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New Study Indicates Protests Didn’t Promote Virus Spike

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

New research released Monday indicated that the nationwide anti-police brutality demonstrations which erupted in the U.S. after the killing of George Floyd have not led to widespread transmission of the coronavirus, as some public experts feared they would.

The National Bureau of Economic Research used anonymous cell phone data and local CDC information about Covid-19 infection rates since the protests began in late May, to examine the growth in cases in 315 cities.

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More Than 1200 Former Justice Officials Demand Probe Of Barr’s Role In Teargas Assault

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

More than 1,250 former Department of Justice employees on Wednesday called on the department's inspector general to open an investigation into reports that Attorney General William Barr personally ordered the tear-gassing of protesters in Washington, D.C. on June 1.

The former employees wrote that Inspector General Michael Horowitz must get to the bottom of Barr's involvement in the dispersing of the crowd, which was part of the nationwide uprising against racial injustice following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

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Iowa Survey Shows Warren Leading Biden For First Time

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

or the first time in the 2020 Democratic primary, a major state poll showed Joe Biden losing his lead in Iowa as the Des Moines Register released a survey showing Sen. Elizabeth Warren with more support than the former Vice President.

The Massachusetts senator was supported by 22 percent of likely caucus-goers in the Des Moines Register/CNN survey, which was conducted between September 14th and 18th and released Saturday evening.

Biden had the support of 20 percent of respondents while Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) was backed by 11 percent.

Warren’s support jumped by seven percentage points since the newspaper last conducted a poll, while Biden’s fell by four percentage points.

Twenty percent of respondents also named Warren as their second choice and 29 percent said they were considering voting for her.

“This is the first major shakeup” of the 2020 race, poll-taker J. Ann Selzer told the Register. “It’s the first time we’ve had someone other than Joe Biden at the top of the leaderboard.”

Selzer added that while noteworthy, the poll results also showed that 88 percent of the respondents who named Warren as their first choice also said they could be persuaded to vote for another candidate. More than a quarter of Biden’s supporters said their minds were made up.

The new data was released after Warren drew her largest crowd to date in Iowa, speaking to 2,000 people at the University of Iowa on Thursday night.

Last week the senator also addressed an estimated 20,000 people in Washington Square Park in New York, speaking about her plan to take on corruption in Washington. Late Friday, she drew praise from progressives for repeating her call for House Democrats to support impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. Warren also addressed the issue at the Polk County Steak Fry in Iowa, attended by the Democratic candidates, on Saturday, garnering applause.

 

Watch Trump Fumble Meeting With Yazidi and Rohingya Refugees

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Amid outrage this week over President Donald Trump’s racist rhetoric and policies regarding asylum seekers and immigrants, critics expressed shock on Friday over two viral videos of the president meeting with several refugees from all over the world in the Oval Office.

One observer on social media accused Trump of displaying a “sociopathic inability to empathize” while another said “he couldn’t even manage to have a coherent three-minute conversation” with a Nobel laureate.

https://twitter.com/Reaproy/status/1151848056566034438?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw%7Ctwcamp%5Etweetembed%7Ctwterm%5E1151848056566034438&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.alternet.org%2F2019%2F07%2Fwatch-trump-bumbles-through-meeting-with-refugees-and-humiliates-himself-with-uncomfortable-questions%2F

Trump appeared unaware of the plights of refugees like Nobel Peace Prize winner Nadia Murad, who has campaigned for human rights following her escape from ISIS captivity in Iraq, and Mohib Ullah, one of hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims who were forced to leave Myanmar.

Murad explained how she and thousands of other women were abducted by ISIS when the group took control of parts of Iraq in 2014. The president has spoken frequently about his alleged defeat of ISIS in Iraq, but as Murad explained, “it’s not about ISIS” any longer.

“We cannot go back because the Kurdish government and the Iraqi government, they are fighting each other over who will control my area,” Murad said. “And we cannot go back if we cannot protect our dignity, our families.”

