caa10416e60005beeb92b2e95405b243.jpeg

The Resistance Now: activists say ‘hell no’ to Republican healthcare bill

Progressives sprung into action with dozens protesting outside the Senate majority leaders office, while Democrats took stock after Ossoffs loss


So about that healthcare bill…

Dozens of people were arrested after protesting outside Senate majority leader Mitch McConnells office on Thursday including some in wheelchairs as Republicans unveiled Republicans unveiled Trumpcare 2.0 (or are we on 3.0 now?).

Activists from disability rights organization Adapt gathered outside McConnells office to demonstrate against the bill, which would dramatically cut Medicaid and strip funding from Planned Parenthood, to name just two measures.

A
A protester is led away by police on Thursday. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/EPA

Progressive organizations sprung into action to try to defeat it.

Our Revolution set up a page on its website urging people to take action to stop AHCA [the Senate bill is called the Better Care Reconciliation Act but many of the principles are the same as the AHCA House bill] and prevent millions from losing their healthcare.

The organization has provided a number which will connect people to their Senators office, and has also provided some talking points.

AHCA would leave 23 million Americans without healthcare.

The bill would allow insurance companies to discriminate against patients and deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

A majority of voters strongly oppose repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare).

Americans want to expand healthcare, not gut it. In fact, two-thirds of Americans support Medicare for all.

Indivisible has its own page too, where people can submit amendments to their senator. This is about applying your constituent power directly to the process, Indivisibles website says. They also have an extensive list of reading material and a script people can use when talking to their representatives.

Ossoff: doomed from the start?

Thats what a number of progressives told the Guardian, after the 30-year-old lost to Republican Karen Handel in Tuesdays special election.

Jon Ossoff ran on a centrist, Clinton-esque platform that focussed on rather beige, uncontroversial issues like government waste. There was no talk of universal healthcare and little of welfare issues. He ran in what has traditionally been a Republican stronghold, and lost by only five points, but Ossoff was basically the opposite of the kind of populist candidate the left believes is the way forward.

Hes not in favour of single-payer healthcare, hes not outspoken on campaign finance reform, said Moumita Ahmed, founder of Millennials for Revolution. Why would I as a Republican vote for someone who isnt a Republican, but still has the same values as a Republican?

Jon
Ossoff plus balloons. Photograph: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Winnie Wong, from People for Bernie, said Ossoffs run the election was the most expensive House race in history, by the way was a massive failure of Democratic party leadership.

He didnt have a core progressive message and that ultimately is why he lost. The Democratic party could spend $100m and he would still lose. Because he didnt stand for anything.

but there is hope for a Brand New Congress

Thats the name of a group that selects, trains, supports and promotes progressives who want to run for Congress.

Brand New Congress (BNC), formed in April 2016, currently has 14 candidates who have announced their 2018 mid-term campaigns, including several who are running against incumbent Democrats.

We essentially provide full service campaign service, BNCs Corbin Trent told the Guardian this week. Brand New Congress manages press request, helps with events and ballot access, does opposition research on incumbents, and can even help with speechwriting.

Brand New Congress has organized a weekend canvassing kick off for its candidates (who are from across America) on Sunday. Each of the candidates all of whom are running on progressive platforms are holding events to boost their campaigns.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is running against incumbent Democrat Joseph Crowley in New Yorks 14th congressional district, organized for the Bernie Sanders campaign in 2016.

We have the capacity and opportunity to be ambitious in legislation, Ocasio-Cortez told the Guardian. Because the world is changing in ways weve never seen before.

What were reading

  • Were in the midst of an all-hands-on-deck emergency, writes Rebecca Solnit, in which new groups and coalitions are emerging along with unforeseen capacities in many people who didnt previously think they were activists. Solnit says there are extraordinary things happening in this moment, in an uplifting survey of the activist land.
  • Progressives should try to speak conservative to score victories, historian and LGBTQ strategist Nathaniel Frank writes in the LA Times. He says the successes of the LGBTQ movement came when activists learned to speak the language of those they most needed to enlist rather than those who already agreed with them.

Ron Swanson reimagined as Berniecrat progressive

Parks
Parks and Recreations Ron Swanson … an eerie doppelganger for a Democratic candidate whos making headlines. Photograph: NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Randy Bryce, known as @IronStache on Twitter, sprung to fame this week when he announced his challenge to Republican house speaker Paul Ryan. In his favour? An evocative campaign advert, a leftwing message, and the mustache, denim and workboots of an all-American.

That masculine, blue-collar image prompted one Twitter user to suggest Bryce was genetically engineered from Bruce Springsteen songs, while several people compared the Democrat to the Parks and Recreation character Ron Swanson. Just not a libertarian.

