Democrats Pan ‘Cynical And Immoral’ GOP Health Care Bill After CBO Score Released

Congressional Democrats immediately lobbed harsh criticism at the GOP Senate health care bill after a Congressional Budget Office estimateshowed 22 million people stand to lose health insurance coverage if the bill becomes law.

The legislation intends to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare, and has already faced tough criticism from Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who last week described the proposals tax savings for the wealthy as blood money.

Mondays CBO score confirmed what those Democrats already suspected: Because the bill dramatically scales back funding for Medicaid, millions will lose their health coverage over the next decade, and savings will mostly be transferred to health care companies and wealthy individuals via tax cuts.

Throwing 22 million Americans off of health insurance, raising premiums for older Americans, defunding Planned Parenthood and giving $231 billion in tax breaks to the top 2 percent is a cynical and immoral proposal, said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), one of the bills most prominent critics. The reality is that this so-called health care bill is nothing more than a massive transfer of wealth from working families to the very rich.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) had a more concise assessment:

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) described the bill as a humanitarian catastrophe waiting to happen.

Other Democrats questioned how Republicans could support the bill known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act in good conscience.

After working largely in secret, Senate Republicans unveiled their version of the House-approved health care bill last Thursday.In addition to its draconian cuts to Medicaid, the bill will also change the private insurance market by adjusting financial assistance eligibility benchmarks to include fewer middle-class people and by reducing the amount of assistance people will receive.

It would also effectively eliminate the Affordable Care Acts individual mandate, which requires most Americans to purchase health insurance or face a tax penalty,and would give states the ability to waive requirements for coverage of essential benefits and eliminate many taxes for health care companies.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has pushed to hold a vote on this bill this week, though he has yet to come up with the votes necessary to pass it.

Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), one of several GOP senators who have so far declined to back the bill, said he didnt think lawmakers had enough information to cast a vote yet.

Theres no way we should be voting on this next week, he said. Theres no way.

Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Dean Heller (R-Nev.) have also publicly opposed the bill in its current form.

Read more:

People are trolling the Obamacare repeal hashtag #HellerVoteYes

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller is a no on the Senate's healthcare bill.
Image: Monsivais/AP/REX/Shutterstock

Nevada Sen. Dean Heller became the first Republican on Friday to say he wouldn’t vote for the Senate’s bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act because of its cuts to healthcare benefits for low-income Americans.

Naturally, a conservative, pro-Trump interest group is lobbying the senator to change his mind about the GOP effort to replace Obamacare. One of them promoted a trending hashtag on Twitter: “HellerVoteYes.”

Well, since the Republicans’ bill would eliminate most health services provided to the poor through Medicaid and raise costs for millions of Americans, people quickly seized on the hashtag to lobby Heller in the other directionand criticize Twitter for promoting the pro-repeal hashtag in the first place.

Four other Republicans are set to vote no on the bill, but only because they don’t think it goes far enough. Maybe #HellerVoteNo will start trending too.

Read more:

Clinton: GOP will become the ‘death party’ if Senate bill passes

Former presidential nominee Hillary Clinton came out swinging in a tweet Friday, saying if Senate Republicans pass their current healthcare bill, they will become the death party.

Clintons post referenced an article from the Center for American Progress, an independent nonpartisan policy institute, which cited Harvard researchers as saying the Senate bill could result in 18,000 to 28,000 deaths in 2026.

The tweet from Clinton follows an earlier tweet urging her supporters to “speak out against” the bill.

In a lengthy Facebook post on Thursday, former president Barack Obama offered his take on the bill, saying “if theres a chance you might get sick, get old, or start a family this bill will do you harm.”

Former vice president Joe Biden also tweeted his opinion of the GOP health care bill on Friday evening, labeling the legislation a “wealth transfer.”

Read more:

London fire: Inquest versus inquiry – BBC News

Image copyright Jason Hawkes
Image caption At least 79 people are now missing, presumed dead, following the fire in west London

Following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower there have been calls for both an inquest and a public inquiry.

