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American women are being screwed by health care

This is one of those moments that make me want to face-palm, or scream as loud as I can in hopes that someone, someone with the ability to actually listen and then act, will hear me.

And then I thank god that I live in Canada. This country may not be perfect — it absolutely has its own set of problems — but at least I don’t have to be scared of going to the doctor.

Thursday, the Republicans passed a health care bill to replace Obamacare. The bill passed by a slight margin, 217-213. This is being hailed as a big success for the Trump government, who was unable to pass the first version of the health care bill. But while the government may be laughing and smiling at their success, a lot of people in the United States are going to get screwed, particularly women.

The full version of the American Health Care Act hasn’t been made public yet, and has not been analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office, so there is no way to know what economic impact

There was also an amendment made by Republican Tom MacArthur of New Jersey that would allow states to opt out of “essential health benefits” in order to opt their own.

Here are some of the items that are considered “pre-existing” conditions and therefore not coverable under the new health care plan: c-sections, sexual assault, mental illness, domestic violence, depression, acne, asthma, irregular menstruation, pregnancy, diabetes, sex reassignment, cancer, and other debilitating diseases.

So, if you are a woman, suffer from any sort of mental illness, or have been diagnosed with a serious disease — the Trump government just said you didn’t matter. They also just said the state could decide that whatever coverage the bill did have, may not actually be what you will be given (for better or for worse).

As a side note, congress and their families are exempt from many of the effects of the bill; although they claim there will be a revision made to correct that and make further changes.

Of course, as very few members of congress are female, this makes perfect sense.

As I don’t know the exact wording of the bill, I can’t say much else about it. But I can say this: I find the inclusion of pregnancy and mental illness as pre-existing conditions ridiculous, and can’t believe that something like menstrual cycles made it into the list. Honestly, it feels like spite — spite for the protests and women’s marches that have plagued the White House during President Donald Trump’s first 100 days.

The bill will now go to the Senate for revision. Who knows how much this bill will change (or if it even will), but for the sake of American women, I hope it does. While Ontario includes abortion pills and free birth control for women under the age of 25, it looks like the United States is going the opposite route.

And it makes me feel ashamed to be part of the same continent.

What do you think of the new health care bill? Let us know in the comments below!

Thanks Trump! You just created a new age of activism.

The election of U.S. President Donald Trump has sparked anger, resentment, and hate — and people aren’t standing for it. In fact, they are doing even more. They are marching.

While 2017 is proving to be even worse than 2016, at least one good thing has sprung from it all. The continuous bigotry fuelled by American politics is bringing about a new age of activism.

As a millennial, I’ve never truly experienced the power of global activism. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve witnessed some powerful demonstrations over the last two decades. There was the Arab Spring, the lesser but effective Maple Spring and, of course, the Occupy movement. But, I’ve never seen so many people, from all walks of life — ethnicities, religious affiliations, and economic statuses — come together to condemn such a wide array of issues on a global scale.

On Feb. 4, over 5,000 people gathered in front of the United States Consulate in Toronto to protest the American immigration ban and Islamophobia. At the same time, thousands of people got together across Canada and overseas, all marching and chanting in unison: “No Muslim ban on stolen land.”

 

There were families with their children, students and seniors standing hand in hand, sharing samosas and taking photos of each other’s carefully crafted signs. When organizers asked the crowd to part so that the Muslim participants could be closer to the stage for a prayer, everyone did it. People smiled and opened their arms, leading their allies and fellow Canadians (or Canadian hopefuls) to the front, remaining silent while they prayed for those fallen in the Quebec mosque shootings a few weeks ago.

Above everything else, people were polite, inclusive, and tolerant — but also strong, powerful, and loud. It was truly something to witness.

Photo by Katherine DeClerq
Photo by Katherine DeClerq

In January, more than 60,000 people marched in Toronto  — along with millions in the United States and throughout Europe — for women’s rights and to protest the inauguration of Trump, a man who has repeatedly used sexist remarks in speeches and disregarded the rights of women on the political stage. The march may have been the biggest demonstration in U.S. history.

I know what you are thinking. These are people who are just marching because “it’s cool”, right? They won’t actually work to enact change.

