Tag Archive: healthinsuranceforeveryone


 

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A Pennsylvania court found comedian Bill Cosby guilty of three counts of aggravated indecent assault for drugging and sexually assaulting Andrea Constand at his home in 2004. The 80 year old comedian is facing 30 years in prison and his sentencing hearing is scheduled for this summer. Though he faces a maximum of 30 years in prison, Montgomery County District Attorney Kevin Steele indicated he would not press for that sentence.
Legal experts believe that it is unlikely Cosby will ever be incarcerated and a judge will probably sentence him to home refinement due to his poor health. Legal analyst Areva Martin said the judge’s rulings so far suggest he will give Cosby a much reduced sentence. “I think the fact that the judge yesterday allowed him to walk out of that courtroom, did not remand him immediately to jail, gives us a sense about what this judge is likely to do when he gets to the sentencing hearing,” she said.
Judges can take any number of mitigating factors into consideration when issuing a sentence, she explained. “He will be able to take into consideration Cosby’s age, the status of his health, the philanthropic work that he’s done over the last several decades, the fact that this is his first criminal conviction — all of those will be factors that the judge can take into consideration when sentencing him.”
Constand is the former director of operations for the women’s basketball team at Temple University where Cosby was a trustee and one of about 60 women who have accused him of sexual assaults dating back decades. Constand’s case is the only criminal case stemming from the dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct — all of which the comedian/actor denies. She says she was “paralyzed” by pills he gave her while he claimed it was just Benadryl and that the encounter was consensual.
He maintains that the sexual encounters were consensual but has admitted to giving them drugs prior to the encounters. In January 2005, in a civil suit Constand filed, she accused Cosby of giving her pills, groping her and assaulting her. Thirteen other women relayed similar claims in court papers and agreed to testify to these claims but the case was settled out of court in 2006. Many of the women gave similar accounts of what happened to them but didn’t come forward for years because they felt no one would believe them over the well-loved actor/comedian.
That changed in October 2014 when comedian Hannibal Burress made fun of Cosby during a stand-up comedy bit and called him a rapist. “People think I’m making it up. I’m like ‘Bill Cosby has a lot of rape allegations,’ (they reply back) ‘No, you do’….That sh*t is upsetting, if you didn’t know about it trust me. Google ‘Bill Cosby rape.
Then in November 2014, Barbara Bowman wrote a Washington Post essay that immediately went viral in which she discussed being raped by Cosby and questioned why it took so long for people to believe her. For months after that essay, dozens of women came forward with similar accusations occurring as far back as the 1960’s.

 

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One person was killed and seven others sustained minor injuries on a Southwest Airlines flight from New York to Dallas when an engine exploded in midair.  The explosion occurred about 20 minutes into the flight, shattering a window that passengers said partially sucked a woman out of the aircraft.  The Southwest plane, a two-engine Boeing 737, made an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport at about 11:20 a.m.  Flight 1380 was on its way from La Guardia Airport in New York to Dallas Love Field with 144 passengers and five Southwest employees on board.

It quickly lost altitude after the explosion and violently depressurized after shrapnel from the explosion burst through the window.  Passengers said the window burst and the woman, identified as 43 year old Jennifer Riordan, was partially sucked out of the 10-by-14-inch window head first.  Firefighter Andrew Needum, of Celina, Texas, said he heard a “loud pop” moments after flight attendants had begun to take drink orders. Needum, seated next to his father and son, turned back to see that oxygen masks had deployed in the cabin and there was a commotion a few rows behind him.  When he rushed to row 14, passenger Tim McGinty was trying to pull Riordan back inside the plane. Needum helped McGinty pull Riordan back inside the plane but she was unconscious and seriously injured.

