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Turkish activists decry attack on press freedom as journalists stand trial

Charges include claims that Cumhuriyet journalists helped the separatist Kurdistan Workers party and Glen movement

The trial of 17 reporters and executives from Cumhuriyet, one of Turkeys last standing opposition newspapers, is set to begin on Monday with rights activists decrying the continuing muzzling of free speech in one of the worlds largest jailers of journalists.

The charges include accusations that the newspapers journalists aided the separatist Kurdistan Workers party (PKK) and the Fethullah Glen movement, which is widely believed in Turkey to have orchestrated last years coup attempt, and complaints of irregularities in the elections of the organisations board of executives.

Rights activists say the trial is an assault on freedom of expression and the accusations are absurd, because Cumhuriyet, the countrys newspaper of record that is committed to secularism, has long warned of the dangers of the Glen movement, which itself has long been at odds with the PKK.

They argue that the other charges are an attempt at replacing the newspapers board of directors with government appointees more pliable to the ruling partys influence.

I have been a journalist for a long time and have dealt with this for a long time, said Aydn Engin, a veteran journalist with Cumhuriyet who is also standing trial on Monday, but had been released for health reasons. I will say that I am ashamed and in agony for my country because of these irrational accusations, he said.

President Recep Tayyip Erdoan and his ruling Justice and Development (AK) party have, for years worked to dismantle or co-opt Turkeys free press. That crackdown has accelerated in the year since last Julys coup, with more than 150 journalists believed to be behind bars in Turkey, the highest in the world ahead of China and Egypt.

As of March this year, 173 media outlets had been shut down, including newspapers, magazines, radio stations, websites and news agencies. More than 2,500 journalists have been laid off as part of the closures and 800 have had their press cards revoked, according to the Republican Peoples party (CHP), the main opposition bloc.

The government has also exerted pressure on media outlets that do not toe the official line by pressuring advertisers not to do business with them and pursuing cases of defamation, or by slapping them with large, unpayable fines. After media outlets that once belonged to the Glen movement were seized, the government-appointed trustee boards that have transformed those newspapers and TV stations into a loyalist press.

These loyalist media outlets are often referred to as penguin media because a TV station that was fearful of antagonising the government during the Gezi protests of 2013 aired a documentary about penguins instead of broadcasting the protests.

That threat of a trustee board hangs over Cumhuriyet, a newspaper that was founded in 1924 and is the only serious newspaper in circulation that is vehemently opposed to government policies. It has described the crackdown after the coup in which the government dismissed or detained tens of thousands of civil servants, police and military officers, academics, judges and journalists as a witch-hunt, and has repeatedly criticised Erdoan as an authoritarian attempting to destroy democracy.

Erdoan has described democracy as a train before, said Engin, referring to a quote by the president that described democracy as a train that one can get off from once you reach you destination. Its going to be worse for Cumhuriyet. Maybe it will be a shut down, a quick and painless death, or we will suffocate slowly.

The newspaper has also joined calls for a ceasefire and peaceful resolution to the conflict with the PKK at a time when the government had opted for a security-focused response amid heightened tensions. The former editor-in-chief, Can Dundar, is in exile after being prosecuted for a 2014 article that revealed the National Intelligence Organisation (MIT) was sending weapons across the border into Syria under the guise of humanitarian aid, a story that the authorities say was leaked by Glenist conspirators.

On Monday, a week of hearings is expected to begin in the Cumhuriyet case against 17 of the newspapers journalists and executives. The case will commence with a reading out of the indictment and opening defense statements, and they expect for the presiding judge to decide whether to release the defendants on bail by Friday.

This trial offers the government another opportunity to change course in its campaign against Turkeys independent media, said Tobias Garnett, a human rights lawyer with P24, an organisation that advocates for press freedom and supports Turkish journalists on trial. Journalism is not a crime. Prosecutors should stop dressing up legitimate criticism as terrorism and harassing journalists through the courts.

Blent zdoan, the managing editor of Cumhuriyet, said in an interview with the Guardian that the trial was not just about press freedom, but about the governments campaign in the aftermath of the coup more broadly.

Its not just a struggle for free press, he said. Our arrested colleagues are people of a high moral and intellectual calibre. Its for everyone who lost their jobs, those who have been on hunger strike. Theyre struggling for both of us. Thats why I believe its a new start.

The arrest of journalists has earned Ankara criticism from abroad. Late last month, the UN human rights councils working group on arbitrary detentions issued a legal opinion arguing that the arrest of the Cumhuriyet staff contravened the universal declaration of human rights and was arbitrary. The panel of experts called on the Turkish government to release the journalists.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/24/turkish-activists-decry-attack-press-freedom-journalists-stand-trial

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Where the elderly take care of each other — because no one else will

Tokyo, Japan (CNN)In a elementary school turned nursing home, Tasaka Keichi jokes with a group of cheerful old women.

At 70, he could be mistakenfor a resident, but Tasaka isn’t thinking of retiring anytime soon. Instead, the former tofu-maker is forging a second career as a caregiver to the elderly in Tokyo’s Cross Hearts nursing home.
“I always had an interest in care-giving and pensioners don’t receive much in Japan so I’m really thankful that this opportunity existed here for me,” Tasaka told CNN.
    “I’m old too so I can understand what these seniors are going through. I actually feel like I’m hanging out with the residents here as opposed to caring for them”

    Catering to a ‘super-aged’ nation

    With its fast-declining birthrate and growing cohort of old people, Japan is considered a “super-aged” nation, where more than 20% of the population is over 65. By 2020, there will be 13 such countries in the world.

    To cope with a growing labor shortage that’s set to hit the care-giving and industrial sectors the hardest, and in the hopes of reinvigorating a stalling economy, the Japanese government has encouraged more seniors and stay-at-home mothers to re-enter the workforce.
    In many ways, Tasaka is a trailblazer for this incentive. For the past five years, he’s ferried daycare residents to and from their homes, and helped feed and provided companionship to others.
    He lives in one of the facility’s neighboring apartment complexes and is just one of a couple of dozen employees over 65, who work alongside both younger Japanese and foreign staff. In many countries, these jobs would be filled by foreign workers but Japan lacks a concrete immigration policy has resulted in older citizens staying in employment for longer.
    The facility — which has a waiting list of several hundred — sets their official retirement age at 70, but lets people who want to work do so until 80. The common retirement age in Japan is between 60 and 65, but doctors recently proposed raisingitto 75.
    Despite efforts to encourage more senior citizens to work for longer, 80.5% of companies in Japan still set their official retirement age at 60, according to a 2015 survey conducted by the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
    In 2013, the government passed a law requiring companies to raise the mandatory retirement age to 65. But full compliance isn’t required until 2025.

