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Thu, 16 Sep 2021
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Sen. John Barrasso calls Secretary Kathleen Sebelius a laughingstock over Obamacare website

© ABC News
As technical problems continue to plague the Obamacare rollout, Senator and orthopedic surgeon Dr. John Barrasso, R-Wy., once again called for Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to resign.

"She's already, as of 'Saturday Night Live' last night, the laughing stock of America," he said on 'This Week' this Sunday. "She's lost considerable credibility."

Sebelius was parodied in the opening segment of 'Saturday Night Live' last night, poking fun at the failures of the Healthcare.gov website.

The Obamacare rollout has been beleaguered by problems since the enrollment system went live at midnight on Oct. 1. By mid-afternoon that same day, around 2.8 million people had visited Healthcare.gov, the federally-run exchange serving 36 states. The resulting system overload meant many visitors were greeted with an error message saying the site was down.

In the following weeks consumers reported problems with system timeouts, creating and logging into accounts and inaccurate information regarding eligibility.

In his weekly address Saturday, President Barack Obama said Healthcare.gov had been visited more than 20 million times since its launch. However, only around 700,000 Americans have successfully submitted applications.

Life Preserver

No takers for Obamacare in one Colorado county: Navigator hasn't signed up anyone because it's too expensive

"Thus far everybody has taken a look at the rates and they've walked out the door."

Al Jazeera finds an Obamacare navigator in Colorado who hasn't signed up anybody for the new program because it's too expensive:
"So far, no one," says the Obamacare navigator. "Thus far everybody has taken a look at the rates and they've walked out the door. There's sticker shock. They just can't afford it."


Disturbing! British Army fascists

© unknown
A picture which shows two British soldiers making Nazi salutes in front of British and loyalist flags has caused a fresh controversy following its publication by a tabloid newspaper in England.

The men dressed in camouflage fatigues have their right arms raised in a traditional fascist manner. They are standing in front of a British Union Jack featuring the words "Invicta Loyal", the name of an English Rangers supporters' club, and the so-called 'Northern Ireland flag'.

The photograph was defended in the press with suggestions the soldiers may be making a 'Red Hand of Ulster salute'. Displays of fascism by Rangers fans have previous been explained away in such terms, but the gesture is unknown in Ireland.

The mythical 'Red Hand of Ulster salute' is understood to be have been invented for damage limitation purposes only.

The identities of the soldiers and their regiments have not been made public. It is believed the photograph was taken in Afghanistan.


Drug Frenzy: China's new drug underworld

Drugs are pouring out of Burma into a booming China. With cash to spend and a rocketing drug culture, it's a social and legal time bomb.

Part I

Heroin and other dangerous drug traffic is pouring out of a newly unshackled Myanmar and into a booming, cashed-up China. As the country's drug culture sky-rockets, the narcotics are threatening social chaos.


Shooter's former roommate: LAX shooting suspect 'a nice guy'

Former room-mate of LA airport shooting suspect tells of his shock and surprise.

No Entry

Overdue book in Texas? Go to jail

Jory Enck is apparently a slow reader. About 3 years ago, he checked out a G.E.D study guide from a library in Copperas Cove. Last week police arrested him on a warrant for not returning library materials. The city ordinance was passed to crack down on delinquent readers. According to the city's municipal judge, Bill Price, "the reason they passed it was that they were spending a tremendous amount of money replacing these materials that people just didn't return." Enck was released on a $200 bond and reportedly returned the study guide to the city library the next day.


Rights of fetus versus mother: The state intervenes with an ever heavier hand

womens rights pregnancy

Alicia Beltran, 28, was sent to a drug-treatment center despite insisting she was not using drugs.
Alicia Beltran cried with fear and disbelief when county sheriffs surrounded her home on July 18 and took her in handcuffs to a holding cell.

She was 14 weeks pregnant and thought she had done the right thing when, at a prenatal checkup, she described a pill addiction the previous year and said she had ended it on her own - something later verified by a urine test. But now an apparently skeptical doctor and a social worker accused her of endangering her unborn child because she had refused to accept their order to start on an anti-addiction drug.

Ms. Beltran, 28, was taken in shackles before a family court commissioner who, she says, brushed aside her pleas for a lawyer. To her astonishment, the court had already appointed a legal guardian for the fetus.

"I didn't know unborn children had lawyers," recalled Ms. Beltran, now six months pregnant, after returning to her home north of Milwaukee from a court-ordered 78-day stay at a drug treatment center. "I said, 'Where's my lawyer?' "

Under a Wisconsin law known as the "cocaine mom" act when it was adopted in 1998, child-welfare authorities can forcibly confine a pregnant woman who uses illegal drugs or alcohol "to a severe degree," and who refuses to accept treatment.

