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  • 1:13 pm on March 23, 2017 Permalink  

    Live Briefing: Trump Makes Pitch for Health Bill: ‘It’s Going to Be Terrific’ 

    Trump works to persuade reluctant Republicans.

    Ahead of his meeting with the House’s most hard-line conservatives, President Trump released a video pitch for the House plan to repeal and partially replace the Affordable Care Act. Bottom line: “Go with our plan. It’s going to be terrific.”

    But as Mr. Trump and House leaders focus on the Republican Party’s conservatives, they are losing House moderates.

    The most recent defection came from Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler of Washington. Her statement said, “But we can do better than the current House replacement plan, and I cannot support it in its current form.”

    Obama speaks out on repealing his health law.

    Former President Barack Obama has been remarkably quiet as Republicans in Congress and Mr. Trump work to dismantle his signature domestic achievement.

    On the seventh anniversary of the Affordable Care Act’s signing, Mr. Obama released a statement.

    His bottom line: The health care law is working, but it could be improved if Republicans and Democrats work together.

    “The reality is clear: America is stronger because of the Affordable Care Act. There will always be work to do to reduce costs, stabilize markets, improve quality, and help the millions of Americans who remain uninsured in states that have so far refused to expand Medicaid. I’ve always said we should build on this law, just as Americans of both parties worked to improve Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid over the years. So 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. But we should start from the baseline that any changes will make our health care system better, not worse for hardworking Americans. That should always be our priority.”

    One poll finds public support lacking for health bill.

    A new poll by Quinnipiac University put support for the Republicans’ American Health Care Act at 17 percent, with 56 percent opposed and 26 percent undecided. Even support among self-described Republicans is not terribly high, 41 percent in favor and 24 percent opposed.

    Only 13 percent of women said they favored the health proposal.

    Pelosi denounces “a moral monstrosity.”

    As Republicans intensified their arm-twisting, Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the Democratic leader, panned the health care measure as “a moral monstrosity” on Thursday.

    She also engaged in a little taunting, criticizing President Trump and Republicans for their 11th-hour efforts to bring party members on board.

    ”May be a great negotiator, Donald Trump,” she said with a smile. “Rookie’s error bringing it up in a day.”

    Senate Democrats are not in a cooperative mood.

    Even if the Republicans’ American Health Care Act can find its way through the House, the eye of the Senate needle is even narrower.

    Forty-three Senate Democrats put Mr. Ryan on notice in a letter that they had no intention of cooperating with Republicans to complete a remake of the American health care system. Mr. Ryan said the Republican remake will come in three “prongs.” The first will be passage of legislation through the budget process that guts the Affordable Care Act, protected by arcane parliamentary rules from a Democratic filibuster.

    The next “prong” would be regulations issued by the Department of Health and Human Services. And the final “prong” would be substantive changes to the health care system that would require 60 votes in the Senate — and Democratic cooperation.

    That isn’t happening, Senate Democrats declared in the letter.

    “We are writing today to inform you that our caucus will not support any efforts that jeopardize the consumer protections our constituents rely upon when they purchase insurance.”

    Specifically, they said they would not tolerate the conservative push to eliminate so-called “Essential Health Benefits” mandated for insurance policies issued under the Affordable Care Act, which include maternity care, emergency services, ambulance services and preventive health care.

    “We will oppose any efforts to lessen our constituents’ access to basic preventative and primary care,” the senators said. “Undermining the value of insurance and requiring that insurance plans cover rudimentary health care services is simply shifting more costs onto patients and taxpayers.”

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  • 10:30 am on March 23, 2017 Permalink  

    Will Entering Your PIN in Reverse at an ATM Summon the Police? 


    Entering your PIN in reverse at any ATM will automatically summon the police.
    See Example(s)


    Collected via e-mail, October 2006

    I just found out that should you ever be forced to withdraw monies from an ATM machine, you can notify the police by entering your Pin # in reverse. The machine will still give you the monies you requested, but unknown to the robber, etc, the police will be immediately dispatched to help you.

    The broadcast stated that this method of calling the police is very seldom used because people don’t know it exist, and it might mean the difference between life and death. Hopefully, none of you will have to use this, but I wanted to pass it along just in case you hadn’t heard of it. Please pass it along to everyone

    [Collected via e-mail, December 2008]


    If you should ever be forced by a robber to withdraw money from an ATM machine, you can notify the police by entering your PIN # in reverse.

    For example if your pin number is 1234 then you would put in 4321.

    The ATM recognizes that your pin number is backwards from the ATM card you placed in the machine

    The machine will still give you the money you requested, but unknown to the robber, the police will be immediately dispatched to help you.

    This information was recently broadcast on CTV and it states that it is seldom used because people don’t know it exists.

    I checked with my Bank of Nova Scotia to see if this was correct and staff said yes this information is correct.

    Please pass this along to everyone possible.

    [Collected via e-mail, June 2009]








    Messages offering a seemingly helpful heads-up about how to deal with a situation in which one is forced to hand over money withdrawn from an ATM under duress began circulating on the Internet in September 2006:

    However, the word “seemingly” applies in this case because the tip was only a chimera, as entering one’s Personal Identification Number (PIN) in reverse at Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) does not automatically summon the police.