Photo courtesy of Madeleine Laforest

But this new age of activism is not limited to marching. Within hours of an executive order signed by President Trump, there are over a dozen Facebook events created for smaller, more pointed demonstrations indicating their displeasure over his political actions. American citizens are calling their representatives at every level of government, telling them what they think of the cabinet confirmations or a political document that was released. When the telephone voice mailboxes are full, people start using the fax machines to reach their political offices. A few people even tried to send their representatives pizzas with notes attached to them.

For example, so many people called their Senators regarding the confirmation of Betsy DeVos, the candidate for Secretary of Education, that she almost wasn’t confirmed. Two Republications changed their votes and the Vice President had to be the tiebreaker, a first in American history.

People are fired up. Normal citizens who never would have considered becoming politically active are making signs and marching to Capitol Hill. They are listening and they are informed. For the first time in my lifetime, people actually care. And not just specific groups of people — all people.

The west has forgotten the true meaning and functionality of democracy. Politicians are supposed to fight for their constituents, not for their own self-interest. If their constituents say they want them to vote against their party, technically, they should do it. That is how representative democracy works. A politician must represent the views of their constituents.

This concept has been lost, fuelled by the complacency and ignorance of a population willing to let other people run their country. But, with the rise of this new age of activism, that can change.

The Republicans (under the leadership of Trump) are forcing citizens to reconsider their own beliefs and be more aware of what they want of their country. Without meaning too, they are inspiring real democracy, a system in which the people decide what they want their politicians to do.

All I can say is this: stay strong my fellow democratic participants! Change will not happen over night. It will be a long process, and it will take a lot of screaming, chanting, marching, and phone calls to make our politicians remember that we, the people they serve, have a voice too.

But trust me, the end game will be worth it.

Why the term “fake news” is so dangerous

What is “fake news”? That’s a question a lot of people are asking these days. It’s also a question a certain President-Elect SHOULD be asking before he takes office; although, I’m sure he won’t.

As a journalist, this phrase makes me cringe. News, by its very definition, cannot be considered “fake”. It can be sensationalist, maybe sometimes biased, but not fake. “Fake News”, therefore, isn’t news at all. It’s just garbage on the Internet or the tabloids that way too many people are gullible enough to think is true.

The Internet is big. Anyone can create a free website and start to write, upload photos, and create video. They can even make their site look like that of a news organization. It’s not that difficult. This fact is an amazing thing, but it does create a few problems. Who do you trust? What information is real and what is, as we call it now, “fake news.”

This is where journalists and news organizations come in.

It is their job (and mine) to sift through all of the false claims, tall tales, and outlandish stories that exist on the Internet. A journalist will confirm facts with numerous, legitimate and reliable sources. Their work is then edited by a number of people, including fact-checkers. If, in some cases, those sources and fact-checkers are not available, a news organization may use the word “unverified” or “alleged” until such time where the facts can be confirmed. This ensures transparency. This does NOT mean the information is falsified by the media with a nefarious purpose.

Cue President-Elect, Donald Trump.

At a press conference on Jan 11, Trump refused to answer a question by CNN veteran reporter Jim Acosta.  This happened after CNN reported that intelligence officials briefed Trump on an unverified dossier alleging Russian officials had compromising information about Trump.

“Your organization is terrible,” he yelled when Acosta tried to ask him a question. “You are fake news.”

And that was it. The term was redefined.

Since then, Trump has used the term “fake news” to describe every story he’s had an issue with. Most recently, on Jan. 18, he tweeted a news story from NBC.

 

Essentially, the term “fake news,” once used to describe a false story on the Internet that suddenly started trending to the point of believability, is now used to label a media organization is wrong and untrustworthy.

What Trump hopes to do is perpetuate this myth that the media is out to get everyone — that they would do anything or say anything for a headline and a few clicks. This is outrageously insulting, not to mention a dangerous sentiment for the future President of the United States to make. The job of the media is to keep people of authority accountable; to inform the public about what is happening in the world; and to shed light on important issues that require attention.

Just because you don’t agree with a story, or you don’t like what it says, doesn’t make a story, or a news organization, “fake.” It also doesn’t mean it’s wrong — unless you can show the data and prove it.

To throw this phrase around haphazardly, without forethought or understanding, creates real problems for the media and destroys its essential purpose.  I’m guessing this is exactly what Trump wants — but the public should be wary.

It’s good to be critical. It’s smart to question whether something described as fact is, in actuality, true. However, it’s just as important to question the way politicians attack the press and the real message they are trying to send stop from spreading. The President-Elect’s use and abuse of “fake news” is another of his bullying tactic to deflect and suppress non-Trump generated news. The public should not allow this abuse to continue.

