. At least its Friday.

      Glass half full

      Scotland just became the first nation to offer free sanitary products to low-income women. Access to tampons and pads arent just a hygiene issue but a health and rights issue. At least one country is getting it right.

      What Im RTing

      Amir Talai (@AmirTalai)

      I read this brilliance on race and couldnt help thinking the world could really use Fran Lebowitz blogging or tweeting or something. pic.twitter.com/KLTHaZa6op

      July 18, 2017

      Laurie Penny (@PennyRed)

      Most of the interesting women you know are far, far angrier than you’d imagine.

      July 18, 2017

      Renee Bracey Sherman (@RBraceySherman)

      Home care workers care for families, and sometimes deal with abuse, sexual assault, and only get paid $10 an hour. https://t.co/P6oream4xT pic.twitter.com/TNzJJn1HwK

      July 20, 2017

      Planned Parenthood (@PPact)

      .@ppfa & @ReproRights are suing Texas over its latest abortion ban. Politicians make bad doctorshttps://t.co/zRfjG51i5t #WeWontGoBack pic.twitter.com/wmksAUMYmm

      July 20, 2017

      Who Im reading

      Soraya Nadia Mcdonald on R Kelly and the truth behind why he hasnt been held accountable for his abuse we just dont care about black women; Daniel Kibblesmith with a humourous but way too real take on the expectation that Hillary Clinton disappear from public life; and ProPublicas incredible investigation into maternal deaths in the United States.

      What Im watching

      How Fox News is trying to normalize collusion. Oh good.

      How outraged I am

      I was already at a ni ne out of 10 over Betsy Devos listening to anti-women rape deniers, and this first person account at Vox from a sexual assault survivor put me at a full 10.

      How Im making it through this week

      A golden retriever in Long Island rescued a baby deer from drowning and Ive watched it at least 15 times.

      Sign up for Jessica Valentis weekly newsletter on feminism and sexism

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/21/the-week-in-patriarchy-trump-clearly-doesnt-understand-health-insurance

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      Trump’s blast of Sessions has ‘chilling’ effect inside West Wing

      Washington (CNN)For President Donald Trump, loyalty in Washington is a one-way street.

      Trump’s trashing of several of his administration’s top justice officials in an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is causing deep alarm inside the West Wing, leading some to worry that their loyalty to Trump might not be reciprocated from the man in the Oval Office.
      There’s also a general sense of bewilderment as to why Trump gave the interview. Health care was the focus of the day. He actually got engaged — but then this.
        “It’s chilling,” one White House official said.
        Conversations with the official and one top Republican in frequent contact with the West Wing show a president who has long been angry with Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe, but rather than subsiding and moving on as Trump sometimes does, the anger has grown into a passionate rage.
        “No one was more loyal than Sessions. No one,” a White House official said, speaking confidentially to avoid drawing the President’s ire.
        The thinking goes: If this could happen to Sessions, it could happen to anyone. One official described the President’s blasting of Sessions as only intensifying the already low morale inside the West Wing.
        Trump faulted Sessions for accepting his offer to be attorney general and then recusing himself shortly thereafter due to undisclosed contacts he had with Russian officials during the campaign. The President said those actions were “very unfair” to him.
        “Sessions,” Trump told The New York Times, “should have never recused himself and if he was going to recuse himself he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.”
        He added: “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the President.”

