Articles on this Page
- 11/28/16--11:33: _Trump wins Michigan...
- 11/28/16--12:06: _LGBT health advocat...
- 11/28/16--12:08: _Column: We don’t ne...
- 11/28/16--12:48: _How would Wisconsin...
- 11/28/16--13:43: _Pence expanded Medi...
- 11/28/16--15:30: _How Fidel Castro’s ...
- 11/28/16--15:35: _France’s far-right ...
- 11/28/16--15:40: _Drama for the Trump...
- 11/28/16--15:45: _Is there a line bet...
- 11/28/16--15:50: _News Wrap: Stein co...
- 11/28/16--17:21: _Texas reports possi...
- 11/29/16--04:13: _Plane crashes in Co...
- 11/29/16--04:39: _Trump taps Obamacar...
- 11/29/16--05:08: _AP fact check: How ...
- 11/29/16--07:48: _How women’s health ...
- 11/29/16--08:30: _Column: How Trump c...
- 11/29/16--08:46: _Trump nominates Ela...
- 11/29/16--09:42: _Not so fast: Why Tr...
- 11/29/16--09:49: _Coconut crabs pack ...
- 11/29/16--11:03: _U.S. officials conc...
- 11/28/16--12:06: LGBT health advocates fear backlash under Trump
- 11/28/16--12:08: Column: We don’t need Washington to fix bloated CEO pay
- 11/28/16--12:48: How would Wisconsin’s recount be done and other FAQs
- 11/28/16--15:30: How Fidel Castro’s death marks a new era for Cuba
- 11/28/16--15:35: France’s far-right National Front party is on the rise
- 11/28/16--15:40: Drama for the Trump transition team over recounts and Cabinet picks
- 11/28/16--15:45: Is there a line between Trump’s business and political interests?
- 11/28/16--15:50: News Wrap: Stein continues fundraising for swing-state vote recounts
- 11/28/16--17:21: Texas reports possible local transmission of Zika virus
- 11/29/16--04:13: Plane crashes in Colombia with Brazilian soccer team on board
- 11/29/16--04:39: Trump taps Obamacare critic Tom Price as health secretary
- 11/29/16--05:08: AP fact check: How do Trump’s voter fraud allegations hold up?
- 11/29/16--07:48: How women’s health care costs could rise under TrumpCare
- 11/29/16--08:46: Trump nominates Elaine Chao as transportation secretary
- 11/29/16--09:42: Not so fast: Why Trump’s take on flag burning is unconstitutional
- 11/29/16--09:49: Coconut crabs pack the world’s strongest grip
WASHINGTON — Nearly three weeks after Election Day, Michigan officials certified Monday that Donald Trump won the state by 10,704 votes out of nearly 4.8 million to claim all of its 16 electoral votes. There’s more wrangling to come, though, on the final vote count for this oh-so-contentious campaign.
Jill Stein’s Green Party served notice that it would petition for a Michigan recount even as her party pushed forward with recount efforts in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, where Trump won by somewhat wider but still small margins.
Should the results for Trump hold in all three states, as expected, the president-elect would have 306 electoral votes to 232 for Democrat Hillary Clinton. It takes 270 to be elected president.
Only if the results were overturned in all three states would Clinton have a claim on the presidency, and that is widely considered to be out of the question.
If it’s any consolation for Clinton — and it’s probably mighty little — she’s winning the national popular vote. With some votes still being counted, she is ahead by more than 2 million, about 1.5 percent of the total counted so far.
Trump, in a series of weekend tweets complaining about the Midwest recount efforts, said the Green Party was engaged in a “scam to fill up their coffers” and that “defeated & demoralized Dems” were joining in.
Stirring the post-election pot, Trump made his own unsubstantiated claim of widespread voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California, saying without evidence that he would have won the popular vote if millions of people had not voted illegally.
Stein, who won 1.4 million votes nationwide or about 1 percent of the count, signaled her determination to keep pushing the Midwest recount efforts, saying that “Americans deserve a voting system we can trust.” As of Monday, she had raised $6.2 million to finance recounts, according to her campaign website.
“After a presidential election tarnished by the use of outdated and unreliable machines and accusations of irregularities and hacks, people of all political persuasions are asking if our election results are reliable,” she said in a statement.
There is no evidence that voter results were hacked or that electronic voting machines were compromised.
The Clinton campaign, which declined to initiate recounts on its own, said over the weekend it would participate in the recounts requested by Stein “to ensure the process proceeds in a manner that is fair to all sides,” in the words of campaign lawyer Marc Elias.
Stein’s campaign said she would file a petition Wednesday for a Michigan recount, after which Trump would have seven days to file objections. Trump’s margin of victory in the state was a slim 0.22 percent of the total vote.
Michigan Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said a recount would be “a waste of time and disrespectful to all Michigan voters.”
Chris Thomas, director of the Michigan Bureau of Elections, said the recount would begin as early as Friday to meet a Dec. 13 deadline. Under state policy, the recount will be conducted by hand.
He said election officials have heard a lot this year about “so-called fraud … without any foundation in fact,” and a recount settling that question could provide one “silver lining.”
In Wisconsin, meanwhile, the state elections commission on Monday approved a timeline to start a recount on Thursday. Stein is pushing for a hand count of the nearly 3 million ballots cast in the state, but the commission left it up to local election officials to determine the best method.
Stein’s Wisconsin recount request included an affidavit from University of Michigan computer scientist J. Alex Halderman stating that a hand recount is the only way to determine whether there could have been a cyberattack that affected the results. He argued that records stored in electronic voting equipment could have been manipulated in an attack.
The AP on Monday updated its election night vote count in Wisconsin to correct the totals for both candidates in three separate counties. The updates dropped Trump’s margin over Clinton from 27,257 votes to 22,460 votes, or 0.8 percent of the total vote. The corrections were made during the regular post-election canvass of the election-night vote.
In Pennsylvania, where Trump edged Clinton by about 71,000 votes, or about 1 percent of the vote, Stein filed a lawsuit seeking a statewide recount but it wasn’t clear if the courts had the authority to order one.
Democratic Secretary of State Pedro Cortes said there was no evidence of voting irregularities or cyberattacks on Pennsylvania’s voting machines, 96 percent of which record votes electronically and leave no paper trail.
AP Writers Julie Bykowicz in Washington, David Eggert in Lansing, Michigan, Scott Bauer in Madison, Wisconsin, and Mark Levy in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, contributed to this report.t.
The post Trump wins Michigan’s electoral votes, Jill Stein serves notice for recount appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Since Donald Trump’s surprise election Nov. 8, LGBT health advocates have been holding their breath to see who the president-elect will pick for the cabinet-level position of secretary of Health and Human Services. Like many other health care stakeholders, these leaders are keeping a weather eye on whether Trump is serious about his campaign promise to dismantle the Affordable Care Act — a long-sought but out-of-reach goal for congressional Republicans under President Obama — as well as a proposed reform of Medicaid that would result in reductions in aid to the poor.
A number of names have been bandied about for the HHS job, including newest rumored frontrunner Rep. Tom Price, R-Georgia, and Andrew Bremberg, who is leading Trump’s health transition and worked at the agency during the administration of President George W. Bush. Other familiar names include Florida Gov. Rick Scott, ex-Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and ex-Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.
While Trump has been skimpy on details of what may replace the health care law, he has proposed allowing insurers to sell health plans across state lines, establishing block grants for state Medicaid programs, and allowing people to deduct their health care premiums from their federal income tax.
A study by The Commonwealth Fund estimates the repeal of the ACA and the implementation of these replacement policies would cause more than 20 million people, most of whom are low-income, to lose health coverage.
Trump’s agenda has progressives worried about the possible rollback of health services for gay people.
“It’s an agenda that destroys the national health safety net,” says Matt Kavanaugh, a seasoned health policy activist with the Global Health Access Project, which campaigns for drug access for people with HIV across the globe. “We have a lot of people with HIV who depend on these programs.”