The prime minister has announced that there will be a public inquiry, but how will that differ from an inquest?

More importantly, which will provide the best chance of delivering answers to the critical and haunting questions of what caused the fire, and which organisations or individuals bear responsibility?


An inquest is an independent inquiry into a violent or unexplained death, so as a matter of course, there will be inquests into those who lost their lives in Grenfell Tower.

Inquests are held in public and conducted by a coroner.

The coronial system can be traced back to the 11th century. The inquest is inquisitorial and not adversarial – that is, the process does not seek to determine or apportion responsibility for the death. Its remit is limited: it solely determines who, where and how the deceased died.

But inquests can be expanded if Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights – the right to life – is invoked.

There is a general duty on the part of the state to protect life, and Article 2 inquests are held where the state or a public body may have played a part in the death of a person, or failed to protect a life when it knew – or ought to have known – of a real and immediate risk to the life of that person.

Image copyright other
Image caption The Hillsborough inquests found that all 96 Liverpool fans had been unlawfully killed in 1989

Such inquests will generally be conducted with a jury, and can be greatly expanded to become wider reaching inquiries into not only by what means the deceased died, but also the circumstances surrounding the death.

This can cover the involvement of a range of private and public organisations. The recent inquest into the death of 96 football fans at Hillsborough in 1989 was an example of this expanded “Article 2” type of inquest.

The coroner can make what are known as Regulation 28 recommendations to prevent future deaths. This involves writing to individuals, bodies or organisations and advising what they need to do to prevent future deaths or guard against danger to the public.

However, these recommendations have no legal force. The person, body or organisation in question may face overwhelming moral pressure to comply, but would not be under a legal duty to do so.

Sometimes the bodies or organisations concerned will already have reviewed or changed systems or practices in advance of the inquest. If they have not and they do not comply with the recommendations, it is then down to government to legislate to change the law to prevent or guard against further loss of life.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Judge Frances Kirkham made clear recommendations after the 2009 Lakanal House fire

The lack of legal force behind coroners’ recommendations was seen after the inquests in 2013 into the death of three adults and three children who died in a fire at the Lakanal House flats in Camberwell, south-east London.

The coroner, Judge Frances Kirkham, made clear recommendations, which included updating the building regulations and clarification of the “stay put” policy which advises residents to remain in their flats in the event of a fire. Those recommendations were not followed by ministers.

What does have legal force is the inquest’s determination as to the cause of death, commonly known as the “verdict”. The verdicts available to a coroner or a jury are prescribed by statute. These include suicide, accident, open verdict and unlawful killing.

Where there is a jury inquest, the coroner will advise the jury as to what verdicts are available to them.

The legal consequences of a verdict can be seen for example in unlawful killing. Here there is a presumption – though not an absolute obligation – that the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) will take action against those responsible.

The CPS is currently considering criminal charges against a range of people and organisations following the finding last year that 96 fans were unlawfully killed at the Hillsborough disaster in 1989.

Public Inquiry

Public inquiries are designed to establish what happened, learn from events, prevent any recurrence, and reassure. Unlike inquests they do hold people to account.

However, public inquiries are set up by the government. It appoints the chair who is normally a senior judge.

The Grenfell Tower inquiry is likely to be established under the Inquiries Act, which means the chair will have statutory powers to summon witnesses, compel them to give evidence on oath and produce evidence.

That can strengthen the power of an inquiry over an inquest. Counsel to the inquiry can put detailed questions to witnesses, both on behalf of the inquiry itself and at the request of key interested parties.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Relatives of the Bloody Sunday victims react to the Saville Report, which stated that all victims were innocent

Some take the view that because the government establishes the public inquiry, holds its purse strings and sets its terms of reference, it can lack independence.

Public inquires have also been criticised for the time they take and the cost to the public purse. The “Bloody Sunday” inquiry into the deaths of 13 people during the troubles in Northern Ireland took 12 years and cost around 200m – though some estimates put the figure far higher.

However, there are many examples of robust, independent public inquires that have been conducted efficiently.

