Kushner’s impossible task in the Middle East is the easy part

(CNN)Jared Kushner’s visit to Israel this week reflects an unexpected development in current Middle East politics.

It is not that Kushner’s chances for success are greater than those of a long list of special envoys, but rather that of all the problems in the region, it is the almost seven decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict that seems most amenable to US diplomacy.
This is because following what is universally referred to as the “Arab Spring,” major countries of the region have been plunged into instability, uncertainty, and violence that is well beyond Washington’s capacity to resolve.
    For many people across the region, the unfortunate fact is that life is worse than it was before they began pouring into the streets six years ago to demand freedom.
    Although support for Tunisia’s Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, and former Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi remains, people are for the most part pleased to be rid of them.
    Corruption, brutality, and violence marked the decades they were in power. But being happy that these dictators fell does not mean that people are better off.
    That is certainly not the case in Libya and two other failing or failed states in the Middle East, Yemen and Syria, where there were also uprisings in 2011. In Libya, not long after the uprising against his father began, Saif al-Islam Gadhafi warned that it would lead to “forty years” of violence.
    As the country has fragmented, rival armies, two different governments, and extremists have vied for control. Somewhere between 13,000 and 30,000 Libyans have lost their lives since 2011.

      Bassem Youssef: Egyptians are ‘upset’ and ‘tired’

    Syria is a vortex of violence. More than 400,000 people have been killed there since March 2011, when protests broke out against the country’s president, Bashar al-Assad. In addition to the staggering death toll, about half the population has been displaced in a conflict that now includes Russian, Iranian, Turkish, and US forces as well as a dizzying array of militias and extremist groups, including ISIS.
    If not for the Syrian war, the conflict in Yemen would likely be dominating world headlines. The country’s longtime ruler, Ali Abdullah Saleh, was also deposed in 2011, though he was not prepared to give up power so easily. His hand is evident in the current conflict there, which began when Houthi tribesmen drove Saleh’s successor out of power.
    The fight has cost an estimated 10,000 lives in the region’s poorest country, where Yemenis now face starvation and a massive outbreak of cholera.
    What about the countries that have not slipped into civil war?
    Egypt has had a turbulent six years, with three leadership changes and the development of a violent extremist insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula that has spilled over into the country’s population centers, often targeting the Christian minority.
    Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has undertaken some important economic reforms and Egypt’s macroeconomic indicators are starting to point in the right direction. But average Egyptians are suffering with high inflation, low employment, nonexistent services and little opportunity.
    These problems existed during the Mubarak era, too, but there was also a measure of stability that attracted 15 million tourists in 2010, large amounts of foreign direct investment, and a political environment that was more permissive than it is now.
    In a speech to the nation the day before he was deposed, Mubarak warned his fellow Egyptians that the uprising against him would, in the end, cause suffering. He was right.
    Tunisia is often billed as the one Arab Spring success story, and by all measures it has done better than the other countries that experienced uprisings. The country has a new constitution that establishes clear checks on executive power, has had free and fair parliamentary and presidential elections (though turnout was a problem), and has a strong civic culture that pulled the country back from the edge of violence in the summer of 2013.
    At the same time, Tunisia has a weak government, a large bureaucracy that has proven resistant to change, and an economy that has continuously struggled to produce growth, and jobs along with it.
    According to the World Bank, Tunisia’s real GDP growth rate in 2015 (the last year for which data are available) was 1%, current unemployment rate is 15%, and inflation is at 5%.
    All of this represents a significant hardship for average Tunisians, though their economic situation is not all that different from the year prior to the protests that dislodged Ben Ali.

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    When the uprisings began in late 2010 and early 2011, the romance of the barricades was infectious.
    The region that the New York Times once called “Democracy’s Desert” seemed to be in bloom, and with it was the widely held expectation that this Arab Spring would produce democracies.
    The result turned out to be something considerably different. Like the era before the uprisings, the “new Middle East” is still authoritarian, but it is also unstable. This does not bode well for Arabs, Turks, Europeans and Americans, because the current uncertainty, instability, and, at times, unspeakable violence of the region — which has occasionally spilled out across continents — is likely to be the future of the Middle East for the next several years.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/21/opinions/kushner-middle-east-opinion-cook/index.html

    Inside La Colombe d’Or, modern art’s home on the French Riviera

    Cannes, France (CNN)Walking around La Colombe d’Or, a casual eye places it among the many inns dotting the French Riviera. This Provencal auberge wears its rustic charm like a badge of honor, or perhaps armor, warding off the dull trappings of the 21st century.