He’s particularly worried about a shift in Medicaid to block grants awarded to states, which could spell cuts in HIV programs — something seen in the 1990s. Before the ACA extended health coverage of expensive anti-retroviral drugs, those with HIV relied on the federal AIDS Drug Assistance Program (ADAP) to gain access to medication. But state-administered ADAP programs were plagued by budget cuts, creating long waiting lists for drug access.
“One of the most important things that happened with Medicaid expansion is that people were able to move off of ADAP and not just get HIV drugs but full [health] insurance,” Kavanaugh says. “If that rolls back, it’s likely we will see huge problems with ADAP.” That in turn could hurt the U.S. effort to control HIV, he says.
As evidence of what he says is the incoming administration’s “clear, intensely anti-gay agenda,” Kavanaugh points to the GOP party platform’s last-minute promotion of so-called “gay conversion therapy,” long discredited by the psychological profession and illegal as a treatment for minors in a number of states. The therapy is also endorsed by the head of Trump’s domestic policy transition team, former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, which publicly states that homosexuality “is harmful to the persons who engage in it and to society at large.”
Vice President-elect Mike Pence also has a record of opposing LGBT rights and is a staunch social conservative. Ben Plumley, head of the Pangaea Global AIDS project, pointed to a 2015 spike of 90 new HIV cases linked to injection drug use in rural Scott County, Indiana, where Pence was governor, as an example of ineffective health policy.
State health officials had urged Pence to implement a needle exchange program, but that was a nonstarter with the governor. With cases rising, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention weighed in with the same recommendation. Pence said he would pray on the matter, and eventually he issued an executive order to implement needle exchange in Scott County. Tens of thousands of clean disposable needles were quickly distributed, and HIV cases diminished to a trickle. AmfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, later called the epidemic “totally preventable.” Meanwhile, heroin-related hepatitis C cases are still snowballing in the area.
Kavanaugh is also worried about the push for religious waivers at the state and local levels, which would allow agencies, individuals and private health providers with federal contracts to opt out of providing services to LGBT citizens. Two such bills are pending in Florida and Texas, and copycat bills are being drafted in other states. One of the potential health care leaders in a Trump administration, Bobby Jindal, issued an executive order in Louisiana to give a religious waiver to those opposed to same-sex marriage.
Violence is also a potential issue. Since the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center has tracked a spike in hate crimes — including 80 reported against LGBT individuals. Almost two-thirds of the incidents, some of which were anecdotal, occurred in the first three days following the election, the group says, and “the trend line points to a steady drop-off.”
There is no doubt the LGBT community is feeling increased pressure. Calls to LGBT suicide prevention hotlines went way up in the immediate wake of Trump’s election, Mother Jones has reported. Callers worried about loss of health access to hormones and gender surgery, as well as fear of discrimination from health providers.
“You’re going to see increasing numbers of people with challenges,” says Kavanaugh. “It’s going to be a test of our solidarity.”
LGBT leaders interviewed by KQED said they repeatedly tried during and since the election to meet with Trump officials to discuss their concerns, including the choice for HHS, to no avail.
“We’ve gotten no response,” said Pangaea head Ben Plumley.
KQED’s efforts to reach the campaign for comment were unsuccessful. So were efforts to obtain comments from health policy aides at Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s office about Democratic efforts to influence the top health pick.
Editor’s Note: Economist Dean Baker is the author of the new book, “Rigged: How Globalization and the Rules of the Modern Economy Were Structured to Make the Rich Richer.” Below, he outlines a case he makes in his book, arguing that CEO pay needs to be reined in — and that we don’t have to rely on Washington to do so. You can read his previous posts on how intellectual property rules have exacerbated inequality and why we ought to have free trade for highly paid professions.
The outcome of the presidential election dashed the hopes of many people expecting measures to reverse the four-decade long growth of inequality. Few expect Donald Trump to be an ally in efforts to rein in incomes at the top and boost the income of ordinary workers. While there is always the possibility that we can be pleasantly surprised by the policies that Trump puts forward, efforts are probably best focused in other arenas.
One obvious target are the bloated salaries of top executives at major corporations. CEOs have always been well paid. This is reasonable given that they have demanding jobs that often require a wide range of skills. But corporate America seemed to have little trouble attracting talented top executives in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, when the ratio of CEO pay to that of ordinary workers was 20 or 30 to 1. Why do we now need ratios of 200 to 1 or even higher to get good help?
And the help often doesn’t seem that good. Wells Fargo CEO John Stumpf will walk away with a pay package that averages close to $15 million a year, even as the bank was involved in a massive phony account scandal under his watch. And according to some calculations, Marissa Meyer averaged almost $55 million a year for her four-year stint at Yahoo, a period in which she never managed to turn around the company’s fortunes.
The basic problem is that CEO pay is not subject to the same market discipline as the pay of most other workers. Most companies are constantly looking to lower costs by paying workers less. This is the point of producing goods in Mexico or China. If a company can get comparable quality labor at a lower price, they will shift production.
However the boards of directors who most immediately determine CEO pay rarely act the same way. It is unlikely that many directors ever ask if they could cut their CEO’s pay by 20 to 30 percent and still keep her, or alternatively, if they could get another CEO who is just as good at half the pay? These questions are likely to go unasked, even though this is exactly what corporate boards are paid to do, because the directors tend to be more closely tied to top management than to shareholders.
Directors often owe their positions to top management. Once on the board, which often includes the CEO, the directors typically ally themselves with top management. After all, it is a very cushy arrangement with directors getting hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for extremely part-time work. Why should they look to upset the apple cart by getting in a fight over the CEO’s pay? It is almost impossible for shareholders to dislodge even the most negligent directors. They are re-elected over 99 percent of the time.
In this context, it is not surprising that CEO pay keeps rising. There are no checks in place in the current institutional structure.
The obvious fix is to put in place some real checks on CEO pay. Suppose that directors had a real incentive to reduce CEO pay. For example, the directors could split any savings from cutting the pay of the CEO and next five top paid executives, as long as the company’s stock did at least as well as a peer group for the next five years. This would give directors a real incentive to ask whether they could get away with paying less.
This sort of shareholder power measure is something that could be pressed by pension funds, university endowments or any other party with a substantial stake in a company’s stock. And if some companies could be pressed to reform corporate governance in this way, others might follow.
In addition to bringing down to earth the pay of some of the country’s highest earners, lowering pay for corporate CEOs would likely have a large spillover effect. It is not uncommon for the top executives at universities, foundations and private charities to earn more than $1 million a year. Pay at the top in these other sectors followed the pay of CEOs in the corporate sector on the way up. It is likely also to follow them on the way down.
And, as a simple economic matter, lower pay for those at the top will leave more money for everyone else. The university that pays its president $400,000 instead of $1 million has $600,000 to pay other staff or charge lower tuition.
There is also another route to attack CEO pay in the nonprofit sector. Nonprofits benefit from special tax treatment, most importantly the tax deduction for charitable contributions. This allows high-income people to write off 40 percent of their contributions against their income taxes. This effectively means that the government is giving a $400,000 yearly subsidy to a university president getting a $1 million annual salary. That’s a big taxpayer subsidy for people in the top 0.1 percent of wage earners.
While the largest subsidy is the federal income tax, most states also give exemptions from their income taxes for charitable contributions. They also often exempt nonprofit institutions from state sales and property taxes.
There is no reason that states or even cities could not put conditions on these subsidies. For example, they could say that to benefit from these tax subsidies, nonprofit institutions would have to cap the pay of any employee at $400,000 a year, the same as the president of the United States. While many universities and other institutions will insist that they can’t attract good help for this wage (roughly 10 times the annual pay of a typical worker), that is probably a good argument that they aren’t then the sort of institution that the taxpayer should be subsidizing.
There are clear channels that people can use to put downward pressure on the pay of those at the top in both the corporate and noncorporate sector that don’t require going through Washington. These are clear cases where incremental gains can make a big difference. Contrary to the warnings we got from TV shows when we were young, these are actions that the kids can do at home.
The post Column: We don’t need Washington to fix bloated CEO pay appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
MADISON, Wis. — Wisconsin election officials are preparing to begin a recount of the state’s presidential vote this week. Here are answers to the most significant questions about the pending recount:
WHO WON WISCONSIN?
Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by 22,170 votes, or about 1 percent of the vote, based on unofficial results. Wisconsin Elections Commission Chairman Mark Thomsen, a Democrat, said he expected Trump to still be the winner after the recount.
“The outcome is not going to be different,” Thomsen said. “It may not be 22,170, but I don’t doubt that the president-elect is going to win that vote.”
WHO IS ASKING FOR THE RECOUNT AND WHY DO THEY WANT IT?
Both Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and Independent candidate Roque “Rocky” De La Fuente requested the recount on Friday, although Stein is the only one who was actively raising money to pay for it. She alleged in a filing with the state that irregularities with the Wisconsin vote indicated potential tampering. That, combined with “well-documented and conclusive evidence of foreign interference in the presidential race before the election,” call into question Wisconsin’s results, Stein alleged.
WHAT EVIDENCE DOES SHE HAVE?
University of Michigan computer scientist J. Alex Halderman said in an affidavit attached to Stein’s recount request that hackers could spread malware into voting machines in battleground states and their work would be virtually undetectable. Halderman said whether the machines are connected to the internet is irrelevant since election workers typically copy ballot designs from a computer that’s connected online and transfer the designs to the machines using memory sticks. The only way to determine if an attack took place is to examine the paper trail to ensure votes cast match the results determined by the machines, he said.
WHAT DO WISCONSIN ELECTION OFFICIALS SAY?
There is no evidence that any voting machines were hacked, said Thomsen, the Elections Commission chairman. Wisconsin’s decentralized voting system — 1,854 municipal clerks who count votes — and the fact that the equipment in question is not connected to the internet makes a widespread attack “very unlikely,” said Wisconsin Election Commission administrator Mike Haas.
HOW WOULD THE RECOUNT BE DONE?
The recount would include an examination of all ballots, poll lists, absentee applications, rejected absentee ballots and provisional ballots. The electronic voting equipment is tested and certified at the federal level, approved by the state commission and tested within 10 days of the election, Haas said. The equipment is secured until Election Day, Haas said. The machines also create a paper trail after the vote that can be cross-checked in the recount, he said.
IT’S NOT A HAND RECOUNT?
Stein asked the commission for a hand recount, arguing that’s the only way to know if the results were hacked. She said Monday she would ask a judge to order one after the Elections Commission rejected the idea. Wisconsin state law says in order for there to be a hand recount the person requesting it must present evidence electronic equipment tabulated the vote incorrectly, that a hand recount would be more accurate and that the result is likely to change by doing a hand recount. “That seems to be a high burden of proof for any candidate,” Haas said.
WHO IS PAYING FOR THIS?
Stein and De La Fuente are on the hook for the cost of the recount since the election wasn’t close enough for taxpayers to pick up the bill. A cost estimate was being compiled by the Elections Commission and the bill, which was earlier projected to be about $1 million, would have to be paid on Tuesday for the recount to begin on Thursday.
HAS WISCONSIN EVER BEEN THROUGH THIS BEFORE?
Wisconsin’s last statewide recount was for a state Supreme Court race in 2011. The recount showed Justice David Prosser defeated challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg by 7,004 votes, just 312 votes less than the unofficial results showed. That effort took more than a month and involved about half as many votes as the nearly 3 million votes cast in this year’s presidential election in Wisconsin.
WHEN WILL IT BE DONE?
The deadline for counties to report their recounted vote totals is 8 p.m. Dec. 12. The Elections Commission will review the totals before certifying the vote on Dec. 13, the federal deadline. Electors meet on Dec. 19 this year.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THE STATE DOESN’T FINISH BY THE DEADLINE?
The state could lose control of how its electoral college voters cast their ballots. Congress would then step in and decide which candidate gets the state’s 10 votes.
The post How would Wisconsin’s recount be done and other FAQs appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
Chris Cunningham was so thrilled with Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, she readily accepted his invitation to an event celebrating its first anniversary in January.
Gaining Medicaid ended her eight years without health coverage and paid for her treatment of a thyroid problem, her lung disease and prescription drugs to help both. She stopped working in 2008 to care for her disabled husband.
“It was a game changer for me,” the Indianapolis woman said late last week.
Election Day’s game-changing results are on her mind now.
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence was one of 10 Republican governors to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, but as President-elect Donald Trump’s running mate, Pence is now calling for the health law’s repeal and replacement.
If that happens, millions of low-income people around the country added to the state-federal insurance program since 2014 under the health law are at risk of losing their health insurance. Thirty-one states and the District of Columbia have expanded Medicaid, extending coverage to about 12 million Americans.
“I don’t see how a compassionate human being can rip health care away from millions of people,” Cunningham said.
What Pence did with Indiana’s Medicaid program may place him in a conciliatory middle ground in the political battles to come over Obamacare’s future. He called for the law’s repeal even before joining Trump, but also pushed Medicaid’s expansion in a conservative direction in advocating stricter eligibility requirements on low-income people receiving government-paid health care.
Neither Trump nor other top Republicans have spelled out what a replacement would look like. Trump has said he supports Medicaid block grants to states — a way of stabilizing federal funding that could raise states’ costs and force them to cut benefits or eligibility.
The health law allowed states to open Medicaid to all adults with incomes at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level, with all the extra costs paid by the government for the first three years, 2014 through 2016.
Pence took the federal money but won the Obama administration’s approval to add features that set Indiana apart from other expansion states. For example, recipients are required to pay money — $1 a month for many — into special accounts that Pence contends will make them more conscious of the costs associated with health care.
Healthy Indiana Plan 2.0 pushed Medicaid’s traditional boundaries, which is why it has captured attention in conservative states. The plan demands something from all enrollees, even those below the poverty level. Individuals who fail to keep up their contributions lose dental and vision coverage and face copayments. Those above the poverty level can temporarily lose all coverage if they fall behind on contributions.
Proponents, including Pence, have said the strategy makes Medicaid recipients share financial responsibility for their care and that it will save Indiana money by reducing unnecessary services and inappropriate emergency room use.
Pence has said Indiana’s program has lowered ER use, led to recruitment of more physicians to treat recipients and succeeded in getting most recipients to contribute monthly payments.
“This is an innovative, fiscally responsible program,” Pence said at the expansion’s first anniversary event that Cunningham attended. “We are improving outcomes, improving lives and improving the fortunes of Hoosiers.”
Cunningham said last week she remembers that day well and the personal connection Pence made with her and other new enrollees.
“It does give me hope that Gov. Pence started Medicaid expansion here and talked highly of it,” she said. “When I met him that day, it gave me a sense that even though I didn’t agree with 75 percent of what he stood for, I found him to be a really good man [who] really wanted to improve the health situation for people of Indiana.”
Indiana hospitals are also hoping Pence will be an advocate for preserving the expansion.
The expanded Medicaid program pumped millions of dollars into the state’s hospital industry by providing them more paying patients and increasing their Medicaid reimbursements.
Brian Tabor, executive vice president of the Indiana Hospital Association, said the election results have him worried about future of Medicaid and Obamacare. But knowing Pence will have Trump’s ear could make a difference.
Pence “understands that with some flexibility, states can be successful at expanding coverage and that bodes well for states like Indiana,” he said. “He is passionate about the health and security that Medicaid provides to Hoosiers. I am confident that he will have a significant policy role in the White House and will use that in a way to preserve what we have in Indiana.”
Tabor said that while block grants or a per capita cap for Medicaid would give states more autonomy in running the program, he worries it would mean cuts in federal funding that would hurt recipients and providers.
Medicaid expansion’s in Indiana has provided vital funding to hospitals, particularly those in rural areas that have struggled to stay open. “It’s been a lifeline to many rural providers,” he said.
Susan Jo Thomas, executive director of Covering Kids & Families of Indiana, an advocacy group, seems less hopeful for the future of Medicaid expansion and the program overall even with Pence as VP.
“It’s scary to us,” she said of the prospect of losing Obamacare and Medicaid becoming a block grant program. While Republicans have proposed the block grant idea since the 1980s, she noted it could find stronger support because Congress has turned more conservative and most states have conservative governors.
For Cunningham, Medicaid expansion in 2015 came at the right time. She had been managing several group homes for the disabled in 2008 when she ended her career to care for her own disabled husband.