        Loyalty

        The comments are a stunning rebuke from a president who craves loyalty, demanding it from those who work for him. Trump has written extensively about the trait in his books, as well, touting it as the most critical quality as person can have.
        But as Trump has eased into life in the White House, his demands for loyalty have proven to be unrequited, most recently shown by how he lashed out at Sessions, one of his earliest and most dedicated supporters.
        Sessions declined to hit back at Trump during a press briefing Thursday, telling reporters that he “plan(s) to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate.”
        Sessions loyalty to Trump has been unflinching for years. The conservative senator was his first Senate endorsement, long before any other Republican heavyweights were on board. The senator also stood by Trump after the Access Hollywood tape controversy, where Trump was heard making lewd comments about sexually assaulting women. And Sessions even helped fill Trump’s inner circle with confidants of his own, including Stephen Miller, Trump’s top policy aide, and Rick Dearborn, a top White House legislative aide.
        The acrimony between Trump and Sessions has long been simmering — Sessions tendered his resignation earlier this year but Trump declined to accept it — but Wednesday’s comments signal a shift in Trump’s leadership style, one that former employers used to say rested on unflinching loyalty to the company and, more importantly, the boss.
        Earlier in his career, during a question-and-answer session from The Learning Annex Wealth Expo, Trump was asked for the “key things” a boss should look for when hiring someone and building a team.
        “The thing that’s most important to me is loyalty,” Trump said. “You can’t hire loyalty. I’ve had people over the years who I swore were loyal to me, and it turned out that they weren’t. Then I’ve had people that I didn’t have the same confidence in and turned out to be extremely loyal. So you never really know.”

        One-way street

          Comey: Trump asked to lift ‘cloud’ of probe

        He brought those beliefs to Washington by bringing many of his own employees with him, but his credo now appears to be Trump asking for loyalty, not giving it back.
        Trump asked fired FBI Director James Comey for his loyalty during a January 27 dinner at the White House, Comey said in written testimony to the Senate earlier this year.
        “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,” Comey recalled Trump saying, adding later that the soon-to-be fired FBI director offered him “honest loyalty.”
        Trump later fired Comey in May, citing his disloyalty as one of the reasons in later interviews.
        The President also asked Republicans in the House to stick with him on health care reform, touting the bill as “incredibly well crafted” during a Rose Garden ceremony after narrowly it passed the House. Weeks later, Trump went back on those comments and called the House health care bill “mean” in a meeting with senators.
        The remark shocked some lawmakers who stuck with Trump on health care, despite the political perils.
        Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican and member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, was flummoxed when CNN asked him what he thought of the President calling the bill “mean.”
        “The one,” he asked, “that he had us come over and celebrate?”

        Long-held belief

        Those close to Trump have long said loyalty is critical to him.
        Bill Zanker, the president and founder of The Learning Annex who wrote “Think Big: Make It Happen in Business and Life” with Trump in 2009, put it bluntly in his intro to the self-help book: “Loyalty is important to Trump and is a wonderful trait to have in business.”
        “I try to hire people who are honest and loyal. I value loyalty very much,” they wrote. “I put the people who are loyal to me on a high pedestal and take care of them very well … I go out of my way for the people who were loyal to me in bad times.”
        And former employees, who requested anonymity to speak bluntly, said Trump’s desire for loyalty is the reason why he brought someone like Keith Schiller, his longtime bodyguard and adviser, into the White House. Schiller is an asset to the White House, many who know him say, but his steadfast loyalty is his biggest asset to Trump.
        Trump’s love of loyalty stems, according to those close to him, to his mentor Roy Cohn, who stood by Trump and his family in the face of housing discrimination and grew into his guide through the rough New York real estate industry.
        “Sometimes I think that next to loyalty, toughness was the most important thing in the world to him,” Trump wrote of Cohn in his 1997 urtext “The Art of the Deal.”
        “He was a truly loyal guy — it was a matter of honor with him,” Trump wrote. “And because he was also very smart, he was a great guy to have on your side.”

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/20/politics/trump-loyalty-sessions-white-house/index.html

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        John McCain has been diagnosed with brain cancer, spokesman says

        Statement reveals brain tumor known as glioblastoma was removed along with blood clot above senators right eye during surgery last Friday

        John McCain, the Arizona senator and former Republican presidential candidate, has been diagnosed with brain cancer.

        A brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was removed from McCain along with a blood clot in a surgery at the Mayo Clinic on Friday, a spokesperson said on Wednesday.