The “Mid Staffs” inquiry into the scandal of poor care at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust conducted by Robert Francis QC, which was run on a punishing timetable and made a raft of important recommendations taken on board by government, is often held up as an example of how a public inquiry should be run.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Robert Francis QC was widely praised for the way he ran the Mid Staffs public inquiry

However, it should be noted that like a coroner’s recommendations, those of a public inquiry have no legal force.

The Mid Staffs example also illustrates the critical importance of selecting the right person to chair the inquiry.

That person sets the tone and needs the right mix of high level interpersonal skills to communicate with the families of victims and win their trust, the intellectual ability to master technical evidence and regulations (this will cover complex construction issues and building regulations in the case of Grenfell Tower), and the personality to drive the inquiry legal teams effectively and efficiently.

Which works best for victims and their families?

Both can work well.

Hillsborough is an example of a long and painstaking inquest that addressed the needs of victims’ families.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Robert Francis QC met relatives of patients who were mistreated at Stafford Hospital

The Mid Staffs public inquiry was an example of a successful inquiry that did the same.

There are however issues around the representation of victims and their families.

At inquiries, victims and their families are given the status of “core participants”, and it is up to the chair to ensure that they are given legal advice and representation that puts them on an equal footing with well-funded private and public bodies. The money for that representation comes direct from government and legal aid does not apply.

At inquests, publicly-funded legal representation is not automatic. However, following a tragedy on the scale of Grenfell Tower, it would in all likelihood be provided. Whether this would ensure “equality of arms” with other bodies involved in inquests, is open to question.

In the Queen’s speech, the government announced plans to introduce an independent public advocate for all public disasters, who would act on behalf of bereaved families and also support them at public inquests.

There is no detail on quite how the public advocate will operate, but it would seem that the role is one of supporting families rather than representing them at inquests,

Inquests, inquiries and criminal proceedings

Inquests will generally not be held or completed until all criminal investigations and prosecutions have taken place.

Public inquiries can take place alongside criminal investigations, but must be respectful of them and not prejudice their outcome.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Lord Justice Leveson had to conduct his inquiry at the same time as criminal proceedings

This was seen in the Leveson Inquiry into press standards which had to tread carefully around concurrent criminal prosecutions.

Some will favour an inquest, others a public inquiry.

The truth is that both, if well run, well funded and with powerful recommendations that are acted upon by government, can be highly effective ways of progressing justice and ensuring that similar avoidable tragedies never happen again.

Read more:

Fruit and veg farmers facing migrant labour shortages – BBC News

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media captionFruit farmers are finding it hard to recruit pickers

UK summer fruit and salad growers are having difficulty recruiting pickers, with more than half saying they don’t know if they will have enough migrant workers to harvest their crops.

Many growers blame the weak pound which has reduced their workers’ earning power, as well as uncertainty over Brexit, according to a BBC survey.

About 80,000 seasonal workers a year pick and process British fruit and veg.

Most of them are from the European Union, mainly Romania and Bulgaria.

One in five growers says they already have fewer pickers than they need.

British Summer Fruits, the body which represents soft fruit growers, says labour shortages are now the worst seen since 2004.

Recruitment was getting harder even before the vote to leave the EU. But the industry believes Brexit is exacerbating the problem and if access to non-UK workers dries up, it could cripple home-grown berry production.

Big response

Their concern is backed up by an in-depth survey of growers by the BBC.

The questionnaire was sent to members of the British Leafy Salad Association and British Summer Fruits, which represent 90% of growers in their sector.

There was a big response. Three-quarters of growers completed the survey, which was carried out between 16 May and 5 June, as harvesting started to peak.

We asked if they had enough seasonal workers for the start of the main picking season:

  • 32% said they weren’t sure
  • 18% said they had slightly fewer than they needed
  • Just over 3% reported having many fewer than required
  • 42% said they had just enough
  • 1% said they had more than enough

Meanwhile, 78% of respondents said recruitment had been more difficult than last year, with 20% saying it had been the hardest for years.

