SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH – Planned Parenthood clinics in several states are charging new fees, tapping financial reserves, intensifying fundraising and warning of more unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases after its decision to quit a $260 million federal family planning program in an abortion dispute with the Trump administration.
The fallout is especially intense in Utah, where Planned Parenthood has been the only provider participating in the nearly 50-year-old Title X family planning program and will now lose about $2 million yearly in federal funds that helped 39,000 mostly low-income, uninsured people. It plans to maintain its services — which include contraception, STD testing and cancer screening — but is considering charging a small copay for patients who used to get care for free.
Planned Parenthood in Minnesota is in a similar situation, serving about 90% of the state’s Title X patients, and plans to start charging fees due to the loss of $2.6 million in annual funding.
The organization is concerned about the spread of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
“We believe there will be a public health crisis created by this denial of care,” said Sarah Stoesz, the Minnesota-based president of Planned Parenthood North Central States. “It’s a very sad day for the country.”
Fallout Swift for Planned Parenthood After Quitting Program
The health care provider was among those to leave the Title X program after rules changes surrounding abortion
Planned Parenthood and several other providers withdrew from the program earlier this week rather than comply with a newly implemented rule prohibiting participating clinics from referring women for abortions.
Anti-abortion activists who form a key part of President Donald Trump’s base have been campaigning to “defund Planned Parenthood.” Among its varied services it is a major abortion provider, and the activists viewed the grants as an indirect subsidy.
About 4 million women are served nationwide by the Title X program, which makes up a much bigger portion of Planned Parenthood’s patients than abortion. But the organization said it could not abide by the abortion-referral rules because it says they would make it impossible for doctors to do their jobs.
Misty Dotson, a single mother in Utah, started going to Planned Parenthood as doctors’ bills for treating recurring yeast infections mounted. The services became even more important when she gave up her employer-sponsored health insurance because she couldn’t afford the $500 monthly bill.
She is unsure what she’d do if the family planning services she gets stop.
“It would put me in a very dangerous position,” said Dotson, who works as an executive assistant for an accounting and consulting firm. “It covers so many things: STD testing, emergency contraception, birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings … you name it, they have treated me for it.”
Planned Parenthood said it’s dedicated to maintaining its current services in Utah, but CEO Karrie Galloway acknowledged it won’t be easy and could cause some “pain on all sides.”
She said the organization plans to lean heavily on donors to make up the funding gap while staff members assess how they’ll cope. Among the possibilities are instituting copays of $10-$15 per visit, shortening hours and trimming spending. She doesn’t plan to lay off staff, but said she may not be able to fill jobs when people leave or retire.
Minnesota is planning fees as well.
“We’ll continue to offer all services, and keep clinic doors open, but we’ll be charging patients on a sliding scale who we didn’t charge before,” Stoesz said. “Vulnerable people who previously were able to access birth control and STD testing for free will no longer be able to do so.”
Elsewhere, the impact of Planned Parenthood’s withdrawal will vary from state to state.
Governments in some states, including Hawaii, Illinois, New York and Vermont, say they will try to replace at least some of the lost federal funding. In the Deep South there will be little impact because Planned Parenthood did not provide Title X services in most of the region’s states.
The chief operating officer for Planned Parenthood of the Greater Northwest and Hawaiian Islands, Rebecca Gibron, said Southern Idaho could be hit hard by the changes, with other health care providers in the area saying they can’t fill the gap if the roughly 1,000 low-income women served by Planned Parenthood in Twin Falls are no longer able to receive care.
“This was not money that can simply be made up by raising dollars from donors,” Gibron said. “We have rent to pay, we have staff salaries … there are limits to what we are able to do in terms of providing free care without the Title X program.”
Gibron said Planned Parenthood is working with Washington state officials in hopes of securing “bridge funding” to keep operating more than 20 Title X clinics serving roughly 90,000 people.
“We’re going to do everything we can to provide care for patients in the same way, but we know that it’s not sustainable and we’re looking at all of our options,” she said.
