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Pence calls on GOP to ‘step up to the plate’ on health care bill

(CNN)Vice President Mike Pence is increasing the pressure for Republicans to pass health care legislation, calling on senators to “step up to the plate” and keep their seven-year promise.

The elevated rhetoric comes as the Republican health care legislation hangs by a tenuous thread.
The Senate is expected to vote on a plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act next week, but what exactly that will be has yet to be announced. The Senate Republican leadership is urging members to pass a procedural vote to begin debate, but with Arizona Sen. John McCain out as he deals with newly diagnosed brain cancer, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only lose one member of his conference and still advance a bill.
    As of now, there’s no indication the votes are there.
    “We’re going to vote on whether to proceed to a bill,” Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas said Thursday. “And I know people are fixated on what bill are we going to vote to proceed on — but the problem with that is that this is a unique process where every senator can offer amendments to change the bill. So it really is irrelevant what technical vehicle we proceed to. This is just strictly, are we going to start the debate, so people can offer amendments and so we can at some point finish.”
    President Donald Trump echoed Pence in a tweet Saturday morning.
    “The Republican Senators must step up to the plate and, after 7 years, vote to Repeal and Replace,” Trump wrote. “Next, Tax Reform and Infrastructure. WIN!”
    “ObamaCare is dead and the Democrats are obstructionists, no ideas or votes, only obstruction,” he continued in a follow-up tweet. “It is solely up to the 52 Republican Senators!”
    Pence reiterated the message Saturday night, saying he and the President “are going to keep fighting every single day until this Congress puts this bill on [Trump’s] desk.”
    “President Trump said it plainly the other day when he had every senator over to the White House,” Pence added. “He said he had pen in hand. He’s ready to act and the Senate health care bill, we believe, is the right bill at the right time to begin to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
    For now, the Trump administration is trying to come up with some kind of Obamacare replacement bill that will satisfy moderates. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma has been meeting in both group and individual settings with moderate hold-outs, hoping to convince them that there is a way to protect low-income people in their states once Medicaid expansion ends.
    A new Congressional Budget Office score Thursday showed that Republicans had more than $200 billion more to spend on health care and still make their budget target. That may give leaders and the White House some room to negotiate.
    But spending more money to win votes is making some Republicans uncomfortable.
    “It’s beginning to feel like there is a lack of coherency in what we’re doing, and it’s almost becoming a bidding process. Let’s throw $50 billion here, let’s throw $100 billion there. And again, it may write itself, but it’s making me uncomfortable right now,” said Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/22/politics/pence-ohio-gop-dinner/index.html

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    Spicer’s exit will not lift White House siege as walls close in

    Washington (CNN)In a White House under siege, something had to change.