Passenger Peggy Phillips, a retired nurse and an emergency medical technician onboard laid the woman down and immediately began administering CPR, while the pilot urged everyone to brace for an emergency landing.  They continued CPR for the entire 20 minutes until the plane landed safely and airports EMT’s took over.  Philadelphia Department of Public Health spokesman James Garrow said Jennifer Riordan, a mother of two and Wells Fargo executive from Albuquerque, died of blunt force trauma to her head, neck and torso and that her death was listed as an accident.

For that terrifying 20 minutes, passengers and flight crew unsuccessfully tried to plug the hole with luggage and clothing, which was just sucked out of the broken window.  Finally, another brave passenger stood in front of the broken window with his lower back covering the hole to help maintain cabin pressure.  Other terrified passengers spent those minutes thinking they were their last.  Many were scrambling for phones and other electronic devices to record their final goodbyes or purchase wifi to contact loved ones.

Southwest captain Tammie Jo Shults, a former fighter pilot with the U.S. Navy, on her final approach to an emergency landing at Philadelphia International Airport calmly described conditions on the craft to the air traffic controller:

“Southwest 1380, we’re single engine,” said Shults,. “We have part of the aircraft missing, so we’re going to need to slow down a bit.” She asked for medical personnel to meet the aircraft on the runway. “We’ve got injured passengers.”

“Injured passengers, okay, and is your airplane physically on fire?” asked the air traffic controller.

“No, it’s not on fire, but part of it’s missing,” Shults said, pausing for a moment. “They said there’s a hole, and, uh, someone went out.”

The National Transportation Safety Board has said the principal culprit of the explosion was a fracture — most likely because of metal fatigue — of one of the 24 fan blades in the engine. When that blade broke away at the fan’s hub, it carried with it parts of the engine cowling and related engine parts.

 

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The wave of teacher protests in recent weeks has shown no signs of slowing down.  School districts in Oklahoma and Kentucky were forced to close due to statewide teacher sickouts.  Thousands of Oklahoma and Kentucky teachers rallied Monday at their state capitals, demanding more education funding for students.  Many say they’ll keep fighting until lawmakers meet their demands.

The state of Oklahoma has the lowest average teacher salaries in the US with many teachers saying they have not received a pay raise in 10 years.  Many say that the lack of funding and low wages keep new teachers out of their districts which have seen classroom sizes swell to 40 kids because of teacher shortages.

The Oklahoma teachers union wants $10,000 raises for teachers, $5,000 raises for support staff such as janitors and cafeteria workers and $200 million in education funding.  Ultimately, the governor signed legislation last week granting teachers’ pay raises of about $6,100, raises of $1,250 for support staff and $50 million in education funding.  The state’s two largest school districts, Oklahoma City and Tulsa, announced that schools would be closed Monday as the strike enters its second week.

In an effort to produce for state revenue so more can be allocated to education funding, the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA), working in collaboration with lawmakers, is seeking to end the strike by Tuesday following Friday’s passage of a revenue and tax bill that is expected to raise $20 million from an internet sales tax and $24 million from the legalization of “ball and dice” gambling in the state.  The union praised the senate’s action on Friday and called for two additional measures of removing capital gains exemptions, saying that this would add an additional $100 million in revenue, and for Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin to veto the repeal of a tax on guests at hotels and motels—another regressive measure.

Meanwhile, more than 30 Kentucky school districts had schools close after massive teacher call outs.   Educators were furious after the state Legislature approved changes to their pension the day before.  Kentucky teachers have opposed changes to their pension, which was in Senate Bill 1 that proposed reducing benefits.  But in a surprise move, elements of Senate Bill 1 were tucked into another bill, Senate Bill 151, which had been about sewage services.  The nearly 300-page Senate Bill 151 passed both the state House and Senate on Thursday.

The Kentucky Education Association, which represents teachers and other education professionals, slammed the maneuver as a “classic legislative bait and switch.”  “It stripped all the ‘local provision of wastewater services’ language out of SB151 and replaced it with many of the harmful provisions of SB1,” the association stated.