Among other providers withdrawing from Title X is Maine Family Planning, which oversees a network that serves about 23,000 patients per year and will be losing $1.8 million in annual funding. Its CEO, George Hill, said the organization will rely on reserves and intensify fundraising efforts to bridge the gap while seeking more aid from the state.
In anticipation of the changes, Democrats in neighboring New Hampshire added about $3.2 million in the state budget they passed earlier this year to make up for the federal funding. But that’s on hold after Republican Gov. Chris Sununu vetoed the budget in June for other reasons.
FILE – New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu.
Planned Parenthood will continue to participate in Medicaid, the federal health-coverage program for low-income Americans. That’s Planned Parenthood’s biggest source of government funding — about $400 million or more annually in recent years. The Republican-controlled legislatures in Texas, Iowa and Missouri have taken steps to block that flow of funds in their states.
Maryann Martindale, executive director of the Utah Academy of Family Physicians, said most Title X clients earn slightly too much money to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford employer-based or private health insurance.
NEW YORK – About 6 in 10 Americans disapprove of President Donald Trump’s overall job performance, according to a new poll released Thursday by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, which finds some support for the president’s handling of the U.S. economy but gives him weak marks on other major issues.
Just 36% of Americans approve of the way Trump is handling his job as president; 62% disapprove.
The numbers may be ugly for a first-term president facing reelection in 14 months, but they are remarkably consistent. Trump’s approval rating has never dipped below 32% or risen above 42% in AP-NORC polls since he took office.
No other president has stayed within so narrow a band. Since Gallup began measuring presidential approval, Trump is the only president whose rating has never been above 50%. Still, several — Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush — logged ratings worse than Trump’s lowest rating so far at some point during their time in office.
Trump’s poor grades in the AP-NORC poll extend to his handling of several key issues: immigration, health care, foreign policy and guns. Views of the Republican president’s handling of the economy remain a relative bright spot despite fears of a potential recession, but at least 60% of Americans disapprove of his performance on other issues. The consistency suggests the president’s weak standing with the American people is calcified after two years of near-constant political crises and divisive rhetoric at the White House.
The new survey was conducted shortly after back-to-back mass shootings in Texas and Ohio left dozens dead and renewed calls from Americans for answers from their elected officials. Trump pledged immediate action in the immediate aftermath of the attacks but has since shifted back and forth on whether to push for stronger background checks on people seeking to buy guns.
“He does whatever’s politically expedient. He’s awful,” said 60-year-old Robert Saunders, a retired police officer from New Jersey who’s not registered with either major political party and vowed not to vote for Trump in 2020.
According to the poll, 36% approve of Trump on gun policy, while 61% disapprove, numbers that mirror his broader approval rating.
FILE – Demonstrators gather in front of an inflatable “Baby Trump” to protest the arrival of President Donald Trump outside Miami Valley Hospital after a mass shooting that occurred days earlier in the Oregon District, in Dayton, Ohio, Aug. 7, 2019.
In response to the shootings, Trump said that he would pursue policy options with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and that he would like to see “very meaningful background checks.” Earlier this week, however, Trump said the U.S. already has significantly strict background checks in place and that many of his supporters are gun owners. On Wednesday, however, he again backed tighter background checks while speaking to reporters at the White House.
Seven in 10 Republicans express approval of Trump’s handling of gun policy in the new poll, among his lowest ratings from the GOP. Self-identified moderate and liberal Republicans were slightly less likely than conservative ones to express approval, 64% versus 74%.
Beyond guns, Trump remains overwhelmingly popular within his own party.
Nearly 8 in 10 Republicans approve of Trump’s overall job performance, while 20% disapprove. As has been the case for his entire presidency, Democrats overwhelmingly oppose his leadership: 94% of Democrats disapprove in the new survey.
Independents remain decidedly low on Trump as well, with about two-thirds disapproving of Trump’s performance.
Significantly more Americans approve of Trump’s handling of the economy, although even on that issue he remains slightly underwater: 46% approve and 51% disapprove of his performance.