        McCains office had only previously announced that the blood clot had been removed from above the 80-year-olds left eye.

        The Mayo Clinic said in a statement released by McCains office: The senator and his family are reviewing further treatment options with his Mayo Clinic care team. Treatment options may include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. The senators doctors say he is recovering from his surgery amazingly well and his underlying health is excellent.

        The surgery had forced McCain to stay in Arizona this week and miss votes in the Senate. It had led to a delay in the vote on the Senate Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was originally scheduled for Monday. Since the delay was announced, a sufficient number of Republican senators came forward to express their opposition to the bill and forced the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to shelve it and instead try to push a vote on a clean repeal of the ACA.

        In a statement, the Arizona senators spokesperson said that in the aftermath of his diagnosis, further consultations with [the] Mayo Clinic care team will indicate when he will return to the United States Senate.

        An extended absence would likely make it even more difficult for Republicans to repeal or replace the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare. Senate Republicans have a narrow 52-48 majority and, with the tie-breaking vote of Mike Pence, can only afford to lose two votes if McCain is present. His absence means that two Republican no votes would now sink any legislation if all 48 Democrats are unified in opposition.

        McCain, who was re-elected to his sixth term in the Senate in 2016, was the Republican partys presidential nominee in 2008 and finished second to George W Bush in the 2000 GOP presidential primary. Prior to his career in politics, McCain served as an aviator in the US navy, and was held as prisoner of war for five and a half years during the Vietnam war. While being held captive by the north Vietnamese, McCain was repeatedly subjected to torture. He retired as a captain after earning a number of decorations including the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

        The Arizona senators illness sparked an outpouring of support from both sides of the aisle.

        In a statement, Donald Trump said: Senator John McCain has always been a fighter. Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy, and their entire family. Get well soon. Trump, who famously set off a political firestorm in 2015 by saying McCain was not a war hero, said earlier in the week of the Arizona senator: We hope John McCain gets better very soon because we miss him. Hes a crusty voice in Washington. Plus we need his vote. And hell be back.

        Barack Obama, against whom McCain ran in the 2008 presidential election, tweeted: John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters Ive ever known. Cancer doesnt know what its up against. Give it hell, John.

        Barack Obama (@BarackObama)

        John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters I’ve ever known. Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell, John.

        July 20, 2017

        A number of McCains colleagues in the Senate also expressed their well wishes. In a statement, Mitch McConnell said: John McCain is a hero to our Conference and a hero to our country. He has never shied from a fight and I know that he will face this challenge with the same extraordinary courage that has characterized his life. The entire Senate familys prayers are with John, Cindy and his family, his staff, and the people of Arizona he represents so well. We all look forward to seeing this American hero again soon.

        Outside a meeting of Senate Republicans to discuss healthcare reform on Wednesday night, senator John Hoeven of North Dakota said they had learned of the diagnosis during the meeting.

        It was very emotional almost kind of stunned disbelief, Hoeven told reporters. Senator James Lankford, of Oklahoma, then led them in prayer.

        Hoeven said the senators had received a message from McCain via South Carolina senator Lindsay Graham, a close friend. The senator told them he was eager to get back and get to work, Hoeven added.

        Graham was visibly emotional as he recalled his conversation with McCain when he learned of the diagnosis.

        He says, Ive been through worse, Graham told reporters. Five minutes into the call, however, McCain wanted to talk the legislative priories, Graham said.
        God knows how this ends, he said. But I do know this: This disease has never had a more worthy opponent.

        In a statement, McCains daughter Meghan said: He is a warrior at dusk, one of the greatest Americans of our age, and the worthy heir to his fathers and grandfathers name. But to me, he is something more. He is my strength, my example, my refuge, my confidante, my teacher, my rock, my hero my Dad.

        Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain)

        Statement regarding my father @SenJohnMcCain: pic.twitter.com/SMte9Hkwkq

        July 20, 2017

        Lauren Gambino contributed to this report.

        Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/19/john-mccain-brain-cancer

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        Mitch McConnell ‘master tactician’ label damaged after Senate health care fight

        (CNN)The looming defeat of the Senate health care bill marks a dramatic low point in the otherwise lofty political career of Mitch McConnell, the chamber’s majority leader who is often described as a disciplined “master tactician” of the Senate accustomed to methodically building legislative victories for Republicans.

        But repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act — the hot button and emotionally-charged issue that sharply split his party — proved to be too difficult a task for now, something McConnell acknowledged at a crowded Capitol news conference where he was asked bluntly if his “leadership” had been “damaged” by the process.
        “This has been a very, very challenging experience for all of us,” McConnell replied. “A lot of people have been involved in the discussion and very passionate discussions. But everybody’s given it their best shot. And as of today, we just simply do not have 50 senators who can agree on what ought to replace the existing law.”
          It was a stunning admission for the GOP leader who made getting rid of Obamacare a mission since it was enacted seven years ago, and his top legislative priority for the past six months as Republicans controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress.
          Few people in Washington bet against McConnell, who successfully negotiated highly complex deals in the past like the 2011 fiscal cliff agreement during the administration of President Barack Obama. The 75-year-old, soft-spoken Kentuckian, who has led Republicans for the last 10 years, also had the political fortitude to block Obama when he tried to fill a Supreme Court vacancy and successfully kept it open for a year until it was filled by President Donald Trump.
          “Mitch McConnell knows how to do things, and I think we’re going to have some really great health care for a long time,” Trump said at a Rose Garden celebration after the House passed its version of the Obamacare repeal and sent it to the Senate.
          But McConnell drew immediate fire from some members of his Republican conference for his decision to bypass the “regular order” for health care, a process he so often advocates. Through that approach, committees of jurisdiction would hold public hearings and draft compromise legislation that could then move to the floor with significant support and momentum.
          “The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation’s governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care,” said Sen. John McCain in a statement Tuesday from Arizona, where he is recovering from surgery.
          Instead, McConnell created a small “working group” of about a dozen members, who happened to all be men, and huddled with leadership aides behind closed doors in his suite to try to cut a deal. Some Republicans were angered at being excluded and for the secrecy of the group.

            McConnell: We can’t agree on replacement

          The group invited in other members — like the handful of moderate Republicans from swing states concerned about potential cuts to Medicaid — but somehow the force of those wary moderates’ convictions didn’t resonate fully with McConnell who thought that in the end, their espoused disdain of Obamacare would secure their votes no matter what.
          In the end, it was that group of moderates that formed the bulwark against the bill, forcing McConnell to pull it from consideration before the July 4 recess and now to consider putting a revised bill on the floor where it appears destined for defeat.
          “I did not come to Washington to hurt people,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, in a remarkable statement announcing her opposition to McConnell’s latest proposal. “My position on this issue is driven by its impact on West Virginians. With that in mind, I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians.”
          Conservatives also chaffed at the deal. Sen. Rand Paul, the other Republican senator from Kentucky, never got on board, claiming McConnell’s approach never fully undid Obamacare.
          McConnell also suffered by not having a consistent partner in Trump. The President never fully engaged in the negotiations nor in selling the deal. He didn’t barnstorm the country selling the deal or hold many White House meetings to press wavering senators to get on board. Trump has invited all 52 GOP senators to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for lunch on Wednesday, a White Official told CNN.
          Senate Republicans also did little to promote their efforts. They organized few of the typical press events on the Hill where advocates talk about the need for reform and McConnell rarely did TV interviews and other events to promote the bill. A CNN whip list of GOP senators show 41 of 52 not publicly supporting the bill.
          Senate Republicans held a spirited closed-door caucus meeting in the Capitol at lunchtime. It was evident that senators were “upset,” according to one GOP source briefed on the meeting. But the anger “was not all directed at” McConnell for his handling of the bill in part because “there are so many different factions” in the conference on the healthcare issue, the source said.
          However, one conservative, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, was furious with McConnell over reports the leader had said privately the long-term Medicaid reforms in the revised bill would never come to fruition, something McConnell denied.
          Johnson was asked by CNN Tuesday if he still had faith in McConnell as GOP leader and he would not answer yes.
          “I found those comments very troubling,” was all Johnson would say.
          Johnson appeared to be the only GOP senator so vocally upset with McConnell for his mishandling of the health care bill.
          As McConnell moves now to have final votes on the bill sometime early next week, he must decide whether to return to “regular order” and try again to build support to reverse Obamacare or let the issue go for now and turn to other pressing business, like tax reform, government spending, an increase in the debt ceiling and other legislation.
          Asked how he will explain to voters the defeat of health care after such a long commitment to passing it, McConnell was hopeful.
          “Well, we have a new Supreme Court justice,” he said. “We have 14 repeals of regulations. And we’re only six months into it. Last time I looked, Congress goes on for two years.”