    The Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009 compelled the Federal Trade Commission to provide an analysis of any technology, either then currently available or under development, which would allow a distressed ATM user to send an electronic alert to a law enforcement agency. The following statements were made in the FTC’s April 2010 report in response to that requirement:

    FTC staff learned that emergency-PIN technologies have never been deployed at any ATMs.

    The respondent banks reported that none of their ATMs currently have installed, or have ever had installed, an emergency-PIN system of any sort. The ATM manufacturer Diebold confirms that, to its knowledge, no ATMs have or have had an emergency-PIN system.

    Ergo, there aren’t and haven’t ever been “reverse PIN” technologies despite online claims dating to September 2006 that anyone being robbed at an ATM simply had to enter his or her PIN in reverse to summon help.

    Moreover, said that FTC report:

    The available information suggests that emergency-PIN and alarm button devices: (1) may not halt or deter crimes to any significant extent; (2) may in some instances increase the danger to customers who are targeted by offenders and also lead to some false alarms (although the exact magnitude of these potential effects cannot be determined); and (3) may impose substantial implementation costs, although no formally derived cost estimates of implementing these technologies are currently available.

    The reverse PIN system was first imagined in 1994 and patented in 1998 by Joseph Zingher, a Chicago businessman. His SafetyPIN System would alert police that a crime was in progress when a cardholder at an ATM keyed in the reverse of his personal identification numbers. The flip-flopped PIN would serve as a “panic code” that sent a silent alarm to police to notify them that an ATM customer was acting under duress. Because palindromic PINs (e.g., 2002, 7337, 4884) cannot be reversed, Zingher’s system included work-arounds for such numeric combinations.

    However, Zingher had little success in interesting the banking community in SafetyPIN despite his pitching it to them with great persistence over the years. He did in 2004 succeed in getting the Illinois General Assembly to adopt a “reverse PIN” clause in SB 562, but the final version of the bill watered down the wording so as to make banks’ implementation of the system optional rather than mandatory: “A terminal operated in this State may be designed and programmed so that when a consumer enters his or her personal identification number in reverse order, the terminal automatically sends an alarm to the local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the terminal location.”

    In 2006, Michael Boyd pressed the Georgia State Assembly to pass a law requiring banks to create ATM panic codes that would operate the machines normally while also alerting police. His wife, Kimberly Boyd, was killed on 12 September 2005 after being carjacked by convicted sex offender Brian O’Neil Clark and forced to withdraw cash at an ATM. (She died when Clark crashed her SUV while being followed by a civilian who ultimately shot Clark to death afterwards.) Such a bill was placed before the Georgia Senate on 29 December 2005 (SB 379), but nothing came of it.

    In 2004, the Kansas state senate sent to its Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee SB 333, a bill that stated: “Any automated teller machine operated in this state shall be designed and programmed so that when a consumer enters such consumer’s personal identification number in reverse order, the automated teller machine automatically sends an alarm to the local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the automated teller machine location.” That bill died in committee that year.

    All this talk of various bills in three different state legislatures may serve to obscure some of the more important points attaching to this issue, points that are key to making up one’s mind about whether having such a system in place is actually a good idea.

    No one in the banking industry seems to want the technology. The banks argue against its implementation, not only on the basis of cost but also because they doubt such an alert would help anyone being coerced into making an ATM withdrawal. Even if police could be summoned via the keying of a special “alert” or “panic” code, they say, law enforcement would likely arrive long after victim and captor had departed. They have also warned of the very real possibility that victims’ fumbling around while trying to trigger silent alarms could cause their captors to realize something was up and take those realizations out on their captives.

    Finally, there is the problem of ATM customers’ quickly conjuring up their accustomed PINs in reverse: Even in situations lacking added stress, mentally reconstructing one’s PIN backwards is a difficult task for many people. Add to that difficulty the terror of being in the possession of a violent and armed person, and precious few victims might be able to come up with reversed PINs seamlessly enough to fool their captors into believing that everything was proceeding according to plan. As Chuck Stones of the Kansas Bankers Association said in 2004: “I’m not sure anyone here could remember their PIN numbers backward with a gun to their head.”


    Hazim, Madinah.   “Creators Pitch ATM Safety System.”
        Topeka Capital-Journal.   13 June 2001.

    Kellner, Tomas.   “Banking on ATM Safety.”
        Forbes.   28 June 2004.

    McDermott, Kevin.   “Inventor Urges Idea to Thwart Holdups at ATMs.”
      St. Louis Post-Dispatch.   28 March 2005   (p. B1).

    Plummer, Don.   “Push on for ATM Alert Code.”
        The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.   14 January 2006   (p. E3).

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  • 9:56 am on March 23, 2017 Permalink  

    Lotte Chairman on Being the Object of China's Fury 

    SEOUL—Shin Dong-bin, the chairman of South Korea’s Lotte Group, says he loves China. China doesn’t appear to feel the same way.

