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Publication of Your Privacy in 2017

Publication of Your Privacy in 2017

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Publication of Your Privacy in 2017

On October 27, 2016, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) imposed new privacy rules on Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The new privacy rules were originally introduced to give consumers more options, transparency and security for personal data. On March 23, 2017, the U.S. Senate voted to overturn those privacy laws. In the past, ISPs were required to get your permission before they could sell your internet logs to third parties.

Many consumers assume this means your web browser history, which can be cleared locally at their machine. There is a lot more to it than just that.

When you visit a website such as Google.com on your computer at home, at work, a tablet, phablet, smart-phone, your web browser sends a request through your ISP (Verizon, AT&T, Charter, etc.). Next, your ISP checks against a domain name system (DNS). It is an international list ISPs have of all websites and their IP addresses. Everything on the internet has an Internet Protocol (IP) address Google.com, it works like matching a person to a phone number (i.e. Google.com uses a public IP address of 8.8.8.8) and sends back data from Google's server through your ISP. Usually, that data comes through in what's called data packets. Data packets are chunks of the requested data. Code, text, images, audio, video, are the elements of data.

Data transfers are very much like a truck carrying your shipping request (on the super information highway) along with everyone else's requests (think speed, rush-hour, traffic problems, crashes). All that “shipping and receiving” transmission of requested data is stored in log files on your ISPs servers and linked to you, your account, your IP address.

Another example, think of it like puzzle pieces in different envelopes that are reassembled when they reach their destination, that destination being your computer or “device”.

If you delete your history in your web browser, there will still be data log files kept by your ISP at a minimum of two years back (mandatory by U.S. Federal Law in 2011 for later investigations) on servers and data center back-ups for a long time, in some cases, indefinitely.

Where you go, what you view and access is saved by ISPs. When you download and install an app, software, join a social media service, those who own them usually have a privacy warning, acknowledgment, policy, declaration saying, “By signing here, or by clicking here, you adhere or acknowledged we get to do what we want with it.” Paraphrasing aside, your personal data becomes someone else's and getting them to delete it or permanently wipe it, is difficult (and usually requires court orders for them to think about actually doing it but that doesn't stop where it's branched off to already).

If your phone service provider is providing you internet, they are your internet service provider (ISP), if you're using that in conjunction with your phone, you are being pinged by cell towers constantly (pinging helps to make sure you are in sync with new data coming in and going out to your device). If someone sends you a text, there is a ping cycle until that message is sent and confirmed as received, any apps you “allow” to use your phone, get those same rights too.

If you use and have your GPS (“Global Positioning Satellite” feature) there is a trail (or log) of where you go, what you do, that information up for sale too from your ISP (not to mention up for grabs by hackers if that stored data is stolen). It is not as clear and concise as it probably should be. In the end, this is about selling your data for money.

This could go beyond the simplistic from what color underpants you prefer or if you prefer diet soda over bottled water (or if someone in your family has a terminal disease, someone can buy your search logs and show you medical treatments ads while you're watching a music video online trying to not think about it).

Imagine someone running for political office. Your opposition has Super-PAC support who can buy your web history and use that in a hit campaign against you. Welcome to a new era of political trash ads.

If someone is a cheater and their ex can buy their internet history log and see if they have been where they said they've been, or with someone else. Hopefully someone didn't steal they phone and make matters worse! Far fetched perhaps but you never know.

There are ways to completely remove yourself from the internet. Some have done it, some trying, some do then “relapse”.

NBA star Stephen Curry cuts all ties to social media around the NBA playoffs to keep a clearer head. In fact he is a co-founder of a new social media platform called Slyce a new social media service for celebrities that helps filter out a lot of the social “noise”.

There are paid services to help remove you from the web, but they can't stop (or undo) everything. In some cases, you can write to individual websites or companies to demand account closure and to delete your data history, but it may take time, effort, either way, if the FBI is keeping records for two years and back, you'll never really be rid of it.

Your best option is, be more discreet and conscience of what you say and do online. There are now software programs can figure out what you mean by what you don't say (or by what you omit).

Another option, Virtual Private Networks (VPN) which cost additional money but can help mask what you do online (to an extent), but they tend to slow down what you're doing even more. There are web proxies that can help mask what you do to an extent (basically you end up coming in from a different IP address) but most are limited in functionality and some web proxies are shady. You should do some background research before you put too much faith in one you are unfamiliar with. Due to the fact this was a Senate bill, it still must go back to the House of Representatives and then to President Trump sign. If it passes the House (which many assume it will) and President Trump signs the bill, it will go into effect November 4, 2017.

Since Citizens United v the FEC, where US Supreme Court ruled corporations have rights as people for campaign spending (so to speak) and we now have Super-PACs in the US (who do not have to disclose who they really or if their money source is even based in the US, possibly allowing foreigners to influence US elections), and they are out there, where people can contribute money to campaigns without revealing their identity, we don’t know who’s going to be buying our data and personal information with this FCC change in November. For all we know, it could be foreign owned companies. Since there is no mention able oversight with the FCC changes in 2017, how far back (or how specific) can these internet logs be? We don't know. Hopefully legislators insist on clarification of such things before it passes and or gets out of control.

