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Name: Don
Gender: Male
Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio
Home country: USA
Current location: Greenfield, MA
Member since: Sat Sep 1, 2012, 03:28 PM
Number of posts: 29,835

Journal Archives

For 1st time, over half of people with HIV taking AIDS drugs

Source: Associated Press


LONDON (AP) — For the first time in the global AIDS epidemic that has spanned four decades and killed 35 million people, more than half of all those infected with HIV are on drugs to treat the virus, the United Nations said in a report released Thursday.

AIDS deaths are also now close to half of what they were in 2005, according to the U.N. AIDS agency, although those figures are based on estimates and not actual counts from countries. Experts applauded the progress, but questioned if the billions spent in the past two decades should have brought more impressive results. The U.N. report was released in Paris where an AIDS meeting begins this weekend.

“When you think about the money that’s been spent on AIDS, it could have been better,” said Sophie Harman, a senior lecturer in global health politics at Queen Mary University in London. She said more resources might have gone to strengthening health systems in poor countries.

“The real test will come in five to 10 years once the funding goes down,” Harman said, warning that some countries might not be able to sustain the U.N.-funded AIDS programs on their own.

Read more: https://apnews.com/fe79f17fc9614e41af2cd99c25cb01fa/For-1st-time,-over-half-of-people-with-HIV-taking-AIDS-drugs

Rand Paul Agrees With Trump: Sessions Shouldn't Have Recused Himself

Source: Talking Points Memo

By NICOLE LAFOND Published JULY 20, 2017 10:44 AM

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) came to President Donald Trump’s defense on Thursday.

In an interview in the New York Times Wednesday, Trump told the paper he would not have hired Jeff Sessions as attorney general if he knew that Sessions would ultimately recuse himself from the Department of Justice’s Russia investigation.

“You know, I think the President has a point, because the thing here is if everybody is going to recuse themselves just for incidental contact, I think you don’t get really good governance,” Paul said in an interview on “Fox and Friends,” the President’s favored morning news show. “I believe that Jeff Sessions’ contact with the Russians was incidental. In the usual duties of being in Senate, and it being incidental, he should have stayed in the fray and been more supportive of the President.”

Paul went on to rail against Sessions for his actions enforcing asset forfeiture policy, which he says gives the attorney general the power to disproportionately take property from minority and low-income people.

“I think we shouldn’t take people’s property without conviction. This is something I believe very strongly in, and I’m disappointed that Sessions is going after a lot of poor minorities to take their property without due process,” he said.


Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/rand-paul-agrees-with-trump-sessions-shouldnt-have-recusedhimself

Treasury fines Exxon Mobil $2 million for violating Russia sanctions while SoS Tiller was CEO

Source: Associated Press

Treasury fines Exxon Mobil $2 million for violating Russia sanctions while Secretary of State Tillerson was CEO

By Associated Press July 20 at 10:20 AM

WASHINGTON — Treasury fines Exxon Mobil $2 million for violating Russia sanctions while Secretary of State Tillerson was CEO.


Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/treasury-fines-exxon-mobil-2-million-for-violating-russia-sanctions-while-secretary-of-state-tillerson-was-ceo/2017/07/20/8bf8944e-6d56-11e7-abbc-a53480672286_story.html?utm_term=.152e6173fc89


U.S. Treasury Fines Exxon $2M for Violating Russia Sanctions

The U.S. Treasury Department on Thursday said it’s fining Exxon Mobil Corp $2 million for showing “reckless disregard” for Russia sanctions, the Associated Press reported. Treasury said Exxon subsidiaries signed a deal with Igor Sechin, the chairman of a Russian oil giant, who is on a U.S. blacklist in May 2014. At the time, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was the oil company's CEO, and Exxon executives allegedly knew Sechin was blacklisted but proceeded to do business with him.




Attorney General Jeff Sessions says he plans to stay in role, despite Trump's comments about him

Source: The Washington Post

By Matt Zapotosky and Sari Horwitz July 20 at 10:49 AM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said Thursday that he plans to stay in his job despite the president’s public assertion that he would not have nominated Sessions to the post had he known that he would recuse himself from the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

Sessions said he had the “honor of serving as attorney general,” and he planned “to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate.” Asked how he could keep working, having apparently lost President Trump’s confidence, Sessions responded: “We’re serving right now. The work we’re doing today is the kind of work that we intend to continue.

“I’m totally confident that we can continue to run this office in an effective way,” Sessions added.

On Wednesday, the New York Times published an article about an interview with Trump in which the president said he would not have appointed Sessions attorney general had he known Sessions would recuse himself from the investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/attorney-general-jeff-sessions-says-he-plans-to-stay-in-role-despite-trumps-comments-about-him/2017/07/20/527e53d4-6d51-11e7-9c15-177740635e83_story.html?pushid=5970c49f5ae0f93800000002&tid=notifi_push_breaking-news&utm_term=.3c772fb93600

Wray's FBI nomination approved by Senate committee

Source: Politico

By SEUNG MIN KIM 07/20/2017 10:16 AM EDT

Christopher Wray, President Donald Trump’s nominee to lead the FBI, easily cleared a key Senate committee Thursday — even following an explosive Trump interview in the New York Times that prompted Democrats to raise renewed concerns of political interference with the Department of Justice.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 20-0 in favor of Wray, a former Justice Department official who has been in private practice for the last dozen years. His nomination now goes to the Senate floor, where Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he intends to get Wray confirmed before the August recess.

“He committed to doing the job by the book and without any regard to partisan political influence,” said California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. “He testified that his loyalty is to the Constitution and to the rule of law, not to any ideology or individual, including the president.”


Read more: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/07/20/christopher-wray-nomination-approved-senate-judiciary-240754

How Democrats Won the Healthcare War

And how they could lose the next one.

