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Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Morsi Overthrown

The Egyptian army has overthrown Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first democratically elected leader. In a day marked by confusion and conflicting reports, the army sent tanks and armored personnel carriers into the major cities. General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi called for new presidential and primary elections and a national reconciliation committee that would include youth groups. Hopefully, it will help Islamist and secular Egyptians move past the violence and sectarian rifts that spread during the protests. The speech was met with cheers in Tahrir Square, and Egypt’s lead Muslim and Coptic clerics voiced their support of the army’s plan, joined by opposition leader Mohamed el-Baradei. Meanwhile, the TV stations belonging to the Muslim Brotherhood went off the air at the end of the broadcast. Morsi had been moved to an ‘undisclosed location,’ but a post on his Facebook page decried a “military coup” and an unverified tweet urged Egyptians to uphold the law and the constitution. As the army spreads out across the country, the reception it will receive in pro-Morsi, heavily Islamist areas remains unclear.

Employers Get Until 2015 to Cover Employees

The Obama administration announced that the provision of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires businesses that over 50 people to provide health care would be pushed back one year.  The White House website explained that they’re postponing the decision to give employers more time to comply with the law (or face a fine) and that the measure will be implemented in 2015. The step will likely reduce the number the number of uninsured people who gain coverage under the ACA. Employer groups were quick to applaud the delay. Republicans, unsurprisingly, reacted with contradictory statements of glee. Some attacked Obama for not implementing the health care reform they have fought to defund or repeal quickly enough. Others claimed that the delay was a “political ploy” to push the “train wreck” until after the mid-term elections so Democrats can avoid the political fallout. In reality, it means that the Republicans will continue railing against the ACA in the next election cycle, pretending to forget all the train wrecks their own health care policies actually caused.

Progress Toward Treating HIV

Scientists reported that two men with longstanding HIV infections became free of the virus after receiving bone marrow transplants to treat cancers of the blood. Tests showed that as their own cells were replaced by the blood marrow donor’s the levels of HIV in their bodies steadily dropped until it was no longer detectable. Both have stopped taking his retroviral medication, which suppresses the virus, but neither has  detectable HIV in his blood cells. While the virus may still be present in tissue or an organ, doctors have not yet found it. Bone marrow transplant surgery is a dangerous with a 15-20% mortality rate, so is not possible or even recommended for everyone. The combination of medicines they were on, coupled with the fact that donor cells will often attack the host’s cells has offered new insights into how our immune system itself can be used to attack the virus. 

Senate’s Immigration Law Will Cut Down Illegal Immigrants and Save Money

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office concluded that the immigration bill passed by the Senate would cut undocumented immigration from Mexico by one-third to one-half. The proposed path to citizenship for 11 million undocumented immigrants in the United States, coupled with expanding the number of work visas is likely to help the economy so much that despite the billions of dollars spent reinforcing border security, the bill would reduce the deficit by over $600 billion. Opponents, however, says it does not do enough to stop illegal immigration. As one Republican representative assured his constituents, the Senate bill “doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell in the House of Representatives.”

Weekend Read: The Fall of the American Worker

A discussion of Americans’ downward mobility over the past three generations through two documentaries. – The New Yorker

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