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Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pope Francis puts his faith to work in Cairo Egypt - inspirational visit

Powerful message and prophetic too...

"Any other type of fanaticism (referring to religious fanaticism) does not come from God, and is not pleasing to him,” Francis told the crowd of about 15,000 Catholics (including Coptics), at a suburban Cairo stadium.
Security surrounds Pope Francis at the Air Defense Stadium in Cairo.
Pope Francis in Cairo Egypt

Appearing in public, in the face of enormous stress about his security, after several anti-Christian bombings in Egypt, the brave Pope Francis created an inspirational image for the entire world. There is nobody alive today who can leave the imprimateur of peace on the world like the images of Pope Francis in Egypt. Indeed, he is a brave Man of God.  In Egypt where a minority of the people are Christians, the Pope had no compelling reason to risk his life to be seen in collegiality with the majority Egyptian Muslims.  Nevertheless, Pope Francis went where many would fear to tread. 

Moreover, the message Pope Francis gave during his Egyptian visit was a universal call for charity.

Reported in USAToday:

CAIRO — Celebrating an open-air Mass in front of thousands of Egyptians on Saturday, Pope Francis delivered a powerful message of religious tolerance, telling the crowd the only acceptable kind of fanaticism is that of "charity."

"Any other type of fanaticism does not come from God, and is not pleasing to him,” Francis told the crowd of about 15,000 Catholics and Copts
 at a suburban Cairo stadium. "True faith is one that makes us more charitable, more merciful, more honest and more humane ... it makes us see the other not as an enemy to be overcome but a brother or sister to be loved, served and helped.”

The message of unity highlights a main theme of the pontiff's two-day visit to Egypt to promote tolerance, peace and dialogue between Christians and Muslims in the Arab world's largest country. The trip comes on the heels of bombings at Coptic Christian churches on Palm Sunday that killed 44 people and injured scores more.

In the wake of the recent attacks, military and police seemingly outnumbered the stadium crowd at times Saturday. Two military helicopters circled the area and police checked cars for explosives. Only attendees with a pass from the Egyptian homeland security agency were allowed to enter.

Despite the security concerns, Francis glided around the stadium in an open-topped golf cart ahead of the Mass as a joyful crowd welcomed the pope with a show of yellow and white balloons and a chorus singing Gloria.

Amr Moussa, former foreign minister, Arab League secretary general and a Muslim, praised the Mass for showcasing interfaith understanding. "The pope recognized the core beliefs of Islam … that coexistence is at the center of Islam," he said.

Jozef Mata, 23, a social worker and one of the 250,000 Catholics in the country, took a four-hour bus ride from his home in Assiut in central Egypt and slept on the floor of a Cairo high school the night before the Mass. “Francis is telling us that we are his sons,” he said. “He will take care of us whatever the cost.”

Roshdy Zayed, 81, a Catholic, came with his 10 grandchildren from Nazlet Khater, a village in Upper Egypt, and said he was thrilled with the pope's message of peace and unity. "Wonderful things happened today," he said. "I say thank you to God for today."

In addition to the spiritual uplift and message of peace, Sameh Mina, 47, owner of a wholesale food supply company in Cairo, hoped Francis' visit would resurrect the country's hard-hit tourist industry, which has suffered mightily as a result of terror attacks and turmoil following the 2011 revolution.

"If only we can use the pope visit to inspire tourists to make the same trip," said Mina, who like most Christians in Egypt believes the time Jesus and his family spent here makes the country a pilgrimage destination. "He leads 1.2 billion people and if just 10% came to make a pilgrimage, here our economy would be saved."

The Mass comes on the last day of Francis' visit to the African nation. On Friday, he became the first pope to visit Al-Azhar University, a center of Sunni Islamic scholarship that dates back to the 10th century. He also met with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and visited a Coptic church bombed by the Islamic State in December.

Pharmacy clerk Mohammed Ahmed, 40, welcomed the pontiff’s visit as an acknowledgment that most Egyptians don’t sympathize with the Islamic State and other jihadists.

"The pope's visit is a blessing for all Egyptians,” Ahmed said. “He will improve and increase the view of Egypt abroad and is a sending message that Egypt is safe."