‘Not comfortable’

At Wilkin and Sons in Essex, the picking season for strawberries is in full swing. But this year, they have 20% fewer workers than they would like.

“We’re managing, but we’re not comfortable,” said joint managing director Chris Newenham.

“Our seasonal workers are a critical resource for us to be able to save our crop each year. And the logical extension of not being able to harvest that crop is that we will have to bring our production in from overseas and that’s a position none of us want to see. ”

He’s not the only one. Of those surveyed, 71% said they would consider reducing UK production if there were future restrictions on seasonal workers.

British Summer Fruits has commissioned its own separate report, just published, on the potential implications for its growers, and consumers, of Brexit.

It warns that soft fruit prices could rise by up to 50% if the UK relied solely on imports.

“It is inconceivable that people who voted to leave the European Union wanted to destroy an iconic and incredibly competitive British horticulture industry,” said Laurence Olins, chairman of British Summer Fruits.

“Failure to secure the future of soft fruit production in the UK will have a negative impact on the economy, family budgets, the nation’s health, UK food security and the environment,” he added.

So why doesn’t horticulture, now a 3bn industry, simply try to employ British workers?

The answer is straightforward for Beverley Dixon, from G’s Fresh, which employs some 2,500 seasonal workers growing salad crops across large areas of Cambridgeshire and Norfolk, as well as other farms dotted across the UK.

“We operate in areas of such low unemployment, so here in Cambridgeshire, it’s less than 1.5%,” she said.

“So there simply aren’t the people available to do the work, added to which UK people tend to want permanent year-round work and this is seasonal work.’

Reliance on migrant workers isn’t a specific challenge for the UK, according to David Swales, analyst at the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board.

“If we look at other developed countries around the world, places like Australia and New Zealand, they source labour from the Pacific Islands.

“In the US, they source labour from Mexico and the Caribbean countries. So there are a number of places where countries have to go outside their borders to source the seasonal workers that they need,” he added.

Obvious solution?

The nationalities of these workers have changed over the decades in the UK. There used to be a seasonal agricultural workers scheme which allowed growers and farmers to attract workers from across the world.

The industry says it worked and believes it’s the obvious solution now Britain has decided to leave the EU.

During a recent select committee inquiry into seasonal labour shortfalls, the government said net migration figures showed that sufficient labour was available in the UK and that there was currently no need for a seasonal agricultural workers scheme for migrants.

The BBC survey is hard evidence that recruitment has proved tougher this year, with some shortages reported.

A government spokesperson said: “The government places great value on the UK’s food and farming industries, both as a crucial component of the UK economy and of the fabric of rural Britain.

“We are determined to get the best deal for the UK in our negotiations to leave the EU, not least for our world-leading food and farming industry, which is a key part of our nation’s economic success.”

Read more:

Republicans Hold On To Mick Mulvaney’s Old House Seat In South Carolina

Republican Ralph Norman won Tuesdays special election in South Carolina for a U.S. House seat, defeating Democrat Archie Parnellin the solidly GOP 5th Congressional District, according to The Associated Press.

Norman, a 63-year-old real estate developer and former state lawmaker, replaces fellow Republican Mick Mulvaney, who left Congress to become President Donald Trumps budget director.

Parnell, a 66-year-old tax attorney, mounted an unusually ambitious challenge in the district where the conservative Mulvaney cruised to re-election in 2016.His scrappy campaign, and the support it received from the national Democratic Party, excited local activists accustomed to being written off by party leaders.

Michele Horne, 42, a Rock Hill-based supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) who volunteered for Parnell, blamed the outcome on her fellow constituents strong identification with the Republican Party.

South Carolinians still have not gotten to the point where they can look at issues versus keeping it strictly partisan politics, said Horne, a co-founder of the progressive #DemEnter group. On the issues, Archie is clearly a better choice for anybody who lives in the state other than very wealthy people.

Norman is likely to add to the strength of the Houses contingent of fiscal hard-liners. He has said he would consider joining the House Freedom Caucus, a group Mulvaney helped found and which is comprised of the chambers most conservative Republicans.