“I hope you can call or anything to the Iraqi and Kurdistan [governments],” she added, telling Trump that French President Emmanuel Macron has been vocal in his support for the Yazidis and their desire to return home.

Murad also spoke about what drove tens of thousands of Yazidis to seek asylum in Germany, as thousands of refugees are currently hoping to be welcomed into the United States while the Trump administration moves to eliminate asylum rights and considers cutting the number of refugee admissions to zero next year.

“After 2014 about 95,000 Yazidis, they immigrated to Germany through a very dangerous way,” Murad said. “Not because they want to be refugees, but we cannot find a safe place to live. All this happened to me. They killed my mum, they killed my six brothers.”

On social media, critics expressed shock at Trump’s apparent lack of knowledge and interest in the experiences of refugees around the world, even as he enacts xenophobic policies to keep them out of the United States.

 

 

 

 

Some noted that Trump appeared engaged in his conversation with Murad mostly when he inquired about her Nobel Peace Prize, an award that Trump has said he hopes to win and which Murad was awarded for her work combating sexual violence around the world.

After speaking with Murad, Trump turned to Ullah, a member of the Rohingya religious group which was subjected to genocide in Myanmar in recent years. Ullah asked how the U.S. will help the Rohingya return to the country.

“Good afternoon, Mr. President,” said Ullah. “I am a Rohingya from Bangladesh refugee camp. So most of the Rohingya refugees are waiting to go back home as quickly as possible. So what is the plan to help us?”

After Trump asked Ullah what country he was from, Ambassador for Religious Freedom Sam Brownback quickly explained that the Rohingya have been expelled from Myanmar, but the president offered no answer to Ullah’s question.

 

Warren: America Needs Legislation To Allow Indictment Of The President

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Friday set out to change a decades-old rule which allows a U.S. president to abuse power in any number of ways without being held accountable.

In a Medium post titled “No President Is Above the Law,” the Massachusetts Democrat called on lawmakers to pass legislation that would allow for the indictment of a sitting president—a measure that would have allowed Special Counsel Robert Mueller to act on his decision not to exonerate President Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump believes that he can violate the law, and he believes that the role of the Department of Justice is to help him get away with it,” Warren wrote. “That’s not how our country is supposed to work.”

Warren’s newest proposal came two days after Mueller delivered a statement to the press about his report on Trump’s 2016 campaign and his alleged attempts to obstruct justice during Mueller’s two-year investigation. The special counsel reiterated that he was not confident that the president did not commit a crime, but pointed to a Watergate-era statute which prohibited him from bringing charges against Trump.

“Mueller’s statement made clear what those of us who have read his report already knew: He’s referring President Trump for impeachment, and it’s up to Congress to act,” wrote Warren. “But impeachment isn’t supposed to be the only way that a president can be held accountable for committing a crime. That’s why I’ve got a plan to make sure that no president is above the law.”

Under Warren’s plan, Congress would pass legislation clarifying that the Department of Justice (DOJ) can indict a sitting president. The new law would negate a determination made by the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel in 1973 that a criminal case against the president would be detrimental to the country, leaving Congress only with the option of impeachment in the case of criminal wrongdoing.

“Yes, Congress has a constitutional obligation to impeach the president when he violates the law,” Warren said. “But lawyers for previous presidents have used this constitutional duty to argue that the only way the president can be held accountable for criminal behavior is through impeachment.”

“Congress should make it clear that the president can be held accountable for violating the law, just like everyone else,” she added.

Warren also called for amendments to obstruction of justice statutes. The new laws would make it clear that actions including Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey and his alleged offer to pardon former lawyer Michael Cohen if he lied to Congress on his behalf, would constitute indictable offenses.

“Most people agree that these laws apply to the president, but some partisan extremists, like Attorney General Bill Barr, have argued that they don’t,” Warren wrote.

