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    Another State Moves To Block Raises For Minimum Wage Workers

    Another State Moves To Block Raises For Minimum Wage Workers


    Iowa Republicans passed legislation Monday preventing cities and counties from raising the minimum wage ― and negating hikes that already went into effect in four counties.Such “pre-emption” laws have become all the rage in GOP-controlled states,...






    Iowa Republicans passed legislation Monday preventing cities and counties from raising the minimum wage ― and negating hikes that already went into effect in four counties.


    Such “pre-emption” laws have become all the rage in GOP-controlled states, and the Iowa measure now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Terry Branstad. He is expected to sign it. 


    Under the law, localities could not implement minimum wages higher than the state level, which is currently as low as allowed under federal law: $7.25 per hour. They also could not pass their own paid leave measures requiring employers to give workers a certain number of sick days per year.


    Pre-emption laws have become a popular way for state legislators to take legal autonomy away from local jurisdictions when it comes to the minimum wage and paid leave. But advocacy groups for low-wage workers said the Iowa measure is unusual in that it would work retroactively.


    “The bill’s passage marks the first time anywhere in the U.S. that state lawmakers have actually taken away raises from workers who already received them,” Christine Owens, director of the National Employment Law Project, said in a statement. Owens called the legislation “callous” and “a new low.”



    The bill’s passage marks the first time anywhere in the U.S. that state lawmakers have actually taken away raises from workers who already received them.
    Christine Owens, director of the National Employment Law Project


    If it’s signed, the higher local minimum wages currently in effect would have to revert to $7.25, lowering pay for many workers. The measure could set off a legal battle, as similar laws have elsewhere.


    By one analysis, nearly 30,000 workers were affected this year when Johnson, Linn, Wapello and Polk counties raised their local wage floors to surpass $10 per hour by 2019. That number would have grown significantly as the wage floors continued to increase in coming years.


    Backers of the pre-emption bills say they want to avoid a “patchwork” of different minimum wages within their states. Republicans in Iowa said blocking local hikes and paid leave proposals would give employers more predictability when it comes to labor costs, according to the Des Moines Register. The legislation was supported by the state’s grocer and restaurant associations, as well as the alliance of local chambers of commerce.


    Twenty-three other states currently have pre-emption laws, according to NELP. Some of those laws had been on the books for years, but the majority of them were only passed recently, as progressive campaigns such as the Fight for $15 saw tremendous success in pushing local minimum wage proposals. While the federal rate of $7.25 has remained stagnant since 2009, a majority of states now have higher minimum wages than the federal level, and many cities and counties have gone as high as $15.


    Democrats and labor unions say the pre-emption laws are undermining local, democratically made policy decisions and hurting the working poor. The most controversial pre-emption law was passed in Alabama, with the explicit purpose of blocking a minimum wage hike in the city of Birmingham. The city itself is roughly three-quarters African-American, with 30 percent of residents living below the federal poverty line. The Republican legislature that passed the pre-emption bill is primarily white. Minimum wage backers there have filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the state.

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    'Books Not Bombs' Initiative Promotes Education For Syrian Scholars

    'Books Not Bombs' Initiative Promotes Education For Syrian Scholars


    Years of war have left a generation of Syrian youth with limited access to education. Their schools have been bombed and many of them have been displaced by an ongoing civil war that shows no signs of letting up soon. An estimated 200,000 or more...


    Years of war have left a generation of Syrian youth with limited access to education. Their schools have been bombed and many of them have been displaced by an ongoing civil war that shows no signs of letting up soon. An estimated 200,000 or more Syrians who were in college before and during the conflict are now in “an educational limbo,” according to Teach For America.


    A group of young American activists is working to make a dent in that figure. Over the last year, their “Books Not Bombs” initiative has inspired U.S. students to petition their university administrations to establish scholarships for Syrian students impacted by the war. Thanks to their efforts, student chapters of the organization have formed at nearly 200 schools, and a handful of universities have set up funds to help Syrian scholars continue their studies.


    But the project hit a potential roadblock in recent months, when President Donald Trump issued two attempts at an executive order to ban visas issued to individuals from several Muslim-majority countries, including Syria. Both orders have been challenged in court, and on March 15, a federal judge in Hawaii placed a nationwide hold on key aspects of Trump’s second shot at a travel ban.


    The orders had already unleashed chaos and confusion, though, for refugees and travelers from the affected countries. But Shiyam Galyon, campaign coordinator for Books Not Bombs, is optimistic about the organization’s potential to make an impact.


    “Regardless of what happens with the visa issue ― which students have been struggling with even before the travel ban ― there are already an estimated 2,500 resettled Syrian students who are already here in the U.S.,” Galyon told The Huffington Post, referencing a number provided by the Institute of International Education. The funds set up through Books Not Bombs can help these scholars too, she said.



    We welcome news from Hawaii courts that the travel ban has been put on hold. #NoBanNoWall pic.twitter.com/dudHGTmJKk

    — Books Not Bombs (@Books_Not_Bombs) March 15, 2017


    Books Not Bombs is an initiative of Students Organize for Syria, a human rights organization with chapters at dozens of campuses around the country. The group aims to inspire student activists to fight for education for displaced Syrians. These young activists are passing campus-wide resolutions and calling on their universities to either set up scholarships or offer tuition fee waivers for Syrian scholars.