    Whitewashed plasterwork, scratched and scuffed, evokes simpler times. The inn’s many nooks and crannies speak of a building that has lived, breathed and grown over the years, before settling into reassuring, unrefined normality.

      Discovering the Riviera’s hidden masterpieces

    Except there’s nothing normal about La Colombe d’Or. Look closer and artworks start to emerge: a Picasso nestled in one corner, a Matisse in another. In the courtyard outside, an Alexander Calder mobile rotates in the breeze while a Fernand Lger mosaic remains unmoved.
      Some of the greatest names in modern art, nonchalantly arranged to look not only as if they belong, but as if they were created here. The thing is, some of them were.
      “[The artworks are] completely part of the house, so we don’t think of it anymore,” says the inn’s third-generation owner Daniele Roux. “But you can’t touch them, because the alarm system is so strong.”
      Perhaps unsurprisingly, she won’t be drawn on La Colombe d’Or’s insurance value.

      Tea with Matisse

      The story of La Colombe d’Or (which translates as “The Golden Dove”) is of a family that played the long game. In 1931, farmer’s son Paul Roux and his wife Baptistine opened their restaurant in a secluded corner of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, a medieval hilltop village west of Nice.
      Its raison d’etre was bon vivance; good food and good times, a place to while away lazy summer days, eat heartily and drink well.
      With a handful of rooms above a bustling eatery, there was nothing remarkable about the inn’s setup. What no one could have anticipated was the clientele drawn to this crumbling bolthole and its unlikely role as a meeting place for the creative elite of the 20th century.

      “Portrait of a woman,” by Henri Matisse.

      World War I drove many French artists south, where they took up residence along the Cote d’Azur. When peacetime came, some stayed. Among them were Fernand Lger and Georges Braque, who Paul — a versed, if not schooled art admirer — befriended. Alongside them, an aging Henri Matisse.
      “He didn’t really come in because at the time he had problems with his legs,” says Paul’s granddaughter-in-law, Daniele. “Paul Roux would spend time with him in [Matisse’s] limousine,” on occasion taking tea.
      The artist became a regular at La Colombe d’Or, and others soon followed, either as diners or lodgers.

      Actor Yves Montand at the Colombe d’Or in front of a mosaic by Leger, commissioned in the 1950s.

      Paul Roux was the fulcrum around which these artistic figures pivoted, “an autodidact and a man of lovely enthusiasm who, having begun to buy paintings, did not hesitate to provide accommodation for certain painters in exchange for their work,” writes Martine Prosper (nee Buchet) in the 1995 book “La Colombe d’Or.”
      Paul Roux was admired and respected — a working class Peggy Guggenheim, thoroughly ingratiated with a community of modern artists without being a creative name in his own right. (Under the advice of Matisse, Roux did pick up a paintbrush in later life. His artworks now hang alongside those of his famous friends — one is to the left of the Miro in the main dining room.)
      The guests’ wildly different styles, modes and philosophies all found a home under Roux’s roof. Within La Colombe there was commonality and community. Indeed, a sign hung above the inn’s entrance read “Ici on lodge a cheval, a pied ou en peinture” — “Lodgings for man, horse and painters.”

      The friendship of Picasso

      With the arrival of World War II, life in La Colombe d’Or held a reassuringly even keel, even as both German and American officers both found their way into its guest book.
      In the post-war years its reputation was further enhanced. Joan Miro, Marc Chagall and Cesar Baldaccini all added to the inn’s growing art collection.
      Pablo Picasso was a regular visitor and became firm friends with Paul. But the Spanish master left no impression on La Colombe’s walls until shortly before Paul’s death in 1953.

      Spanish painter Pablo Picasso at the bar of La Colombe d’Or during the 1950s.

