OBAMA-CARE IS HERE TO STAY, AND IT’S GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY

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^ The President argued thus for the ACA

Obama-care – the Affordable Health Care Act enacted into law in 2009 – is here to stay. It should be. It is going to be a huge benefit to the economy, not to mention to the 50,000,000 Americans for whom it will provide basic health insurance.

The 50 million who the ACA will insure will now enjoy better heath, fewer sick days out from work, and far less expensive medical care. Currently the 50 million have only one choice : use an emergency room at a hosp[ital, at which, thanks to legislation enacted 30 years ago, all care is fully paid for by the Federal government. That care is hugely expensive. Under the ACA, people who had only the emergency room option will now have insurance. That insurance will be purchased through exchanges, on which competition between insurance companies will drive down costs – indeed, is already driving them down.

New York State is only the first to announce, recently, that health care costs for its residents have dropped almost 50 per cent. The same will be true in every other state.

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^ Governor Cuomo, announcing that the ACA has given NY an almost 50 % decrease in the state’s health care costs

Or, should we say, the same will be true IF the other states fully implement the ACA and its purchase exchanges. Many Republican-governed states are refusing to do so. Others are implementing the ACA only in part. In many such states, purchase costs are rising, not dropping. This seems to be policy in some Republican states. They want the law repealed, and by squeezing the law so as to make insurance more expensive they hope to turn public opinion against the ACA. It’s cynical, and it’s quite immoral.

Why would even Republicans not want every resident to have health insurance, when such insurance provides such palpable benefits to the economy ? Fewer sick days taken by workers, better health for workers generally, and lower insurance costs ? With lower insurance costs and fatter pay checks, more income available for consumer discretionary spending ? Remember that two-thirds of the ENTIRE economy is consumer spending. Any economy-conscious politician would want as much consumer spending as feasible.

It’s a fascinating question. Since voters all vote – assuming they aren’t kept from voting by various GOP “vote suppression” laws – one would think that the GOP would want to win these votes, not throw them away. Why are they doing this ?

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 ^ 40 times, the GOP-controlled House has voted to repeal the ACA.

The GOP is well funded by huge corporations who view employees as a burden, not an asset; who don’t want to promote employee loyalty, or job satisfaction, and who don’t understand, or give a damn about, the economic impact of stress and poor health. These same companies are – or say they are – delaying to hire new workers because they can’t yet process the ACA’s impact on their health insurance contributions.

We at Here and Sphere do not believe it. What company would delay hiring workers needed to service expanded demand for product or service ? What company would deliberately retard its revenue that way ?

Other companies that fund the GOP are refusing the ACA because, so they claim, their religious values forbid them from insuring women’s reproductive health. This is outrageous. What right does an employer have to impose its religion on employees’ health ? Then there’s the employers that are hiring but only for part time work covering less hours than would require health insurance. Surely this is an unfair labor practice that the NLRB needs to challenge.

It is these corporations which, by huge donations directly to the GOP or by way of ALEC, the legislative drafting arm of America’s anti-ACA, anti-women, anti-civil rights interest groups, are buying the non-compliance of GOP office holders and thereby grievously impacting the course of ACA implementation. Grievous delay is, not, however, going to stand. It will not last long. The Act will be implemented, insurance costs will go down, and eventually the nation might even work its way toward the real health care solution: enrolling all Americans in Medicare.

That would be simple. Unhappily, in politics, simple is never liked by those who profit of complication.

— the Editors / Here and Sphere

MEEK AT THE MOVIES : FRUITVALE STATION ( 3 stars )

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^ Michael B. Jordan as Oscar Grant in “Fruitvale Station”

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With the George Zimmerman trial and cries of justice for Trayvon fresh in our minds, “Fruitvale Station” could not come at a more appropriate time. It won’t ease the current emotional swell, but it will help further the conversation.

At 2 AM on New Year’s Day, 2009, Oscar Grant, a twenty two year-old Black man, was shot and killed by a transit cop as he lay face down and partially restrained on the platform of the subway stop of the title; a tragic end to a buoyant and hopeful evening as Grant and his friends tried to make their way back to Oakland from a sojourn across the Bay to see the fireworks.

Much of the inexplicable act was caught on cellphone video. The cop later said he meant to draw his Taser and was sentenced for manslaughter, but that’s not what drives this movie. The shooting may be what ultimately defines it; still, Ryan Coogler’s explorative lens is more concerned with the odyssey of a young man struggling to go right in a world stacked against him—a world that he had a hand in skewing, and yes, it’s about race too.
Coogler begins with some of that fateful cellphone video. Then he fades out and rewinds to earlier in the day, following the events that lead up to the tragic moment, in the process absorbing the essence of the person Oscar Grant. “Fruitvale,” while it uses a smattering of real footage, isn’t a documentary per se but a dramatic recreation. Smart casting employs Michael B. Jordan to breathe soul into the memory of Oscar with Academy Award nominee Octavia Spencer as the loving, but stern mother.

