[yt_dropcap type=”square” font=”” size=”14″ color=”#000″ background=”#fff” ] I [/yt_dropcap]n order to repeal what they disparagingly call “Obama Care” the Republicans have had to create a whole mythology around their proposed health care replacement. In doing so they failed to notice that while some people may dislike Obama, they like the care and do not wish to lose it.
They tried to promote the lie that it was a mere repeal. It was not. It leaves in place the regulations of insurance companies, like those that protect people with pre-existing conditions and keep kids on their parents’ health-care plans into adulthood. It also kept the expansion of Medicaid in place, albeit stingily depriving it of funds.
In the second place the Ryan bill (Trump refused to affix his name on it) was falsely promoted as a health-care bill. It was not. It was more of fiscal bill. The Medicaid cuts and tax cuts for high-income earners were matched dollar-for-dollar. That’s to say, as per this bill, $900 billion in health-care-benefit cuts would have been converted into $900 billion in tax relief for the rich. Also, taxes would have been cut on medical device makers and other entities.
As it is, the US pays more for health care than any other country. The results are not very impressive, however. The bureaucratic mess is impressive, to be sure with a confusing and complicated set of third-party negotiators and payers. What did the Republicans have to say about those flaws? Not much. With their plan health-care coverage would have become more expensive for seniors, the ones who need it the most.
Only 17% of voters thought that the GOP was handling the health-care bill well; 43% counsel slowing down before proceeding with upending. But the GOP was in a rush and kept pressing on. They kept insisting that they needed to keep the promise to repeal and replace Obama Care, never mind that Trump was partly elected because he promised the opposite in praising universal coverage. The question arises: was that just another ploy to get elected?
The final self-deception and delusion of the GOP was that it was reforming health-care. What Paul Ryan and his entourage didn’t seem to have noticed is that they had already spent seven years urging the Supreme Court to obviate their desperate need to repeal and replace Obama care. Rather than junk the law, they’d rather the Court to do the dirty work. Why not do it themselves? Because they couldn’t, and they haven’t been able, so far.
All along the repeal and replace rhetoric was just a bait. They were unable to muster enough common sense to back down. They remain addicted to repeal and replace, and have refused so far to even consider the reality that by proposing laws that disrupt health coverage for millions of people end in political suicide. That would be logical and rational but let’s not forget that we no longer live in rational times. We live in the world of “alternate realities” “fake news” and “after truth.”
Truth is now what is convenient for me at the moment and the greatest representative of that philosophy is the man who sits in the White House and claims, illegitimately, to be president of the US. Indeed, greed and heartlessness are like terrible viruses whose effects on those unfortunate body politics so affected by them are ultimate delusions and self-deception. Once you catch those viruses, they are hard to get rid of.
The GOP has had to temporarily cease and desist from pushing their modified health-care act; but this is only a tactical step. They simply did not have the votes and so their proposed health care act for the people went down in flame. It’s not that they have learned anything or have had a change of heart and decided to proceed in a more wise bi-partisan mode.
As mentioned elsewhere, they are like a used car salesman. First they attempted to sell a lemon of a car. They did not succeed in fooling the majority of the people. Now they go around predicting that the car they presently own (Obama Care) will soon explode and then they will need another car. At that point, they claim, they will need another car and they remain ready and willing to sell the people the originally proposed lemon car. That’s what used car salesmen do. It’s all part of the “art of the deal.”
You could bet on the fact that those are the kind of misguided people who, if they could, would eliminate tomorrow all the social programs for the poor and underprivileged enacted and implemented since the times of FDR. One begins to suspect that they are basically pityless, uncaring people, despite their frequent pious appeals to their vaunted Christianity. What an embarrassment for Christianity!
Fight against human trafficking must be strengthened in Ethiopia
Throughout Ethiopia’s Tigray, Afar and Amhar regions, women and girls are becoming increasingly vulnerable to abduction and sex trafficking as they flee ongoing armed conflict, a group of UN-appointed independent human rights experts warned on Monday.
The protracted conflict in the three northern regions have heightened risks of trafficking for sexual exploitation as a form of sexual violence in conflict, the experts said in a statement.
“We are alarmed by reports of refugee and internally displaced women and girls in the Tigray, Afar, and Amhara regions being abducted while attempting to move to safer places,” they said.
“We are concerned at the risks of trafficking, in particular for purposes of sexual exploitation, including sexual slavery.”
Women and children in crosshairs
Amidst abductions and displacement, the UN experts raised serious concerns over Eritrean refugee women and children being at particular risk of sex trafficking.
“Urgent action is needed to prevent trafficking, especially for purposes of sexual exploitation, and to ensure assistance and protection of all victims, without discrimination on grounds of race or ethnicity, nationality, disability, age or gender,” they said.
Meanwhile, the hundreds of children who have been separated from their families, especially in the Tigray region, are particularly vulnerable, warned the independent experts.
“The continuing lack of humanitarian access to the region is a major concern,” the experts continued, urging immediate national, bilateral and multilateral measures to prevent all forms of trafficking of children and to ensure their protection.
They added that sufficient measures were not being taken to identify victims of trafficking, or support their recovery in ways that fully takes account of the extreme trauma being suffered.