      “Paul was not well physically, and Tichin [his wife’s nickname] was a strong woman,” recalls Daniele. “She went round to see Picasso and said: ‘You promised you would give him a painting one day.'”
      He offered three paintings and Paul chose one. “Flower Vase” still has pride of place. On the day of Paul’s funeral, Picasso was the first to pay his respects.

      Post-modernists

      Paul’s son Francis took the reigns, but one night in 1959 — disaster. All the paintings were stolen; all except one, a Chagall. The artist came down the next day, most irked, Daniele says. Clearly the thieves had poor taste. (Word spread of the theft and all the paintings were soon returned.)
      By the ’60s a new set was frequenting the inn. Intellectuals Jean-Paul Satre and Simone de Beauvoir would stay, while James Baldwin’s fiery rhetoric could often be heard at the dining table. The American iconoclast even relocated to the region after staying at La Colombe in 1970, remaining in the area until his death in 1987.

      “The Thumb” by Cesar (1965).

      As with so many things on the Cote d’Azur, the inn was not untouched by the Cannes Film Festival. Stars of the “Nouvelle Vague”, Brigitte Bardot and director Francois Truffaut, spent days in the dappled shade of La Colombe’s courtyard, along with Orson Welles, Charlie Chaplin and David Niven, while Roger Moore owned a house nearby. Its glamorous credentials were never in doubt — the kings of Sweden and Belgium, and Edward VIII (then Prince of Wales) all visited in the 1950s.
      Successive generations continue to pay pilgrimage.
      French literary titan Bernard-Henri Levy has written several of his books at La Colombe. Prosper and Martine Assouline, founders of their eponymous publishing company, based their first title on the inn, such was their adoration.

        Episode 14: The allure of French Riviera style

      Artworks continue to be added, most recently a giant ceramic apple by Irishman Sean Scully in 2007. New young names are scouted out by Daniele and Francois, though most works lie in storage. By and large, the painters have gone, and the region that inspired them has become a playground for people who buy masterpieces rather than those who paint them.
      But three generations in, there’s little sign this Provencal institution will cash out. A precedent was set by Paul Roux many years ago when a wealthy American tried to buy the business. He sent back a bouquet and a note: “These flowers are for you, La Colombe is for my son.”
      Daniele laughs at the mention of a fourth generation, batting away the question. “We have a son, we have a daughter, but we’re still here and we’re going to see what happens,” she says. There’s no pressure on them, she insists.
      If they one day accept the role, their charge will be to uphold an idiosyncratic space of art and life well lived — to find room, amid the modernist bricolage, for the next chapter of its story.

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/06/14/arts/la-colombe-dor-vence-art/index.html

      The Mummy review Tom Cruise returns in poorly bandaged corpse reviver

      Framed as more of a superhero origin movie than ancient curse mystery, a messy plot unravels fast

      Be afraid, for here it is again emerging waxily from the darkness. This disturbing figure must surely be thousands of years old by now, a princeling worshipped as a god but entombed in his own riches and status; remarkably well preserved. It is Tom Cruise, who is back to launch a big summer reboot of The Mummy, that classic chiller about the revived corpse from ancient Egypt, from which the tomb door was last prised off in a trilogy of films between 1999 and 2008 with the lantern-jawed and rather forgotten Brendan Fraser in the lead. And before that, of course, there were classic versions with Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee both variously getting the all-over St John Ambulance treatment.

      Traditionally, The Mummy is a scary movie (though un-serious) about taboo and transgression, based on the made-up pop myth about the mummys curse which has no basis in the history of ancient Egypt, but is a cheeky colonialist invention, which recasts local objection to our tomb-looting as something supernatural, malign and irrational.

      Yet that is not what this Mummy is about. It brings in the usual element of sub-Spielberg gung-ho capers, but essentially sees The Mummy as a superhero origin movie; or possibly supervillain; or Batmanishly both. The supporting characters are clearly there to be brought back as superhero-repertory characters for any putative Mummy franchise, including one who may well be inspired by Two-Face from The Dark Knight.