Barr, Warren argued, “disgraced himself” when he disobeyed a congressional subpoena to release the unredacted Mueller report and vehemently defended the president in his summary of Mueller’s findings. If elected president, the senator wrote, she would appoint an attorney general and other agency officials who would reverse the DOJ’s 1973 opinion and “who [know] their job is to objectively advise the executive branch on what it can and cannot do under the Constitution.”

“Our democracy only works if everyone can be held accountable,” wrote Warren. “These changes will make sure that’s the case for generations to come.”

House Committees Subpoena Banks In Probe Of Trump Finances

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

The only major bank that President Donald Trump has been able to count on for financial backing was among those that were issued subpoenas Monday by House Democrats.

The House Financial Services and Intelligence Committees both demanded that Deutsche Bank—one of Trump’s most reliable creditors—as well as Citigroup and Bank of America turn over records pertaining to the president’s personal and corporate finances.

Last year, reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller was investigating Trump’s financial dealings with Deutsche Bank led to the president to call for Mueller’s probe to be shut down. But Deutsche itself opened an investigation into Trump shortly after he entered office to determine whether its loans to the president had any links to Moscow.

Over the past two decades, Deutsche Bank has been the only financial institution to continue giving credit to Trump. It loaned more than $2 billion to Trump over those years, $300 million of which Trump still owed to the bank when he took office.

As Common Dreams reported last year, German police raided Deutsche Bank’s Frankfurt headquarters in November in connection with the Panama Papers money laundering investigation. The subpoenas issued by the House committees reportedly pertain to possible money-laundering in Russia and Eastern Europe.

“The information that could bring down Trump,” wrote John Feffer, director of Foreign Policy In Focus, at Common Dreams last year, “may be somewhere in the Deutsche Bank files. The relevant documents would link the bank’s two most questionable financial activities—lending to Trump and washing Russian money.”

Democrats vowed to pursue Trump’s financial records after they won control of the House in November, saying they wanted to determine whether Russia may have had leverage over the president via his loans from Deutsche Bank.

“The potential use of the U.S. financial system for illicit purposes is a very serious concern,” Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), who chairs the House Financial Services Committee, said in a statement Monday.

The subpoenas represent the latest step in Democrats’ effort to get to the bottom of Trump’s financial ties and those of the Trump Organization—from which the president refused to divest when he took office in 2017.

The House Ways and Means Committee also requested Trump’s personal and business tax returns from his accounting firm, leading the president to tell the company not to comply. The accounting firm, Mazars USA has said it plans “fully comply with its legal obligations” while Deutsche Bank says it is cooperating with the House Committees’ requests.

IMAGE: Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), chair of the House Financial Services Committee.

Sanctuary Cities Prepared To Welcome Migrants ‘Dumped’ By Trump

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Confirming Friday that his administration is considering sending undocumented immigrants en masse to sanctuary cities, President Donald Trump framed the proposal as a threat—but several politicians and rights advocates replied that immigrants would be welcome in those communities.

The president announced that the White House is weighing the proposal hours after the Washington Post reported that it had been considered and then rejected last year.

“Due to the fact that Democrats are unwilling to change our very dangerous immigration laws, we are indeed, as reported, giving strong considerations to placing Illegal Immigrants in Sanctuary Cities only,” Trump tweeted.
At least one sanctuary city mayor, Jim Kenney of Philadelphia, responded that he would happily welcome any number of immigrants sent to his city.

“The city would be prepared to welcome these immigrants just as we have embraced our immigrant communities for decades,” Kenney said in a statement. “This White House plan demonstrates the utter contempt that the Trump administration has for basic human dignity.”

Mayor Libby Schaaf of Oakland expressed pride in her city’s status as one that bars all city employees from cooperating with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and condemned the president for focusing his immigration agenda on keeping immigrants out of the United States.

“I am proud to be the mayor of a sanctuary city,” Schaaf told CNN. “We believe sanctuary cities are safer cities. We embrace the diversity in Oakland and we do not think it’s appropriate for us to use local resources to do the government’s failed immigration work.”

Much of the response to the Post‘s earlier reporting centered around what an aide to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the White House’s “despicable” attempt to use human beings as pawns to demonize immigrants.