    This has created a situation where many companies rehire senior workers at lower salaries once they pass retirement age, according to Atsushi Seike, an economist at Keio University in Japan.
    “There should be more pressure on companies to extend mandatory retirement to 65 as a decline in wages really discourages older workers to continue working,” he said.

    Developing second careers

    Cross Hearts executive director Seiko Adachi told CNN that many of her more senior charges are motivated through their interaction with younger workers and older residents.
    “Growing old is the first step in losing something, whether that be your sibling, your parent, or your role in society … the good thing about elderly carers, is that they really understand how our elderly residents are feeling,” she said.
    “It’s also good preventative care for them as if they feel like they have a place to go, that will keep them going.”
    According to Adachi, the key to engaging more senior employees is by helping them focus on their care-giving job, not as a part-time wage-filler, but as a second career that they can really develop.
    For some, the possibilities appear endless.
    “I want to study for another care-giving license and take on a managerial role later on,” Tasaka said with a grin. “I don’t feel limited by my age.”

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/22/asia/japan-nursing-home-old-workers/index.html

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    The week in patriarchy: Trump clearly doesn’t understand health insurance

    If you dont realize by now that a total clown is in charge, nothing is going to change that. At least its Friday

    If you want to be able to sleep this weekend, do yourself a favor and dont read the New York Times expansive interview with Donald Trump. The president makes little sense as he answers questions about everything from Russia to Jeff Sessions and healthcare and if you were already worried about whose hands the country is in, this piece will not put your mind at ease. For example, it seems pretty evident that the president of the United States has no idea how health insurance works.

    I used to see interviews like this and be a bit pleased because the more coverage of Trumps stupidity the better. But if you dont realize by now that a total clown is in charge, theres no interview or expose thats going to change that. So join me this week in a good old fashion wallow: things are bad, the president is bad. At least its Friday.

    Glass half full

    Scotland just became the first nation to offer free sanitary products to low-income women. Access to tampons and pads arent just a hygiene issue but a health and rights issue. At least one country is getting it right.

    What Im RTing

    Amir Talai (@AmirTalai)

    I read this brilliance on race and couldnt help thinking the world could really use Fran Lebowitz blogging or tweeting or something. pic.twitter.com/KLTHaZa6op

    July 18, 2017

    Laurie Penny (@PennyRed)

    Most of the interesting women you know are far, far angrier than you’d imagine.

    July 18, 2017

    Renee Bracey Sherman (@RBraceySherman)

    Home care workers care for families, and sometimes deal with abuse, sexual assault, and only get paid $10 an hour. https://t.co/P6oream4xT pic.twitter.com/TNzJJn1HwK

    July 20, 2017

    Planned Parenthood (@PPact)

    .@ppfa & @ReproRights are suing Texas over its latest abortion ban. Politicians make bad doctorshttps://t.co/zRfjG51i5t #WeWontGoBack pic.twitter.com/wmksAUMYmm

    July 20, 2017

    Who Im reading

    Soraya Nadia Mcdonald on R Kelly and the truth behind why he hasnt been held accountable for his abuse we just dont care about black women; Daniel Kibblesmith with a humourous but way too real take on the expectation that Hillary Clinton disappear from public life; and ProPublicas incredible investigation into maternal deaths in the United States.

    What Im watching

    How Fox News is trying to normalize collusion. Oh good.

    How outraged I am

    I was already at a ni ne out of 10 over Betsy Devos listening to anti-women rape deniers, and this first person account at Vox from a sexual assault survivor put me at a full 10.

    How Im making it through this week

    A golden retriever in Long Island rescued a baby deer from drowning and Ive watched it at least 15 times.

    Sign up for Jessica Valentis weekly newsletter on feminism and sexism

    Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/21/the-week-in-patriarchy-trump-clearly-doesnt-understand-health-insurance

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    Trump’s blast of Sessions has ‘chilling’ effect inside West Wing

    Washington (CNN)For President Donald Trump, loyalty in Washington is a one-way street.

    Trump’s trashing of several of his administration’s top justice officials in an interview with The New York Times on Wednesday, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is causing deep alarm inside the West Wing, leading some to worry that their loyalty to Trump might not be reciprocated from the man in the Oval Office.
    There’s also a general sense of bewilderment as to why Trump gave the interview. Health care was the focus of the day. He actually got engaged — but then this.
      “It’s chilling,” one White House official said.
      Conversations with the official and one top Republican in frequent contact with the West Wing show a president who has long been angry with Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from the Russia probe, but rather than subsiding and moving on as Trump sometimes does, the anger has grown into a passionate rage.
      “No one was more loyal than Sessions. No one,” a White House official said, speaking confidentially to avoid drawing the President’s ire.
      The thinking goes: If this could happen to Sessions, it could happen to anyone. One official described the President’s blasting of Sessions as only intensifying the already low morale inside the West Wing.
      Trump faulted Sessions for accepting his offer to be attorney general and then recusing himself shortly thereafter due to undisclosed contacts he had with Russian officials during the campaign. The President said those actions were “very unfair” to him.
      “Sessions,” Trump told The New York Times, “should have never recused himself and if he was going to recuse himself he should have told me before he took the job and I would have picked somebody else.”
      He added: “How do you take a job and then recuse yourself? If he would have recused himself before the job, I would have said, ‘Thanks, Jeff, but I’m not going to take you.’ It’s extremely unfair — and that’s a mild word — to the President.”