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/18/politics/mitch-mcconnell-health-care-fight/index.html

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          Journalist under fire for calling it ‘crazy’ not to be disgusted by homeless people

          Prominent Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum says critics deliberately misreading his response to study on peoples reaction to seeing homelessness

          A high-profile Mother Jones writer has suggested that it would be crazy not to have a reflexive disgust of homeless people, stirring the anger of those who say he is perpetuating the worst kinds of stereotypes.

          Writing on Friday, Kevin Drum was responding to a study which found that some people with a propensity for feeling disgust might experience it when faced with someone living on the street.

          Glenn Greenwald reacted by posting photographs of homeless people who have performed altruistic acts alongside a screen shot from Drums story. The two authors of the study, meanwhile, say Drum glossed over subtleties in their work.

          outside in america

          He seemed to just be endorsing the worst stereotypes without any nuance or without any humanization of these people, said Scott Clifford, one of the authors and an assistant professor of political science at the University of Houston.

          Drum said his critics were guilty of deliberately misreading what I wrote.

          The authors of the study which is admittedly eyebrow-raising owing to its lexicon set out to untangle a contradiction. Across the country, cities seek to aid homeless people by providing shelters and millions of dollars in funding, while also passing laws against sitting or lying on sidewalks, or restricting where RVs can park, which serve to exclude them.

          They examined survey data and focused on a particular feeling that seemed to play a role in perpetuating this paradox: While most of the public wants to help homeless people, they write, sensitivity to disgust drives many of these same people to support policies that facilitate physical distance from homeless people.

          Disgust, they propose, might help explain nimbyism in this casea desire among housed people to prevent camps or housing being built in the vicinity of their own homes. And they argue that the media exacerbates disgust with stories that mention disease and unsanitary conditions.

          But they do not say that this kind of reaction of reaction is universal: while some people are prone to feeling disgust in the presence of homelessness, others are less likely to.

          In his brief response to a summary that the authors published in the Washington Post, Drum said he found their results unsurprising. About half the homeless suffer from a mental illness and a third abuse either alcohol or drugs, he wrote, before commenting how crazy it would be not to not to be disgusted by a population like that.

          He finished by suggesting that it was the work of a decent human being to overcome these reflexive feelings and find empathy.

          It certainly is the work of of a good human being not to act fully based on immediate reactions, said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. She said the study seems to make sense, though she had some reservations. But she did not agree with Drum, calling the post really over the top and not true to what the paper is saying.

          Its just a manifestation of the worst kinds of stereotypes. As a subscriber to this publication, Im really disappointed.

          Pete White, head of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, said he thought Drums conclusions risked tarring an entire group of people, as if every houseless person is addicted to drugs and had a mental illness.

