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Trump signs executive order to undermine Obamacare

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Washington, Oct 13, 2017: US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that clears the way for sweeping changes to the country’s health insurance system, including sales of cheaper policies with fewer benefits and protections for consumers than those mandated under the Affordable Care Act.

The US President’s plan, an 1,100-word directive to federal agencies, laid the groundwork for an expanding array of health insurance products, mainly less comprehensive plans offered through associations of small employers and greater use of short-term medical coverage, New York Times reported on Thursday.

With these actions we are moving toward lower costs and more options in the health care market, and taking crucial steps toward saving the American people from the nightmare of Obamacare,” Trump said at a White House ceremony.

“This is going to be something that millions and millions of people will be signing up for,” he predicted.

It was the first time since efforts to repeal the landmark health law collapsed in Congress that Trump has set forth his vision of how to remake the nation’s health care system using the powers of the executive branch. It immediately touched off a furious debate over whether the move would fatally destabilize the Affordable Care Act, marketplaces or add welcome options to consumers complaining of high premiums and not enough choice.

In Congress, the move seemed to intensify the polarisation over health care. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said the President was offering “more affordable health insurance options” desperately needed by the consumers.

But the Senate Democratic leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, said Trump was “using a wrecking ball to single-handedly rip apart our health care system”.

Most of the changes will not occur until the federal agencies write and adopt regulations implementing them. The process, which includes a period for public comments, could take months. That means the order will probably not affect insurance coverage next year but could lead to major changes in 2019.

But many patients, doctors, hospital executives and state insurance regulators were not so happy. They said the changes envisioned by Trump could raise costs for sick people, increase sales of bare-bones insurance and add uncertainty to wobbly health insurance markets.

While many health insurers remained silent about the executive order, some voiced concern that it could destabilize the market.

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Russian presidential election slated for March 18

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Moscow, Dec 15: The Russian Federation Council, or the upper house of parliament, on Friday officially set the country’s presidential election for March 18, 2018.

A resolution to set the date will effectively give a start to the election campaign, chairman of the Federation Council’s Constitutional Legislation Committee Andrei Klishas said in a statement.

President Vladimir Putin, who has declared his intention to participate in the race as an independent candidate, is widely expected to win his fourth term, reports Xinhua news agency.

The latest public opinion poll by government-owned research centre VTSIOM showed that Putin’s approval rating stood at 53.5 per cent as of December 10, up from 53 per cent a week earlier, leaving all possible rivals far behind.

To be registered as an independent presidential candidate, a candidate has to collect at least 300,000 voters’ signatures on his or her behalf by February 1, 2018.

If a candidate wishes to run within the framework of a political party, this party will have to collect no less than 100,000 signatures on the candidate’s behalf.

The election was previously planned for March 11, but later it was postponed to March 18, when the country will celebrate the Day of Incorporation of Crimea.

The peninsula joined Russia in 2014 following a local referendum, which Western countries did not recognise as legitimate.

The law declaring March 18 a national holiday was adopted in 2015.

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Donald Trump should resign, says Kamala Harris

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Washington, Dec 15: Kamala Harris, first Indian-American to serve in the US Senate, has joined a growing group of Democratic senators calling for President Donald Trump to step down amid resurfaced allegations of sexual misconduct.

“I think he should resign in the best interest of the country,” the California Democrat told Politico in an interview on Thursday.

Harris joined six other Democratic senators — Kirsten Gillibrand, Cory Booker, Bernie Sanders, Jeff Merkley, Mazie Hirono and Ron Wyden — who called for Trump to resign.

The former California Attorney General’s remarks came as Trump faced renewed scrutiny over past accusations of sexual misconduct. At least 16 women have accused him of inappropriate behaviour.

Earlier this week, three of the 16 women renewed their allegations publicly as they detailed their accounts of being groped, fondled and forcibly kissed by Trump before he was elected the US President. They urged Congress to investigate their stories.

Trump inflamed his critics again this week when he said in a tweet that Senator Gillibrand used to “come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions” and that she “would do anything for them”.

Harris, a potential presidential contender in 2020, said Trump’s tweet “was completely inappropriate on every level”.

“First of all, we know he’s not going to resign,” Harris said. “So let’s just be clear about that. But if he were going to make a decision that was in the best interest of the country, I think he should. He should seriously consider it.”

Trump has repeatedly denied accusations of sexual misconduct, taking to Twitter to deride what he called “false accusations and fabricated stories”.

Harris said she believed Trump’s accusers and said that there should be an inquiry into the veracity of their claims.

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Oxford Dictionaries named ‘Youthquake’ Word of the Year

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Oxford Dictionaries

London, Dec 15: Oxford Dictionaries has declared “Youthquake” as 2017’s Word of the Year, reflecting what it calls a “political awakening” among millennial voters, the media reports on Friday.

It was first coined in the 1960s by Vogue editor, Diana Vreeland, who used it to describe sudden changes in fashion, music and attitudes, reports the BBC.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines youthquake as the “series of radical political and cultural upheavals occurring among students and young people in the 1960s”.

Oxford Dictionaries said late Thursday that its use had seen a recent resurgence, to describe young people driving political change.

Oxford Dictionaries’ Casper Grathwohl said it was “not an obvious choice”.

But he said Youthquake’s use in everyday speech had increased five-fold during 2017.

“In the UK, where it rose to prominence as a descriptor of the impact of the country’s young people on its general election, calls it out as a word on the move,” he said.

Grathwohl said youthquake’s use in Britain peaked during the June general election, after polls delivered a better-than-expected result for the Labour party.

Oxford Dictionaries said the word sounded a note of hope after what it described as a “difficult and divisive year”.

The word of the year is a word, or expression, that Oxford Dictionaries deems has “attracted a great deal of interest during the year to date” and is drawn from newspapers, books, blogs and transcripts of spoken English, the BBC reported.

Last year’s word, “post-truth”, was chosen after the 2016 Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s victory in the US presidential election.

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