“I was in a desperate situation and I’ve been very grateful for the help,” she said.
For her at least, worries about not having insurance will disappear next May.
That’s when she will turn 65 and enroll in Medicare.
Kaiser Health News is an editorially independent program of the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a nonprofit, nonpartisan health policy research and communication organization not affiliated with Kaiser Permanente. You can view the original report on its website.
The post Pence expanded Medicaid coverage as governor, now threatens to take away appeared first on PBS NewsHour.
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JOHN YANG: But first: France’s center-right party has chosen social conservative Francois Fillon as its presidential candidate in next spring’s elections
Then, he could face Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right National Front. The deeply unpopular current president, Francois Hollande of the Socialist Party, has not yet said whether he will seek reelection.
Le Pen’s National Front hopes to benefit from the so-called Trump effect, as special correspondent Malcolm Brabant discovered when he discovered one of its strongholds in Northern France.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Despite being labeled a medieval conservative, Francois Fillon won the Republican nomination in France’s first ever U.S.-style primary by more than 2-1.
FRANCOIS FILLON, Republican Presidential Candidate (through translator): Victory is mine. It’s a substantial victory built on convictions. France wants the truth, and it wants action.
MALCOLM BRABANT: According to analyst Alexandra de Hoop Scheffer, Fillon is a fiscal conservative with a record of consistency.
ALEXANDRA DE HOOP SCHEFFER, German Marshall Fund of the United States: He has strong positions in terms of reducing French public spending. He wants to suppress around 500,000 public sector jobs. He has always stuck to the same positions on many issues. He’s pro-Russian. He says it very clearly.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Most French commentators expect the Socialist presidential candidate to be eliminated early in next year’s election.
At this bastion of the National Front, Henin-Beaumont, they now know who their main opponent is. Steeve Briois is the town’s mayor and the second most important person in the party.
MAYOR STEEVE BRIOIS, Henin-Beaumont (through translator): There’s a global phenomenon today, an awakening. The people are rebelling against the elite. So it’s a good thing that Mr. Trump was elected. It’s a good thing that Brexit happened in Britain. It bodes well for us for France.
MALCOLM BRABANT: This is France’s Rust Belt, northeast of Paris. Slag heaps and heavy machinery preserved in industrial museums are all that remain of coal mines shut down two decades ago. There’s high unemployment. The working class here have followed a familiar political route of abandoning socialists like President Francois Hollande for right-wing populists.
MARINE TONDELIER, Green Party: The Front National is like a vulture party. That’s to say that it shows something that is decreasing, poor, complicated, and it tries to seize it, and it’s exactly what they did here.
EUGENE BINAISSE, Former Mayor, Henin-Beaumont (through translator): A wall of silence has descended on the town. We think we’re being observed by the National Front, and anything you say can come back and bite you.
MALCOLM BRABANT: The National Front was founded by Jean-Marie Le Pen, who famously described the Holocaust as a detail of history. He was expelled from the party last year by his daughter Marine, as she sought to soften its image as one of the most extreme right-wing groups in Europe.
France has the largest Muslim population in Western Europe, estimated at between 5 to 10 percent of the population. In Beziers, a National Front stronghold in the south, the administration counted Muslim children, contrary to strict secularist laws.
But according to Marine Tondelier, a councilor in Henin-Beaumont, the mayor here has not conformed to expectations.
MARINE TONDELIER: Here, you don’t have the immigration question so much. Even the Front National mayor is helping the mosque.
When we have got the terrorist attacks in Charlie Hebdo, they do a demonstration with the Muslim people to show that they were united. So it’s not so much a problem. It’s a problem with the Front National in the South of France. But the Front National, you know, it’s like a chameleon party, so they adapt to the city in which they are.
MALCOLM BRABANT: At the moment, your critics say that you’re actually being very nice to immigrants here, but is this because you’re trying to show a nice face now? And will things change if you get into power nationally?
STEEVE BRIOIS (through translator): Because the state has capitulated, foreigners who come to France do whatever they want today. We’re now seeing them retreat into their own communities, and that’s not good for France. It’s not good for the republic. That creates disorder. That’s why one must have the courage to limit immigration to the absolute minimum. We can’t welcome anymore.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But while some may find this rhetoric disconcerting, it doesn’t trouble Abdelatif Kouba, a French national of Algerian origin who runs a halal butcher’s in the main square.
ABDELATIF KOUBA, Halal Butcher (through translator): Why be afraid? I don’t understand. I think the National Front is like any other party. The media exaggerate everything.
MALCOLM BRABANT: But Pascal Wallart does have a problem. He runs the district office of “La Voix du Nord,” a newspaper that supported the resistance during the Second World War. Last year, the paper published an editorial saying that Marine Le Pen would be dangerous for France. The National Front administration in the town hall cut off relations immediately.
PASCAL WALLART, Voix du Nord Newspaper (through translator): They want to control the entire communication process. I will not use the word fascist, but we’re not far from it. But there’s a totalitarian attitude to muzzling communication. Here, evil has been done, and it will remain for a long time.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Although Henin-Beaumont is National Front territory, it was hard to find people at the market who were willing to support them on camera.
MAN (through translator): I don’t think we should be more afraid of the National Front than any other party. No one’s worse or better.
MALCOLM BRABANT: France’s Socialist prime minister, Manuel Valls, believes the world has changed since Donald Trump’s victory. He believes it boosts the chances of Marine Le Pen, the National Front leader, of winning the presidential election in France next May.
Now, Valls believes that Trump’s success and the Brexit vote demonstrate the need of politicians to listen to angry citizens, especially when it comes to issues like immigration. And he believes that the rise of populists and the far-right has been made possible by politicians who are too scared to take tough decisions.
But Francois Fillon has convinced voters in the primaries that, as president, he will back up his tough talk with action by disbanding extreme Islamic groups.
FRANCOIS FILLON (through translator): My friends, radical Islam is undermining our fellow Muslim citizens. It infiltrates them, takes them hostage. They hate what we are. So, I tell you, I will fight them without respite and without mercy.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Analyst de hoop Scheffer believes the National Front’s Marine Le Pen may suffer because of a French backlash against Donald Trump.
ALEXANDRA DE HOOP SCHEFFER: I don’t think that Donald Trump’s election in the U.S. will actually help her. I believe that it’s maybe the contrary. It might undermine her. And the fact that a significant part of the French population actually went out and vote in the center-right primary was, to me, a very strong signal in terms of the French not wanting to see Marine Le Pen run France in 2017.
MALCOLM BRABANT: Historically, the far right has been squeezed out by the center-right and left combining and voting tactically. Some analysts believe Francois Fillon’s brand of conservatism may repel Socialists.
At the town hall in Henin-Beaumont, they hope this will create an opening for the National Front.
For the “PBS NewsHour,” I’m Malcolm Brabant in France.
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JOHN YANG: Time now for Politics Monday.
Here to discuss the latest developments, Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and Tamara Keith of NPR.
Welcome to you both.
For two weeks, no one questioned the outcome of this election. Now, all of a sudden, we have got recounts Jill Stein wants, even though she says she doesn’t think it will change the outcome, and now president-elect Trump is saying that there were millions of illegitimate votes, even though he doesn’t offer us any evidence.
Tam, what’s going on?
TAMARA KEITH, NPR: And he’s not disputing that he won. He’s just saying, maybe I would have won the popular vote, too.
So I was on a call this morning with the Trump transition team. I asked them for evidence, like actual evidence, of millions of illegal votes. Or also he was claiming election fraud in three states. Where is the evidence in those states?
What they presented was a report, study from 2014 that has been thoroughly debunked. And they also presented a Pew Research Study that was about voter rolls and housekeeping that could be done in voter rolls.
Neither of those things point to widespread voter fraud in 2016. So his transition team has been unable to offer any evidence of what is clearly nonexistent voter fraud that they’re talking about.
And Jill Stein, for that matter, hasn’t been able to offer any evidence of voter fraud. It’s more like, this happened, and this happened, and this happened, so we should look into it, is all she’s saying.
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Right.