Under the new pension bill, new hires will have to use a hybrid cash balance plan, rather than a traditional pension, which will drive new teachers to leave the state.  Other elements of the bill include limiting the number of sick days teachers can put toward their retirement and no changes to the annual cost of living adjustments, which will remain 1.5%.

Gov. Matt Bevin supports reforming the system and says it’s critical to fix the pension crisis, which ranks as one of the worst in the US. He said a wider demonstration like a teacher strike would be “illegal.”  “I would not advise that,” Bevin said during a Capitol news conference. “I really wouldn’t. I think that would be a mistake.”  In Kentucky, public employees are prohibited from striking.

 

 

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Investigators searching for a potential motive for Austin Bomber Mark Anthony Conditt’s actions are no closer to answering the question of why he carried out a nearly three-week-long bombing spree that left two people dead.  Conditt blew himself up inside his SUV early Wednesday, shortly after a SWAT team performed a tactical maneuver to force him to stop the SUV.

Conditt went to a FedEx store south of Austin on Sunday and made the mistake of parking within view of a surveillance camera that captured the vehicle’s license plates on his red SUV.  Surveillance photos from the mail delivery office showed Conditt wearing a baseball cap, blond wig and pink gloves as he brought two packages to the store.  Investigators used cellphone technology to track him down on Wednesday and to confirm that he had been to all of the bombing locations.

The early morning confrontation started after his SUV was located in a parking lot of a hotel in Round Rock.  As plainclothes officers and unmarked vehicles descended on the area while a ballistics and SWAT team were enroute.  The officers then followed Conditt as he pulled out of the parking lot and onto Interstate 35 where he ultimately detonated a bomb as officers approached his vehicle.

Investigators say they are no closer to understanding a motive and are relying on Mark Anthony Conditt’s own words from a 25-minute recording he made hours before he was confronted by the SWAT team.  In the cellphone recording, Conditt, 23, refers to himself as a “psychopath” and showed no remorse for carrying out the deadly bombings and spreading fear across the city.  Federal agents searched Conditt’s home in Pflugerville for almost two days, removing explosive materials and looking for clues that could point to a reason for the bombings.  Two of Conditt’s roommates were detained and questioned by police. One of them was released hours after Conditt’s death and the other was released the next afternoon, police said.  Neither was arrested or publicly identified.

Investigators found components for making similar bombs to the ones that exploded in the past few weeks, but no finished bombs were found, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.  A law enforcement source said the devices that exploded in Austin and near San Antonio were pipe bombs with batteries and smokeless powder and were constructed with materials found in a hardware or sporting goods store. The bombs had distinctive shrapnel inside with some using “mousetrap” switches and others using “clothespin” switches.  Chief Brian Manley of the Austin Police Department said that Mr. Conditt had made a 25-minute recording in which he discussed the bombs and how he had made them. The recording, Chief Manley said, was “the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life that led him to this point.”

According to friends and neighbors, Conditt was an intense, socially awkward loner, who was the oldest child in a tight-knit, devout Christian family that held Bible study groups in their home.  Conditt was unemployed and had no criminal history.  He had worked for a local manufacturer, Crux Manufacturing, for about four years until he was fired this past August after he failed to meet job expectations, according to a statement from the company.

Austin Mayor Steve Adler said the city’s “collective fear and anxiety” was growing as the bomber carried out the string of attacks.  “There was feeling that there was not much that we could do. There was a collective helplessness, our community was beginning to fray,” Adler said at a City Council meeting.  He added that it appeared that Mr. Conditt had acted alone, but authorities had not definitively ruled out whether he had any accomplices.

Maryland School Shooting

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In Maryland, 17-year-old Austin Rollins shot two other students at Great Mills High School on Tuesday morning before a school resource officer engaged him and stopped the threat, authorities said.  The incident began in a school hallway at 7:55 a.m., just before classes started. Authorities say Austin Wyatt Rollins, armed with a handgun, shot a female and a male student. The shooter had a prior relationship with the female student that had recently ended, St. Mary’s County Sheriff Tim Cameron said.

