Being a true blue Singaporean (who never left Singapore for more than 3 weeks in a row), I have never heard of Bukit Pasoh (Chinese: 武吉巴梳路)
I meant to sign up for the Telok Ayer Trail but with a click of a fat finger, I ended up on the Bukit Pasoh Trail. When I reached the URA lobby building, there were a lot more people for the Telok Ayer Trail than the Bukit Pasoh one so I was silently pleased with that decision.
Pasoh is the Malay word for “Flower pot” and this place got its name from the Ali Baba jars, the Tong or Pasoh used to store rice or water in homes back then. There were many kilns in the 19th century that made these pots, bricks and tiles around that area and Bukit is the Malay word for Hill. I am not going to detail…
The Affordable Care Act gave health insurance to millions of Americans by shifting resources from the wealthy to the poor and by moving oversight from states to the federal government. The Senate bill introduced Thursday pushes back forcefully on both dimensions.
The bill is aligned with long-held Republican values, advancing states’ rights and paring back growing entitlement programs, while freeing individuals from requirements that they have insurance and emphasizing personal responsibility. Obamacare raised taxes on high earners and the health care industry, and essentially redistributed that income — in the form of health insurance or insurance subsidies — to many of the groups that have fared poorly over the last few decades.
The draft Senate bill, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, would jettison those taxes while reducing federal funding for the care of low-income Americans. The bill’s largest benefits go to the wealthiest Americans, who have the most comfortable health care arrangements, and its biggest losses fall to poorer Americans who rely on government support. The bill preserves many of the structures of Obamacare, but rejects several of its central goals.
Like a House version of the legislation, the bill would fundamentally change the structure of Medicaid, which provides health insurance to 74 million disabled or poor Americans, including nearly 40 percent of all children. Instead of open-ended payments, the federal government would give states a maximum payment for nearly every individual enrolled in the program. The Senate version of the bill would increase that allotment every year by a formula that is expected to grow substantially more slowly than the average increase in medical costs.
Avik Roy, the president of the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity, and a conservative health care analyst, cheered the bill on Twitter, saying, “If it passes, it’ll be the greatest policy achievement by a G.O.P. Congress in my lifetime.” The bill, he explained in an email, provides a mechanism for poor Americans to move from Medicaid coverage into the private market, a goal he has long championed as a way of equalizing insurance coverage across income groups.
High-income earners would get substantial tax cuts on payroll and investment income. Subsidies for those low-income Americans who buy their own insurance would decline compared with current law. Low-income Americans who currently buy their own insurance would also lose federal help in paying their deductibles and co-payments.
The bill does offer insurance subsidies to poor Americans who live in states that don’t offer them Medicaid coverage, a group without good insurance options under Obamacare. But the high-deductible plans that would become the norm might continue to leave care out of their financial reach even if they do buy insurance.
The battle over resources played into the public debate. Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, said the bill was needed to “bring help to the families who have been struggling with Obamacare.” In a Facebook post, President Barack Obama, without mentioning the taxes that made his program possible, condemned the Senate bill as “a massive transfer of wealth from middle-class and poor families to the richest people in America.”
In another expression of Republican principles, the bill would make it much easier for states to set their own rules for insurance regulation, a return to the norm before Obamacare.
Under the bill, states would be able to apply for waivers that would let them eliminate consumer protection regulations, like rules that require all health plans to cover a basic package of benefits or that prevent insurance plans from limiting how much care they will cover in a given year.
States could get rid of the online marketplaces that help consumers compare similar health plans, and make a variety of other changes to the health insurance system. The standards for approval are quite permissive. Not every state would choose to eliminate such rules, of course. But several might.
“You can eliminate all those financial protections,” said Nicholas Bagley, a law professor at the University of Michigan. “That would be huge.”
Americans with pre-existing conditions would continue to enjoy protection from discrimination: In contrast with the House health bill, insurers would not be allowed to charge higher prices to customers with a history of illness, even in states that wish to loosen insurance regulations.
But patients with serious illnesses may still face skimpier, less useful coverage. States may waive benefit requirements and allow insurers to charge customers more. Someone seriously ill who buys a plan that does not cover prescription drugs, for example, may not find it very valuable.
There are features that would tend to drive down the sticker price of insurance, a crucial concern of many Republican lawmakers, who have criticized high prices under Obamacare. Plans that cover fewer benefits and come with higher deductibles would cost less than more comprehensive coverage.
