Category: White Christians

Trump continues quest to dismantle ACA and deny healthcare to as many Americans as possible 

President Trump signed an executive order on Thursday intended to allow small businesses and potentially individuals to buy a long-disputed type of health insurance that skirts state regulations and Affordable Care Act protections.
The White House and allies portray the president’s move to expand access to “association health plans” as wielding administrative powers to accomplish what congressional Republicans have failed to achieve: tearing down the law’s insurance marketplaces and letting some Americans buy skimpier coverage at lower prices. The order represents Trump’s biggest step to carry out a broad but ill-defined directive he issued his first night in office for agencies to lessen ACA regulations from the Obama administration.

Critics, who include state insurance commissioners, most of the health-insurance industry and mainstream policy specialists, predict that a proliferation of such health plans will have damaging ripple effects: driving up costs for consumers with serious medical conditions and prompting more insurers to flee the law’s marketplaces. Part of Trump’s action, they say, will spark court challenges over its legality.

Trump said that Thursday’s move, which will initiate months of regulatory work by federal agencies, “is only the beginning.” He promised “even more relief and more freedom” from ACA rules. And while leading GOP lawmakers are eager to move on from their unsuccessful attempts this year to abolish central facets of the law, he said: “We are going to pressure Congress very strongly to finish the repeal and replace of Obamacare.”

Under the president’s order, association health plans will be able to avoid many ACA rules, including the law’s benefits requirements, limits on consumers’ yearly and lifetime costs, and ban on charging more to customers who have been sick. Critics warn that young and healthy people who use relatively little insurance will gravitate to those plans because of their lower price tags, leaving older and sicker customers concentrated in ACA marketplaces with spiking rates.

Americans can’t wait to snitch on neighbors, ICE can’t stop doxxing snitches 

The Immigration and Customs and Enforcement website inadvertently dumped personal information for hundreds of callers and their neighbors as part of a Trump administration hotline to snitch on immigrants.
Hundreds of call logs are available for download on the ICE website, and much of the personal information — but not all of it — is redacted for privacy and security reasons, reported Splinter News.

The spreadsheets detail calls into the Trump administration’s Victims of Immigration Crime Engagement (VOICE) hotline, which was set up to “provide proactive, timely, adequate, and professional services to victims of crimes committed by removable aliens.”

The call logs reveal hundreds of callers turning in relatives, neighbors and acquaintances for minor infractions.

“Caller requested to report her mother-in law and sister-in law,” reads one report. “Caller stated these individuals came to the U.S. as tourists and stayed in the U.S. in order to get legal status.”

One caller even provided the date and location of an upcoming divorce hearing where an alleged undocumented immigrant was scheduled to appear, and others seemed to be reporting neighbors for simply existing.

“Caller claims his next door neighbors are undocumented and are from South America,” one report reads. “Caller claims two boys’ ages 14 and 15 reside there along with an adult male.”

Many of the calls came from individuals reporting their accusers in domestic violence cases, as well as reporting alleged undocumented immigrants of violent crime.

Splinter News examined two spreadsheets available for download on the ICE website, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, and found much of the private data had been redacted.

But the news website conducted Google searches for some of the data and found a second spreadsheet, covering April until mid-August, hosted on the ICE website that contained two columns of unredacted personal information — including names, cell phone numbers, alleged crimes, addresses, and Social Security numbers.

That sensitive data revealed personal information for both callers and alleged undocumented immigrants they had reported.

In some cases, the details would have revealed to targets who had informed on them.

“I don’t think they got their sh*t together over there to be honest, pardon my English,” said Jerrold Kestenberg, of Nahant, Massachusetts.

He spoke to Splinter News after calling the hotline to report a neighbor, but was surprised to learn his own phone number, along with his girlfriend’s name and the neighbor’s address, could be found online.

“I’m not too happy about it — sh*t, I mean, I don’t think she wanted that,” he told the website. “I didn’t want them to put it out there, just look into it.”