By BILL SCHER July 20, 2017

The mover on health care loses,” Democratic operative James Carville said in January. “To do something is to lose.” That cold-hearted political proverb has been repeatedly proven true, if the standard is short-term electoral gain. In terms of policy, it’s another story. Now that Obamacare repeal has fizzled, Democrats have officially won the eight-year health care war.

The victory was not by default. Trump might look silly blaming Democrats for the failure of repeal and replace when Republicans control all branches of government, but united Democratic resistance was critical to keeping the Affordable Care Act as law. Without a single Democrat in Congress breaking ranks, the ideologically divided Republican caucus found it impossible to stitch together a majority for a functional alternative to the status quo.

But the euphoria of victory may quickly dissipate. Despite the fact that Obamacare was signed in this decade, many Democrats don’t appreciate the bill’s history and have not internalized the lessons of its passage and durability. Without a clear-eyed understanding of their own triumph, Democrats may hastily launch another health care war, repeat many of the Republican Party’s clumsy mistakes and prove Carville right all over again.

Many analysts will attribute the repeal bill’s demise to raw politics: be it Trump’s unpopularity, poor salesmanship by Republican leaders, incorrigible Republican backbenchers or Democrats cynically betting on gridlock. But the biggest reason why Democrats were able to unify was the substance of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. However imperfect, however unpopular, the law was built to last.


Betty Dukes, Greeter Whose Walmart Lawsuit Went to Supreme Court, Dies at 67


Betty Dukes, a Walmart worker who led a class-action lawsuit accusing the company of discriminating against female employees — a landmark case that went all the way to United States Supreme Court — died on July 10 at her home in Antioch, Calif. She was 67.

Her death was confirmed on Tuesday by her brother William Ponnell. The cause had not been determined, but she had recently had heart problems, he said. Ms. Dukes had continued to work for Walmart until her retirement last year, a company spokesman said.

A Walmart greeter who welcomed customers to the store, Ms. Dukes was portrayed as the epitome of a low-paid female retail worker taking on a huge multinational corporation.

“She was a voice fighting for equal rights and against racial and gender discrimination in the workplace,” her niece Rita Roland said.

The lawsuit was filed in 2001 on behalf of as many as 1.5 million female workers. Among other discriminatory labor practices, it accused Walmart of a systemic gender discrimination— paying women less than their male counterparts and of unjustly passing over women for promotions — all in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which made it illegal for employers to discriminate on the basis of race, creed or gender.

But the Supreme Court dismissed the case in 2011 in a 5-4 decision in which its more conservative justices prevailed.


Republicans lament an agenda in 'quicksand'

GOP lawmakers’ mood is darkening as the August recess approaches and they’ve made little progress on their priorities.


Sen. David Perdue persuaded Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week to scrap two weeks of August recess to advance President Donald Trump's agenda. But since then, the GOP’s Obamacare repeal effort has almost entirely collapsed — and the Republican to-do list remains just as long.

“We haven’t started the debt ceiling; we have to fund the government; we have to do the budget,” the Georgia Republican said. “I’m the one counting the days. I’m very nervous."

Republicans are plainly struggling to follow through on long-held campaign promises, with the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare the most prominent piece of the GOP's stalled agenda.

A long-delayed GOP budget is on the rocks in the House because of internal divisions — a disagreement that threatens to derail tax reform. House GOP leaders have also scaled back a sweeping spending plan full of red meat for the base, infuriating rank-and-file members who wanted something bigger to take home to constituents. And the House and Senate are nowhere near a plan to avoid a federal default.

“We’re in some quicksand right now. We just can’t seem to free ourselves,” said Rep. Steve Womack (R-Ark.).


GOP Rep. On Trump: 'The President Is A Distraction' And Never Learns

Source: Talking Points Memo

By MATT SHUHAM Published JULY 20, 2017 9:34 AM

A Republican congressman gave a surprisingly candid assessment of President Donald Trump and his young administration Thursday: They’re a distraction, and they never learn.

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) vented to the Politico after another disappointing failure to gather the votes to repeal Obamacare in the Senate — with Trump himself frequently changing positions on the effort, and failing to throw his political heft behind Republicans senators.

“I don’t even pay any attention to what is going on with the administration because I don’t care. They’re a distraction. The family is a distraction, the President is a distraction,” Simpson said. “At first, it was, ‘Well yeah, this is the guy we elected. He’ll learn, he’ll learn.’ And you just don’t see that happening.”

Simpson’s comments echoed the frustration expressed to TPM by many members of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, who were able to pass a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare only to see the effort fail in the Senate.


Read more: http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/mike-simpson-trump-never-learns

China Showers Myanmar With Attention, as Trump Looks Elsewhere


NAYPYIDAW, Myanmar — When Myanmar’s leader, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, wanted to hold a peace conference to end her country’s long-burning insurgencies, a senior Chinese diplomat went to work.

The official assembled scores of rebel leaders, many with longstanding connections to China, briefed them on the peace gathering and flew them on a chartered plane to Myanmar’s capital. There, after being introduced to a beaming Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi, they were wined and dined, and sang rowdy karaoke late into the night.

A cease-fire may still be a long way off, but the gesture neatly illustrates how Myanmar, a former military dictatorship that the United States worked hard to press toward democracy, is now depending on China to help solve its problems.

The pieces all fell into place for China: It wanted peace in Myanmar to protect its new energy investments, it had the leverage to press the rebels and it found an opening to do a favor for Myanmar to deliver peace.

China is now able to play its natural role in Myanmar in a more forceful way than ever before as the United States under the Trump administration steps back from more than six years of heavy engagement in Myanmar, including some tentative contacts with some of the rebels. The vacuum left by the United States makes China’s return all the easier.

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