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2017/jun/07/the-mummy-review-tom-cruise

      Harold Hardscrabble by G.D. Dess

      Story Summary: Harold Hardscrabble, by G. D. Dess, captures the feelings of frustration and helplessness that many of us experience in our daily lives. These sentiments are embodied in the contemplative, quietly charming protagonist, Harold, who, like Walter Mitty, lives largely in his own world of thoughts and dreams. We follow Harold’s transformation from a dreamer to a man of action as he struggles to discover how to live a meaningful life in a materialistic world.

      Harold copes admirably with the many disasters and injustices that assail him on his life’s journey; but when he is finally overcome by circumstances beyond his control, he is forced to take matters into his own hands to attain justice for the all the misfortunes he has been made to suffer. This is a story of a quest for self-realization that unfolds slowly as it builds to its explosive climax.

      5 Star Review Manhattan Book Review

      https://manhattanbookreview.com/product/harold-hardscrabble/

      Harold Hardscrabble met the love of his life in college. Her name is Carol, the attraction, of a physical and intellectual nature, is immediate. Harold sees Carol as having a controlling personality, but he also sees an endearing quality to her vulnerability. They leave college and get married, moving to New York City and to cramped surroundings in an apartment. Harold is an artist within, who is looking for an outlet to unleash the art in his soul, but practicality and his bride push him to the corporate world. Harold works a variety of temp jobs, but his brilliant mind leads to offers of a full time job in a analytical position. Harold still feels insecure but pushes on with the prodding of Carol. The birth of their two children, Jake and Sarah, makes a move to the suburbs an eventuality. Harold thinks back to his time growing up, his propensity to daydream being the fondest of memories. As his children grow, Harold’s mind turns to the pitfalls of commercialism, materialism, and the lack of reality that haunts his existence. He attempts to explain his feelings to Carol but is met with indifference. His thoughts start to take a toll on his home and career. His life takes a tilt toward the mortal when he is diagnosed with prostate cancer. His battle and its unpleasant effects take a backseat to Carol’s departure. Harold emerges weakened from the cancer, drinking more and looking to de-clutter his existence. Will he ever find happiness? Will he ever overcome his own questions and doubts?

      Harold Hardscrabble is an excellent, philosophical tale that explores the life of a brilliant, troubled man and his ups and downs. The reader can identify with many of the quandaries that tax the mind of Harold. The existential crises that haunt the titular character make him sympathetic and worth rooting for. The story bobs and weaves but never fails to hold the attention of the reader. A fine read.

      Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2rfIayX

      Elmina’s Fire by Linda Carleton – Historical Fiction

      Historical fiction at it’s best! Women of Medieval times had few options, marry, or be a nun. As a troubled child of an impoverished family Elmina found the Cathars, a sect that supported her idealism and the seeking of her soul. Her love and devotion for the man who would become Saint Dominic led her to follow him and help him start his own monastery, setting the stage for division in her family. Her sister stayed with the Cathars. Elmina watched helplessly as the Albigensian Crusade rolled onward, she lost her sister and her spiritual and emotional life began to unravel. Elmina learns to paint her experiences within a sacred circle—a practice that helps her discover the origins of her lifelong fears. Read this book if you wrestle with questions about the nature of God, the purpose of creation, the nature of evil, and the possibility of reincarnation.

      https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1975193677

      Author Bio – Linda Carleton is a former teacher of history and comparative religions and minister. In 2001 she was ordained in the United Church of Christ and founded Melita House, a refugee welcome house in Guilford, Connecticut. After retirement, she moved to Maine with her husband Peter where she now paints, writes, leads mandala workshops and teaches English to immigrants. She is perpetually seeking new ways to integrate her own Christian faith with the world’s diverse spiritual teachings and to help the world heal from its history of religious abuse.

      Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2qfb4eA

      Portland’s dark history of white supremacy

      The city is known for its liberalism. But a racially charged double murder sheds light on an enduring current of militant racism

      Ciaran Mulloy remembers how the neo-Nazis outnumbered the anti-racists in Portland in the 90s.

      A union organiser and anti-fascist, he was was deeply involved in fighting against the far rights infiltration of American youth culture in the 1980s and 90s. But when he arrived in the city in 1990, he said, we were not prepared for what was out there in Portland.

      There were multiple gangs, and 300 Nazis in a city of 300,000, he said, adding: The anti-racist youth were intimidated and isolated. The Nazis were just openly hanging out on the streets.