Kestenberg said he never even received a follow-up call about the report.

Splinter News said the unredacted information remained online three days after notifying ICE about the spreadsheet, and nearly a day after sending a link to the data.

Together, the logs are a grim running diary of a country where people eagerly report their fellow residents to the authorities, or seek to bring the power of the immigration police to bear on family disputes. On May 25, 2017, one man called to say that his stepson was violating a restraining order by parking his car near his house. He didn’t want his wife to know that he was trying to get her son deported.

Javier H. Valdés, the co-executive director of the immigration-rights group Make the Road New York, wrote in an email to Splinter that the logs demonstrate VOICE was little more than an attempt to sow fear and suspicion of immigrants. “Months after the creation of the VOICE program, it’s clear that it’s exactly what we feared it would be,” he wrote. “A sinister public relations ploy to paint immigrants as criminals and foster fear in our communities, all with the despicable goal of tearing apart our families. The program should be immediately ended.”

3 year old girl missing after punishment, parents refuse to cooperate with police

An Amber Alert continued Monday for missing 3-year-old Sherin Matthews from Richardson, Texas. Sherin Mathews was last seen around 3 a.m. Saturday. Her father has been arrested and charged with child endangerment.

Members of the family’s church, Emmanuel Bible Chapel in Irving, have been in and out of the home, comforting the girl’s mother and looking behind the home where Sherin was last seen. “We are trying our best. We hope that baby Sherin is alive somewhere safe,” said Emmanuel Bible Chapel elder, Jose Cherian.

Wesley Mathews, 37, said he ordered Sherin Mathews to stand next to a tree behind the fence at their Richardson home at around 3 a.m. Saturday, according to an arrest affidavit. The tree is across an alley from the home was arrested Saturday for abandoning or endangering a child. The arrest affidavit states: “He directed his daughter to stand near a large tree at 3 a.m. because she wouldn’t drink her milk.”

Mathews claims he then went outside about 15 minutes later to check on her, but Sherin was gone, the affidavit states. The child, who has a developmental disability, was wearing leggings, a pink long-sleeved shirt and pink flip-flops.

The father didn’t notify police that his daughter was missing until about five hours later, said Sgt. Kevin Perlich. He said the delay in reporting the matter “is certainly concerning to us. That does not seem like a normal response that one would do if you have a missing child,” Perlich said.

Police say Wesley and his wife waited until 8 a.m. to report her missing. The affidavit also states Wesley told police: “He knew coyotes had been seen in the alley where he left his daughter.”

A neighbor, who wanted to remain anonymous says the Mathews had trouble conceiving their first child, a 4-year-old girl. He says the couple adopted Sherin, who has developmental issues and limited communication skills. “They felt since God gave them that baby as a miracle baby, that they could help another little one without a family,” he said. This neighbor described the Mathews as devout Christians, who wanted and prayed for Sherin, but he can’t comprehend why Wesley would put her outside, alone as punishment.

UPDATE: The parents of Sherin Mathews are no longer cooperating with the investigation, police have said. According to CBS DFW, the Richardson Police Department said Wesley Mathews and his wife have hired a lawyer, and refused to answer further questions.

Trump, GOP agree women shouldn’t be able to access birth control 

The Trump administration is rolling back the Obama-era requirement that employer-provided health insurance policies cover birth control methods at no cost to women.
According to senior officials with the Department of Health and Human Services, the goal of the new rule is to allow any company or nonprofit group to exclude the coverage for contraception if it has a religious or moral objection.

“This provides an exemption, and it’s a limited one,” said Roger Severino, director of the HHS Office of Civil Rights. “We should have space for organizations to live out their religious identity and not face discrimination.”

He said he expects that most companies will continue to provide coverage for birth control and that the changes will only affect a tiny percentage of U.S. women. The new rules are being published Friday in the Federal Register and go into effect immediately.