As Libby Watson noted at Splinter, much of the corporate media’s reporting on the plan followed the narrative laid out by the Trump administration—that sending undocumented immigrants to sanctuary cities would be an “attack” on those cities and their Democratic leaders.

“A premise like ‘busing migrants to San Francisco will punish Nancy Pelosi’ is not self-explanatory,” Watson wrote. “I do not immediately understand the mechanism by which releasing a tired, huddled mass of immigrants in cities with massive populations—and cities where asylum approval rates are much higher—would punish their representatives.”

“The framing is left as ‘the presence of migrants in cities will be bad for those cities.’ And in the end, that just does Stephen Miller’s work for him,” she added, referring to Trump’s policy adviser who has pushed for hard-line, xenophobic immigration policies.

Julia Carrie Wong, a technology reporter for the Guardian, echoed Watson’s concerns.

“Let’s not concede that having refugees in our cities is something to be threatened by,” Wong tweeted.

After Trump announced the plan was again under consideration Friday, critics noted that sending immigrants to sanctuary cities would simply be using the cities and their laws as they were intended.

IMAGE: The skyline of Oakland, California, with the Bay Bridge in the background.

Leaked: Insurance Executive Boasts About Fighting Medicare For All

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

In an effort to inform the public about the corporate forces working to crush Medicare for All, an employee at the insurance giant UnitedHealthcare leaked a video of his boss bragging about the company’s campaign to preserve America’s for-profit healthcare system.

“I felt Americans needed to know exactly who it is that’s fighting against the idea that healthcare is a right, not a privilege,” the anonymous whistleblower told the Washington Post‘s Jeff Stein.

During an employee town hall in February, Stein reported on Friday, UnitedHealthcare CEO Steve Nelson boasted about how much his company is doing to undermine Medicare for All, which is rapidly gaining support in Congress.

“One of the things you said: ‘We’re really quiet’ or ‘It seems like we’re quiet.’ Um, we’ve done a lot more than you would think,” Nelson said. “We are advocating heavily and very involved in the conversation. Part of it is trying to be thoughtful about how we enter in the conversation, because there’s a risk of seeming like it’s self-serving.”

According to the Post, which did not publish the video of Nelson’s remarks, the executive said his company “opposes Medicare for All because it excludes the private sector, which he said does a better job of delivering healthcare than the government, and said he doubted how a single-payer system could be funded or effectively administered.”

Nelson’s remarks were leaked just days after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 presidential contender, unveiled his improved Medicare for All bill with the support of 14 Democratic senators and over 60 progressive organizations representing nurses, physicians, and consumer advocates.

Sanders called out insurance and pharmaceutical industry greed in a statement following the introduction of his bill, which would virtually eliminate the private insurance industry and provide comprehensive healthcare to every American.

“In my view, the current debate over Medicare for All really has nothing to do with healthcare. It’s all about greed and profiteering,” said the Vermont senator. “It is about whether we maintain a dysfunctional system which allows the top five health insurance companies to make over $20 billion in profits last year.”

On Friday, Sanders took to Twitter to send Nelson a message.

“When we are in the White House your greed is going to end,” Sanders wrote.

UnitedHealth Group, the parent company of United Healthcare, raked in around $17 billion in profits and “spent about $8 million on lobbying efforts” in 2018, Stein reported.

UnitedHealthcare’s fight against single-payer, Stein noted, comes “amid a broader push from the health insurance industry to prevent legislation to enact Medicare for All from getting off the ground, including by trying to direct Democrats toward more centrist efforts and reject plans that would effectively legislate many of the companies out of existence.”

“[A]bout half a dozen representatives of lobbying firms said they had pushed for meetings with Democrats over single-payer and other proposed government expansions of healthcare,” according to Stein.

In a statement to the Post, Medicare for All campaigner and policy expert Tim Faust said, “When the people begin organizing against private insurance, the lonely insurance executives turn to their only friends: the elected officials beholden to their cash.”

