You are browsing the archive for 2018 September 01.

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Californians Deserve Access to Short-term Health Insurance

September 1, 2018 in Economics

By Michael F. Cannon

Michael F. Cannon

Gov. Jerry Brown must soon decide whether to sign or veto a bill
sponsored by Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-West Covina, that would eliminate
affordable health coverage for many Californians, deny care to the
sick and increase premiums for Affordable Care Act plans.

Californians have always had the freedom to purchase
“short-term” health insurance. Short-term plans have traditionally
filled gaps in coverage, such as when consumers are between jobs or
nearing Medicare eligibility. They often cost 70 percent less and
offer greater choice of doctors than ACA plans.

New federal rules allow short-term plans to last up to 12 months
and be renewed for up to 36 months. The non-partisan Congressional
Budget Office says the new rules will allow short-term plans to
provide more comprehensive coverage than they have in the past.
Federal estimates indicate these plans would cost an average $428
per month — 31 percent less than ACA plans.

That”s just the beginning: The new rules make it possible for
Californians to obtain secure coverage for just $86 per month
— nearly 90 percent less than the average ACA premium.

Some ACA supporters
believe the new federal rules would harm the ACA, and they’re
literally willing to deny you health care to protect it. But
they’re wrong.

The new rules clarify that insurers can combine short-term plans
with a separate product — a “renewal guarantee” — that
gives the purchaser the right to keep paying healthy-person
premiums, no matter how sick she becomes. For the sick, renewal
guarantees offer more secure coverage than employer plans. In 2008,
UnitedHealth began selling standalone renewal guarantees in 25
states, but excessive regulation intervened. The new rules make
these products possible again.

Allowing renewal guarantees will reduce premiums in California”s
ACA Exchange. The fact that consumers who fall ill will get to keep
paying low, healthy-person premiums means they will stay out of the
ACA”s risk pools, reducing the cost of ACA coverage.

The Hernandez bill would block these affordable options and deny
care to the sick by outlawing short-term plans.

Here”s how. If you forget to enroll in an ACA plan during the
“open” enrollment period, or within 60 days of losing employer
coverage, the ACA denies you coverage until Jan. 1 of the following
year. Under current law, however, you can enroll in a short-term
plan that covers you until then.

But since the Hernandez bill would make short-term plans
illegal, it would force you to go uninsured until Jan. 1 of the
following year. If you developed cancer or another expensive
illness, you would face months of sky-high medical bills. Many
Californians would inevitably forgo necessary care, go bankrupt, …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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Russia Aims to Help GOP in Midterms — And Warns It Would be 'Suicidal' for Republicans to Oppose Trump

September 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Travis Gettys, Raw Story

Russian media reports that sanctions proposed by Trump will never be enforced and were just for show before the elections

The Kremlin is rooting for Republicans to keep their congressional majorities, according to a Russian media analyst — and its state TV hosts are confident they'll win.

President Donald Trump hasn't done much to counter foreign efforts to influence the midterm elections, and has even suggested the Kremlin will work to benefit Democrats, but Russia's state TV paints a different picture, wrote journalist Julia Davis for The Daily Beast.

“Global empires like the United States are destroyed from within,” said filmmaker Karen Shakhnazarov on Russia's “60 Minutes.” “The U.S. is deteriorating. They won’t find other fighters like (Sen. John) McCain. There won’t be any others like him. This process is irreversible.”

Russia hopes to help Trump by promoting his economic successes and create joint business opportunities, and by cultivating relationships with Republican elected officials — some of whom have traveled this summer to Moscow.

“Naturally, Trump’s team — if they aren’t suicidal — will find arguments in support of the president,” said Konstantin Zatulin, a leading figure in Putin’s United Russia party. “Those who don’t, won’t be on his team — or maybe they won’t be in Congress.”

Olga Skabeeva, host of “60 Minutes,” and Russian government officials have openly bragged about using active measures to promote their agenda through U.S. politics — which they believe will further compromise Trump.

“Help him, direct him, support him — and then you'll say he isn't ours,” Skabeeva said.

Russian media reports that sanctions proposed by Trump will never be enforced and were just for show before the elections, and they say the president and his Russian counterpart quietly agreed in Helsinki to establish a business council to “unite” U.S. and Russian business interests.

“We can seriously benefit from these deals, there’s potential profit at stake,” said Dmitry Abzalov, director of the Center for Strategic Communications in Moscow. “We shouldn’t let Trump down right now, our main goal right now is to help him with correct arguments. He will follow through with an internal agenda and …read more


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Are the Politics of 'Incivility' Paving the Road to an American Fascism?