But some health policy analysts say the new rule creates a huge opening that lets any employer claim an exemption, leaving their female workers to pay the full cost of any birth control out of pocket.

“It is a huge loophole for any employer that does not want to provide birth control coverage to their employees,” says Dania Palanker, a professor at Georgetown University’s Center on Health Insurance Reform.
HHS officials said they don’t expect many companies to seek waivers. They said the group seeking waivers will likely be limited to those about 200 companies and nonprofits that have already sued.

But Palanker says the impact could be a lot bigger. There are a lot of large private companies, she says, whose owners may hold strong religious beliefs but did not want the publicity and expense of suing the federal government.

“A lot of women will retain birth control coverage,” Palanker says, “but there will be a lot of women who will lose that coverage.”

That means they’ll find themselves paying out of pocket. A one-month supply of birth control pills can cost anywhere from $4 to $55 or more, according to GoodRX.com.

Longer-acting contraception, like an intrauterine device, can cost more than $1,000, says Sarah Lipton-Lubet, a vice president at the National Partnership for Women and Families. She says the new rule is a tool for discrimination against women.

“Women shouldn’t be denied access to basic health care based on their employers’ religious beliefs,” she says. “We all have the right to our religious beliefs. But the way that this rule treats religion is really an excuse to discriminate.”

HHS officials say they also plan more stringent enforcement of a provision in the Affordable Care Act that prohibits federal subsidies from being used for insurance policies that cover abortion. The agency will issue guidelines for insurers Friday on how they have to charge women who want abortion coverage at least $12 a year more for such a policy, and they have to keep that money in a separate fund to be used only to pay for abortions.

The Trump administration’s rule is likely to face its own legal challenges from groups that favor contraception. 

Justice department rolls back gender protections for Americans 

The Department of Justice rolled back a policy Wednesday that protected transgender workers as part of the Civil Rights Act.
Title VII of the landmark 1964 federal law states that employers cannot discriminate against someone “because of such individual’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” In December 2014, under former President Barack Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder issued a memo saying that Title VII protections include protections for transgender individuals.
But in a memo sent Wednesday to U.S. attorneys and other top department officials across the country, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said otherwise.

“Although federal law, including Title VII, provides various protections to transgender individuals, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on gender identity per se,” the memo reads. “As a law enforcement agency, the Department of Justice must interpret Title VII as written by Congress…. Therefore, as of the date of this memorandum, which hereby withdraws the December 15, 2014, memorandum, the Department of Justice will take that position in all pending and future matters.”
In a statement Thursday, a Justice Department spokesperson said, “The Department of Justice cannot expand the law beyond what Congress has provided.”

“Unfortunately, the last administration abandoned that fundamental principle, which necessitated [the] action,” the statement continued. “This Department remains committed to protecting the civil and constitutional rights of all individuals, and will continue to enforce the numerous laws that Congress has enacted that prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”

The memo comes just over two months after President Donald Trump first announced a ban on transgender individuals from serving in the military and days after the United States voted against a U.N. resolution that would ban the death penalty form being used as punishment for being Lgtbq. 

Lawmaker who supported anti choice laws while asking his pregnant mistress to abort has now resigned 

Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Tim Murphy has resigned from Congress amid revelations of an extramarital affair where he reportedly asked his mistress to get an abortion.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he received Murphy’s resignation letter Thursday afternoon.

“It was Dr. Murphy’s decision to move on to the next chapter of his life, and I support it,” Ryan said. “We thank him for his many years of tireless work on mental health issues here in Congress and his service to the country as a naval reserve officer.”

A local newspaper published text messages this week indicating that the congressman, who opposes abortion, asked his mistress to get an abortion when he thought she was pregnant. It turned out she wasn’t.

Murphy voted in favor of a bill earlier this week to ban abortions after 20 weeks.

On Wednesday, Murphy announced plans to retire at the end of this term, saying he will “take personal time to seek help as my family and I continue to work through our personal difficulties.”