And that goes to, I think, heart of matter here, which is, you have two people. One is the president of the United States. The other is a Green Party candidate who obviously didn’t win many votes, both suggesting that the voting system itself is illegitimate or rigged without any proof of this.
Jill Stein’s case is that maybe it’s been hacked by foreign influencers, Russia, for example. That is a big charge to make. And when you undermine our voting process, you are undermining the cornerstone of our democracy. Right? People trust that their votes are going to be counted correctly.
And then you also delegitimize winners of every election, whether you’re voting for president or city council or whatever it is. Well, how do I know John Yang really won, because the system could have been rigged?
JOHN YANG: But Jill Stein and her campaign for presidency raised $3.5 million.
AMY WALTER: Right.
JOHN YANG: In a week, she has raised about $6.5 million for this recount.
AMY WALTER: Yes. Yes.
JOHN YANG: What does that say? You talk about making the — questioning the legitimacy. What does say that about…
AMY WALTER: That controversy sells.
There is a big segment of the electorate that believes and has believed for some time that the system itself should be put into the question. Remember, after the 2000 election and the hanging chads and the butterfly ballots, Congress actually dealt with this. There was real concern that there were problem with these machines that were old and broken.
And Congress said — they passed a bill called the Help America Vote Act, donated money — or actually gave federal funds to the states to update their machines. But it doesn’t mean that people feel better about the machines just because Congress now has appropriated more money to help make them more up to date.
JOHN YANG: Another what’s going on moment to me was the — over the weekend, Kellyanne Conway goes on Twitter, goes on national television to essentially campaign against her boss, the president-elect, picking Donald Trump. She can make this advice private.
TAMARA KEITH: Yes, picking Mitt Romney to be secretary of state.
JOHN YANG: I’m sorry. Picking Mitt Romney. I’m sorry.
TAMARA KEITH: Which hasn’t yet happened.
But Mitt Romney does have another meeting scheduled at Trump Tower with Donald Trump. He’s one of several people in the mix. Now, Mitt Romney was a very outspoken critic of Donald Trump in the primary process and said some very tough things about Donald Trump, many of which were true.
But Kellyanne Conway expresses a viewpoint that I think many Trump loyalists have, that, why would you bring in this guy who insulted you? But it is odd to have someone who speaks for Donald Trump seemingly on television both speaking for him and speaking to him?
But leading up to the election, Kellyanne Conway did some of this as well. She, at times, was tweeting things that seemed to be like a subtweet of something that her boss was saying and at others times seemed to be directly communicating through him through television, because he is an avid viewer of television, cable news and the Sunday shows.
But the thing that is also interesting is that then this morning there was a leak from somebody else in the campaign saying, well, Donald Trump was very upset about what Kellyanne Conway said.
We don’t know which of — we don’t know whether Kellyanne Conway was coordinating with Donald Trump or whether he really was upset or whether all of these leaks and statements are part of, you know, an elaborate effort to make sure that Mitt Romney isn’t secretary of state.
AMY WALTER: And this is the bigger challenge that we have had.
And we have talked about this before, which is, we have a president-elect who’s yet to hold a press conference, hasn’t held one since July and certainly has not held one since winning. We don’t have anything to talk about then in terms of his policies. We haven’t heard about his legislative agenda he wants to put forward.
So all we have in front of us is this sort of “Apprentice”-style game about who’s going to be in his Cabinet. Some of them are going to make a big difference. Many of them, we’re never going to talk about ever again.
His policies are the thing that we should be spending the most time talking about, and yet it seems as if we’re not going to get any indication of that until he’s sworn in as president. And even then, it’s unclear if we are going to see this same behavior occur. Well, he thinks this, but then somebody goes on TV and says that, and somebody else is countering behind the scenes over here.
JOHN YANG: Right, whether we going to have Cabinet officers going on television to lobby him.
AMY WALTER: Right.
JOHN YANG: Well, what do we know? From the names he’s picked so far, what does that suggest or what can you conclude about how he’s going to govern as president?
AMY WALTER: Well, I want to be careful to read too much into it, because, again, the Cabinet picks often are not as big of a deal later on as they are right now, when we don’t have much to talk about.
But he has at least four people, Jeff Sessions, Reince Priebus, Michael Flynn and Ben Carson, who are loyalists, who were with him on the campaign trail every single day. Those are the kinds of people that he surrounded himself with immediately.
The only person would fall into the not really always on the team, maybe sort of team of rival type would be Nikki Haley, who, of course, would be — is going to be the U.N. secretary.
It’s interesting with Mitt Romney as well. These are the people that are outfacing, right, the people that we’re showing to the rest of the world, Haley, Mitt Romney, vs. the people that are closest to him, whether as his chief of staff or the attorney general.
TAMARA KEITH: Yes. And Sessions, he’s a hard-liner or immigration in particular, helped Donald Trump develop his immigration policy, which is definitely not in line with what the establishment Republicans thought would be the Gang of 8 immigration reform.
This is definitely a very hard line. So, there is a mix of hard-liners and slightly more establishment people, like a Betsy DeVos for education.
AMY WALTER: For education.
JOHN YANG: And we will get more names this week.
Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, thanks for joining us.
TAMARA KEITH: You’re welcome.
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JOHN YANG: Next, to a closer look at President-elect Trump’s business interests and potential conflicts that may arise when he takes office.
William Brangham has more — William.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Thanks, John.
Indeed, many analysts believe we are in unprecedented territory here, where a man with active financial dealings in at least 20 different countries is about to become president of the United States.
The New York Times just did a deep dive into Donald Trump’s global businesses and how it could intersect with his presidency.
Eric Lipton is one of the reporters on that story, and he joins me now.
Eric Lipton, thank you very much for being here.
I mentioned this term unprecedented. Is that a fair characterization, in your mind, where we have a businessman who is so well connected in so many nations moving into the White House?
ERIC LIPTON, The New York Times: I think so.
I have spoken with quite a number of presidential historians who say that they see nothing like this in American history. And it’s not just the assets he owns, because the list of properties that he owns 100 percent is not that huge, but it’s the relationships that he has with businesses globally through branding arrangements in which he is paid a fee or a commission for those deals.
And so he still has a financial relationship and business partners in many countries, particular in the developing world. And the concern, I think, is more in the developing world, where you have a history of oftentimes corners being cut to powerful people with economic interests.
That’s where the real problem is, less so in like Western Europe, for example.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: Well, let’s talk about — before we get into the details of some of the countries specifically, broadly speaking, what do you see as the main conflicts of interests here? What’s the problem?
ERIC LIPTON: To me, there’s two primary things.
One is sort of a broad thing, which is that the United States for decades has played a leading role globally to try to encourage nations to separate their political from economic power, so that there is greater transparency, that everyone has an equal shots at contracts, and that there aren’t payments for permits or contracts.
It’s been something that both Democrats and Republicans have really rallied and pressured other foreign governments. There is the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. There’s been all kinds of prosecutions of companies that have been involved in any type of a payment to get a contract.
And the United States has been a preacher on this. And the fact now that you have a president who is mixing the financial matters with the political matters and that his business interests are going to overlap with U.S. foreign policy really undermines that message that the United States has worked so hard across bipartisanly.
The second thing is that no matter how ethical the Trump family is and President Trump himself, there is going to be intense pressure on officials in these foreign places to do things for him even if he doesn’t ask for it in a way to try to impress President Trump or his administration or the White House to get some type of special treatment.
They may not succeed in that, but there is an incentive for them to accelerate a permit, to grant access to a piece of land that he really wants that’s going to help his company, to buy memberships at a golf club, to do various things.
Now, he says, well, how can you blame me if people are doing things I don’t ask them for? But he and his family potentially are going to be enriched by these favors that will be granted to them, even if they don’t request it.
And so even if they’re completely moral, given that there’s these relationships, it seems like it could present a problem.
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: You document so many different interesting examples of where these possible conflicts could arise.
Let’s talk about one of them, specifically the Philippines. In your piece, you introduce us to man named Jose E.B. Antonio. Who is he and why is he important in this story?
ERIC LIPTON: So, he is essentially the brand representative for the Trump family in the Philippines.