Jordan, whom you might recognize from TV’s “The Wire,” has a long sad face with sleepy kind eyes; a bit like our old Celtic hero, Paul Pierce. For most of the film the camera hangs tight on that mug as Oscar drives around in his car or lingers in his kitchen, wondering, contemplating, torn and wanting to do the right thing. What confronts Oscar is his past — also his present situation. He’s just surrendered his run-around girlfriend and committed to Sophina (Melonie Diaz), with whom he has a young daughter; but then there’s the revelation that Oscar’s somewhat recently out of jail and he’s just lost his job as a butcher for being tardy too often. He desires to succeed in a straight up fashion and doesn’t want to go back to dealing dope, but how to make ends meet? It doesn’t help either that he keeps Sophina and his mother in the dark about his recently changed employment status.

“Fruitvale” bears the tag of “based on true events,” but Coogler, who was a USC film student at the time the project began (Forest Whitaker is one of the producers) and is approximately the same age as Grant and Black as well, never takes liberties with the license afforded him. If there’s any heavy-handedness it’s the rather contrived Black and White interaction : for example, the white-bread blonde who’s initially apprehensive when Oscar approaches her in a hoodie in a supermarket offering her tips on “fish fry” (she later happens to be on the train that night when the altercation goes down that triggers the unnecessary shooting). There’s the racist inmate who, during visiting hours between Oscar and his mother, drops a few F-bomb and N-word couplings and worse—moments that feel forced and unnatural, though they ultimately help fill the bigger canvas.

The true power of “Fruitvale” permeated through its quiet, reflective moments, as introspective players grapple with their own failures and with the outside influences that have negatively impacted their lives. John Singleton applied the same nuanced approach to “Boyz n the Hood.” Not bad company (and a fellow Trojan as well). The concluding frames of “Fruitvale,” as Oscar’s family and friends cling to slim hope, wrench the conscience. Loss of life is universal, no matter what color you are. Coogler knows this and articulates the moment with profound affect.

—- Tom Meek / Meek at the Movies

150 PIMPS ARRESTED 105 RESCUED VICTIMS IN LARGEST CHILD TRAFFICKING STING TO DATE

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OPERATION CROSS COUNTRY VII

       A task force made up of forty-seven FBI divisions, more than 3,900 law enforcement officers, from local, state, and federal, to agents representing 230 separate agencies teamed up with the (NCMEC) National Center for Missing and Exploited Children — as part of the Bureau’s ( Innocence Lost National Initiative).

       This three-day nationwide enforcement action targeted the people responsible for the trafficking , forced prostitution, abuse, and in some cases even torture of under-age victims.

       This united effort spanning 76 cities nation-wide concluded with an astounding 150 arrests of both pimps and other persons of interest — and most importantly  the rescue of 105 teenagers, being used as prostitutes — the youngest being only 13 years old. This has now been the largest and most successful  enforcement action to date.

        Human trafficking is not new news; however the actual numbers are heinous and appalling.

        There are at least 27 million slaves in the US today, more than any other time period in history — including  pre-abolition. Annually 800,000 people trafficked onto US territory via it’s borders. Of those 800,000 — 90% are women and young female children — with 70% of those woman and children being trafficked for the sole purpose of being forced into the ( commercial sex-slave industry ). If that stomach turning data wasn’t enough — how about the realization that according to the (NCMEC) — 50% of that 70% are children.

 One such victim was not only rescued in this past sting, but was also a key component to the success of it. With her help and cooperation, agents posing as johns, and websites used for the advertising of prostitution — this impressive three-day action served it’s purpose and then some.

“Child prostitution remains a persistent threat to children across America” said Ron Hosko, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division. He also stated that ” this operation serves as a  reminder that these abhorrent crimes can happen ANYWHERE — and that the FBI are committed to stopping this cycle of victimization, and holding the criminals that profit from this exploitation accountable.”

 Since it’s 2003 beginnings, The Innocence Lost National Initiative has resulted in, the identification and recovery of more than 2,700 children — who have been sexually exploited.

  Ron Hosko also explained that most runaways turn to prostitution for money… “With no way to survive on their own, they are trapped into a life of being trafficked — trapped into this cycle, that involves drugs, it involves physical abuse, and may even involve torture — so that they are tied to the pimp.”

       One such victim is Alexandria a.k.a. Alex, a runaway — who at first stayed with family and friends — eventually finding herself on the street and desperate. Alex then turned to prostitution as a way to supply her basic needs — just for survival. Soon she was at the mercy of a pimp. In an interview Alex bravely admits what her experience was like. She tells the interviewer that ” At first it was terrifying, and then…..You just become numb to it” — “You put on a whole different attitude” — like a different person. “It wasn’t me.”

Two years into her painful ordeal, Alex contacted the FBI, and became a very important asset in helping to bring down two pimps, while also helping to facilitate  the rescue of several under-age victims.

Even through all the bad, inconceivable, and life altering things she endured — Alex is now on her own and thriving — with a positive attitude and outlook on life, as well as her future. Since her rescue she has received her high school diploma, and plans on attending college. Her future goals include becoming an advocate for victims of sexual exploitation.

Watch her interview here:

“They had my past but not my future” – Alex

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=aOQhf5zV18M

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Nc6J6MdoBog

The sex industry is a multi-million dollar business — no matter what state the economy is in, struggling or not — SEX-STILL-SELLS…. But this is not a case of to each his own, The phrase “what happens behind closed doors, is none of OUR business.” — does NOT apply! What are your opinions on this topic? Here and Sphere would love to hear from you………

Written By: Heather Cornell / Here and Sphere

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