Randy
Randy Bryce is running for Paul Ryans seat in Congress. Photograph: YouTube

Sign up for weekly news updates about the protests and activism in the US

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/23/resistance-now-newsletter-healthcare-jon-ossoff

66e60fd5188692466bbc64ac4f5b9bc7.jpeg

Would Trump make a good royal?

(CNN)The power of the British monarchy has been on display during recent tragedies.

Whether comforting victims of the Grenfell tower block fire or unveiling the priorities of her government in the state opening of Parliament, Queen Elizabeth II has demonstrated the sort of steady, dignified endurance that rises above the chaos of a divisive Brexit vote and an inconclusive general election.
Leave it to Prince Harry to spoil it all.
    In a revealing interview with Newsweek, the Queen’s most rebellious grandson let slip the secret at the heart of his family.
    “We are involved in modernizing the British monarchy. We are not doing this for ourselves but for the greater good of the people…. Is there any one of the royal family who wants to be king or queen? I don’t think so, but we will carry out our duties at the right time,” he said.
    Prince Harry’s words are extraordinary. But he should know better than anyone if his father Charles and brother William, both groomed for the job since birth, do not even want the throne.

      Prince Harry opens up about Diana’s funeral

    Who, after all, could survive the nonstop attention and demand for selfies? Who would thrive under such scrutiny, and do it all while wearing a gold crown weighing more than three pounds?
    It would take a certain type of person. The sort of person who fills his court with relatives, perhaps, who thinks the separation of powers is a foreign concept, and who would quite fancy himself as the head of a church.
    Anyone coming to mind here?
    President Donald Trump may be struggling to navigate power in the world’s greatest democracy. But how about the top job in a smaller, dustier administration?
    There may be centuries of convention about how the monarch is supposed to relate to Parliament (keep quiet and sign the bills when they arrive), but an unwritten constitution means there is nothing to stop him doing whatever he wants.
    These days, marrying a Catholic is not even a problem, so Melania is safe.
    It is, of course, a stupid idea. A poor joke deployed by a Brit in America (yours truly) trying to make sense of Prince Harry’s comments and the truth about duty.
    Harry’s point is that nobody should want the crown. Nobody should want the awesome responsibilities that come with it. The accident of birth has rather ruled him out of contention anyway. Prince Harry now stands fifth in line to the throne.

      Prince Harry hosts Obama at Kensington Palace

    But it is easy to understand how a fun-loving 30-something would balk at the idea.
    His mother died in a car accident in a French road tunnel as she was pursued by paparazzi, photographers trying to sate the massive interest in the Royals’ real-life soap opera.
    A photo of Harry walking in his mother’s funeral cortege became the public’s defining image of the young prince.
    “My mother had just died, and I had to walk a long way behind her coffin, surrounded by thousands of people watching me while millions more did on television,” he said in the Newsweek interview.
    “I don’t think any child should be asked to do that, under any circumstances. I don’t think it would happen.”
    It got worse as Harry got older and became fair game for the tabloids. Now every girlfriend is scrutinized by a public that knows him only from a distance.
    When he dressed up as a Nazi for a fancy dress party, photographs turned up on newspaper front pages.

      UK royals talk candidly about losing Diana

    And as his brother William will one day find out, being king rather makes showing up at a Colonials and Natives themed party a bit of a no-no. (Although his choice of outfit at that notorious 2005 party — a lion costume — shows the way he has been groomed from a young age to avoid accidentally triggering outrage by dressing up as a murderous fascist.)
    We have all watched the crown and marveled at the way Princess Elizabeth blossomed into a young queen as she grappled with her new burden and the duties she learned at her father’s side.
    How much more difficult that transition would be today, in our nonstop world of Twitter, hot takes and rolling news.

    Join us on Twitter and Facebook

    Anyone lusting after the position of sovereign would possess not just an unhealthy masochism, but a level of narcissism at odds with the humility displayed by the Queen during this past week.
    What kind of monster would want that life?

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/22/opinions/prince-harry-trump-royal-opinion-crilly/index.html

    a037d3fadd1a24392ca1a989b49008fe.jpeg

    Donald Trump says he doesn’t want a ‘poor person’ in cabinet roles

    President tells crowd during Iowa tour that economic adviser and commerce secretary had to give up a lot to work for him

    Donald Trump has said he doesnt want a poor person to hold economic roles in his administration as he used an Iowa rally to defend his decision to appoint the wealthy to his cabinet.

    The US president told a crowd on Wednesday night: Somebody said why did you appoint a rich person to be in charge of the economy? No its true. And Wilburs [commerce secretary Wilbur Ross] a very rich person in charge of commerce. I said: Because thats the kind of thinking we want.

    The president explained that Ross and his economic adviser Gary Cohn had to give up a lot to take these jobs and that Cohn in particular, a former president of Goldman Sachs, went from massive pay days to peanuts.

