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McCain kills Trump/Republicans’ second effort to repeal ObamaCare

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VA Secretary Shulkin Testifies To House Veterans' Affairs Committee On Reshaping Veterans Affairs Community

Washington (AFP) – US Senator John McCain on Friday announced his opposition to the latest Republican attempt to replace Barack Obama’s signature health care law, likely dooming the repeal effort.

It is the second time in two months that he has defied his party and President Donald Trump over efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare,” which has long been in Republicans’ sights.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” McCain said of the bill proposed by fellow Republican senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy.

“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” the senator said in a statement.

In July, McCain made a dramatic return to Washington from Arizona after a brain cancer diagnosis to become one of three Republican senators who helped sink their party’s earlier bid to replace Obamacare.

Now, rebels within the party ranks appear set to torpedo what may be the party’s last chance to make good on a longstanding Republican goal, and a signature pledge of the president.

With both McCain and the conservative Rand Paul opposed, it would take just one more Republican defector to prevent the bill’s passage before a deadline of September 30, the end of the fiscal year. At least two party moderates — Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski — are known to have serious reservations.

The bill’s collapse would be yet another blow to the president and the Republican leadership, who have been unable to move forward on repealing Obamacare despite controlling Congress and the White House.

In coming out against the latest bill, McCain criticized the fact that it had bypassed regular Senate order, and noted that it would not be fully reviewed by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) before the end of the month.

The senator said he could not “support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”

The bill’s supporters might be eager to avoid a CBO score. In July, the non-partisan body projected that the ranks of the uninsured would grow by 23 million Americans, and premiums would rise 20 percent annually, over the next decade if the previous Obamacare repeal bill became law.

The White House scrambled earlier this week to win over Republicans skeptical of Graham-Cassidy, with Trump himself phoning lawmakers and state governors seeking to tilt the scales in favor of the bill.

And Trump made his position on Republican defectors clear on Friday, writing on Twitter that those who vote against Graham-Cassidy “will forever…. be known as ‘the Republican who saved Obamacare.'”

While Republicans have pledged to repeal the Obama-era health care reforms, they have struggled to secure enough support to do so amid fears that proposed alternatives would dramatically increase the number of Americans without health insurance.

The American Medical Association has issued scathing criticism of the latest repeal effort, warning it “would result in millions of Americans losing their health insurance coverage, destabilize health insurance markets, and decrease access to affordable coverage and care.”

McCain’s rejection of the latest Obamacare replacement bill is yet another slight against the current president, someone he has repeatedly challenged from within the ranks of the Republican Party.

Trump, for his part, had mocked McCain’s war hero status as a former prisoner of war in Vietnam as he ran for president, declaring: “I like people who weren’t captured.”

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USAfrica: On November 9, Ethiopia will start visa-on-arrival policy for all Africans.

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Abiy had earlier this year disclosed that following Rwanda’s lead, Ethiopia was going to allow a visa-free regime for all Africans. At the time, he was speaking at a state banquet held for his visiting Rwandan counterpart, Paul Kagame.

Abiy said: “The President (Kagame) invited all Africans to travel to Rwanda without visas, we will follow you very soon.” On June 1 the issuance of visas online for all tourists kick started.

Ethiopia boasts the continent’s best national carrier, Ethiopian Airlines, which has made the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, not just a regional but global aviation hub.

The most recent time the issue was came up was when ex-president Mulatu Teshome at the opening of parliament said the visa-on-arrival regime was to be implemented in this year. USAfricaonline.com wt wire reports

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FIRESTORM: Trump’s false tweet on “South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers”

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JOHANNESBURG: South Africa accused US President Donald Trump of fuelling racial tensions on Thursday (Aug 23) after he said farmers were being forced off their land and many of them killed.

Trump’s tweet touched on the overwhelmingly white ownership of farmland in South Africa – one of the most sensitive issues in the country’s post-apartheid history.

The foreign ministry said in a statement it would meet officials at the US embassy to challenge the “unfortunate comments”, which were “based on false information”.

Foreign Minister Lindiwe Sisulu would also speak directly with her American opposite number, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, it added.

Trump wrote overnight: “I have asked Secretary of State … Pompeo to closely study the South Africa land and farm seizures and expropriations and the large scale killing of farmers.”

His tweet apparently followed a segment on conservative Fox News about [an alleged] plan to change the constitution to speed up expropriation of land without compensation to redress racial imbalances in land ownership.

“‘South African Government is now seizing land from white farmers’,” said Trump’s post, which tagged the show’s host, Tucker Carlson, as well as the channel.