Murphy had recently acknowledged his affair with Shannon Edwards, which became public as a result of her divorce proceedings.

The resignation leaves the GOP-controlled House with two vacancies, but Republicans expressed confidence they would hold onto Murphy’s seat, which is in a safe Republican district.

“As I said last night, the circumstances surrounding this situation are extremely disappointing to me,” said National Republican Congressional Campaign Chairman Steve Stivers.

Stivers added: “However, the NRCC is undefeated in special elections this year and I’m supremely confident that will continue.”

Pro life politician asks his mistress to get an abortion 

Text messages suggest Rep. Tim Murphy, a Pennsylvania Republican, urged a woman with whom he was having an affair to have an abortion, according to a report by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The newspaper obtained documents featuring apparent text messages between the woman, Shannon Edwards, a forensic psychologist, and Murphy from January. Edwards took him to task for an anti-abortion statement posted on Facebook from his office’s public account.

“And you have zero issue posting your pro-life stance all over the place when you had no issue asking me to abort our unborn child just last week when we thought that was one of the options,” Texted Edwards. 

Murphy admitted last month to having a relationship with Edwards.

A text from Mr. Murphy’s cell phone number that same day in response says, “I get what you say about my March for life messages. I’ve never written them. Staff does them. I read them and winced. I told staff don’t write any more. I will.”

The report also referenced a six-page memo titled, “Office Conduct and Behavior: Harassment/Legal Compliance” from June that the congressman’s chief of staff, Susan Mosychuk, seems to have written. In it, Mosychuk said Murphy created a state of “terror” in their office.

This revelation came before the House was expected to pass the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act, which would impose on abortions after 20 weeks, on Tuesday evening. Murphy is one of its co-sponsors. 

U.S. votes against U.N. resolution that condemns death penalty for LGTBQI community 

The U.S. voted against a U.N. Human Rights Council resolution that condemns the death penalty for those found guilty of committing consensual same-sex sexual acts.
The resolution introduced by Belgium, Benin, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia and Switzerland passed by a 27-13 vote margin.

Botswana, Burundi, Egypt, Ethiopia, Bangladesh, China, India, Iraq, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates joined the U.S. in opposing the measure. 


The resolution specifically condemns “the imposition of the death penalty as a sanction for specific forms of conduct, such as apostasy, blasphemy, adultery and consensual same-sex relations” and expresses “serious concern that the application of the death penalty for adultery is disproportionately imposed on women.” It also notes “poor and economically vulnerable persons and foreign nationals are disproportionately subjected to the death penalty, that laws carrying the death penalty are used against persons exercising their rights to freedom of expression, thought, conscience, religion, and peaceful assembly and association, and that persons belonging to religious or ethnic minorities are disproportionately represented among those sentenced to the death penalty.”
“It is unconscionable to think that there are hundreds of millions of people living in States where somebody may be executed simply because of whom they love” Renato Sabbadini, executive director of The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), said in a statement. “This is a monumental moment where the international community has publicly highlighted that these horrific laws simply must end.”

ILGA, a federation of more than 1,200 member organizations from 132 countries committed to equal human rights for LGBTQI people that enjoys consultative status at the United Nations, called the resolution a “historic first.” The group produced a recent report and map that detail sexual orientation laws around the world.

The resolution asked countries that have not yet abolished the death penalty to ensure that it is not “applied arbitrarily or in a discriminatory manner.”

Currently, there are six countries (eight if parts of Syria and Iraq occupied by Isis are included) where the death penalty is implemented for same-sex relations. (Penalty applies country-wide in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen, and in certain provinces in Nigeria and Somalia.)