    Press secretary Sean Spicer’s resignation Friday let off a pressure valve, allowing an administration that is being pummeled on multiple and multiplying fronts the chance, at least for once, to dictate its own story.
    But Spicer’s departure after the most fraught six months of antagonism between the press and a West Wing that anyone can remember, is just one move in a shuffle of personnel and tactics that augurs an aggressive White House fightback that is likely to intensify the current discord in Washington.
      Trump has beefed up his legal team and escalated his rhetoric in an apparent attempt to discredit special counsel Robert Mueller, and any results of his probe into alleged collusion between his campaign team and Russian officials.
      Trump appears to be trying to revive his organization in an attempt to break out of a prolonged funk that has to a great extent wasted the first six months of his term — a time when presidents are usually at the apex of their power.
      But the reshuffle will not address what many critics see as the root of the crises that are assailing the White House the behavior and political conduct of the President himself. Scaramucci made that much clear.
      “The President himself is always going to be the President. I was in the Oval Office with him earlier today, and we were talking about letting him be himself, letting him express his full identity,” he said.
      “I think he’s got some of the best political instincts in the world, and perhaps in history.”
      Trump’s own behavior in recent days, in which he has all but declared war on both Mueller and his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions as well as revived questions over the Russia investigation in an astonishing interview with the New York Times, appeared at the least to call Scaramucci’s assessment of his political sense into question.
      His heated interventions also appear to be betraying the rising pressure inside the White House at the expanding allegations and investigations marching inexorably closer to the administration and the Trump family.
      News broken by CNN Friday that Mueller’s investigators asked the West Wing staff to preserve documents relevant to a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer last year confirmed that the White House itself is now in Mueller’s crosshairs.
      Mueller is also moving inexorably closer to the thing Trump cares about most — his family — with both his son-in-law Jared Kushner and Donald Jr. under scrutiny over their past history of meetings with Russian intermediaries.
      Trump’s warning in the Times interview that it would be a “violation” if Mueller probed his personal finances, could indicate that he believes the special counsel is targeting tax returns he has refused to release.
      Trump’s position is that his and his family’s financial dealings are off limits, even though Mueller might view them as a possible tool to see whether his business history poses any conflicts of interests to the President’s current role.
      “The President’s point is that he doesn’t want the special counsel to move beyond the scope and outside of its mission,” Sanders told reporters after Scaramucci had vacated the podium. “And the President’s been very clear, as have his accountants and team, that he has no financial dealings with Russia.”
      The Russia pressure is not going to relent next week either.
      Key members of the Trump campaign team, including Donald Jr., Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort have been asked to give testimony on Capitol Hill that would send Russia fever into overdrive.
      Meanwhile, the White House is still struggling for the kind of “wins” that Trump promised. Despite introducing new measures to curtail illegal immigration, there are few other obvious successes for the new communications team to trumpet. While jobs creation has remained steady and strong, the economy has not yet exploded into growth. And though the stock market has been on a bull run, many presidents find that tying their performance to the markets is a perilous practice.
      Scaramucci’s first job, in his first appearance at the podium in the White House Briefing Room on Friday, was to insist that the walls are not closing in around Trump. And he appeared to be performing as much for the President as the journalists in front of him and the audience watching at home.
      “I’ve seen this guy throw a dead spiral through a tire, I’ve seen him at Madison Square Garden with a topcoat on, standing in the key and hitting foul shots and swishing them — he sinks three-foot putts,” Scaramucci said.
      “I don’t see this as a guy who’s ever under siege. This is a very, very competitive person. Obviously there’s a lot of incoming that comes into the White House. But the President’s a winner and what we’re going to do is we’re going to do a lot of winning.”
      Scaramucci’s attitude to his new job appears, for public consumption at least to be that Trump is actually doing a great job as president, but that his successes have simply not been properly communicated to the nation.
      “When you look at the individual state by state polls, you can see the guy’s doing phenomenally well,” Scaramucci said. “It’s indicating to me that the president is really well loved. There seems to be a disconnect in terms of some of the things that are going on and we want to connect that.”
      Scaramucci’s smooth, urbane performance was in contrast to the antagonistic and defensive performances from the podium that characterized much of Spicer’s tumultuous tenure as White House spokesman.
      But it was a contrast in style more than it was a contrast in substance.
      He punted on the question of Trump’s unproven assertion that millions of illegal votes cost him victory in the popular vote against Hillary Clinton in last year’s election. But he was careful not to contradict the President in one of his most infamous falsehoods, suggesting that questions of credibility and truthfulness will continue to be an issue once he is running the show.
      “If the president says it, … let me do more research on it, My guess is that there’s probably some level of truth to that,” Scaramucci said.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/21/politics/donald-trump-sean-spicer-crises/index.html

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      Tennessee county inmates get reduced jail time for getting a vasectomy

      (CNN)Yes, you read that right. Inmates in White County, Tennessee, can shave 30 days off their jail sentence if they undergo an elective birth control procedure.