      Loyalty

      The comments are a stunning rebuke from a president who craves loyalty, demanding it from those who work for him. Trump has written extensively about the trait in his books, as well, touting it as the most critical quality as person can have.
      But as Trump has eased into life in the White House, his demands for loyalty have proven to be unrequited, most recently shown by how he lashed out at Sessions, one of his earliest and most dedicated supporters.
      Sessions declined to hit back at Trump during a press briefing Thursday, telling reporters that he “plan(s) to continue to do so as long as that is appropriate.”
      Sessions loyalty to Trump has been unflinching for years. The conservative senator was his first Senate endorsement, long before any other Republican heavyweights were on board. The senator also stood by Trump after the Access Hollywood tape controversy, where Trump was heard making lewd comments about sexually assaulting women. And Sessions even helped fill Trump’s inner circle with confidants of his own, including Stephen Miller, Trump’s top policy aide, and Rick Dearborn, a top White House legislative aide.
      The acrimony between Trump and Sessions has long been simmering — Sessions tendered his resignation earlier this year but Trump declined to accept it — but Wednesday’s comments signal a shift in Trump’s leadership style, one that former employers used to say rested on unflinching loyalty to the company and, more importantly, the boss.
      Earlier in his career, during a question-and-answer session from The Learning Annex Wealth Expo, Trump was asked for the “key things” a boss should look for when hiring someone and building a team.
      “The thing that’s most important to me is loyalty,” Trump said. “You can’t hire loyalty. I’ve had people over the years who I swore were loyal to me, and it turned out that they weren’t. Then I’ve had people that I didn’t have the same confidence in and turned out to be extremely loyal. So you never really know.”

      One-way street

        Comey: Trump asked to lift ‘cloud’ of probe

      He brought those beliefs to Washington by bringing many of his own employees with him, but his credo now appears to be Trump asking for loyalty, not giving it back.
      Trump asked fired FBI Director James Comey for his loyalty during a January 27 dinner at the White House, Comey said in written testimony to the Senate earlier this year.
      “I need loyalty, I expect loyalty,” Comey recalled Trump saying, adding later that the soon-to-be fired FBI director offered him “honest loyalty.”
      Trump later fired Comey in May, citing his disloyalty as one of the reasons in later interviews.
      The President also asked Republicans in the House to stick with him on health care reform, touting the bill as “incredibly well crafted” during a Rose Garden ceremony after narrowly it passed the House. Weeks later, Trump went back on those comments and called the House health care bill “mean” in a meeting with senators.
      The remark shocked some lawmakers who stuck with Trump on health care, despite the political perils.
      Rep. Louie Gohmert, a Texas Republican and member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, was flummoxed when CNN asked him what he thought of the President calling the bill “mean.”
      “The one,” he asked, “that he had us come over and celebrate?”

      Long-held belief

      Those close to Trump have long said loyalty is critical to him.
      Bill Zanker, the president and founder of The Learning Annex who wrote “Think Big: Make It Happen in Business and Life” with Trump in 2009, put it bluntly in his intro to the self-help book: “Loyalty is important to Trump and is a wonderful trait to have in business.”
      “I try to hire people who are honest and loyal. I value loyalty very much,” they wrote. “I put the people who are loyal to me on a high pedestal and take care of them very well … I go out of my way for the people who were loyal to me in bad times.”
      And former employees, who requested anonymity to speak bluntly, said Trump’s desire for loyalty is the reason why he brought someone like Keith Schiller, his longtime bodyguard and adviser, into the White House. Schiller is an asset to the White House, many who know him say, but his steadfast loyalty is his biggest asset to Trump.
      Trump’s love of loyalty stems, according to those close to him, to his mentor Roy Cohn, who stood by Trump and his family in the face of housing discrimination and grew into his guide through the rough New York real estate industry.
      “Sometimes I think that next to loyalty, toughness was the most important thing in the world to him,” Trump wrote of Cohn in his 1997 urtext “The Art of the Deal.”
      “He was a truly loyal guy — it was a matter of honor with him,” Trump wrote. “And because he was also very smart, he was a great guy to have on your side.”

      Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/20/politics/trump-loyalty-sessions-white-house/index.html

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      To fix health care, look to state governors

      (CNN)The recent collapse of Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare can be blamed on disagreements about policy more than anything else.

      For seven years, Republicans at all levels of government were able to articulate the simple message that President Barack Obama’s signature health care law had to go, and a set of better, market-based policies needed to replace it.
      But once the GOP captured control of the White House and both houses of Congress, it became clear that the devil really was in the details. Within their own ranks, Republicans remain divided on fundamental questions of policy — whether to change how Medicaid is financed, whether there should to be tax credits to help low-income Americans afford private insurance, and how far to go in deregulating the marketplace.
        So, what’s next? Republicans may soon vote on a bill that will mirror the 2015 legislation they passed (and Obama vetoed) repealing large parts of Obamacare, without an accompanying package of replacement reforms. This approach, dubbed “repeal and delay” because it offsets the repeal of Obamacare by two years, raises significant concerns. It would introduce dramatic uncertainty into the health care system, place the most vulnerable among us at risk of losing the coverage they need, and punt on the important work of replacing Obamacare with reforms that could actually lower costs and expand choices for consumers.
        The Congressional Budget Office recently estimated the impact of “repeal-and-delay” and found that, while it would decrease budget deficits significantly, it would also leave 32 million more Americans uninsured in 10 years, as compared to Obamacare. Moreover, a recent survey from the Associated Press and the University of Chicago showed that, by a 2-to-1 margin, those polled believed that Obamacare should not be repealed until a replacement was available.
        This suggests that Republicans would be the ones who would “own” the political consequences for rising premiums, diminishing choices, and lost coverage during the two years before Obamacare is actually repealed — a period of time that includes a crucial midterm election.
        Plus, the notion that a two-year delay would be an action-forcing mechanism is sheer folly. It is an approach that has never been particularly effective at encouraging policymaking amongst members of Congress on even the most urgent of priorities (see the much-maligned budget sequester for evidence of this).
        But there is another route.
        Despite the many policy differences between Republicans that torpedoed the recent repeal-and-replace effort, there was common ground between Senators (and many governors, as well as members of the House) on the value of federalism and state-led reforms in our health care system. This concord should form the basis of any future GOP discussions about the fate of Obamacare, or what should go in its place. It might even jumpstart bipartisan discussions about the future of health reform, as some Democrats have suggested that state-focused solutions are a reasonable step forward.
        A number of existing legislative proposals speak to this emerging consensus.
        The stalled GOP Senate bill included a notable provision that dramatically expanded upon a state innovation provision contained in Section 1332 of Obamacare. This section of current law allows states to waive many of the law’s mandates and requirements so long as they establish health solutions that don’t increase the federal deficit, and furnish coverage that is at least as affordable, comprehensive and widespread as that provided for by Obamacare.
        The Senate bill basically eliminated these guardrails and deemed state reform plans presumptively valid, so long as they did not increase the federal deficit. Many conservatives cheered this change and believed it would create an “escape hatch” from Obamacare for many states, particularly those governed by conservative leaders.
        Earlier this year, Senators Bill Cassidy of Louisiana and Susan Collins of Maine — two skeptics of the Senate Republican legislation — introduced their own bill that, at core, would allow states the option of implementing Obamacare (with its mandates and requirements) or designing their own health systems, with some or none of Obamacare’s regulatory structure.
        Their legislation would keep many of Obamacare’s tax hikes in place, but send this money to states that, at a minimum, elected to maintain protections for those with preexisting health conditions. While most conservatives balked at the notion of retaining so many of Obamacare’s tax increases, the federalist core of the Cassidy-Collins proposal should be appealing to Republicans looking for a way forward.
        Finally, Senator Lindsey Graham has a proposal that mirrors many elements of the Cassidy-Collins proposal (in fact, media reports indicate that he worked with Cassidy on his plan) that would retain almost all of Obamacare’s tax hikes, as well as its protections for patients with preexisting conditions, in return for block grants to states. These grants would give states significant flexibility in each pursuing the solutions that suit their citizens best.
        Republicans have long advocated for solutions that empower governors and state elected officials to address major public policy challenges. Reforms such as the landmark 1996 welfare reform legislation, which granted states significant latitude to design safety net programs that suited their populations best, illustrate the value that such an approach can have.