          Both of the studys authors expressed displeasure. He appears to believe that everyone will in all circumstances feel disgust towards homeless people, said Spencer Piston, the other author and an assistant professor of political science at Boston University. Theres a clear irony here, which is that we argue that the connection between disgust and attitudes about the homeless depend in part on media coverage and the extent to which homeless people are portrayed as disgusting.

          In an email, Drum said that he did not think his blogpost was unfaithful to the study. He also pushed back at those condemning him. Please note that I didnt say I was disgusted by the homeless, nor that they are inherently disgusting, he said. Only that, given the nature of the demographic, its not surprising that most people find them disgusting.

          Clara Jeffery, the editor-in-chief of Mother Jones, said that the anger was fueled by the terms used in the study and not Drums writing itself. But it is one brief post about a study, she added in her email. Mother Jones has an extensive body of work on the homeless, the housing and mental health and opioid crisis fueling it.

          Do you have an experience of homelessness to share with the Guardian? Get in touch

          Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/17/homelessness-kevin-drum-mother-jones-disgust

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          All the Doctors, from William Hartnell to Jodie Whittaker – BBC News


          Image caption A promotional image for 2013’s 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor

          Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi has passed on his sonic screwdriver to Jodie Whittaker who becomes the 13th doctor and first woman to take on the role of television’s famous Time Lord.

          She follows a distinguished line-up of thespian (male) talent that stretches all the way back to the sci-fi favourite’s first episode in 1963.

          William Hartnell was the first actor to play the Doctor, appearing in the BBC show from 1963 to 1966.

          Hartnell, who died in 1975, had previously appeared in TV’s The Army Game and Carry On Sergeant, the first Carry On film, in 1958.

          When ill health forced Hartnell to relinquish the role, the Doctor regenerated – for the first time – into Patrick Troughton.

          Memorably scruffy and eccentric, Troughton spent three years travelling time and space before stepping down in 1969.

          When the raffish Jon Pertwee became the third Doctor, he also became the first to be seen on television in colour.

          His tenure, which ran from 1970 to 1974, saw the Time Lord exiled to Earth and working with Unit, aka the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce.

          Pertwee’s time with the show also saw the first of the popular ensemble stories in which previous Doctors appear alongside the current one.

          Broadcast over December 1972 and January 1973, The Three Doctors saw him joined by Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell in what would be the latter’s final acting engagement.

          When Pertwee moved on in 1974, Tom Baker moved in – and would become the longest-serving Doctor to date.

          Deep-voiced, curly-haired and eternally long of scarf, his seven years in the Tardis earned him legions of fans who were delighted anew in 2013 when he popped up at the end of a 50th anniversary special.

          When Baker finally stepped down from the role in 1981, his shoes were filled by the fresh-faced Peter Davison.

          The boyish actor spent three years as the Fifth Doctor before taking his leave at the end of the show’s 21st series.

          Davison’s tenure coincided with Doctor Who’s 20th anniversary, celebrated by a feature-length special that saw him joined by Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton.

          The First Doctor also made an appearance, with Richard Hurndall filling in for the late William Hartnell.

          Tom Baker opted not to return for The Five Doctors, which covered over his absence by incorporating material from one of the actor’s unbroadcast adventures.

          Similar subterfuge was required for this 1983 photo shoot, which saw Hurndall, Davison, Pertwee and Troughton joined by an unconvincing Baker mannequin.

          Davison’s departure opened the door for another Baker to take controls of the Doctor’s time-travelling police box in 1984.

          Colin Baker (no relation of Tom’s) spent less than three years in the role, with his appearances limited further by an 18-month hiatus in production.

          Though Baker had limited time to enjoy the Tardis, he did get the chance to meet one of his predecessors when Patrick Troughton returned – for the third time – in 1985.

          The Two Doctors marked Troughton’s final reprise of his signature role. Some years later, his sons David and Michael would both make Doctor Who appearances.