But because federal subsidies would also decline, only a fraction of people buying their own insurance would enjoy the benefits of lower prices. Many middle-income Americans would be expected to pay a larger share of their income to purchase health insurance that covers a smaller share of their care.
The bill also includes substantial funds to help protect insurers from losses caused by unusually expensive patients, a measure designed to lure into the market those insurance carriers that have grown skittish by losses in the early years of Obamacare. But it removes a policy dear to the insurance industry — if no one else. Without an individual mandate with penalties for Americans who remain uninsured, healthier customers may choose to opt out of the market until they need medical care, increasing costs for those who stay in.
The reforms are unlikely to drive down out-of-pocket spending, another perennial complaint of the bill’s authors, and a central critique by President Trump of the current system. He often likes to say that Obamacare plans come with deductibles so high that they are unusable. Subsidies under the bill would help middle-income consumers buy insurance that pays 58 percent of the average patient’s medical costs, down from 70 percent under Obamacare; it would also remove a different type of subsidy designed to lower deductibles further for Americans earning less than around $30,000 a year.
Out-of-pocket spending is the top concern of most voters. The insurance they would buy under the bill might seem cheap at first, but it wouldn’t be if they ended up paying more in deductibles.
Mr. McConnell was constrained by political considerations and the peculiar rules of the legislative mechanism that he chose to avoid a Democratic filibuster. Despite those limits, he managed to produce a bill that reflects some bedrock conservative values. But the bill also shows some jagged seams. It may not fix many of Obamacare’s problems — high premiums, high deductibles, declining competition — that he has railed against in promoting the new bill’s passage.
Police Searches Drop Dramatically in States that Legalized Marijuana
bySAM PETULLAandJON SCHUPPE
Traffic searches by highway patrols in Colorado and Washington dropped by nearly half after the two states legalized marijuana in 2012. That also reduced the racial disparities in the stops, according to a new analysis of police data, but not by much. Blacks and Hispanics are still searched at higher rates than whites.
Highway stops have long been a tool in the war on drugs, and remain a charged issue amid a furious national debate about police treatment of minorities. Last week, protests erupted over the acquittal of a Minnesota police officer who shot to death Philando Castile after pulling him over for a broken tail light.
The overuse of traffic stops can damage the public trust in police, particularly when searches disproportionately involve black and Hispanic drivers.
“Searches where you don’t find something are really negative towards a community,” said Jack McDevitt, director of Northeastern University’s Institute on Race and Justice in Boston. “Have a police officer search your car is really like, ‘Why are they doing this to me?’ And you get more pissed off. If you’re trying to do relationship building, it’s not a good thing to do a lot of searches.”
The analysis comes from data crunched by the Stanford Open Policing Project, a team of researchers and statisticians that collected more than 60 million records of traffic stops and searches by highway patrol officers in 22 states. By sharing the data, the group aims to promote a deeper understanding of the patterns and motivations behind the most common interaction Americans have with police.
The data compiled by the Stanford group is limited in that it is not uniform across states. Each of the country’s law enforcement agencies track traffic stops differently, and some don’t release the data publicly. In the end, the group compiled data from 20 states that was deep enough to allow a rigorous analysis. Colorado and Washington were compared against 12 of these states to arrive at the conclusion that marijuana legalization likely had an effect on search rates.
In both states, marijuana legalization eliminated one of the major justifications used by police officers to stop motorists, cutting searches by more than 40 percent after legalization. In Colorado, the change occurred gradually, with searches dropping initially by 30 percent, and then flatting out to a more than 50-percent drop within a year.
In Washington, there was a drop of more than 50 percent in searches within three months of legalization. The search rate remained low thereafter. The 12 states in the Stanford study that did not pass marijuana decriminalization legislation during the period did not experience significant drops.
The biggest finding ─ and one that mirrors the results of investigations in individual states and jurisdictions ─ is that minorities are still stopped and searched at higher rates than white drivers. The threshold before a search is performed is also lower for minority drivers than it is for whites, according to the researchers at Stanford behind the Open Policing Project.
Those differences remained in Colorado and Washington even after searchers dropped following pot legalization.
Jack Glaser, a professor of public policy at the University of California, Berkeley, said that although the disparities persisted, the overall drop in searches means that fewer minorities would be unfairly targeted.