        Join us on Twitter and Facebook

        Health care is an area where federalism not only has the potential to lead to more innovative solutions, but to forge consensus between conservatives — and maybe even across the partisan divide.

        Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/19/opinions/health-care-federalism-opinion-chen/index.html

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        Mitch McConnell ‘master tactician’ label damaged after Senate health care fight

        (CNN)The looming defeat of the Senate health care bill marks a dramatic low point in the otherwise lofty political career of Mitch McConnell, the chamber’s majority leader who is often described as a disciplined “master tactician” of the Senate accustomed to methodically building legislative victories for Republicans.

        But repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act — the hot button and emotionally-charged issue that sharply split his party — proved to be too difficult a task for now, something McConnell acknowledged at a crowded Capitol news conference where he was asked bluntly if his “leadership” had been “damaged” by the process.
        “This has been a very, very challenging experience for all of us,” McConnell replied. “A lot of people have been involved in the discussion and very passionate discussions. But everybody’s given it their best shot. And as of today, we just simply do not have 50 senators who can agree on what ought to replace the existing law.”
          It was a stunning admission for the GOP leader who made getting rid of Obamacare a mission since it was enacted seven years ago, and his top legislative priority for the past six months as Republicans controlled the White House and both chambers of Congress.
          Few people in Washington bet against McConnell, who successfully negotiated highly complex deals in the past like the 2011 fiscal cliff agreement during the administration of President Barack Obama. The 75-year-old, soft-spoken Kentuckian, who has led Republicans for the last 10 years, also had the political fortitude to block Obama when he tried to fill a Supreme Court vacancy and successfully kept it open for a year until it was filled by President Donald Trump.
          “Mitch McConnell knows how to do things, and I think we’re going to have some really great health care for a long time,” Trump said at a Rose Garden celebration after the House passed its version of the Obamacare repeal and sent it to the Senate.
          But McConnell drew immediate fire from some members of his Republican conference for his decision to bypass the “regular order” for health care, a process he so often advocates. Through that approach, committees of jurisdiction would hold public hearings and draft compromise legislation that could then move to the floor with significant support and momentum.
          “The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation’s governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care,” said Sen. John McCain in a statement Tuesday from Arizona, where he is recovering from surgery.
          Instead, McConnell created a small “working group” of about a dozen members, who happened to all be men, and huddled with leadership aides behind closed doors in his suite to try to cut a deal. Some Republicans were angered at being excluded and for the secrecy of the group.

            McConnell: We can’t agree on replacement

          The group invited in other members — like the handful of moderate Republicans from swing states concerned about potential cuts to Medicaid — but somehow the force of those wary moderates’ convictions didn’t resonate fully with McConnell who thought that in the end, their espoused disdain of Obamacare would secure their votes no matter what.
          In the end, it was that group of moderates that formed the bulwark against the bill, forcing McConnell to pull it from consideration before the July 4 recess and now to consider putting a revised bill on the floor where it appears destined for defeat.
          “I did not come to Washington to hurt people,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a West Virginia Republican, in a remarkable statement announcing her opposition to McConnell’s latest proposal. “My position on this issue is driven by its impact on West Virginians. With that in mind, I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians.”
          Conservatives also chaffed at the deal. Sen. Rand Paul, the other Republican senator from Kentucky, never got on board, claiming McConnell’s approach never fully undid Obamacare.
          McConnell also suffered by not having a consistent partner in Trump. The President never fully engaged in the negotiations nor in selling the deal. He didn’t barnstorm the country selling the deal or hold many White House meetings to press wavering senators to get on board. Trump has invited all 52 GOP senators to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue for lunch on Wednesday, a White Official told CNN.
          Senate Republicans also did little to promote their efforts. They organized few of the typical press events on the Hill where advocates talk about the need for reform and McConnell rarely did TV interviews and other events to promote the bill. A CNN whip list of GOP senators show 41 of 52 not publicly supporting the bill.
          Senate Republicans held a spirited closed-door caucus meeting in the Capitol at lunchtime. It was evident that senators were “upset,” according to one GOP source briefed on the meeting. But the anger “was not all directed at” McConnell for his handling of the bill in part because “there are so many different factions” in the conference on the healthcare issue, the source said.
          However, one conservative, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, was furious with McConnell over reports the leader had said privately the long-term Medicaid reforms in the revised bill would never come to fruition, something McConnell denied.
          Johnson was asked by CNN Tuesday if he still had faith in McConnell as GOP leader and he would not answer yes.
          “I found those comments very troubling,” was all Johnson would say.
          Johnson appeared to be the only GOP senator so vocally upset with McConnell for his mishandling of the health care bill.
          As McConnell moves now to have final votes on the bill sometime early next week, he must decide whether to return to “regular order” and try again to build support to reverse Obamacare or let the issue go for now and turn to other pressing business, like tax reform, government spending, an increase in the debt ceiling and other legislation.
          Asked how he will explain to voters the defeat of health care after such a long commitment to passing it, McConnell was hopeful.
          “Well, we have a new Supreme Court justice,” he said. “We have 14 repeals of regulations. And we’re only six months into it. Last time I looked, Congress goes on for two years.”

          Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/18/politics/mitch-mcconnell-health-care-fight/index.html

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          Journalist under fire for calling it ‘crazy’ not to be disgusted by homeless people

          Prominent Mother Jones writer Kevin Drum says critics deliberately misreading his response to study on peoples reaction to seeing homelessness

          A high-profile Mother Jones writer has suggested that it would be crazy not to have a reflexive disgust of homeless people, stirring the anger of those who say he is perpetuating the worst kinds of stereotypes.

          Writing on Friday, Kevin Drum was responding to a study which found that some people with a propensity for feeling disgust might experience it when faced with someone living on the street.

          Glenn Greenwald reacted by posting photographs of homeless people who have performed altruistic acts alongside a screen shot from Drums story. The two authors of the study, meanwhile, say Drum glossed over subtleties in their work.

          outside in america

          He seemed to just be endorsing the worst stereotypes without any nuance or without any humanization of these people, said Scott Clifford, one of the authors and an assistant professor of political science at the University of Houston.

          Drum said his critics were guilty of deliberately misreading what I wrote.

          The authors of the study which is admittedly eyebrow-raising owing to its lexicon set out to untangle a contradiction. Across the country, cities seek to aid homeless people by providing shelters and millions of dollars in funding, while also passing laws against sitting or lying on sidewalks, or restricting where RVs can park, which serve to exclude them.

          They examined survey data and focused on a particular feeling that seemed to play a role in perpetuating this paradox: While most of the public wants to help homeless people, they write, sensitivity to disgust drives many of these same people to support policies that facilitate physical distance from homeless people.

          Disgust, they propose, might help explain nimbyism in this casea desire among housed people to prevent camps or housing being built in the vicinity of their own homes. And they argue that the media exacerbates disgust with stories that mention disease and unsanitary conditions.

          But they do not say that this kind of reaction of reaction is universal: while some people are prone to feeling disgust in the presence of homelessness, others are less likely to.

          In his brief response to a summary that the authors published in the Washington Post, Drum said he found their results unsurprising. About half the homeless suffer from a mental illness and a third abuse either alcohol or drugs, he wrote, before commenting how crazy it would be not to not to be disgusted by a population like that.

          He finished by suggesting that it was the work of a decent human being to overcome these reflexive feelings and find empathy.

          It certainly is the work of of a good human being not to act fully based on immediate reactions, said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty. She said the study seems to make sense, though she had some reservations. But she did not agree with Drum, calling the post really over the top and not true to what the paper is saying.

          Its just a manifestation of the worst kinds of stereotypes. As a subscriber to this publication, Im really disappointed.

          Pete White, head of the Los Angeles Community Action Network, said he thought Drums conclusions risked tarring an entire group of people, as if every houseless person is addicted to drugs and had a mental illness.

          Both of the studys authors expressed displeasure. He appears to believe that everyone will in all circumstances feel disgust towards homeless people, said Spencer Piston, the other author and an assistant professor of political science at Boston University. Theres a clear irony here, which is that we argue that the connection between disgust and attitudes about the homeless depend in part on media coverage and the extent to which homeless people are portrayed as disgusting.

          In an email, Drum said that he did not think his blogpost was unfaithful to the study. He also pushed back at those condemning him. Please note that I didnt say I was disgusted by the homeless, nor that they are inherently disgusting, he said. Only that, given the nature of the demographic, its not surprising that most people find them disgusting.

          Clara Jeffery, the editor-in-chief of Mother Jones, said that the anger was fueled by the terms used in the study and not Drums writing itself. But it is one brief post about a study, she added in her email. Mother Jones has an extensive body of work on the homeless, the housing and mental health and opioid crisis fueling it.

          Do you have an experience of homelessness to share with the Guardian? Get in touch

          Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/jul/17/homelessness-kevin-drum-mother-jones-disgust

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          All the Doctors, from William Hartnell to Jodie Whittaker – BBC News


          Image caption A promotional image for 2013’s 50th anniversary special, The Day of the Doctor

          Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi has passed on his sonic screwdriver to Jodie Whittaker who becomes the 13th doctor and first woman to take on the role of television’s famous Time Lord.

          She follows a distinguished line-up of thespian (male) talent that stretches all the way back to the sci-fi favourite’s first episode in 1963.

          William Hartnell was the first actor to play the Doctor, appearing in the BBC show from 1963 to 1966.

          Hartnell, who died in 1975, had previously appeared in TV’s The Army Game and Carry On Sergeant, the first Carry On film, in 1958.

          When ill health forced Hartnell to relinquish the role, the Doctor regenerated – for the first time – into Patrick Troughton.

          Memorably scruffy and eccentric, Troughton spent three years travelling time and space before stepping down in 1969.

          When the raffish Jon Pertwee became the third Doctor, he also became the first to be seen on television in colour.

          His tenure, which ran from 1970 to 1974, saw the Time Lord exiled to Earth and working with Unit, aka the United Nations Intelligence Taskforce.

          Pertwee’s time with the show also saw the first of the popular ensemble stories in which previous Doctors appear alongside the current one.

