Leah Barkoukis


Hundreds of hospital worker protested first lady Melania Trump on Wednesday for visiting those carrying out a program at Boston Medical Center that uses cuddling to help babies who are born with a dependency on drugs or alcohol.

Outside Boston Medical Center in the city’s South End, as many as 200 workers protested the visit, saying the first lady represented an administration who they say has discouraged immigrants from seeking health care with tough immigration policies. Some carried signs that read “BMC cares for all patients” and “We believe that healthy women = healthy families = healthy society.”

“Families need to be together, that the best way to support children’s development is for them to be with their families,” Carmen Rosa Norona, a psychotherapist working with young children affected by trauma, told The Associated Press. “That being the children, having the possibility to grow up with their families, is a human right in that the policies of separating families are a violation of those rights.”

“This is not a person that we want to come to our home, our hospital,” added Cecilia Girard, a 26-year employee who works as a nurse-midwife. (

Boston Medical Center’s president and CEO Kate Walsh knew ahead of time about the planned protest and refused to grant their request to cancel the first lady’s visit.

“[T]he visit will be a unique opportunity to share our values of respect and inclusion with federal leaders whose policies have a significant impact on the vulnerable populations we are dedicated to serving,” she told the hospital’s employees in an email, according to The Boston Globe.

“Two-thirds of our patients have some form of government insurance, and our health plan is the largest participant in the state’s Medicaid accountable care organization, so the opportunity to highlight the innovative work we are doing is critical to ensuring that we are able to continue to deliver on our mission well into the future.”

Trump, for her part, ignored the protests in her comments to staff.

“I hope today’s visit helps shine a light,” she said. “It is my hope that what we discuss today will encourage others to replicate similar programs within their own communities.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, who accompanied Trump, said “neonatal abstinence syndrome is one of the most heartbreaking parts of the opioid crisis.”

Social media users slammed the protesters for not being able to put patients before politics.

Author: Leah Barkoukis

Source: Town Hall: ‘Pathetic’: Medical Staff Protest Melania Trump For Visiting Hospital Cuddling Program to Help Babies Born on Drugs

Iran has breached another term of the nuclear deal, which the U.S. abandoned last year, announcing Tuesday that it will be injecting uranium gas into 1,044 previously empty centrifuges.

“Resistance lays the ground for negotiation, and negotiation takes advantage of resistance,” Rouhani said in his announcement.

“We are aware of their sensitiveness toward the Fordo facility and those centrifuges,” he continued.“At the same time, we cannot tolerate unilateral fulfillment of our commitments and no commitment from their side.”

Under the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Iran was only allowed to operate approximately 5,000 first-generation centrifuges, “widely seen as antiquated and breakdown-prone,” Reuters reports.

The new IR-6 machines can refine uranium 10 times faster, said Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

“Today, we are witnessing the launch of the cascade (operating set) of 30 IR-6 centrifuges,” Salehi told state television. “Iran now is operating 60 IR-6 advanced centrifuges. It shows our capacity and determination.

“Our scientists are working on a prototype called the IR-9 that works 50 times faster than the IR-1s.” (Reuters)

The move has been called a “significant breach” of the accord, with U.S. officials saying there is “no credible reason” for expansion of the nuclear program.

Author: Leah Barkoukis

Source: Town Hall: Iran Announces a New Breach of the Nuclear Deal

Sen. Elizabeth Warren is taking Democratic efforts to combat climate change one step further, releasing a plan on Wednesday that would address “environmental racism.”

The $1.5 trillion plan would more heavily invest in low-income and minority communities in the form of job-training programs and technologies.

“Our crisis of environmental injustice is the result of decades of discrimination and environmental racism compounding in communities that have been overlooked for too long,” according to the new plan.

“The same communities that have borne the brunt of industrial pollution are now on the front lines of climate change, often getting hit first and worst,” she wrote, arguing that it’s a “result of multiple choices that put corporate profits before people, while our government looked the other way.”

She added: “It is unacceptable, and it must change.”