Often, when they have major projects in certain countries, they have essentially a person who helps represent their whole business enterprise there. So he is in charge of building a major new skyscraper in — and outside Manila.
So he is — but the problem for Donald Trump and for these questions about potential conflicts is that he was recently appointed by the president of the Philippines to simultaneously serve as the Philippines’ envoy to the United States.
So here you have a guy who is the partner, business partner of Donald Trump, and the government official that is helping represent the government of the Philippines in its relationship with the United States. And the Philippines’ relationship with the United States is a very complicated one right now.
You have got a president who’s ordered essentially the extrajudicial killing of drug dealers in that country to try to crack down on crime. And, again, you certainly want drug dealers to be arrested, taken of the streets, but you don’t and go kill them before they have a trial.
The State Department has been incredibly critical of what’s been happening in the Philippines with respect to these people simply being shot down and killed on the streets.
And what’s going to happen when you have President Trump, where his business partner is an official in the government of the Philippines? Is Trump still going to be as willing to potentially alienate his business partner and complicate his business deals in the Philippines and challenge the government of the Philippines?
That’s an open question. But at least in the back of his head, you wonder, will that be a factor? Will that influence foreign policy because he’s a business associate there? It seems like, how’s that not going to be a factor?
WILLIAM BRANGHAM: All right, Eric Lipton of The New York Times, really incredible piece of reporting. And there’s many more examples in the story that you ran. They can find that on The New York Times Web site.
Thank you so much for the reporting and thanks for being here.
ERIC LIPTON: Thank you.
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Local mosquitoes likely transmitted Zika virus to a Texas woman, state health officials announced Monday. If confirmed, Texas would become the second state in the U.S., after Florida, with local transmission of the mosquito-borne disease that causes microcephaly and other birth defects.
The infected woman lives in the Rio Grande Valley, which borders Mexico, where the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had set travel warnings regarding the virus. Health officials did not release the patient’s name, but stated she is not pregnant and had not traveled to Florida, Mexico or other Zika-affected regions.
“We knew it was only a matter of time before we saw a Zika case spread by a mosquito in Texas,” said Dr. John Hellerstedt, Texas Department of State Health Services commissioner.
Last week a lab test confirmed the diagnosis last week, Texas health officials stated.
“We still don’t believe the virus will become widespread in Texas, but there could be more cases, so people need to protect themselves from mosquito bites, especially in parts of the state that stay relatively warm in the fall and winter,” Dr. Hellerstedt said.
The first locally transmitted cases of Zika virus in the U.S.surfaced in Miami in July.
The illness spreads from mosquito bites and in rare cases, through exchange of bodily fluids.
If you live in or plan to visit southern Texas, visit www.texaszika.org for more information.
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At least 76 people are dead after a chartered plane carrying a Brazilian soccer team crashed into mountains near Medellin, Colombia late Monday night, Associated Press reported.
After initially departing from Sao Paolo, Brazil, the British Aerospace 146 plane last took off from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, with 81 people on board, and members of the Chapecoense professional soccer team were en route to play in the Copa Sudamericana regional tournament final, the Associated Press reported. Roughly two dozen journalists also boarded the flight to cover the game, the Associated Press reported. Before the plane crashed, Bolivian officials said there were reports that the plane experienced possible electrical problems, but officials have also said the plane could have been low on fuel.
Early Tuesday, Colombian police said only five people survived the crash, according to the Associated Press. Rocky terrain, dense forests and nighttime conditions hindered search-and-rescue efforts already underway, officials told the AP.
Outpourings of grief met news of the crash. Fans in southern Brazil wept, hugged each other and prayed upon hearing that the Chapecoense team was on board the plane when it went down. According to the Associated Press, Brazilian President Michel Temer said, “The government will do everything possible to alleviate the pain” for loved ones.
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WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump has selected Georgia Rep. Tom Price, a leading critic of President Barack Obama’s sweeping health care law, to head the Department of Health and Human Services.
If confirmed by the Senate, Price would play a central role in Republican efforts to repeal and replace the current health care law. Trump has pledged to move quickly on overhauling the landmark measure, but has been vague about what he hopes to see in a replacement bill. Also, Seema Verna was picked to become administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
The president-elect has said he favors keeping provisions that allow young people to stay on their parents’ health insurance and which prevent insurance companies from denying coverage to those with pre-existing conditions.
Price, a 62-year-old six-term congressman and orthopedic surgeon, has chaired the House Budget Committee for the past two years. A bookish conservative from the Atlanta suburbs, Price has worked closely with House Speaker Paul Ryan to assemble GOP budgets aimed at reducing the annual deficit.
In a statement early Tuesday, Price said he is “humbled by the incredible challenges that lay ahead and enthusiastic for the opportunity to be a part of solving them on behalf of the American people.”
He said he will work “to ensure we have a health care system that works for patients, families, and doctors, that leads the world in the cure and prevention of illness, and that is based on sensible rules to protect the well-being of the country while embracing its innovative spirit.”
Last week, Price said that whatever Republicans do to replace Obama’s health care law will bear a “significant resemblance” to a 2015 measure that was vetoed by the president. That bill would have gutted some of the health care law’s main features: Medicaid expansion, subsidies to help middle-class Americans buy private policies, the tax penalties for individuals who refused to get coverage and several taxes to support coverage expansion. The bill would have delayed implementation for two years.
Price insisted that Republicans can keep the protections for those with existing medical conditions without mandating that all individuals carry coverage or pay a penalty to support an expanded insurance pool. Price said Republicans want to address “the real cost drivers” of health care price spikes, which he said were not necessarily sicker patients, but a heavy regulatory burden, taxes and lawsuits against medical professionals.
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WASHINGTON — Donald Trump’s tweets can’t erase the reality that he lost the popular vote in this month’s election, according to The Associated Press’ vote-counting operation.
The president-elect tweeted Saturday that he’d have won the popular vote “if you deduct the millions of people who voted illegally.” He also alleged “serious voter fraud” in California, New Hampshire and Virginia and complained that the media aren’t covering it.
Not only did he present no evidence to back up those claims — there apparently isn’t any. Asked to provide supporting evidence on Monday, Trump’s transition team pointed only to past charges of irregularities in voter registration. There has been no evidence of widespread tampering or hacking that would change the results of the presidential contest, and for good reason, experts said.
For one, it would be highly impractical. The nation’s election system is decentralized, a patchwork of state laws whose differences would be nearly impossible to target on a large scale, said Wendy Weiser, director of the Democracy Program at the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice.
“You would need to have hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people conspiring with insiders and with one another,” Weiser said. “To keep a conspiracy of that magnitude secret is just unthinkable.”
“The process is not rigged anywhere in America,” said R. Doug Lewis, who headed the nonprofit Election Center for more than two decades. Interest groups, bloggers and others across the political spectrum keep anecdotal lists of instances of election fraud, he said, but “when each side is forced to come up with factual examples where that has happened, where they have to name names … almost always the allegations go away.”
On Twitter, Trump has returned to two well-worn techniques: denying he’s lost anything and playing on public distrust.
The AP’s vote-counting operations in California, Virginia and New Hampshire used locally hired workers to gather vote totals from local jurisdictions. In some states, the news agency also collected votes from secretaries of state or state election boards.
The AP, which called Democrat Hillary Clinton the winner in all three states, said its vote count operation found no significant differences between the county-by-county vote totals and those released statewide on election night in California and Virginia. In New Hampshire, the AP’s vote totals were reported directly to the news agency by town clerks and were verified by AP in most towns before the count was completed. The totals also were certified by New Hampshire’s secretary of state.
Trump’s charge that he actually won the popular vote if the “millions of people who voted illegally” had not been counted mimics one posted on Infowars.com, a conservative website that traffics in conspiracy theories.
Trump’s win in Michigan, certified by state election officials on Monday, gave the Republican an additional 16 electoral votes, bringing his total to 306, to Clinton’s 232.
There is recount drama resulting from the 2016 election, but it’s not being initiated by Trump loyalists.
Green Party candidate Jill Stein had raised $6.3 million by Monday for the recount she’s seeking in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania — places that Clinton, a Democrat, had thought were safely in her column. Instead, Trump won all three and with them the electoral votes needed to win the White House. Clinton’s campaign is supporting the Wisconsin recount.
