TDB Top 5 International Stories: Wednesday 15th March 2017

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5: Healthcare or Wealthcare? 24 Million to Lose Insurance Under GOP Plan While Rich Get Big Tax Breaks
4: The Republican Healthcare Plan Is Even Crueler Than You Think
3: Employers allowed to ban the hijab: EU court
1: Google’s DeepMind makes AI program that can learn like a human

5: Healthcare or Wealthcare? 24 Million to Lose Insurance Under GOP Plan While Rich Get Big Tax Breaks

A startling new report from the Congressional Budget Office is projecting 24 million people will lose health insurance coverage by 2026 under the Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Fourteen million people would lose health insurance in the next year alone. While the White House rejected the CBO findings, Politico is reporting the White House’s own analysis predicts 26 million people will lose coverage under the bill over the next decade. According to the CBO, the bill would reduce the deficit by $337 billion, but one of the biggest beneficiaries of the Republican bill will be millionaires. A new study by the Tax Policy Center shows people in the top 0.1 percent would get a tax cut of about $207,000 under the plan. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans of attempting to push through the biggest transfer of wealth in the nation’s history. We speak to Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president of Health Initiatives at the Community Service Society of New York and co-founder of the Health Care for All New York campaign.

Democracy Now

4: The Republican Healthcare Plan Is Even Crueler Than You Think

We went through the nonpartisan CBO report on the GOP’s bill with an expert to find out how the legislation screws over the poor, the sick, and the old.

Last week, when House Republican leadership introduced the American Health Care Act (ACHA), their watering down of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act, it received an enormous amount of criticism. But even as the GOP began the process of pushing it through the congressional sausage machine, no one was really sure what effect the AHCA would have on the country. That changed on Monday afternoon, when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a generally respected nonpartisan government agency, released its “score” of the bill, and the results weren’t good for Republicans: Though the AHCA would reduce the deficit by $337 billion in the next ten years, it would also cause 24 million fewer people to have insurance over that time.

In the wake of the report, the Trump administration, which supports the AHCA, dismissed the CBO as incompetent, but House Speaker Paul Ryan seemed to accept the agency’s findings, at least the parts of the report that said the deficit would fall and average premiums for plans on the individual market would fall by 2026 after rising before 2020. Democrats, meanwhile, continued to focus on the slashing of subsidies and damage to Medicaid that would result in 14 million people losing insurance next year and millions more after that. “If this legislation is passed and millions of people are thrown off health insurance… thousands of Americans will die,” Senator Bernie Sanders told reporters in DC.

The AHCA is enormously complicated—it would remove the mandate for everyone to buy health insurance, strip away a lot of government funding that allowed people to buy insurance, and roll back the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion. But would it also really reduce premiums as the CBO says? And how bad would it really be for older and poorer people? To sort out the answers to these questions, I called up Matthew Fielder, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Health Policy who previously served as the chief economist on Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Vice News

3: Employers allowed to ban the hijab: EU court

Employers are entitled to ban staff from wearing visible religious symbols, the European Union’s top law court ruled on Tuesday, a decision Muslims said was a direct attack on women wearing hijabs at work.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said it does not constitute “direct discrimination” if a firm has an internal rule banning the wearing of “any political, philosophical or religious sign”.

The court gave a judgment in the cases of two women, in France and Belgium, who were dismissed for refusing to remove hijabs, or the headscarf worn by many Muslim women who feel it is part of their religion.



NSA WHISTLEBLOWER EDWARD Snowden said on Tuesday that if Donald Trump is sincerely concerned about the government’s ability to listen in on his private communications, he should fix the NSA mass surveillance programs that collect data on every American.

Snowden, speaking remotely from Moscow, was interviewed by The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill at the South by Southwest Conference in Austin, Texas, for Scahill’s Intercepted podcast.

The Intercept

1: Google’s DeepMind makes AI program that can learn like a human

Researchers have overcome one of the major stumbling blocks in artificial intelligence with a program that can learn one task after another using skills it acquires on the way.

Developed by Google’s AI company, DeepMind, the program has taken on a range of different tasks and performed almost as well as a human. Crucially, and uniquely, the AI does not forget how it solved past problems, and uses the knowledge to tackle new ones.

The AI is not capable of the general intelligence that humans draw on when they are faced with new challenges; its use of past lessons is more limited. But the work shows a way around a problem that had to be solved if researchers are ever to build so-called artificial general intelligence (AGI) machines that match human intelligence.

“If we’re going to have computer programs that are more intelligent and more useful, then they will have to have this ability to learn sequentially,” said James Kirkpatrick at DeepMind.

The ability to remember old skills and apply them to new tasks comes naturally to humans. A regular rollerblader might find ice skating a breeze because one skill helps the other. But recreating this ability in computers has proved a huge challenge for AI researchers. AI programs are typically one trick ponies that excel at one task, and one task only.

The Guardian 


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Authorised by Martyn Bradbury, The Editor, TheDailyBlog,