The gunman shot Jaelynn Willey, 16, in the hallway of the school and a bullet hit 14-year-old Desmond Barnes in the thigh.  School resource officer Blaine Gaskill responded to the scene in less than a minute and fired a round at the shooter while the shooter simultaneously fired a round, Cameron said.  Rollins was later pronounced dead at Charles Regional Medical Center while Gaskill was unharmed.

Jaelynn Willey was transported to the hospital in critical condition with life-threatening injuries.  Desmond Barnes was treated in stable condition and later released.  The Willey family held a press conference two days later, on March 22nd, announcing that they’d made the decision to take Jaelynn off of life support. Hours later, the sheriff’s office confirmed that she had died.

The quick response and actions of St. Mary’s County Sheriff’s Deputy Blaine Gaskill, who had been assigned to the school last year, has been credited with preventing any more loss of life.  Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, residents and many media outlets have praised him for putting his life on the line and ending the situation quickly.   Gaskill has yet to make a statement to the public.

Sheriff Cameron, is also among the many who have praised Gaskill, a six-year veteran with SWAT team training, for his actions.  “He responded exactly as we train our personnel to respond,”   “This is what we train for, this is what we prepare for, and this is what we pray that we never have to do. On this day, we realized our worst nightmare,” Cameron said.  “The notion of ‘it can’t happen here’ is no longer a notion.”

The school was on lockdown for a brief time, and students were evacuated from Great Mills High School to a reunification center at a nearby high school, the school system said.  Austin Wyatt Rollins was an honor student at Great Mills High School. Rollins was born in Tennessee and moved to Maryland with his family in 2004.  According to police, the Glock handgun used in the shooting legally belonged to his father, Rocky Rollins.

Officer Gaskill’s actions stand in stark contrast to that of Parkland school safety officer Scot Peterson, who resigned amid reports that he went AWOL when the shooting started.  Peterson took position outside the building and never entered the building even though gun fire could still be heard.  In fact, what Gaskill did is extremely rare.  According to an analysis of dozens of school shootings done by the Washington Post, Gaskill is only the second school resource officer to kill an active shooter since the 1999 Columbine High School massacre.

 

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The serial bomber, now identified as Mark Anthony Conditt, 23, killed himself with an explosive device as police were closing in on him.  After a fifth explosion happened early Tuesday at a FedEx sorting facility near San Antonio, investigators used video surveillance images of a man dropping off two packages Sunday at a FedEx store south of Austin to identify Conditt.  Another unexploded package bomb was discovered at another FedEx facility near Austin.

Officials say they tracked him to a hotel in Round Rock, about 20 miles north of Austin, after reportedly identifying him using receipts, internet searches, witness sketches and the surveillance video.  Authorities were outside the hotel Wednesday morning when Conditt left the hotel.  They followed him until he was forced into a ditch on the side of Interstate 35 where he detonated a bomb inside his vehicle, killing himself and injuring a SWAT officer.  Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said Conditt sensed that authorities were closing in on him on Tuesday night and recorded a 25-minute video confessing to building the explosive devices — but didn’t explain why he targeted his victims or a motive for his actions.

After the fourth explosion occurred over the weekend, authorities in Austin, Texas, warned the public that the series of package explosions are connected.  None of the packages were mailed, instead they were placed near the individuals’ homes.  They warned civilians to not open suspicious packages and to call the police.  Over 500 agents from the FBI and ATF were assisting the Austin Police Department in the investigation.

The explosions started on March 2, 2018, when 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House was killed while opening an apparent package bomb at his home.  On March 12th, two more explosions occurred within hours of one another at two separate residences.  The first killed 17-year-old bassist Draylen Mason and injured his mother.  The second explosion that day, severely injured a 75 year old woman.  Authorities say those two bombs were triggered upon being picked up.