Stein, too, hasn’t provided evidence of voting irregularities. She says “cyber hacking” affected the vote outcomes in those states. The Wisconsin Elections Commission voted Monday to proceed with a recount and will bill Stein and other interested campaigns for the cost, estimated to be around $1 million.
In Michigan, Stein’s lawyer notified election officials Monday that she will file a recount petition on Wednesday. Trump would have seven days to file objections to her request.
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As the prospect began to sink in of losing access to free contraceptives if the health law is repealed or replaced, women have reportedly been racing to get IUDs or stockpile birth control pills before President Barack Obama leaves office. But birth control is just the tip of the iceberg, advocates say. There are a number of other women’s health benefits that are also at risk.
At or near the top of the list is guaranteed coverage of maternity services on the individual insurance market. Before the health law, it was unusual for plans in the individual market to pay for maternity services. But the Affordable Care Act required that care be included as one of the 10 essential health benefits that all individual plans must cover. In 2009, the year before the health law passed, just 13 percent of individual plans that were available to a 30-year-old woman in all the state capitals offered maternity benefits, according to an analysis by the National Women’s Law Center.
Some plans offered maternity services as an add-on through a special rider that paid a fixed dollar amount, sometimes just a few thousand dollars, the study found. But even with a rider, a woman’s financial exposure could be significant: The average total payment for a vaginal birth was $18,329 in 2010, according to a study by Truven Health Analytics.
Women were also generally charged higher rates for health insurance on the individual market before the law. According to the National Women’s Law Center’s analysis, 60 percent of best-selling individual plans in 2009 charged a 40-year-old non-smoking woman more than a 40-year-old man who smoked, even in plans that didn’t include any type of maternity coverage. That inequity disappeared under the health law, which prohibited insurers from charging women higher rates than men for the same services.
“Our concern is going back to a world where insurance companies are writing their own rules again, and returning women to those bad old days in health care and losing all the progress we’ve made,” said Gretchen Borchelt, vice president for reproductive rights and health at the law center.
Several other women’s preventive health services could be on the line if the health law is repealed or changed. Some may be easier to get rid of than others, say women’s health policy experts.
Under the law, preventive services that are recommended by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force have to be covered without cost sharing. The task force, an independent panel of medical experts, evaluates the scientific evidence for screenings, medications and services and publishes several new or updated recommendations annually. Current recommendations that affect women include guidelines for screening for breast and cervical cancer and testing for the BRCA 1 and 2 genetic mutations that increase women’s risk of breast cancer.
“Coverage of those services can’t be changed without a change to the statute” that created the health law, said Dania Palanker, an assistant research professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reforms. If the law is repealed, then that could happen.
There’s another group of required preventive services for women that could be even easier to eliminate, however. Under the law, women’s preventive services that are endorsed by the Health Resources and Services Administration have to be covered by most insurers without cost sharing as well. In 2011, the Institute of Medicine proposed a list of eight preventive services that should be covered, and HRSA adopted them. Among them was the requirement that most insurers cover all FDA-approved contraceptives without charging women anything out-of-pocket. Also included were requirements to cover well-woman visits at least once a year, screening for gestational diabetes, counseling and screening for sexually transmitted infections, breastfeeding support, counseling and supplies, and screening and counseling for domestic violence.
A committee of women’s health providers led by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has proposed an update to the current guidelines that is under review by federal officials.
“We expect action will be taken before the end of this administration,” said Palanker.
But the Trump administration may not have the same ideas about which preventive benefits for women should be endorsed. The new secretary of Health And Human Services could opt for different decisions than the Obama administration.
“What they can endorse they can also unendorse,” said Adam Sonfield, a senior policy manager at the Guttmacher Institute, a research and advocacy organization for reproductive health based in Washington, D.C.
Finally, many of the details about what’s required to comply with the law have been in the form of thousands of pages of regulations and guidance. A new administration could write different rules or just not enforce the ones that are on the books, advocates warn. Take birth control. Some health plans initially interpreted the requirement to cover FDA-approved contraceptives to mean that if they covered birth control pills, for example, they didn’t have to cover other hormonal methods of contraception such as the vaginal ring or patch. Federal officials under Obama have declared that insurers couldn’t pick and choose; they had to cover all 18 FDA-approved methods of birth control.
“A lot of the pieces of the preventive services benefits that clarify and make the coverage real and strong has been through [federal officials’] guidance [that interprets the health law], and there is fear that could be changed,” Palanker said.
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“Partnership, not conflict,” were the words spoken by President-elect Donald Trump during his acceptance speech. That collaborative approach is what my scholarship on good governance shows is required for effective public administration.
That is also what effective and sustainable leadership demands of the Republican Party, which is now in a position to govern with a majority in both the House and Senate. Some of Trump’s recent actions, such as the selection of Stephen Bannon for White House strategist and his urge to respond to critics on Twitter, have continued to elicit concern among his detractors. Nevertheless, he has shown signs that he’s willing to work out differences by mending fences with his most vocal critics such as Mitt Romney and Nikki Haley.
Perhaps the president-elect can create the newly structured Republican Party that GOP faithfuls hoped for, but were not able to achieve in the last two election cycles. Perhaps these efforts signal a more collaborative framework at the national level of governance in a country that has been divided by political rhetoric and administrative stalemate for well over a decade.
Could the next four years of Trump presidency be just what the doctor ordered for the GOP and a divided country?
Shock to the system
Interest-based negotiations within Republican ranks, as well as between Republicans and Democrats, may follow the initial shock to status quo. From my experience as a mayor and council member, and a professor at the Bedrosian Center on Governance, I have learned successful governance is all about the quest for the win-win.
This strategy focuses on the integration of needs, desires, concerns and fears that are important to each side. Take for example, the governance model of the Lakewood Plan in Lakewood, California – a city of just over 81,000 people outside of Los Angeles. The motive behind the plan, which was put forth in 1954, was to retain local control over local services. Residents wanted to eliminate duplication and rely on more efficient and cost-effective government service providers.
Public and private organizations collaborated to solve public policy and administration problems based on interests. This manifested in a number of ways: for example, a trash hauler in the private sector collecting municipal waste; a county fire department providing fire service to smaller cities; private lawyers acting as city attorneys; private arborists trimming city trees; citizens using a smartphone application to report a dangerous condition on the road.
This innovative plan became the model for hundreds of communities in California to deliver municipal services through collaboration.
During this unusual election cycle, the American people similarly asked their leaders to search for common interests and common good among urban and rural interests. Working-class women in blue states gave Trump double-digit margins. This imbalance in the blue states pierced the Democratic “blue wall” at its most vulnerable place. According to reporting by The Atlantic, Democratic voters in blue states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana simply voted for “self-preservation.” They voted to preserve what is left of their jobs. They voted to bring back lost jobs to preserve their local communities.
In the postmortem of this highly contested and polarized elections, President-elect Trump and the GOP alone can decide if they will become irrelevant through ideological competition or succeed through collaboration.
These Rust Belt voters expect to be “great again.” But four years isn’t much time to change the fate of neglected Democrats and Republicans living in the Rust Belt. If the city-educated elites and urban global politics remain the priority, I believe the Rust Belt will vote for change again in 2018 and 2020 in larger numbers.
President-elect Trump appears to be hinting at this when he said in his acceptance speech:
“It’s time to pledge to every citizen of our land [urban and rural] that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.”
As an outsider, Trump is not burdened by GOP party ideology. I believe this makes him well suited to set the tone for interest-based negotiations to address both short- and long-term goals set during the campaign. A simple page out of local collaborative governance may serve this presidency and the American people.
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NEW YORK — President-elect Donald Trump has picked Elaine Chao to become transportation secretary, a Trump transition official said Tuesday.
The announcement was expected later in the day, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly.
Chao, 63, was labor secretary under President George W. Bush and the first Asian American woman to serve in a president’s Cabinet. She also is the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Chao came to the United States from Taiwan with her family at age 8. Her family settled in New York, where her father, James Si-Cheng Chao, became a wealthy shipping magnate.
