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Georgia 2018: Stacey Evans launches a HOPE-themed campaign for governor

State Rep. Stacey Evans, D – Smyrna. Bob Andres, bandres@ajc.com

Democratic state Rep. Stacey Evans entered the race for Georgia governor on Thursday with a pledge to make technical college tuition-free and a vow to fight for struggling Georgians ignored by the powerful.

The Smyrna attorney’s campaign sets up what will likely be a divisive Democratic primary for the state’s top job in 2018. House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams has also filed paperwork to run for governor and is expected to soon make a formal announcement.

Evans said in an interview she is putting “hope” – the scholarship and the concept – at the heart of her bid to replace a term-limited Nathan Deal. She has been one of the most forceful critics of the 2011 law he signed that slashed funding to the popular program.

“It gutted the program that was responsible for everything that’s good in my life,” Evans said. “The Stacey Evans born today doesn’t have the same opportunity that the Stacey born in 1978 had.”

The 39-year-old’s background will play a central role in her campaign. A child of a struggling teenage mom, the Ringgold native was the first in her family to graduate from college. She used her share in a massive whistleblower settlement to create a $500,000 scholarship for first-generation graduates at the University of Georgia’s law school.

She said it was her feeling of hopelessness as a young girl that helped inspire her to run for public office. When she was 12, Evans called the police to report that her mother was being abused by a man she was dating. She said the authorities dismissed her complaint, saying the man “wouldn’t hurt a fly.”

“It was a very powerless moment,” she said. “Even with the eyes of a child, I could see what was going on. It taught me it matters who is in government. It matters who is in positions of power. And it matters whether they use it to protect people in power or they use it to protect the people in need.”

Her entry into the race sets up a potentially bruising fight that Democrats managed to avoid in 2014, when then-state Sen. Jason Carter ran for the party’s nomination unopposed. It also reflects a queasiness over Abrams, a fundraising dynamo with a national profile who some party leaders worry can’t win in a general election.

A parallel struggle is happening across the aisle as some Republicans uncomfortable with Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle – the GOP’s presumptive front-runner – are searching for other contenders. Secretary of State Brian Kemp and state Sen. Hunter Hill have joined the race, and several more are exploring a run.

Evans, for her part, said she’s not concerned a heated primary could weaken a Democrat’s chances.

“The party will be fine. Choices are a good thing,” she said. “My intention is to be positive and spread my message – a message that all Georgians want to hear. I’m not running against Stacey Abrams. I’m running for Georgia.”

Her supporters hope she’ll be better-suited to reach out to independents and Republicans disillusioned by Donald Trump and the GOP field in the general election. But her first daunting task is winning the party’s nomination.

Black voters make up by far the largest bloc of the Democratic electorate, and Abrams has already captured national attention – and even stray talk about a presidential run – in her bid to be the nation’s first black governor. Evans, who was elected to the Legislature in 2010, said she’s confident her message can transcend racial and demographic lines.

“This is something everyone understands. Everyone has felt the power of hope – and everybody has felt what it feels like to feel hopeless,” she said. “I have faith in the electorate that they will be looking at our message, and decide who will wake up every day to fight for them. And that answer will be me.”

Her initial endorsements include former state Rep. Ronnie Mabra, an African-American attorney who said Evans could build a “coalition that helps bring better opportunity to every Georgia family.” Her campaign will be chaired by former U.S. Rep. Buddy Darden, who once represented a Cobb-based district that’s now held by the GOP.

Throughout the interview, Evans darted back to the 2011 changes enacted by Deal and a coalition of lawmakers that aimed to prevent the lottery-funded HOPE program from going broke.

Designed by Zell Miller, the program once funded all public college tuition if students maintained a 3.0 GPA. Under the 2011 law, only the state’s most accomplished students, about 10 percent of recipients, get full tuition awards. For other students, the scholarship amount depends on lottery revenue.

Evans called that bill-signing the “most devastating day” of her legislative career.

“My story starts with the HOPE scholarship. It was the center of my success,” she said. “But it’s also about a much broader theme. It’s about having hope in your government. And it’s about having hope in yourself.”