    One of the group’s main aims is to encourage more and more universities to join IIE’s Syria Consortium, which provides a database for Syrian scholars to easily find and apply for scholarships. As members of the consortium, universities publicize that they have opportunities for Syrian students, either through specific initiatives or by advertising their already-existing international student scholarships. 


    The University of Southern California joined the consortium last year and established scholarships for up to five Syrian graduate students and one undergraduate student. This year, Books Not Bombs activists at USC also worked in conjunction with the Graduate Student Government to set up an emergency fund to help undocumented and immigrant students. The fund, announced in early March, allocates $20,000 in emergency aid for students affected by Trump’s policies to apply for and renew their visas. 


    Chris Lo-Records, a USC graduate student who also serves as campus coordinator for Books Not Bombs, said the group doesn’t have a political agenda apart from fighting for “universal access to education.”


    “Our universities are international places where people from all walks of life and religious backgrounds and national origins come together and make contributions that are incredibly vital to the country and to the world,” he told HuffPost. 


    The United States has a long history of offering sanctuary to refugee students. In the 1930s and ‘40s, an influx of scholars fleeing to the U.S. from Nazi persecution were able to continue their studies and make major contributions to the fields of science, engineering and art.


    The struggle for education is one many young Americans likely never encounter, Galyon said. “I think a lot of Americans in their 20s might agree that education was something we took for granted. I know I did,” she said. “I never had to struggle for education, and as a result I don’t think I ever really understood why education was such a lifeline.”


    But Galyon, who is Syrian American, has family members who have been displaced due to the conflict. She has cousins who may never be able to seek out educational opportunities in the U.S. under Trump, she said.


    Galyon argued the crisis in Syria has served to awaken young Americans to the human rights violations taking place around the globe. It and other major conflicts have galvanized young activists, many of whom are Muslim women. Of Books Not Bombs’ 25 active student leaders, a majority of them are Muslim women, Galyon said.


    “They’re all brilliant young women growing up in a time where their own human rights are under attack,” she told HuffPost.


    Galyon noted that there’s nothing particularly new about Muslim women engaging in activism and social justice, but their voices are becoming more prominent largely thanks to social media and greater news coverage. “People shouldn’t be surprised to see that a campaign like this is being lead by Muslim women,” Galyon said. “And they should expect a lot more of it.”






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    How These Psychologists Are Prioritizing Mental Health Care For Black America

    How These Psychologists Are Prioritizing Mental Health Care For Black America


    Psychologists Riana Anderson and Shawn Jones wanted to find an effective way to intertwine the two communities they knew best: psychology and black America. So they began brainstorming ways to do just that three years ago.“We were wondering how to...


    Psychologists Riana Anderson and Shawn Jones wanted to find an effective way to intertwine the two communities they knew best: psychology and black America. So they began brainstorming ways to do just that three years ago.


    “We were wondering how to bring our community into psychology and psychology into the community,” Anderson, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania who counsels lower-income black families in Philadelphia, told The Huffington Post last week. 


    In December, they began uploading videos to YouTube as part of a series titled “Our Mental Health Minute.” The series, targeted toward black audiences, serves as a quick and relatable mental health resource, particularly for those seeking some form of consultation but hindered by the stigmatization of mental health care. 


    Anderson said the pair set out with three goals: to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health care in the black community, heighten mental health literacy and provide access to mental health resources. 





    In the series, Anderson and Shawn act out scenarios to segue into crucial subjects of mental health like depression, racial socialization of black youth, drinking, anxiety and PTSD.


    “The goal really isn’t to necessarily have stardom [or] necessarily go viral. We really want people to digest and interact with this content. So [it’s] less about subscription,” Anderson said. 


    In the videos, they even reference events like the killing of Michael Brown and footage of Hillary Clinton’s “super-predators” comment that circulated during election season to emphasize the impact racism can have on the mental health of the black community. 


    Jones, who is also a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania and who studies racial socialization in black communities, said that the two chose YouTube as the primary platform for their channel, Ri and CT, because of the success they’ve witnessed similar series have with the video site. 


    Anderson and Jones believe that in order to improve the relationship between black people and mental health care, psychologists have some work to do as well.


    “Black folks, in particular, have had ― whether it’s in the general medical field or also mental health ― negative experiences,” Jones said. “So there’s [this] mistrust of the system of service provision.”


    Anderson said that similar to the process of applying for a job, when black people do seek out therapy, an ethnic-sounding name may be the reason psychologists don’t return a voicemail from a potential client. Additionally, when providers do service black clients, Anderson said she wants them to know that cultural differences can cause misunderstanding. 


    “Being strong or looking like you have it all together may not be the full picture when you have a black client,” she said. “So I think we have to work on both sides of that issue as well.” 


    Check out Anderson and Jones’ “Our Mental Health Minute” videos here.

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    Stop Talking About Abortion Access Without Considering Women Who Get Them

    Stop Talking About Abortion Access Without Considering Women Who Get Them


    In a 900-word op-ed focused on abortion and the way politicians speak about abortion, the words “woman” and “women” each appear just once.Surprising, right? You might think that it would be difficult to engage in an extended discussion about...


    In a 900-word op-ed focused on abortion and the way politicians speak about abortion, the words “woman” and “women” each appear just once.


