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Desperate Trump rebuffed on health care reform by unpopular governor

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In the latest humiliation for the Trump White House, after the recent news that Senator John McCain apparently won’t support the Republican Graham-Cassidy health insurance reform bill on allegedly procedural grounds, now it has been revealed that the Trump Administration has sought the help of an already-avowed opponent and Cabinet bridesmaid: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

In a timely case of payback, the perennially-overlooked Christie revealed Trump’s desperation, announcing the White House called Christie trying to flip the beach aficionado who was infamously captured cavorting on a state-owned beach with friends and family while he had it closed down in a ploy to strong-arm state legislators into allowing his office to seize so-called excess reserves of the state’s largest health insurance company (which come from policyholders’ premiums) and reallocate them for opioid addiction services.

Background

McCain’s opposition appears to be procedural, while the bill’s supporters are aware of the fast-approaching end of the current fiscal year.

Should the bill be passed on or before next Saturday, September 30th, the bill would require only a simple Senate majority of 50 votes (assuming that Vice President Mike Pence would cast a tie-breaking vote in favor) because it could be structured in the form of a budget reconciliation bill. Once October arrives and the new fiscal year begins, any bill passed would be subject to an almost-certain Democratic filibuster for which supporters would need 60 votes. That level of support is thought highly unlikely.

McCain has expressed concerns about any reform bill passed in the next week without the customary hearing process. McCain (and others) have argued that any reform, with its far-ranging effects on a major chunk of the American economy, warrants more than a rushed hearing process.

But there’s more

Enter Christie. The New Jersey governor and one-time stage prop for candidate Trump has been contacted by the White House in an apparent attempt to enlist his support for the reform bill.

However, Christie has been passed over (or consciously rejected) for at least several Cabinet or other Administration posts. Those public rejections may be behind the leak today of the apparent White House overtures to Christie, whose popularity in his home state of New Jersey has been hovering for months at the 15 percent level — and this was before his infamous beach party photo shoot.

Takeaway

Whether one supports or opposes this particular reform bill, these current events show that Washington Republicans are far from united, and that even Capitol Hill Republicans are divided on several fault lines.

In the meantime, the severely flawed Obamacare regime continues its downward death spiral, consigning ever-more middle and working class Americans to higher premiums, higher deductibles, ever-shrinking networks of participating doctors and hospitals (the legal parlance is “providers”) and ever-greater uncertainty about those providers continuing in their plans or even that those plans will continue to be offered by participating insurance companies.

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Entertainment and Sports

Hat is back: Miles signs 5-year contract to coach Kansas

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Hat is back Miles signs 5-year contract to coach Kansas

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Les Miles is headed back to the Big 12 and another massive rebuilding job, this time taking on the downtrodden program at Kansas in a splashy hire aimed at energizing a weary fan base.

The deal was finalized shortly before Miles arrived at the airport in nearby Topeka on Sunday. Miles signed a five-year contract that will pay him $2,775,000 annually with retention bonuses of $775,000 due in November 2020 and $500,000 in November 2022.

“Since the beginning of our search, we focused on identifying and recruiting an experienced head coach with a track record of success on and off the field,” Kansas athletic director Jeff Long said in a statement. “Les Miles is exactly what we need right now.”

Miles was considered the front-runner for the Jayhawks’ job from the moment David Beaty was told he would not be retained two weeks ago. The 65-year-old Miles has a close relationship with Long dating to their days together at Michigan, and Miles had told those around him he wanted back in coaching.

Miles and Long had been in frequent contact over the past two weeks, and it became clear a deal was close when LSU announced Thursday it had agreed to a buyout with its former coach. Miles agreed to a lump sum of $1.5 million of the remaining $6.5 million he was owed under terms of his buyout.

The school has planned an introductory news conference for later Sunday.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to lead the KU football program and I am grateful for Chancellor (Doug) Girod and Jeff Long for the opportunity,” Miles said. “We will bring Jayhawk Football back and we will do it with outstanding coaches, tremendous student-athletes of character and ability and un unrelenting drive for excellence. My family and I cannot wait to be part of the KU family.”

The quirky Miles has been out of coaching since 2016, when he was fired by LSU after a 2-2 start. His support among Tiger fans had waned considerably in a span of just a few years, even though Miles won at least 10 games in seven of his 11 full seasons, twice reached the national title game and beat Ohio State for the 2007 championship. He went 114-34 at LSU.

The most vocal critics argued that Miles had been unable to keep up with the times, sticking to an unexciting and often-stagnant attack during college football’s offensive explosion.

Miles had inherited a winner when he was chosen by LSU to succeed Nick Saban in 2005, but he had proven with Oklahoma State that he could also build a program from scratch.

