Graham and Cassidy release new health bill draft with more money for Alaska, Maine, Arizona, Kentucky
Senate Republicans and President Trump have not given up on their last-ditch effort to significantly modify Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, which needs to pass this week to avoid a filibuster from Democrats. On Sunday night, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) released a new draft of their Graham-Cassidy bill, designed to win over holdouts in part by sending more money to Alaska, Maine, Arizona, and Kentucky, the home states of four key senators.
The new version of Graham-Cassidy also includes a special carveout for Alaska, a 25 percent increase in federal matching Medicaid funds. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has not said how she plans to vote, Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are pretty hard no votes, and on Sunday's CNN State of the Nation, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said it would be "very difficult for me to envision a scenario where I would end up voting for this bill," citing its changes to Medicaid, weakened protections for people with pre-existing conditions, and the lack of a Congressional Budget Office analysis of its effects.
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) September 24, 2017
In addition to the new funds for certain states, the new draft would make it easier for states to scrap federal insurance requirements, often without a waiver, including increasing the caps on out-of-pocket costs and allowing insurers to drop coverage for maternity care, mental health treatment, drug addiction, and other benefits now deemed essential. It would also allow states to create "multiple risk pools" for healthy and sick people. "This revised bill is tantamount to federal deregulation of the insurance market," said Larry Levitt of the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation. "If there were any doubt that people with pre-existing [conditions] are at risk of being priced out of individual insurance, this bill removes them."
The main hospital, doctor, and insurance groups released a rare joint letter Saturday opposing the bill, though GOP donors are reportedly upset that ObamaCare is still law. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) told the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin that "right now, they don't have my vote. And I don't think they have Mike Lee's either," referring to a GOP colleague from Utah. Republicans can only lose two votes. Peter Weber
Sassy and Roy Moore arrived in Gallant, Alabama, on Tuesday to vote in the state's special election. Moore was voting, anyway; Sassy is a horse:
Here is Roy Moore arriving to vote on horseback. pic.twitter.com/nwtWPFGfsI
— Steve Kopack (@SteveKopack) December 12, 2017
It is not the first time the former judge has opted for a zero emission ride to the polls — he also cast his vote via horseback in September during the GOP runoff election, although that time he was on his other horse, Sundance. Moore has ridden Sassy to vote before too, though, so you might say this wasn't exactly her first rodeo.
If elected, Moore — who stands accused of pursuing teenage girls as young as 14 — will presumably join the Capitol Hill riding club, which includes Vice President Mike Pence, Missouri Sen. Roy Blunt (R), Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma, and Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Then again, Moore might not exactly be the type to ride in polite single-file:
The Moores just voted and left the polls on horseback. “She is a polite rider,” Roy Moore says of his wife. “I am not. If you get in the way you will get run over.”
I moved. pic.twitter.com/vQtd45hDUm
— Josh Jamerson (@joshjame) December 12, 2017
Enjoy another look at Sassy, from afar. Jeva Lange
— CNN (@CNN) December 12, 2017
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) came to the defense of her colleague Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on Tuesday after President Trump tweeted that Gillibrand "begged" and "would do anything for" campaign donations.
Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame @SenGillibrand? Do you know who you're picking a fight with? Good luck with that, @realDonaldTrump. Nevertheless, #shepersisted. https://t.co/mYJtBZfxiu
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) December 12, 2017
Trump's online attack on Gillibrand came one day after the New York senator called for the president to resign over the numerous allegations of sexual assault made against him. Gillibrand and Warren (whom Trump delights in calling "Pocahontas") have both been vocal critics of the president. Political commentators consider both women to be potential frontrunners for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.
There is however, one potential problem with Warren's defense of Gillibrand. The president's original tweet was criticized for its sexist implications, but Slate's Christina Cauterucci points out that Warren may have misinterpreted the meaning of "slut-shaming" in her tweet. Kelly O'Meara Morales
unless Warren is insinuating that Gillibrand really does do what Trump suggested she does (and that she shouldn't be ashamed of it), "slut-shame" is really not the right term here https://t.co/DI4JoOCUMz
— Christina Cauterucci (@c_cauterucci) December 12, 2017
As if giant cockroaches weren't freaky enough already, new research shows the insects have learned how to gallop. A study published in Frontiers in Zoology found that giant cockroaches can increase their velocity and lateral mobility when they run in a rolling gait, similar to a horse's gallop, rather than keeping three legs on the ground at all times in alternating steps, which is commonly referred to as the "tripod gait." While this new revelation is perhaps slightly horrifying for anyone suffering from insectophobia, Tom Weihmann, a professor at the University of Cologne in Germany and a coauthor on the study, says it may actually help robots learn to run more effectively.