    Surprising, right? You might think that it would be difficult to engage in an extended discussion about abortion without acknowledging the people who have abortions. But lo and behold, author, professor and former priest Thomas Groome managed to do just that in an op-ed for the New York Times


    Groome argues that “Democrats must stop being the abortion party” if they want to appeal to Catholic voters and win elections. But in doing so, he essentially ignores the very women that vote for Democrats ― in part because they need access to reproductive care, and want to see their elected officials recognize and fight for that right. 



    Oh good, a whole column about abortion that doesn't even consider why a woman might have one. https://t.co/mbyxz6kfdk

    — Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) March 27, 2017


    The op-ed treats abortion as a political talking point that should be pushed to the side and spoken about in hazy, moral terms in order to avoid alienating people who would prefer that abortions didn’t exist. And yet it’s women, especially low-income women and women of color, who make up a significant portion of the base of the Democratic party and suffer the consequences when anti-abortion policies (which Republicans tend to champion) are implemented. 


    One need look no further than the respective major party platforms to see what a stark contrast there is between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to reproductive rights. The 2016 Democratic platform states that Democrats “believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion ― regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured.” It also commits to repealing the Hyde Amendment, which restricts federal Medicaid coverage for abortion services, disproportionately impacting low-income women. On the other hand, the 2016 GOP platform proclaims support for 20-week abortion bans, and declares that Republicans “will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage.”


    Groome is right that a strong commitment to protecting American women’s legal right to access abortion care may alienate some voters ― even those who at one time voted for Democratic candidates. But the point of winning elections isn’t simply to win them.


    Ostensibly, winning an election is about getting to enact a specific vision of governance ― hopefully one that its champions truly believe will make life better for the people they are governing. And as research has shown, for women, access to safe abortion care literally means better life outcomes. Curtailing that access has the opposite effect. Abortion access is both an economic and health imperative for many women, something that Groome’s column completely sidesteps. 



    Whether and when to have children is the single most important economic decision a woman can make. For herself and for her family. Period.

    — ((( Rachel Sklar ))) (@rachelsklar) March 27, 2017


    After a loss like the one that Democrats experienced during the 2016 presidential election, it makes sense to expect Democratic leaders to examine their tactics and rethink their messaging. And Groome’s point that Democrats should actively highlight the way that progressive policies (i.e. access to sex ed and contraception) actually lead to a decrease in unplanned pregnancies, and therefore abortions, is a good one. But to insist that Democrats backtrack their support of safe abortion access because a specific religious group feels uncomfortable with the stance assumes that religious beliefs should hold the same weight as a person’s right to make decisions about their own medical care.


    Would we expect the Democratic party to make a similar concession to appease voters who oppose marriage equality or the rights of transgender children on religious grounds? I certainly hope not. Treating issues that fundamentally impact people’s lives as pieces in a game of political chess is a far more morally tenuous position than insisting that Roe v. Wade is the law of the land.


    As a person who will never need to access an abortion, perhaps Groome is not the best person to speak on the issue. And yet across the board in 2017, as a recent report from the Women’s Media Center shows, men still dominate the coverage of reproductive rights, both as reporters and as expert sources.


    When it comes to reproductive issues, the voices that should be heard most loudly are those of women and gender non-conforming people who needed or might need access to abortion care in the future. Those are the people who political leaders should listen to when crafting their positions, messaging and policy proposals.


    If the only way for Democrats to win elections is to turn their backs on the needs and lived experiences of the Americans who vote for them, then there’s a lot more the party needs to rethink than its stance on abortion. 

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    Orlando To Mark Pulse Anniversary With 'Day Of Love And Kindness'

    Orlando To Mark Pulse Anniversary With 'Day Of Love And Kindness'


    Orlando will honor the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre with a “Day of Love and Kindness.”On Monday, the city announced plans to honor the 49 Pulse victims with a series of poignant events June 12 in Orlando. Memorial ceremonies...






    Orlando will honor the one-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub massacre with a “Day of Love and Kindness.”


    On Monday, the city announced plans to honor the 49 Pulse victims with a series of poignant events June 12 in Orlando. Memorial ceremonies will be held at the site of the former nightclub as well as Lake Eola in downtown Orlando, while artwork collected from memorial sites in the days following the tragedy will be displayed at the Orange County Regional History Center.


    Elected officials elaborated on the “Day of Love and Kindness” in an emotional video uploaded to the event’s website. “Our community will never forget the tragedy of Pulse or the grief of those who lost loved ones,” Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer said in the clip, which can be viewed below. “From heartbroken family and friends to survivors putting shattered lives back together, our entire community stands with you.”





    Teresa Jacobs, who is the mayor of Florida’s Orange County, echoed those sentiments. “Through a day of love and kindness dedicated to the legacy of those who perished,” she said, “we will continue to cherish their memories.” Meanwhile, Dyer, Jacobs and other city officials are encouraging people, in Orlando and elsewhere, to perform “acts of kindness” June 12 in an effort to spread “the unity that followed the tragedy” last year, according to the site. 


    “We don’t want to focus on an act of terror, we want to focus on how we all came together,” Commissioner Patty Sheehan told The Orlando Sentinel. “That’s really what made it bearable for these families … the love and support from this community.”


    Head here to read more about Orlando’s “Day of Love and Kindness.”


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    The Backstory Behind The Massive Nationwide Protests In Russia

    The Backstory Behind The Massive Nationwide Protests In Russia


    Tens of thousands of people in more than 90 cities across Russia rallied against government corruption on Sunday ― the largest nationwide protest of its kind in over five years. The demonstrations showed surprising levels of support for public...