      Both male and female inmates can volunteer for the new program. Women receive a Nexplanon implant in their arm, which provides up to three years of continuous birth control. Men undergo a vasectomy. The procedures are free and conducted by the Tennessee Department of Health.
      General Sessions Judge Sam Benningfield signed a standing order on May 15 enforcing the program.
        “I hope to encourage them to take personal responsibility and give them a chance, when they do get out, not to be burdened with children,” Benningfield told CNN affiliate WTVF. “This gives them a chance to get on their feet and make something of themselves.”
        Since the program started, 32 women and 38 men have volunteered. The men are currently waiting to have the vasectomies performed.
        “I understand it won’t be entirely successful, but if you reach two or three people, maybe that’s two or three kids not being born under the influence of drugs. I see it as a win-win,” Benningfield said.

        Controversy over new program

        Not everyone is enthusiastic about the idea. District Attorney Bryant Dunaway and the ACLU are speaking against the ethics and legality of it.
        “Those decisions are personal in nature and I think that’s just something the court system should not encourage or mandate,” Dunaway told WTVF.
        Dunaway has instructed his staff not to make any arrangements involving the birth control program.
        “Offering a so-called ‘choice’ between jail time and coerced contraception or sterilization is unconstitutional,” said Hedy Weinberg, ACLU-TN executive director, in a statement.
        “Judges play an important role in our community — overseeing individuals’ childbearing capacity should not be part of that role.”

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/20/us/white-county-inmate-vasectomy-trnd/index.html

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        John McCain has been diagnosed with brain cancer, spokesman says

        Statement reveals brain tumor known as glioblastoma was removed along with blood clot above senators right eye during surgery last Friday

        John McCain, the Arizona senator and former Republican presidential candidate, has been diagnosed with brain cancer.

        A brain tumor known as a glioblastoma was removed from McCain along with a blood clot in a surgery at the Mayo Clinic on Friday, a spokesperson said on Wednesday.

        McCains office had only previously announced that the blood clot had been removed from above the 80-year-olds left eye.

        The Mayo Clinic said in a statement released by McCains office: The senator and his family are reviewing further treatment options with his Mayo Clinic care team. Treatment options may include a combination of chemotherapy and radiation. The senators doctors say he is recovering from his surgery amazingly well and his underlying health is excellent.

        The surgery had forced McCain to stay in Arizona this week and miss votes in the Senate. It had led to a delay in the vote on the Senate Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was originally scheduled for Monday. Since the delay was announced, a sufficient number of Republican senators came forward to express their opposition to the bill and forced the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to shelve it and instead try to push a vote on a clean repeal of the ACA.

        In a statement, the Arizona senators spokesperson said that in the aftermath of his diagnosis, further consultations with [the] Mayo Clinic care team will indicate when he will return to the United States Senate.

        An extended absence would likely make it even more difficult for Republicans to repeal or replace the ACA, popularly known as Obamacare. Senate Republicans have a narrow 52-48 majority and, with the tie-breaking vote of Mike Pence, can only afford to lose two votes if McCain is present. His absence means that two Republican no votes would now sink any legislation if all 48 Democrats are unified in opposition.

        McCain, who was re-elected to his sixth term in the Senate in 2016, was the Republican partys presidential nominee in 2008 and finished second to George W Bush in the 2000 GOP presidential primary. Prior to his career in politics, McCain served as an aviator in the US navy, and was held as prisoner of war for five and a half years during the Vietnam war. While being held captive by the north Vietnamese, McCain was repeatedly subjected to torture. He retired as a captain after earning a number of decorations including the Silver Star, the Bronze Star and the Distinguished Flying Cross.

        The Arizona senators illness sparked an outpouring of support from both sides of the aisle.

        In a statement, Donald Trump said: Senator John McCain has always been a fighter. Melania and I send our thoughts and prayers to Senator McCain, Cindy, and their entire family. Get well soon. Trump, who famously set off a political firestorm in 2015 by saying McCain was not a war hero, said earlier in the week of the Arizona senator: We hope John McCain gets better very soon because we miss him. Hes a crusty voice in Washington. Plus we need his vote. And hell be back.