Chao received her undergraduate degree from Mount Holyoke College and a Master of Business Administration from Harvard. She went on to become head of the Peace Corps and deputy secretary at the Transportation Department. She was head of the United Way of America and worked at a Washington think tank before becoming labor secretary.
As labor secretary, her job was to protect the nation’s workforce, including setting safety standards and addressing issues related to wages and retirement. She updated overtime regulations for “white-collar” workers and rules intended to force unions to disclose more details on their financial condition to members.
In 2013 — 20 years after Chao and McConnell married — McConnell’s financial disclosure reports indicated he and Chao were worth as much as $37 million because of her inheritance. A year prior, her family donated $40 million to Harvard Business School, where Chao and three of her sisters attended.
Chao’s ethnicity has made her a target by McConnell’s political foes in Kentucky. In 2001, former Kentucky Democratic Party chairwoman Nikki Patton said McConnell “passed up some good Kentucky pork to chow down at the Chinese money buffet.” In 2013, a progressive group alleged Chao helped McConnell move jobs from Kentucky to China.
McConnell fired back.
“Elaine Chao is just as much an American as any of the rest of them,” he told Republican supporters at a dinner in 2013. “In fact, she had to go through a lot more to become American.”
Chao had been on the board of directors for Bloomberg Philanthropies, run by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. She resigned last year after learning the organization planned to expand an environmental initiative to shutter coal-fired power plants. Almost 90 percent of Kentucky’s electricity comes from coal, and her ties to the organization were used against McConnell in his Senate rate.
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Early Tuesday morning, Trump tweeted the following: “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag — if they do, there must be consequences — perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!”
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The president-elect’s tweet attempts to pry open a question that has been constitutionally settled for the last quarter century.
In the 1990 court case, United States v. Eichman, the Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision struck down a congressional act that prohibited flag burning, citing the First Amendment’s protection of speech. The decision widened the purview of a similar 1989 holding, which prevented states from enacting these bans on expression.
The justices’ words at the time dripped with bitter reluctance. In the 1989 ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy called the decision a “painful judgment,” writing in a concurring opinion: “It is poignant but fundamental that the flag protects those who hold it in contempt.”
Justice Antonin Scalia, whose textualist mold Trump has hailed and vowed to replicate in justice appointments, sided with Kennedy. But later remarks showed that his constitutional reading eclipsed his personal beliefs. In 2015, at a Union League event, he said: “If it were up to me, I would put in jail every sandal-wearing, scruffy-bearded weirdo who burns the American flag. But I am not king.”
It’s unclear whether Trump will move to change this protection, or how he would do it. But he’s not the first politician to push the idea.
In 2005, Hillary Clinton supported the Flag Protection Act, which could punish a person with up to one year in jail and a $100,000 fine, Fox News reported.
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It’s official–the coconut crab has the strongest grip of any animal.
Researchers at the Okinawa Churashima Foundation in Japan, found that a coconut crab’s pinching power corresponds with its size — and that force was tremendous.
Scientists collected 29 coconut crabs and then had them clamp down on a bite-force measuring device. The largest crab in the bunch weighed 4.67 pounds and squeezed with the force of 1,765 Newtons. By comparison, a 143-pound human with proportional strength of this coconut crab could grip with a force of 6 tons.
Coconut crabs, which are native to islands in the Pacific and Indian oceans, use their claws to gain a dietary advantage. They can crack open coconuts — hence their nickname — but also other crabs, fruits, nuts and a wide variety of other foods that they can get their claws on.
Even one of the researchers, marine biologist Shin-ichiro Oka, was pinched on his palm twice. While the crab didn’t break any bones, Oka’s hand was essentially paralyzed until the animal released him.
“While it was only a few minutes, I felt eternal hell,” said Oka, whose team published their findings Nov. 23 in PLOS One.
The upper limit of this fierce pinch is potentially bone crunching. The heaviest recorded weight of a coconut crab is 4 kilograms. By extrapolating their measurements, the scientists proposed that this crab might be able to pinch with the force of 3,300 Newtons. That’s stronger than the bite of any land animal except alligators.
People in South Asian and Pacific Island nations regard the coconut crab as a delicacy, and as a result, its population has been threatened or made locally extinct by human activity.
WASHINGTON — With Syria’s Russian-backed military appearing close to seizing total control of Aleppo, U.S. officials concede they have little to no chance of securing a diplomatic breakthrough to halt the 5½-year civil war in President Barack Obama’s last weeks in office. Given Donald Trump’s promises of closer cooperation with Russia, the U.S. has lost what limited leverage it had.
Until recently, top U.S. officials still dangled the threat of reviving any of the various Syria plans Obama long had rejected, from a no-fly zone over opposition-held territory and more weapons to the rebels to sanctions on Moscow for aiding Syrian President Bashar Assad. Such talk has disappeared since Trump’s surprise election victory three weeks ago.
And the sense of U.S. powerlessness is so profound right now that even Obama’s Plan A — diplomatic efforts with Russia — doesn’t seem to be taking on added urgency. Discussions in Geneva involving senior diplomats are occurring regularly, though not daily. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov have been talking by telephone a couple of times each week. The specter of the fall of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city, isn’t changing the American approach.
“The United States continues to work diplomatically,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday, crediting Kerry with redoubling “efforts to try to bring about that kind of solution because we know that it’s just impossible to impose a military solution.”
Blocks away in Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters: “To suggest … that there’s some sort of frantic or frenetic last-ditch efforts here in the remaining weeks that he has in office just simply doesn’t comport with the facts.”
Meanwhile, Syria’s Aleppo offensive is making headway. On Monday, pro-government forces seized parts of the city that had been rebel-held for four years. An opposition retreat from its last strongholds in Aleppo would give Assad control of Syria’s four largest cities and coastal region, and could prove a devastating psychological blow to a rebellion that has been on the defensive since Russia intervened to help Assad 14 months ago.
The picture of Syria is dramatically different from August 2011, when Obama first called on Assad to leave power and a chorus of officials spent years predicting his rapid ouster. Assad remains firmly in place. And the war has now killed as many as a half-million people, contributed to Europe’s worst refugee crisis since World War II and allowed the Islamic State to emerge as a worldwide terror threat.
The rebels’ deteriorating position in Aleppo and the worsening humanitarian catastrophe were widely foreseen by American officials after Syria and Russia pulled out of a U.S.-Russian cease-fire in September to root out what they said were al-Qaida-linked and other terrorist forces. Unable to muster any serious military threat, Washington responded with fierce rhetorical denunciations and accusations of war crimes and crimes against humanity.
But it offered no action of consequence for Damascus or its military supporters, which includes Iran.
Last month, Kerry even suggested the U.S. was resigned to Aleppo’s loss.
“Now, some people ask what happens to Aleppo if it were to fall,” he said in London. “Well, the Russians should understand, and Assad needs to understand, that that does not end the war.” Taking the city, he said, “will not change the fundamental equation in this war because other countries will continue to support opposition, and they will continue to create more terrorists, and Syria will be the victim in the end as well as the region.”
U.S. officials stressed that they haven’t given up, pointing to the negotiations with Russia and several other countries directly or indirectly involved in Syria’s war as evidence of continued diplomatic engagement. The negotiations have made little progress, conceded the officials, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly on the discussions and demanded anonymity.
Illustrating the deadlock, they said Washington and Moscow have spent several negotiating sessions trying only to agree on the number of eastern Aleppo fighters belonging to the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front. The goal is to separate them from U.S.-backed rebels. But how the U.S. and Russia might accomplish that after the number of fighters is determined remains entirely unclear, the officials said.
At the heart of the impasse, U.S. officials involved in the diplomacy believe, is Trump’s campaign talk about working with Russia in Syria and ending the limited support the United States has provided for the rebels fighting Assad.
Before the election, officials had hoped to use the looming reality of a Hillary Clinton presidency and her talk of a more hawkish Syria policy to extract some Russian concessions that might lead to a cease-fire and talks on a post-Assad future for Syria.
But with Trump’s presidency less than eight weeks away, the Russians can wait out the clock on Obama and see if a better deal awaits them.
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