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A massive 8.9-magnitude earthquake hit Japan this morning unleashing a major tsunami, which has caused major damage in the country. CARE staff in the Tokyo office felt a tremor, but no injuries have been reported. As a major industrial economy, Japan has earthquake response measures in place. However, new information is coming in by the hour, so CARE offices in Asia are on high alert and have ensured that staff are informed of the tsunami warnings and other related developments. In the Philippines, CARE's partner organization has assisted five villages on the coast to evacuate inhabitants. CARE's emergency staff is currently standing by and will continue to be ready to assist should the tsunami hit the coasts of developing nations such as Indonesia or Papua New Guinea.
CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. We place special focus on working alongside poor women because, equipped with the proper resources, women have the power to help whole families and entire communities escape poverty. Women are at the heart of CARE's community-based efforts to improve basic education, prevent the spread of HIV, increase access to clean water and sanitation, expand economic opportunity and protect natural resources. CARE also delivers emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helps people rebuild their lives.
The new push is led by Our Revolution along with Rep. Ro Khanna and Sen. Bernie Sanders, Medicare for All supporters who are working on legislation to tackle medical debt.
"I'm 72 and now live with my daughter after losing everything because of medical bills. I had $250K saved up for retirement and then disaster hit—several bouts of cancer and a stroke in 2009."
That's the story of Arizonan D'Anne MacNeil, a patient advocate and member of Our Revolution—which is working with U.S. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), the National Consumer Law Center, and Tzedek D.C. on a new campaign.
The "Freedom From Medical Debt" initiative launches Monday with a virtual town hall at 8:30 pm ET.
\u201cAmericans hold $195 billion in medical debt. It should be 0. \nDon\u2019t miss our LIVE Town Hall to End Medical Debt with US Rep. @RoKhanna and Our Revolution patient advocates, hosted by me, LIVE this Monday, 5/8, 8:30 pm ET!\nhttps://t.co/iiAJf2AuF6\u201d— Joseph Geevarghese (@Joseph Geevarghese) 1683209883
"I wouldn't owe anything if hospitals didn't gouge patients," said Mary Willis of Texas. "The cost of an MRI in the hospital was eight times the cost of an outpatient MRI and 80 times outsourced MRIs. I owe over $8,000."
The virtual town hall is set to feature similar stories—including that of Washingtonian Kristin Noreen, who "barely survived" being hit by a vehicle while on her bicycle in 2010. After enduring a brain injury and having her hand amputated and reattached, Noreen is still paying off medical bills and for pain treatments not covered by insurance.
Fellow patient advocate and Our Revolution member Elizabeth McLaughlin of Indiana, who received a $20,000 bill for an emergency visit in 2015, also plans to join the town hall, along with Khanna.
"We need to strategize for legislation Bernie Sanders and I are doing and figure out how we finally end medical debt in this country," Khanna said in a Monday video promoting the event. The lawmakers have worked together for years; Khanna co-chaired Sanders' 2020 presidential campaign and both support Medicare for All, for which the senator has long led the fight on Capitol Hill.
In a Saturday email about the town hall, Our Revolution—which came out of Sanders' 2016 presidential run—said that as the senator and Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) "prepare to reintroduce Medicare for All in Congress, we are organizing people struggling with medical debt to speak up and fight for healthcare justice."
\u201cNo one should go bankrupt because they can\u2019t pay their doctor bills. Yet medical debt is the number #1 cause of bankruptcy in the US and nearly 100,000,000 people carry medical debt.\u201d— Ro Khanna (@Ro Khanna) 1683580725
The Hill, which first reported on the town hall, noted that in addition to backing Khanna and Sanders' forthcoming bill, patient advocates are hoping to pressure President Joe Biden "to use executive action to help stop price gouging for vulnerable patients, end a variety of predatory debt collection tactics, and ensure that people seeking medical assistance have financial aid and free or reduced-price care available."
Highlighting that "medical debt is the number one reason for personal bankruptcies in the United States," Our Revolution executive director Joseph Geevarghese told the outlet, "We can stop that and the president has the power."
As part of the campaign "calling for Congress and the president to deliver systemic solutions to this massive healthcare injustice," organizers have launched a website to collect medical debt stories and hope to get at least one from every congressional district.
The way that the Petermann Glacier in Northwest Greenland is melting indicates that current models are too conservative.
A glacier in the north of Greenland is melting faster and in a different way than scientists previously thought, and this has troubling implications for the future speed of global sea-level rise.