Categories: International News

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One of the toughest things for bloggers to accept is the fact that no one is obligated to like your
Categories: International News


După un solstițiu de iarnă pe un meleag sudic, acolo unde cenușă este totul, un solstițiu de vară în cel mai nordic punct al Europei continentale, 71°10’15,7″ latitudine nordică.

Din nou, una din națiile cele mai fericite ale Terrei.

Norvegia, cu multe fiorduri spectaculoase, lacuri, munți înzăpeziți, orașe populate vechi mult dincolo de cercul polar, trecători muntoase, tuneluri, multe tuneluri. Norvegia are probabil 1.000 km tuneluri rutiere, prin munți, pe sub fiorduri (pe sub mare). Oare n-are bani vestita primăriță să-i viziteze, poate-i mai vin niște idei; dar nu pe banii contribuabilului.

Am parcurs Norvegia de la sud la nord; ținta nu au fost așezările urbane, dar nu regret că le-am vizitat pe unele.

Relieful este diferit de Noua Zeelandă. Fiordurile sunt mult mai largi și mai lungi. Pantele fiordurilor sunt mai molcome, nu foarte abrupte/verticale. Munții sunt predominant cu roci cristaline – granit, bazalt, deși există și calcare. Eu n-am văzut ghețari, dar era încă multă zăpadă.

Șoselele sunt mai înguste ca la noi și în restul Europei, dar mai late ca în Noua Zeelandă. Ferryboat-uri leagă peste fiorduri porțiuni ale șoselei (acolo unde nu este tunel submarin). Cred că majoritatea tunelurilor sunt făcute în ultimii 30 ani. Tunelurile nu au lucrări/consolidări interioare; majoritatea acestora constau doar în ceva plase de sârmă, fiindcă beneficiază de roca cristalină în care sunt forate. Gândiți-vă la dificultățile forării într-o asemenea piatră.

Cu excepția renilor pe care-i întâlnești des în nord, viețuitoarele și plantele sunt cam ca la noi, sigur, regnuri mai adaptate frigului. Noi nu am văzut animale polare – urși, vulpi, lupi, deși probabil sunt.

Am văzut cam toate locurile menționate prin prospectele turistice. Orașele nu au constituit obiectivele vizitei, dar am parcurs și am vizitat câteva. Ca puncte principale, menționez Stavanger, Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock), Bergen, Sognefjorden, Geirangerfjorden, Storfjorden, Trollstigen, Romsdalshornet, Atlantic Road, Kristian Sund, Trondheim, Snåsavatnet, Namsskogan, Mosjøen, Mo i Rana, Nesna – un loc splendid, Saltfjorden, Bodo, arhipelagul Lofoten, Møysalen, Tromsø, Lyngen, Oksfjord, Isnestofoten, Skaidi si Nordkapp la solstițiu.

Categories: International News

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Montana candidate accused of body-slamming reporter charged

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BOZEMAN, Mont. (AP) — Thursday’s nationally-watched election for Montana’s sole congressional seat got a last-minute twist when the Republican candidate, Greg Gianforte, was charged with misdemeanor assault for grabbing a reporter by the neck and throwing him to the ground.

Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin made the announcement shortly before midnight Wednesday in a written statement, about six hours after the attack on reporter Ben Jacobs of The Guardian. Gianforte would face a maximum $500 fine or 6 months in jail if convicted. The statement added that Jacobs’ injuries did not meet the legal definition of felony assault.

Gianforte was in a private office preparing for an interview with Fox News when Jacobs came in without permission, campaign spokesman Shane Scanlon said.

The Fox News crew watched in astonishment as, after Jacobs pressed him on the GOP health care bill, “Gianforte grabbed Jacobs by the neck with both hands and slammed him into the ground behind him,” Fox News reporter Alicia Acuna wrote in an article. She added that Gianforte then began to punch Jacobs.

Listen to me get body slammed in Montana https://t.co/I8hAUsmuWw

— Ben Jacobs (@Bencjacobs) May 25, 2017

In an audio recording posted by the Guardian, the reporter asks the congressional candidate about the GOP’s health care bill, which was just evaluated hours earlier by the Congressional Budget Office.

“We’ll talk to you about that later,” Gianforte says on the recording, referring Jacobs to a spokesman.

When Jacobs says that there won’t be time, Gianforte says “Just–” and there is a crashing sound. Gianforte yells, “The last guy who came here did the same thing,” and a shaken-sounded Jacobs tells the candidate he just body-slammed him.

