Health Bill Would Add 24 Million Uninsured but Save $337 Billion, Report Says:
The House Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would increase the number of people without health insurance by 24 million by 2026, while slicing $337 billion off federal budget deficits over that time, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said Monday. Republicans had been bracing for what was almost certain to be a bleak accounting of the legislation’s projected effects. The American Health Care Act, as Republicans call their bill, was already facing widespread criticism from health care providers, some conservatives and a united Democratic Party. The much-anticipated judgment by Capitol Hill’s official scorekeeper did not back up President Trump’s promise of providing health care for everyone and was likely to fuel the concerns of moderate Republicans. Next year, it said, the number of uninsured Americans would be 14 million higher than expected under current law. But it also provided talking points for House Republican leaders who need the support of rebellious conservatives to pass the measure: lower deficits, reduced federal spending and tax cuts.
EU Court: Workplace Headscarf Ban Legal:
The European Court of Justice has ruled that companies in theregion may ban employees from wearing any religious or political symbols, including the Islamic headscarf. The highest court of the European Union said the ban does not constitute “direct discrimination” if a company’s stated rule encompasses affiliations of all kinds. The determining case considered that of a Muslim woman who was fired after she insisted in wearing a headscarf in Belgium. Amnesty International called the ruling “disappointing” and contends that it will encourage discrimination, whether or not that is the intention. “By ruling that company policies can prohibit religious symbols on the grounds of neutrality, they have opened a back door to precisely such prejudice,” Amnesty said in a statement.
Sex-Toy Maker Ordered to Pay $3M for Tracking Users’ Activity:
A Canadian sex-toy manufacturer, We-Vibe, has been ordered to pay out almost $3 million to customers who bought a “smart vibrator” that tracked owners’ usage without their knowledge. Each customer who used the associated app will be paid $7,433, and customers who bought the vibrator but never used the app can claim up to $147. The payout follows an Illinois class-action lawsuit. The vibrator, unfortunately, came with a number of security issues. The app, for example, could be manipulated to allow anyone within Bluetooth range to control the device. Intimate information about specific users was sent back to the company, including the temperature of the device and the vibration intensity. “At Standard Innovation, we take customer privacy and data security seriously,” the parent company said in a statement. “We have enhanced our privacy notice, increased app security, provided customers [with] more choice in the data they share, and we continue to work with leading privacy and security experts to enhance the app. With this settlement, Standard Innovation can continue to focus on making new, innovative products for our customers.”
‘Oldest’ Golf Club Finally Votes to Allow Women:
Muirfield—the historic, privately owned Scottish golf club that has staged the British Open 16 times—has finally voted to admit women for the first time since it was founded in 1744. Fewer than 12 months after its last vote on the matter, 80 percent of its members opted to allow female members. The previous vote in May 2016 was widely criticized and led to condemnation from Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
, who called it “indefensible.” The new vote effectively reinstates Muirfield as a venue for the British Open rotation—a status it lost last year due to the no-female policy. On Tuesday, Sturgeon wrote, “Well done, Muirfield—decision to admit women members emphatic and the right one. Look forward to seeing you host the Open again in future.” Club captain Henry Fairweather said, “We look forward to welcoming women as members who will enjoy, and benefit, from the great traditions and friendly spirit of this remarkable club.” The club, which last hosted the Open in 2013, said it will likely take about two years before a woman actually joins the establishment.
New York City Calls Off Blizzard Warning:
The National Weather Service has significantly downgraded the blizzard warning for New York City to a winter weather advisory, which will be in place until about 8 p.m., officials said Tuesday morning around 8:00 a.m. The snow accumulation, which was expected to hit up to 2 feet, will likely stack up to fewer than 8 inches. The snow will turn into sleet by the middle of the day and then rain by nightfall, according to weather authorities. The blizzard warning, however, remains in effect for other parts of New York state and for the rest of the northeast as “Winter Storm Stella” continues to hammer away at the region.