    Trump added: And I love all people, rich or poor, but in those particular positions I just dont want a poor person. Does that make sense?

    He made the comments as he toured the state with agriculture secretary Sonny Perdue and Ross partly to celebrate a Republican congressional victory in Georgia being seen as an early referendum on his presidency.

    Trump touched down Wednesday evening in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and headed to a local community college and then to a campaign rally where he reveled in Karen Handels victory.

    Were 5-0 in special elections, said Trump in front of a boisterous crowd that packed a downtown arena. The truth is, people love us … they havent figured it out yet.

    Supporters
    Supporters at a Donald Trump in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Photograph: Tannen Maury/EPA

    He also applauded Republican Ralph Norman, who notched a slimmer-than-expected win in a special election to fill the South Carolina congressional seat vacated by Mick Mulvaney, and mocked Handels challenger, Jon Ossoff, saying the Democrats spent $30m on this kid who forgot to live in the district.

    Trump, no stranger to victory laps, turned his visit to a battleground state he captured in November into a celebration of his resilience despite the cloud of investigations that has enveloped his administration and sent his poll numbers tumbling.

    With the appearance in Cedar Rapids, he will have held five rallies in the first five months in office.

    The event underscores Trumps comfort in a campaign setting. He laughed off the occasional heckler, repeated riffs from last year and appeared far more at ease when going after Democrats in front of adoring crowds than trying to push through his own legislative agenda from the confines of the White House.

    Trumps aides are making a renewed push to get the president out of Washington. The capital is consumed with the investigation into Russian meddling in last years election and Trumps firing of his FBI director, James Comey.

    Iowa, with its large share of independent voters, could be a proving ground for whether Trump can count on the support of voters beyond his base. Unaffiliated voters, or no party voters as they are known in Iowa, make up 36% of the electorate, compared with 33% who registered as Republican and 31% registered as Democrat.

    Self-identified independents in Iowa voted for Trump over Hillary Clinton by a margin of 13 percentage points last year, according to exit polls conducted for the Associated Press and television networks. That margin helped Trump take the state by nearly nine points after Barack Obama won it the previous two elections.

    Trump held a Des Moines rally in December as part of his transition-era thank you tour of states he had won, but has not been back to Iowa since.

    At the rally, he touted his administrations efforts to roll back regulations, mused about putting solar panels on a Mexican border wall, derided wind power for killing birds in a state that uses a lot of it and revealed that he urged the Senate to create a health care plan with heart. Add some money to it!

    He avoided any discussion of the scandals surrounding his presidency, other than one brief reference to the witch hunt, his term for the inquiries into his campaigns ties to Russia.

    Associated Press contributed to this report

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/22/donald-trump-says-he-doesnt-want-a-poor-person-in-cabinet-roles

    110b5d38008f04a37fca04dafd5204ae.jpeg

    Officers who killed Seattle woman in her home had mental health crisis training

    Questions raised over why two police officers, who knew Charleena Lyles had mental health issues, used deadly force within minutes of arriving

    Two Seattle police officers who shot and killed a pregnant woman inside her apartment had been trained to deal with people showing signs of mental illness or other behavior crises.

    Officials also say the officers had at least one less-lethal way to handle the woman who they knew had a previous volatile encounter with law enforcement and had been having mental health issues.

    Still, within minutes of arriving Sunday to take a burglary report, the officers drew their guns and shot 30-year-old Charleena Lyles with three of her four children inside her apartment.

    Authorities say Lyles confronted the officers with two kitchen knives less than two weeks after she had threatened officers with long metal shears when they responded to a domestic disturbance at her home.

    Family members say they want to know what happened Sunday and why police did not use a non-lethal option when they knew Lyles had been struggling with her mental health.

    Police and the mayor say the shooting will be investigated.

    The killing occurred as Seattle police are under federal oversight following a 2011 investigation that found officers were too quick to use force.

    All Seattle officers now receive training on how to better handle those with mental illness or abusing drugs. One of the officers who shot Lyles had been certified as a crisis intervention specialist.

    Detective Patrick Michaud said Seattle officers are required to carry a less-lethal option to subdue suspects and have a choice between a Taser, baton or pepper spray.

    He said the officers who killed Lyles did not have a Taser and he was unsure which option they had at the time.

    Near the beginning of a roughly four-minute police audio recording of the incident and before they reached the apartment, the officers discussed an officer safety caution about the address involving the previous law enforcement interaction.

    The officers talked about the woman previously having large metal shears, trying to prevent officers from leaving her apartment and making weird statements about her and her daughter turning into wolves.

    Seattle municipal court records show that Lyles was arrested 5 June and booked into King County jail. She pleaded not guilty to two counts of harassment and obstructing a police officer.

