Friday, September 15, 2017

Last Call For Wrecked In Reykjavik

In countries that still have archaic concepts like "rule of law" and "honor", things like "family members of government leaders doing personal favors for convicted felons" is still enough to end that government.  Not so here in the States (where we call that "Tuesday") but in Iceland the ruling coalition has just come undone over allegations against the father of PM Bjarni Benediktsson.

A furore over a paedophile's links to Prime Minister Bjarni Benediktsson has triggered the collapse of Iceland's ruling coalition. 
The Bright Future party announced it was withdrawing from the three-party coalition after nine months in office. 
It blamed a "serious breach of trust within the government". 
Earlier it emerged that the prime minister's father had written a letter recommending a convicted paedophile have his "honour restored". 
This old Icelandic system permits convicts to have certain civil rights restored - enabling them to run for public office, qualify for certain government jobs or serve as an attorney or solicitor, for example - if three letters of recommendation from persons of good character are provided. 
But Icelanders have been horrified by the secret backing for Hjalti Sigurjón Hauksson - convicted in 2004 of raping his stepdaughter almost every day for 12 years from when she was five. He served a five-and-a-half-year jail term. 
The Reykjavik Grapevine news site quotes the survivor of Hauksson's abuse as saying it was "surreal" that he should receive restored honour. 
The government has also been accused of an attempted cover-up after it refused to disclose who had written the letter of recommendation. 
It only emerged on Thursday that it was Benedikt Sveinsson, Prime Minister Benediktsson's father, but the prime minister is said to have been informed about his involvement in July. 
In a statement, Mr Sveinsson apologised for providing the recommendation for Hauksson, an old friend of his. 
Iceland's justice minister has said she is preparing a bill to reform the restored honour system in response to the furore.

It's never the crime, it's the cover-up.  C'mon, America figured that one out 45 years ago, Iceland.

The Return Of The Revenge Of The Son Of Trumpcare

Still two weeks before the September 30th deadline for Senate Republicans to get away with only needing 51 votes for repealing the Affordable Care Act and kicking tens of millions of Americans off their health coverage, and that means one last plan to try to kill them some poors.  Sponsored by "GOP moderates" like Huckleberry Graham, the bill would wreck America's health care system, end Medicaid expansion for millions, and throw millions more off Medicaid by turning it into block grants for states...who won't be compelled to spend a single dime on the program as a result.

Sens. Lindsey Graham, Bill Cassidy, Dean Heller and Ron Johnson on Wednesday released an Obamacare repeal bill, framing it as the last, best hope to fulfill the GOP's promise to undo the health law. 
"There's a lot of fight left in the Republican Party" on repeal, Graham said.

The bill faces long odds: Even some of its GOP backers say it would be almost impossible to get a massive rewrite of the health care system through the Senate within 17 days, or before the expiration of fast-track procedural powers Republicans hope to use to bypass the threat of a Democratic filibuster. 
President Donald Trump praised the lawmakers for continuing to work on Obamacare repeal, citing the "complete nightmare" the law is for Americans. But he didn't indicate whether he would press lawmakers to support the measure. "I sincerely hope that Senators Graham and Cassidy have found a way to address the Obamacare crisis," he said in a statement. 
Graham called on Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and Senate GOP leaders to help them gather 50 votes. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who brought up several repeal measures in July only to see all of them fail, has said he'd bring up any Obamacare repeal bill that has enough Republican support. McConnell on Tuesday refused to choose between the repeal bill or a bipartisan measure being drafted by GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander and Democratic Sen. Patty Murray.

Oh, but it gets worse.

The $1.2 trillion bill, H.R. 1628 (115), which has been at the CBO for about one week, according to the senators, would provide states with block grants instead of Obamacare's tax credits, Medicaid expansion and cost-sharing payments. It would also repeal Obamacare's individual and employer mandates and the medical device tax. 
In general, Republicans favor giving the states a “block grant” of funding to create their own health care systems. The repeal bill attempts to equalize health care spending by the federal government to states. 
Some states, particularly high-cost places such as Massachusetts, are bound to be worse off under the measure than less expensive parts of the country. 
It’s unclear if the CBO would even have time to score the bill before the end of the month. It would also have to go before the Senate parliamentarian to ensure that it complies with the rules of the expedited procedure, called reconciliation.

Blue states would get billions less for sure, but imagine giving Wyoming (pop 600,000 or so) and California (pop 39 million and change) an equal amount to implement Medicaid.

That's what we're looking at.  And again, states would not be compelled to spend all the money on Medicaid.

But here's the best part: after 2026, funding for the block grants is zeroed out.

No more Medicaid.  Period.  Done.  Gone.  Over.

This is arguably the worst version yet of Trumpcare, and it's coming unless we help stop it.

Make those calls, folks.

Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Before Ferguson, before Charleston, before Baton Rouge, before Baltimore and New York, there was Anthony Lamar Smith, killed by St. Louis police in 2011.  After six years, the officer in that killing, Jason Stockley, faces a verdict in the charge of first degree murder as prosecutors contend he planted a gun in Smith's car to justify killing him in "self-defense".

The problem isn't the jury here.  It's a bench trial.  The judge in the proceedings is expected to hand down a verdict any time now.  GOP Gov. Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL, author, and Rhodes scholar, is still calling up the National Guard, just in case.

The entire city is on edge because we know what's going to happen.

With courthouse barricades up, police presence expanded and National Guard troops on standby, St. Louis is braced for Friday’s anticipated verdict in the murder trial of a white police officer accused of executing a black motorist. 
Former St. Louis police Officer Jason Stockley maintains the 2011 shooting death of Anthony Lamar Smith was in self-defense. If he is acquitted of a first-degree murder charge, officials fear the inevitable protests could turn violent. Some activists have hinted as much. 
Christina Wilson, Smith’s fiancée, appeared at a news conference with Gov. Eric Greitens Thursday evening to ask protesters to avoid violence if they demonstrate.

“However it goes, I ask for peace,” Wilson said. 
Greitens echoed Wilson’s sentiments, saying he understood that many people feel pain over the shooting. “Do not turn that pain into violence,” he said. “One life has been lost in this case, and we do not need more bloodshed.” 
Earlier Thursday, Greitens — who won office last year in part on a promise not to repeat mistakes he says officials made in responding to the racial unrest in Ferguson in 2014 — announced he is readying the Missouri National Guard to protect both protesters and property. 
“As Governor, I am committed to protecting everyone’s constitutional right to protest peacefully while also protecting people’s lives, homes, and communities,” Greitens said in a statement. “Taking the steps to put the Missouri National Guard on standby is a necessary precaution.” 
On Thursday, barricades went up around the Thomas F. Eagleton U.S. Courthouse downtown, and St. Louis and St. Louis County police prepared to move officers to 12-hour shifts Friday. The federal courthouse will be closed on Friday. 
“We want to ensure the community that our police department is prepared for any scenario,” the city police department said in a statement. “In the wake of an announcement, the department is committed to keeping our citizens updated and informed.” 
Stockley fatally shot Smith after a police chase on Dec. 20, 2011. Prosecutors have alleged Stockley planted a .38-caliber revolver in Smith’s crashed Buick after shooting him five times at close range. The defense has said Stockley shot Smith in self-defense because Stockley believed Smith was reaching for a gun. 
The bench trial before St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson ended Aug. 9. Some St. Louis black clergy and activists have pledged “mass disruption” if Stockley is acquitted. 
There has been no official word on the timing of the announcement of a verdict, but multiple sources have told the Post-Dispatch it will come down Friday.

We know what happens next.

Black Lives Still Matter. .


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