North Korea Warns of ‘Merciless’ Strikes to U.S.:
North Korea on Tuesday issued a warning to the U.S. that it would unleash “merciless” attacks if an aircraft carrier strike group led by the USS Carl Vinson in the area infringes on its territory. “If they infringe on the DPRK’s sovereignty and dignity even a bit, its army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea, and underwater,” said Pyongyang’s state-run news agency, KCNA. “On March 11 alone, many enemycarrier-based aircraft flew along a course near territorial air and waters of the DPRK to stage drills of dropping bombs and making surprise attacks on the ground targets of its army.” The Hermit Kingdom’s declaration came as the U.S. military announced it would permanently deploy missile-carrying Gray Eagle drones across the border in South Korea, escalating the confrontation and boosting “significant intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability” on the Korean Peninsula. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrives for his first official trip to the region on Wednesday. Officials from the U.S. Navy said the Carl Vinson is on a previously scheduled, routine deployment and that it will participate in exercises with South Korean forces despite any threats from North Korea.
U.S. Applications for New Zealand Citizenship Up 70%:
The number of Americans who have applied for citizenship in New Zealand has risen by 70 percent in the wake of the 2016 U.S. presidential election compared to the same period a yearearlier, the Associated Press reports. Eighteen percent more Americans in New Zealand have also obtained work visas when compared with the previous year. Because New Zealand is more than 6,000 miles away from the mainland U.S., the number of Americans applying to be citizens is still relatively low. From Nov. 8, 2016, to Jan. 31, 2017, New Zealand has had 170 applications from Americans via grant. For that time span, 203 Americans applied for citizenship by descent. Trumpmade only a brief reference to the South Pacific country during his campaign, when prompted by a television reporter from New Zealand. “Say hello to Bob Charles. I love Bob Charles,” Trump replied. “Do you know who Bob Charles is? Your greatest golfer.” In 1963, Charles won the British Open.
WHO READS LBN? Actor Ian McKellen
LBN-R.I.P.: Amy Krouse Rosenthal
, a prolific children’s book author, memoirist and public speaker who, dying of cancer, found an extraordinarily large readership this month with a column in The New York Times titled “You May Want to Marry My Husband,” died on Monday at her home in Chicago. She was 51. The cause was ovarian cancer, which she learned she had in September 2015, her agent, Amy Rennert
LBN-COMMENTARY by David Brooks: Faith seems to come in two personalities, the purist and the ironist. Purists believe that everything in the world is part of a harmonious whole. All questions point ultimately to a single answer. If we orient our lives toward this pure ideal, and get everybody else to, we will move gradually toward perfection. The ironists believe that this harmony may be available in the next world but not, unfortunately, in this one. In this world, the pieces don’t quite fit together and virtues often conflict: liberty versus equality, justice versus mercy, tolerance versus order. For the ironist, ultimate truth exists, but day-to-day life is often about balance and trade-offs. There is no unified, all-encompassing system for correct living. For the ironists, like Reinhold Niebuhr or Isaiah Berlin, those purists who aim to be higher than the angels often end up lower than the beasts. Throughout history we’ve seen a lot of purist religious faiths, from the Spanish inquisitors to the modern Islamic radicals, who believe in a single true way of living. Today we see a lot of secular purists: the students at Middlebury who want to shout down differing opinions, the legal activists who want to force Orthodox Christian bakers to work at gay weddings, against their conscience. This movement has led many Christians to conclude that they are about to become pariahs in their own nation. One of these is my friend Rod Dreher, whose new book, “The Benedict Option,” is already the most discussed and most important religious book of the decade.
WHO READS LBN? Plastic surgeon, Jon Perlman
LBN-OVERHEARD: ***“Hamilton” fans were disappointed when they learned which “celebrity guest” was attending Sunday’s show. “There was a ton of security at the Richard Rodgers Theatre, so people were waiting to see who this VIP was,” explains an audience member. “The line was convinced it was Madonna.” But any pop-music fans were let down when the mystery guest was new CIA Director Mike Pompeo.
LBN COMMENTARY by Dr. W. Neil Gallagher:***Unexpected help comes from unpredictable sources to the person who remains positive, enthusiastic, and cheerful. ***No one knows enough to worry. ***Celebrate the now.*** If you’re not following your own goals, you are following someone else’s.***We cannot predict the future, but we do create it by our moment-to-moment actions.
LBN – A DIFFERENT VIEW…
LBN E-Lert Edited By Addison Beaulieu
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