The new discovery was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Monday. The scientists found that warming ocean water had melted a cavity in the bottom of Petermann Glacier taller than the Washington Monument, as The Associated Press reported. If other glaciers in Greenland and Antarctica behave the same way, it could double predictions for how quickly the burning of fossil fuels will melt ice and raise sea levels.
"It's bad news," study author Eric Rignot, a University of California, Irvine (UCI), glaciologist, told the AP. "We know the current projections are too conservative."
"This is an order of magnitude larger than expected for grounding lines on a rigid bed."
The Petermann Glacier is a massive glacier in Northwest Greenland that contains enough ice to raise sea levels by a little more than a foot, the study authors noted. It is one of four Greenland ice masses that make up "the largest threat for rapid sea-level rise from Greenland in the coming decades" since they drain into the ocean below sea level.
Up until recently, however, the glacier was relatively stable, gaining about as much mass each year as it lost. That began to change in 2016, when the center of its grounding line began to edge backward at a rate of 0.6 miles per year.
A glacier's grounding line is the place where it moves from being supported by land to floating on the ocean, and it's this feature of Petermann that is the focus of the new study. The scientists from UCI, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, the University of Houston, Finland's Iceye mission, China's Tongji University, the German Aerospace Center, and the Italian Space Agency used satellite radar data to learn that the grounding line was moving significantly with the tides.
"Petermann's grounding line could be more accurately described as a grounding zone, because it migrates between 2 and 6 kilometers [approximately 1.2 to 3.7 miles] as tides come in and out," lead author Enrico Ciraci, a UCI assistant specialist in Earth system science and NASA postdoctoral fellow, said in a statement. "This is an order of magnitude larger than expected for grounding lines on a rigid bed."
This movement, in turn, accelerated ice melt.
"These ice-ocean interactions make the glaciers more sensitive to ocean warming," Rignot explained.
Between 2016 and 2022, the grounding line retreated by more than two miles. During that time, the warmer ocean water melted a 669-foot tall cavity at the bottom of the glacier. The melt rates around the cavity for 2020-21 were 50% greater than the melt rates for 2016-19, and, during 2022, the cavity stayed open the entire year.
What's especially concerning to the study authors is that what happens in Petermann may not stay in Petermann.
"These dynamics are not included in models," Rignot said.
If they were included, it could double sea-level rise projections, the study authors observed.
Hélène Seroussi, a glaciologist at Dartmouth College who was not involved with the study, cautionedThe Washington Post that models for ice melt and sea-level rise would not incorporate these findings overnight, since scientists still need to determine how many glaciers they really apply to. However, Seroussi acknowledged that the measurements were unprecedented.
"The melt rates reported are very large, much larger than anything we suspected in this region," Seroussi said.
Andreas Muenchow of the University of Delaware, a scientist who studies Petermann Glacier but was also not a part of the study, further told the Post that the high melt rates were observed over a relatively small area.
"My main takeaway is that models need to be improved," Muenchow said.
Members of Congress, legal scholars, and even the union representing federal workers are calling on the White House to answer the GOP's economic hostage-taking with unilateral action to prevent a default.
As congressional leaders prepare for a Tuesday meeting at the White House, Congressman Jamie Raskin, a constitutional scholar, affirmed Sunday that if GOP lawmakers won't raise the debt ceiling without major spending cuts, President Joe Biden can invoke the 14th Amendment to keep borrowing and avert a catastrophic first-ever U.S. default.
Section 4 of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution says in part, "The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law... shall not be questioned."
Asked whether the president could and should use that part of the amendment to combat Republican efforts to hold the global economy hostage, Raskin (D-Md.) told MSNBC's Jen Pskai—Biden's former press secretary—that "I think he has that authority under these circumstances, absolutely, because the Congress has put him in a constitutionally untenable position."
\u201c.@jrpsaki Do you think President Biden has the authority to invoke the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling on its own? \n\n@RepRaskin: "I think he has that authority under these circumstances, absolutely. The Congress has put him in a constitutionally untenable position."\u201d— Inside with Jen Psaki (@Inside with Jen Psaki) 1683483272
"If he decides to default for the country, he's... violating the Constitution, because the 14th Amendment says you can't do that," Raskin said of Biden, pointing to a New York Times opinion piece by Harvard University professor emeritus Laurence Tribe.
Tribe—whose previous students include Raskin along with former President Barack Obama, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, and Supreme Court Justices John Roberts and Elena Kagan—detailed why he has changed his mind on the debt limit argument.