"We feel bad that these church bombings are happening,” he added. “But this is the result of people like the Muslim Brotherhood in Turkey and (Palestinian) Hamas that have brought so many weapons to extremists through the Sinai desert."

Francis appeared to endorse this view Friday at the Al-Azhar University, when he condemned the "flow of money and weapons destined to those who provoke violence."

The most populous Arab country, Egypt is majority Muslim. Around 10% of its 92 million citizens are Copts, making it the largest Christian community in the Middle East.

Francis met with the spiritual head of the Copts, Pope Tawadros on Friday, pledging that one church would not re-baptize those who converted from one faith to the other. The measure has intense symbolic significance because it means the Vatican and Coptic Churches now respect how each performs the sacrament.

Peter Basilious, a 28-year-old Coptic pharmacist, said Francis’ visit would draw Rome and the Coptic Christian Church closer.

"This is about high-level politics – promoting peace between Muslim and Christians but also looking for a real connection to the Egyptian Orthodox leaders,” Basilious said. “Francis is showing he loves our church and wants a unified approach to our faith."

Pope Francis waves as he arrives to celebrate Mass in Cairo on April 29, 2017. Pope Francis led a jubilant mass for thousands of Egyptian Catholics during a visit to support the country's embattled Christian minority and promote dialogue with Muslims. Amr Nabil, AP

Indeed, in his visit to Egypt, Pope Francis gave an inspirational and timely message to the world - God is not pleased with religious fanaticism.  Yes, I believe Pope Francis is speaking for God.  

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Friday, April 28, 2017

San AntonioTexas letter to the editor- "GOP chaos"

Republicans don't live the Christian values supported by their right wing Evangelical supporters- Melania and Donald don't live together so American taxpayers pay for two households.

GOP in tatters: Letter to the editor published in the San Antonio Express News in Texas:

Republicans can abandon the idea that they are (IMO- Christian) conservatives.

Donald Trump, who routinely criticized Barack Obama for his random Hawaii vacations, is flying to Florida every weekend to play golf, all at taxpayer expense. 

Security is costing Americans an arm and a leg, considering Trump and Melania decided to live in separate households. Considering the size of the Trump dynasty, his children, his wife and himself all traveling in different directions has greatly increased the cost of security.

It wouldn’t be so bad if he were a great president!

But, all Donald Trump has done is cause chaos with his loose-cannon executive orders to ban Muslims, ignoring the Constitution, which prohibits discrimination based on religion, and his attempt to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the GOP plan providing next to nothing. A list of hospitals and mortuaries would have been more helpful and wouldn’t have taken three weeks to write up.

Republicans, so afraid of leaving their children and grandchildren a big deficit, are not saying anything now. Not only will the debt/deficit be bigger under Trump, there also won’t be an environment left for future generations when he gets done undoing all the regulations that have been protecting it for years.

Alice Chapel, Spring Branch

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How Affordable Care Act helps low income with co-pays deductibles

A letter to the Editor in the Cincinnati Enquirer from Ariel Miller is a Kennedy Heights, Cincinnati, resident.

"As you can see from the above example, the law helps solve – not cause – that problem. If the president and House undercut the law by defunding the cost-sharing subsidies, millions of working Americans will no longer be able to afford to use the health care they need."
A constituent holds up signs calling for repair of
A constituent holds up signs calling for repair of the Affordable Care Act as U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., speaks.

House Republicans are suing to stop the federal government from paying subsidies that substantially cut the deductibles and out-of-pocket costs of 7 million low-wage Americans with Obamacare silver plans. 

Donald Trump, who promised to cover all Americans when he campaigned for president, threatens to join them in attacking these life-saving subsidies.

As a volunteer Certified Application Counselor in Cincinnati, I meet many working people who are able to get the care they need because of the cost-sharing these Republicans want to end. Here’s a real example of how much difference this makes.

Recently, I tried to help a home health aide who declined the insurance provided by her job because her share of the premiums – $1,040 – was too high for her to afford on her income of $17,599. The employer-provided plan had a deductible of $5,000. The out-of-pocket maximum was $6,500. Even after paying $1,040 in premiums, she wouldn’t have been able to afford to use this plan because of the huge deductible.