    A
    A girl walks past a memorial outside the apartment where Charleena Lyles was shot and killed by police on Monday. Photograph: Elaine Thompson/AP

    She was released from jail on 14 June on the condition that she check-in twice a week with a case manager and possess no weapons.

    The audio recording and transcripts released by police indicates that the officers had spent about two minutes calmly speaking with Lyles before the situation escalated.

    The transcript shows one officer yelling get back! repeatedly and Lyles saying Get ready, (expletive).

    An officer said we need help and reported a woman with two knives. He urged his partner to use a stun gun but that officer responded: I dont have a Taser.

    Sue Rahr, a former sheriff who heads the state Criminal Justice Training Commission, noted that circumstances determine whether officers are able to use non-lethal force or resolve a situation without force.

    Officers may be able to take their time to persuade a suspect whos standing in the middle of an intersection with no one nearby to drop a knife, but that might be different in cramped quarters or with children nearby, she said.

    If the officer has time, space and cover, they have more options than using deadly force, but thats not necessarily going to be the case, Rahr said.

    James Bible, an attorney representing relatives of Lyles, said Tuesday that the officers knew she was vulnerable when they went to her apartment.

    When we call police for help, we expect protection, we expect safety, Bible said. It was their responsibility to protect her and they didnt.

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jun/20/seattle-police-shooting-charleena-lyles-mental-health

    45fe2f1da8ba8c189b0d943cc57b101b.jpeg

    Is it safe to live on a former landfill site? – BBC News

    With the need for more housing, developers are moving in to build on top of former landfill sites. But how safe are these places, and should people be concerned about living on top of them?

    The UK dumps nearly 50 million tonnes of industrial, commercial and domestic waste into landfill sites every year – enough rubbish to fill Wembley Stadium to the brim more than 50 times over.

    The process is tightly regulated. Meticulous records are kept of what we dump and where we dump it.

    But landfill hasn’t always been this well managed – and Britain’s appetite in years gone by for filling huge holes in the ground with waste is beginning to haunt us.

    There are 20,000 former landfill sites across the UK – 1,200 of them are on England’s coastline. File on 4 has had exclusive access to an unpublished report commissioned by the Environment Agency, looking at these sites and the impact of flooding and coastal erosion.

    Prof Kate Spencer from Queen Mary University of London led the investigation and has now raised serious concerns about the impact not only on the environment – but on public health.


    Image caption Historic landfill sites buried underground are being exposed by coastal erosion

    One example can be found on Clinker Beach in East Tilbury, along the foreshore of the River Thames in Essex, where a layer of old clothes and plastics hangs out of a muddy bank. The spot has become a popular spot for treasure hunters.

    “You see people rummaging through it, picking up bits of material and taking them home. Certainly I wouldn’t touch any of this without gloves,” says Kate.

    “Here on the floor you can see these little black cylinders – they’re the cells from inside old batteries and we know that batteries used to contain lead and mercury. We’ve analysed the waste and it contains pretty much all the nasty chemicals that you can think of at concentrations that would be predicted to cause significant ecological harm.”

    She says it would cost billions of pounds to clean up all the sites so it is important to identify which pose the biggest threat.

    “We need to come up with some suitable management scenarios. The ultimate responsibility either lies with the local authority or with the Environment Agency but I don’t think they have the resources to deal with it.”


    Image caption Barry Falgate, site manager at Dunbar landfill

    In 1990, the Environmental Protection Act set out a regime for regulating and licensing the disposal of controlled waste.

    One site in Dunbar, on the east coast of Scotland, handles 5,000 tonnes of waste every week from Edinburgh, which is around 30 miles away.

    “Before we put any waste in, we put in a metre of engineered clay,” explains site manager Barry Falgate. “Then it’s lined with a heavy duty plastic, then gravel on top, which catches the water which comes from the waste as it degrades.

    “Then, when we’ve finished, we put plastic over the top and then we put soils on it. We have the aftercare of this site for at least 60 years, so we want to make sure that that waste is safe and we can control the waters and gases out of it. I was brought up around here so I care what we do.”

    The Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs used to offer grants to local authorities to clean up contaminated land, via the Contaminated Land Capital Projects (CLCP) programme. This funding stream came to an end in March this year.


    Image caption Prof Kate Spencer says managing former landfill sites is essential

    In Amber Valley in Derbyshire battle lines are being drawn, where a developer wants to build 200 homes on a former landfill site.

    “My mum stopped growing vegetables because of what was under the ground here,” says campaigner Kellie Judson.

    “We used to get foul smells on my mum’s garden when I was a little girl – a TCP smell and an eggy smell.”

    Amber Valley Rugby Club now occupies the former landfill site – but they’ve been offered brand new facilities by the developer if they move.