“Get the hell out of here,” Gianforte says.

The incident is a last-minute curveball in Thursday’s race, which was partly seen as a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency. The majority of voters were expected to have already cast ballots through early voting, and it was unclear how much of an effect the assault charge would have on the election results.

Gianforte and Democrat Rob Quist, who declined to comment, are seeking to fill the state’s seat in the U.S. House left vacant when Ryan Zinke resigned to join Trump’s Cabinet as secretary of the Interior Department.

Rob Quist

In this March 18, 2017 file photo, Congressional candidate Rob Quist meets with supporters during the annual Mansfield Metcalf Celebration dinner hosted by the state’s Democratic Party in Helena, Mont. (AP Photo/Bobby Caina Calvan, File)

Gianforte, a wealthy businessman, lost a race against Montana’s Democratic governor in November while Trump won the state by 20 points. In the congressional race, Gianforte has tried to tie himself to the president and been boosted by visits from Vice President Mike Pence and Donald Trump, Jr.

Hours before Wednesday’s assault, the Gianforte campaign sent out a last-minute fundraising appeal to its supporters, saying the outcome “will determine whether we pass Donald Trump’s America First agenda or if the fake news media and the national Democrats will win, keeping Obama’s reckless policies in place.”

Democrats were hoping an upset would send a message to the GOP that Trump’s souring approval ratings could damage their political fortunes even in deep red states.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced that it would launch as many Facebook ads as possible about the assault, targeting Montana Democrats who might not otherwise vote Thursday. The Committee called for Gianforte to quit the race and for the Republican Party to denounce him publicly.

Requests for comment went unanswered Wednesday night from House Speaker Paul Ryan and the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Scott Sales, the Republican president of Montana’s state senate, unsuccessfully vied against Gianforte for his party’s congressional nomination. On Wednesday evening, he said he could not understand why the scuffle took place.

“There’s always two sides to a story, but this doesn’t look good,” Sales said. “It’s not what you want to see happen on the eve of an election.”

The Gianforte campaign Wednesday night released a statement blaming the incident on Jacobs. It contends he “aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg’s face and began asking badgering questions” before being asked to leave.

Gianforte asked Jacobs to lower a phone that was being used as an audio recorder, then tried to grab it, the campaign said in a statement. Jacobs then grabbed Gianforte’s wrist and both fell to the ground, Scanlon said.

The 45-second recording does not contain a request from Gianforte that Jacobs lower his phone. Acuna, the Fox News reporter, wrote that “at no point did any of us who witnessed this assault see Jacobs show any form of physical aggression toward Gianforte.”

The sheriff’s office said Gianforte has until June 7 to appear in court on the charge.

Federal records show that the sheriff donated $250 to Gianforte’s congressional campaign in March. In his statement, Gootkin confirmed the donation but said, “This contribution has nothing to do with our investigation, which is now complete.”

As a candidate, he has already had to apologize for his treatment of the press after an incident last month at a meeting of a Christian group where a man complained about reporters and said he wanted to “wring their necks.”

Gianforte pointed out a reporter covering the meeting and said, “It seems like there is more of us than there is of him,” according to the Helena Independent Record newspaper. He later said it was a joke and the reporter in the room laughed with everyone else.

The Guardian is a British liberal newspaper that opened a U.S. edition 10 years ago. Its U.S. editor, Lee Glendenning, said in a statement:

“The Guardian is deeply appalled by how our reporter, Ben Jacobs, was treated in the course of doing his job as a journalist while reporting on the Montana special election. We are committed to holding power to account and we stand by Ben and our team of reporters for the questions they ask and the reporting that is produced.”

Categories: International News

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GOP health bill: 23M more uninsured; sick risk higher costs

WASHINGTON (AP) — Congress’ official budget analyst is projecting that the House Republican health care bill would produce 23 million more uninsured people and costly, perhaps unaffordable coverage for the seriously ill. Now Republicans in the Senate have to decide how to make their version different.

The Congressional Budget Office report, issued Wednesday, also found that average premiums would fall compared with President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul, a chief goal of many Republicans. But that would be partly because policies would typically provide fewer benefits and sicker people would be priced out, it concluded.