One of the industry-backed groups leading the fight against Medicare for All is the Partnership for America’s Health Care Future, which is comprised of major pharmaceutical and insurance interests.

The Partnership launched a six-figure ad campaign against Medicare for All earlier this year, warning the popular proposal “would cause massive disruption to the current healthcare system.”

After the Partnership launched its first digital ad against Medicare for All in January, Wendell Potter—an insurance industry executive-turned-whistleblower—said, “It’s almost impressive how many lies they’re able to fit into such a short clip.”

Watch Potter’s breakdown of the Partnership’s ad here.

IMAGE: UnitedHealth CEO Steve Nelson.

‘Disturbing’: Capitol Police Slammed For Assaulting Reporters

Reprinted with permission from Alternet.

Press freedom advocates and journalists described a published report of Capitol Police manhandling and shoving reporters in the Russell Senate Office Building as “bizarre” and “disturbing” — with some calling the altercation an incident far more likely to take place in a totalitarian regime than in a democracy.

As Roll Call reported Friday, Capitol Police pushed and “slammed into” reporters on Thursday afternoon around the time that senators were voting on the spending bill. The police attempted to prevent reporters from speaking to lawmakers—a practice that is common in the Senate basement, where the incident took place.

Suzanne Nossel, CEO of PEN America, called Roll Call’s report a “disturbing account,” while the National Press Club said in a statement that Capitol Police’s actions “contravened the chamber’s long-standing bipartisan practice of supporting journalists’ access to lawmakers.”

According to Roll Call, some reporters believed the Sergeant-at-Arms had made more Capitol Police available in the Senate building because of the suspected presence of an independent reporter without credentials who had approached senators in the past. But journalists denounced the Capitol Police for handling the situation by assaulting reporters.

“Capitol Police dramatically over-reacted on Thursday and did more harm than good when they prevented accredited reporters from doing their job and further obstructed senators from communicating with the press. There was no call for the police to shove or place their hands on the reporters,” said Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak, president of the National Press Club.

According to an audio recording provided to Roll Call, an officer pushed a pregnant reporter and “slammed into” NBC journalist Leigh Anne Caldwell as she was trying to interview Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). The Capitol Police also repeatedly told reporters that attempting to speak with senators as they walked down the hallway—a common practice on the Hill—was a “violation” and something people “get locked up” for doing. Washington Post congressional reporter Paul Kane disputed the claim on social media.

Ryan Pushes Easier Immigration — But Only For The Irish

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
By Julia Conley / Common Dreams

 

After spending much of the past two years enabling President Donald Trump’s hard-line immigration policy and blocking the House from voting on bipartisan legislation to protect young immigrants, outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) is showing recent enthusiasm for welcoming a select group of immigrants—not the thousands of Central Americans who are in a camp in Tijuana, Mexico, waiting to seek asylum in the U.S., but people from his family’s own homeland.

Ryan pushed through a bill that passed in the House late last month, giving thousands of E-3 work visas to Irish nationals. The bill is expected to pass in the Senate this week.

Pushing white #Irish immigrants through, while detaining hundreds of people at America’s border with Mexico? The hypocrisy of this administration is shameful. ⁦@irishstand

Ryan pushes for thousands of Irish visas before leaving office – POLITICO https://t.co/OiStRjIGFp

— Caroline B. Heafey (@_cheafey) December 15, 2018

Next time the right bitches about “identity politics”, remind them of the time that the outgoing GOP Speaker of the House pushed for thousands of Irish visas because his family came from Ireland. #sundaymorninghttps://t.co/BRE3Y3FF0G

— Holly Figueroa O’Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan) December 16, 2018

In his last weeks in power, Ryan is supporting the legislation while the Trump administration is turning away hundreds of asylum seekers from countries including Guatemala and Honduras per day and deporting the U.S.-based family sponsors of unaccompanied migrant children. The House Speaker also blocked representatives from voting on a bill to protect Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients, many of whom have lived, gone to school, and worked in the U.S. for years.