Norman campaigned heavily on his commitment to helping Trump enact his agenda, including the repeal of Obamacare. He has also embraced raising the Social Security retirement age and, following last weeks shooting of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and others at a baseball field, said he believes more members of Congress should carry guns.

In addition, Norman touted the endorsements of high-profile national conservatives, including Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Fox News host Sean Hannity.

Trump recorded a robocall for Norman over the weekend and tweeted his support for the GOP candidate on Monday:

The district, a largely rural swath of the state that stretches from Sumter in the south to the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina, was always going to be difficult territory for a Democrat.

Mulvaney was reelected there in 2016 by 20 percentage points, and Trump defeated DemocratHillary Clinton among the districts voters by 18.5 points.

But in a year when Democrats have been champing at the bit to humble Trump with upset victories in special election races, including Georgias 6th Congressional District, which they also lost late Tuesday, Parnell ran his partys most formidable campaign in the district since 2010. That was when Mulvaney unseated veteran Rep.John Spratt, ending the Democrats more-than-century-long hold on the seat.

Parnell raised $763,000 for his bid, including $305,000 that he either lent or donated to the campaign. Norman raised $1.3 million, much of which also came from his own pocket.

The national attention and resources showered on what polls showed to be a neck-and-neck special election Tuesday in Georgias 6th congressional district overshadowed the race in South Carolina.

But Democrats in Washington did not ignore Parnell entirely.

Shortly after Parnell released an internal poll at the end of May showing that he had narrowed Normans lead to 10 percentage points, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee contributed $275,000 to his bid.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez, DNC Associate Chairman Jaime Harrison and American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten canvassed for Parnell as part of the kickoff of the DNCs Resistance Summer. Former Maryland Gov. Martin OMalley and Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan also campaigned for Parnell in person, while former Vice President Joe Biden taped a robocall for him.

Ralph Norman for Congress
Republican Ralph Norman, right, campaigns in South Carolina’s 5th District.

Parnell was previously a tax adviser for Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs. Before entering the private sector, he served as a tax attorney for the Department of Justice and staff director of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Rather than shy away from his lucrative Hong Kong-based stint at Goldman Sachs, Parnell claimed that experience gave him the expertise needed to cut middle-class families taxes and close corporate tax loopholes. He even laughed about it on more than one occasion.

I know enough about our crazy tax code to absolutely bore you to tears, Parnell said in Know-How, one of two ads he aired on television.

You have no idea, Parnells wife Sara deadpanned.

Seeking the support of Republicans and independents, Parnell emphasized his commitment to compromising with lawmakers on the other side of the aisle and rejected a push for single-payer health insurance in favor of fixing Obamacare.

At the same time, he didnt back away from more progressive Democratic positions, such as calling for importation of safe prescription drugs and opposing all cuts to Social Security benefits. He also went on record supporting the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform law, abortion rights and closing the default to proceed loophole that allows guns sales without background checks if the FBI fails to complete the screening within three days.

With positions like those, Parnell managed to attract the enthusiastic backing of the local Sanders supporters.

I like the idea that he understands how business works, said Susan Maxson, a 54-year-old Sanders enthusiast and campaign volunteer. Im not gonna hold his previous employer against him by any means.

Read more:

Wonderschool gets $2M to help solve Americas childcare quandary

In the U.S., childcare presents a nerve-wracking quagmire for parents. Its expensivealmost a fifth of American families spend more than a quarter of their income on childcarebut that doesnt mean its a lucrative business. In fact, many caregivers make so little that they cant afford childcare for their own kids and drop out of the workforce. Wonderschool, which just raised $2 million in seed funding led by First Round Capital, wants to solve that problem by serving as a platform for qualified providers to make a better income by opening their own in-home daycares or preschools.

Other participants in Wonderschools seed round include Cross Culture Ventures, SoftTech VC, Lerer Ventures, FundersClub, and Edelweiss. The funding will be used to expand Wonderschool into 15 new cities over the next year and a half (its platform currently has about 50 in-home daycares and preschools in California).