The results gave Democrats ammunition to attack the GOP drive to scuttle former President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul as damaging to patients.

Three weeks after the House narrowly approved the measure with GOP-only votes and after several embarrassing setbacks, Republican senators said they’d move in their own direction and dismissed the report’s impact.

In closed-door meetings aimed at crafting a measure, GOP senators have discussed changing the House’s proposed Medicaid cuts and aiming health care tax credits more toward low earners, but they’ve reported little progress.

“We’ll get ’em,” Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said when asked if GOP leaders would round up the votes they’ll need to pass a bill. “But it’s going to be difficult.”

The report found that under the House measure, people in some regions with pre-existing medical conditions or the seriously ill “would ultimately be unable to purchase” robust coverage at premiums comparable to today’s prices, “if they could purchase at all.”

That was a knock on 11th-hour changes Republicans made in the bill to gain conservatives’ votes by letting states get waivers to boost premiums on the ill and reduce coverage requirements.

The budget office said older people with lower income would disproportionately lose coverage. Over half of those becoming uninsured, 14 million people, would come from the bill’s $834 billion in cuts over 10 years to Medicaid, which provides health coverage to poor and disabled people.

“The report makes clear that Trumpcare would be a cancer on the American health care system,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., using the nickname Democrats have tried pinning on the bill.

Trump’s Health and Human Services secretary, Tom Price, assailed the CBO for being inaccurate, and the White House issued a similar critique.

“The CBO was wrong when they analyzed Obamacare’s effect on cost and coverage,” Price said of the agency’s report on Obama’s law, “and they are wrong again.”

Many congressional Republicans took a sharply different tack, emphasizing some of the report’s more positive findings.

“This CBO report again confirms that the American Health Care Act achieves our mission: lowering premiums and lowering the deficit. It is another positive step toward keeping our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

The analysis said the House bill, the American Health Care Act, would reduce federal deficits by $119 billion over the next decade. The previous version of the bill reduced shortfalls by $150 billion.

In a late compromise, House GOP conservatives and moderates struck a deal letting states get federal waivers to permit insurers to charge higher premiums to some people in poor health, and to ignore the standard set of benefits required by Obama’s statute.

CBO said states adopting those waivers could destabilize coverage for people with medical problems. The agency estimated that about one-sixth of the population – more than 50 million people – live in states that would make substantial changes under the waivers.

The budget office projected that premiums in those states would be lower for healthy people than under current law because their coverage would be narrower, but did not estimate an amount.

For ill people in those states, “it would become more difficult” for seriously ill people to buy insurance “because their premiums would continue to increase rapidly,” the report said.

Benefits likely to be excluded from required coverage in some states would include maternity, mental health and substance abuse services, the report said.

In states not getting waivers, where it estimated half the country lives, average premiums would be about 4 percent lower in 2026 than under Obama’s law, the report said. For the one-third of the nation in states modestly reducing coverage requirements, average premiums would be about 20 percent lower, the analysts estimated.

The budget office said average premiums in those states would go down because younger and healthier people would buy coverage and the policies would cover less.

The report said that under Obama’s law, the nation’s health insurance market is expected to remain “stable in most areas” because federal subsidies to millions of consumers largely rise with premiums. Citing markets where insurers have left or sought huge premium increases, Republicans have repeatedly said the statute must be dismantled because it is in a death spiral.

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Categories: International News

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Manchester's Sad Dichotomy

Every terrorist incident in the West seems to have a sequel, and that is the blame game. In a poll on Twitter by David Jones 70% of respondents suggest government was partly to blame for the attack. Even the music concert performer, Ariana Grande, who sung at the Manchester event is being blamed for the clothes that she wore. Then it’s the security services for not preventing the attack.

Of course, it goes without saying that an entire religion is also to blame. Loose immigration policy on Middle Eastern and North African refugees, and the infiltration of radicalism into mosques is apparently much to blame. Even liberal thinking people took a knock and so too does every strain of political party. On the other hand, singer, Morrissey suggests that politicians are just too scared to blame Islam for Manchester attack! It doesn’t help.

Indeed, how is all this indignant blame going to help? It is certainly throwing up a smoke signal and one wonders if our political ‘elite’ can see the smoke for the mist and formulate pro-active and acceptable policy.

