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Vox Sentences: Egypt’s LGBTQ community isn’t safe

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Chinese President Xi Jinping consolidates power; the new bipartisan health care bill has already hit a snag; Egyptian authorities are intensifying a crackdown on LGBTQ people.


China’s president tightens his grip on power

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  • Chinese officials gathered today for the country's most important political event, the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party, where they will select new leaders. [CNN / Katie Hunt and Steven Jiang]
  • There’s not a lot of suspense around the outcome of the elections. Chinese President Xi Jinping will likely hold on for another five-year term, especially as he’s spent much of his first term consolidating power. [NPR / Anthony Kuhn]
  • Xi’s message to party leaders at the Congress is that the communist power should exercise control over pretty much every aspect of life in China, even more so than it already does. Xi also called on the country to advance its position on the world stage. [Washington Post / Simon Denyer]
  • Xi has a firm grip on power already; in addition to being president, he’s also the leader of the Chinese Communist Party and controls the military, which is more control than previous presidents have had. In recent weeks, a few prominent generals have disappeared from public view. [NYT / Chris Buckley and Steven Lee Myers]
  • The president’s term has seen a targeted crackdown on corruption in the Communist Party, with purges of some of its central figures. [Financial Times / Tom Mitchell]
  • Xi has also gone after dissidents, human rights lawyers, and free speech in general. Life in China is rife with censorship, and the government monitors social media and messaging apps. [BBC / Stephen McDonnell]
  • This crackdown has extended into the Chinese countryside, where the government scrutinizes the every move of Chinese Uighurs, a Muslim minority group. The rationale for the increased surveillance is that the government is keeping tabs on possible terror plots, but people in the region say police monitor every aspect of their lives and throw them in jail for minor offenses. [BuzzFeed / Megha Rajagopalan]

The new bipartisan health care deal is on thin ice

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  • About a week after President Trump cut off key federal subsidies, weakening the Affordable Care Act, two senators cut a bipartisan deal to try to stabilize the federal health care law. [The Hill / Peter Sullivan]
  • Republican Lamar Alexander and Democrat Patty Murray announced a bill yesterday that had something for everyone: Democrats would get back federal subsidies known as cost-sharing reductions, as well as funding to continue outreach to make sure people know when they can sign up for health insurance. [WSJ / Michelle Hackman and Anna Wilde Mathews]
  • Republicans, on the other hand, were promised that states would get more waivers for the health care law to give states more flexibility to shape their exchanges how they see fit. The bipartisan bill would also allow insurers to sell so-called "catastrophic health plans," which are cheaper insurance plans with a higher deductible. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • If the bill went through, it likely wouldn’t make much of a difference for 2018, because insurance companies have already set their prices and are likely to raise premiums to compensate for the chaos Trump has created by cutting subsidies and killing consumer outreach efforts. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • But it would make a difference in the years after that, helping to stabilize the markets in 2019 and beyond. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • This morning, in an interview with Axios, Alexander made it seem like Trump was not just on board with the bill but had also “completely engineered” it. [Axios / Mike Allen]
  • Then literally minutes later, Trump pushed back on this idea on Twitter, saying that while he’s supportive of Lamar and the “process” of the bipartisan deal, he would not be responsible for bailing out insurance companies. [Donald Trump via Twitter]
  • The bill’s future looks even more tenuous after House Speaker Paul Ryan’s spokesperson said Ryan is committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare, not stabilizing it. [Vox / Dylan Scott]

After a rainbow flag flew at an Egyptian concert, police are targeting LGBTQ people

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  • The Egyptian government is intensifying a crackdown on LGBTQ people, with raids and arrests of more than 60 in the past month, according to human rights activists. [Washington Post / Sudarsan Raghavan]
  • At the same time, one Egyptian lawmaker has introduced a new bill to extend the maximum amount of time someone can be imprisoned for "debauchery" from three years to 25 years. [USA Today / Jacob Wirtschafter]
  • There are technically no anti-gay laws on the books in Egypt, but policy often target LGBTQ people with "debauchery" or "inciting immorality," and anti-gay rhetoric is common among conservative politicians and religious leaders. [Quartz / Farid Farid]
  • Egypt is an extremely conservative and religious country, with both Muslims and Christians disapproving of homosexuality. [Washington Post / Sudarsan Raghavan]
  • Arrests have gone on for years, but the recent crackdowns were in part inspired by a rainbow flag being waved for the first time in Egypt last month, at a performance by the Lebanese band Mashrou' Leila, whose lead singer is openly gay. Seven people were arrested after the concert. [NYT / Declan Walsh]
  • Human rights groups believe the increased crackdowns signify the Egyptian government trying to be tough and viciously push back on the idea that there are LGBTQ people living in the country. [NYT / Nour Youseff and Liam Stack]
  • This has created a culture of fear in Egypt’s LGBTQ community, which tries to keep quiet to protect people. Those who have been arrested and jailed face a lot of public stigma, and many keep quiet about their sexuality for fear of the consequences. [CNN / Ian Lee and Sarah Sirgany]

Miscellaneous

  • It turns out there’s a reason your eyedrops always spill out onto your cheeks: Drug companies designed them to be much larger than we need. Why, you ask? For profit. [ProPublica / Marshall Allen]
  • For a while, an online mattress review business was extremely lucrative for blogger Derek Hales. That was before he ran afoul of Casper, one of his most important partnerships. [Fast Company / David Zax]
  • Traffic fatalities are getting a bump from distracted drivers, but it’s not the drivers themselves who are most likely to be killed. Pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists are more at risk. [Bloomberg / Kyle Stock, Lance Lambert, and David Ingold]
  • California’s fires have been a huge blow to the state's wineries but also to immigrant workers who pick grapes in the fields. Many are now out of a job and have nowhere to turn for help. [NBC / Carmen Seson]
  • Russian Twitter bots are now turning their attention to Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, after thousands of fake Russian accounts started following him. [AL.com / Howard Koplowitz]

Verbatim


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