Here’s how a 63-year-old woman making $17,599 would benefit from the premium assistance and cost-sharing available through the least expensive Obamacare silver plan available here in Cincinnati:

Her annual premium: $582 (only $48.50 a month), compared to $1,040
Deductible: $500 (instead of $5,000)
Out-of-pocket maximum: $900 (instead of $6,500)

Senator Rob Portman constantly blames the Affordable Care Act for high deductibles and co-pays.

Unfortunately, the home health aide I met that day is not eligible for either premium assistance or cost-sharing held under the ACA because her employer offers insurance. The law was written thriftily to aid low-income people whose jobs don’t offer insurance.

Congress could improve the ACA and benefit millions.

Congress could help working Americans by allowing people whose wages are below 250 percent of the poverty level to shop on the marketplace to get premium assistance and cost-sharing even if their employer offers coverage. What’s the point of a plan you pay into but can’t afford to use?

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Thursday, April 27, 2017

Hip hip hurrah for The Resistance!

The resistance to the travesty of Donald Trump's presidency is holding up just fine, thank you.

In February, constituents swarmed Rep. Jason Chaffetz’s town hall...
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Resilience of the Resistance

April 2017- At the 100th day of the Trump administration, a tremendous amount of attention and coverage is devoted to analyzing its impact and efficacy. But let's also like to take time to celebrate the impact and efficacy of the resistance.

Report in The New York Times: 

I must say that the issue of resilience was one that I worried about from the beginning: For far too many Americans in this digital age, stamina is rare, attention spans are short and the urge for instant gratification is enormous.

But, to my great delight, my worry was unfounded. Not only is the movement still strong, it appears to be getting stronger. People have found a salve for their sadness: exuberant agitation.

As John Cassidy put it this month in a progress report on the resistance in The New Yorker: "Indeed, what is striking is how many people Trump has mobilized who previously didn't pay very much attention to what happens in Washington. He has politicized many formerly apolitical people; ultimately, this may be among his biggest achievements as president."

These comments came specifically in reference to the throngs of resisters showing up at lawmakers' town hall events, sometimes in record numbers. They are passionate, vocal and confrontational. They are not bowing down; they are holding their representatives accountable and giving a very visual reinforcement to the threat that defending Trump or supporting his agenda will be punished at the ballot box.

Not only are people showing up to town halls, they are clogging their lawmakers' phone lines, which is surprisingly important.

As Kathryn Schulz pointed out last month in The New Yorker: "There are a great many ways to petition the government, including with actual petitions, but, short of showing up in person, the one reputed to be the most effective is picking up the phone and calling your congressional representatives."

Furthermore, young people are particularly unhappy with Trump and turning against him. 

A Gallup poll released last week found that the percentage of respondents ages 18-34 who believed Trump keeps his promises fell a whopping 22 points in the two months from early February to early April, from 56 percent to just 34 percent.

But, these young people aren't just stewing and complaining. They're taking action.

As Time magazine reported this month: "For more than 15,000 students across the country, Wednesday marked the first day of Resistance School — a program where the educational focus is mobilizing against President Donald Trump's administration."

As the magazine explained, the "school" was organized by "a group of Harvard graduate students" and offers "lessons on mobilizing activists and sustaining long-term resistance."

Finally, and perhaps most importantly: money. Wired magazine reported this month that the resistance is "weaponizing data" with the emergence of a new nonprofit, crowdsourcing fundraising tool called Flippable. It was founded by "three former Hillary Clinton campaign staffers" and pinpoints "which districts it believes are the most competitive for Democrats (the most 'flippable')" and allows donors to target those districts.

Taken together, all signs are looking up for the movement. The Trump administration, from pillar to post, is an unmitigated disaster, lumbering forward and crushing American ideas and conventions as it does. Damage is being done, there is no doubt, but Americans are not taking it lying down. They are standing in opposition. They are feeling their power. They are energized, and I'm very much encouraged.

The New York Times

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Alert to the two "zeros" in 100 days- from The Tennessean

Enjoyed reading these "letters to the editor" published in April editions of The Tennessean, newspaper. Gotta' love the editorial freedoms enjoyed by the writers of these two letters, below. Thank you.

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Trump earns low marks

What has Trump done?