    Underground testing has shown that remedial work could make the area safe, but Kellie and other residents are worried about an adjacent former landfill which contains known hazardous waste.

    “We’re concerned that contamination from the other site could potentially leach on to this one – that disturbing the ground in this area could pose a threat to people living locally,” she says.


    Image caption Kellie Judson is leading the campaign against 200 new homes near a hazardous landfill site

    The development has twice been turned down by the planning board of Amber Valley Borough Council and it goes before the planning inspectorate next month.

    Whether it goes ahead or not, little will be done to further risk assess the surrounding area unless something new emerges, because government guidelines don’t demand it.

    The deputy leader of the council, Trevor Ainsworth, supports the development plans.

    “There are things in the ground that, on the face of it, would be dangerous to human health. However I know it can be remediated and made safe. It is one of our policies that we regenerate land that has been used as tips – lots of houses now have been built safely on old tips,” he says.


    Image caption President of Amber Valley Rugby Club, Steve Evans, is backing the development, which includes plans for new pitches and changing rooms for the club

    A spokesman for Defra told the BBC: “Our revised Statutory Guidance means more resource can be directed to those sites most in need and allows local authorities to take a more stringent, risk-based approach when identifying and cleaning up contaminated land.”

    The Local Government Association said: “Councils take this issue very seriously and work closely with the Environment Agency, continuing to monitor sites long after they have closed.”


    File on 4: What Lies Beneath – The Legacy of Landfill is on BBC Radio 4, 20 June at 20:00 BST – catch up on BBC iPlayer Radio.

    Have you got something you want investigating? We want to hear from you. Tweet us or email fileon4@bbc.co.uk

    Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-40308598

    9f81c8c185fc15964c39b999b80064de.jpeg

    What fathers do

    Some fathers do these things.

    Some fathers go to the Columbus Public Library used book sale in about 1980 and buy five big boxes of books on every topic. They place those books in a playroom and they result in a consistently relevant personal library for his kids. Every year they learn something new out of that room.

    Some fathers take their sons and daughters to Computer Express, a small computer shop, after taking you to Radio Shack and Sun TV and deciding the prices there are too high. Some fathers help you decide on an Atari 800XL with tape drive and they buy you River Raid to go with it.

    Some fathers buy you a modem and let you call BBSes all night.

    They take you to Boy Scouts and help you win the local Pinewood Derby. They drive you to Bell Labs where you learn UNIX and shell scripting.

    Some fathers sit with you and type in programs out of the back of ANTIC Magazine.

    They convince the family it wants a dog and picks a special breed, a Kerry Blue Terrier, because it doesnt shed.

    They get drunk at the Sheraton hotel bar happy hour and fall out of the car and turn you off alcohol until late in college. Thats when you really find you have a taste for it.

    Some fathers help you with your science fair projects and explore wind power with you by making balsa wood models of various generators.

    Some fathers give you phone wire, broken stereos, and a soldering iron and tell you to experiment. You do. Some fathers have a garage full of tools and show you how to cut wood and fix brakes and listen to NPR on a broken radio.

    Some fathers buy you a Packard Bell 286 and help you learn programming.

    Some fathers leave a basket of vinyl in the basement and in it you find Dylan, the Stones, and Janis Joplin, thereby making you the least pop-culturally-aware high schooler in Columbus.

    Some fathers work for 40 years at the same boring job to pay for a house and food.

    Some fathers take you to Europe and show you the magic of travel. They buy you Mad Magazine in German.

    They take you to Mad Magazines offices in Manhattan where you meet Dick DiBartolo, Nick Meglin, and Bill Gaines. That could inspire you to be a writer.

    They marvel at your new novel, The Tale of the White Worm, you write when youre twelve. They edit your school essays and, one night, they write an entire research paper about The Crucible for you because youre sick.

    Some fathers drive you from college to college looking for the right one. Then some fathers come drive you back from the right college every summer because you dont have a car.

    Some fathers help you sell your car when you move to Poland for work.

    Some fathers come to your wedding in Warsaw.

    They Skype you almost every day, leaving cryptic messages and posting links from Craigslist. Some fathers listen to Rush Limbaugh all day because hes a pleasant distraction.

    Some fathers drive twelve hours to visit you in Brooklyn.

    Some fathers get grumpy.

    Some fathers still make you laugh.

    Some fathers get lung cancer.

    Some fathers make you scared.

    Their failing health encourages you to run again and quit drinking because watching a man who looks so much like you get sick is frightening. But it also encourages you to reconnect with him.

    I know: Some fathers beat you. Some fathers leave you. Some fathers die early. Some fathers are cruel. Some fathers die inside.

    But some of us get lucky.

    Some fathers are great. Some fathers are kind. Some fathers educate, expand, and elucidate. Some fathers give all.

    Some of us get lucky.