    When South Korea’s government identified last year a golf course owned by Lotte as a site for a U.S.-built missile-defense system, it put the company in the crosshairs of one of the world’s most fraught geopolitical…

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  • 7:15 am on March 23, 2017 Permalink  

    House Republicans Search for Votes to Repeal Obamacare 

    But in trying to satisfy conservatives, the Trump administration and House Republican leaders risked jeopardizing support for the bill among more moderate Republicans. As the crucial vote approached, party leaders appeared to be short of a majority.

    Representative Mark Meadows, Republican of North Carolina and the chairman of the Freedom Caucus, expressed optimism that talks with Republican leaders would lead to revisions to the bill.

    “We’re encouraged tonight, just based on the real willingness of not only the White House, but our leadership, to make this bill better,” Mr. Meadows said, crediting the personal involvement of Mr. Trump and Mr. Pence.

    But Representative Charlie Dent, Republican of Pennsylvania and a leader of a moderate bloc of lawmakers known as the Tuesday Group, said Wednesday night that he would oppose the bill.

    “I believe this bill, in its current form, will lead to the loss of coverage and make insurance unaffordable for too many Americans, particularly for low- to moderate-income and older individuals,” Mr. Dent said.

    And the powerful conservative network funded by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch issued a direct challenge to the president and said it would provide financial support to members who voted against the plan.

    “We will stand with lawmakers who keep their promise and oppose this legislation,” said James Davis, executive vice president of Freedom Partners, the umbrella organization responsible for the Koch brothers’ political efforts.

    About two dozen conservative Republicans, including Freedom Caucus members, met on Wednesday at the White House with top administration officials, including Mr. Pence and Kellyanne Conway, a senior adviser to Mr. Trump.

    “I don’t think they changed any minds,” Representative Randy Weber, Republican of Texas, said after the meeting.

    The tenacity and persistence of the conservatives appeared to give them outsize influence as Mr. Ryan struggled to round up votes for the repeal bill, which faces solid opposition from House Democrats. Supporters of their bill have put their faith in Mr. Trump, whose young presidency could be badly damaged by a public and consequential loss.

    “When the president calls someone and says, ‘I need your vote on this,’ it’s very hard to say no to the president of the United States when this torpedoes our entire conference, Trump’s entire presidency, and we end up losing the Senate next year and we lose members in the House,” said Representative Chris Collins, Republican of New York and a top Trump supporter in the House.

    But conservative opposition was over substance, not politics. Conservatives are upset by the failure of the House bill to repeal a set of regulations in Mr. Obama’s signature health law, which require insurers to cover a base set of benefits, like maternity care, preventive services, wellness checkups and rehabilitative services. These “essential health benefits” raise the cost of insurance and prevent companies from offering stripped-down options, the conservatives say.

    “How can you talk about repealing the Affordable Care Act, Obamacare, without repealing the essential health benefits?” asked Representative Scott Perry, a Pennsylvania Republican who attended the meeting with Mr. Pence.

    Republican leaders say that if the House makes such changes to the bill, it could imperil their ability to push the legislation through the Senate using expedited procedures that neutralize the threat of a filibuster.

    Representative Mike Simpson, Republican of Idaho, likened the swirling cloud of uncertainty to the situation in November 2003, when the House approved a bill adding prescription drug benefits to Medicare after a roll-call vote that lasted nearly three hours in the middle of the night. The bill passed, 220 to 215, after House Republican leaders put down a conservative rebellion.

    “It’s tough to pass controversial things, especially when Republicans have different ideas,” Mr. Simpson said. Eventually, he predicted, House leaders will get the votes they need, though they may need to tweak the repeal bill.

    Representative Scott DesJarlais, Republican of Tennessee, said the administration tried to sell the House bill, known as the American Health Care Act, by arguing that it could be improved later in the Senate. But House members rarely relish handing their political fate to the other chamber.

    “I am more skeptical,” Mr. DesJarlais said. “I like to see what I’m going to get when I vote for it, not promises that I get later.”

    Asked if supporters of the bill had the votes to pass it in the House, Mr. DesJarlais said, “I don’t think they do.”

    A spokeswoman for the Freedom Caucus, Alyssa Farah, said that more than 25 members of the caucus were considered “no” votes on the health care measure — enough to sink the bill in the House, though that count could not be independently verified.

    Representative Andy Harris, Republican of Maryland, said that despite recent changes to the health care bill, he was unable to vote for it.

    “This legislation simply won’t lower premiums as much as the American people need, and lowering the cost of coverage is my primary goal,” said Mr. Harris, an anesthesiologist and Freedom Caucus member.

    House leaders were also contending with opposition from more moderate Republicans worried about the toll that the health bill could take in their districts. Representative Dan Donovan of New York, who attended a meeting at the White House with Mr. Trump on Tuesday, said on Wednesday that he would vote against the bill.

    “Recognizing that the status quo is failing isn’t, on its own, a compelling reason to vote ‘yes’ on the current replacement plan,” said Mr. Donovan, the only Republican House member from New York City.

    Sean Spicer, the White House press secretary, said he was sure the House would pass the repeal bill. “Slowly but surely we’re getting there,” he said. “There is no Plan B. There’s Plan A and Plan A. We’re going to get this done.”

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