“As long as police officers (like the rest of us) hold implicit or explicit stereotypes associating minorities with crime, they will perceive minorities as more suspicious,” Glaser wrote in an email.
In both states, the analysis excludes searches incident to an arrest. Those searches are not a good barometer for the searches officers conduct after making a stop at their own discretion, the researchers said.
Pakistan officials say a South Korean national who it accused of using a business visa to preach the Gospel inside the Islamic republic has been expelled from the country.
The news comes after two Chinese nationals believed to be associated with the South Korean were killed last month by Islamic militants affiliated with the Islamic State terror group.
“Investigations have revealed that the South Korean national went to Pakistan on a business visa, set up an Urdu academy in Quetta and got involved in illegal preaching activities,” a Ministry of Interior official told ucanews.com this week. “We have revoked his visa and asked him to leave the country.”
According to World Watch Monitor, the South Korean national is Juan Won-seo. Pakistani officials told ucanews.com that 24-year-old Lee Zingyang and 26-year-old Meng Lisi, who were abducted and killed last month, were preaching Christianity under Won-seo’s guidance.
However, the Hindustan Times reports that South Korea has rejected Pakistan’s claims that Lee and Meng, who were in the country on the premise that they were Mandarin teachers learning Urdu, were preaching Christianity. A South Korean official told the news outlet on June 14 that there is no evidence from Pakistan to backup the claim that they were proselytizing under the leadership of the South Korean.
According to World Watch Monitor, a Chinese student interviewed by a Chinese government-sanctioned English news outlet claimed that South Koreans recruit Chinese “teenagers to conduct missionary activities in Muslim countries.”
“Compared to Chinese, more South Koreans have been killed abroad due to risky missionary activities in conservative Islamic regions,” the student was quoted as saying. “Some Chinese voluntarily join in the dangerous missionary activities in countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq after being converted by South Koreans.”
However, critics have warned that China’s placing the blame on South Korean missionaries is an attempt to “mislead the Chinese people.”
“Most Chinese Christians have become Christian through Chinese evangelists. It has been very difficult for foreign citizens to proselytise in China. China does not have a visa category for religious clergy or missionaries,” Yang Fenggang, the director of the Centre on Religion and Chinese Society at Purdue University in Indiana told the Hindustan Times. “Some foreign students, professionals and business people may do evangelistic work within China, but evangelistic activities are restricted.”
Carsten Vala, an associate professor of political science at Loyola University in Baltimore, Maryland, told the Hindustan Times that Chinese nationals have also been “eager to go abroad as missionaries.”
“At least one Chinese church leader I interviewed reported that his congregation had sent missionaries to Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Arabic-speaking countries,” Vala said.
Both China and Pakistan are listed as two of the worst countries in the world when it comes to the persecution of Christians. Open Doors USA’s 2017 World Watch List ranks Pakistan as No. 4 and China as No. 39.
The United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled against a Kansas Catholic woman who claims that she was ordered by police to stop praying in her own home.
On Tuesday, the three-judge panel voted to uphold a judge’s dismissal of Mary Anne Sause’s lawsuit against two Louisburg officers, who she said demanded to be allowed into her home and wouldn’t tell her why they were there. She alleged that when she began praying, the officers, who were there because of a noise complaint, ordered her to stop.
An opinion written by Judge Nancy Moritz states that the court assumes that “the defendants violated Sause’s rights under the First Amendment” by repeatedly mocking her, ordering her to stop praying “so they could harass her,” insisting that she reveal scars from a double mastectomy and threatening her with arrest.
“But this assumption doesn’t entitle Sause to relief. Instead, Sause must demonstrate that any reasonable officer would have known this behavior violated the First Amendment,” the judge argued, citing the 2011 Supreme Court ruling in Ashcroft v. al–Kidd, which asserts that the former U.S. attorney general could not be personally sued for the jailing of a U.S. citizen after the events of September 11, 2001.
“But while the conduct alleged in this case may be obviously unprofessional, we can’t say that it’s ‘obviously unlawful,'” the judge added. “It certainly wouldn’t be obvious to a reasonable officer that, in the midst of a legitimate investigation, the First Amendment would prohibit him or her from ordering the subject of that investigation to stand up and direct his or her attention to the officer — even if the subject of the investigation is involved in religiously-motivated conduct at the time, and even if what the officers say or do immediately after issuing that command does nothing to further their investigation.”