    Tens of thousands of people in more than 90 cities across Russia rallied against government corruption on Sunday ― the largest nationwide protest of its kind in over five years. The demonstrations showed surprising levels of support for public criticism of the Kremlin and were both larger and more widespread than expected.


    Russian authorities reacted by clamping down on protesters, journalists and even some passersby. There were at least 700 arrests linked to the protests, including that of leading Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, who was sentenced to 15 days in jail and fined.  



    Although the demonstrations were unexpectedly large, they had been planned for weeks, sparked by a viral investigative video that Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation released on March 2. The report alleged that Russia’s prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, had accumulated vast real estate holdings through bribery and graft.


    The nearly 50-minute video features Navalny seated in front of a bookshelf walking viewers through his report. The video is enhanced with visual effects, photos of documents and footage of the luxury properties allegedly connected to Medvedev.


    The video contains drone footage of sprawling mansions Navalny claims are worth tens of millions of dollars each, with saunas, tennis courts and a private pond. Many protesters on Sunday carried yellow rubber ducks as a reference to reports that one Medvedev-linked property has a house exclusively for ducks.



    Navalny states in the video that although none of these real estate holdings are in Medvedev’s name, he is the de facto owner. The prime minister has a network of intermediaries, made up of old university friends and charity foundations, that has allowed him to accumulate enormous wealth, the report says.


    In one case, Navalny shows a property he says is worth $85 million that a Russian billionaire donated to a charity foundation run by Medvedev’s college friend Ilya Yeliseev. The report alleges that this is a bribe to Medvedev from the oligarch, disguised and funneled through the foundation. 


    “The former president, acting prime minister and Russia’s second in command has created a corrupt network of charity foundations that he uses to get bribes from the oligarchs and to maniacally build himself palaces and dachas all around the country,” Navalny states in the report.


    The video portrays Medvedev as a hypocrite and is interspersed with numerous clips of the prime minister making statements condemning corruption. It also features animated sequences set to a version of the Russian 1990s hit “American Boy” ― the same song Medvedev was filmed dancing awkwardly to during a university reunion in 2011.  



    The Anti-Corruption Foundation video has now been viewed over 13 million times on YouTube and has outraged many Russians. Medvedev and the Kremlin were silent on the corruption allegations, but some lawmakers in the country’s lower house of Parliament have called for an investigation.   


    Corruption is a deep and pervasive problem in Russia in both the public and private sector. Transparency International, a nongovernmental organization that monitors corruption, ranks Russia 131th out of 176 countries on its corruption perception index. 


    Russian government agencies and officials have faced widespread corruption allegations in recent years. The Panama Papers leaks last year suggested that Russian President Vladimir Putin and his family were connected to offshore holdings and loans worth at least $2 billion through friends and intermediary companies. 


    But unlike Navalny’s video, the Panama Papers revelations mostly prompted a shrug in Russia. The country’s media did not cover the allegations against Putin extensively, and the president dismissed the accusations as a foreign plot to weaken Russia. In other countries, the leaks resulted in huge demonstrations and resignations of top officials, yet only a small group of protesters turned up in Moscow. 


    The demonstrations on Sunday, however, were notable for a number of reasons ― including the seemingly large percentage of younger protesters and the willingness of participants to show up despite authorities’ warnings that they lacked a permit. The Kremlin has tried to downplay the rallies by claiming that some protesters were paid to attend, while state-run government television has barely covered them. 


    As Putin eyes a potential fourth term as president next year, it’s still unclear what kind of opposition will form and whether these protests are a one-time reaction to specific corruption allegations or a sign of a larger movement to come.

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    Obama Is Holed Up Writing His Book On The South Pacific Island Of Tetiaroa

    Obama Is Holed Up Writing His Book On The South Pacific Island Of Tetiaroa


    After a brief layover in Hawaii, former President Barack Obama is hanging out on a South Pacific island for a month to write his White House memoir, according to the Washington Post. The island, called Tetiaroa, is an atoll located in a group of...


    After a brief layover in Hawaii, former President Barack Obama is hanging out on a South Pacific island for a month to write his White House memoir, according to the Washington Post. 


    The island, called Tetiaroa, is an atoll located in a group of French Polynesian islands. Its closest neighbor is Tahiti, which is roughly 30 miles away. Not only is it super private and exclusive, it’s also gorgeous:  



    The island was once owned by actor Marlon Brando, who bought the property while scouting locations for his 1962 movie, “Mutiny on the Bounty.” A decade after Brando’s death in 2004, the property was acquired by hotel company Pacific Beachcomber and converted into an ultra-luxurious resort called The Brando.


    Obama is reportedly staying at the 35-villa resort for most of his month on the island, and its eco-friendly reputation keeps in line with his own high environmental standards. According to its website, the resort eventually hopes to be 100 percent energy independent ― fueled by solar panels, generators powered by coconut oil and a contraption that converts seawater to air conditioning. 


    Rooms start $2,800 per night and some are as expensive as $13,300 per night, but the amenities are simply outrageous. And considering Barack and Michelle Obama recently inked a book deal worth a reported $60 million, they can afford to splurge a little. 





    If Barack decides to bring the whole family along for part of his stay, The Brando is both super family friendly and all-inclusive.


    “This is an ideal resort for families as well as honeymooners and clients seeking seclusion,” Dan Ilves, senior vice president of Travel Store, told The Huffington Post for a previous story. “All activities are included and for those interested, there is an onsite marine research center.”


