New Report Says The Future Of Obamacare Looks Pretty Stable

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Two government agencies just put out a new report on the status of Obamacare, and according to them, it’s doing OK. 

Remember, in 2017 Republicans tried, but failed, to repeal Obamacare. However, they did eliminate the individual mandate as part of their tax cut bill. All of that made the future of the health care law a little murky.

In a report published Wednesday, the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation said “the nongroup health insurance market is stable in most areas of the country over the next decade.”

On average, 244 million Americans under age 65 will have health insurance in any given month this year, and about 9 million of those people will get their insurance through the marketplaces. But about 29 million people are uninsured each month.

An additional 3 million people are expected to be uninsured in 2019, mostly due to the elimination of the individual mandate and higher premiums.

Premiums for Obamacare’s benchmark plans are expected to go up about 15 percent next year. But after that, the CBO and JCT think premiums will go up an average of about 7 percent a year for the next decade.

The report notes that lower income Americans won’t notice the increased premiums as much, thanks to government subsidies. And that helps keep the health insurance market stable.

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Starbucks Gives A Video Preview Of Its Upcoming Racial Bias Training

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On Wednesday, Starbucks released a preview of the curriculum for its racial bias training session scheduled for May 29.

The company is closing more than 8,000 of its U.S. stores for the partial-day training after two black men were arrested in a Philadelphia location in April. An employee called the police when the men didn’t order anything while they were waiting on a third person to arrive. 

A video released by the company briefly highlighted different sections of the planned training and showed “guides,” experts and Starbucks board members who are contributing to the conversation.

Starbucks says this training is just a “first step” in a “long-term journey” meant to increase employees’ understanding of racial bias. It also plans to have future training sessions.

The company says it will share its training materials with other companies and organizations that want it. The curriculum will also be made available to the public after May 29. 

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Poland Could Lose Voting Rights On European Council

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The Law and Justice Party has been in power in Poland for less than three years, and it’s made deep cuts to its government’s laws regarding the judiciary and electoral processes. The European Union’s leaders have been frustrated with what they say is the country’s unwillingness to comply with their demands to reassess these new laws. Poland has made some concessions, though many critics say they’re simply cosmetic. The country is at risk of hefty sanctions and losing its voting rights on the European Commission. 

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US Withdraws China’s Invite To RIMPAC Military Drills

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The U.S. no longer wants China participating in a joint naval drill in the Pacific.

The Rim of the Pacific exercise, commonly called RIMPAC, is a drill the U.S. hosts every other year. Several countries participate, and China has been involved since 2014. 

But the Pentagon said it disinvited China from this year’s drill, because of the country’s continuing steps to militarize the South China Sea.

China has been building up disputed islands there to use as military bases. China’s air force recently announced it landed nuclear-capable bombers on one of the islands. The Pentagon says it has “strong evidence” China has also deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missiles and electronic jammers to the islands.

The drill will take place in June and July. 

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Today’s Moms Are Older, More Educated And Bucking Years Of Trends

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Modern motherhood is growing in numbers and diversity. New moms are now older, better educated and more likely to be single, reversing decades of trends.

Here’s what that looks like” 86 percent of women aged 40-44 are now mothers, compared with 80 percent in 2006. That’s according to a Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

Also growing? Family size. Women now have 2.07 children on average, up from 1.86 in 2006, the lowest number on record. The recent rise in motherhood and fertility seems to run counter to the notion that the U.S. is in a post-recession “Baby Bust,” meaning decreasing fertility. 

SEE MORE: The History Of Paternity Leave? There Isn’t Much

Dig a little deeper into the Pew analysis, and this is what you find:

— The share of women at the end of their childbearing years who have never married has risen from 9 percent in 1994 to 15 percent in 2014. Among these women, a majority now — 55 percent — had at least one child. 

— Over the same time span, 82 percent of women at the end of their childbearing years with a bachelor’s degree were mothers, compared with 76 percent in ’94.

— The most dramatic increase in motherhood was among the relatively small group of women in their early 40s with a Ph.D. or professional degree, 80 percent of whom are mothers. A few decades ago, that was 65 percent.

— The median age when women become mothers in the U.S. is 26, compared with 23 years old in the ’90s. The biggest cause seems to be a steep decline in teen moms.

— Delayed childbearing is also extending into women in their early 20s, making it more common to become a mother after 25 or in your 30s and 40s.

There are a lot of reasons why women are delaying having a baby, and obviously it depends on a particular woman’s circumstances. The list of reasons includeslater marriage; student debt, stagnant wages, recovery from the recession; more education and improved job prospects for women; and a lack of support for families in which both parents work.

Will this maternity uptick continue into the future? That remains to be seen. There are some obstacles. For instance, the ability to have a baby decreases with age, fertility treatments are expensive, and paid family leave is still an not offered to millions of workers.

Clearly, the hurdles can be high. Sleep can be nonexistent. Money can be tight. But more women are tackling the challenge and choosing to start families all their own. Some you’d typically see on Nick at Nite, others you’re more likely to find on Netflix.  

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Jared Kushner Regains Top Security Clearance

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White House senior adviser Jared Kushner has finally been granted permanent security clearance, according to The New York Times. That means Kushner once again has access to the nation’s most sensitive information.

