Senators share photos of GOP tax bill pages, and they’re pretty illegible

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to his office in the Capitol as he awaits the vote on his party's tax plan.
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We’ve all been there. You have your assignment printed and ready to go, but are frantically scribbling down last minute additions in the desperate hope that you’ll get a passing grade.

This was OK in high school English class, but what about in the U.S. Senate? 

After several failed attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, Senate Republicans are really doing everything they can get a legislative win once and for all with their tax plan—including making hasty and nearly illegible handwritten notes and straight up crossed out sections of the bill. 

Their Democratic counterparts have been sharing photos of the absurdity, and they’re not too happy about it. 

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana posted an angry video calling out his Republican counterparts and their scribbled legislative notes on Twitter. He said he had received his copy of the bill 25 minutes earlier, just a few hours before the Senate vote. 

Just an hour before she had to report to the Senate floor for a vote, Sen. Elizabeth Warren also posted a video of her trying to read the messy bill. She couldn’t. 

If passed by the Senate and the House and signed into law, the tax plan would make a massive cut to the corporate tax rate, give several tax cuts and benefits to the wealthiest Americans, and get rid of the individual health insurance mandate, among many, many other things. 

With so many changes to the way our tax system works on the line, representatives should at least be able to know what decisions they’re making on behalf of their constituents, because, you know … democracy.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/12/01/senators-gop-tax-plan/

This visionary organization wants to improve the lives of 50 million people by 2030

Image: pixabay

Imagine delivering a child in a place where you’re required to bring your own water to the delivery room, in a healthcare facility in which there’s no viable way for the staff to wash their hands before bringing your baby into the world.

This scenario, says Dr. Greg Allgood, the vice president of water at World Vision, is more than simply a disturbing hypothetical. In fact, he explains, it’s the reality for more than a third of healthcare facilities in the developing world. A lack of latrines and education about proper sanitation leads to rampant disease (and often death) in these rural communities, particularly among young kids.

One of the largest relief and development organizations in the world, World Vision aims to combat water shortages and health-compromising sanitation practices such as open defecation. World Toilet Day, coming up on November 19, is a prime opportunity to examine these types of initiatives — and the partnerships that make them possible.

Collaborative, community-centric approach

Bringing World Vision’s ambitious goals to fruition requires a global, collaborative effort. To effectively enact change on a mass scale — the organization aims to improve the lives of 50 million people by 2030 — World Vision employs a number of partnerships. The organization works with major corporations like the Hilton Foundation, Procter & Gamble, and Kohler. Support from these partnerships helps meet objectives like bringing improved water and sanitation systems to 3,000 healthcare facilities in the next five years.

Not only does World Vision raise funds remotely from overseas, they also have boots on the ground in developing communities. As the world’s largest child sponsorship program, World Vision staff spend up to 15 years working and living in rural communities around the globe. When it comes to initiatives like introducing modern latrines, success largely depends upon the community relationships that have been established via on-the-ground efforts.

When implementing sanitation solutions, World Vision stresses sustainability and ownership. “We empower communities to take charge of their own sanitation needs,” explains Allgood. “Community-led total sanitation methodology is something we’ve really embraced. It works really well with our system because there’s so much trust between our staff and the volunteer network of people that they set up to inspire healthy behaviors.”

We empower communities to take charge of their own sanitation needs.

In Zambia, one of the 45 countries for which World Vision has a long-term business plan, nearly a third of the country’s 15 million people lack access to clean water and modern latrines. In the next five years, World Vision hopes to reach one in every six Zambians. The comprehensive plan for meeting this goal spans every corner of the community — from individual families to schools to religious leaders. The support of authority figures like village chiefs, says Allgood, has also been huge.

Private-sector partners are another critical piece of overarching strategy. “We work with a number of private-sector companies; the thing we offer them is access to new markets based on our strong community presence,” says Allgood.

In September 2015, when World Vision announced a game plan to align with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (which include specific goals for clean water and sanitation), the response from the organization’s partners was overwhelmingly supportive. Kohler, for example, made a commitment to help World Vision scale up its water/sanitation/hygiene work.

“Kohler’s aspirational goal is ‘Gracious Living.’ They recently changed that to ‘Gracious Living for All’ in recognition of the desire to help underserved communities, and it was great to see that commitment. To have them in this space has everyone in the development sector really excited,” says Allgood.   

Next week, World Vision will host a team of Kohler researchers in Malawi and Lesotho in an effort to ideate how to bring new products to Africa. In addition, World Vision has helped introduce the Kohler Clarity filter into a number of communities.

“We’re seeing how people love having this well-designed filter in their homes,” says Allgood.

Empowering via education

Academic and educational partnerships also have a significant impact upon World Vision’s efforts — particularly on those that target kids and families. 

A partnership with Sesame Street, for example, in which the beloved children’s program introduced a new character named Raya to focus on sanitation, hygiene, and water, is proving promising.

“Raya and Elmo go into schools with World Vision to help teach kids about healthy sanitation, water storage and conservation habits, and hand-washing,” says Allgood, who adds that World Vision is now in 11 countries with Sesame Street. “We started in Zambia, and the program was so successful that the Ministry of Education embraced it. Our goal was to reach 10,000 kids, but we quickly reached more than 50,000 because of that support.” Now, similar efforts are expanding to countries in the Middle East like Afghanistan and Lebanon, as well as to Asia, Honduras, and numerous other African nations. 

“When you empower kids and teach them these habits in a fun, loving way, they take those habits home to their brothers and sisters — and even to their parents,” says Allgood. “It really affects the entire household.”

World Vision’s efforts are paying off. In the parts of the world in which the organization operates, an average of eight communities every day become certified as open-defecation free. On the water side of the equation, Allgood adds, World Vision provides clean water at an unprecedented rate of one new person every ten seconds.

Another one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals? Revitalizing global partnerships. Here, too, World Vision and partners like Kohler are exemplifying how collaborative efforts can help turn these lofty visions into concrete realities.

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/11/06/world-vision/

Jeff Flake 2

Jeff Flake is going out with a bang, and Donald Trump is notgoing to like it. 

The Republican senator from Arizona announced on Tuesday that he’s not running for re-election in 2018. And then he denounced President Donald Trump and everything Trump represents on the Senate floor. 

“We must never regard as ‘normal’ the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals,” Flake said, according to his prepared speech.

He continued, “Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as ‘telling it like it is,’ when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified.”

“And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else: It is dangerous to a democracy.”

He also laid into Republican politicians, who have enabled Trump by biting their tongues when he goes off the rails. 

“When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do — because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseum — when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of the institutions of our liberty, then we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations.”

“Despotism loves a vacuum”

Finally, he warned that abandoning our values would benefit America’s enemies. 

“Despotism loves a vacuum.  And our allies are now looking elsewhere for leadership. Why are they doing this? None of this is normal. And what do we as United States Senators have to say about it?”

Reaction was split between those who found Flake brave for standing up to Trump and his own party …

… to those who noted that Flake still supported much of Trump’s agenda, and faced a tough primary and general election in 2018, which means it’s no guarantee he’d win anyway. 

Regardless, Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now have one more Republican enemy in Congress. Sen. Bob Corker announced last month that he also wasn’t running for re-election in 2018, and hasn’t been shy about his disdain for the president. 

And John McCain — who torpedoed Trump’s health care plan — has also been speaking out against the president. On Tuesday, McCain tweeted his support for his fellow Arizona senator. 

Donald Trump spent Tuesday morning slamming Corker with childish insults. It’s a pretty good bet he’s about to rage-tweet about Flake very soon. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/10/24/jeff-flake-anti-trump-speech/