Both travel executive orders have been struck down as unconstitutional, the Senate had to change the rules in order to get a judge on the Supreme Court, Trumpcare was/is a fiasco. Michael Flynn was fired for lying, and it is becoming more and more likely that several Trump associates will be indicted for colluding with Russians during the election.

Will Trump be involved? Who knows, but the FBI has three separate investigations going on.

What happened to "Obama had my wires tapped"? No evidence of anything of the sort. It was made up. No legislation has been passed through Congress. Don Geddes, Nashville

The Tennessean:

Fox News hypocritical

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Fox News- complicit in supporting "Fake News"

LTE- Cane Ridge TN: Most of us remember the George Bush era when the FOX network became the "moral alternative" for many who had found other news channels too liberal or too biased.

FOX thus became a favorite for Christian viewers and others who preferred a more "conservative" approach to politics and reporting.

How interesting! Now, within a matter of months, the FOX halo has become more than tarnished.

It has completely disappeared under the muck and mire of sexual harassment.  (It's horrible to realize how FOXNews has never chastised Donald Trump for his low life serial sexual comments!)

What other network or channel (among the "liberal" choices) has had both a CEO and a top on-air personality forced to leave in the wake of repeated allegations of sexual misconduct in the workplace? This behavior has elevated FOX to the heights of embarrassment.

But even more damaging is the flagrant hypocrisy it represents.

Rosann Smothers, Cane Ridge, TN

Numerology is a pseudo-science of which I have no understanding, except to know, without a doubt, that the actual number "one hundred", as in "100 days", of Trump's failed leadership, contains two digits with the absolute value of "zero".  In other words, the number 100 has "two zeros" and Donald Trump equals the sum total.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Failed Syrian missile attack "The Tomahawks that Could...." but didn't

$100 million in Tomahawk missiles, but nothing changed....except it's now on to the next diversion.

I'm still baffled about how the news media is so easily distracted by the Trump diversionary "Big Lie" tactics. One of the most egregious lies in Donald Trump's chaotic "anti-everything" foreign policy was the stupid attack on the Syrian airbase. It was the attack that didn't do anything except to wast about 49 or so expensive Tomahawk missels. It was the Tomahawk attack that could, but didn't wipe out an entire Syrian air base (Shayrat air base near Homs). Rather than be brutally honest about criticizing this stupid attack, the news media has moved on to other diversions, like reporting on the potential of a nuclear war with North Korea. In fact, the US can wipe out North Korea with less than half the Tomahawk missals used to attack the Syria, air base.  We know exactly where North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un keeps his arsenal of deadly weapons. Moreover, the US also knows how to eviscerate the threat.  
President Donald Trump speaks at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, April 6, 2017, after the U.S. fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Thursday night in retaliation for this week's gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians.

Trump speaks at his luxury Section 8 housing at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, April 6, 2017, after the U.S. fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria Thursday night in retaliation for this week's gruesome chemical weapons attack against civilians.

Nevertheless, Donald Trump wasted money and political capital on a failed Syria attack, an act of aggression that put the US in a dicey position, with no place to go afterward.  Clearly, the US will never invade Syria, so what was the point of firing 49 Tomahawk missiles, if they didn't even destroy one Syrian air base?  And the answer is? There was no point.

Here's an interesting opinion article, published in the Billings Montana "Billings Gazette":

Magicians hands demonstrating magic trick

Syria- A magician's hand trick (performed by a man with very small hands?)

A sneak attack on another nation's military base? Sound familiar?When the Japanese did it, they were trying to gain time and fully expected the U.S. to declare war and eventually retaliate. Trump wasn't dumb enough to attack a country that could fight back. His prime objective to distract the public from his many failings — as were his fallacious claims of Obama wiretapping and those regarding Susan Rice, the former U.S. National Security Advisor.

That bombing cost to the U.S. was in the range of $100 million, was largely ineffective and did absolutely nothing for victims of the alleged gas attack. Is this why he wants to increase the military's budget? So he can mount more of these distractions? Or is this just the stage magician’s trick — he gets you to watch one hand, while his other is scamming you
?- Billings Montana

And another writer adds (in a letter published on April 13, 2017)..."Trump's Tomahawk missile attack can be viewed in two ways: There was minimal damage to the Syrian airfield and initial photos show minimal damage to Syrian airplanes, and minimal casualties. This leads to the conclusion that it was done with full knowledge and coordination with Russian President Putin and possibly Assad himself. This could have been done to take attention away from the question of Trump associates' involvement with Russia. The other view is that it must have been staged with Russian cooperation to send a warning to North Korea." 