      Drawn to the overwhelmingly white population, Nazis brought violence to clubs, shows, and the streets, carried out gay bashings, and assaulted people of color.

      Two years before Mulloys arrival, three racist skinheads beat Mulugeta Seraw, an Ethiopian student, to death in a suburban street. And in 1993, a racist skinhead named Eric Banks was shot dead by John Bair, a member of Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice.

      Its not hyperbolic to call it a war, he said. There was intense fighting. The racially charged double murder on a Portland train last week may seem at odds with the citys current image, and self-perception, as liberal. But actually, the history of Portland, and of Oregon, reveals an enduring current of white supremacy and militant racism, experts say, that is apparent in the far and recent past.

      Nearly two centuries of exclusion, violence and intimidation have resulted in the whitest major city in the United States, in a state that has in the past been fertile ground for the growth of extremism. Last Fridays violent attack came amid a new wave of alt-right organizing, but Portlands very whiteness has attracted far right groups to attempt to make inroads in the city for more than 30 years.

      Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/may/31/portland-white-supremacy-racism-train-stabbing-murder

      She Came From Afar by Courtney Lindberg – Book Review

      5 Stars From San Francisco Book Review – https://sanfranciscobookreview.com/product/she-came-from-afar/

      Each family is different, and this is especially true for families who have adopted children. Not only do they have to deal with all the typical struggles of raising a child (sometimes from infancy), but they also need to face questions from the people around them and from their own children. It is a trial, but a common enough one that there are many adoption stories, several of which are beautiful and filled with the grace of parents who manage to pass through the trials and keep their heads held high. She Came From Afar is one such story.

      The book begins with the author dreaming that she holds a dark-skinned baby as a voice tells her that this child is hers. The author wakes with the certainty that she will adopt a child from Africa, though her husband is less certain. After all, they already have two children, Seamus and Nolan, and when their third child is born, they learn that she has holes in her heart that require surgery. Still, the author is gripped by the idea that she is meant to adopt a child from Africa, and although her husband disagrees, she does research into various countries that she could adopt from. When her husband admits that he is ready to adopt, the author pushes forward with her plan.

      Not everything goes perfectly, as one might expect. The author’s dream featured a baby boy named Ndume, but the child who comes to her home is a little girl whom she calls Eden. When the author’s husband goes to Ethiopia to meet Eden, he finds that she is malnourished and ill, and just before he is able to return home, he falls ill as well. When he does bring Eden home, the family faces all the uninformed questions and remarks any white family adopting an African child would. Through all that, and through the trials of raising four children who are close in age, the family carries on, displaying a grace that would make anyone proud.

      She Came From Afar is a short, beautiful book that will appeal to anyone who has looked after children. I was deeply moved by the author’s story, and though I am not a parent myself, I’ve helped look after some younger kids, and I found myself smiling knowingly at the little descriptions the author gave of how her children interacted with each other. I’m glad I read this book, and I would happily read it again.

      Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2rP6mWe

      23 Million Fewer People Would Have Coverage Under Obamacare Repeal Bill, CBO Confirms

      Twenty-three million fewer Americans would have insurance under legislation that House Republicans narrowly passed last month, the Congressional Budget Office reported on Wednesday.

      The CBO also predicted that the deficit would come down by $119 billion over the next decade and that premiums for people buying insurance on their own would generally be lower for younger consumers and higher for older and sicker people than those premiums would be if the Affordable Care Act stays in place.

      But the reasons why health insurance would be less expensive for some arent much to cheer about, the budget report makes clear. Prices would come down for healthy people because those who are sick or have illness in their medical histories would have less access to coverage and the policies available on the market would tend to be a lot less comprehensive.

      In other words, the price for lower premiums would be some combination of higher out-of-pocket costs, fewer covered services, and coverage that would be harder to get for the people who need it most.

      Insurance, on average, would pay for a smaller proportion of health care costs, the CBO report says. The budget office even predicts that several million people will opt to use the bills new tax credits to buy plans so bare-boned that they dont even qualify as health insurance.

      The American Health Care Act the House bill to repeal most of Obamacare would take away $1.1 trillion from programs that help people get covered, including $834 billion in cuts to Medicaid, over the course of a decade.