A third explosion on March 18th injured two men in a residential neighborhood.  The two men, a 22 year old and 23 year old, suffered serious although not life-threatening injuries from an apparently tripwire-activated parcel bomb left on the side of the road.  After the last explosion, authorities warned the public of a “serial bomber” possessing “a higher level of sophistication, a higher level of skill” than initially thought.  Frederick Milanowski, special agent in charge for the ATF said that the bomb was anchored to a metal sign near a hiking trail and triggered by a wire as thin as fishing line that would’ve been incredibly difficult to see.

Authorities first offered a reward of $65,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the bomber or bombers but later raised the reward to $115,000.  Police were looking at surveillance video in the neighborhoods in hopes of being able to identify a suspect.  At a news conference, interim police Chief Brian Manley said the pair were walking on either the sidewalk or the median when the device was triggered by a trip wire.  “That changes things,” he said, “Our safety message to this point has been involving the handling of packages, and telling this community, ‘Do not handle packages, do not pick up packages, do not disturb packages.”  “We now need to have an extra level of vigilance and pay attention to any suspicious device, whether it be a package, a bag, a backpack — anything that looks out of place — and please do not approach it.”

 

 

 

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Authorities say six people have died after a 960-ton span of a pedestrian bridge collapsed on Thursday, onto a busy street below, killing six motorists under an avalanche of concrete and metal.  At least nine others were injured in the collapse of the nearly 200-foot-long bridge, which was under construction near the campus of Florida International University.  The bridge, which was still being installed at the time of the collapse, was built to connect Florida International University with downtown Sweetwater, where many students live.  The bridge was not scheduled to open until 2019.

Senator Marco Rubio said suspension cables on the bridge “were being tightened when it collapsed.”  Police are enlisting the help of engineers as they investigate the cause of the collapse.  The National Transportation Safety Board, Miami-Dade homicide detectives and prosecutors are focusing on the government agencies and two contractors — Munilla Construction Management, which was building the structure, and FIGG Bridge Group, which engineered and designed the span.

A lead engineer with the private contractor FIGG Bridge Engineers -who constructed the bridge, left a voice mail for a state transportation official warning of “some cracking observed on the north end of the span” two days before the structure collapsed.  In the message, which was not retrieved until Friday, the engineer said he did not consider the crack a safety issue.  The Florida Department of Transportation official to whom the voice mail was directed was out of the office on assignment.  Footage of the collapse, taken from a vehicle dashcam, suggests the concrete came apart on the north end — the same area that the bridge’s design engineer spoke about in the message.

On Thursday, shortly before the bridge collapsed, a meeting was held regarding the crack that appeared on the structure.  The university said that the meeting was convened by FIGG and Munilla Construction Management (MCM), which built the bridge.  “The FIGG engineer of record delivered a technical presentation regarding the crack and concluded that there were no safety concerns and the crack did not compromise the structural integrity of the bridge,” the university said in a statement, adding that representatives of the school and the state Department of Transportation attended the session, which lasted two hours.

News outlets speculating over the cause of the collapse have focused on the cracks reported but experts say other factors, including the tensioning work going on at the bridge’s north end are of more concern.  They say cracking in new concrete is not uncommon and not necessarily a sign of failure.  Tightening of steel cables, or tendons, that run through concrete structural elements is a delicate operation, and over-tightening can cause concrete pieces to twist and break apart, experts say.

Rescue workers dug through the rubble nonstop for two days, pulling out crushed vehicles in search of victims.  All six victims were identified by Saturday morning as Florida International University student Alexa Duran, 18; Brandon Brownfield, a tower crane technician, husband and father of three; Rolando Fraga Hernandez, 60, was a systems technician at ITG Communications; Osvaldo González, 57 and Alberto Arias, 54.  Navarro Brown, 37, an employee with Structural Technologies VSL, died at a hospital shortly after the accident.  Two other employees of the company were hospitalized at Kendall Regional Medical Center in Miami in stable condition.