Freedom of the press is an essential part of a democracy. As Barack Obama, soon to be former President of the United States, said to the media in his last press conference Wednesday, “You’re not supposed to be sycophants, you’re supposed to be skeptics. You’re supposed to ask me tough questions.”

“Democracy doesn’t work if we don’t have a well-informed citizenry, and you are the conduit through which they receive the information about what’s taking place in the halls of power. So America needs you and our democracy needs you.”

The use of the term “fake news” to delegitimize the media is an affront to that very concept — and it’s up to every single citizen of North America to ensure politicians don’t take advantage of this term for their own gain.

What do you define as “fake news”? Let us know in the comments below.

Fear and hatred elected President Donald Trump

“This loss hurts, but please, never stop believing that fighting for what’s right is worth it. It is worth it,” Hillary Clinton said during her concession speech on Nov. 9. “And to all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable, powerful, and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams.”

The United States has a new President — and that President is Donald Trump.

I’m numb. I’m not even sure I’ve completely processed this information. As editor of Women’s Post, I was watching the election results come in Tuesday night with the expectation that I would be writing a piece the following day about the first female President of the United States. Staff created some templates with details of Hillary Clinton’s life, focusing on her expertise and capability for the office. There were photos, graphs, and lots of feminist quotes to throw in. It would have been easy to put together a great profile for our readers.

Instead, I’m writing a piece about how a racist, misogynist man who thinks sexual harassment is locker talk, who was endorsed by the KKK, and who believes that all immigrants are thieves and rapists, became President of the United States.

Let’s tackle the first aspect of this question: how? How on earth did this happen?!

Obviously, there were a lot of factors. Voters were upset with how their political system worked and wanted change. There was a predominant disgust of “the elite”, an undefined group that tends to include politicians that can’t relate with the majority of the American people. When voters get frustrated with their politicians, it makes it hard for them to vote for the status quo. It also didn’t help that the FBI interfered with the election by releasing unfounded information that brought Clinton’s emails back to the surface at a critical point in the campaign.

But above all else, I think the underlying reason why Trump won is hate. Hate of “the other” and fear of “non-American values”. Throughout this campaign, Trump has capitalized on the fear and intolerance of the American people. Hate of immigrants, hate of women, hate of African Americans, hate of the LGBTQ community, and hate of the media. Hate for “the other” — people who are not like you. Hate of uncertainty.

This fact makes me sad. As a Canadian, I was raised with an understanding of tolerance and acceptance, that people, no matter their race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, should be treated equally. I was taught that respect and kindness was the ultimate value. Sure, I know Canada isn’t perfect. This country has it’s own problems with racism and misogyny, but it’s nothing compared to what I witnessed during the US presidential campaign.

The Trump rallies incited violence, talks of waterboarding and torture for enemies, and general sexual harassment. Protesters were attacked for simply holding up signs that said they were anti-Trump. People of various ethnicities were dragged out of conference rooms. Is this what Americans should expect from their new president?

Trump won the election with 279 electoral votes compared to Clinton’s 218 (as of 11 a.m. on Wednesday). It was a close race, much tighter than anyone expected, with large swing states flip-flopping between the two candidates until about 3 a.m. What does this mean? A lot more people in the United States let fear dictate their decision, fear of unemployment, fear of immigrants, and fear of the unknown. Instead of voting for someone inspirational, capable, and strong enough to incite real change, they voted for the person who made them scared of the future. This person told them they should be afraid, that the political system was rigged and corrupt, and said he was the only person that could protect them from these evils. And people believed him.

The sad reality is that this is democracy. I can’t say I’m angry or disappointed with the American people because it is their right to vote for the person they want to be President. I can, however, say that I’m disheartened by how much hate and fear Americans seem to have in their hearts. I’m saddened the American people felt like Donald Trump was the only solution.

In this particular case, hate and fear won the day — and now the world will have to deal with it.

Are you fearful of a Trump presidency? You should be.

Note: offensive language to follow.

I can’t wait for the American elections to be over, but at the same time, I fear it. I fear the very real possibility that Republican candidate Donald Trump could be the next President of the United States.

The man is a racist, a bigot, a misogynist, and just plain stupid. He has no real policy other than “kill ISIS” and can’t frame a sentence with any sort of grammatical structure.