      The result would be 51 million Americans without health insurance by 2026, compared with 28 million under current law. The House-passed bill would effectively reverse all of the Affordable Care Acts coverage expansion, which pushed the uninsured rate to a historic low.

      Coverage losses would begin soon, with 14 million more uninsured next year, 19 million more by 2020 and 23 million more by 2026, the report finds. The largest share of the lower coverage numbers would come from the 14 million fewer low-income people who qualify for Medicaid. The rise in the uninsured would fall hardest on low-income people aged 50 to 64, the CBO projected.

      Health insurance premiums for young adults generally would come down, in part because policies would be less comprehensive. A 21-year-old could buy an unsubsidized policy for as little as $3,700 a year under the House bill, compared to $5,100 under the Affordable Care Act.

      But the other side of that ledger reveals significantly higher costs for older people. A 64-year-olds annual unsubsidized premium would rise from $15,300 to as much as $21,000.

      Wednesdays assessment of the American Health Care Act is relatively similar to the evaluations the budget office issued previously, when it studied earlier versions of the legislation.

      In late April, House leaders rushed to vote on the bill less than 24 hours after making significant modifications, without waiting for the budget office to study how those changes to Obamacare might affect insurance coverage or the federal deficit.

      One of those changes would have allow states to waive a rule that prohibits insurers from charging higher premiums to people at greater risk of medical problems. Without that rule in place, insurers could jack up rates for people with pre-existing conditions, effectively making standard coverage unavailable and violating a key promise to guarantee insurance for everybody regardless of medical status, which most Republicans had endorsed.

      In March, the House had failed to bring an earlier version of the legislation to the floor for a vote, embarrassing Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and President Donald Trump, who were unable to pull together factions within the House Republican Conference. After that, conservatives from the House Freedom Caucus and more moderate lawmakers led by Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) negotiated a deal that enabled Republican leaders to cobble together just enough votes to pass the bill in the lower chamber. Trump held a celebration at the White House afterward.

      The new language placated conservatives, who wanted to repeal more of the Affordable Care Acts consumer protections, and some moderates, who expressed concern about major coverage losses and about harming people with pre-existing conditions and who won additional funds meant to mitigate those problems.

      Based on the CBO score, the moderates didnt actually get what they wanted.

      The House-passed legislation would reduce the number of people with health coverage by just 1 million fewer than the earlier legislation.

      And the bills ballyhooed waivers for states that want to curtail the Affordable Care Acts guarantee of coverage for people with pre-existing conditions is the main reason that the CBO projected older and sicker people would have a harder time obtaining coverage. The money that moderate Republicans won to protect these people would help some but would be inadequate to maintain current levels of coverage and benefits, the budget office concluded.

      Based mostly on states pre-Obamacare insurance regulations, the CBO made assumptions about how many would obtain those waivers. The report does not name the states.

      One-sixth of Americans reside in states that would likely aggressively deregulate their insurance markets, allowing health insurers to charge higher rates to people with pre-existing conditions who experience a gap in coverage say,from a job loss that lasted more than 63 days. These states also are expected to seek waivers that would eliminate requirements to cover any type of medical care like prescriptions and would add annual and lifetime caps on coverage, according to the budget analysis.

      Those state insurance markets would begin to destabilize for people with pre-existing conditions in 2020, the CBO predicted. People whose health status would pass muster with insurers would have access to less costly coverage than today, but those who were ill or had past health problems would ultimately be unable to purchase comprehensive nongroup health insurance at premiums comparable to those under current law, if they could purchase it at all, the report says.

      About one-third of Americans live states that would likely make more modest changes to their insurance rules, such as excluding a few specific benefits that are mandatory under Obamacare or allowing insurers to charge consumers extra for riders to cover those benefits. A maternity coverage rider, for example, might increase premiums by more than $1,000 a month, the CBO estimated. Overall, prices in these states would be lower for younger people than for older ones. Policies in general would require more out-of-pocket spending on things like deductibles and copayments, and the cost of uncovered services would be borne entirely by patients.

      For the remaining half of Americans, their states would be expected to retain most of the Affordable Care Acts insurance guarantees for people with pre-existing conditions and its required benefits, like hospitalizations, prescription drugs and maternity care. In those markets, premiums would come down for younger consumers and rise for older ones.