    Other activities include snorkeling in a coral garden, swimming in a magical place called Mermaid Bay and enjoying the resort’s incredible spa. 




    Getting to the island isn’t exactly easy, but it’s safe to say the end result is worth it.


    Just copy Barack Obama’s mode of getting to the island. Fly into Tahiti, then hop on a short, 20-minute flight to Tetiaroa. 





    We’re pretty sure this is what Obama looks like right now (though he probably added a backwards hat and flip flops).  




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    House Republicans Still Haven't Given Up On Repealing Obamacare

    House Republicans Still Haven't Given Up On Repealing Obamacare


    WASHINGTON ― Unwilling to accept their failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act last week, Republicans have skipped the fifth stage of grief and gone right back to denial, promising Tuesday to rewrite and pass their health care law while also moving...






    WASHINGTON ― Unwilling to accept their failure to repeal the Affordable Care Act last week, Republicans have skipped the fifth stage of grief and gone right back to denial, promising Tuesday to rewrite and pass their health care law while also moving ahead with other agenda items.


    “As I said on Friday, we all have to reflect on what we could have done better, and this discussion was an honest and very constructive step forward,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters Tuesday following a scheduled one-hour GOP conference that stretched for almost double that time.


    “We are going to work together and listen together until we get this right. It is just too important,” Ryan added.


    When he was asked about a timeline for repeal ― health insurers will begin making decisions about offering plans in the next couple of months ― Ryan said he couldn’t lock into an “artificial timeline” because health care was “too important to not get right.”



    The continued talk of repealing the Affordable Care Act isn’t exactly new. Although President Donald Trump said he was done if Republicans couldn’t pass the House bill last week, House Republicans themselves have never stopped saying they would pass a bill eventually. 


    Tuesday’s vow was the strongest yet from Ryan, and other leaders also reaffirmed their longstanding commitment to repealing and replacing the law.


    Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy vowed to keep the Republican promise, and Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said Republicans are closer than ever to repealing Obamacare.


    Even conservatives who helped scuttle the previous bill expressed a newfound optimism that Republicans could pass a health care bill, albeit the same optimism Republicans have expressed for years over a nebulous, unwritten measure.


    Raul Labrador (R-Idaho) said Ryan had a good message Tuesday morning of bringing the conference together and working out their differences. And how exactly would Republicans do that? “Get in a room and work. Do the hard work of legislating,” Labrador said.


    But already signs of continued disunity are surfacing in the GOP conference. Another House Freedom Caucus member, Mo Brooks of Alabama, told the conference Tuesday that Republicans should just pass the same version of an Obamacare repeal that Republicans passed in 2015. “I see no reason we can’t do it again,” Brooks told reporters after the meeting.


    And if another vote on the 2015 reconciliation bill isn’t enough, Brooks also said he was prepared to offer a discharge petition for his one-sentence repeal bill ― a move more moderate Republicans were quick to dismiss. “Doesn’t have a chance,” former Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) said.


    Even Freedom Caucus Chairman Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) said there was “nothing to” chatter of a discharge petition for Brooks’ legislation.


    After a stinging defeat that drew deep fault lines within the GOP conference, Republicans seem to have already put their latest failure behind them and are confident they could repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.


    Freshman Rep. Brian Mast (R-Fla.) said he told the conference that he wanted to give a “boot in the backside” to the challenges that Republicans face in repealing Obamacare (though he may have used more colorful language when speaking to members behind closed doors).


    “Just because we ran into hurdles or road bumps, that doesn’t mean you quit,” he told reporters.

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    Drew Barrymore Is All Of Us When Given 2 Seconds Away From Our Kids

    Drew Barrymore Is All Of Us When Given 2 Seconds Away From Our Kids


    Parenting is a pretty all-consuming job. My son is more likely than not to initiate a lengthy conversation while poking his head into the bathroom. (”Hey mom, can I tell you what I know about monster trucks?”) Anyone who ― for instance ― has...

    Parenting is a pretty all-consuming job. My son is more likely than not to initiate a lengthy conversation while poking his head into the bathroom. (”Hey mom, can I tell you what I know about monster trucks?”) 


    Anyone who ― for instance ― has ever been treated to a child’s monologue while sitting on the toilet can probably relate to this recent Instagram post by actress and mom of two Drew Barrymore.



    Do you ever have that moment as a parent, where you have a few minutes to lay in bed and read a magazine at a hotel, and your like "how am I not chasing the kids around? How am I stealing a few minutes to myself? When is this going to end? And why do I feel like I am breaking the law?" #mommoment #momenttomyself #savior #backonin30 #kidsbacksoon

    A post shared by Drew Barrymore (@drewbarrymore) on Mar 25, 2017 at 8:20am PDT




    Barrymore posted a photo of herself in an off moment reading a magazine and hanging out in a hotel room with the caption, “Do you ever have that moment as a parent, where you have a few minutes to lay in bed and read a magazine at a hotel, and your [sic] like ‘how am I not chasing the kids around? How am I stealing a few minutes to myself? When is this going to end? And why do I feel like I am breaking the law?’”


    That last sentence might explain why Barrymore looks like she’s about to get busted for something. 


    The mom to 4-year-old Olive and 2-year-old Frankie regularly shares the everyday ups and downs of parenting on social media, like that time she posed with Olive while her daughter was having a meltdown at Disney World and then showed the picture on “Late Night With Seth Meyers.