Trump’s current economic rating represents a 5 percentage point drop from the same time last year, but for a president who has struggled to win over a majority of American voters on any issue, the economy represents a relative strength.
Even some Democrats approve: Just 5% of Democrats approve of his job performance overall, but 16% approve of his handling of the economy. Independents are closely divided — 44% approve and 47% disapprove — while 86% of Republicans approve of his economic leadership.
FILE – Supporters wave signs as President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally at U.S. Bank Arena, in Cincinnati, Ohio, Aug. 1, 2019.
“He’s kind of a bully, but I’ve seen some improvement,” said Mandi Mitchell, a 38-year-old registered Democrat from North Carolina. “Our unemployment rate has definitely dropped.”
Mitchell, who is studying for her doctoral degree, said she didn’t vote for Trump in 2016 but might in 2020.
“I’m not going to be too hard on him,” she said. “I just think he doesn’t address America properly.”
Amid regular distractions from the president’s social media feed, Trump’s team has worked to highlight rising retail sales and the solid labor market with its 3.7% unemployment rate as sources of strength. The U.S. economy appears to be showing vulnerabilities after more than 10 years of growth, however. Factory output has fallen and consumer confidence has waned as Trump has ramped up his trade fight with China.
Trump rattled the stock and bond markets this month when he announced plans to put a 10% tax on $300 billion worth of Chinese imports. The market reaction suggested a recession might be on the horizon and led Trump to delay some of the tariffs that were scheduled to begin in September, though many others remain.
“The economy is doing OK, but he’s doing a horrible job for the country,” said 67-year-old John Sollenberger, of Philadelphia.
He said he left the Republican Party after Trump’s rise and is now a registered independent.
“To me, it’s the vitriol that comes out of him,” Sollenberger explained. “He’s obviously a racist. He’s anti-immigrant. He foments discontent with so many people it doesn’t matter what the economy’s doing really.”
Those who remain in the Republican Party do not share the negative assessment.
Greg Traylor, a 53-year-old small businessman from North Canton, Ohio, acknowledged that Trump is “rough around the edges,” but he praised his work on immigration and his support for Israel. On the economy, Traylor cheered Trump’s hardline stance with China, while acknowledging it may cause some short-term pain.
“He’s got balls of steel,” Traylor said.
The AP-NORC poll of 1,058 adults was conducted Aug. 15-19 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.2 percentage points. Respondents were first selected randomly using address-based sampling methods and later were interviewed online or by phone.
VOA White House Bureau Chief Steve Herman contributed to this report.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has expressed his appreciation to Denmark as a U.S. ally, after President Donald Trump canceled a state visit to the country.
The State Department said Pompeo spoke to his Danish counterpart by phone Wednesday and discussed “strengthening cooperation with the Kingdom of Denmark – including Greenland – in the Arctic.”
Trump earlier this week cancelled a planned visit to Denmark after his suggestion that the Danes sell Greenland to the U.S. was rejected.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said Wednesday she regretted and was surprised Trump abruptly canceled his scheduled visit to Denmark for rebuffing his overture to buy Greenland, the strategic Arctic country with mineral wealth that is part of the Danish kingdom.
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen addresses the media regarding U.S. President Donald Trump’s cancellation of his visit to Denmark, in Copenhagen, Denmark, Aug. 21, 2019.
Trump later acknowledged he canceled the trip to Denmark because the country’s prime minister made a “nasty” remark in reaction to his suggestion regarding Greenland.
“I thought it was not a nice statement, the way she blew me off. She was blowing off the United States,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday. “She said ‘absurd’ – that’s not the right word to use.”
The United States has a military presence in Greenland at Thule Air Base under a U.S.-Danish treaty dating back to 1951.
When Trump recently floated the idea of buying Greenland from Denmark many there initially thought the suggestion was a joke.
President Donald Trump speaks with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House, in Washington, Aug. 21, 2019..
Trump, late Tuesday on Twitter, called off the September 2-3 visit while saying that, “Denmark is a very special country with incredible people.” But he said that with Frederiksen declaring that “she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time.”
