TDB Top 5 International Stories: Saturday 25th March 2017


5: Trump administration approves Keystone XL pipeline

The US state department has issued a presidential permit that gives energy firm TransCanada the green light to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline.

The move on Friday reversed a decision by ex-President Barack Obama who had blocked the project over environmental worries.

The state department said the $8bn Keystone project would serve US national interest, opposite to the conclusion it had made two years ago.

Announcing the permit, President Donald Trump called the Keystone project an “incredible pipeline”.

“TransCanada will finally be allowed to complete this long overdue project with efficiency and with speed,” Trump said.

“It’s a great day for American jobs and an historic moment for North America and energy independence,” he added.


4: Will House Republicans “Jump Off the Cliff” and Cut Healthcare for 24 Million Americans?

As President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan face a showdown with Republicans, both moderate and conservative, on whether to repeal Obamacare, the party has been scrambling to rewrite the legislation in order to appease members of the right-wing Freedom Caucus and win its passage. The latest version of the bill strips away provisions that would require health insurers to provide basic services including maternity care, newborn care, emergency services, mental health and addiction treatment. The Democratic Caucus has been united in opposition to the bill, which is projected to leave 24 million fewer people insured by 2026 than under Obamacare. The bill also includes over $275 billion in tax breaks for wealthy Americans. We are joined by John McDonough, professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. He is the former executive director of Health Care for All in Massachusetts, which played a key role in the passage of the 2006 Massachusetts health reform bill, which was known as Romneycare. He later became a top aide to the late Senator Ted Kennedy and worked on the development and passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Democracy Now

3: A Louisiana Town Plagued by Pollution Shows Why Cuts to the EPA Will Be Measured in Illnesses and Deaths

WHEN THE ENVIRONMENTAL Protection Agency informed people in St. John the Baptist Parish, Louisiana, last July that the local neoprene plant was emitting a chemical that gave them the highest risk of cancer from air pollution in the country, the information was received not just with horror and sadness but also with a certain sense of validation.

For years, many of the people living on this little square of land between the train tracks and the Mississippi River levee have felt they suffered more than their share of illnesses. Troyla Keller has a rash and asthma that abate every time she leaves the neighborhood and worsen when she returns. Augustine Nicholson Dorris had breast cancer and seizures. And David Sanders has trouble breathing, a tumor on his thyroid, and neurological problems. “It took a lot away from me,” said Sanders, whose speech is slurred, when I visited the area a half-hour west of New Orleans in February. Several people spoke of shuttling their children and grandchildren to the nearby ER for asthma treatments. And many residents also frequent the neighborhood’s two busy dialysis centers. A third is under construction.

The Intercept

2: Obama Breaks His Silence Before ‘Trumpcare’ Vote

Former president Barack Obama stepped in to defend the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, just hours before a Republican-dominated House prepares to vote to repeal and replace his signature healthcare law with the American Health Care Act (AHCA).

According to the Hill, Obama released a lengthy statement Thursday touting Obamacare’s achievements. Rather than bash the GOP’s repeal efforts directly, Obama stressed that the fight between replacing Obamacare or upholding it cuts to the core of “the character of our country.”

“Thanks to this law, more than twenty million Americans have gained the security and peace of mind of health insurance. Thanks to this law, more than ninety percent of Americans are insured—the highest rate in our history,” Obama wrote. “So the reality is clear: America is stronger because of the Affordable Care Act.”

After leaving office, Obama decided to take some well deserved R&R and said he’d stay out of the political arena to give Trump “an opportunity to put forward his platform and his arguments without somebody popping off in every instance.” That only lasted about ten days into Trump’s presidency, though, when Obama commented on the protests against the new administration’s controversial travel ban. Since then, the former president has stayed relatively quiet and steered clear of the ongoing healthcare debate.

“If Republicans are serious about lowering costs while expanding coverage to those who need it, and if they’re prepared to work with Democrats and objective evaluators in finding solutions that accomplish those goals—that’s something we all should welcome,” Obama added. “But we should start from the baseline that any changes will make our healthcare system better, not worse for hardworking Americans.”

Vice News

1: Millions of UK workers at risk of being replaced by robots, study says

More than 10 million UK workers are at high risk of being replaced by robots within 15 years as the automation of routine tasks gathers pace in a new machine age.

A report by the consultancy firm PwC found that 30% of jobs in Britain were potentially under threat from breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI). In some sectors half the jobs could go.

The report predicted that automation would boost productivity and create fresh job opportunities, but it said action was needed to prevent the widening of inequality that would result from robots increasingly being used for low-skill tasks.

PwC said 2.25 million jobs were at high risk in wholesale and retailing – the sector that employs most people in the UK – and 1.2 million were under threat in manufacturing, 1.1 million in administrative and support services and 950,000 in transport and storage.

The Guardian