Wonderschools two co-founders, CEO Chris Bennett and CTO Arrel Gray, previously launched Soldsie, an e-commerce company that enables businesses to sell products through their social media profiles. The two made the leap from e-commerce to childcare after Gray had trouble finding a good daycare for his toddler near his home.

We saw too many parents who were anxious and scared about finding childcare, as well as educators who couldnt afford care for their own children while they were at work, says Bennett. We knew that there had to be a better way to address this issue for families and teachers alike.

Wonderschools team, including founders Chris Bennett (far left) and Arrel Gray (second from right)

Caregivers are picked based on their credentials, experience, education, and location. All need to have a state license, maintain liability insurance (that Wonderschool pays for), meet health and safety standards, and follow a daily routine. Bennett says that 76 percent of Wonderschools partners have a bachelors degree, while 32 percent have also completed graduate school.

But working in childcare often means that higher education does not translate into higher earnings. Many caregivers and teachers stop working simply because of the cost of childcare for their own kids was almost as much as their income. In fact, about a third of Wonderschools directors were stay-at-home parents before they joined the platform.

When early childhood educators leave the workforce, however, that means other parents have even fewer options. In many cities, parents join waitlists before their children are even born in order to ensure they get a spot in a good program. The average income of Wonderschool providers (many of whom live in expensive areas like the Bay Area and Los Angeles) before joining the program was less than $38,000 before taxes. The company claims that most make around double that average after joining the platform.

Wonderschools platform can help with demand because it allows providers to start programs any time of the year and also gives parents transparency into availability and pricing so they dont have to wait in suspense to find out if their child has a spot.

Many of the providers Wonderschool works with are experienced early childhood educators (a glance at their site reveals a lot of teachers who are inspired by educators like Maria Montesorri, Reggio Emilia, or Rudolf Steiner). In California, Wonderschools providers are licensed by the state to run programs in their homes.

Bennet says that the benefits of in-home daycares or preschools versus traditional centers often include smaller group sizes, lower child-to-teacher ratios, and mixed-age groups that allow younger kids to observe and learn from older children. For many parents, its also reassuring to have the same person take care of their child for years, instead of transitioning to new caregivers, which usually happens in larger daycare centers based on age groups.

One of the main drawbacks of in-home daycares or preschools is that if the provider needs to take time off, parents are often left scrambling to find other childcare arrangements. Wonderschools network means it is able to help parents find backup care among its other providers.

Wonderschool finds most of its program directors (which is what it calls its providers) through word-of-mouth and local events. If they pass Wonderschools screening process, the company guides them through the steps of setting up a businessdefining their educational philosophy, setting a daily schedule for kids, figuring out what rate to charge parentsand then create a profile for them on Wonderschools marketplace.

Parents can book a tour, sign up for waiting lists, and enroll through the site. If issues arise once they do find a daycare, Wonderschool serves as an intermediary between them and their providers. The startup helps providers set a tuition rate, manage discounts, and accept government subsidies from parents who qualify. Its platform also takes care of the administrative tasks that can bog down in-home daycare providers, like marketing and payments, and helps them meet state healthy and safety standards.

The companys goal is to give more children the same opportunities Bennett had when he was young.

My appreciation for education goes back to my parents, working class, Honduran immigrants who did whatever they could to ensure that my sister and I had access to excellent education, from attending quality preschool to graduating from Penn, Bennett says. I want to ensure other children have the same opportunities to reach their full potential.

Read more:

Celeb Dads Celebrating Their First Father’s Day!

You may not think George Clooney and Rob Kardashian may have much in common, but they’re both celebrating their first Father’s Day today!

What a time to be alive!

We can only imagine how these proud poppas will be celebrating with their beautiful children, but however they do, we’re wishing them a beautiful day! And also lots of presents…

Ch-ch-check out some other first-time fathers (below)!

CLICK HERE to view “Celeb Dads Celebrating Their First Father’s Day!”

CLICK HERE to view “Celeb Dads Celebrating Their First Father’s Day!”

