Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Former President Bill Clinton attempted on Wednesday to cut through confusion and worries about the new U.S. healthcare law, telling Americans they will be better off with Obamacare and urging opponents to make the best of it. Clinton said the health of the nation depends on a successful rollout of President Barack Obama's healthcare reform law. The program has been hampered by technical delays, fears about costs, and relentless pressure from Republicans who want to repeal it. Obama dubbed Clinton the "secretary of explaining stuff" a year ago after the former Democratic president gave a rousing prime time defense of Obama's economic policies at the Democratic National Convention. Debate over Obamacare is still raging a month before new health insurance exchanges go live. The White House enlisted Clinton to try to turn the page on the rancor over Obama's signature law, and kick off the push to get uninsured Americans to sign up for coverage. It is part of a broad outreach strategy by the White House to encourage community groups, businesses and celebrities to raise awareness about exchanges, which open October 1. Clinton acknowledged problems with the law, which requires Americans to have insurance or pay a penalty. He said Americans will be better off when more people have coverage under a program he argued will begin to reduce the staggeringly high cost of health insurance. "There are always drafting errors, unintended consequences, unanticipated issues," Clinton said in a speech from his presidential library in Little Rock, Arkansas. "We're going to do better working together and learning together than we will trying over and over again to repeal the law, or rooting for reform to fail, and refusing to fix relatively simple matters," he said. Clinton is well versed in the politics of healthcare after he tried but failed to overhaul the system in the 1990s. Polls show there is little hope for an end to the entrenched political debate over the healthcare law, said Drew Altman, president of the Kaiser Family Foundation, which provides research and information about U.S. healthcare policy. Clinton's speech signals a new stage in the administration's efforts to press Americans to sign up for Obamacare, Altman said in an interview, noting that more than 40 percent of Americans are confused about the law. "I think it is part of the effort to just get people to sit up and pay attention and say to them, 'Look: this is real now, a lot of you can benefit from this law,'" Altman said. 'COMPLEX ECOSTRUCTURE' Clinton's speech does nothing to fix the underlying problems with Obamacare, said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, who has long opposed the program and wants to see the law repealed and replaced. "The problem is that Obamacare costs too much and it isn't working the way they promised," Stewart said. "No amount of speeches can change the fact that employers are cutting hours, families are losing the plans they have and like, and that premiums for many people are going up." Clinton said the worst predictions about the impact on jobs and insurance costs have not materialized. He assured Americans that it is normal to see some bugs in an overhaul of "a complex ecostructure like American healthcare." He said Congress should amend the law to make sure low-wage earners who have insurance at work can receive tax credits for insurance they buy for family members on exchanges, and should expand tax credits for small businesses that provide employees with plans. There are legitimate fears that not enough young, healthy people will sign up for plans to balance higher-risk older people in insurance pools, he said. "I think if young people can afford the coverage, they should buy it, and contribute to a well-funded system with lower rates if for no other reason than they will not always be young," Clinton said. "It's both the right and the smart thing to do." And he acknowledged "the computer problem" involved in making sure the data hub for electronic exchanges works as the deadline rapidly approaches. "There may be glitches, but so far there's no evidence to suggest that they won't be able to be fixed quickly," he said.
Russia releases key findings on chemical attack near Aleppo indicating similarity with rebel-made weapons
Probes from Khan al-Assal show chemicals used in the March 19 attack did not belong to standard Syrian army ammunition, and that the shell carrying the substance was similar to those made by a rebel fighter group, the Russian Foreign Ministry stated.A statement released by the ministry on Wednesday particularly drew attention to the “massive stove-piping of various information aimed at placing the responsibility for the alleged chemical weapons use in Syria on Damascus, even though the results of the UN investigation have not yet been revealed.” By such means “the way is being paved for military action” against Damascus, the ministry pointed out. But the samples taken at the site of the March 19 attack and analyzed by Russian experts indicate that a projectile carrying the deadly nerve agent sarin was most likely fired at Khan al-Assal by the rebels, the ministry statement suggests, outlining the 100-page report handed over to the UN by Russia. The key points of the report have been given as follows: • the shell used in the incident “does not belong to the standard ammunition of the Syrian army and was crudely according to type and parameters of the rocket-propelled unguided missiles manufactured in the north of Syria by the so-called Bashair al-Nasr brigade”; • RDX, which is also known as hexogen or cyclonite, was used as the bursting charge for the shell, and it is “not used in standard chemical munitions”; • soil and shell samples contain “the non-industrially synthesized nerve agent sarin and diisopropylfluorophosphate,” which was “used by Western states for producing chemical weapons during World War II.” The findings of the report are “extremely specific,” as they mostly consist of scientific and technical data from probes’ analysis, the ministry stressed, adding that this data can “substantially aid” the UN investigation of the incident. While focusing on the Khan al-Assal attack on March 19, in which at least 26 civilians and Syrian army soldiers were killed, and 86 more were injured, the Russian Foreign Ministry also criticized the “flawed selective approach” of certain states in reporting the recent incidents of alleged chemical weapons use in August. The hype around the alleged attack on the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta showed “apparent attempts to cast a veil over the incidents of gas poisoning of Syrian army soldiers on August 22, 24 and 25,” the ministry said, adding that all the respective evidence was handed to the UN by Syria. The condition of the soldiers who, according to Damascus, suffered poisoning after discovering tanks with traces of sarin, has been examined and documented by the UN inspectors, the ministry pointed out, adding that “any objective investigation of the August 21 incident in eastern Ghouta is impossible without the consideration of all these facts.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday said the UN investigators are set to return to Syria to investigate several other cases of alleged chemical weapons use, including the March 19 incident in Khan al-Assal.