Despite his lack of policy, ideas, or genuine political experience, what really bothers me is his attitude. He doesn’t give a shit about the job of president. He just wants the power that comes with it (and probably the money).

Trump’s actions speak louder than the words he constantly spits out in front of the camera. “No one respects women more than I do,” he says into the microphone just days after a video was released showing him saying he likes to kiss women without their permission and “grab (women) by the pussy.” He retorted in a non-apology by saying this was “locker room talk.”

This, my fellow readers, is the definition of rape culture: thinking it’s okay to talk about violence against women (which by the way inspires real violence against women) and then not acknowledging anything is wrong.

But, Donald Trump doesn’t care about rape culture; just like he doesn’t care about women, immigrants, the poor, and, well, anyone who isn’t white and wealthy. It’s obvious to anyone with a heart beat that all he wants is the position — so that he can prosecute who ever he wants and do whatever he wants. For a man who is probably on the verge of bankruptcy, despite the $14 million loan his father gave him, the office of the presidency is a jackpot; it’s nothing more than a chair and a paycheque.

Sadly, here’s the rub: it doesn’t matter what the media says or how ridiculous an answer Trump gives people during the public debates. It doesn’t matter that Hillary Clinton is much more qualified and has to demonstrate these qualifications with Trump looming over her in an intimidating manner. The people who support Trump will vote for him no matter what, and that is where my fear comes from.

The way he talks makes people afraid of the world, and therefore people are willing to throw away common sense for someone who says they will protect them from those evils. These evils could be immigrants, terrorists, and yes, even women.

If Trump is elected President come Nov. 8 (Not the 28th as he has claimed), the United States will de-evolve — it will no longer be known as a country with freedoms for everyone. It will no longer be a country others respect. In fact, it will be a country everyone (even Canada) fears.

 

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What did you think of Sunday night’s debate? Let us know in the comments below!

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What did you think of the first presidential debate?

I usually don’t pay attention to American politics — at least not to this extent. But, against my better judgement, I was compelled to watch Monday night’s debate. I thought, if anything, it would be an entertaining evening. Boy, was I wrong.

It was not funny. In fact, it was brutal. Republican candidate Donald Trump proved he’s clueless on policy, lacks self control, and has no real ideas besides keeping jobs in America and kicking out immigrants. He told the moderator that the Stop-And-Frisk program was needed to lower crime in big cities like New York, even though a judge ruled it unconstitutional and racist.

At one point, he even admitted to not paying his income tax, saying “that makes me smart” when Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton brought it up.

The icing on the cake was when he said Clinton didn’t have the “look” or “stamina” for the job, an obvious reference to her being a woman in Washington.  Throughout this whole circus of a debate, all Clinton could do was smile, probably to keep herself from shouting or laughing uncontrollably at Trump’s ignorance.

Clinton, on the other hand, sounded extremely presidential. She had an economic plan, spoke with authority about international trade, and didn’t jump to conclusions based on unfounded fact. She was able to calmly deliver a few great one-liners too.

While she did sound a bit rehearsed, that’s not a bad thing. As she said in the debates: “I think Donald just criticized me for preparing for this debate. And, yes, I did. You know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president. And I think that’s a good thing.”

I agree Hillary. I agree.

The American presidential election has turned into an insane race anchored in sexism a la Trump. The whole debate was like an abusive relationship — woman says something reasonable, man screams at her and calls her an idiot. This man says that everything is her fault. This man interrupts her and talks down to her. This man says he has a great temperament because he was going to say something insulting about her family, but didn’t. After the debate, this same man blames his poor performance on his willingness to hold back so he doesn’t embarrass the poor, weak, woman.

This is the man America may elect to be president. Dear God.

trump

A leader is supposed to inspire and make you feel safe. All Trump made me feel was sick to my stomach.

All of this is to say, vote. Please. Please. PLEASE! If you are an intelligent human being, do your research. Don’t ever trust a politician blindly. Look at their policies. Think about who you want to run your country. Think about what could happen if the wrong person is elected into office.

Usually, I refrain from offering editorial endorsements. I don’t like telling readers who they should, or shouldn’t, vote for. But, in this case, there is too much riding on it.  It’s not just America’s fate being decided on Nov. 8. It’s that of the world.

Saying that, please, for the love of everything you hold dear: vote for Hillary Clinton.

What did you think of the presidential debate? Let us know in the comments below and subscribe to our weekly newsletter!