    Happy Fathers Day.

    Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2017/06/18/what-fathers-do/

    05f9849322aa19a73c6da2ff54ca3d92.jpeg

    Carrie Fisher died from sleep apnea and other factors, coroner says

    Officials could not conclusively determine what caused the actors death in December

    Carrie Fisher died from sleep apnea and a combination of other factors, but it was not possible to conclusively determine what caused her death, coroners officials have said.

    Among the factors that contributed to Fishers death was buildup of fatty tissue in the walls of her arteries, the Los Angeles County coroners office said in a news release late on Friday. The release states that the Star Wars actor showed signs of having taken multiple drugs, but investigators could not determine whether they contributed to her death in December.

    The agency did not immediately respond to a request for additional details about whether a full autopsy report and toxicology results were available.

    Fisher, 60, suffered a medical emergency on an international flight on 23 December. Her mother, longtime movie star Debbie Reynolds, died the following day.

    Fishers brother, Todd Fisher, said he was not surprised by the results. He added that his family did not want a coroners investigation of his sisters death. Were not enlightened. Theres nothing about this that is enlightening, he said.

    I would tell you, from my perspective that theres certainly no news that Carrie did drugs, Todd Fisher said. He noted that his sister wrote about her drug use frequently, and that many of the drugs she took were prescribed by doctors to try to treat her mental health conditions.

    Fisher long battled drug addiction and mental illness. She said she smoked pot at 13, used LSD by 21 and was diagnosed as bipolar at 24. She was treated with electroshock therapy and medication.

    I am not shocked that part of her health was affected by drugs, Todd Fisher said.

    He said his sisters heart condition was probably worsened by her smoking habit, as well as the medications she took. If you want to know what killed her, its all of it, he said.

    Todd Fisher said it was difficult to blame doctors who treated his sister because they were trying to help her.

    They were doing their best to cure a mental disorder. Can you really blame them? Todd Fisher said. Without her drugs, maybe she would have left long ago.

    Carrie Fisher made her feature film debut opposite Warren Beatty in the 1975 hit Shampoo. She also appeared in Austin Powers, The Blues Brothers, Charlies Angels, Hannah and Her Sisters, Scream 3 and When Harry Met Sally …

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2017/jun/17/carrie-fisher-died-from-sleep-apnea-and-other-factors-coroner-says

    fc048f4a3104984322a2d434abf57755.jpeg

    Wenstrup: Baseball aside, we’re all playing for the same team

    (CNN)I never expected a baseball field in America to feel like being back in a combat zone, but Wednesday morning it did.

    For months, a group of my colleagues and I have been heading to Alexandria early in the morning before work to practice for the charity baseball game that Democrats and Republicans have participated in since 1909.
    I was pulling on my batting gloves and heading to the batting cages along the first base line when I heard the crack of a rifle shot. I turned — only to hear my Mississippi colleague and fellow Iraq War veteran Trent Kelly yell, “shooter!”
      Everyone started dashing for cover. I saw House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, at second base, drop. The minutes ticked by as we watched the gunman, who started out near the third base line, move steadily around the diamond. Shot after shot ripped through the air. It felt like being back in Iraq, only without my weapon or any infantry.
      What happened could have been far worse, had it not been for the courage of the Capitol Police who ultimately took down the shooter. Steve may have taken the bullet, but his presence — he’s one of the few lawmakers in Congress with a security detail — saved all of us. Without his security detail, we would have been completely defenseless. Special Agents Crystal Griner and David Bailey are the true heroes of the hour.
      As soon as the shooter was down, I ran alongside Jeff Flake and Mo Brooks, and others, to provide emergency medical attention to Steve and stanch the bleeding until the medics could arrive. In the following hours, reporters kept asking me: “What were you thinking out there? Were you afraid you were going to die?” But in the flash of the moment you don’t think. Instincts kick in. I simply did what I had been trained to do. Only after it was over and I was back at the Capitol hugging my wife and 3-year-old son did I really think about how blessed I was to have made it out alive.
      Later, as we learned more about the individual behind the shooting, it became clear the act was politically motivated, fueled by hatred of our President, Republicans, and anyone with a political ideology that differed from his own. It is a single event, but it provides a piercing commentary on today’s political climate — both in Washington and across the country.
      Blame it on social media’s anonymity, the 24-hour news cycle, the vitriol of the campaign trail, or a dozen other factors, but it is undeniable that there is a chilling undercurrent to political discourse in our country today. It is not simply the presence of anger or frustration, which are often well-deserved when it comes to our bloated government and the arrogance of Washington-knows-best-policies. Beyond that, though, our political dialogue has become tainted with a stunning lack of civility that points to an even deeper problem: a lack of humanity.
      It might be politically effective to demonize and dehumanize our opponents — it is certainly easier than taking time to empathize, listen closely, research the facts, and understand the other side’s arguments. But what is easy isn’t always what is right. We have tremendous freedom in this country to speak and act as we wish, but that liberty requires responsibility. As Pope John Paul II said, “Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” As we passionately debate policy and argue our ideas, we need to hold on to our humanity. We need to rediscover the lost art of civil disagreement, the ability to hold opposing viewpoints without resorting to hate.
      Perhaps most sobering is the fact that by demonizing one another, we have effectively forgotten who our true enemies are. While we are bogged down in partisanship, our adversaries across the globe are not so easily distracted. Whether it is Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, or radical Islamic terrorists — there are actors around the world who are actively working to undermine, diminish, and ultimately destroy the security and democracy of the United States of America. As long as our strength is segmented into factions and our political process consumed by partisan theatrics, we are playing directly into their hands.