Both of these opinions are interesting and seem to be written with an "insiders" perspectives. Nevertheless, both were unsigned letters.  Hmmm, "curiousier and curiouser" from "The Treasure State".  Leaves on wondering, just who knows what? 

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Pussy Hats are now classy collectibles

What questions does a pussyhat bespeak? “It’s about collective action, it’s about solidarity...”

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London gains a "Pussyhat"!

(What is a "Pussyhat"? It's a reclaim the word "pussy" as a term of empowerment, especially meaningful, considering the man who was inaugurated as president of the United States the day before the Woman's March in January, was once recorded saying that when you're a celebrity, you can do "anything" you want to women — like "grab her by the pussy.")

Those of us who are fortunate to visit the Victoria and Albert museum are left with an appreciation for the concept of "eclecticism"(deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources). 

In other words, in a stately "Londonish" sort of way, some of the collections at the Victoria and Albert Museum are, to be polite, "quaint".

 The London museum’s Rapid Response team acquires contemporary objects of topical importance. So, of course, they wanted a "pussyhat", a relic of the highly successful international 2017, womans march. But,  which one? In The New Yorker by Anna Russell.

In March 2017, the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London, unveiled the newest addition to its Rapid Response Collecting gallery: a pink pussyhat that was worn at the Women’s March in Washington, the day after Donald Trump’s Inauguration. The hat sits on a faceless mannequin head, ears slightly splayed, behind nonreflective glass. Next to it is a mounted card bearing the simple outline of a pussyhat in black pen, like a woke hieroglyph. (Aww, come on, Russell- in other words, the black pen graphic was "creepy"?)

The pussyhat’s elevation was the result of what Corinna Gardner, the Acting Keeper of the museum’s Design, Architecture, and Digital department, called a “robust conversation” among the members of the Rapid Response team in the days surrounding the march. The department, which was founded three years ago, is dedicated to acquiring contemporary objects of topical importance; recent additions include a blue burkini and an interactive Hello Barbie. Before an object makes it into the collection, it is subjected to intense scrutiny. Gardner gestured to a display of stilettos in five shades of “nude” behind glass. “I have to be able to say that these Louboutin shoes are as important as a seventeenth-century inlaid table,” she said.

The pussyhat cleared the historical-relevance hurdle easily, but the logistics of choosing and tracking down the right specimen were complex. “With something like the pussyhat, there are hundreds of thousands of them,” Gardner said, standing before the hat’s display case. She was wearing a navy dress and Nikes. “How do you know which one?”

The curators contacted Jayna Zweiman, an architectural designer in Los Angeles, who, along with a fellow-knitter, a screenwriter named Krista Suh, co-founded the Pussyhat Project. (The two friends had conceived of a pink, cat-eared hat for protesters to wear in solidarity, and when they posted the design online it went viral.) Over Skype, Zweiman discussed options with the curators. The museum wanted a hat that encapsulated the project from start to finish—and preferably one that had gone to Washington. Before the Inauguration, volunteer knitters had sent thousands of pussyhats to a Virginia collection center, which distributed them to marchers. In the rush to get them out, volunteers weren’t able to track every hat.

Zweiman told the curators that she could trace one of the hats that she’d knitted, because she’d sent it herself, with a note, to a friend of her college roommate, a real-estate developer and mother of three named Song Oh. Zweiman offered to ask Oh to send the hat to the museum, although she had misgivings. “There are some mistakes,” she said of her handiwork. “I’m definitely not a very good knitter.”

The curators didn’t mind. “We all consolidated around the object quite quickly,” Gardner said. “We see each object as a node, a material thing around which we can focus the bigger questions that bespeak how you and I live together, today and in the future.”

What questions does a pussyhat bespeak? “It’s about collective action, it’s about solidarity,” Gardner said. “And I think that knitting, craft, ‘craftivism’ is quite topical as well.” The pattern’s distribution over social media was also important. “To my mind, it’s something of a digital project,” Gardner said.