        Barack Obama, against whom McCain ran in the 2008 presidential election, tweeted: John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters Ive ever known. Cancer doesnt know what its up against. Give it hell, John.

        Barack Obama (@BarackObama)

        John McCain is an American hero & one of the bravest fighters I’ve ever known. Cancer doesn’t know what it’s up against. Give it hell, John.

        July 20, 2017

        A number of McCains colleagues in the Senate also expressed their well wishes. In a statement, Mitch McConnell said: John McCain is a hero to our Conference and a hero to our country. He has never shied from a fight and I know that he will face this challenge with the same extraordinary courage that has characterized his life. The entire Senate familys prayers are with John, Cindy and his family, his staff, and the people of Arizona he represents so well. We all look forward to seeing this American hero again soon.

        Outside a meeting of Senate Republicans to discuss healthcare reform on Wednesday night, senator John Hoeven of North Dakota said they had learned of the diagnosis during the meeting.

        It was very emotional almost kind of stunned disbelief, Hoeven told reporters. Senator James Lankford, of Oklahoma, then led them in prayer.

        Hoeven said the senators had received a message from McCain via South Carolina senator Lindsay Graham, a close friend. The senator told them he was eager to get back and get to work, Hoeven added.

        Graham was visibly emotional as he recalled his conversation with McCain when he learned of the diagnosis.

        He says, Ive been through worse, Graham told reporters. Five minutes into the call, however, McCain wanted to talk the legislative priories, Graham said.
        God knows how this ends, he said. But I do know this: This disease has never had a more worthy opponent.

        In a statement, McCains daughter Meghan said: He is a warrior at dusk, one of the greatest Americans of our age, and the worthy heir to his fathers and grandfathers name. But to me, he is something more. He is my strength, my example, my refuge, my confidante, my teacher, my rock, my hero my Dad.

        Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain)

        Statement regarding my father @SenJohnMcCain: pic.twitter.com/SMte9Hkwkq

        July 20, 2017

        Lauren Gambino contributed to this report.

        Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/19/john-mccain-brain-cancer

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        Republicans Worry Theyll Suffer Politically After Health Care Setback

        WASHINGTON Republicans failed again this week to find the votes to pass an Obamacare repeal bill, and now theyre facing an uncomfortable prospect: going home for a monthlong recess in August without a single major legislative accomplishment under their belts.

        After three GOP senators refused to support the latest bill aimed at dismantling the Affordable Care Act just enough senators to tank the entire effort Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Tuesday that hes throwing in the towel and abandoning the effort, for now.

        Its a stunning failure by Republicans who have been promising for the last seven years to repeal the health care law. It also means GOP lawmakers could face a conservative backlash that threatens their partys prospects in the 2018 midterm elections.

        McConnell brushed off a question about how hell explain to voters why Republicans wasted the last seven months on a failed health care push and have nothing else to show for that period of time.

        Well, we have a new Supreme Court justice, he said, boasting that Republicans also repealed some Obama-era regulations this year. He said theres still a year and a half left in this Congress, which gives Republicans time to work on other priority issues.

        Well be moving onto tax reform, infrastructure, theres much work left to be done for the American people, McConnell offered.

        But that doesnt change the fact that Republicans have failed to deliver on their No. 1 campaign issue. GOP leaders talked big in January about repealing Obamacare immediately. Their timeline slid, however, as Republicans in the House and Senate disagreed on how rapidly to move and how much to undo a law that many Americans including influential Republican governors whose states expanded Medicaid have come to rely on.

        The House passed a Obamacare repeal bill in May that, if enacted into law, would leave 23 million more people uninsured, according to a Congressional Budget Office estimate. Even some Republicans who voted for the legislation thought it stunk, but had hopes that it could be a starting point for the Senate to take up and build on.