    ”If you’ve ever taken your kids to Disneyland or Disney World, it all ends at some point in mayhem,” she told Meyers.


    Yes, it’s safe to say she’s thankful for that alone time. 

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    Early Voting Favors Democrat Jon Ossoff In Georgia's Special Election

    Early Voting Favors Democrat Jon Ossoff In Georgia's Special Election


    Turnout on the first day of early voting bodes well for Jon Ossoff, the leading Democratic candidate in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, according to an analysis by Nate Cohn, The New York Times’ election expert.Early...






    Turnout on the first day of early voting bodes well for Jon Ossoff, the leading Democratic candidate in the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, according to an analysis by Nate Cohn, The New York Times’ election expert.


    Early voting began Monday in the race to fill a House seat vacated by Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price. Democrats are hoping to ride anger against President Donald Trump to an upset victory in the historically Republican district.


    Democrats made up a solid majority of voters on the first day of voting in Georgia’s 6th District, in contrast to Republicans’ lopsided showing in the November election, according to Cohn’s look at the official data. He counted Democrats and Republicans based on the last primary each early voter participated in, information he retrieved from the public voter files of those who voted on Monday.



    Dems 60, Rep 28 in Day 1 of in-person early voting in GA-6.
    The 2016 electorate was D 23, R 46.
    (partisanship based on last primary vote)

    — Nate Cohn (@Nate_Cohn) March 28, 2017


    However, there are good reasons not to read too much into data points like these. 


    Turnout in early voting, let alone the first day of early voting, is not necessarily indicative of the final outcome. And just because someone voted for a party in the most recent primary, it doesn’t mean they will vote for that party in a general election.


    Early general-election voting patterns in North Carolina and Florida, for example, appeared to favor Hillary Clinton, but she ended up losing both states in November.


    Early voting in Georgia’s 6th will conclude on April 14, and Election Day itself is April 18.


    The election is what’s known as a “jungle primary,” in which members of both parties all compete to capture 50 percent of the vote. Unless one of them takes a majority of voters in the April race, there will be a runoff election between the top two contenders on June 20. Clearing the first round would not guarantee Ossoff victory in the final face-off.


    “These are just the very first tea leaves at the bottom of the teacup,” said Michael McDonald, an election specialist at the University of Florida.


    Still, Democrats are eager for any evidence that the backlash to Trump’s policies is lifting their fortunes.


    When Trump tapped Price for his Cabinet, grassroots liberals seized on the suddenly open House seat as an opportunity to test Democrats’ post-election enthusiasm ― and all voters’ growing distaste for the commander-in-chief’s performance. The liberal news site Daily Kos alone has raised $1 million toward the 30-year-old Ossoff’s bid against nearly a dozen Republican contenders.


    Although the district has voted Republican consistently in the past, it is home to a more educated, wealthier type of Republican voter that has typically been more averse to Trump’s populist style. While Price cruised to re-election by a 23-point margin in November, Trump defeated Clinton in the district by a mere percentage point.


    Progressives from across the country are pulling out all the stops for Ossoff as voting begins. Liberal television star Alyssa Milano is offering free rides to the polls in an effort to drive up Ossoff’s turnout.

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    15 Funny Tweets About Having Anxiety That Are Way Too True

    15 Funny Tweets About Having Anxiety That Are Way Too True


    Let’s not sugar coat it: Anxiety can be a real nightmare.One of the worst parts about the condition is feeling like you’re totally alone in your experience. But here’s the good news: You’re not. In fact, nearly 40 million Americans also deal...

    Let’s not sugar coat it: Anxiety can be a real nightmare.


    One of the worst parts about the condition is feeling like you’re totally alone in your experience. But here’s the good news: You’re not. In fact, nearly 40 million Americans also deal with the disorder. And a lot of those people are really funny.


    Don’t believe us? Take a look at these hilarious tweets about the condition below:


    1.

    BRAIN: hey whachya doin
    ME: nothing just relaxing
    BRAIN: would u like to think about all of ur failures
    ME: what no
    BRAIN: and away we go

    — Bob Vulfov (@bobvulfov) March 26, 2017


    2.

    me laying in bed surrounded by my anxiety pic.twitter.com/itD7l3SlB9

    — NICK (@3hunnathot) March 19, 2017


    3.

    things that give me anxiety

    1. everything

    — no (@tbhjuststop) March 28, 2017


    4.

    anxiety: they hate you me: who hates me anxiety: they

    — tina (@tinatbh) March 26, 2017


    5.

    when you're having a chill day and your anxiety pops up pic.twitter.com/VC4dISF6OW

    — Rachel Whitehurst (@RachLWhitehurst) March 26, 2017


    6.

    i have enough anxiety for 10 people

    — so sad today (@sosadtoday) March 25, 2017


    7.

    my anxiety: something is wrong
    me: what is?
    my anxiety: something
    me: can you give me a general idea
    my anxiety: s o m e t h i n g

    — jamie (@dylanohollands) March 26, 2017


    8.

    pic.twitter.com/doCMRJr38Y

    — Wholesome Memes (@WholesomeMeme) March 13, 2017


    9.

    same anxiety different day

    — dustin taylor stout (@blkctylghts) March 24, 2017


    10.

    ctrl alt del my anxiety.

    — Danielle Victoria (@xoMissDanielle) March 23, 2017


    11.

    When someone says 'don't be anxious' and your anxiety is cured pic.twitter.com/vWNO1Flq4N

    — no (@umsassy) March 9, 2017


    12.

    "ugh bad anxiety day what can i do to hide it so nobody notices?"

    "ah yes perfect" pic.twitter.com/L6CZ3QjyJA

    — anna borges (@annabroges) March 21, 2017


    13.

    Anxiety: ok but what if
    Me: we went over this already 100 times
    Anxiety: hear me out, i've found 20 new reasons u should be worried
    Me: ok..

    — Adorable (@CrisTheBunny) March 23, 2017


    14.

    Me: I did a thing today. I am proud. Time for sleep.

    My anxiety: WHAT ABOUT THE 100 OTHER THINGS U DIDNT DO? DID U DO THE ONE THING RIGHT? pic.twitter.com/FDOiA4Dggp

    — Anderson Pleasants (@pleasantandy) March 22, 2017


    15.

    what's wrong with you?

    me: pic.twitter.com/nYwpCh8pIk

    — Funny Tweets (@iQuoteComedy) November 29, 2016


    At least we can laugh about it together, right?


    Anxiety, of course, is a medical condition that should be addressed as it causes debilitating physical and emotional symptoms. Experts say the best way to manage the disorder is through professional support (and here are a few psychiatrist-backed tricks to try at home as well). If you suspect you might be dealing with the issue, chat with your doctor about your options. You can ― and should ― feel happy and healthy.

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    Alan Cumming Bares All To Take A Stand Against Hate

    Alan Cumming Bares All To Take A Stand Against Hate


    Alan Cumming posted a revealing picture on his Instagram Monday afternoon that channels a powerful message about bullying and discrimination in the age of President Donald Trump.The image depicts a naked Cumming draped with an American flag across his...

    Alan Cumming posted a revealing picture on his Instagram Monday afternoon that channels a powerful message about bullying and discrimination in the age of President Donald Trump.


    The image depicts a naked Cumming draped with an American flag across his torso and different anti-gay slurs and negative messages written across his body.



    #ArtAgainstHate PLEASE SHARE by reposting, or volunteer if you would like to partake in this project. Help build a community with us by raising awareness of the bullying this administration is enabling. Find empowerment in the words they call you. In these chaotic times it's easy to lose grasp of hope for this troubled country. Yet if we open our hearts and our minds to the lush array of souls and energy that surround us every day we can find common ground. And if we advocate others to try their best to learn just one positive thing about that person who may seem so alien on the surface, perhaps we all will discover that beneath the masks that we hide behind are actually more similarities than differences. And one by one, may we shed these words of hate that are spawned by fear of the unknown. #Model: @alancummingsnaps #Photographers: @StevenTrumon & @GINGERB3ARDMAN #MAKEUP: @makeupartbynoel #Retouch Collab: @shinehorovits #ArtistsAgainstTyranny #SpreadTheWord #LoveTrumpsHate #AmericaTheBeautiful #UnitedNotDivided

    A post shared by Alan Cumming (@alancummingsnaps) on Mar 27, 2017 at 10:42am PDT




    Cumming regrammed the image from photographer Steven Trumon’s Instagram with a call to action and open request for others to speak out against hate speech in their own way.


    “Find empowerment in the words they call you,” the Instagram caption reads. ”In these chaotic times it’s easy to lose grasp of hope for this troubled country.
    Yet if we open our hearts and our minds to the lush array of souls and energy that surround us every day we can find common ground.”


    The Huffington Post reached out to Cumming and Trumon for comment about this photo and campaign but did not immediately hear back.

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    Trump Officials Tried To Stop Sally Yates From Testifying On Russia Ties

    Trump Officials Tried To Stop Sally Yates From Testifying On Russia Ties


    Lawyers for President Donald Trump tried to prevent former acting Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on links between Trump campaign staff and Russian officials, according to correspondence first...






    Lawyers for President Donald Trump tried to prevent former acting Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying before the House Intelligence Committee on links between Trump campaign staff and Russian officials, according to correspondence first obtained by The Washington Post.


    In a series of letters last week, Yates’ lawyer, David O’Neil, accused the Trump Justice Department of trying to silence Yates by asserting that “all information Ms. Yates received or actions she took in her capacity as Deputy Attorney General and acting Attorney General are client confidences that she may not disclose absent written consent of the department.” 


    Yates served as deputy attorney general in the Obama administration and then as acting attorney general in the first few weeks of the Trump administration. Trump fired her on Jan. 31, after she refused to enforce the president’s original executive order banning immigrants from seven majority-Muslim countries. 


    O’Neil went on to write that he and his client disagreed with the idea that her testimony required permission. “We believe that the department’s position in this regard is overbroad, incorrect, and inconsistent with the department’s historical approach to the congressional testimony of current and former officials,’’ he wrote.


    “In particular, we believe that Ms. Yates should not be obligated to refuse to provide non-classified facts about the department’s notification to the White House of concerns about the conduct of a senior official,” he wrote. “Requiring Ms. Yates to refuse to provide such information is particularly untenable given that multiple senior administration officials have publicly described the same events.’’ 


    O’Neil emphasized that Yates would not reveal any classified information in the Intelligence Committee hearing.


    On Friday, the Justice Department wrote back to say that any approval concerning testimony about communications with the White House needed to come not from the department but straight from the White House. O’Neil then wrote to White House Counsel Don McGahn, told him what the Justice Department had said, and informed him that Yates planned to testify Tuesday, March 28, as originally scheduled.