I am told that two poor homeless people, Britons, who were begging and sleeping on the street in the immediate area of the blast, rushed to the aid the bleeding victims. Their moving accounts of how they helped the victims has ended in an appropriate appeal to assist them and the money is still pouring in!

Here are two British people made destitute by the system, struggling to keep going, against all the odds, and their Government does naught for them, so it seems. How could they? Here is the irony. So much funding available to the poor is allocated to refugee immigrants first; they are housed, given jobs and lead a right royal life in comparison to life in their home nations.

Our ungrateful terrorist, even enjoyed a university education until he dropped out. Who funded that? Police named British born Salman Ramadan Abedi, a Muslim, just 22 years of age, from a Libyan refugee background. His brother, Ismail Abedi, was arrested and so too were his parents, in Libya.

Salman and Ismail appear to be of good home and blessed with the opportunities of the British way of life. Abedi lived in a house on Manchester’s Elsmore Road – a quiet, residential street lined with red-brick semi-detached houses. How quaint. Better than a cardboard box outside a stadium. The brothers were more favoured by the system, it would seem, than are most true Britons who find themselves in dire straits.

So who is responsible for this, who should take the blame? Seems to me that there is blood on the hands of successive Western governments. European and American intervention in the Muslim non-secular states is part of the problem. Invasions on false premises of weapons of mass destruction and, of course, the war against terrorism. All with ulterior motive. Offensives against ISIS in the ‘Caliphate”, and more recently in Syria cannot help. But it is not the entire cause.

Islam cannot possibly be described as a religion of peace. By all accounts it is clearly the root of most terrorism in Europe and is based on its tenets of non-Muslim intolerance, jihadist revolution, hatred of the infidel and the anti-Semitism of its faith. It’s a hateful religion, so much so that some are influenced to perpetration of dastardly acts of terrorism in its name.

There are a disturbing number of psychotically deluded little Muslims running around Europe. This psychosis is the ultimate motive for all Islamic terrorism in the West. Yet the West digs its head deeper into the sand. The migration to Europe by many thousands of Muslims, away from their now broken homes and bankrupt economies run by despots, is not without contribution. They come with much religious indoctrination, a pathological bitterness, and even thoughts of retribution and, yes, the blame game too.

We owe them, some might say, and we are giving abundantly it would seem. Yet the system that feeds and sustains them is foreign to them, non-Islamic, and needs to conform to their way of living.  They, and more so their issue, are easy victims for radicalisation; that process of religious corruption of the mind and making the infidel host enemy. Their new home, with generous benefactors, becomes the target. No holds barred. They perceive they are profiled badly, which they are much due to Muslim terrorism, and they feel rejected.

So there is the ugly mix. The West seems to have ignored the alarm bell rung and buries itself in the comfort of being nice to these strange and struggling people with different ways. Society is intolerant of those who point fingers at migration or object to the pacifism in the face of an onslaught, labelling them racist or even bigot. And now the fires are burning. Manchester weeps. Terrorism wins yet again – Europe raises the white flag to negotiate!

The thing is, you cannot negotiate with terrorists. Negotiation with terrorists will only succeed if you bend entirely to their demands. They call the shots. The jihadist wants to impose his religion, his way of life, the Islamic way, and give privilege to Muslims and those of the faith. There is no compromise. Understand clearly, the jihadist has no political master nor tangible nation to which they are loyal. They fight and slaughter the innocents in the name of their mythical God. Gods cannot negotiate. So who are European government to negotiate with?

The Manchester suicide bombing is a dire tragedy of multiple proportions. The dead and their grieving and suffering families, the lacerated and torn wounded, and the horrified onlookers scared with fear, are only a part of the tragedy. The other tragedy is that of successive governments which, clearly, cannot see the wood for the trees.

The time is ripe for a paradigm shift in combatting Muslim terrorism. It goes much beyond tackling home grown radicalisation. Europeans need to go to the root of the problem and exorcise or purge the community which breeds the problem. This, of course goes against those well entrenched doctrines of human rights, religious freedom of association, and the credible system of jurisprudence that Europeans enjoy, but which no immigrant Muslim would have enjoyed in his home country. There is the dichotomy.


Categories: International News

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