Scientists concluded long ago that everyone's least favorite insect has a limited capacity for elastic energy storage in their legs. In layman's terms, their legs aren't very flexible, and most cockroaches don't have the bounce capacity of LeBron James (phew). But somehow, cockroaches figured out that if they gallop sequentially with six legs and keep their legs from coming too far off of the ground, they get a lot faster and lot more agile. The study notes that the high-speed gallop "has not been described before for terrestrial arthropods."
But why are cockroaches galloping in the first place? Researchers say they're sometimes making "escape runs," and other times they gallop slowly on slippery surfaces to maintain stability. Weihmann believes our robots could learn a thing or two from the bug's unique running style. "Adapting the coordination patterns of robot legs to those of fast-running cockroaches can help the robot use energy more efficiently and hence increase its endurance in an inhospitable environment," he says.
President Trump and the White House have vehemently denied renewed accusations of Trump's sexual misconduct, with Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling reporters Monday that "the president has denied [all] of these allegations, as have eyewitnesses." How, exactly, eyewitnesses can confirm that something didn't happen has been a bit of a head-scratcher, though:
#SarahSanders: I didn't know a witness could testify to seeing what didn't happen.
— Nora Sheffield (@LNoraSheffield) December 12, 2017
Nevertheless, Sanders promised reporters Monday: "In terms of the specific eyewitness accounts … there have been multiple reports, and I'd be happy to provide them to you after the briefing has completed."
While Sanders hasn't delivered a list just yet, the White House is known to have eyewitnesses — two, for at least 13 separate allegations. Jessica Leeds claimed Trump groped her on an airplane, but a man named Anthony Gilberthorpe said he was also on the plane and that "Leeds was the aggressor," The Washington Post writes. There are questions surrounding Gilberthorpe's claim, though, as he "has a history of making unproven claims, including that he had once regularly provided underage boys to members of Britain's Parliament for sex parties."
In another case, Natasha Stoynoff claims Trump forcibly kissed her at Mar-a-Lago, and The Washington Post reports that five people heard her story around the time of the alleged event. While the White House did not technically present an eyewitness rebuttal, "a longtime family butler who came into the room after the incident said that nothing seemed unusual."
The brutality of prison camps in North Korea is on par with that of Nazi concentration camps, says Thomas Buergenthal, a former judge on the International Court of Justice who is now serving on a panel of human rights investigators probing whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un should be tried for crimes against humanity. Buergenthal is also a survivor of the Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen concentration camps as well as a Polish ghetto.
"I believe that the conditions in the [North] Korean prison camps are as terrible, or even worse, than those I saw and experienced in my youth in these Nazi camps and in my long professional career in the human rights field," Buergenthal said after the panel completed its review.
"There is not a comparable situation anywhere in the world, past or present," said another panelist, Navi Pillay, a South African judge who served as the United Nations' high commissioner for human rights. "This is really an atrocity at the maximum level," Pillay added, "where the whole population is subject to intimidation."
The panel's investigation was initiated by the International Bar Association and examined testimony from experts as well as North Korean defectors, including camp prisoners and guards. A full report of the probe's findings will be published Tuesday. Bonnie Kristian
When President Trump posts a tweet, it is shared with and analyzed for Russian President Vladimir Putin as any official statement by the president of the United States would be, Moscow indicated Tuesday.
"In any case, everything which is published from [Trump's authorized] Twitter account is perceived by Moscow as his official statement," said Putin representative Dmitry Peskov, Reuters reported. "Naturally, it is reported to Putin along with other information about official statements by politicians."
Trump averages about seven tweets per day. Since becoming president, he has used his Twitter account for everything from major policy announcements to petty feuds and name-calling. The implications of Russia's assumption may be most troubling in regards to North Korea, as it transforms into official American policy Trump's tweets declaring it is a waste of time for the U.S. to negotiate with "short and fat" Little Rocket Man. Bonnie Kristian
President Trump took to Twitter Tuesday to attack Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), suggesting she had a history of trading favors for campaign donations.
Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging" for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 12, 2017
A number of Twitter users were quick to point out that the president's tweet was loaded with unsavory implications.
What does "and would do anything for them" mean? https://t.co/edvdtzDUIz
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) December 12, 2017
In a single tweet, he frames a female senator as subservient to three different men. https://t.co/peddp3ysgN
— Beck(the halls)with (@ryanbeckwith) December 12, 2017
Gillibrand, who on Monday called for Trump to resign over the numerous allegations of sexual assault and harassment made against him, did indeed take some money from Trump before he ran for office. In 2010, Gillibrand's campaign raised more than $13 million, and Politico's Kyle Cheney points out that Trump donated $4,800. In 2014, his daughter Ivanka Trump donated $2,000.
You cannot silence me or the millions of women who have gotten off the sidelines to speak out about the unfitness and shame you have brought to the Oval Office. https://t.co/UbQZqubXZv
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) December 12, 2017