Intelligence departments in a special meeting of federal cabinet revealed that proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) al-Qaeda and Jundullah were involved in crimes including kidnapping for ransom in Karachi, Geo News reported.In a special meeting on Karachi law and order situation,intelligence departments disclosed that the TPP has established itself in Karachi. According to Intelligence officials, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) and criminals of Lyari had joined hands together, while TTP along with al-Qaeda were involved in kidnapping for ransom.
Air Force One touched down Wednesday morning after an overnight flight from Washington. During his stay in Stockholm, Obama will meet with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and King Carl XVI Gustaf. He will also meet with other Nordic leaders from Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Norway. Obama’s visit marks the first bilateral meeting of a U.S. president to Sweden. The northern European country was added to Obama’s itinerary after he canceled plans to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow ahead of the Group of 20 summit. Obama will still travel to St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G-20 meetings after leaving Stockholm.
The Express Tribune
by Maheen UsmaniShe came from a small town in Uttar Pradesh, but she had big dreams.
Editorial:Daily TimesThe persistently deteriorating law and order situation in Karachi has become intolerable. The economic hub of the country responsible for generating 70 percent of GDP, the city has far more potential than it had been allowed to exhibit owing to criminal gangs, armed militias and political thugs whose turf wars have deprived the city of peace and its economic dividends. Governance in Karachi had been sloppy and inadequate for years now, at times giving the impression of a city without any government. Since long Karachi has not had a peaceful day. It seems ages since any government has felt the responsibility to restore and sustain order in the city. The former coalition between the PPP and MQM benefited each other more than the people they had come to represent. The measures the parties at times took to mend the situation ended up being an eyewash, while the mayhem continued. Now the new government has shown the resolve to put an end to the cycle of misery, but through a consensus. It is indeed important that a broad based agreement is achieved among the political parties and other stakeholders over issues of national importance, such as a cleanup operation against the militants and thugs in Karachi, especially when the political parties are part of the problem inflicting the city. However, if the government is considering getting a clean chit on every step it intends to take during the operation, then it might not be too early to predict the operation already a failure. It is impossible that there would not be any clamour once the operation begins either from the MQM or ANP. The PPP might also groan at some point. So, will the job be left unfinished? In case this happens it would be the beginning of a long, unending crisis in Karachi, further emboldening the criminals about their dominance and overbearing influence over the indecisive government. The temptation to have a political cover needs to be resisted. Governments are formed to govern and unless they do that, their relevance becomes questionable. Already there had been talk of Pakistan becoming dysfunctional. This impression needs to be cleared up and the only solution to it is coming down hard on the criminal elements infecting the entire country. Prime Minister (PM) Nawaz Sharif is already in Karachi to chair the federal cabinet session taking place today in the Governor’s House. Yesterday on his arrival he met the representatives of all the major political parties in Sindh. Concerned about the lawlessness of the port city, which has deprived its people of decent living because of shrinking economic activities brought about by terrorism and lawlessness, the premier has asked all the parties to strive to bring peace back to Karachi. He has assured that the mandate of all the parties in Karachi would not be violated and that he is visiting Karachi as the prime minister of the entire country and not as a representative of PML-N. The purpose of arranging the federal cabinet meeting in Karachi has been to give final shape to the plan of the targeted operation. The PM has struck the right chord by creating agreement among his colleagues. But it is now time to act. We cannot waste any more time to reach a broader consensus that would not change anyone or anything. Now that the cabinet has agreed, the operation against the militants in Karachi should be launched forthwith. These are testing times for everyone, even for the judiciary. There is an apprehension lurking in everyone’s mind: what if the terrorists and criminals caught are freed by the judiciary on the pretext of lack of evidence? The judiciary has to show restraint in granting bail and acquittals to the criminals, giving more time to the prosecution to build its case. The same prudence applies to the intelligence agencies, because without their timely, precise and synchronized input, the entire exercise might prove futile. Karachi is perhaps the most challenging job for the new government, which will set the tone for its future measures and actions against terrorism in the rest of Pakistan.