Senate Republicans Struggle to Find Unity on Obamacare Repeal/Replace as Trump Waits, Virginia Man Charged with Federal Crime for Killing Bald Eagle, Teenage Suicides Blamed on “Blue Whale Challenge,” Trump’s Pick for FBI Director Christopher Wray in Senate Confirmation Hearing, and NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Takes Pictures of Jupiter’s Great Red Spot
Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Wednesday, July 12. Ready for news?
Senate Republicans are still trying to write a bill that will repeal and replace Obamacare, and the majority leader Sen. McConnell (Ky) announced yesterday they would delay their scheduled recess in August by two weeks so they could keep on working on it. They want to release a revised bill tomorrow and have the Congressional Budget Office look at it to make predictions on the impact. They hope to vote on the bill next week, but there are several Republican Senators who are against it (10 of them), with some senators saying there’s a long way to go before everybody can support it.
President Trump is putting pressure on Senate Republicans to pass it — he tweeted on Monday that he can’t imagine Congress would dare to leave Washington without a beautiful new HealthCare bill fully approved and ready to go.
Trump later said in an interview with CBN that he has a pen ready to sign a repeal/replace and that he would be very angry if Congress can’t pass a bill.
Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas) has proposed allowing insurance companies to offer two options — one Obamacare plan (that covers all major areas, including maternity care or mental health care) and a second option that doesn't have those areas, aimed towards people who don’t need it, with the goal of lower premiums. The idea was criticized by Sen. Collins (Maine) who said it would create two insurance markets with one low-priced for the young and healthy and one that is expensive for older Americans with pre-existing conditions.
There is a lot of pressure on Republicans from people and healthcare providers who benefit from Medicaid, the insurance program provided by the federal/state governments. 75 million people have insurance through Medicaid and many are asking Republicans to not make huge cuts on the program.
The Republicans’ previous proposal wanted to cut $772 billion from the program over the years. Republicans have argued in favor of the cuts saying that when there is a new healthcare system, insurance premiums will be lower and those on Medicaid can afford private insurance, but others disagree, saying the Medicaid expansion has helped millions of low-income people to have insurance.
We’ll see what happens.
A man from Virginia might be imprisoned for a year and pay a $100,000 fine because he killed a bald eagle, first shooting it with a rifle and then running it over with his ATV.
The man, Allen Thacker (62), said he killed the eagle because he was upset that it was eating fish from a pond on his property. He thought the eagles were a “menace” and disagreed with the concept that the birds should be protected.
It is a federal crime to kill bald eagles or disturb their nests, a law in place since 1940 — because bald eagles used to be endangered and also because they are a national symbol. In 2007, they were taken off the endangered list, but they are still protected, with serious penalties for hurting or killing them.
Terrible news — a 15-year old boy from San Antonio, Texas — Isaiah Gonzalez — committed suicide by hanging himself in his bedroom on Saturday morning with his phone set up to film his suicide. His family believes it was because he was playing a dangerous online game called, “Blue Whale.”
This game has 50 different “challenges” by a secret person that uses social media to contact children or teenagers with a list of tasks that includes cutting yourself, watching horror movies, going up high buildings or bridges — and on the 50th challenge, the person must kill themselves. The administrators threaten the teenagers to complete the game or “something” will happen to them.
The game had been spreading from Russia and Europe, and it’s made its way in the U.S. There is no way to “find” Blue Whale administrators — it’s all anonymous — people target young kids through chat rooms or social media, and will threaten kids if they don’t complete their tasks.
There was a 16-year old girl from Atlanta who recently killed herself and her family thinks it is from the Blue Whale challenge.
Two months ago a Russian man (21) was arrested for being a Blue Whale administrator, accused of encouraging at least 16 teenage girls to kill themselves. A month ago a Russian man (26) was arrested, also accused of pushing others to play the Blue Whale challenge.
Various police departments and schools are encouraging parents to talk with their kids about the dangers of social media and to monitor their internet use.
Today Christopher Wray, the person President Trump appointed to replace James Comey as the new leader of the FBI, sat before a Senate panel for his confirmation hearings. He said he was committed to keeping the FBI independent from outside influence, to follow the rule of law and the Constitution.
He said he was never asked to do a loyalty pledge (he was asked this because the former director Comey said Trump asked him for his loyalty).
Senators also asked him if he agreed with Trump’s statement that he was under a witch hunt — and Wray said he didn’t think the special counsel investigating Trump, former FBI director Robert Mueller, was on a witch hunt.
He was asked what he would do if the president asked him to do something illegal or unethical. Wray said he would try to talk the president out of it, and if it didn’t work, he would resign. He said he knew that it would be a tough job, especially in today’s political climate, but that he was ready for it.
Wray was asked what he thought of Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer — Wray said he didn’t know about the emails. A senator read out the text of the emails and asked if Trump Jr. should have gone to the meeting. Wray said a person should consult with legal advisers first, then added that the FBI would want to know about any kind of threat or attempt by a foregin country to interfere with our elections. Wray agreed that Russia was trying to influence last year’s elections.
The top Democratic Senator, Feinstein (Calif.) said she supports Wray — which means it is likely he will be confirmed to be the next FBI director.
NASA has a spacecraft named Juno that is flying around Jupiter and taking pictures. It recently took pictures of the famous Great Red Spot, which is a huge, powerful storm that is bigger than the size of Earth.
To compare, see this picture of the sizes of Earth and Jupiter. Big difference.
The storm has 400 mph winds and it’s been swirling for at least 187 years and long before that. The Juno spacecraft was 2,200 miles from the top of Jupiter and took those pictures:
Amazing. The storm is still a mystery, scientists don’t know why there’s a storm, how deep it is, and why it is red.
That is all for today. See you tomorrow and stay with the light!