          Broadcast over December 1972 and January 1973, The Three Doctors saw him joined by Patrick Troughton and William Hartnell in what would be the latter’s final acting engagement.

          When Pertwee moved on in 1974, Tom Baker moved in – and would become the longest-serving Doctor to date.

          Deep-voiced, curly-haired and eternally long of scarf, his seven years in the Tardis earned him legions of fans who were delighted anew in 2013 when he popped up at the end of a 50th anniversary special.

          When Baker finally stepped down from the role in 1981, his shoes were filled by the fresh-faced Peter Davison.

          The boyish actor spent three years as the Fifth Doctor before taking his leave at the end of the show’s 21st series.

          Davison’s tenure coincided with Doctor Who’s 20th anniversary, celebrated by a feature-length special that saw him joined by Jon Pertwee and Patrick Troughton.

          The First Doctor also made an appearance, with Richard Hurndall filling in for the late William Hartnell.

          Tom Baker opted not to return for The Five Doctors, which covered over his absence by incorporating material from one of the actor’s unbroadcast adventures.

          Similar subterfuge was required for this 1983 photo shoot, which saw Hurndall, Davison, Pertwee and Troughton joined by an unconvincing Baker mannequin.

          Davison’s departure opened the door for another Baker to take controls of the Doctor’s time-travelling police box in 1984.

          Colin Baker (no relation of Tom’s) spent less than three years in the role, with his appearances limited further by an 18-month hiatus in production.

          Though Baker had limited time to enjoy the Tardis, he did get the chance to meet one of his predecessors when Patrick Troughton returned – for the third time – in 1985.

          The Two Doctors marked Troughton’s final reprise of his signature role. Some years later, his sons David and Michael would both make Doctor Who appearances.

          Scottish actor Sylvester McCoy took over from Colin Baker in 1987 and played the Doctor until the show’s axing in 1989.

          Michael Grade – the controller of BBC One at the time – was no fan of the programme, which was looking increasingly threadbare and cheap-looking in the face of glossier cinema fare.

          Some feel, though, that this period in the show’s evolution has been harshly judged.

          An attempt was made to revive Doctor Who in 1996 with a TV film that saw McCoy regenerate into Paul McGann on American soil.

          It was hoped the special would spawn a TV series but it never materialised, making McGann’s tenure the shortest of all the Doctors.

          In 2005 Doctor Who regenerated into the ambitious, well-financed property it is today. It also introduced a new Doctor in the form of Christopher Eccleston.

          To the disappointment of many, the Salford-born actor chose to make only one series of the rebooted show. His departure was confirmed only days after his debut episode was broadcast.

          Eccleston’s exit saw David Tennant join the show, with his first full episode – The Christmas Invasion – shown on BBC One on Christmas Day 2005.

          Tennant’s amiable style and enthusiasm made him a popular choice for the role, which he finally relinquished on the first day of 2010.

          The spate of junior Doctors continued with the casting of Matt Smith, who was just 27 when he made his debut as the Time Lord’s 11th incarnation.

          His four years in the role, which coincided with Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary, saw the programme both maintain and bolster its renewed popularity.

          Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary in 2013 was marked by The Day of the Doctor, a feature-length special in which Matt Smith’s Time Lord was joined by David Tennant’s version of the character.

          The Day of the Doctor also introduced a previously unknown incarnation of the Doctor, known as The War Doctor and played by Sir John Hurt.

          Peter Capaldi was no stranger to the Doctor Who universe when he was cast as the Doctor in 2013. A lifelong fan of the show, he appeared in an episode of the programme in 2008 and also had a role in its spin-off Torchwood.

          His hawkish features brought a new intensity, and maturity, to the Tardis from the moment his first full episode was broadcast in August 2014.

          Capaldi’s most recent adventure saw him briefly joined by the “original” Doctor, played on this occasion by David Bradley.

          Bradley will return in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special.

          Bradley’s appearance was a pleasing one for Whovians after his role as William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time, a 2013 dramatisation of the show’s early years.

          Jodie Whittaker has been named as the 13th Doctor and the first ever woman to play the role.

          She will make her debut on the sci-fi show this Christmas when Capaldi regenerates.


          Follow us on Facebook, on Twitter @BBCNewsEnts, or on Instagram at bbcnewsents. If you have a story suggestion email entertainment.news@bbc.co.uk.

          Related Topics

          Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-40585673

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          How the middle class hoards wealth and opportunity for itself

          American society is dominated by an elite 20% that ruthlessly protects its own interests

          When I was growing up, my mother would sometimes threaten my brother and me with electrocution. Well, thats not quite right. In fact, the threat was of lessons in elocution, but we wittily, we thought renamed them.

          Growing up in a very ordinary town just north of London and attending a very ordinary high school, one of our several linguistic atrocities was failing to pronounce the t in certain words. My mother, who was raised in rural north Wales and left school at 16, did not want us to find doors closed in a class-sensitive society simply because we didnt speak what is still called the Queens English. I will never forget the look on her face when I managed to say the word computer with neither a p nor a t.

          Still, the lessons never materialised. Any lingering working-class traces in my own accent were wiped away by three disinfectant years at Oxford University. (My wife claims the adolescent accent resurfaces when I drink, but she doesnt know what shes talking about shes American.) We also had to learn how to waltz. My mother didnt want us to put a foot wrong there either.

          In fact, we did just fine, in no small part because of the stable, loving home in which we were raised. But I have always been acutely sensitive to class distinctions and their role in perpetuating inequality. In fact, one of the reasons I came to the United States was to escape the cramped feeling of living in a nation still so dominated by class. I knew enough not to think I was moving to a socially mobile utopia: Id read some of the research. It has nonetheless come as something of a shock to discover that, in some important respects, the American class system is functioning more ruthlessly than the British one I escaped.

          In the upper-middle-class America I now inhabit, I witness extraordinary efforts by parents to secure an elite future status for their children: tutors, coaches and weekend lessons in everything from French to fencing. But I have never heard any of my peers try to change the way their children speak. Perhaps this is simply because they know they are surrounded by other upper-middle-class kids, so there is nothing to worry about. Perhaps it is a regional thing.