CLICK HERE to view “Celeb Dads Celebrating Their First Father’s Day!”

CLICK HERE to view “Celeb Dads Celebrating Their First Father’s Day!”

CLICK HERE to view “Celeb Dads Celebrating Their First Father’s Day!”

[Image via Judy Eddy/Lexi JonesWENN.]

Read more:

The Latest: UK’s May Meets Fire Survivors, Faces Criticism

London (AP) — The Latest on the London high-rise fire (all times local):

8:40 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May, facing criticism for the government's handling of the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, has met with 15 survivors and community leaders at her official residence at 10 Downing Street in London.

The meeting lasted more than two hours Saturday but the group did not speak to reporters gathered outside.

The meeting is unlikely to quell complaints that May has been slow to reach out to fire survivors, despite her announcement of a $6.4 million emergency fund to help displaced families. Some 600 people were living in the tower's 120 apartments. Police say 58 people at the tower are now confirmed or presumed dead. All the rest are homeless.

May said after the meeting there have been "huge frustrations" in the community as people tried to get information about the fire investigation. She says "the support on the ground for families who needed help or basic information in the initial hours after this appalling disaster was not good enough."


3:40 p.m.

London police say 58 people who were in Grenfell Tower are still missing and assumed to be dead.

Police Commander Stuart Cundy said Saturday that this number, which was based on reports from the public, may rise. He says it will take weeks or longer to recover and identify all the dead in the public housing block that was devastated by a fire early Wednesday.

He said there may have been people in the tower that police are not aware of, which would add to the death toll.

He says the search for remains had been paused because of safety concerns but has resumed. Emergency workers have reached the top of the 24-story tower.

Cundy promised an exhausting investigation into the tragedy. He says "my heart goes out to those affected."


2:20 p.m.

London's fire department says that the reason for the subway closure near the high-rise fire disaster is because of a "short-term risk of some debris falling onto the tracks."

Earlier, a sign at a Tube station said that the service suspension was because of the "safety" of nearby Grenfell Tower, suggesting structural concerns. A new sign was put up, removing that detail.

A fire department spokesman said crews are working to secure the debris so that two subway lines could be reopened as soon as possible.

At least 30 people were killed in Wednesday's inferno, which left Grenfell Tower a charred hulk.


1:30 p.m.

Service on two London Underground lines has been partially suspended because of concerns about the safety of the high-rise in the fire that killed at least 30 people.

The 24-story Grenfell Tower in the north Kensington neighborhood in west London is near several major transport hubs. The building was gutted in a blaze early Wednesday morning that has also left dozens missing and hundreds of others homeless.

Major roads near the stricken building were open Saturday. Police have established a security cordon around the building to protect public safety and allow searchers easy access to the wrecked building.


1:20 p.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May will meet with survivors of the London high-rise fire at her Downing Street office.

The announcement by a spokesman comes a day after May was heckled during a visit to the west London neighborhood where Wednesday's inferno took place. At least 30 people have been killed, hundreds of others have been left homeless and dozens of others are missing. There has been growing public anger at the government's initial response to the disaster's aftermath and reports that external paneling put up during a recent renovation contributed to the flames' rapid spread.

May is chairing a government task force on the fire and a spokesman says that she will meet afterward with "a group of residents, victims, volunteers and community leaders" at No. 10 Downing Street.


12:45 p.m.

A soccer player says that he will donate 50 pounds (more than $60) for each minute he plays at a European youth tournament to the victims of London's high-rise inferno.

Hector Bellerin, who is in Spain's team at UEFA's European Under-21 Championship, made the announcement on Twitter , saying "please support in any way." Spain faces Macedonia on Saturday night in the tournament, which is being played in Poland. If Bellerin plays a full 90 minutes, not including added time, he would donate 4,500 pounds (about $5,750) per match. Bellerin, a defender, also plays for London club Arsenal.

At least 30 people were killed in the fire at Grenfell Tower in the west London neighborhood of north Kensington. Hundreds of others have been left homeless and dozens are missing.


10:50 a.m.

