E! News anchor Maria Menounos has revealed she learned she had a brain tumor while caring for her mother, who has stage 4 brain cancer. Upon receiving the diagnosis, Menounos tells People magazine: "I didn't cry. I actually laughed. It's so surreal and crazy and unbelievable that my mom has a brain tumor — and now…
On Wednesday, writing for MSNBC, columnist Katelyn Burns argued that Texas Republicans' back-to-back passage of the harshest anti-abortion law in the country and a new bill limiting transgender students' participation in high school athletics isn't a coincidence.
Indeed, argued Burns, the point is to turn these allied progressive groups against one another and weaken their ability to organize.
"The proximity of these two bills is more meaningful than one might think: Conservatives have been hard at work over the last few years trying to divide the natural solidarity that should exist between feminists and trans people. In introducing bills that disempower both populations, they're making crucial headway toward that goal," wrote Burns. "The implications for trans people and women couldn't be more terrifying. In multiple states, GOP legislators have pushed heavy-handed abortion bans alongside bills to prevent trans people from changing their gender on their birth certificates. Conservatives have signaled that birth control may be their next target, which affects both cisgender women and trans people."
As Burns noted, there have been pushes to demonize the public accommodation of transgender people as a threat to cisgender women and children in both the United States and England. The activists spearheading the push are usually described as "radical feminists," although as some commentators have noted, they often push deeply anti-feminist ideas.
It is imperative, argued Burns, that transgender and feminist activists see through the ruse.
"Instead of bickering among one another over things like gender-inclusive reproductive health language, it's worth women and trans people looking at the bigger picture and taking note of the world conservatives are striving to create," wrote Burns. "It's a future in which personal liberty is a facade and cis women and trans people have no right to make the most personal decisions about their own bodies ... It's up to women and trans people to work together to ensure it doesn't come to fruition."
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In just over three minutes, People's Policy Project founder Matt Bruenig on Tuesday explained in a video posted to social media how a paid leave proposal put forward in the U.S. House would be a "disaster" for working families—and a boon for the private insurance industry. Produced by the outlet More Perfect Union, the video describes how House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.)—who counts the insurance industry as his top contributor since taking office more than three decades ago—put forward a plan to replace President Joe Biden's straightforward proposal to offer 12 weeks of paid leave to new parents through the Social Security Administration (SSA).
Under Biden's plan, the SSA would provide new parents with cash benefits to cover a portion of their wages for 12 weeks after the birth or adoption of a child—a modest proposal considering the amount of paid time off parents have in other wealthy countries. Ten countries—including Estonia, Japan, Lithuania, and Norway—offer more than a year of paid leave. Neal's proposal, released by the House Ways and Means Committee last month, suggests that the 16-term congressman believes even 12 weeks of partial pay is too generous for workers in the United States. Under Neal's plan, Bruenig explains, the federal government would distribute cash benefits not directly to new parents but to employers, which would then pay insurance companies to provide paid leave to workers—if they meet certain criteria. The proposal, Bruenig wrote in a blog post last month, "is a complicated mess riddled with design problems that could be easily fixed." As Bruenig explains in the video, Neal's plan contains three major flaws:
- It excludes parents who haven't worked in the three to six months prior to adoption or childbirth, allowing insurers to discriminate against new parents who recently finished school or job training, those with work-limiting disabilities or pregnancies that kept them from working, or who faced unemployment;
- It includes no minimum benefit level, allowing workers to receive benefits equal to or less than 85% of what they earned, so "low-paid workers who cannot afford to give up 15% of their pay would not be able to access the program"; and
- It provides 12 weeks of paid leave per parent, so two-parent households are eligible for twice as much leave as one-parent families, and single parents would be left with higher child care bills.
"When we make voters feel that government can't deliver, it hurts the entirety of the progressive agenda."
"It would also be a disaster for the federal budget, because businesses that take a below average amount of paid leave would be able to extract money out of the system for their own profit," Bruenig explained in the video. Bruenig noted that Neal's plan has won endorsements from the insurance industry, including Prudential, which praised the proposal as a "partnership between employers, employees, and benefits providers," and Sun Life, one of the nation's largest insurers. As The American Prospect reported last month, "the American Council of Life Insurers (ACLI), a trade group that lobbied Neal to include private business, praised the final product... thanking Neal for 'the opportunity to partner and for continued dialogue.'" Passing Neal's proposal instead of Biden's straightforward paid family leave plan—like other proposals put forth by right-wing corporate Democrats as lawmakers debate the president's Build Back Better agenda—is likely to harm the Democratic Party in upcoming elections, Bruenig said, as well as failing to help working families who have been demanding paid leave for years. "Passing a poorly designed paid leave proposal is a dangerous political game for Democrats," said Bruenig. "Voters would rightly blame them for the difficult and inefficient program they've now been forced to deal with, wiping away what should have been a political winner." "When we make voters feel that government can't deliver," he added, "it hurts the entirety of the progressive agenda."
Rudy Giuliani's legal situation was indirectly called into question in a new legal filing by former Attorney General Michael Mukasey.
Mukasey disclosed he was paid $21,551 by Mujahedeen e-Khalq. The filing was made under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which "requires certain agents of foreign principals who are engaged in political activities or other activities specified under the statute to make periodic public disclosure of their relationship with the foreign principal, as well as activities, receipts and disbursements in support of those activities."
The filing is significant because Giuliani has done work for the same group, but has not filed under the act, as was noted by New York Times journalist Ken Vogel.
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