        Sincethats not happening, Republicans who voted for that bill are worried they may have walked that plank for nothing and could become the targets of Democratic attacks next year.

        From the right or the left, whether youre a moderate or a strong conservative, there would be concerns on that front, because its a good 30- or 60-second ad if theres not something to point to, Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) said Tuesday.

        Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), who chairs the conservative House Freedom Caucus, said the collapse of the Senate health care bill makes the next few weeks critical.

        If we dont make Obamacare repeal done, it makes it a lot more difficult to go home and say, Look what weve accomplished, he said though he predicted that Republicans would eventually be successful.

        Other Republicans who voted for the House health care bill, however, dismissed the notion that they ought to be concerned about their political futures.

        I dont think of the bill in those terms whatsoever, said Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.), who authored the amendment that ultimately helped pass the House bill. To look at a health care bill that affects millions of lives, to look at it through the lens of does it hurt or help me, that to me is really inappropriate and cynical.

        Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), a vulnerable California Republican whose district Democrat Hillary Clinton won in last years presidential election, similarly dismissed the question.

        I dont care, he said. I mean, [Obamacare] is already hurting my state.

        Beyond Capitol Hill, some conservative pundits fumed as Obamacare repeal appeared to be unraveling. Radio show host Hugh Hewitt, for one, ranted on Twitter about the handful of Republicans who stood in the way of getting it done.

        Hewitt said everyone knows the list to blame for failing to repeal the law, and named senators who at some stage opposed the bill on the table: Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.). He even called for removing one of them from office, even if that means a Democrat ultimately wins the Senate seat in 2018.

        But to be clear, it began w/ @DeanHeller. If #RepealPlus2Years fails he has to be replaced, even if by a D, Hewitt tweeted.

        Some senators are just as peeved as Hewitt, including one senator Hewitt complained about. Paul, whos been calling for completely doing away with Obamacare, with or without a replacement, grumbled about his moderate colleagues who stood in the way of fully repealing the law.

        Theyre going to have to go home and explain why they used to be for it and now theyre no longer for it. Thats a big change in peoples opinion, he said.

        Theres some variation of repeal, certainly, that must pass, Pauladded, or these people really dont believe anything they said.

        Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/health-care-senate-suffer_us_596e8606e4b0a03aba85ab4e

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        Lindsey Graham: John McCain is like his old self again after surgery

        (CNN)Sen. Lindsey Graham said his closest friend in the Senate, Sen. John McCain, is like his old self again after surgery Friday to remove a blood clot above his left eye.

        Graham said he spoke with McCain by phone on Sunday after the surgery in Arizona. He said McCain was doing much better and already itching to get back to Washington, though his doctors have told him he can’t fly for a week while he recovers.
        “He sounded like a different person. He clearly was a hurting guy,” Graham said. “I think they relieved the pressure and he sounded like the old John McCain, dying to get back and talking about driving across the country. I said no.”
          Graham told CNN’s Manu Raju that McCain had not been feeling well in the run-up to the surgery and was “getting forgetful.”
          “He’d been traveling a lot, we wrote it off that he was tired, but he was getting forgetful — and you know he just wore himself out traveling all around the world,” Graham said. “I’m glad they found out what I thought was the cause.”
          Later on Monday, Graham told CNN he wanted to retract that statement, saying that he did not mean to say that McCain was getting forgetful.
          The Senate has delayed consideration of the health care bill this week with McCain’s absence, as his vote at the moment would almost surely be needed for Republicans to get to 50 “yes” votes to pass the bill. McCain’s office has said he’ll be out at least a week.
          Graham, a South Carolina Republican, spoke to McCain again by phone on the way to Monday evening’s Senate vote — the first that McCain was missing following the surgery .
          Graham said it was a major surgery, but also has led a good outcome.
          “He’s got to heal up or he’ll take a step backwards,” Graham said. “I think they don’t want him to fly for a week. But I think he would walk back if they’d let him. … He’s dying to get back and for the sake of his family I hope he doesn’t have to stay there over a week.”
          In addition to the health care vote, McCain is supposed to lead debate on the annual National Defense Authorization Act on the Senate floor.
          Graham said it wasn’t clear yet if McCain would be back next week.
          “I don’t know. If it were up to him, he’d be on his way now,” he said. “But he … for once in his life, listen to his doctors. … He’s been hit pretty hard so it’s going to take a while.”