Another question, voiced by some perplexed onlookers at the march, was whether the hat was supposed to resemble a uterus. The hat takes its name from an “Access Hollywood” tape, released during the campaign, in which Trump boasts about his ability to “grab [women] by the pussy.”

“You can’t extract the object from that context,” Gardner said. “I mean, ‘pussy,’ ‘uterus’—they’re already words that some people might find quite challenging to vocalize in a public context.”

The museum has received some complaints. “There are lots of people who find it absolutely atrocious that this type of object is finding a home in the V. & A.,” Gardner said. But she likes the way it relates to other items in the museum’s holdings, such as a 1910 cup and saucer, stamped with the logo of the Women’s Social and Political Union, and a striped silk scarf, bearing the words “Votes for Women.” Perhaps other hats, too. Gardner said, “I’m not as familiar as I might be with the millinery collection.”

Kat Coyle, the owner of an L.A. yarn store called the Little Knittery, and the creator of the hat’s pattern, has tried to clear up the uterus confusion. “It wasn’t ever supposed to be anatomically related to the pussy,” she said. “It was more of a verbal pun.”

Gardner takes an academic view of the question. “I embrace it, because it’s part of the narrative of the object,” she said. “It’s not for me to say this is good, or bad, or, actually, it doesn’t look anything like a uterus—you should get real.” ♦

(Maine Writer opinion?  Donald Trump has certainly and unequivocally made knitting great again! Pink yarn preferred.)

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The Applachian - North Carolina and Medicaid expansion

Data from North Carolina - our legislature is not listening to us!

A letter to the editor published in The Applachian newspaper.


There is a provision in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) regarding Medicaid that can expand coverage to millions more and improves the already in-place system, also known as Obamacare. 

To some, this seems like a really great plan to help the less fortunate gain access to affordable healthcare.

There have been several studies and polls done on healthcare in North Carolina.

According to the North Carolina Justice Organization, 72 percent of North Carolinians agree that there should be a plan made to close the (health insurance) coverage gap. This would mean branching out to 500,000 more low-income people in the state. Of these 500,000, 60 percent of them have no other health insurance options. With 72 percent agreeing that we need a plan in place, it further proves that our state government – particularly the general assembly – isn’t listening to us.

A study done by the Cone Health Foundation and Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust discovered that if North Carolina were to expand coverage 43,000 jobs would be established within four years, and business activity would increase by $21 billion. It found that we’d be able to provide medication for over 27,000 diabetes patients, over 10,000 women would receive screenings for breast cancer, and it could prevent around 1,100 unnecessary deaths each year.

Based on these statistics alone, I firmly agree with the North Carolina Justice Organization’s statement that, “The health and fiscal benefits outweigh the ideological challenges.

Furthermore, Brookings Institution did a study on our healthcare system and provided some very interesting statistics. It’s astonishing that almost a fifth of our adult population (19.2 percent) report fair or poor health status.

It can be easy to toss this information aside, especially while enjoying good health, but how easy would it be to forget if it were you or your loved one? Also, we have the sixth highest rate of uninsured in the entire country, while spending less than the United States average on health care.

So what does all of this mean? It means it’s time for North Carolina to hold itself to better standards and begin closing the coverage gap by allowing Cooper to expand Medicaid.

Healthier people in a society directly reflects its prosperity. There would be more people able to work, which, as noted earlier, would improve the economy and bring North Carolina out of being one of the poorest states in the nation.

Cassidy Chambers is sophomore political science major from Hendersonville, North Carolina.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

More jewels - letters to the editor about health care showing up like diamond dust

It's become a hobby of mine to search out letters to the editors in newspapers published in states like Tenneseee, Kentucky and West Virginia. In fact, I'm driven to do this because it's impossible for me to believe the good and thoughtful people who live in these states are a monolith of right wing nuts. Surely, there is hope for the human condition when brave citizens are able to write thoughtful "letters to the editor", in their favorite newspapers, as reminders about how "hope springs eternal" for those of us who pray for Americans to find their way back to a progressive agenda. Perhaps the health care insurance coverage is one path to finding our beacon of reason?
Here is just such a thoughtful letter published in the West Virginia Charleston Gazette-Journal (a Pulitzer Prize winning newspaper):

Letter: Health care is not an ‘issue,’ it’s a need all people have

Olga Gioulis, SuttonWV

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Some in our community do not fully know what the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, has done for the citizens of West Virginia.