      Join us on Twitter and Facebook

      Ultimately, the attacker in Alexandria was an example of the worst in this country, but the response afterwards represents what is best about this country. That same morning, the House floor was packed as members of Congress stood shoulder to shoulder, hands over hearts, pledging allegiance to our flag. One nation, under God. Democrats huddled in prayer for their colleagues across the aisle. It was an important reminder that our unity is our strength. We’ve seen it before — let’s not forget it. Despite all the disagreements and differences, at the end of the day, we’re all Americans. It’s this communal bond and American spirit that spurs us to greatness. It’s what sets us apart from the others. It’s what will move us forward.
      Because, baseball games aside, we’re all playing for the same team.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/15/opinions/baseball-game-combat-ground-wenstrup-opinion/index.html

      bd32e575c127718a7600e00d93ce9396.jpeg

      Overweight pregnancy increases risk of birth defects, study says

      (CNN)Risks of major birth defects increased in step with the severity of a mother’s obesity or overweight, a study published Wednesday in the BMJ medical journal found.

      Based on these results, women should be encouraged to adopt a healthy lifestyle and be at a normal body weight before conception, said researchers led by Martina Persson, a researcher in the clinical epidemiology unit at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden.
      The study’s findings are not entirely new, but “expand on previous knowledge,” Persson said in an email. Past studies have shown an increased risk of congenital malformations among obese mothers.
        What was not known is whether the same risk increased when mothers were simply overweight and whether risks escalated as the severity of overweight/obesity increased.

        More than a million women studied

        Persson and her colleagues analyzed data on more than 1.2 million live births, excluding twins and other multiples, in Sweden between 2001 and 2014.
        For the mothers in the study, being underweight was defined as having a body mass index of less than 18.5. Normal weight ranged from BMI 18.5 to 24, while overweight ranged from BMI 25 to 29. Obesity among the mothers was categorized as either class I, a BMI of 30 to 34, class II, a BMI of 35 to 39, or class III, a BMI of 40 or higher. Body mass index is the ratio between a person’s weight and height.
        A total of 43,550 of the infants — 3.5% — had a major congenital malformation, the researchers found when looking at the medical records. Heart defects were the most common birth defect, followed by flaws in the genital organs, limbs, urinary system, digestive system and nervous system.
        Babies of normal-weight mothers had a 3.4% risk of a major congenital malformation, the researchers calculated. By comparison, the proportion of major birth defects among the children of overweight mothers was 3.5%. Among the babies of mothers in obesity class I, the rate was 3.8%; in obesity class II, 4.2%; and obesity class III, 4.7%.
        “We demonstrate increased risks of major malformations also in offspring of mothers with overweight and risks progressively increase with a mother’s overweight and obesity severity,” Persson said. She noted that these results show a connection — but cannot prove a direct cause — between maternal weight and birth defects.
        Risk of congenital heart defects, malformations of the nervous system, and limb defects also progressively increased as BMI rose from overweight to obesity class III, while genital and digestive system defects increased in babies of obese mothers only. Overall, the study showed, the risk of a major malformation was higher in boys, 4.1%, than in girls, 2.8%.
        “Overweight and obesity in pregnancy increases risks of several severe complications in the mother and her child,” said Persson, who added that high rates of obesity are a “problem in many parts of the world.”
        A study released this week in the New England Journal of Medicine found that more than 2 billion adults and children globally are overweight or obese; that equates to one-third of the world’s population.

        The benefits of a healthy weight

        Dr. Siobhan M. Dolan, a medical adviser to March of Dimes who was not involved in the study, said the “findings are consistent with prior research, which shows an association between increasing weight and adverse perinatal outcomes such as preterm birth and birth defects.”
        Dolan, who is a professor of obstetrics/gynecology and women’s health at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, New York, said the research “demonstrates a dose-response relationship between increasing weight and increasing risk for congenital anomalies.” In other words, the more overweight a mother, the higher the odds for a baby born with a defect.
        “Getting to a healthy weight has so many benefits, for both mothers and babies, including decreasing risks of diabetes and hypertension for moms, as well as decreasing risks for preterm birth,” said Dolan.
        Dr. Raul Artal, professor and chairman emeritus of the department of obstetrics, gynecology and women’s health at Saint Louis University, said the new study is important in that it “emphasizes a medical problem around the world.” He was not involved in the new study.
        Obese women, overweight women and sedentary women “have a very high incidence of diabetes and high blood pressure in pregnancy. As a result, their offspring are at very high risk for certain congenital malformations that come along with obesity,” said Artal, who is a maternal fetal medicine specialist.
        Congenital heart disease is “by far” the most common “birth defect among mothers that have obesity and diabetes,” Artal said. Other birth defects include neural tube defects, such as spina bifida and hydrocephalus, where cerebrospinal fluid causes pressure on the brain, cleft palate, anorectal aphasia, where a child lacks an anus and the lower bowels, and limb reductions or absence, for example, a missing foot.
        The vast majority of babies born to obese mothers are large for their gestational age with “organ maturity delay,” said Artal. “So they could have problems with breathing … and they have delayed neurodevelopment and the vast majority of them end up having childhood obesity,” he said.
        Obesity then becomes an inter-generational problem, one that is “grossly neglected,” said Artal.

        Getting started before pregnancy

        Artal noted that until the mid-1980s, textbooks told women “they should rest as much as possible and indulge” during pregnancy. Among certain physicians, this advice continues.
        “Women have heard this for generations,” said Artal. Since 1985, he has been the main author of the guidelines for exercise in pregnancy published by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and updated most recently two years ago.
        If women followed these exercise guidelines during pregnancy, “they will be in good shape, figuratively and literally,” said Artal.
        Current guidelines for weight gain for pregnancy are 28 to 40 pounds for women who are underweight, 25 to 35 pounds for women who are normal weight, 15 to 25 pounds for women who are overweight and 11 to 20 pounds for women who are obese.
        Generally, pregnant woman “should watch their weight and use judicious weight gain in coordination with their physician — but taking into account that the current guidelines for gestational weight gain for overweight and obese women are excessive,” said Artal. “And you can put ‘excessive’ in bold letters and put my name behind that.”

        See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

        The March of Dimes’ Dolan emphasized that pregnant women should eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and take a daily prenatal vitamin containing 400 micrograms of folic acid, beginning before conception and continuing with a daily prenatal vitamin that has 600 micrograms of folic acid throughout pregnancy. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week is also recommended for most pregnant women.
        “But getting to a healthy weight is a big part of what women can do before they become pregnant, along with quitting smoking and discussing any medications they take with their doctor,” said Dolan. “If we can help women get to a healthy weight and to quit smoking, we can help prevent some birth defects.”
        Persson also suggests women do what they can to avoid birth defects. Her research, she said, should “encourage women in reproductive age to strive towards a normal BMI before conception.”

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/14/health/overweight-pregnancy-birth-defects/index.html

        f6d2493e4fb1804294e81c7e0791298e.jpeg

        VA chief on Cabinet meeting: We weren’t told to do it

        (CNN)There was no script for President Donald Trump’s first full Cabinet meeting, Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin said Tuesday.

        “The President doesn’t script the Cabinet and we’re given the ability to say what’s on our mind,” Shulkin said. “People were not given instructions, but people were not used to knowing each other.”
        During the meeting Cabinet members, including Vice President Mike Pence and White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, lauded the first five months of Trump’s presidency. Priebus thanked Trump for “the opportunity and the blessing that you’ve given us to serve your agenda and the American people.”
          Shulkin said the meeting was “very productive,” and that he was able to discuss how the Cabinet could help the VA advance its agenda.

          ‘A very good meeting’

          “It was a very good meeting actually,” Shulkin said. “We had a chance … to talk about issues in depth.”
          One issue President Trump campaigned on was allowing veterans to get private medical care paid for by the government. The Veterans Choice Program currently in place allows veterans to receive health care in their communities, but with some restrictions.
          Shulkin said he will be working to lessen restrictions in the current program.
          “We’re going to be working with Congress and with the President’s support to change the choice program, hopefully this summer, through legislation to open up choice so that veterans don’t have those restrictive rules that they’ve had in the past,” he said.
          Trump kept his promise about installing a White House hotline for veterans, Shulkin said.
          “We’re giving information on a daily basis over to the White House so that they’re informed,” Shulkin said. “That’s how we’re keeping the President updated.”
          Shulkin was sworn in as the ninth VA chief in February after being nominated by Trump.

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/13/politics/david-shulkin-cabinet-meeting-praise-trump-erin-burnett-outfront-cnntv/index.html