 

 

 

 

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A gunman killed three women in a standoff at a Northern California military veterans home.  The three victims—Jennifer Gonzales, 32; Christine Loeber, 48 and Jennifer Golick, 42; worked for a counseling program at the Pathway Home nonprofit, which helps military veterans overcome PTSD and transition back into civilian life.  The shooter, 36-year-old Albert Wong of Sacramento, was a military veteran and former patient at the center who was kicked out of the program just days before the shooting spree, after he threatened its employees- including one of the women killed.

Records show Wong was in the Army reserves from October 1998 until December 2002 and served in active duty from May 2010 to August 2013. He was deployed to Afghanistan April 2011 to March 2012.  He received several awards and medals, including an Army Commendation Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two campaign stars, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and Expert Marksmanship Badge with Rifle before being honorably discharged.

According to law enforcement sources, Wong was armed with a rifle and a shotgun when he entered the room where a going-away party for some departing Pathway employees was taking place.  According to sources, Wong entered the building and exchanged fire with a deputy.  Witnesses say he calmly entered the room brandishing a rifle and let at least 4 employees leave-firing shots into the rest of the room as they left.

Napa County Sheriff John Robertson said dozens of law enforcement officers responded about 10:20 a.m. local time to a report of shots fired.  Reports indicate that as many as 15 to 30 shots were fired before Wong took the hostages at the Veterans Home, on the second floor of The Pathway Home.  Everyone at the Veterans Home was told to shelter in place and lock their doors, and the entire facility was placed on lockdown for hours.

Authorities say the gunman shot at police as they surrounded the building.  SWAT, FBI, and ATF all responded to the incident, but no one was able to reach him during the standoff.  The gunman and the three hostages were found deceased after a nearly seven-hour standoff. It’s not yet known what his motives were or if the victims were chosen at random.  Jen Golick’s father-in-law, told news outlets that she had ordered Wong’s removal from the Pathway program two weeks prior to the shooting. She called her husband, Mark Golick, around 10:30 a.m. Pacific to let him know that she had been taken hostage. He never heard from her again.

The Veterans Home is one of the largest in the United States, housing at least 1,100 men and women. The Pathway Home, located on the Veterans Home grounds, operates an independent 35,000-square-foot center within the Yountville veterans’ home, has treated more than 400 veterans since 2008. Male veterans enrolled in the live-in program are mostly soldiers returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who have difficulty transitioning into civilian life.  Many returning veterans have graduated from the program, including Adam Schumann, the subject of the book and film “Thank You For Your Service”.

In 2016, the program began transitioning from a group that focused primarily on housing and treating veterans with PTSD into a program with a wider mission, including helping vets with academic and career development.  Loeber was the executive director of the Pathway Home and Golick was a staff psychologist and clinical director there. Gonzales was a clinical psychologist with the San Francisco Department of Veterans Affairs Health Care System.  Yountville Mayor John Dunbar said he was not sure when or if the facility will reopen. Six people currently enrolled in the program will continue to receive care, he said.

 