Now, with Ms. Beltran's detention as Exhibit A, that law is being challenged as unconstitutional in a federal suit filed this month, the first in federal court to challenge this kind of fetal protection law. Its opponents are hoping to set an important precedent in the continuing tug of war over the rights of pregnant women and legal status of the unborn.

Wisconsin is one of four states, along with Minnesota, Oklahoma and South Dakota, with laws specifically granting authorities the power to confine pregnant women for substance abuse. But many other states use civil-confinement, child-protection or assorted criminal laws to force women into treatment programs or punish them for taking drugs.

Arrow Down

Maryland's trick-or-treater finds sewing needle in candy

Washington -- A little boy trick or treating in the neighborhood of Cherry Lane Farms in Maryland's Calvert County unwrapped a dangerous surprise on Halloween night when he opened his candy. He found a sewing needle inside a candy bar wrapper, WJLA reports.

The boy wasn't hurt, but his parents and others in the neighborhood are very concerned. Police say a sewing needle was discovered inside a Hershey chocolate bar wrapper.


Parents of Hana Williams, Sean Paddock and Lydia Schatz "train" them to death following teachings of Michael Pearl

© Lemley Chapel
Hana Grace-Rose Williams
Sean Paddock suffocated when he was wrapped too tightly in blankets.

Lydia Schatz died after being spanked for several hours.

And Hana Grace-Rose Williams, of Sedro-Woolley, was left out in the cold, where she died naked, face down in the mud.

The deaths of the three children occurred in different parts of the country - North Carolina, California and Washington - but each allegedly happened at the hands of their parents, all of whom were charged with murder.

The parents had several things in common: They adopted children, home-schooled them and lashed them with quarter-inch-diameter plastic tubes. They also used the child-rearing teachings of a Tennessee evangelist, Michael Pearl, and his wife, Debi.

The Pearls wrote "To Train Up a Child," first published in 1994, and which teaches parents how to use a "switch" to make their children obey. Michael Pearl says it has sold more than 670,000 copies, been translated into a dozen languages and is popular with some Christians who home-school their children.

The authors say raising a child is as simple as training a dog, and they cite biblical verses supporting use of the "rod." Their website includes comments from many followers who say they have successfully raised happy, obedient children using the Pearls' principles.

The Pearls, however, issue a warning to parents: Never spank in anger. And they say many people have "misconstrued" their words.

Critics claim the couple's advice amounts to a prescription for child abuse.

"It's truly an evil book," said Michael Ramsey, the district attorney for Butte County, Calif.

Comment: See:
Justice for Hana and Immanuel Williams, victims of 'religious' child abuse
The real Michael Pearl: dangerous advocate of child corporal punishment

Arrow Up

Justice for Hana and Immanuel Williams, victims of 'religious' child abuse


Hana Williams
I usually don't follow criminal trials very closely, but I did in the case of Hana and Immanuel Williams. In 2008, the two had been adopted from Ethiopia by Larry and Carri Williams. The couple brought the girl and boy to live with them and their seven biological children in their gated-community home in Sedro-Woolley, Washington. Hana was estimated to have been ten years of age when she was adopted. Immanuel was seven.

Three years later, Hana was dead due to hypothermia that was aggravated by malnutrition. Immanuel also suffered abuse but survived.

When the jury returned to the standing-room-only courtroom last night, I set my Twitter page to search for "#Williamstrial" and refreshed the page every minute. And I wasn't alone. I had joined a 4700-member Facebook group set up to memorialize Hana. Here, members were also glued to Twitter, posting information as it came in.

"Courtroom benches are PACKED. Row of people standing in the back. Still just waiting," tweeted Gina Cole, a reporter with the Skagit Valley Herald. Also: "Larry and Carri just locked eyes. Depending on verdicts and sentences, it could be one of their last looks for a long time."

I first learned about the case when Larry and Carri Williams were arrested on murder charges in September of 2011. I happened to be in Seattle at the time giving talks about religious child maltreatment. Seattle is about an hour away from where the family lived. The details of the case were startling: Hana died in the backyard of the family's home. She was grossly underweight and had been left outside on a very cold night for hours. The eight surviving children had been removed by Child Protective Services.

After reading witness accounts and news reports, I began picking up on some familiar-sounding details: Larry and Carri Williams expected complete obedience of their children, especially of Hana and Immanuel. The parents were devout Christians who home schooled their children. They played audio recordings of Bible verses and Christian music during punishments, and there was talk in the household of Hana being possessed by demons. Also, investigators found in the home To Train Up a Child.

Comment: See also:
Corpses Don't Rebel: A former follower of Michael Pearl's "To Train Up A Child" reacts to the death of Hana Williams
The real Michael Pearl: dangerous advocate of child corporal punishment