In the clip, Carlson painted an apocalyptic picture of the situation accompanied by on-screen graphics warning of the “threat of violence and economic collapse”.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who faces elections in 2019, has claimed expropriating farms without ramaphosa-ANCcompensating their owners would “undo a grave historical injustice” against the black majority during colonialism and the apartheid era.

Even though apartheid ended in 1994, the white community that makes up eight per cent of the population “possess 72 per cent of farms” compared to “only four per cent” in the hands of black people who make up four-fifths of the population, Ramaphosa said.

The stark inequality stems from purchases and seizures during the colonial era that were then enshrined in law during apartheid.

But plans to change the constitution have yet to be approved by parliament, and there is a vigorous debate in South Africa about how land redistribution would work – and whether seizures could be economically damaging as they were in post-independence Zimbabwe.

Mmusi Maimane, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance party which opposes forced expropriation but backs land reform, said “fear mongering by international leaders adds no value”.

“The injustices of land dispossession in South Africa can be addressed by our constitution in its current form. We must ensure ownership of land for all South Africans,” he tweeted.

Later on Thursday, US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert called for “a peaceful and transparent public debate”.

However she added that on “the expropriation of land without compensation, our position is that that would risk sending South Africa down the wrong path”.

Earlier this year, Australian Immigration Minister Peter Dutton sparked a diplomatic row after he said that Canberra should give “special attention” to white South African farmers seeking asylum.

The level of violence against farmers and farm workers is hotly contested but the police’s latest figures show there were 74 farm murders in 2016-17, according to the Africa Check fact-checking site.

South Africa’s leading farming lobby group AgriSA on Thursday praised the government’s “commitment to agriculture”.

“As a country it’s important that we find solutions together – we did this pre-1994 and we can do it again,” AgriSA chief executive Omri van Zyl told the SABC broadcaster.

Van Zyl was speaking at a conference on the land issue also attended by Deputy President David Mabuza who warned against “spreading falsehoods”.

“We would like to discourage those who are using this sensitive and emotive issue of land to divide us,” he said.

But Kallie Kriel, chief executive of AfriForum – a group that advocates for its largely white membership – welcomed Trump’s intervention and attacked Ramaphosa for pressing ahead with the policy.

“We need to get international support to put pressure on the South African government to hopefully make them re-visit their stance,” he told AFP.

Kriel added that Trump could suspend South Africa from the African Growth and Opportunity Act trade programme if property rights were not respected.

“The US has a lot of power,” he said.

South Africa’s rand currency dropped as much as 1.9 per cent against the US dollar following Trump’s tweet, according to the Bloomberg news agency, ending four days of gains against the greenback.

Julius Malema, the leader of the radical opposition Economic Freedom Fighters party, called Trump a “pathological liar” and told him to “stay out of South Africa’s domestic affairs”. ref AFP

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USAfrica: Danger ahead as Nigeria face population explosion without plan

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President-Buhari-of-Nigeria-contemplative-pix

By the Council on Foreign Relations

Special to USAfrica [Houston] • USAfricaonline.com

 

At a population conference in New York, Chairman of the National Population Commission (NPC) Eze Duruiheoma estimated that the current population of Nigeria is 198 million, and that the population living in urban areas has been growing 6.5 percent annually over the past fifty years. He cites that World Population Prospects prediction that by 2050, Nigeria will displace the United States as the third most populous country in the world after China and India. He also noted the 2014 World Urbanization Prospects prediction that by 2050, 77 percent of Nigeria’s population will be urban. The NPC chairman also looked at the number of internally displaced Nigerians. With respect to the Boko Haram insurrection in the northeast, Duruiheoma estimated that the number of internally displaced is 1.76 million, which is lower than other estimates, some of which can be as high as 2.5 million.

Nigerians know they are by far the most populous country in Africa, and they are proud of it. Estimates of the size of the country’s population range from the World Bank’s 186 million to 205 million by UN agencies. An accurate census is difficult in Nigeria in part because of infrastructure shortcomings. In the past, too, census results have also fueled ethnic and religious conflicts exploited by political figures. Nevertheless, in 2017 the director general of the NPC raised the possibility of a census in 2018. Given the practical and political difficulties and with the prospect of national elections in 2019, that timeframe seems overly optimistic. In the meantime, it is necessary to fall back on careful estimates.

Duruiheoma pointed out in New York that Nigeria’s urban population growth has not been accompanied by a “commensurate increase in social amenities and infrastructure.” More generally, economic growth has not kept up with population growth. Hence, the enormous slums outside city centers.

In effect, Nigeria has no population policy that would limit births, and Nigerians have traditionally valued large families. Yet the country’s rapid population growth, especially in urban areas, poses difficult economic, social, and public health challenges. A huge, rapidly growing population is not necessarily a source of national strength.

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