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President Xi Jinping of China is set to rule the country indefinitely after Chinese lawmakers passed changes to the country’s constitution abolishing presidential term limits. The National People’s Congress voted 2,958 in favor of the amendment, two opposed and three abstained. Xi assumed leadership of China’s Communist Party in 2012 and has consolidated power to levels not seen since the era of Mao Zedong. The change in presidency now aligns with other posts Xi holds, as head of the Communist Party and head of the military, neither of which have term limits.
After becoming president in 2013, Mr. Xi fought corruption, punishing more than a million party members. Critics say he has used the anti-corruption purge to sideline political rivals. At the same time, China has clamped down on many emerging freedoms, increasing its state surveillance and censorship programs which critics attain was a move to silence opposition.
The constitutional change officially allows him to remain in office after the end of his second term in 2023. Many believe that now that the constitution has been altered- that Xi Jinping intends to rule for the rest of his life unchallenged. There has been no national debate as to whether a leader should be allowed to stay on for as long as they choose.
The two-consecutive-term limit to China’s presidency was put in place by Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982 in order to avoid the kind of chaos and tumult that can sometimes happen when you have a single authoritarian leader, as China had with Mao Zedong. Among many campaigns launched by Zedong were “The Great Leap Forward” in 1957 that aimed to rapidly transform China’s economy from an agrarian economy to an industrial one. This campaign led to the deadliest famine in history and the deaths of more than 45 million Chinese people between 1958 and 1962.
Zedong also initiated the Cultural Revolution in 1966, a program to remove “counter-revolutionary” elements of Chinese society that lasted 10 years and was marked by violent class struggle and widespread destruction of cultural artifacts. It has officially been regarded as a “severe setback” for the Peoples Republic of China.
The National People’s Congress is also likely to confirm China’s new government line-up for the next five years, kicking off Xi Jinping’s second term as president, ratify a law to set up a new powerful anti-corruption agency and ratify the inclusion of the president’s political philosophy in the constitution. His philosophy is officially called “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for the New Era”. Schoolchildren, college students and staff at state factories will have to study the political ideology, which the Communist Party is trying to portray as a new chapter for modern China.

 

New Trade Tariffs Signed

 

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New tariffs on imported steel and aluminum were signed amid claims that the tariffs will hurt the manufacturing industry and U.S. competitiveness. The tariffs, which have sparked tensions with U.S. allies, will temporarily exclude Mexico and Canada. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said the administration will initially exclude Mexico and Canada as long as the two countries sign a new version of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. Officials from Canada and Mexico have said they will not be bullied into accepting a NAFTA deal that could disadvantage their countries.
The administration has stood by the controversial tariffs amid claims from other countries vowing to respond with levies of their own. The United States issued the tariffs under a little-used provision of trade law, which allows the president to take broad action to defend American national security. The Commerce Department previously determined that imports of metals posed a threat to national security. The US is the largest steel importer in the world, buying about 35 million tons in 2017.
The order could hit South Korea, China, Japan, Germany, Turkey and Brazil the hardest. The tariff orders were tailored to give the administration the authority to raise or lower levies on a country-by-country basis and add or take countries off the list as deemed appropriate. The White House has said any nation with a security relationship with the United States was welcome to discuss “alternative ways to address the threatened impairment of the national security caused by imports from that country.” Those talks could result in the tariff being lifted, the order said.
Trade experts say the new tariffs buck years of America’s embrace of free and open trade and believe the approach would ultimately compromise the United States’ ability to temper China’s unfair trading practices. “The tariff action coupled with the mishandled renegotiations of existing trade deals have alienated the very countries we need as allies to help confront the challenges posed by China,” said Daniel M. Price, a White House adviser.
Trade experts are worried about the consequences of the new tariffs. If the World Trade Organization rules against the United States, the administration will have to decide whether to reverse its decision or go up against the organization. If the United States ignores or withdraws from the group, it could precipitate a breakdown in global trading rules and a new era of global protectionism.
In 2002, President George W. Bush imposed steel tariffs of up to 30 percent. But facing an adverse ruling by the World Trade Organization and retaliation by trading partners, the tariffs were lifted 15 months before the end of the planned three-year duration. Studies found that more jobs were lost than saved and Congressional leaders vowed not to repeat the experiment.
Many fear that if customers refuse the price hikes as a result of the tariffs, major job losses in the US will follow. Many large steel customers ranging from automakers General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., Campbell Soup Co. and brewer Molson Coors Brewing Co. are expected to lose, as tariffs will allow domestic steel producers to raise prices.
The U.S. steel industry employed about 147,000 people in 2015, according to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic analysis. Manufacturers that need steel employ about 6.5 million people each year and the construction industry employs about 6.3 million people.