The ACA has helped 175,000 West Virginians obtain health care and brought in millions in federal funding that pay for these benefits. Benefits include disregarding pre-existing conditions such as cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, etc insuring children until age 26, reasonable deductibles and subsidies to help low income workers pay for their premiums.

Expanded Medicaid and subsidies for private insurance give low-income working people the opportunity to have health care. Even though employed, many could not afford the premiums each month. The expansion helped those addicted to opioids who had no way to pay for treatment and went without. The most significant source of coverage for the substance abuse epidemic we have been experiencing is through Medicaid expansion.

Hospitals can now get paid for the services that they had to “eat” before. More health care workers were hired who would be at risk for job loss without the ACA. Women received better family planning options, cancer screening and prenatal care.

Health care is not a Republican or Democratic issue, not a liberal or conservative position. It is a need that all people have. In 1935, President Franklin Roosevelt signed Social Security benefits into law so that millions of retired Americans could have a basic income. In 1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson did the same for Medicare so millions of retirees were guaranteed health care.

Not until 2010, when President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act, did the rest of U.S. citizens finally have health care. Most advanced nations have had universal health care for many years, even those from poorer countries.

Most people will agree that the ACA can be improved on in order to bring down premium prices, improve the high cost of drugs and fix other issues. But this can be done without losing the coverage so recently granted. I hope this information helps all of us think about this important issue. 

Let your representatives hear from you now.

Olga Gioulis,  Sutton

(MaineWriter- Thank You Olga! Your letter is among my LTE "jewels".)

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Circular facts and the Trump logic

"I will build a great wall -- and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me --and I'll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words."- Quote by Donald J. Trump.

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Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions are filling their circular files to overflowing with lies and finger pointing.  "Russia if you're listening?"  Guess what, Russia?  "Mexico will not pay for the border wall".  

Building a wall, along with, "Russia if you're listening", are the two quotes Donald Trump repeated so many times that it was like hearing a broken old 45rpm record.  Can't you just hear the background quartet echoes "Yes, we'll build that wall.  Russia will hear us...listening, listening" hmmmmm.   

But, now Attorney General Jeff Sessions is singing different tunes. Not only is the Attorney General obstructing justice by stalling investigations about how the Russians interfered in the 2016 election of Donald Trump (where is FBI Director James Comey these days?)- but he's now pretending that Americans have agreed to pay for a Mexico-USA border wall! Donald Trump promised to build a wall to protect immigrants from illegally entering the USA through our southern boundaries- just like they have done for hundreds of years. A border wall is costly and ugly. Besides, the wall will cause eons of good border relations to become problematic. 

The turn around on the "Mexico will pay for it" wall is yet another blatant example of how the Trump cult creates "circular facts". It's as though Donald Trump never said the words he repeatedly quoted. Instead, Sessions is representing the circular facts as being, "Well, of course Americans are going to pay for the border wall." This circular logic makes me dizzy.

So, who will the blinded followers of Donald Trump believe?  

It's classic case of the comedy routine, "Who's on First?".

Will Donald Trump deliver on his pledge to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it?" Orrrr, will Attorney General Jeff Sessions convince Americans that we are responsible for the cost of the stupid wall? This circular logic causes me vertigo. In fact, nobody wants the stupid wall. Frankly, it costs too much money, not to mention the imminent domain involved, and the outcome of such an expensive monstrosity is that it will forever ruin our international friendly relationship with Mexico.  

It's time to build a wall around Donald Trump and his lapdog attorney general, Jeff Sessions. They belong in the same cage.

Unfortunately, the Congress is back in session post the 2017, Easter break, so let the ugly finger pointing begin. Nevertheless, regardless of how the border wall is presented, one fact is 100 percent certain. Mexico will not pay for the wall.

Obviously, Donald Trump lied. In the circular files of Trump lies, his waste basket is now overflowing with rubbish and Attorney General Jeff Sessions is adding to the trash. 

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