E-3 visas are currently available only to Australians with certain occupations, but under the proposal, thousands of unused visas would go to Irish nationals.

As Politico reported, Ryan’s own ancestors came to the U.S. in the 1850s, fleeing the potato famine there. The House Speaker reportedly hopes to be appointed as U.S. ambassador to Ireland.

Ryan’s support for the bill was denounced by critics on social media, including the Irish social justice podcast “Irish Stand.”

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.
 

Democratic Senators Demand Trump Disclosure Saudi Financial TIes

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

As President Donald Trump continues to provide cover for Saudi Arabia while making no moves to hold the kingdom accountable for the suspected murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi, Democratic senators have demanded records detailing any and all financial ties the president has with the Saudis.

Noting that the Trump Organization’s longtime business relationships with the Saudi government and royal family are well-known and a matter of public record, 11 Democratic lawmakers sent a letter on Wednesday demanding information on whether the Saudis have given the president anything of monetary value since he was elected in 2016—a direct violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause—and whether Trump has discussed potential investments with the kingdom since announcing his campaign in 2015.

“It is imperative that [the administration’s] sanctions determination, and U.S. policy towards Saudi Arabia generally, are not influenced by any conflicts of interest that may exist because of your or your family’s deep financial ties to Saudi Arabia,” reads the letter, which was signed by lawmakers including Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.).

On Thursday morning, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo emerged from the White House after briefing the president on his recent trip to Saudi Arabia and Turkey and offered the latest evidence that the administration is not at all interested in holding their ally to account for the alleged assassination of the dissident journalist.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he told President Trump the US should give Saudi Arabia “a few more days to complete” the investigation into the disappearance of journalist Jamal Khashoggi pic.twitter.com/hUY2rrDuOK

— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) October 18, 2018

The letter was sent a day after the president scolded the Turkish government, the news media, and the international community for suggesting that the Saudis were behind Khashoggi’s killing at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul on October 2.

Evidence of a murder by Saudi operatives has mounted since his disappearance, with Turkish officials saying an audio recording reveals that Khashoggi was beaten upon entering the consulate, and an investigation inside the building uncovering the fingerprints of a key member of the suspected “hit team” in the case.

The Democrats’ demands also coincided with a wire transfer of $100 million that was sent to the U.S. from Saudi Arabia on Wednesday night—a payment that one U.S. official told the New York Times was “no coincidence.”

While Trump said Tuesday that he has “no financial interests in Saudi Arabia,” he has boasted in the recent past that he makes “a lot of money from” the kingdom. In their letter, the Democrats wrote that Trump referenced multi-million dollar properties the Saudis have bought from his company, at a rally in Mobile, Alabama in August 2015.

The president’s clear financial ties to the Saudis—and his repeated lies about the entanglements—amount to an explicit “violation of his oath of office,” wrote columnist Charles P. Pierce at Esquire on Thursday.

“Right now, at this moment, it appears that the President* of the United States is assisting a foreign government in a conspiracy to obstruct justice in the political murder of a resident of the United States, and it is fair to say that he’s doing so because to do otherwise would be detrimental to his personal business interests,” Pierce wrote in summation.

With evidence that the Saudis have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in recent months at the president’s hotels, from which he has not divested his financial interests, Pierce added, Trump is unquestionably violating the Constitution.

And moreover, he wrote, “There is also absolutely no question that this hedging about the murderous Saudi royalty—for reasons that very likely have as much or more to do with his business interests as they do with oil or some vague threat from Iran—is precisely what the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution was designed to prevent.”

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

 

Badly Injured Woman In Subway Pleads: ‘I Can’t Afford’ Ambulance

Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.

 

As Americans across the country celebrate Independence Day with parades, barbecues, and fireworks displays, the story of a woman begging bystanders not to call an ambulance after she was injured in an accident went viral this week—with universal healthcare advocates pointing to the incident as clear evidence that a Medicare for All system would bring gravely-needed relief to all Americans.