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/17/politics/lindsey-graham-john-mccain/index.html

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          Terminally-ill man in right-to-die fight – BBC News

          The High Court is to begin hearing the legal challenge of a terminally-ill man who wants the right to die.

          Noel Conway, who is 67 and has motor neurone disease, wants a doctor to be allowed to prescribe a lethal dose when his health deteriorates further.

          He said he wanted to say goodbye to loved ones “at the right time, not to be in a zombie-like condition suffering both physically and psychologically”.

          Any doctor who helped him to die would face up to 14 years in prison.

          Mr Conway, of Shrewsbury, told the BBC: “I will be quadriplegic. I could be virtually catatonic and conceivably be in a locked-in syndrome – that to me would be a living hell. That prospect is one I cannot accept.”

          MPs reject ‘right to die’ law

          British man dies at Dignitas centre

          Assisted dying debate: The key questions

          Mr Conway, a retired college lecturer, was once fit and active but motor neurone disease is gradually destroying all strength in his muscles.

          He cannot walk and increasingly relies on a ventilator to help him breathe. As his disease progresses, he fears becoming entombed in his body.

          Mr Conway is too weak to come to court from his home but his lawyers will say he wants the right to a peaceful and dignified death while he is still able to make the decision.

          Mr Conway is being supported by the campaign group Dignity in Dying.

          The last major challenge to the law was turned down by the Supreme Court three years ago.

          It ruled that while judges could interpret the law it was up to Parliament to decide whether to change it.

          In 2015 MPs rejected proposals to allow assisted dying in England and Wales, in their first vote on the issue in almost 20 years.

          Supporters of the current legislation say it exists to protect the weak and vulnerable from being exploited or coerced.

          The case is expected to take up to four days.

          Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-40615778

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          Bernie Sanders returns to Iowa to water the grassroots

          Des Moines, Iowa (CNN)The last time Sen. Bernie Sanders was in Iowa, there was an election to win. It was November 2016 and Sanders was barnstorming Hawkeye State college towns, trying in vain to drum up support for Hillary Clinton.