"The question isn't whether the president can tear up the debt limit statute to ensure that the Treasury Department can continue paying bills submitted by veterans' hospitals or military contractors or even pension funds that purchased government bonds," he wrote Sunday. "The question isn't whether the president can in effect become a one-person Supreme Court, striking down laws passed by Congress."
The right question is whether Congress—after passing the spending bills that created these debts in the first place—can invoke an arbitrary dollar limit to force the president and his administration to do its bidding.
There is only one right answer to that question, and it is no.
And there is only one person with the power to give Congress that answer: the president of the United States. As a practical matter, what that means is this: Mr. Biden must tell Congress in no uncertain terms—and as soon as possible, before it's too late to avert a financial crisis—that the United States will pay all its bills as they come due, even if the Treasury Department must borrow more than Congress has said it can.
Praising Tribe's piece for the Times, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted early Monday: "The Treasury has the [constitutional] obligation to pay our debts and spend the money Congress has already directed it to do. It really is that straightforward."
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen warned in a letter to House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) last week that "our best estimate is that we will be unable to continue to satisfy all of the government's obligations by early June, and potentially as early as June 1."
Appearing on ABC's "The Week" Sunday, Yellen confirmed the timeline she laid out for the speaker is "still our current thinking" and explained that "we've been using extraordinary measures for several months now, and our ability to do that is running out."
While acknowledging that Biden said Friday he was not yet ready to invoke the 14th Amendment, ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Yellen if it was still a possibility. She would not explicitly address whether the White House is considering the move, instead stressing that "our priority is to make sure that Congress does its job."
"There is no way to protect our financial system and our economy other than Congress doing its job and raising the debt ceiling and enabling us to pay our bills," Yellen said. "And we should not get to the point where we need to consider whether the president can go on issuing debt. This would be a constitutional crisis."
\u201cTwelve years ago, then-President Obama closed the door on using the 14th Amendment to resolve a Republican-imposed debt ceiling crisis. President Biden, however, is leaving that door wide open. (via MaddowBlog) https://t.co/srUQmMkREf\u201d— MSNBC (@MSNBC) 1683570644
Led by McCarthy, House Republicans last month passed their so-called Limit, Save, Grow Act, which would raise the debt ceiling by $1.5 trillion or until March 31, 2024—whichever comes first—but also impose dramatic cuts that would notably impact lower-income households. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has repeatedly called the bill "dead on arrival."
House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.) and fellow Democrats are working on a "discharge petition" effort to force a vote on a clean bill raising the debt limit, but doing so would require support from at least five Republicans, which is unlikely.
In a Monday letter to Schumer, 43 GOP senators made clear that they are "united behind the House Republican conference in support of spending cuts and structural budget reform as a starting point for negotiations on the debt ceiling."
Meanwhile, Schumer, Jeffries, and other Democratic leaders on Monday released an updated version of their recent report warning that Republicans forcing a default would be catastrophic, "but even the threat of breaching the debt ceiling can have serious economic consequences for families."
Biden is set to meet with McCarthy, Jeffries, Schumer, and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Tuesday "for what he called a separate negotiation on fiscal policy—even though it is effectively linked to the debt limit drama," the Timesnoted Monday.
The newspaper added:
White House officials said this weekend that Mr. Biden has been publicly and privately adamant that he will not bargain with Republicans over raising the limit. "Let's get it straight: They're trying to hold the debt hostage to get us to agree to some draconian cuts, magnificently difficult and damaging cuts," Mr. Biden told a meeting of cabinet members and other economic officials on Friday.
Citing three unnamed sources with knowledge of internal conversations, The Washington Postreported Monday that White House officials see unilateral actions—from invoking the 14th Amendment to minting a platinum coin worth $1 trillion—as "risky choices that could cause lasting economic damage" but also "do not want to take the proposals completely off the table."
The National Association of Government Employees (NAGE), which represents about 75,000 federal employees, cited the 14th Amendment in a federal lawsuit filed Monday that seeks to have the debt limit law declared unconstitutional.
NAGE's complaint, which names Biden and Yellen as defendants, argues the debt limit statute "is unconstitutional because it puts the president in a quandary to exercise discretion to continue borrowing to pay for the programs which Congress has heretofore duly authorized and for which Congress has appropriated funds or to stop borrowing and to determine which of these programs the president, and not the Congress, will suspend, curtail, or cancel altogether."
The filing adds that NAGE "seeks to protect all its members from additional extraordinary measures as well as major spending-related actions that will necessarily be taken without approval of Congress and that result in layoffs, furloughs, requirements for unpaid work, and loss of funding of the pensions and retirement plans of its members."