September 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Henry Giroux, Salon

Complaints about civility avoid the big questions of the Trump era: Why is America sliding into authoritarianism?

In the face of a nauseating and poisonous election cycle that ended with Donald Trump’s presidential victory, many commentators are quick to argue that Americans have fallen prey to a culture of incivility. This is the discourse of “bad manners” parading as insight, while working, regardless of intention, to hide the effects of power, politics, racial injustice and other forms of oppression.

The rhetoric of “incivility,” when used as a pejorative ideological label, serves to discredit political rhetoric as ill-tempered, rude and uncivilized. Politics, in this sense, shifts from a focus on substance to style – reworking the notion of critical thinking and action through a rulebook of alleged collegiality – which becomes code for the elevated character and manners of the privileged classes. As John Doris points out in his book “Lack of Character,” the “discourse of character often plays against a background of social stratification and elitism.”

In other words, the wealthy, noble and rich are deemed to possess admirable characters and to engage in civil behavior. At the same time, those who are poor, unemployed, homeless or subject to police violence are not seen as the victims of larger political, social and economic forces that bear down upon them; on the contrary, their problems are reduced to the depoliticizing discourse of bad character, defined as an individual pathology, and whatever resistance they present is dismissed as rude, ignorant and uncivil. Ruling elites have used the discourse of incivility to criticize dissent as it has emerged across ideological and racial lines and includes unruly conservative working-class whites as well as left-oriented black youth groups.

Trump has marshaled the assumptions underlying this discourse to support his presidential campaign and political agenda, which warrant far more alarm than suggested by terms such as “ill-mannered.” More than other candidates, Trump not only showcased and appropriated “incivility” in his public appearances as a mark of solidarity with many of his white male followers, he tapped into their resentment and transformed their misery into a racist, bigoted, …read more


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What a New Study of British Spies Reveals About the CIA

September 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Rory Cormac, History News Network

The tables turned in the early 1960s.

Historians know a great deal about CIA history. The US government has acknowledged some 50 Cold War covert actions, from fiddling with Italian elections in the late 1940s to undermining Marxist influence in Yemen in the 1980s. Spy chiefs, practitioners, journalists, and academics have written enough books on the CIA to fill several libraries. Although debate still rages about the good or ill of the CIA, we know the major contours of its history.

There is a problem in this historiographical landscape, a problem that might give a distorted image of the CIA. Many of these histories are written in isolation. Books tell the American story of Langley; tales of brave/reckless (depending on one’s persuasion) American intelligence officers working across the world in furtherance of American interests.

This approach risks overplaying American agency and exaggerating the power of the hidden hand. Failure to consider the role of local actors or US allies can be distorting. This is particularly the case regarding the United Kingdom, with whom American intelligence has long enjoyed a supposedly “special” – but undeniably close – relationship. British fetishisation of secrecy hinders understanding not only of British secret history but of America’s too. For example, it was British intransigence which held up archival releases covering the Anglo-American coup in Iran back in 1953. 

Looking at the history of covert action through the eyes of MI6 therefore offers unexpected insight into the CIA. 

British covert action cannot be considered in isolation from US activity, but the reverse is also true. Since 1945, both sides have misled the other, manipulated the other, tried to recruit the other and restrained the other.

In trying to “rollback”the Soviet Union from Eastern Europe, the CIA has gained a reputation for being rather aggressive, especially in the early Cold War. Traditional narratives cast the UK as a responsible partner trying – with various degrees of success – to restrain American recklessness.

In reality, senior officials in the State Department warned that MI6 was acting too recklessly during the disastrous operation to liberate Albania from the late 1940s. Similarly, senior intelligence officers were …read more


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How to Blow $700 Billion and Lose Wars: A Guide to America's Exploding Defense Budget and Military Failure

September 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Lucian K. Truscott IV, Salon

Step 1: Buy the most expensive weapons in history. Step 2: Don’t use them, since they mostly don’t work

It was December of 2003, and I was in Tal Afar, Iraq with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division. The Brigade was based at an old Iraqi air force base just outside of the town. I had spent the last week in Rabihya, a small town on the border with Syria. When I say “on the border with Syria,” I mean it literally. The wall along the western side of the Army compound where I stayed was the actual border between Iraq and Syria. You could step up on a pile of sandbags just inside the wall of the compound and see into Syria, where a huge billboard-size photo of the recently deceased Syrian strongman Hafez al-Assad stared back at you. While I was there, they succeeded in erecting a matching billboard depicting the new strongman, Bashar al-Assad, next to the one of his father.