          He returned on Saturday under slightly different circumstances. President Donald Trump is finishing his sixth month in office and Senate Republicans are hammering away at an Obamacare overhaul that could cause more than 20 million people to lose insurance over the next 10 years. The campaign continues, but this time around it turns on health care — beating back the Senate GOP bill while building up support for the single-payer plan Sanders will likely introduce in August.
          Making the first of two scheduled summer visits here, the state that will play host to the first-in-the-nation caucuses of a still far-off presidential campaign season, Sanders kept up his broadsides against the Republican health care overhaul, calling it the most “anti-working class legislation in the history of the country.” He named and tried to shame both of his Senate colleagues from Iowa, pleading with the Republicans repeatedly to reject the bill.
            “I say to Sen. Grassley and Sen. Ernst, please, please take a hard look at what this disastrous legislation will do to the people of Iowa and the people of America,” the Vermont senator said. “I beg of them: please vote ‘no’ on this legislation.”
            Had he arrived on the scene in Des Moines an hour or so earlier, Sanders might have been able to deliver the message personally to White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, who by some cosmic coincidence happened to be in town — just an escalator ride away — in the same building, speaking at the Family Leadership Summit, a gathering hosted by conservative evangelical activist Bob Vander Plaats.
            Or perhaps Sanders will have the chance in a few years. His appearance, downstairs, at this annual convention sponsored by the progressive Citizens for Community Improvement, has juiced up speculation over his 2020 plans. Typically loathe to discuss the prospect, he did allow in an interview with liberal radio host Mark Thompson this week that he was “not taking (the possibility of a run) off the table, I just have not made any decisions.”
            If Sanders does take a second shot, he would join the contest as an early favorite, a popular national figure equipped with the infrastructure he lacked in 2015 and 2016, both organizationally and in the form of elected officials eager to make a show of their common cause.
            Cathy Glasson, a nurse and union leader, was among the Sanders-loyal candidates making the rounds at the downtown Iowa Events Center. She is one of a hearty field of Democrats vying for the party’s gubernatorial nomination in 2018, a race made suddenly more appealing with the departure of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who left office to become the Trump administration’s ambassador to China.
            “We want to change the dynamic in 2018,” Glasson said, arguing that victory for Iowa progressives — like her — in the midterm season could “set the frame for presidential candidates when they start coming through. It’s the very start of something fantastic that can happen right here in our own state to drive a national agenda as well.”
            But organizers here are almost reflexively averse to overindulgence in presidential chatter. It’s not a parry. Republicans’ inability to move on policy in Washington, while their GOP colleagues in state houses build heavy majorities and rack up legislative wins, hasn’t gone unnoticed. Nor has the utility — as evidenced in the fight to turn back Trump policy — of controlling high-profile statewide offices.
            “It’s extremely premature for anybody to talk about 2020, because we need to take things back in 2018,” Robert Becker, who ran Sanders operation in Iowa last year, said as attendees filled workshops on Medicare-for-all and climate action. “It’s not a campaign that ended, it’s beginning and evolving. The energy is up and down (the ballot).”
            As has become commonplace, especially as Capitol Hill holds Obamacare in the balance, Sanders’ one-two on health care — a defense of the Affordable Care Act, for which he has traveled the country rallying support, then a push to “Medicare for all,” the single-payer system that is growing in popularity on the left — drew roaring ovations in Des Moines.
            “What’s important about ‘Medicare for all’ specifically is that he’s saying you can beat something with nothing,” said Michael Lighty, the public policy director for National Nurses United. “And the ACA simply isn’t popular enough to take a purely defensive stand and expect victory.”
            No matter how the Senate vote breaks down, Sanders will be taking his proposal public in the coming weeks. While the bill is politically unfeasible in the current Congress, the plan among supporters is to brand the policy as a Democratic Party staple. For activists with their sights set high, simply making the pitch represents a chance to keep close with the grassroots.
            “He is going to areas where the Democrats have done badly since 2010,” Lighty said, rattling off the states and regions — western Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky — Sanders has visited over the last month. “So this is not just about health care.”

            Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/15/politics/bernie-sanders-return-to-iowa/index.html

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            Collectors Rejoice! Topps Just Released A Limited-Edition Hall Of Famers Pack That Includes Each Legends Stance On Abortion

            Read more: http://www.clickhole.com/article/collectors-rejoice-topps-just-released-limited-edi-6220

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            How an agoraphobic travels the world – BBC News

            Image copyright Jacqui Kenny

            Jacqui Kenny’s agoraphobia means a trip to the supermarket can trigger an anxiety attack and fears of impending “catastrophe”. But she says her Instagram account is helping her and sufferers like her to explore remote corners of the world.

            Jacqui, 43, takes shots from Google Street View – among them a group of nuns in Peru and high-rise flats in Russia – posting images to her 20,000 followers under the pseudonym “Agoraphobic Traveller”.

            Since her 20s she has feared busy places and public transport – despite living in central London – but says the digital age has helped her travel to places she would otherwise never see.

            “I’ll go anywhere that feels a little bit magical,” she says. “They are places that would be incredibly difficult for me to travel to, so inevitably I’m attracted to them.”