          But I think there is a better explanation. Americans tend to think their children will be judged by their accomplishments rather than their accents. Class position is earned, rather than simply expressed. The way to secure a higher status in a market meritocracy is by acquiring lots of merit and ensuring that our kids do, too. What ones parents are like is entirely a matter of luck, points out the philosopher Adam Swift. But he adds: What ones children are like is not. Children raised in upper-middle-class families do well in life. As a result, there is a lot of intergenerational stickiness at the top of the American income distribution more, in fact, than at the bottom with upper-middle-class status passed from one generation to the next.

          Drawing class distinctions feels almost un-American. The nations self-image is of a classless society, one in which every individual is of equal moral worth, regardless of his or her economic status. This has been how the world sees the United States, too. Historian Alexis de Tocqueville observed in the early 19th century that Americans were seen to be more equal in fortune and intelligence more equally strong, in other words than they were in any other country, or were at any other time in recorded history. So different to the countries of old Europe, still weighed down by the legacies of feudalism.

          British politicians have often felt the need to urge the creation of a classless society, looking to America for inspiration as, what historian David Cannadine once called it, the pioneering and prototypical classless society. European progressives have long looked enviously at social relations in the New World. George Orwell noted the lack of servile tradition in America; the German socialist Werner Sombart noticed that the bowing and scraping before the upper classes, which produces such an unpleasant impression in Europe, is completely unknown.

          This is one of many reasons socialist politics struggled to take root in the United States. A key attraction of socialist systems the main one, according to Orwell is the eradication of class distinctions. There were few to eradicate in America. I am sure that one reason Downton Abbey and The Crown so delight American audiences is their depictions of an alien world of class-based status. One reason class distinctions are less obvious in America is that pretty much everyone defines themselves as a member of the same class: the one in the middle. Nine in ten adults select the label middle class, exactly the same proportion as in 1939, according to the pollsters Gallup. No wonder that politicians have always fallen over each other to be on their side.

          But in recent decades Americans at the top of the ladder have been entrenching their class position. The convenient fiction that the middle class can stretch up that far has become a difficult one to sustain. As a result, the modifications upper or lower to the general middle class category have become more important.

          Class is not just about money, though it is about that. The class gap can be seen from every angle: education, security, family, health, you name it. There will also be inequalities on each of these dimensions, of course. But inequality becomes class division when all these varied elements money, education, wealth, occupation cluster together so tightly that, in practice, almost any one of them will suffice for the purposes of class definition. Class division becomes class stratification when these advantages and thus status endure across generations. In fact, upper-middle-class status is passed down to the next generation more effectively than in the past, and in the United States more than in other countries.

          One benefit of the multidimensional nature of this separation is that it has reduced interdisciplinary bickering over how to define class. While economists typically focus on categorisation by income and wealth, and sociologists tend more towards occupational status and education, and anthropologists are typically more interested in culture and norms, right now it doesnt really matter, because all the trends are going the same way.

          It is not just the top 1% pulling away, but the top 20%. In fact, only a very small proportion of US adults 1% to 2% define themselves as upper class. A significant minority about one in seven adopts the upper middle class description. This is quite similar to the estimates of class size generated by most sociologists, who tend to define the upper middle class as one composed of professionals and managers, or around 15% to 20% of the working-age population.

          As David Azerrad of the Heritage Foundation writes: There is little appetite in America for policies that significantly restrict the ability of parents to do all they can, within the bounds of the law, to give their children every advantage in life. That is certainly true. But then Azerrad has also mis-stated the problem. No one sensible is in favour of new policies that block parents from doing the best they can for their children. Even in France the suggestion floated by the former president, Franois Hollande, to restore equality by banning homework, on the grounds that parents differ in their ability and willingness to help out, was laughed out of court. But we should want to get rid of policies that allow parents to give their children an unfair advantage and in the process restrict the opportunities of others.

          Most of us want to do our best for our children. Wanting ones childrens life to go well is part of what it means to love them, write philosophers Harry Brighouse and Adam Swift in their 2014 book Family Values: The Ethics of Parent-Child Relationships. But our natural preference for the welfare and prospects of our own children does not automatically eclipse other moral claims. We would look kindly on a father who helps his son get picked as starting pitcher for his school baseball team by practising with him every day after work. But we would probably feel differently about a father who secures the slot for his son by bribing the coach. Why? After all, each father has sacrificed something, time in one case, money in the other, to advance his child. The difference is team selection should be based on merit, not money. A principle of fairness is at stake.

          So, where is the line drawn? The best philosophical treatment of this question I have found is the one by Swift and Brighouse. Their suggestion is that, while parents have every right to act in ways that will help their childrens lives go well, they do not have the right to confer on them a competitive advantage in other words, to ensure not just that they do well but that they do better than others. This is because, in a society with finite rewards, improving the situation of one child necessarily worsens that of another, at least in relative terms: Whatever parents do to confer competitive advantage is not neutral in its effects on other children it does not leave untouched, but rather is detrimental to, those other childrens prospects in the competition for jobs and associated rewards.

          The trouble is that in the real world this seems like a distinction without a difference. What they call competitive advantage-conferring parental activities will almost always be also helping-your-kid-flourish parental activities. If I read bedtime stories to my son, he will develop a richer vocabulary and may learn to love reading and have a more interesting and fulfilling life. But it could also help him get better grades than his classmates, giving him a competitive advantage in college admissions. Swift and Brighouse suggest a parent should not even aim to give their child a competitive advantage: It would be a little odd, perhaps even a little creepy, if the ultimate aim of her endeavours were that her child is better off than others.

          I think this is too harsh. In a society with a largely open, competitive labour market, it is not creepy to want your children to end up higher on the earnings ladder than others. Not only will this bring them a higher income, and all the accompanying choices and security, it is also likely to bring them safer and more interesting work. Relative position matters it is one reason, after all, that relative mobility is of such concern to policymakers. Although I think Brighouse and Swift go too far, they are on to something important with their distinction between the kind of parental behaviour that merely helps your own children and the kind that is detrimental to others. Thats what I call opportunity hoarding.