      Theres no magic behind the bills effects on the budget deficit. The House approved a measure that would slash federal support for low- and middle-income families to obtain health coverage. Most of the money saved by cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid and hundreds of billions more from financial assistance for those buying private health insurance would be transferred to wealthy households and health care companies in the form of tax cuts, with only a small amount left over for deficit reduction.

      The Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obamas signature domestic policy achievement, provides tax credits for private insurance and expanded the Medicaid program, which offers government-sponsored insurance to low-income people.

      The Affordable Care Act has also prohibited insurance practices like placing annual or lifetime limits on benefits that made it difficult for people with the most serious medical problems to pay their bills. And, crucially, the law includes an outright prohibition against insurers rejecting people with pre-existing conditions or charging them higher rates than healthy people.

      But to finance the coverage expansion, the law raised taxes, predominantly on health care companies and the very wealthy. It also forced some people, particularly those whose relatively good health once gave them access to cheap coverage, to pay substantially higher premiums.

      Some of these people have decided not to get insurance altogether, making it harder for insurers to balance their books to the point where many insurers have raised rates considerably or abandoned some local markets entirely. Nevertheless, the new CBO analysis projects that most of these markets would remain stable over time under current law.

      Democrats have generally called for bolstering the Affordable Care Act by making tax credits more generous, for example, or using government bargaining power to drive down drug prices while leaving in place the expansions of Medicaid and all the new insurance rules.

      Republicans, by contrast, have sought to weaken or eliminate those rules and to ratchet back spending on tax credits and Medicaid all while rolling back Obamacares taxes, giving relief to the corporations and wealthy people who pay them.

      The House bill would do that, and now its up to the Senateto consider, modify or rewrite that legislation. Even before the House bill passed, a number of Senate Republicans were raising objections about the number of people who might lose coverage as a result. Nevertheless, the Senate GOP is on track to put together legislation of their own that would massively cut back the Medicaid program and provide far less help for those who buy private insurance.

      Republicans face a backlash from some voters for undoing the Affordable Care Acts most popular provisions, and the bill violates Trumps oft-stated promise that he would replace the law with something better that covered everyone with lower premiums and lower out-of-pocket costs.

      But Republicans also fear the wrath of their core supporters, who strongly support the GOP keeping its years-old vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

      Republican leaders in the Senate have said they hope to vote on a bill before adjourning for the August recess.

      Just over one-quarter of Americans say they support the House-passed bill, according to aHuffPost/YouGov pollpublished Wednesday. Forty-four percent oppose it, while 31 percent said they were unsure. Views of the Affordable Care Act remain almost evenly divided, but 42 percent said the Republican bill would be worse,while only 23 percent said it would be an improvement.

      This article has been updated with additional details, including from the Congressional Budget Office report and the findings of a HuffPost/YouGov survey.

      CORRECTION: The CBO predicted that under the House-passed bill, there would be 23 million additional uninsured Americans by 2026, not 2016.

      Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/gop-health-care-bill-congressional-budget-office_us_5924e896e4b00c8df29feb68

      Leadership Reflections: 52 Leadership Practices in the Age of Worry by Dr. Lisa Aldisert – Book Review

      Summary:

      Do you think of yourself as a leader? Leadership starts with a mindset, not a title. Leaders influence. They share keen insight. They command respect without demanding it. Leaders inspire achievement of successful outcomes, whether leading people, projects, or processes. You’ll relate to the real-world vignettes in this book as they represent typical challenges leaders face as they navigate the wilds of the workplace. This book is a collection of short essays on leadership and relationship management written by Dr. Lisa M. Aldisert, a seasoned management consultant. Not only has she advised hundreds of clients on these issues, but she has faced these situations directly in her businesses. This book will provide you with anecdotes and examples that you can apply on the job every day.