The senator’s plan calls for improving equity mapping of marginalized communities to better identify climate risk damage from increasingly intense storms, droughts and wildfires.

Warren would mandate that all federal agencies consider climate impacts in developing rules, and she would restore the Obama-era water rule, which the Trump administration recently rolled back. The plan also instructs the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Justice to enhance enforcement against industrial polluters. […]

Warren’s plan would apply to communities on coasts threatened by storm surge and sea-level rise, as well as those more prone to wildfires and flooding. It would help people move out of flood-prone properties and transform post-disaster housing assistance to better protect renters.

Warren highlighted several areas in the U.S. particularly vulnerable to pollution and health problems linked to toxic runoff. In Detroit, Michigan, a predominantly African American neighborhood called Boynton is situated next to a large oil refinery, which has led to high levels of cancer linked to toxins and has made that ZIP code the most polluted in the state.

In her plan, Warren said she would provide job training, guaranteed wage and benefit parity for fossil fuel workers transitioning into other industries, as well as pensions and early benefits for those who retire. (CNBC)

On Wednesday, Warren officially ousted former Vice President Joe Biden from his top spot in RealClearPolitics’s national average of polling, although by a small margin—26.6 percent to Biden’s 26.4 percent.

Author: Leah Barkoukis

Source: Town Hall: Elizabeth Warren Releases $1.5 Trillion Plan to Combat ‘Environmental Racism’

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham vowed to make the anonymous Ukraine whistleblowers testify publicly if Democrats move forward with impeachment.

“Here’s what’s going to happen: if the whistleblowers’ allegations are turned into an impeachment article it’s imperative that the whistleblower be interviewed in public, under oath, and cross-examined,” Graham said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” adding, “if that doesn’t happen in the House, I’ll make sure it happens in the Senate.”

Graham also seemed to agree with a demand President Trump made—that he had the right to meet his accusers.

“There can be no valid impeachment process unless the president can confront the witnesses against him,” Graham said.

Over the weekend, the attorney representing the Ukraine whistleblower said he was representing a second whistleblower who was supporting some of the allegations made about President Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Zelensky.

As some pointed out, however, President Trump already released the transcript.

“I think it’s ridiculous to say the president did something wrong based on the phone call,” Graham said, reiterating that there was no quid pro quo in pushing Ukraine to investigate the BIdens in exchange for military aid.

Graham’s vow came the same day 90 former national security officials wrote a letter demanding the whistleblower’s identity remain protected.

“A responsible whistleblower makes all Americans safer by ensuring that serious wrongdoing can be investigated and addressed, thus advancing the cause of national security to which we have devoted our careers,” they wrote in an open letter to the American people. “What’s more, being a responsible whistleblower means that, by law, one is protected from certain egregious forms of retaliation.”

They continued: “Whatever one’s view of the matters discussed in the whistleblower’s complaint, all Americans should be united in demanding that all branches of our government and all outlets of our media protect this whistleblower and his or her identity.”

Author: Leah Barkoukis

Source: Town Hall: Graham: If Dems Move Forward With Impeachment, the Identities of Anonymous Whistleblowers Will Be Revealed

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi falsely claimed in an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff’s fabrication of the transcript between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky was actually real.

Schiff, you’ll recall, improvised parts of the transcript he read during last week’s hearing with acting Director of National Intelligence Joseph Maguire.

“I know you support Chairman Schiff, but was it right for him to have that dramatic interpretation of the president’s transcript of the phone call at the hearing last week?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“I want the American people to know what that phone call was about. I want them to hear, it. So yeah it’s fair,” Pelosi said Thursday on “Good Morning America.”

“It’s sad, but it’s using the president’s own words,” she added.

“But those weren’t the president’s words, it was an interpretation of the president’s words. They’re saying he made this up,” he replied.

“He did not make it up,” Pelosi insisted.

After criticism, even Schiff acknowledged his reading of the transcript was a parody.

Author: Leah Barkoukis

Source: Town Hall: Pelosi Blatantly Lies During GMA Interview About Schiff’s Reading of Ukraine Transcript

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