The Cowboys had just one winning season in 12 years before Miles, their program in similar shape to the Jayhawks. But the longtime college and pro assistant thrived in his first head job, finding some overlooked prospects, developing them and eventually reaching three straight bowl games. He was 28-21 at Oklahoma State.

“I have no doubt that Coach Miles will have an immediate impact on our football program and our university,” Girod said. “Together as Jayhawks, we will rebuild our football program the right way, winning championships and continuing to graduate young men of character.”

The Jayhawks haven’t had a winning season or reached a bowl game since 2008, the year before Mark Mangino was forced to resign under pressure. Turner Gill won five games over two seasons before getting fired, and Charlie Weis managed six wins in two-plus seasons before he was let go.

By that point, the program had become the laughingstock of the Big 12.

The Jayhawks were woefully short on scholarship players, their facilities were decrepit, their fanbase had grown apathetic and the even the administration seemed to have little interest in supporting football. Beaty’s contract lagged far behind his peers financially, and there was little money at his disposal for hiring assistant coaches and other administrators.

Long has promised to rectify those issues, even announcing that a $300 million renovation to aging Memorial Stadium had been put on the backburner while money was invested in the program itself.

The first and most important investment came in the head coach.

Miles would earn $15.125 million by fulfilling his five-year contract. He also can earn a series of incentives: $1 million for reaching the national title game; $350,000 for a playoff semifinal; $100,000 for a New Year’s Six game; $100,000 for making the Big 12 title game; and $75,000 for any other bowl game. Miles also can earn $50,000 each for being the Big 12 and national coach of the year, $15,000 for having a Broyles Award-winning assistant, and up to $50,000 for the team’s GPA.

His contract also includes a one-year, one-time rollover extension that is triggered by winning six games in a season, and benefits such as a country club membership and moving expenses.

The Jayhawks, who lost to sixth-ranked Oklahoma on Saturday to leave Beaty with a 6-31 record in three-plus seasons, will finish out their year under their former coach Friday against Texas.

___

More AP college football.

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Economy

Pacific Rim summit highlights strained China-US relations

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Pacific Rim summit highlights strained China-US relations

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (AP) — A meeting of world leaders in Papua New Guinea has highlighted divisions between global powers the U.S. and China and a growing competition for influence in the usually neglected South Pacific.

The 21 nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Port Moresby struggled to bridge differences on issues such as trade protectionism and reforming the World Trade Organization, making it likely their final statement Sunday will be an anodyne document.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and China’s President Xi Jinping traded barbs in speeches on Saturday. Pence professed respect for Xi and China but also harshly criticized the world’s No. 2 economy for intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers and unfair trading practices.

In Port Moresby, the impact of China’s aid and loans is highly visible. But the U.S. and allies are countering with efforts to finance infrastructure in Papua New Guinea and other island states. The U.S. has also said it will be involved in ally Australia’s plan to develop a naval base with Papua New Guinea.

On Sunday, the U.S., New Zealand, Japan and Australia said they’d work with Papua New Guinea’s government to bring electricity to 70 percent of its people by 2030. Less than 20 percent have a reliable electricity supply.

“The commitment of the United States of America to this region of the world has never been stronger,” said Pence at a signing ceremony. A separate statement from his office said other countries are welcome to join the electrification initiative provided they support the U.S. vision of a free and open Pacific.

China, meanwhile, has promised $4 billion of finance to build the the first national road network in Papua New Guinea, among the least urbanised countries in the world.

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Democrats

Andrew Gillum concedes to Ron DeSantis in Florida gubernatorial race

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Andrew Gillum concedes to Ron DeSantis in Florida gubernatorial race

It was arguably the most watched gubernatorial race in the nation this past midterm election season and it didn’t disappoint. It took a recount and multiple lawsuits to finish, but in the end Republican Ron DeSantis defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum.

The mayor of Jacksonville finally conceded for the second time today, nearly two weeks after election day. He already conceded once on election fight.

Andrew Gillum concedes in Florida governor’s race for second time

https://www.tallahassee.com/story/news/2018/11/17/andrew-gillum-concedes-florida-governors-race-second-time/2041301002/In a four-minute video posted live on Facebook, Mayor Gillum stood with his wife R. Jai, a Tallahassee park in the background and both dressed in Florida A&M University orange and green. Gillum first thanked his supporters. Then, he officially acknowledged Republican Ron DeSantis as the winner.

“R. Jai and I wanted to take a moment to congratulate Mr. DeSantis on becoming the next governor of the great state of Florida,” Gillum said in the video posted at about 5 p.m.

DeSantis Tweeted acknowledgement of the concession.

Florida is a bellwether for the 2020 presidential election. The closeness of the race and the apparent corruption in the state means both parties have a lot of work to do. The state needs to get their act together before then as well.

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