For Kids Like Me, Cancer Is Hard Enough

When I was a kid, I fell asleep in school a lot. The teachers didn’t scold me, and they kept the other kids from pointing and laughing. Because I wasn’t just tired  —  I was exhausted. I was drained. I was going through chemo.
When I was 7, I was diagnosed with Burkitt’s lymphoma, an aggressive cancer. The doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital gave me two months to live. I spent four years in and out of aggressive treatments, missing second and third grade, fighting for my life when I should’ve been playing hockey.
But slowly, I recovered. My community stood by my family, and my dad’s union insurance made it possible for us to afford costly treatment. By the time I was a teenager, some of my friends didn’t even know I had been sick.

 
 
I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if my family didn’t have insurance. My treatment would’ve bankrupted us.

Cancer is hard enough on a family. Imagine having to choose between saving your child and staying in your house? Or saving your child and selling the car you use to get to work?

I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if my family didn’t have insurance. My treatment would’ve bankrupted us.

The health…

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Oprah’s New Book Club Pick Has ‘Everything That’s Grabbing The Headlines In America Right Now’

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This morning, Oprah Winfrey announced her latest selection for “Oprah’s Book Club” ― and it’s as topical as it is gripping. Behold the Dreamers is a powerful novel by 36-year-old Imbolo Mbue, whose own experience as an immigrant from Cameroon is woven through a tale of Jende and Neni Jonga, a couple from Central Africa who come to America believing it will grant all their wishes.
“It’s got everything that’s grabbing the headlines in America right now,” Oprah says of the book. “It’s about race and class, the economy, culture, immigration and the danger of the us-versus-them mentality.”
However, as with most things in life, Jende and Neni come to realize that pursuing the American Dream is not that simple.

“It’s so hard to be a stranger in a strange land,” Mbue says in an interview in the August issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. “I don’t think most people understand how difficult it is to leave behind what you know and come to a country where everything about you is considered ‘different.’ I wanted readers to appreciate that part of Jende and Neni’s struggle is to adapt without forgetting who they are.”
In Behold the Dreamers,…

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A Wide World Of Winless War

Cross-posted from TomDispatch.com
The tabs on their shoulders read “Special Forces,” “Ranger,” “Airborne.” And soon their guidon ― the “colors” of Company B, 3rd Battalion of the U.S. Army’s 7th Special Forces Group ― would be adorned with the “Bandera de Guerra,” a Colombian combat decoration.
“Today we commemorate sixteen years of a permanent fight against drugs in a ceremony where all Colombians can recognize the special counternarcotic brigade’s hard work against drug trafficking,” said Army Colonel Walther Jimenez, the commander of the Colombian military’s Special Anti-Drug Brigade, last December.  America’s most elite troops, the Special Operations forces (SOF), have worked with that Colombian unit since its creation in December 2000. Since 2014, four teams of Special Forces soldiers have intensely monitored the brigade. Now, they were being honored for it.
Part of a $10 billion counter-narcotics and counterterrorism program, conceived in the 1990s, special ops efforts in Colombia are a much ballyhooed American success story.  A 2015 RAND Corporation study found that the program “represents an enduring SOF partnership effort that managed to help foster a relatively professional and capable special operations force.”  And for a time, coca production in that country plummeted.  Indeed, this was the ultimate promise of America’s “Plan Colombia” and…

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Everything You Need To Know About The GOP Senate Health Care Bill

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On Thursday, Senate Republicans released their discussion draft health care bill after weeks of secret meetings.
The bill, which was marketed as different from the health care legislation passed by the House in May, looks remarkably similar to its predecessor. It’s also complex and hard to understand.
For the less than fluent in health care policy, we’ve compiled a hand guide: everything you need know in one place. The big takeaways: The new bill will negatively affect key demographics, like Americans with substance use disorders, women, seniors and people with mental illness. It includes tax breaks for the rich and for businesses, eliminates the mandate requiring large employers to offer employees coverage, slashes the Medicaid budget, allows states to waive essential health benefits and defunds Planned Parenthood for one year.  
Here’s a breakdown of everything you need to know before the bill comes to a vote, as soon as next week: 
The Basic Primer: The Senate Health Care Bill Is An Assault On The Safety Net

As expected, the bill released Thursday amounts to a massive rollback of the federal commitment to promote health care access and would instead pay for hundreds of billions of dollars in tax cuts for corporations and…

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Barely Anyone Thinks The U.S. Is Making Progress In Stopping Gun Violence

America’s most recent bout with high-profile gun violence has done little to shake people’s attitudes about guns, which remain both complex and deeply polarized, according to two newly released surveys.
Just 12 percent of the public thinks American society has gotten better at preventing gun violence since the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, a new HuffPost/YouGov survey finds. Twenty-eight percent believe it’s gotten worse, and half that it hasn’t changed at all.
The poll, taken in the wake of last week’s shooting at a congressional GOP baseball practice, finds that while half of the public believes that mass shootings can be stopped, another 28 percent think such events have become a fact of life in America. The remaining 22 percent aren’t sure.
Overall, 40 percent say stricter gun control laws would reduce the number of shootings in the United States, while 14 percent think they would increase shootings, and a third that they wouldn’t make much difference.
There’s a close divide on whether stricter gun control laws and enforcement would do more to prevent shootings than would allowing more private citizens to carry guns for protection, with 42 percent favoring the former and 39 percent the latter.
Despite the backdrop of a high-profile shooting,…

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