Denmark is a very special country with incredible people, but based on Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen’s comments, that she would have no interest in discussing the purchase of Greenland, I will be postponing our meeting scheduled in two weeks for another time….
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 20, 2019
Trump also thanked Frederiksen for saving “a great deal of expense and effort for both the United States and Denmark” by publicly stating ahead of time her views opposing any possible Greenland sale.
The Danish prime minister said that while she considers the United States to be her country’s closest strategic ally, “thankfully, the time where you buy and sell other countries and populations is over.”
Your Wallet’s Callin’: R. Kelly Reportedly Wants to Tap Michael Jackson’s Lawyer, Needs Many Extra Dollars
Robert “R.” Kelly is reportedly seeking out one of the most in-demand criminal attorneys in the business: Tom Mesereau, a lawyer best known for successfully defending Michael Jackson during his 2005 child molestation trial.
Mesereau also got actor Robert Blake acquitted on charges he murdered his ex-wife.
First reported by TMZ, the celeb gossip site claims Arruh recently met with Mesereau for four hours, and that the singer deeply wants Mesereau to take his case.
The issue? Kelly’s troubled finances. A whopping $161,000 in back child support placed the Pied Piper behind bars a second time, after he was first charged with sexual abuse in February (he had trouble paying his $100,000 bond on his own, and had to rely on donations).
Kelly also already has “a battery of lawyers,” according to TMZ, and he’s still paying his ex-wife, Drea Kelly, $21,000 a month in support. Kelly’s current attorney, Steve Greenberg says the speculation that his client is looking to replace him is “a complete load of crap.”
At any rate, whoever represents Kelly will have a veritable shit-ton of billable hours. Kelly is currently incarcerated in New York, under a federal charge for sex trafficking. In Illinois; he faces trafficking, sexual assault and sexual abuse charges’ and in Minnesota, Kellz faces an additional two counts of underage prostitution.
Seventeen-year-old Dorian Harris shoplifted a $2 beer from a local corner store and it cost him his life. Now, the store clerk responsible for shooting and killing the teen is facing up to 60 years in prison after being found guilty of murder in the second degree.
Lawyers for Anwar Ghazali argued the store clerk only meant for the bullets he fired into the air to serve as a warning after Dorian filched the drink and ran from the convenience store where Ghazali worked, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports.
Prosecutors disagreed, saying the shooting was a cold-blooded murder.
“The defendant took it upon himself to be the judge, the jury and the executioner over a $2 [drink]. That’s why we’re here,” state prosecutor Lora Fowler said during closing arguments, the news site reports. “Why are you using deadly force to defend a [drink]?”
In testimony heard from witnesses during the trial, one of them, Beverly Loverson, recalled begging Ghazali not to kill the teen, as the Washington Post reports:
She saw Harris and the beer, and Ghazali and the gun, “and as he passed me,” she remembered while testifying on the stand this week, “I said, ‘Don’t kill him. Don’t kill him. It’s just a beer.’ ”
A Shelby County jury in Memphis, Tenn., agreed, deciding, however, to find the 29-year-old Ghazali guilty of second-degree murder rather than the more serious charge he also faced of first-degree murder.
One of the bullets Ghazali fired entered Dorian’s back right thigh, severing his femoral artery, causing the teen to bleed to death as he fled the store.
Ghazali never reported the shooting or the theft to police, and Dorian’s body wasn’t found until two days later behind an abandoned house not far from the store.
Surveillance footage showed that after firing the shots, Ghazali walked back into his store and continued to ring up customers, with a witness telling police that Ghazali said simply, “I think I shot him.”
Dorian’s death caused outrage, with his family, friends and community members staging protests for two days.
Dorian’s family, which has a civil suit pending against the store’s owner, told the Commercial Appeal it was pleased with the verdict, but wished the verdict had been on the more serious charge of first-degree murder.
“I feel that the charge should have been first degree,” Dorian’s grandmother Effie Fitch said. “He took a life, so it should be for life.”
As it stands, Ghazali faces between 15 and 60 years in prison at his sentencing, which is set for Sept. 23.