          Opportunity hoarding does not result from the workings of a large machine but from the cumulative effect of individual choices and preferences. Taken in isolation, they may feel trivial: nudging your daughter into a better college with a legacy preference [giving applicants places on the basis of being related to alumni of the college]; helping the son of a professional contact to an internship; a single vote on a municipal council to retain low-density zoning restrictions. But, like many micro-preferences, to borrow a term from economist Thomas Schelling, they can have strong effects on overall culture and collective outcomes.

          Over recent decades, institutions that once primarily served racist goals legacy admissions to keep out Jewish students, zoning laws to keep out black families have not been abandoned but have been softened, normalised and subtly re-purposed to help us sustain the upper-middle-class status. They remain, then, barriers to a more open, more genuinely competitive and fairer society. I wont insult your intelligence by pretending there are no costs here. By definition, reducing opportunity hoarding will mean some losses for the upper middle class.

          But they will be small. Our neighbourhoods will be a little less upmarket but also less boring. Our kids will rub shoulders with some poorer kids in the school corridor. They might not squeak into an Ivy League college, and they may have to be content going to an excellent public university. But if we arent willing to entertain even these sacrifices, there is little hope. There will be some material costs, too. The big challenge is to equalise opportunities to acquire human capital and therefore increase the number of true competitors in the labour market. This will require, among other things, some increased public investment. Where will the money come from? It cant all come from the super-rich. Much of it will have to come from the upper middle class. From me andyou.

          This is an extract from Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That is a Problem, and What To Do About It by Richard V Reeves (Brookings Institution Press, 2017)

          HOW TO STAY AHEAD – OR PLAY FAIR

          As parents, we naturally want our children to flourish. But that laudable desire slides into opportunity hoarding when we use our money, power or position to give our own children exclusive access to certain goods or chances. The effect is to strengthen class barriers.

          1. Fix an internship using our networks. Internships are becoming more important but are too often stitched up privately. Its worse if theyre unpaid. Instead: insist on paid internships, openly recruited.

          2. Take our own kids to work for the day. Children learn what work is from adults. Instead: try bringing somebody elses kid to work, perhaps by partnering with local charities.

          3. Be a Nimby. By shutting out low-income housing from our neighbourhoods with planning restrictions, we keep less affluent kids away from our local schools and communities. Instead: be a Yimby, vote and argue for more mixed housing in your area.

          4. Write cheques to PTA funds. Many of us want to support the school our children attend. This tilts the playing field, however, since other schools cant do the same. Instead: get your PTA to give half the donations to a school in a poor area.

          Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/inequality/2017/jul/15/how-us-middle-classes-hoard-opportunity-privilege

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          Liu Xiaobo cremated in ‘private ceremony’, amid fears for wife’s safety

          Liu Xia attends the cremation, but rights activists say they have not heard from her in three days

          The Nobel laureate and democracy icon Liu Xiaobo has been cremated in north-eastern China, Chinese authorities have announced, amid growing fears for the safety of his wife, Liu Xia.

          The veteran dissident died on Thursday, aged 61, becoming the first Nobel peace prize winner to die in custody since the 1935 recipient, German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, died under surveillance after years confined to Nazi concentration camps.

          Speaking at a press conference in the city of Shenyang, where Liu died, government spokesperson Zhang Qingyang said his cremation had taken place at a local funeral parlour following a short mourning service early on Saturday morning.

          Lius body was cremated in accordance with the will of his family members and local customs, Chinas official news agency, Xinhua, said in a brief dispatch.

          Zhang claimed the private ceremony had been attended by family and good friends of the dissident although friends and supporters have said they were ordered not to travel to Shenyang by Chinese security services. Mozarts Requiem was played.

          The spokesman told reporters Lius wife, the poet and photographer Liu Xia, had been in attendance and had been given her husbands ashes. She was in very low spirits, he added, according to AFP.

          As the revered democracy activist was cremated, friends of the couple said they were growing increasingly concerned about the well-being of Liu Xia. The 56-year-old has been living under heavy surveillance and in almost total isolation since her husband won the Nobel prize, in 2010, and had hoped to leave China along with Liu Xiaobo before his death.

          We have lost touch with her now for three full days, Jared Genser, a US human rights lawyer who represents her and her late husband, told the Guardian. Im incredibly concerned about her health and welfare.

          China News Service, a Communist party-controlled news agency, claimed on Friday that Liu Xia was a free woman who was deliberately shunning her friends and relatives because she wanted to grieve in peace.

          Zhang, the government spokesman, repeated those claims on Saturday as Lius cremation was announced. Liu Xia is free, he said, according to Reuters, without revealing her whereabouts. I believe the relevant departments will protect Liu Xias rights according to the law, Zhang added.

          According to AFP, Zhang claimed Liu Xia was emotionally grieving and did not want too much outside interference.

          Funeral
          Funeral ceremony for Liu Xiaobo. Photograph: Supplied

          Genser rejected claims that Liu Xia was free as a sick joke.

          It leaves me incredulous to think that the Chinese government would think that anybody would believe such a claim: that she is grieving and does not want to be disturbed. I mean, come on. That is just totally ridiculous.

          Genser added: We all know the truth. The truth is clear as day. She has been under house arrest without charge or trial for seven years and even after her husband is dead that appears not to be good enough for the Chinese government.

          Shang Baojun, a Chinese lawyer who represented Liu Xiaobo and was his friend, said he had not attended the funeral. I know nothing about it, he said by phone, before explaining that it was not convenient to talk a common expression in China indicating that someone is coming under pressure from authorities to stay silent.

          The Global Times, a Communist party controlled tabloid, chose to mark Lius cremation with a vicious personal assault. He was paranoid, naive and arrogant, the newspaper said in an English-language editorial. Chinese society opposes and despises him.

          Deification of Liu by the west will be eventually overshadowed by Chinas denial of him, it added, branding the Nobel laureate a disruptive player to Chinas development theme.

          Genser called for international pressure to help Liu Xia escape this Kafkaesque nightmare that has been her life.

          My heart breaks for her. It is just terrible. We have to get her out. We cant live in a world in which she is not free, he said.

          Additional reporting by Wang Zhen

          Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/jul/15/liu-xiaobo-cremated-in-shenyang-amid-growing-fears-for-safety-of-his-wife