          Scottish actor Sylvester McCoy took over from Colin Baker in 1987 and played the Doctor until the show’s axing in 1989.

          Michael Grade – the controller of BBC One at the time – was no fan of the programme, which was looking increasingly threadbare and cheap-looking in the face of glossier cinema fare.

          Some feel, though, that this period in the show’s evolution has been harshly judged.

          An attempt was made to revive Doctor Who in 1996 with a TV film that saw McCoy regenerate into Paul McGann on American soil.

          It was hoped the special would spawn a TV series but it never materialised, making McGann’s tenure the shortest of all the Doctors.

          In 2005 Doctor Who regenerated into the ambitious, well-financed property it is today. It also introduced a new Doctor in the form of Christopher Eccleston.

          To the disappointment of many, the Salford-born actor chose to make only one series of the rebooted show. His departure was confirmed only days after his debut episode was broadcast.

          Eccleston’s exit saw David Tennant join the show, with his first full episode – The Christmas Invasion – shown on BBC One on Christmas Day 2005.

          Tennant’s amiable style and enthusiasm made him a popular choice for the role, which he finally relinquished on the first day of 2010.

          The spate of junior Doctors continued with the casting of Matt Smith, who was just 27 when he made his debut as the Time Lord’s 11th incarnation.

          His four years in the role, which coincided with Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary, saw the programme both maintain and bolster its renewed popularity.

          Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary in 2013 was marked by The Day of the Doctor, a feature-length special in which Matt Smith’s Time Lord was joined by David Tennant’s version of the character.

          The Day of the Doctor also introduced a previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor, known as The War Doctor and played by Sir John Hurt.

          Peter Capaldi was no stranger to the Doctor Who universe when he was cast as the Doctor in 2013. A lifelong fan of the show, he appeared in an episode of the programme in 2008 and also had a role in its spin-off Torchwood.

          His hawkish features brought a new intensity, and maturity, to the Tardis from the moment his first full episode was broadcast in August 2014.

          Capaldi’s most recent adventure saw him briefly joined by the “original” Doctor, played on this occasion by David Bradley.

          Bradley will return in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special.

          Bradley’s appearance was a pleasing one for Whovians after his role as William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time, a 2013 dramatisation of the show’s early years.

          Jodie Whittaker has been named as the 13th Doctor and the first ever woman to play the role.

          She will make her debut on the sci-fi show this Christmas when Capaldi regenerates.


          Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

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          Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-40585673

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          Governors skeptical after ‘pretty atrocious’ session with top Trump health officials

          Providence, Rhode Island (CNN)Governors confronted President Donald Trump’s top health officials over the cost of the Republican health care push to their states in a tense, closed-door session here Saturday.