            Image copyright Google
            Image caption Children playing near the Atacama Desert in Chile

            Jacqui, who was diagnosed with agoraphobia in 2009, chooses remote, eerie places to capture and says she likes anywhere with an “other-worldly feel”.

            “There’s a lot of isolation in the shots but there is also colour and hope in there,” she says. “The photos I take reflect how I feel and my agoraphobia is part of that.”

            But her “thrill” at discovering faraway places contrasts with her fear of everyday situations.

            She describes going to the local supermarket as “a nightmare” and says she has not taken a Tube train in 10 years.

            “I’ll start to panic – my palms are sweaty, I have a racing heart, I feel that my feet aren’t touching the floor,” she says.

            “Thoughts are racing through my mind – that I’m going to lose control, smash everything in the aisle – and everyone will see.”

            Image copyright Google
            Image caption A remote bus stop in Belgorod Oblast in Russia

            Jacqui was 23 and living in Australia when she had her first panic attack during a busy day at work.

            “No one told me what it was and I thought I was dying,” she says. “Later, a doctor said it must’ve been something I’d had for dinner.

            “He blamed it on the black bean sauce – no one was talking about mental health.”

            Hidden illness

            Before starting the project in 2016, Jacqui managed to hide her symptoms from everyone except her family.

            At work, she ran a digital marketing company but only went to meetings in the office which was two minutes’ walk from her house.

            She says finding and posting the images has helped her come to terms with being agoraphobic, which she had felt angry about for a long time.

            “Before my anxiety set in I dreamed of being a photographer,” says Jacqui. “I’d resigned myself to this never happening.”

            “Now I feel that the condition doesn’t define me but is within a part of me,” she says.

            Image copyright Google
            Image caption Fallen branches from a tree in Senegal, Western Africa

            But does spending hours online posting photos really help her condition?

            Jacqui admits she “thought it could be an unhealthy thing to do” to trawl the internet for hours at a time.

            But she says it has given her the confidence to speak about the condition and come to terms with it.

            “It’s only when I started posting these photos I went beyond telling my family and really close friends,” she says.

            “Before, nobody knew,” she says. “Now people from all over the world are coming to me sharing similar struggles – it’s amazing.”

            Image copyright Google
            Image caption High-rise flats in Russia

            She says many people misunderstand agoraphobia as a fear of open spaces, but she has discovered how varied people’s anxiety can be.

            She has been contacted by an agoraphobic journalist who struggles in a busy newsroom and photographers who may fear travelling to a photo shoot.

            “Quite a few young women have asked me for advice,” she says. “I tell them about my experience, but I can only offer my viewpoint as I’m obviously not a psychologist.”

            She adds: “Everybody’s dealing with something and I’m really starting to realise that.”

            Image copyright Google
            Image caption A street dog chases the Google car Arequipa, Peru

            Jacqui now manages her anxiety with cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which aims to change patterns of thinking – recently attending her sister’s wedding in New Zealand.

            “I had therapy which involved a lot of anxiety and not sleeping for three months,” she says.

            But she managed the flight after seeing a psychologist, who made her act out her worst fears. “I pretended to bang down the door of the plane, trying to get out of there,” she says.

            “I realised how funny the situation was, and we both fell around laughing, and when I actually boarded the plane that humour helped me through it.”

            It was not easy – but she says the trip has given her hope.

            “I try to do these things,” she says. “There are times when I can’t do it and I go home – but I know that is making it worse.”


            What is agoraphobia?

            Image copyright Reuters
            • Agoraphobics may fear being left alone, in a situation where they feel trapped, or travelling away from a “safe” place
            • The condition usually starts between the ages of 18 and 35 and is twice as common in women as men
            • Many agoraphobics fear having a panic attack others might see, or suffer an anxiety attack
            • They may get anxious when waiting in long lines, being in crowded places, or in wide-open spaces
            • People can seek advice from NHS Choices. their GP or the charity Anxiety UK

            Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-39970205