Our Dog ‘Doesn’t Like Black People’: Tennessee Church’s Sorry Excuse for Denying a Black Housekeeper a Job
The Catholic Diocese of Memphis (Tenn.) is facing backlash after a black housekeeper lost out on a cleaning job after church staffers reportedly claimed a priest’s dog “doesn’t like black people” and therefore she’d need to find work elsewhere.
According to the Memphis Commercial Appeal (ah, Tennessee), housekeeper LaShundra Allen and a white colleague, Emily Weaver, plan to sue the diocese, claiming racial discrimination.
For the church’s part, according to the report, Bishop David Talley in an email to area Catholics wrote that what parish staff actually said was, “Fr. Jacek’s dog is kinda racist” (oh, that’s much better).
But the bishop said the staffers meant no “racial animus”; rather, they were trying to explain that the German shepherd owned by “Fr. Jacek,” aka the Rev. Jacek Kowal, would become “more agitated initially around strangers with darker skin, until the dog gets to know them.”
Weaver, who was employed cleaning Kowal’s home, had brought Allen to the Catholic Church of the Incarnation in Collierville, Tenn., with the intention of training Allen to be her replacement.
Weaver’s calling foul, the Commercial Appeal reports, telling the paper that the church is being “disrespectful” and that she and Allen plan to sue.
Weaver says the staffers just kicked them out and didn’t even give Allen a chance to “get to know” the dog.
“Why wasn’t LaShundra given the chance to get to know him?” Weaver asked. “Those staff represent a religion, a church, a school. In fact, one of the biggest Catholic organizations in the area. They’re continuing to be disrespectful by attempting to brush the comments made off.”
Weaver says Kowal wasn’t present when she and Allen arrived at the church, but that the staff never told them to perhaps come back when Kowal returned and could rein in his dog.
For her part, Allen, in an interview with the Washington Post, says she’s “haunted” by the experience she received at the hands of church folk.
“They came at me like it was supposed to be a joke,” Allen said, “but it was not funny. There was nothing funny about it.”
According to the Commercial Appeal, a letter from the women’s attorneys that was sent to the diocese also notes:
Kowal “made no effort to come meet Ms. Allen. He made no effort to correct any statement about his dog being a ‘racist.’
“The two church office employees then reiterated that Father Jacek ‘did not want (Ms. Allen) there’ and that they needed to leave. Both Ms. Allen and Ms. Weaver were shocked, humiliated, and felt severely disrespected by this treatment and the statements.”
The church insists this is all a big misunderstanding, saying “claims of racial bias and discrimination are unfounded,” and basically stating the equivalent of “Hey, the pastor has black friends.”
Per the Commercial Appeal:
In his last assignment as pastor, Kowal employed an African American housekeeper for the entire five years he was there, according to Talley’s letter.
Photo: Streeter Lecka (Getty Images)
During his senior year at Punahou School in Honolulu, Hawaii, our forever President Barack Obama was a member of the 1979 Hawaii State Champion boys’ varsity basketball team. Now, 40 years later, for the low, low price of $120,000, an unidentified collector is the proud new owner of 44’s game-worn jersey, according to CBS Sports.
This summer, the jersey hit the auction block for a cool $25,000 before eventually selling for nearly five times that in Dallas this weekend.
From CBS Sports:
The jersey from Punahou School—a prep school in Honalulu—was put up for auction by a classmate of Obama’s. Peter Noble, who was three years behind Obama at the school, said he only grabbed the jersey because otherwise it was going to be thrown away.
That decision turned out to be a smart and lucrative one. Rather than let the jersey sit in his closet—occasionally coming out simply to be shown off to friends—Noble elected to sell it off and allow it to flourish somewhere else. He says a portion of the sale will be donated to the school as well.
For those wondering how in the hell Noble was able to verify the authenticity of a jersey he had buried in his closet, he didn’t have to. The auction house, Heritage Auctions, reportedly carried that cross themselves, and the jersey reportedly came with some complimentary blood stains and needed repairs on its lower front left.