          Vice President Mike Pence, Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma made a frantic bid at the National Governors Association meeting Friday and Saturday to win over — or at least silence — skeptical GOP governors.
          But their efforts left major questions unanswered, Republican and Democratic governors said.
            And Pence’s speech Friday resulted in the vice president openly feuding with Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Republican who didn’t attend the governors’ meeting.
            Price and Verma had been dispatched to the meeting in Rhode Island to convince governors that their states could absorb the elimination of enhanced Medicaid funding for low-income adults who received coverage under the Affordable Care Act and the reduction of federal support for their overall Medicaid programs.
            They urged governors to ignore Congressional Budget Office estimates that 15 million fewer people would be covered by Medicaid by 2026 and that $772 billion would be cut from the program, compared to current law, under a Senate Republican bill that would eliminate Obamacare’s expansion of the program.
            Their argument: States would gain flexibility to overhaul their traditional Medicaid programs through block grants or per-enrollee caps, allowing them to save money that could be used to stave off losses of coverage.
            But the closed-door session with Price and Verma on Saturday was “pretty atrocious,” said Connecticut Democratic Gov. Dan Malloy.
            “They repeatedly pretended that the federal government saving hundreds of billions of dollars won’t translate to actual cuts,” he said. “I was told that I’ll innovate sufficiently to save them hundreds and hundreds of billions of dollars.”
            Republicans also emerged from the meeting saying they remain concerned about the long-term financial fallout of the bill.
            “I think there’s disagreement on the outcomes and what that means and whether that is manageable,” said Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, a Republican whose state expanded Medicaid.
            “It is a huge challenge for us in terms of communicating what the future is going to be like to our health care providers,” Hutchinson told CNN after the meeting. “That is the challenge for governors — we’re on the front lines here. … It’s the long term that people want to know about.”
            Another key governor, Nevada Republican Brian Sandoval, told reporters afterward that he remained concerned about the bill’s elimination of funding for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, which led 210,000 Nevadans to gain coverage. Nevada Republican Sen. Dean Heller has closely linked his vote to Sandoval’s position.
            Malloy said he argued with Price and Verma when — after Verma had taken issue with the Congressional Budget Office forecasts of coverage losses — Price cited the CBO analysis to back up a separate point.
            “They were incredibly inconsistent between themselves,” he said. “They support what they like from CBO, and they attack CBO. But at least the secretary was forced to admit that’s the only public generated analysis.”
            Just before Price and Verma spoke Saturday morning, the consulting firm Avalere Health delivered a presentation that forecast cuts in federal Medicaid funding to the states of 27% to 36% by 2036 under the Senate legislation when compared to current law.
            Some governors said that presentation left them less certain about the Trump administration’s claims that Medicaid funding would not decline.
            “I think there’s still some confusion on numbers,” said Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, a Republican. “And so, frankly, I wish we would have had more time this morning to ask questions. There’s still a lot of questions from Republicans and Democrats.”
            Mead said there is a clear divide among GOP governors based on whether their states expanded Medicaid. Mead’s state did not. But he said he’s still struggling with a “state of flux” on Capitol Hill over health care.
            At the center of the case Pence, Price and Verma made to governors was increased flexibility to make changes to their states’ Medicaid programs. Under the bills, states could opt to receive a lump sum of money — known as a block grant — to cover certain Medicaid recipients. They would receive more control over their programs in exchange.
            The bill’s critics, however, say that cash-strapped states won’t be able to make up for the losses in federal funding even with the additional flexibility. States would be forced to cut enrollment, benefits or provider rates, they argue.
            The Trump administration has pledged to aggressively grant states’ requests for waivers that would allow them to deviate from traditional Medicaid, and the House and Senate health care bills would give federal officials even further authority to grant those waivers, giving states additional freedom to craft their own programs using federal dollars.
            That, Republican governors said, is good news. Hutchinson said Price and Verma gave governors “a number of new ideas that had not been considered before.”
            Pence’s speech Friday drew a tepid reception from Republicans and Democrats in attendance.
            He made a reference to Kasich, saying, “I suspect that he’s very troubled to know that in Ohio alone, nearly 60,000 disabled citizens are stuck on waiting lists, leaving them without the care they need for months or even years.”
            That claim, though, is bogus, Kasich’s office said. The waiting lists are related to Medicaid’s home and community-based services and had nothing to do with Ohio’s decision to expand Medicaid under Obamacare.
            “The claim is not accurate. It’s been fact checked twice,” Kasich’s communications department said on Twitter, linking to fact-checks from The Los Angeles Times and the Columbus Dispatch.
            At the same time Price and Verma were attempting to win over governors, the White House was circulating a new op-ed in The Washington Post in which Trump aides Marc Short and Brian Blase argued that Americans and lawmakers should give “little weight” to CBO projections that millions would lose coverage under the Senate GOP bill.
            “The CBO’s methodology, which favors mandates over choice and competition, is fundamentally flawed,” the two argued. “As a result, its past predictions regarding health-care legislation have not borne much resemblance to reality. Its prediction about the Senate bill is unlikely to fare much better.”

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/15/politics/trump-health-care-governors/index.html