Queen Elizabeth II and her husband Prince Philip have observed a minute of silence to honor the victims of the London high-rise fire.

The queen and Philip stood silently before the start of the annual Trooping the Color procession that marks the queen's official birthday.

She said earlier that the national mood is somber but that Britain is resolute in the face of adversity.

The queen's official birthday is marked in June when the weather is often nicer than in April, the actual month of her birth. She is 91.

At least 30 people have died in Wednesday's fire and dozens are missing.


10:20 a.m.

British health authorities say they are still treating 19 patients, 10 of whom remain in critical condition after the London high-rise fire.

NHS England says the injured are being treated in four London hospitals. At least 30 people were killed in Wednesday's inferno at the Grenfell Tower, while dozens of others are missing.

The fire at the 24-story building has led to community anger and protests over the British government's response. The public is also demanding answers about how the blaze spread so quickly amid reports that the recently-renovated building's exterior paneling fueled the flames.


7:50 a.m.

More than 3 million pounds ($3.8 million) has been raised for victims of the London high-rise fire that has killed at least 30 people and left dozens homeless.

Londoners and others have also donated huge amounts of food, water and clothing, and shelter, to survivors.

Three appeals on the JustGiving site have helped to raise the 3 million pounds, and London's Evening Standard newspaper has launched a separate appeal that has raised at least 1.5 million pounds ($1.9 million) by Saturday morning. The British government has announced a 5 million-pound ($6.3 million) emergency fund for the victims.

The inferno Wednesday morning at the 24-story Grenfell Tower has led to community anger and protests over the government's response.


7:20 a.m.

London firefighters are continuing the grim search after a high-rise fire that killed at least 30 people as public anger about the blaze continues to grow.

Many are demanding answers for how the blaze spread so quickly. Britain's Press Association says around 70 people are missing.

Queen Elizabeth II marked her official birthday Saturday by saying Britain remains "resolute in the face of adversity" after the horrendous fire and recent extremist attacks in London and Manchester.

The 91-year-old monarch said it is "difficult to escape a very somber mood" on what is normally a day of celebration.

The government has promised a full public inquiry.

Scuffles broke out near the Kensington and Chelsea town hall offices Friday as demonstrators chanting "We want justice!" surged toward the doors.

    Read more:

    Baby reacts to aunt’s EEG leads and the internet can’t handle the cuteness

    The internet fell in love with a confused little girl.

    Blogger Jordyn Smith uploaded some photos to Twitter of her niece reacting to her EEG leads, and of course, it was simply precious.

    Smith has epilepsy and her EEG (electroencephalogram) leads are used to monitor her brain activity.

    Image: Jordyn smith

    Babies, however, don’t understand what any of this means, so 9-month-old Amina was pretty confused when she saw her auntie.

    Image: jordyn smith

    Image: jordyn smith

    Image: jordyn smith

    At the time of this writing, Smith’s post has been retweeted over 70,000 times and has even become a meme.

    Smith retweeted some of her favorites.

    Many people were just shook with how adorable Smith’s niece is.

    Smith was delighted that so many people found humor in the photos.

    “I felt so embarrassed when I first had to wear the leads for three days and didn’t even want to leave my house,” Smith said in an email. “But I took those pictures of her and… just realized how easy you can make light of a crummy situation.”

    “Life sucks sometimes and that’s okay!”

    Smith has been blogging for a year-and-a-half but only recently went public about her medical struggles. She finds it rewarding that documenting her health journey has sparked other people to reach out about “their own battle with epilepsy.”

    Since the tweet about her niece went viral, Smith says that people have been sending her pictures of them wearing “EEG’s when they otherwise would’ve been self conscious.”

    Smith wearing EEG leads

    Image: jordyn smith

    Overall, Smith had this to say:

    “A lot of the time people just want you to ‘be positive,’ but what I blog about is about increasing positivity but also accepting that life sucks sometimes and that’s okay! And to just make the best out of it.”

    Jordyn with her niece, Amina

    Image: jordyn smith

    Read more: