House passes historic health care reform legislation

first_imgThe US House on Sunday passed historic health care reform legislation with the support of Rep. Peter Welch. A pair of bills approved by the House will extend access to health care to 32 million Americans, end abusive insurance company practices and cut the deficit by $138 billion over the next 10 years and by $1.2 trillion the following decade.The House passed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R. 3590) by a vote of 219 to 212 and the Reconciliation Act of 2010 (H.R. 4872) by a vote of 220 to 211. Having already been approved by the Senate, H.R. 3590 will be sent to President Obama for his signature, while H.R. 4872, which makes immediate improvements to H.R. 3590, will be sent to the Senate for consideration. Tonight, we faced the choice of accepting the status quo or moving toward a system in which every American has access to quality, affordable health care and every American helps pay for it. We faced a choice between allowing health insurance companies to continue to cherry-pick their customers or making health care affordable for all families and all small businesses, Welch said. Tonight’s vote is a victory for hard-working Americans who will no longer have to worry about a sick child receiving care or being bankrupted by a serious illness. It is a victory for seniors who will no longer have to worry about filling the gap in their Medicare prescription drug coverage. And it is a victory for small businesses who struggle every day to pay employee premiums. While this legislation will not solve all our nation s health care problems, it sets us firmly and confidently down the path toward a system that works for all Americans.The legislation will provide tax credits and other assistance to 156,000 Vermont families and to more than 20,000 small businesses to help them afford coverage. It will extend coverage to 17,500 uninsured Vermonters and guarantee that 7,000 Vermonters with preexisting conditions will not be punished by their insurance companies. It will close the prescription drug donut hole for 106,000 Vermont seniors and extend the solvency of Medicare for a decade.The legislation passed Sunday night prohibits discrimination based on gender, health status or preexisting condition, and it holds insurance companies responsible for keeping premiums manageable. It creates new, competitive health insurance marketplaces from which families and small businesses can buy affordable health insurance. It takes key steps toward replacing the fee-for-service model of health care system to one that incentivizes value, not volume.Thanks to the leadership of Sen. Patrick Leahy, the legislation recognizes Vermont s early investment in expanding health coverage with an additional $100 million in Medicaid funding.In addition to the health provisions included in the bill, H.R. 4872 incorporates much of the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act, which was passed by the House in September 2009. The education provisions in the bill constitute the single largest investment in college financial aid in history, increasing Pell Grants by $36 billion over ten years and expanding the Perkins Loan program to every college in the country.The education provisions are paid for by replacing for-profit lenders with direct loans to students and families. The Vermont delegation, following the lead of Sen. Bernie Sanders, included a provision that will ensure that Vermont s non-profit lender the Vermont Student Assistance Corporation will continue to issue loans and provide critical outreach services.Rep. Welch spoke on the floor of the House Sunday afternoon in support of the bill. Click here to watch his remarks.Welch will hold a conference call with reporters Monday at 11 a.m. to discuss the vote (Dial 1-866-805-2275 and enter PIN 7783503).On Monday evening at 7:40 p.m., Welch will hold an hour long statewide telephone town hall meeting with Vermonters to answer questions about the legislation (Dial 1-877-269-7289 and enter PIN 13785).Source: Welch’s office. 3.21.2010# # #last_img read more

Bluegrass, Beer & Bikes with Travis Book of The Infamous Stringdusters

first_imgTravis Book can usually be found playing bass in the Grammy-nominated bluegrass-rock band The Infamous Stringdusters. But during downtime, when he’s home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of central Virginia, he often performs solo with just a heartfelt voice and acoustic guitar in tow. Book’s other passion is mountain biking. He’s an avid rider, accomplished racer and trail builder, who recently carved out a network of singletrack around the property of Devils Backbone Brewery near his home in Nelson County.This spring Book will combine his favorite things and embark on a four-show tour through top towns in the Blue Ridge region. Each show on the late-March run will take place at a different craft brewery, and as he winds his way through the Appalachians, Book will have his bike on the roof rack, making time to ride some of the sweetest singletrack in the South. At every tour stop Book will host a group mountain bike ride in each town and proceeds from every show will benefit local bike clubs. Presented by Blue Ridge Outdoors Magazine, the Bluegrass, Beer and Bikes Tour includes two dates in North Carolina with stops in Brevard and Boone and two shows in Virginia, including dates in Roanoke and near Book’s home in Nelson County. See full details below.Oskar Blues Brewery’s Tasty WeaselBrevard, N.C.Thursday, March 26 at 5pmProceeds to Benefit Pisgah Area SORBAGroup Mountain Bike Ride in Pisgah National Forest at 2pm; leaving from the Tasty WeaselAppalachian Mountain BreweryBoone, N.C.Friday, March 27 at 7:30pmProceeds to benefit Boone Area CyclistsGroup Mountain Bike Ride at Rocky Knob Bike Park at 4pmDevils Backbone Base CampRoseland, Va.Saturday, March 28 at 2pmProceeds to Benefit the Charlottesville Area Mountain Bike CoalitionAt This Show A $20 Donation Gets You a Klean Kanteen Steel Pint Cup, All the Beer You Can Put In It, and Two Raffle Tickets to Win Various Gear PackagesGroup Mountain Bike Rides at 12pm and 6pm, leaving from Devils Backbone Soaring Ridge Craft BreweryRoanoke, Va.Sunday, March 29 at 4pmProceeds to Benefit Roanoke IMBA chapterGroup Mountain Bike Ride at 12pm; leaving from Soaring RidgeAll shows are free, but donations will be suggested to support the bike clubs. Also, raffle tickets will be sold for a chance to win various gear packages.For more information email read more

Vatican, China prepare to renew historic deal to US anger

first_imgHe wrote that many countries had expressed “revulsion” at “accelerating violations of human rights”.”The Vatican endangers its moral authority, should it renew the deal”, he added on Twitter.China’s roughly 12 million Catholics have for decades been split between a government-run association, whose clergy are chosen by the atheist Communist Party, and an unofficial underground church loyal to the Vatican.The latter recognizes the pope’s authority and is often persecuted for it. ‘Very little fruit’ Pope Francis has just given the go-ahead for the renewal of the agreement, which is still in “experimental” mode, for another two years, a source close to the dossier told AFP.The extension is expected to be signed next month.Thorny issues, such as Chinese Catholic priests suddenly disappearing from their parishes for weeks “at the invitation” of the authorities, are in the meantime being raised with Beijing by Vatican diplomats, the source said.One of the Catholic Church’s leading experts on Chinese affairs, Father Bernardo Cervellera, told religious news site earlier this month that the deal may have drawn much fanfare but had so far borne “very little fruit”.And he voiced his hope that the Vatican, in renewing the agreement, would be tougher on China.Diplomatic relations between Beijing and the Holy See broke down in 1951, two years after the communists came to power.Efforts to rekindle them are hampered by the Vatican’s decision to maintain diplomatic relations with Taiwan. The island, with a population of 23 million, is considered by Beijing to be a breakaway Chinese province awaiting reunification.The Vatican is Taiwan’s only diplomatic tie in Europe and Cervellera said he feared China will demand it break it off.A spokesman for China’s foreign ministry said Thursday that the interim deal with the Vatican has been “implemented successfully”, saying there had been an increase in “mutual trust and consensus”.Pope Francis’s right-hand man, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said mid-September that the Catholic Church’s “current interest with China is to normalize the life of the church as much as possible”.He admitted the results so far “have not been particularly striking”. Topics : After years of snail-pace negotiations, the Vatican sealed a historical “provisional” agreement with Beijing on 22 September 2018, the exact content of which has never been published.The key novelty however was that both Beijing and the Vatican now have a say in appointing Catholic bishops.Francis immediately recognized eight Chinese bishops that had been appointed by Beijing without his approval.Since then, two new bishops have been appointed in China, with the nod of the head of the world’s 1.3 billion Catholics.And in a historic step earlier this year, Chinese and Vatican foreign affairs ministers met publicly at an international event for the first time in seven decades. The Vatican and China are preparing to renew a historic deal on the appointment of bishops that has slightly thawed icy relations — much to the displeasure of the US.Pope Francis has been working hard to repair ties with the Communist country, but his overtures run contrary to US President Donald Trump’s efforts to push a religious freedom theme against China in his campaign for a second term.The president’s secretary of state Mike Pompeo went on the offensive last week in an article in US religious magazine First Things, slamming the “horrific” persecution of believers of all faiths in China.last_img read more

‘Huge’ variations in outcomes between default DC funds: report

first_imgFor example, in the growth phase, the analysis showed that allocations to equities, bonds and other asset classes varied “dramatically” between the default funds, depending mainly on the targeted risk levels and the range of investment tools used.Over the last three years, the Zurich Passive MultiAsset fund was the best performer (11.3%), although on a relatively higher level of volatility risk (8.4%), compared with the other defaults.The Standard Life default fund produced the lowest return (5.4%), but demonstrated a consistently lower level of volatility (5.2%) than the other funds analysed.Punter Southall Aspire also found that, “in the broadest terms”, providers with their own asset management arm – Royal London, Standard Life, Fidelity, Aviva, Legal & General – had developed more diversified and sophisticated default offerings.However, the company noted that “the more diversified and sophisticated the default option, the higher the total cost”.“Therefore, providers need to ensure consistent performance and efficient protection from market volatility to create value for money and justify the higher fees,” it said.With regard to the default funds’ consolidation phase, the analysis found that the only similarity across all providers in their equity glidepath was that the allocation to equities tended to decline as members approach retirement.“However, the initial allocations, the changes to allocation and the at-retirement allocation are different for almost every default strategy and depend mainly on the risk levels being targeted and the range of investment tools used,” said Punter Southall Aspire.According to the report, Legal & General did not implement a risk-reducing strategy as members approach retirement and “would argue that it’s difficult to predict when members will retire and in fact many members don’t know when they will retire”. There are “huge” variations in outcomes between the default funds offered by leading UK defined contribution (DC) providers, according to workplace savings company Punter Southall Aspire.Its findings were based on an analysis of the growth and consolidation phases of the standard default investment options of nine leading providers in the market as at 31 March: Aegon Asset Management, Aviva Investors, Fidelity, Legal & General, Royal London, Scottish Widows, Standard Life Investments, and Zurich.For the growth and consolidation phases, the funds analysed by Punter Southall Aspire varied across many elements: design and construction, investment risk and volatility, asset allocation strategy, return benchmarks, management, “glidepaths” towards retirement, and performance. Christos Bakas, DC investment consultant at Punter Southall Aspire, said: “We urge employers to monitor the performance of their pension funds more closely, as default doesn’t mean standard, and not all funds are created equally.”last_img read more

​New climate data prompts Varma to target carbon neutrality by 2035

first_imgVarma, one of Finland’s two largest pension insurance companies, has announced it is renewing its climate targets in response to recent findings about the progression of climate change, and aiming for a carbon-neutral investment portfolio by 2035.The earnings-related pension provider also said it will exclude oil exploration companies from its equity investments by 2030 and axe all equity stakes in thermal coal by 2025.Reima Rytsölä, Varma’s CIO, said: “Over the past year, it has become clear that emissions must be cut much faster than previously thought in order to keep global warming within the two-degree limit.“New information about climate change and its impacts has come to light, Which means we must also renew our climate targets,” he added. The firm’s new goals are published today in its latest Climate Policy for Investments, which sets out targets for 2020-2035, following on from the last policy document released in 2016 with aims to be met by 2020.Achieving a carbon-neutral portfolio by 2035 also requires changes in the investment environment, Varma said.“Varma invests in companies that enable emissions reductions and adaptation to the changes brought by global warming,” it said, adding that it is committed to promoting collaboration within the financial markets and participating in international joint initiatives to mitigate climate change.Varma, whose total assets came to €47bn at the end of September, also said in its new climate policy document that it aims to have a fifth of its portfolio invested in companies that either directly or indirectly mitigate the advancement of climate change. These are firms that produce low levels of emissions, provide solutions for reducing emissions or promote the use of renewable energy, it explained.Within its direct real estate investments, Varma said it now aims to switch to fully renewable heating and electricity by 2030 and 2025, respectively.Hanna Kaskela, Varma’s director of responsible investment, said the pensions investor paid close attention to its choice of funds and fund managers.“Together with other investors, our goal is to engage with fund managers to encourage them to take climate perspectives into account in their operations as part of responsible investment,” she said.The Helsinki-based firm was judged last year to be one of the more transparent large pension funds internationally regarding climate. In the 2018 report of the Asset Owners Disclosure Project (AODP) – part of investment campaign group ShareAction – it was placed in the top bracket alongside Ilmarinen, the biggest Finnish pensions insurer.last_img read more

NW Indiana Officer Dies 2 Days After Shooting

first_imgImage: Franklin College/ WISH-TVMERRILLVILLE, In. – A police officer in Northwest Indiana has died two days after being shot responding to a call.Authorities are confirming 24-year-old Merrillville officer Nickolaus Schultz died Sunday morning in an Oak Lawn hospital.Stultz served on the Merrillville Police Department for one year and was a 2013 Franklin College graduate, where he played football.He was responding to a complaint regarding an unwanted person in a vacant condo when he was reportedly shot by 33-year-old Michael Hrnciar.Police say Hrnciar shot the officer before turning the gun on himself.The shooting marks the second officer to have died on duty in Lake County since July. Gary officer Jeffrey Westerfield, 47, died after being shot in his car on July 6.last_img read more

Sunday is final day of 2015 IMCA Late Model point season

first_imgVINTON, Iowa – The 2015 IMCA Speedway Motors Weekly Racing point season for Late Models ends with Sunday, Aug. 30 events.The national champion and unofficial state and local track champions will be announced as soon as all race reports from the weekend of Aug. 28-30 are received and tabulated.All Late Model point standings become official at noon CST on Monday, Sept. 28.Questions about point totals and standings should be directed to Virginia Lindsey, IMCA’s director of membership and points, at or by calling 319 472-2201, ext. 215.The 2015 point season for all other sanctioned divisions ends on Sunday, Sept. 27.last_img read more

Rollercoaster ride to first cap

first_img “He asked would I be willing to come out and be an impact player for them. I jumped at it.” Steele has been a revelation since then, becoming a first-choice starter in the Red Bulls’ surge to the MLS play-offs and earning praise from Henry and Cahill. But as if his tale did not have enough unexpected twists in it, he may never have been in a position to catch Petke’s attention at Real Salt Lake had it not been for a change in his private life. Steele had originally decided to quit the USA several years earlier and had joined Irish League outfit Ballymena United when a surprising piece of news drew him back across the Atlantic. “I went to Ballymena when I quit playing in America. I thought I was homesick, so I came back to play part-time or whatever,” he explained. “But I had a girl pregnant. I don’t think (Ballymena boss) Tommy Wright believed me but it’s true, I’ve got the proof! “Tommy didn’t want to let me go, he wasn’t happy with me, but I told him ‘Tommy, I’ve got someone pregnant in America’ and I went back. “I went back to be a part of my son’s life.” In order to do so, Steele had to throw himself into a footballing format more familiar with recreational players on this side of the water. “When I went back I was grinding it out, playing indoor and outdoor football at the same time,” he said. “Indoor football is a crazy game, but you need to make an income and it was out there. “It’s played in a hockey arena and it’s rolling subs, on for a minute, off for a minute. “But it was a big game out there. In Baltimore we had a record crowd of 15,000 and an average of 7,000.” Steele appreciates just how unusual his path to the Northern Ireland set-up is, but he insists the same attitude that has taken him so far already can help make him a regular in the squad. “For me it’s only the start, getting your face in,” he said. “The big picture is the Euro 2016 campaign next year. “Playing for your country is an honour and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do and if I get that opportunity I’m going to be hungrier than I’ve ever been.” Steele’s chances of starting against Turkey were boosted on Wednesday by Shane Ferguson’s withdrawal from the squad. Ferguson has been first-choice in Steele’s favoured left-midfield position throughout the last two years but has been unable to join the group in Adana due to illness. Having started his career on Wolves’ books, the Larne-born player moved to the United States as a teenager only for his dreams of making it at the highest level to be confounded. He was first forced to accept contracts with a succession of indoor franchises, with comic-book names such as Baltimore Blast and Philadelphia KiXX, then when he did make a breakthrough in Major League Soccer with Real Salt Lake, found himself edged out by the league’s complex salary cap. In February he came back to England and trained with Conference side Macclesfield, who may have signed him but for a minor problem with the paperwork. The next thing Steele knew, he had an offer to play in the Big Apple with Thierry Henry and Tim Cahill for team-mates. “I was very close to joining Macclesfield. I wasn’t going back to America before I got the call from the Red Bulls,” he said. “A mate of mine, Matt Barnes-Homer, who I went out to America with at 18 was playing for Macclesfield and I had been training with them. “Their boys were shouting ‘sign him up’ because I killed them in training. The manager asked me about my situation and I was a free agent. I was about to sign; it was about to go through but there was something in the paperwork that wasn’t right. “I got a call that night at about 2am and it was (head coach) Mike Petke from New York Red Bulls. Press Association Earlier this year Jonny Steele was pondering a contract offer from non-league Macclesfield when a late night phone call gave him the chance to join New York Red Bulls and set him on the path to international recognition. The 27-year-old midfielder has one of the more incredulous back stories in the modern game – with indoor football in hockey arenas, fortuitous administrative errors and an unexpected pregnancy all playing their part in his unlikely rise. Steele is set to make his Northern Ireland bow in the friendly against Turkey on Friday and when the chance does come, he will savour it in a way only someone with his experiences could imagine. last_img read more

Former Man. United defender Patrice Evra banned for kicking fan

first_imgPATRICE Evra has been banned from European club football until June 2018 for aiming a kick at one of his own team’s fans.The former Manchester United defender’s contract with his club, Marseille, has been terminated after they mutually agreed to “end their working relationship” in the wake of UEFA’s seven-month ban.The 36-year-old was sent off before the start of a Europa League tie in Portugal earlier this month for appearing to kick a Marseille supporter who had apparently verbally abused him.Evra, who was one of Marseille’s substitutes for the match at Vitoria Guimaraes, seemed to get into an altercation with some of his own team’s fans as he walked along the touchline with team-mates prior to kick off.Video showed him appearing to aim a kick at one of several Marseille supporters who had seemingly scaled barriers to reach the advertising hoardings.UEFA banned the full-back from all European club football until 30 June and fined him €10,000 (£8,825).Marseille, who were fined €25,000 (£22,000) for a pitch invasion by fans, criticised both player and supporters who, it claimed, insulted Evra.In a statement on its website, Marseille said Evra “committed an irreparable act by responding to provocations from a handful of individuals. Nothing justified such a reaction, especially from a senior player.“In that context…both parties agreed to end the collaboration by mutual consent.“This incident also highlighted the unacceptable attitude of a small number of people who uttered insults and threats of violence towards the player and his family before contemptuously invading the pitch.“Such behaviour, which exposes the club to sanctions, has no place in the stands of a football stadium and at Marseille in particular,” it said.The incident carried echoes of Eric Cantona’s infamous “kung-fu” kick on Crystal Palace fan Matthew Simmons in 1995.The Manchester United striker was banned for nine months from football worldwide and ordered to do 120 hours of community service.(Sky Sports)last_img read more

Superlatives from Syracuse’s 74-50 blowout win over Oakland

first_imgSyracuse (4-0) got off to a hot start on Monday night en route to a 74-50 win over Oakland (2-2) on Monday night in the Carrier Dome. SU shot 53.1 percent in the first half, the best mark in an opening half and second-best shooting half all season. The Orange picked its hot shooting back up late in the second half, allowing it to cruise to victory.Here are superlatives from the game:The Big Moment: Battle and Howard icing the gameAfter the scorching hot start to the game, Syracuse struggled to get much going to open the second half. With 9:22 left, an Oakland 3-pointer cut Syracuse’s 14-point halftime lead to 10, with the Orange managing just 11 points in the first portion of the second half.That’s when Syracuse’s starting guards and leaders, Tyus Battle and Frank Howard, went to work. The pair scored 14 unanswered points for the Orange, opening up a 24-point lead and effectively icing the game for SU.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textStud: Tyus BattleThe sophomore from New Jersey has had a scorching start to the season, averaging 22.3 points per game on 53.6 percent shooting. He continued that run on Monday night.Battle was SU’s life force on the offensive end early. He scored the first bucket of the game on a stepback midrange jumper. In one stretch late in the first half, he made four straight jumpers in the span of two minutes, shaking his head after and flashing a smile after draining the third one.Battle finished with 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting, his third-straight game of 20 or more points. Dud: Bourama SidibeThe freshman center has shined early in the season. He was averaging nearly the same amount of minutes as starter Paschal Chukwu and was averaging more points.He struggled in his limited opportunity in the first half, though. On one play he tried a running post move from the left block. He jumped up in the air, realized he couldn’t shoot the ball from where he was and just threw the ball back to nobody in particular for Oakland’s easiest steal of the night.Later, with the offense stalling, he decided to pull up from the free throw line on a standstill jumper. SU head coach Jim Boeheim was livid, pulling him immediately while yelling, “What are you doing?”He came in toward the end of the first half but didn’t play at all in the second half.Highlight: Paschal Chukwu put-back slamSU missed its first four shots and two free throws in the first four minutes of the second half. Frank Howard tried to change that on a fastbreak, eurostepping into a layup attempt.As the ball started falling off the rim, the 7-foot-2 Chukwu charged forward, scooped it up in midair and slammed it back home. SU fans erupted in cheers and then sat down after the Orange had finally made its first shot of the half.Lowlight: Matthew Moyer’s miscommunicationMatthew Moyer has had a rough start to the season. His minutes have dropped in every game and he hadn’t scored a point in either of the last two games. In the process, he’s drawn the ire of Boeheim several times.To start the second half, Moyer missed an open baseline jumper from the left side of the court. On the next, Moyer set up on the right baseline, directly in front of the SU bench. As Howard split the defense down the middle, Moyer cut to the basket. Howard passed the ball exactly to where he thought Moyer would be, but the ball went over the cutting forward and out of bounds. Moyer got subbed out immediately after and wouldn’t return until the game was out of reach with four minutes left. Comments Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on November 20, 2017 at 9:06 pm Contact Tomer: | @tomer_langerlast_img read more