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It’s time to put the insurance companies out of their misery

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If I were on trial for robbing a house, the last thing in the world I would do is give a series of public lectures on cat burglary techniques. “I’m completely innocent,” I’d say, as the sample lock clicked open. “I’ve lived a clean life. Any questions about the order in which to rifle dresser drawers?”

The health insurance companies, admittedly with the help of a few journalists and bloggers, seem intent on demonstrating just how good they are at heisting TVs and jewelry. They’re denying babies for being too fat. They’re denying babies for being too skinny. They’re denying women for having been raped. They’re charging women 84% more than men, although that last one may be par for the American course.

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That’s seriously audacious. They claim they’re fighting for their lives, that health care reform is going to make it impossible for insurers to stay in business, that the public option would be the death knell of private insurance companies. And you could say that this is crazy, or this is arrogant; that they’re less like a housebreaker than like a depression-area bank robber, lauded in the press while stealing from the poor to give to the rich; Robin Hood in reverse. But in truth, they’re not crazy. These denials and “dumb moves” are so inherent in the system that it actually surprises me that Rocky Mountain Health Plans changed anything at all.

The Democrats seem to have gotten that message. “It is absolutely clear that it is an unsustainable situation as we go forward, and it is well known to the public that the health insurance companies are the problem.” Nancy Pelosi, especially, seems to have shifted into gear.

Obama mocked the insurance companies and those who would bow to them in his speech yesterday. “Oh this is actually harder than expected, the insurance companies don’t like health reform, I guess we’ll just pack up and go home.”

I’m convinced that at least part of the reason for this hardening of rhetoric is a sense in Washington that the American people have finally started to wake up – or at least make their voices heard – about the abuses of the health insurance industry. Good. I’m not enjoying the thought of what will happen to the lower-level employees of the health insurance companies if we finally manage to deliver the coup de grace, but when I weigh them against the now-estimated 45,000 deaths a year , I have to conclude that I’m just happy that they’d have health care while they’re looking for other work.


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Melania Trump statue torched near her Slovenian hometown: report

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On Wednesday, The Daily Beast reported that a wooden statue of First Lady Melania Trump carved from a tree outside her hometown in Slovenia last year has been burned to the ground.

"The artist who had commissioned the sculpture, Brad Downey, had the statue removed on July 5," reported Madeline Charbonneau. "Downey, who is American but works out of Berlin, had hoped his statue of the first lady would create dialogue about American politics, given that Melania Trump is an immigrant married to a president who seeks to stem immigration. Though the investigation is still pending, Downey said he hopes to interview the perpetrators for an upcoming exhibition."

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FBI investigating Chinese businessman who bankrolled media company linked to Steve Bannon

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A Wall Street Journal expose revealed that a Chinese businessman is under investigation by the FBI after he used funds to bankroll a media company with ties to a former aide to President Donald Trump, Steve Bannon.

"Federal Bureau of Investigation national security agents in recent months have asked people who know both men for information on Mr. Guo’s activities, including the source of funds of a media company linked to him that hired Mr. Bannon in 2018 as a consultant, the people said," according to the Journal. "As recently as last week, the FBI met with one person familiar with the companies tied to Mr. Guo, the people said. The probe has been underway for more than six months, and prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn have been involved.

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Mike Pompeo asks Egypt to stop harassing US citizens

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday welcomed Egypt's release of a US citizen but urged the ally to stop harassment of others.

Mohamed Amashah, 24, was freed Monday, nearly 16 months after he was arrested in Cairo's Tahrir Square for holding up a sign seeking the release of prisoners, according to human rights campaigners.

A dual US-Egyptian citizen who lives in New Jersey, he had gone on a hunger strike this year to protest his conditions.

"We thank Egypt for securing his release and his repatriation," Pompeo told a news conference.

"But at the same time, we urge Egyptian officials to stop unwarranted harassment of US citizens and their families who remain there," he said.

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