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When the Titanic sank in 1912, the captain famously ordered women and children be loaded first onto the precious few lifeboats. While the code of chivalry may have changed in the ensuing decades, the need to plan for the unthinkable has not.

The ongoing surge in COVID-19 cases is forcing hospitals to face the awful question of who will receive life-saving care and who will be denied if resources run out. How we respond to this moment, especially to the most vulnerable among us, will be a reflection and test of our national character.

As the director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, I tasked my colleagues with reviewing state triage and emergency hospital rationing plans — known as Crisis Standards of Care — after receiving several complaints from advocates early during the pandemic. We were shocked to find instances of blatant discrimination against people with disabilities and older Americans in these plans.

One state, using archaic language to refer to persons with intellectual disabilities, would have flatly excluded people with “profound mental retardation” from being given ventilators. Other states placed persons with disabilities or older adults at the end of the line for treatment based on uncertain judgments about long-term life expectancy or the number of resources a person might consume in the process of saving their lives. Many people with disabilities justifiably feared having ventilators taken away from them to be given to others judged more “worthy.”

Working with state authorities, civil rights advocates, and health experts, we have helped states shift from reliance on categorical exclusions from care based on age or disability to the criteria of the likelihood of survival to hospital discharge. We have shifted the focus of state plans from treating patients as statistics to treating them as individuals with a right to be free from judgments based on stereotypes or overbroad and irrelevant generalizations.

We have also made clear that clinically relevant factors may be considered insofar as they do not rely on speculative judgments regarding future long-term survival, duration of need, or measures of relative “worth.” A growing number of states are also making clear that reallocating personal ventilators is unacceptable. We commend the state of Utah and the National Academy of Medicine in particular for working with my office to adopt Crisis Standard of Care plans and guidelines that embody the best civil rights practices.

Finally, my office has been extremely clear that judgments regarding quality of life should never be used to decide who receives access to care. For too long, people with disabilities and older persons have worried about being devalued by the medical system. Imposed judgments regarding which lives are worth living, and thus worthy of saving, corrupt the practice of medicine and erode our nation’s dearest held values.

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Only patients or their authorized representatives should decide whether they wish to decline or consent to the withdrawal of life-sustaining treatment. Pressure from providers to change their minds based on their disability and age is not only unethical, it may also be illegal.

This work is part of larger efforts my office has undertaken to protect civil rights during the pandemic by ensuring minority communities — including those with limited English proficiency — have access to testing and vaccines without unlawful barriers, and by ensuring hospital patients with physical, psychological, or spiritual challenges get physical access to necessary support persons and to clergy in their time of greatest need.

These efforts reflect our fundamental commitment to equity, respect for life, and non-discrimination for all Americans under law. We are proud of what we have accomplished to unite people from the left, middle, and right around the principle of respect for human dignity during this crisis.

We recognize that providers may have to make hard choices in the coming days, but we must hold fast to our core values and remain committed to our civil rights laws, even in times of emergency, because that is often when we need them most. As we pray that rationing of care never comes to any hospital in any state, we must prepare nonetheless, starting with the premise that every life is equally precious.

Roger Severino is the Director of the Office for Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and works in Washington, D.C.



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Capitol Riots

Video: Trump is “plotting revenge” against his traitors – Jackman

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US Studies Centre CEO Simon Jackman says all reports are that Donald Trump is “plotting revenge” against those members and senators who voted against him in his second impeachment matter.

Donald Trump is expected next Sunday to make his first public appearance since leaving office.

The former US president, who departed the White House on 20 January, is set to speak at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Orlando, Florida.

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Mr Trump is reportedly planning to address his second impeachment trial, where he was acquitted by the Senate of inciting the rioting at the US Capitol on 6 January.

He is also expected to give his views on the future of the Republican Party and the conservative movement.

(sky news)

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Biden’s Interior nominee failed to report casino income on congressional ethics report

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The Democratic congresswoman named by President Biden to be the next interior secretary failed to disclose on her House ethics report $16,000 in casino salary that made up more than a  third of her income in 2018 when she first won her congressional seat, according to an amended report she filed as her nomination was being vetted.

Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), who would be America’s first Native American cabinet secretary if her nomination is approved, faces a confirmation hearing Tuesday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Republicans such as Sen. Steve Daines of Montana are expected to grill Haaland about her relative lack of management experience and her views on the environment and energy, which they have labeled as radical.

The change that Haaland made on her 2018 congressional ethics form last month may open another avenue of inquiry for Republicans.

Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo Nation in New Mexico, has been one of the most modestly earning members in Congress since she joined in January 2019.

The financial disclosure form she filed for interior secretary shows she had no income in 2020 beyond her congressional salary and a $175 distribution payment from her tribe. She also reported owning no assets, and carrying up to $50,000 in student loan debts, a balance sheet dwarfed by those of the preponderance of members of Congress, the majority of whom are millionaires

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.File NomineeDisclosure-Haaland.pdf

After she joined Congress in 2019, Haaland reported on her House ethics form dated May 13, 2019 that her only source of income in 2018 was $30,550 as an independent contractor for her tribe’s Laguna Development Corp. She also listed no liabilities on the form.

But on Jan. 5 of this year, she quietly filed an amendment to the 2019 form adding $16,000 in “salary” from the San Felipe Casino, a gambling outlet near Santa Fe run by the San Felipe Pueblo. The casino recently changed its name to Black Mesa Casino.

The amendment also listed student loan debts of between $15,001 and $50,000 that were not on her 2019 form.

Spokespeople for Haaland, Daines and Sen. John Barrasso of Wyoming, the ranking Republican on the committee, did not immediately return emails or calls seeking comment .

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Convicted fundraiser who tried to work his way into Biden’s inner circle sentenced to prison

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Amajor Democratic bundler, who raised large sums for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton and consorted with Joe Biden, was sentenced to 12 years in prison for what prosecutors said was a “mercenary” political influence scheme.

Imaad Zuberi, a Californian businessman was sentenced Thursday for schemes to funnel foreign money into U.S. political campaigns, then take millions of dollars for himself.

The Los Angeles Times reported that U.S. Assistant Attorney Daniel J. O’Brien said Zuberi was “purely a mercenary, funneling money to whomever he believed would do his bidding.”

Among the many unsealed court records, Zuberi was seen photographed with Joe Biden and Barack Obama when they were Vice President and President. He was also pictured with former President Bill Clinton and former presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton. He took pictures with former Republican Rep. Paul Ryan when he was speaker of the House as well as the late Sen. John McCain of Arizona.

Also included in the Times report was a hacked email chain released on WikiLeaks. Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager Robby Mook messaged colleagues saying, “I’m OK taking the money and dealing with any attacks.” Jennifer Palmieri responded saying, “Take the money!”

He also attended Hillary Clinton’s election night party in New York City in 2016 as well as serving as a co-chair of The Trump Presidential Inauguration Committee.

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Zuberi made more than $950,000 in unlawful donations to the political committees of Obama, Clinton, McCain and others. Zuberi’s activities extended as far as a recent attempt to work his way into the Biden circle, according to Politico.  

In addition to the money he made, Zuberi also raised $270,000 for Hillary Clinton and $1.3 million for President Obama.

Zuberi, 50, pleaded guilty to a “three-count information charging with violating the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA)” for making false statements on a FARA filing as well as tax evasion and illegal contributions to political campaigns. He also pleaded guilty in a separate case earlier in June 2020 to a count of obstruction of justice.

“Zuberi turned acting as an unregistered foreign agent into a business enterprise,” Assistant Attorney General for National Secretary John C. Demers said in a Department of Justice news release.

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