      5 Star Review Manhatten Book Review – https://manhattanbookreview.com/product/leadership-reflections-52-leadership-practices-in-the-age-of-worry/

      “Many good things come in small packages, and Lisa Aldisert’s small trade paperback is a perfect example. Leadership Reflections is an unusual volume that should be on the desktop of every manager and leader, particularly in a corporate environment, but it would be helpful in any situation, small or large, profit or non-profit, where the situation involves a leader/manager and followers or employees. The author is an executive advisor and management consultant who has written hundreds of short essays for executives. In this book, she compiled fifty-two of these short, one-and-half to two-page essays, all pertaining to management issues. With her clear, precise, and very readable writing, the essays are gems and highly imperative messages to leaders. You may read these from cover to cover in one sitting, but they might be more useful in small doses as perhaps weekly readings while actively putting each of these essays into practice. Following each essay, Aldisert concludes with two questions under “For Reflection”—these are good and presumably leaders reading these essays will reflect on their leadership to answer the questions (e.g. “Do you ignore conflicts in order to keep peace?” “How can you sell the benefits of positive stress to your staff?”). The author includes, and often starts with, little stories or anecdotes that help keep readers’ interests as well as add to the understanding of the concept. A good example is in the essay “Managing High-Performing Talent.” Aldisert quotes a high-performing employee in a boutique investment bank whose independence and refusal to be managed kept her manager in a quandary. Such a situation is not uncommon, and the author gives reasonable suggestions on how to manage such a dilemma. Or how to manage workplace drama of finger-pointing and accusations, another sticky situation requiring the leader’s diplomatic intervention. Aldisert’s advice in these essays is to the point, clearly stated, and is invaluable help to leaders and managers.”

      Available on Amazon – http://amzn.to/2ryP7uN

      The Hunter: Awakening by Nicholas Arriaza

      Story Summary:

      The Hunter: Awakening, is the first of a series of novels that will explore the nature of good and evil and the question of redemption: Is it available to those who have perpetrated great evil? Not long after the theft of a leather-bound book from a hidden hillside tomb in LA, a young hiker inadvertently awakens something fearsome that has been laid to rest some two hundred years ago. Soon after an emaciated, amnesiac man falls from a cliffside trail into the backyard of young, pregnant, neurosurgeon Melisa Castro. The young doctor feels compelled to help the “John Doe” regain his memory. Meanwhile a vampire who no longer has a hunger for blood comes seeking to rectify the awakening only to find himself in the middle of a power struggle within the family Melisa’s fiancé Chris leads. Chris has yet to tell Melisa of his true nature and the fact, she is carrying a werewolf’s baby.

      5 Stars San Francisco Book Review

      In The Hunter: Awakening, we are introduced to Melisa Castro, a doctor who helps a man who falls onto her property and seems to have amnesia. As she is four months pregnant, she tries to be careful around him, but she finds herself needing to help this mysterious man. Even stranger, when she touches him, she sees visions of things that happened to him in the past, which he can’t even remember. Melisa is slowly drawn into a world of vampires and werewolves and those that hunt them. She discovers that the battle between the Hunter and his prey has been going on for centuries. Melisa begins to realize that the child she carries might not be normal at all and that she might possess some supernatural powers as well. Because of the child she’s carrying, she is in danger from the Hunter. But things aren’t always black and white. The Hunter has been awakened, but he wasn’t supposed to be, and now no one knows how the story will end.

      I thoroughly enjoyed this book and look forward to the next in the series. The plot was great. Who doesn’t love a story about werewolves and vampires? If you don’t, you should. Even though Melisa was the main character, I actually liked Aaron, her future brother-in-law, and Ranald the best. Ranald, the sarcastic vampire, was an enjoyable character to read about. I hope that if I ever become one of the undead, I can still keep it light like he does. Aaron makes his brother, Chris, who is the father of Melisa’s child, just look bad. He’s willing to go as far as needed to protect her and her unborn child.

      http://sanfranciscobookreview.com/product/the-hunter-awakening/

      Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2poA9Tc

      Author Website: https://www.thehuntersaga.com/

      Author Bio:
      Nicholas Arriaza has worked as a pizza maker, an electrician, a carpenter, a luxury home electronics salesman, and an owner operator of a successful luxury custom home theater design company. He is now a stay at home dad and fantasy writer. He lives with his wife, their infant son, and Pit-Bull Basil in Los Angeles, CA. THE HUNTER: AWAKENING is his first published novel. He is currently working on the second novel of the saga.