“What had been for decades a personal memento of my own childhood has been transformed into a monumental artifact of American history,” Noble told People via a letter. “I have decided [it] deserves a stage much larger than my closet.”
Obama has yet to publicly comment on the sale, but the first rapper to rock his throwback in a music video wins at life.
On Tuesday night, four students suffered injuries during a shooting outside of an Atlanta University Center library.
WSB-TV reports that the shooting occurred at approximately 10:30 p.m. at the intersection of James P. Brawley Drive and Beckwith Street during a block party celebrating the first day of class. Students from Clark Atlanta University, Spelman and Morehouse were in attendance.
“For somebody to come over here and just start shooting stuff up when people just trying to have fun, it’s kind of ridiculous,” sophomore Alexis Carter told WSB-TV.
When police arrived on the scene, they discovered four female students between the ages of 17 to 19 suffering from a range of injuries, including gunshot wounds to the leg and chest. They were taken to nearby Grady Memorial Hospital and are currently listed as stable.
“It appears there were two separate groups that were targeting each other, and these people were just caught in the crossfire,” Atlanta police Capt. William Ricker told WSB-TV.
According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, a prayer vigil is scheduled to take place at noon on Wednesday.
“Evil will not have its way on our campus,” the Clark Atlanta University Office of Religious Life wrote in an Instagram post, which included details pertaining to the vigil.
Kawhi Leonard Donates One Million Backpacks to Students in Los Angeles: ‘This Felt Like the Right Way to Get Started’
(L-R) Busy Philipps, Nicole Richie, Zooey Deschanel, Kelly Sawyer Patricof, Kawhi Leonard, Norah Weinstein, Cillian Zucker, Sophia Rossi, and Katherine Nelson celebrate donation of One Million backpacks from Baby2Baby, Kawhi Leonard and the L.A. Clippers to students across Los Angeles at 107th Street Elementary on Aug. 20, 2019, in Los Angeles.Photo: Phillip Faraone (Getty Images for Baby2Baby)
Since signing with the Los Angeles Clippers in July, NBA superstar Kawhi Leonard has spent his summer acclimating to his new surroundings after crushing the hopes and dreams of Lakers fans throughout the city. But in his efforts to endear himself to his new home—and perhaps give us a bit more insight into the man behind the broken laugh—the two-time NBA champion partnered with the Clippers and their nonprofit community partner Baby2Baby to donate one million backpacks to low-income families throughout Southern California.
The NBA reports that every single student in the Moreno Valley Unified, Inglewood Unified, and Los Angeles Unified School Districts will receive a new backpack to kick start their new school year and that this generous donation is the largest in the history of the Los Angeles Unified School District.
“We are overwhelmed with gratitude to the Clippers and Kawhi Leonard for this record-breaking donation to every student in Los Angeles Unified School District and beyond,” Baby2Baby co-presidents Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein said. “For many of these children who are homeless or in foster care, backpacks not only hold their school books and homework but also all of their personal belongings. […] The Clippers’ donation will make these children feel the pride they deserve and give them the confidence they need to start the school year off on the right foot.”
“My goal this year is to make a meaningful contribution both on and off the court,” Leonard said. “This felt like the right way to get started. It was important to me to make this announcement in my hometown of Moreno Valley at my former elementary school, but the benefits this program will have across all of Los Angeles makes today even more special.”
Photo: Colette Garcia (Los Angeles Clippers)
According to the NBA, 80 percent of K-12 Los Angeles Unified School District students last year either came from a low-income family, were homeless or are in foster care. The intent behind this donation is to alleviate the financial burden so many of these families bear so that they can instead focus on necessities such as food, rent or utilities.
“There are a lot of families throughout the L.A. region working hard every day to earn everything in their lives. This program is our effort to extend a hand to make heading back to school a little easier,” said Gillian Zucker, President of Business Operations for the Los Angeles Clippers.
I can’t think of a better way for Kawhi to begin the next chapter of his career, though he’s more than welcome to follow this up by helping the Clippers win their first NBA championship this upcoming season.