An ILGA in a press release noted Egypt, Russia and Saudi Arabia sought to amend the resolution and “dilute its impact.” These amendments failed, even though the U.S. supported two of them from Russia that stated the death penalty “does not per se mean a (human rights) violation, but may lead to . . . (human rights) violations” and “in some cases the (death penalty) leads to torture, rather than that many states hold that the (death penalty) is a form of torture.”
The U.S. also backed a proposed amendment from Egypt that stated “a moratorium (on the death penalty) should be a decision after domestic debate.” The U.S. abstained from voting on a proposed amendment from Saudi Arabia that said countries have the right to “develop their own laws and penalties (in accordance with international law.)”

Undocumented parents arrested for trying to get medical help for their son

Oscar and Irma Sanchez, both of whom are undocumented immigrants living in Texas, were arrested while awaiting a serious surgery for their two-month-old son, highlighting the excruciating human cost of President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant crusade.

A heart-wrenching story published by NPR on Wednesday evening detailed how the couple came into contact with Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials back in May while seeking treatment for their son Isaac’s pyloric stenosis, a condition that causes vomiting and weight loss in infants. There was no hospital that could perform the surgery in the Rio Grande Valley area where the couple lives, so they would have to drive to a children’s hospital in Corpus Christi, TX—and past a Border Patrol checkpoint.

But as they were sitting in another hospital trying to figure out how to proceed, the choice was made for them, as a Border Patrol agent turned up in the waiting room. (Oscar Sanchez told NPR he suspects a nurse called the authorities on them.) The agent said they officers could escort the couple to the Corpus Christi hospital for their son to get his surgery, but that they would be arrested the moment they arrived and face deportation proceedings. As any parent would, the couple agreed.

What followed were two straight days of constant surveillance by Border Patrol agents, who Sanchez said never left their sides, asking Irma to keep the door open while she breast-fed and following him to the hospital cafeteria. They were arrested and separately taken to the local Border Patrol station to be booked before being allowed to return to their baby’s side. Sanchez asked the doctor to delay the operation until both he and his wife could be at the hospital.

“We didn’t know if they were going to let us stay with our son or not,” Sanchez told NPR in Spanish. “You feel vulnerable.”

Advocacy groups said the treatment the Sanchez family was subjected to is usually reserved for high-value targets like violent gang members or drug traffickers. Neither Oscar nor Irma have a criminal record.

It’s the latest terrifying incident in a series of arrests where immigration authorities are encroaching on spaces once thought safe for undocumented people. Immigration police have turned up to arrest people at hospitals, homeless shelters, and courthouses since the Trump administration rolled back Obama era protections to avoid making arrests in sensitive locations.

ICE has also dramatically escalated the number of immigrants it has arrested even though they have no criminal record, and Thomas Homan, the acting head of ICE, has warned all undocumented people that they are targets for potential deportation.

Trump administration seeks to ease drone strike regulations

The Trump administration is set to roll back various limits on drone strikes and commando raids put in place under former President Barack Obama, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Under the policy, strikes would be expanded to include “foot-soldier jihadists” who do not necessarily have leadership roles, instead of allowing strikes only if militants are considered a “continuing and imminent threat” to U.S. citizens.

The proposed strikes would also no longer have to go through high-level vetting, according to the Times. The rollbacks would apply to commando raids and drone strikes outside of conventional battlefields, and would affect missions in countries where the U.S. has not targeted active Islamic militants, as well as countries such as Yemen, Libya and Somalia, where the U.S. are taken aim at militants, according to the report.

The proposal, which has taken shape over the past few months, will intensify the fight against terror organizations such as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and al Qaeda. The proposal is likely to enrage human rights groups advocating for increased limits and bans on drone strikes to avoid civilian casualties.

However, the Trump administration will keep the requirement that there needs to be “near certainty” that no civilians will be killed during an attack.

The reported policy illustrates President Trump’s promise to go after jihadists with increased force, which he repeatedly advocated for on the campaign trail. Trump reaffirmed this mission in his speech to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday, vowing to crush “loser” terrorists. “The United States and our allies are working together throughout the Middle East to crush the loser terrorists and stop the re-emergence of safe havens they use to launch attacks on all of our people,” he said.