    Within hours after that letter was sent on Friday, Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) canceled the scheduled hearing, which also would have included testimony from top intelligence officials. On Tuesday, the White House denied that it had taken any action to prevent Yates from testifying.


    “The Washington Post story is entirely false,” said White House press secretary Sean Spicer in a statement. “The White House has taken no action to prevent Sally Yates from testifying and the Department of Justice specifically told her that it would not stop her and to suggest otherwise is completely irresponsible.”


    “I hope she testifies. I look forward to it,” Spicer said at a press briefing on Tuesday afternoon. “We have no problem with her testifying, plain and simple.”


    He also said that the House Intelligence Committee hearing in question was “never notified,” implying that the White House was unaware of it. In fact, the hearing had been posted on the committee’s public schedule for more than a week before it was postponed.


    The canceled hearing is just the latest incident to raise questions about Nunes’ handling of the Trump-Russia investigation. The chairman also abruptly scrapped all of the committee’s meetings for the entire week, committee members said Tuesday morning.


    Top Democrats, including members of his committee, have asked whether Nunes, who served on the Trump transition team, can conduct an independent and transparent investigation. They’ve calling on Nunes to recuse himself from this investigation or for House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to remove him entirely as chair.


    Nunes claimed last week that members of Trump’s transition team were subject to “incidental” surveillance. But one day before making that allegation, he met with a source on White House grounds, raising more questions about his transparency and credibility.


    After holding a press conference about his surveillance claims, Nunes briefed Trump, whose team is also under FBI investigation for alleged ties to Russian officials who may have interfered in the 2016 U.S. election.


    Nunes reiterated Tuesday morning that he does not intend to step down.


    “Why would I?” he asked reporters on Capitol Hill.


    At a press conference Tuesday, Ryan similarly said that he doesn’t think Nunes needs to recuse himself from the investigation.


    The story has been updated with further comment from Sean Spicer.

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    News Roundup for March 28, 2017

    News Roundup for March 28, 2017


    Now you can read a single line of text and still be informed. Yay!1. Trump is set to change how the US approaches climate change. We didn’t like the icebergs anyway… More here.2. Flint is to get clean, uncontaminated water paid for by the state. It...


    Now you can read a single line of text and still be informed. Yay!


    1. Trump is set to change how the US approaches climate change. We didn’t like the icebergs anyway… More here.


    2. Flint is to get clean, uncontaminated water paid for by the state. It only took two years of poisoning and it’s only coming in 2020. More here.


    3. 62 miles of border wall will cost $1 billion. But rumor has it that one inch of Trump dong will cost you $2 billion. More here.


    4. Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, was jailed after protests. Everything’s always chill in Russia. More here.


    5. James Harris Jackson, the US Army veteran who murdered Timothy Caughman in New York City last week, has had his charges upgraded to a terrorist attack as he had planned on killing as many black men as possible. A white man committing a terrorist attack in America? We thought that was impossible... More here.

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    Kansas Shooting Hero Who Tried To Stop Hate Crime Gets Incredible Reward

    Kansas Shooting Hero Who Tried To Stop Hate Crime Gets Incredible Reward


    A man who intervened in a bar shooting is getting a big “thank you” for his heroic efforts.On Feb. 22, Ian Grillot, 24, was shot in the hand and chest while trying to stop a gunman who shot two Indian men in a bar in Olathe, Kansas. Alok Madasani,...






    A man who intervened in a bar shooting is getting a big “thank you” for his heroic efforts.


    On Feb. 22, Ian Grillot, 24, was shot in the hand and chest while trying to stop a gunman who shot two Indian men in a bar in Olathe, Kansas. Alok Madasani, who was wounded, and Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was killed, were engineers with navigation device maker Garmin Ltd.


    At least one bystander told the Kansas City Star in February that the gunman shouted “get out of my country” before shooting the victims he reportedly thought were Middle Eastern.


    Grillot hid behind a table and counted the gunshots, then pursued the gunman when he thought he was out of bullets. Unfortunately, he miscounted.


    On March 25, an Indian community center in Houston invited Grillot to a formal gala to honor his selfless act. But Grillot had no idea the group would also award him a $100,000 check it had raised to help him buy a home, the Kansas City Star reports.





    “It is not every day that one meets a genuine hero — a person who risks his life for another, and takes a bullet for a complete stranger,” Jiten Agarwal, chair of India House Houston’s annual gala said in a press release. “Ian Grillot is a man who reminds us of the promise of America and its greatness.”


    The idea to raise money for Grillot began when Charlie Yalamanchili, an India House trustee, proposed the group buy him a house. He then offered to match every dollar raised by India House members.


    “I don’t know if I could’ve lived with myself if I wouldn’t have stopped or attempted to stop the shooter, because that would’ve been completely devastating,” said Grillot in the release. “I do now have a very powerful message and if I can help empower people and spread hope and love, then why not?”


    He added, “I am honored to be at India House that serves so many families from so many communities in the Houston area.”


    Tina Fey, Alec Baldwin, Tom Hanks, Tracy Morgan, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Michael Moore, Padma Lakshmi and a whole host of other stars are teaming up for Stand for Rights: A Benefit for the ACLU. Donate now and join us at 7 p.m. ET on Friday, March 31, on Facebook Live. #standforrights2017

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