It was a noisy, dusty, primitive place. The Army’s compound was only a few yards from the border crossing, where all day and night, trucks, buses, taxis and private vehicles passed between the two countries. One night, I stood for several hours across the road from the makeshift “customs” shack and watched maybe a hundred tractor-trailer car carriers loaded with stolen cars pass through the border on their way to a roadside black market that had sprung up in Baghdad. They were waved through one after another, stopping only to wave their phony papers and pay off the border guards.

But the big action was along the border to the north and south of our outpost in Rabihya.  Every night, weapons destined for the insurgency in Iraq were smuggled from Syria across the berm of earth that stood as the only barrier between the two countries. Money was smuggled in the other direction. The upper-class Sunni gentry of Saddam’s Baath Party was eager to get its cash out of the country before the Shiite majority took charge in Iraq, so garbage bags …read more


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Watch: Mormon Missionary Gets Brutal Lesson on His Church's Racism from Black Father

September 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Martin Cizmar, Raw Story

Having taught that black people are cursed and subhuman for 100-plus years, in accordance with its founder's sternly held beliefs, has kept the church overwhelmingly white.

As anyone who's seen The Book of Mormon knows, in 1978 God changed his mind about black people.

Or at least that's what the Church of Latter Day Saints teaches, according to the song sang by Elder Kevin Price.

Having taught that black people are cursed and subhuman for 100-plus years, in accordance with its founder's sternly held beliefs, has kept the church overwhelmingly white. It also makes for some awkward conversations when the church's missionaries approach black people who understand Mormon mythology.

One man recently captured his encounter with two Mormons who approached him, making them take out their Book of Mormon and read a passage condemning blacks.

“And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”

He then told them to go away and stop peddling their racist nonsense to his family.

“The brothers came here to teach my family about God,” he says. “Because of their sins against God, he turned them black. You came to my house, to teach my family that God turned us black because we sinned against God,” he said. “That’s not going to be acceptable at all.”

“That's not what we teach, you may be taking it a little bit out of context as well,” the white Mormon claimed.

Watch the encounter below.

…read more


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The World's Largest Publicly Traded Oil Company Continues to Fund Climate Deniers

September 1, 2018 in Blogs

By Elliott Negin, Independent Media Institute

ExxonMobil just released its 2017 charitable giving report and it's terrible news for the planet.

A decade after pledging to end its support for climate science deniers, ExxonMobil gave $1.5 million last year to 11 think tanks and lobby groups that reject established climate science and openly oppose the oil and gas giant’s professed climate policy preferences, according to the company’s annual charitable giving report released this week.

Nearly 90 percent of ExxonMobil’s 2017 donations to climate science denier groups went to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and three organizations that have been receiving funds from the company since it started bankrolling climate disinformation 20 years ago: the American Enterprise Institute, Manhattan Institute and American Legislative Exchange Council, which—in a surprise move—ExxonMobil recently quit. (More on that later.)

The other ExxonMobil denier grantees last year were the Center for American and International Law ($23,000), Federalist Society ($10,000), Hoover Institution ($15,000), Mountain States Legal Foundation ($5,000), National Black Chamber of Commerce ($30,000), National Taxpayers Union Foundation ($40,000) and Washington Legal Foundation ($40,000).

ExxonMobil’s funding priorities belie the company’s purported support for a carbon tax, the Paris climate agreement and other related policies, which it reaffirmed in a January blog post by its public affairs director, Suzanne McCarron. If, as McCarron claims, ExxonMobil is “committed to being part of the solution,” why is the company still spending millions of dollars a year on groups that are a major part of the problem?

ExxonMobil’s history of deceit

There is ample evidence that Exxon was fully aware of the danger its products pose to the planet since the 1980s and likely even earlier. Nonetheless, the company helped initiate a fossil fuel industry-backed climate disinformation campaign in 1998, a year before it merged with Mobil.

The company’s behind-the-scenes role went largely unnoticed for nearly a decade, but in early 2007, a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists revealed that it had spent at least $16 million between 1998 and 2005 to fund a network of more than 40 think tanks and advocacy groups to manufacture doubt about climate science under the guise of being neutral, independent analysts.

In response to the negative press …read more