The woman’s leg became trapped between a subway car and platform on Friday night in Boston. Surveillance footage showed other passengers rushing to help the woman, who sustained a deep wound on her leg. A Boston Globe journalist who happened to be on the platform reported that the woman told the crowd she wouldn’t be able to afford a hospital bill if they called an ambulance.

Another bystander told CNN, “She made it a point to say ‘you don’t understand, I have terrible insurance.'” The woman was eventually convinced to go with emergency medical technicians who arrived at the scene.

While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has expanded access to healthcare, noted the New York Times editorial board on Monday, it has left many Americans with inadequate coverage and struggling to pay high deductibles and medical bills.

study conducted by the Times and the Kaiser Family Foundation in 2016 found that 20 percent of insured Americans have trouble paying for medical care. Sixty-three percent of those surveyed said they had used up all or most of their savings to pay doctor’s and hospital bills.

Ambulance rides are behind many of the exorbitant, unexpected hospital bills that Americans struggle to pay. A Kaiser Health News report found last year that with private companies taking over ambulance services in many towns and cities, patients often face thousands of dollars in bills even for a brief ride to a hospital.

A system in which private emergency service consulting forms can charge patient hundreds of dollars for services like providing oxygen and bandaging wounds is only part of the grave problem caused by a medical system that is driven by profit, wrote the Times editorial board.

“In the face of a grave injury, a series of calculations follow,” wrote the editors. “This discord, between agony and arithmetic, has become America’s story, too.”

“The trade-offs that everyday people are being asked to make, the calculations they are being forced to undertake in the scariest of situations, suggest that far too many of America’s politicians have placed too little value on the well-being of its citizens,” theTimes continued. “Nothing will change until their fellow citizens step into the ballot box and insist on something better.”

 

Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

World Leaders Plan Walkout Protest During Trump’s Davos Address

Reprinted with permission from Common Dreams.

Several attendees of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland are planning to walk out of President Donald Trump’s speech at the summit on Friday afternoon, in protest of his recent reported remarks about countries whose citizens he deems undesirable immigrants.

In an open letter, Business Leadership South Africa CEO Bonang Mohale denounced Trump’s alleged statement, confirmed by Republican and Democratic lawmakers, that more immigrants from “countries like Norway” should come to the U.S. instead of people from “shithole countries” such as Haiti, El Salvador, and African nations.

When Trump arrives in Davos, Mohale wrote, “it will be clear exactly what it is you mean when you lay out your ‘America First’ doctrine. Rather than the laudable ethos upon which modern America is built, namely a nation of immigrants free to strive for excellence and success, regardless of their provenance, it appears you want to pull up the drawbridge for people who are not white, and engineer an exclusive, less diverse America.”

Mohale did not name other attendees who will be boycotting the speech, but said several leaders plan to walk out and encouraged “likeminded peers to do the same.”

According to Quartz, “Leaving Trump’s speech after he starts is probably more powerful than boycotting it entirely, some Davos attendees speculate.”

African business leaders have called on Trump to address and apologize for his comments. The president has denied denigrating African countries, and said of the reports only that he is “not a racist,” while the White House dismissed the incident as evidence of Trump’s “passionate” views on immigration.

Mohale acknowledged Trump’s plummeting approval ratings in the U.S., noting that many in the international community view the president as separate from the broader U.S. population.

“It’s encouraging to us that so many of your countrymen and women, who treasure this ideal of the U.S.—including many from within your own Republican party—are already rejecting your monochrome vision. We join hands with them, in the same spirit of solidarity that many of your citizens showed in rejecting Apartheid and isolating those who sought to entrench racism, segregation and discrimination.”

At Davos, Trump will meet one-on-one with Rwandan president Paul Kagame—also the head of the African Union, which condemned Trump’s comments after they were reported.

The AU demanded “a retraction of the comment as well as an apology, not only to the Africans, but to all people of African descent around the globe.

 Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
The Swiss mountain resort of Davos in file photo. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files