The president’s son-in-law had his temporary clearance revoked in February as the White House changed its security procedures. Given the fact special counsel Robert Mueller’s team was also looking into Kushner’s meetings with Russians, there was some uncertainty around his role in the White House. 

Kushner also reportedly met with special counsel investigators for about seven hours in mid-April. The Washington Post reports the counsel questioned him on a variety of topics, including the president’s decision to fire then-FBI Director James Comey.

Kushner’s background check took more than a year. But his lawyer told The New York Times that’s normal and that Kushner has fully cooperated with the special counsel’s investigation.

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More Sandy Hook Victims’ Families Are Suing Alex Jones

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Six more families related to victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting filed a defamation lawsuit against radio personality Alex Jones on Wednesday. 

The families are joined by an FBI agent who responded to the shooting.

Jones has repeatedly claimed the tragedy, which left 20 children and six school employees dead, was a hoax and that the families involved were actors.

A lawyer for the families told NBC: “Jones’s actions subjected the families and survivors of the Sandy Hook shooting to physical confrontations and harassment, death threats and personal attacks on social media.”

Jones is a vocal gun rights activist and the host of “InfoWars,” which regularly presents conspiracy theories.

He was sued by the parents of two other children killed in the shooting last month. 

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Kerry Kennedy On Political Media And Her Father’s Legacy In Journalism

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Kerry Kennedy, daughter of former U.S. senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy, and president of his namesake human rights advocacy organization, says today’s media is more under attack than ever before. Newsy’s Kellan Howell spoke with Kerry Kennedy about Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights’ journalism and book awards, the role of the media in politics today, and her father’s legacy in journalism. 

SEE MORE: Fake News On Twitter Spreads Farther And Faster Than Truth

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How This Chicago Psychologist Warden Got Rid Of Solitary Confinement

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The psychological effects of solitary confinement have been linked to anxietydepression and suicidal thoughts. 

Kalief Browder spent months in solitary confinement at Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime, before ultimately taking his own life a few months after his release. 

Prison officials use solitary confinement as a punishment for a variety of infractions, from violence with other inmates to drug use or possession. That said, solitary confinement practices have always been hard to track because many state corrections departments don’t log the information, and the practice can have different names in different states.  

Despite the controversy surrounding the practice, thousands of prisoners across the country still spend 23 hours of their day locked away without human interaction.  

The most recent comprehensive study of solitary confinement found 67,000 prisoners were kept in some sort of restrictive housing in 2015 — that’s being locked in a cell for at least 22 hours a day for 15 days or more. 

In Louisiana, Utah and Nebraska, more than 10 percent of the respective prison populations were kept in solitary in 2015. Texas, on the other hand, kept its prisoners in solitary the longest. Of the nearly 3,000 prisoners nationwide held in solitary for more than six years, more than half are in Texas.  

Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia is a psychologist who has worked in corrections for nearly 12 years in Chicago. In 2015, she was named warden of Cook County Jail, making her the first mental health professional to head up a prison or jail in the U.S., according to the Cook County Sheriff’s office. 

“There should be no such thing as solitary confinement,” Dr. Jones Tapia said. 

Dr. Jones Tapia says she recognizes the dangers of solitary confinement, and because of that, she wanted to make sure Cook County handled things differently.  

“We said that we’re no longer going to house people — who had, you know, done some egregious behavior — in their cell for 23 hours a day. We’re going to discipline them for their behaviors, nonetheless, but we’re going to have them to come out of their cell for a few hours a day. … And so out of, let’s say a 12 to 14 hour day, they’re out for five hours. That was remarkable,” Dr. Jones Tapia said. 

Along with cutting down on the isolation for inmates, Dr. Jones Tapia instituted group interaction with corrections officers, with the hope that the inmates would gain something from their time together. 

“Why not have them commune with each other? There’s nothing against communing and fellowshipping. But what we found, and this is where the psychologist in me recognized something that we could do different … why not put our staff inside of the tier so that instead of them feeding off of the negative behaviors of each other, then hopefully our staff can model some positive behaviors,” Dr. Jones Tapia said. 

“We saw staff that would sit at a picnic table with inmates all around them engaging, listening. They’re learning about each other. … We saw the incidents started to plummet,” Dr. Jones Tapia said. 

Despite solitary confinement still being a widespread practice across the country, researchers say the tide has shifted among prison directors in recent years. While solitary confinement was once viewed as “central to prisoner management,” now organizations like the Association of State Correctional Administrators and the American Correctional Association are pushing to limit the practice. 

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US Issues Warning To State Department Employees In China

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A U.S. government employee working in China was reportedly diagnosed with a mild traumatic brain injury after reporting “abnormal sensations of sound and pressure.”

That may seem familiar — the U.S. recalled several employees from Havana, Cuba, after they said they experienced similar auditory sensations and medical symptoms. 

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo linked the two situations when he testified before Congress on Wednesday.

“We had an incident in Guangzhou that the medical indications are very similar and entirely consistent with the medical indications that have taken place to Americans working in Cuba,” he said.

It’s not clear yet what caused the injury to the employee in China; the State Department says it’s not aware of any other similar cases there. But the department did issue a warning to other employees there. The health alert said not to look for the source of any strange sounds, but to move to a place where the sounds aren’t present. 

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