“The failure to provide accountability for these serious human rights violations and grave crimes creates a climate of impunity, allows trafficking in persons to persist and perpetrators to go free,” underscored the six UN experts.
They urged all relevant stakeholders to ensure that victims of trafficking can adequately access medical assistance, including sexual and reproductive healthcare services and psychological support.
The experts said they had made their concerns known to both the Governments of Ethiopia and neighbouring Eritrea.
35 years of Cultural Routes: Safeguarding European Values, Heritage, and Dialogue
A Europe rich in history, heritage, dialogue and values: the Council of Europe Cultural Routes’ programme celebrates its 35th anniversary, on the occasion of the 11th Advisory Forum in Minoa Palace Hotel, Chania, Crete (Greece) on 5-7 October, with a special event to highlight the relevance of Cultural Routes for the promotion of cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and sustainable tourism.
The Forum is organised by the Enlarged Partial Agreement on Cultural Routes of the Council of Europe and the European Institute of Cultural Routes, in co-operation with the Hellenic Ministry of Culture and Sports, the Hellenic Ministry of Tourism, the Greek National Tourism Organization, the Region of Crete, the Municipality of Chania, the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Chania, and the Historic Cafes Route. The 2022 edition will be the opportunity to underline the growing relevance of the Cultural Routes methodology and practices in promoting Europe’s shared cultural heritage while fostering viable local development.
Deputy Secretary General Bjørn Berge will participate in the high-level dialogue, together with Minister of Culture and Sports of Greece Lina Mendoni, Minister of Tourism of Greece Vassilis Kikilias, Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Vice-President and Chairperson of the Greek Delegation Dora Bakoyannis and Chair of the Statutory Committee of Cultural Routes Ambassador Patrick Engelberg (Luxembourg).
Over three days of workshops and interactive debates, three main general sessions will be explored:
- Promoting European Values and Intercultural Dialogue;
- Safeguarding Heritage in Times of Crisis;
- Fostering Creative Industries, Cultural Tourism, Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Communities.
The Forum will discuss trends and challenges in relation to Cultural Routes, providing a platform for sharing experiences, reviewing progress, analysing professional practices, launching new initiatives and developing partnerships across Europe and beyond. Participants range from managers among the 48 cultural routes to representatives of national ministries, International Organisations, academics, experts and tourism professionals.
Little progress combating systemic racism against people of African descent
More than two years since the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in the United States sparked the global Black Lives Matter movement, there’s been only “piecemeal progress” in addressing systemic racism, the UN human rights office (OHCHR) said on Friday, in a new report.While more people have been made aware of systemic racism and concrete steps have been taken in some countries, the Acting High Commissioner for Human Rights called on States to demonstrate greater political will to accelerate action.
“There have been some initiatives in different countries to address racism, but for the most part they are piecemeal. They fall short of the comprehensive evidence-based approaches needed to dismantle the entrenched structural, institutional and societal racism that has existed for centuries, and continues to inflict deep harm today,” said Nada Al-Nashif, who will present the report to the UN Human Rights Council on Monday.
The report describes international, national and local initiatives that have been taken, towards ending the scourge of racism.
These include an Executive Order from the White House on advancing effective, accountable policing and criminal justice practices in federal law enforcement agencies; an Anti-Racism Data Act in British Columbia, Canada; measures to evaluate ethnic profiling by police in Sweden; and census data collection to self-identify people of African descent in Argentina.
The European Commission has issued guidance on collecting and using data based on racial or ethnic origin; formal apologies issued, memorialization, revisiting public spaces, and research, to assess links to enslavement and colonialism in several countries.
‘Barometer for success’
The report notes that poor outcomes continue for people of African descent in many countries, notably in accessing health and adequate food, education, social protection, and justice – while poverty, enforced disappearance and violence continues.
It highlights “continuing…allegations of discriminatory treatment, unlawful deportations, excessive use of force, and deaths of African migrants and migrants of African descent by law enforcement officials”
“The barometer for success must be positive change in the lived experiences of people of African descent,” continued Ms. Al-Nashif.
“States need to listen to people of African descent, meaningfully involve them and take genuine steps to act upon their concerns.”
Higher death rates
Where available, recent data still points to disproportionately high death rates faced by people of African descent, at the hands of law enforcement, in different countries.
“Families of African descent continued to report the immense challenges, barriers and protracted processes they faced in their pursuit of truth and justice for the deaths of their relatives”, the report says.
It details seven cases of police-related deaths of people of African descent, namely George Floyd and Breonna Taylor (US); Adama Traoré (France); Luana Barbosa dos Reis Santos and João Pedro Matos Pinto (Brazil); Kevin Clarke (UK) and Janner [Hanner] García Palomino (Colombia).
While noting some progress towards accountability in a few of these emblematic cases, “unfortunately, not a single case has yet been brought to a full conclusion, with those families still seeking truth, justice and guarantees of non-repetition, and the prosecution and sanction of all those responsible,” the report says.
Ms. Al-Nashif called on States to “redouble efforts to ensure accountability and redress wherever deaths of Africans and people of African descent have occurred in the context of law enforcement, and take measures to confront legacies that perpetuate and sustain systemic racism”.
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