First Liberty Institute Deputy General Counsel Jeremy Dys, who represents Sause, said in a statement that the court’s “harsh criticism of the officers’ conduct in this case supports our First Amendment claim.”
“No one should face the prospect of being arrested for praying in their own home,” Dys said.
The First Liberty Institute said in a press release that the government defended the police officers by arguing that the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment only “protects an individual’s right to choose a religion.” Sause’s attorneys argued that the government’s argument misconstrues the fact that the First Amendment protects the right to exercise faith.
“While Ms. Sause’s appeal was ultimately unsuccessful, the court stated clearly that Sause’s First Amendment rights may have been violated, but the legal doctrine of qualified immunity shields the officers from any liability,” First Liberty Institute stated. “The concurring opinion condemned the police officers’ ‘extraordinary contempt of a law abiding citizen.'”
No indication was given if Sause will file an appeal with the Supreme Court.
A three-judge panel of the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a Mississippi law that protects people who oppose gay marriage on religious grounds from being sued.
In a unanimous decision issued Thursday, the panel concluded that the plaintiffs lacked the standing to sue the state over House Bill 1523, also called the Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act, reversing a lower court’s decision.
“The governor of Mississippi and the executive director of the Mississippi Department of Human Services appeal a preliminary injunction. Because the plaintiffs do not have standing, we reverse the injunction and render a judgment of dismissal,” wrote Circuit Judge Jerry Smith on behalf of the panel.
In April 2016, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed HB 1523 into law, which prohibits the state from compelling businesses and individuals from supporting or servicing gay weddings.
“The sincerely held religious beliefs or moral convictions protected by this act are the belief or conviction that: (a) Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman; (b) Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage; and (c) Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth,” reads HB 1523 in part.
LGBT groups and their allies denounced the legislation and sued to have it struck down. For his part, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order last year banning non-essential state travel to Mississippi.
“[I]t is the policy of the state of New York to promote fairness, protect the welfare of the citizens of the state of New York, and combat discrimination,” read Cuomo’s 2016 order.
“All agencies, departments, boards, authorities and commissions [will] review all requests for state funded or state sponsored travel to the state of Mississippi so long as there is law in effect there that permits and enshrines discrimination against LGBT citizens and unmarried individuals …” Cuomo’s order added.
Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said in a statement Thursday that he commended the panel’s ruling on the “commonsense law.”
“No person should be punished by the government with crippling fines or face disqualification for simply believing what President Obama believed until five years ago, that marriage is the union of a man and a woman,” said Perkins.
“Today’s ruling leaves us more confident that the courts will uphold the ability of elected officials to protect the freedom of their citizens to believe and live according to those beliefs”
Existe um traço em comum entre os ateus, monges e mestres de diversas religiões ao redor do mundo. O mesmo ponto de consciência abordado por perspectivas diferentes que possuem em si a mesma essência. Falo da noção de efemeridade da vida; tudo é pó, tudo é vão, tudo é vaidade. Crendo em Deus, esse fato é enxergado pelo prisma da graça, donde o maior dever de todos nós, seres humanos, é evoluir a própria compreensão do que é a gratidão – se somos um átomo perdido numa vastidão infinita, então no mínimo deveríamos agradecer pela dádiva de existirmos, ainda mais se somos tão pequenos e rúpteis. Essa é a melhor das interpretações teológicas, torna as pessoas mais sensíveis e cientes de que, se a vida não possui sentido, então nosso dever primário é construir um sentido para ela.
Esquecendo os sábios e intelectuais, temos de sobra o povo. Bilhões de…
Recently my wife and I went on a wonderful holiday to Norway. At one time in the past Norway was among the poorest countries of Europe; now it is the richest. There are countless places to visit and things to do in this most beautiful country. One of the things we enjoyed doing was to visit some of the churches. With the exception of the last two photos below, these are Lutheran churches. The Lutheran Church of Norway is the largest denomination. Here are some photos.
Our first port of call was Eidfjord. We visited two churches there, the old one dating back to the twelfth century, with stone walls five feet thick!
The new Eidfjord church.
The new Eidfjord church chancel had some impressive artwork, depicting biblical themes.
Our next port of call was Ålesund. The church here was locked unfortunately, and it was pouring rain when I took…
truthtroubles.wordpress.com/ Just an average man who tries to do his best at being the kind of person the Bible tells us we are all suppose to be. Not perfect, never have been, don't expect anyone else to be perfect either. Always try to be very easy going type of a person if allowed to be.
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