Many websites are adding Secure Sockets Layer (SSL). Web browsers are already warning consumers about non-SSL websites (or if something is fishy about the SSL certificate). SSL certificates will also help reduce hacking issues as the source website must provide real authenticating data. In some cases an EV (Extended Validation) SSL certificate which requires proof of a DBA, LLC, or Corporation paperwork filed in the appropriate jurisdiction has to be shared with the web host and or domain name registrar. If a website is phony, it can't have a genuine SSL certificate much less an SSL EV certificate. It makes it harder for criminals to spoof IP addresses and domain names.

When you type in Google.com and it loads, Google forces SSL, which encrypts your connection. However, Google still collects data on what you do, themselves. A lot of people are using other search engines such as https://www.duckduckgo.com which has grown in popularity exponentially and promises not to track you as many other search engines do (and Duck Duck Go uses SSL).

If you go to https://www.duckduckgo.com and type in sbnews.us the web link that shows up is https://sbnews.us which means you go from one encrypted site to another so your ISP can only see you went to duckduckgo.com and then to sbnews.us that is it. They cannot see what you do once you are on sbnews.us as the data transmitted is now encrypted. SSL helps hide specific details that your ISP would otherwise know.

People will soon be aware of SSL (and the lack thereof) and the public will expect web sites to implement SSL. To better protect yourself, your family, your business and your interests, anything “delicate in subject matter”, make sure you see HTTPS in the address bar. If a website does not have SSL, it will show HTTP in the web browser address. If you don't see HTTPS in the address, you can try editing and adding an 'S' yourself, if your web browser gives warnings about the website, avoid it.

In the end, by the current US Senate giving up the consumer to the highest bidder, people who are already set on limiting their online exposure may eventually lead to more shady tactics, pushing the public to go darker (which isn't good, creating this frame of mind for society), to become more secretive to try and preserve their privacy. We're seeing a huge uprising in hacking activity in the world. Ransom-ware hitting hospitals and schools, the most vulnerable, our sick and our children and these as such demand ransom pay-offs in Bitcoins instead of common currency because it is hard to trace through the dark web (another article in itself). Remember, our nation spends massive budgets on spying on its citizens. SSL will become a necessity.

Again, SSL (some may refer to it as TLS “Transport Security Layer”, it is essentially the same idea), encrypts data being sent from your computer to the website you are visiting making it nearly impossible for your ISP and others to see what you are viewing, doing or otherwise.

Facebook, Google, Twitter and many other social media use SSL, but obviously, if you don’t control your privacy settings in those applications (learn how to do this before you post and share things), you may be forfeiting the benefit of SSL. For example, in Facebook, if you’re posting something you want to be seen only by friends, you don’t post it publicly. If you post on twitter, usually it is posted publicly. Just ask former Congressman Anthony Weiner, he found out the hard way.

By using websites that don’t have SSL, you are really letting the cat out of the bag. When you arrived at sbnews.us, that is all your ISP can see, that you came here, after that, everything you clicked on, they can’t see exactly what you are looking at, reading, browsing, all they can see is you came to visit this website at a certain date and time.

If the House of Representatives pass this bill, which looks to be a given, ISPs will be able to sell your historical log information, data with it and sell it to third parties. This information may include your IP address, websites you visit and other sensitive data.

A lot of people (for too long) have responded to threats against online privacy with, “I have nothing to hide.” or things like, “Hey, I’m not doing anything illegal so...” That’s beside the point. These are corporations, in some cases individuals (they can even be foreigners). This new shift in FCC Privacy Rules shows true intentions at heart and as citizens, we should be aware and take steps to protect ourselves. In the end, nobody can guard our own privacy except ourselves. It's not fun, not easy but a necessary in a world of exploitation and evil.

About the writer: Aaron Conaway is an IT consultant and web developer who has worked in the web industry for over fifteen years, has been on TV numerous times answering questions about technology and consumer security, hidden dangers in social media and common sense ways to protect your business, yourself and your children on the internet. His latest endeavor is https://www.sslbiz.com an online start-up business that focuses on building SSL based websites.

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Local Protests Sparked by TrumpCare

For the past five days, protests have erupted across the country in response to House Republicans voting for TrumpCare.

The bill would strip 24 million of their health care, gut protections for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions, and raise premiums for older Americans all so Republicans can give another massive tax cut to millionaires and billionaires.

Rod Blum, IA-1

The Washington Post: Iowa congressman walks out of a TV interview and into an angry town hall meeting

One woman complained that “You voted on this bill in a rush — there were no committee hearings. This pertains to my life. This is not democracy works and you know that. … What was the rush?”

Bob Gibbs, OH-7

CantonRep.com: Area activists rallied against GOP health care bill

Judy Alsip, a Canton resident, told council her son was diagnosed with cancer when he was a child and that provisions in the Republican bill could allow states to permit insurers to charge higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions, which is not allowed by the Affordable Care Act, if the states established high risk insurance pools to cover them.

“My young son leads a good life, lives a good life, did absolutely nothing to ask for cancer. But the AHCA could make him pay very high rates and even so high, they’re cost prohibitive and (he may) not get insurance throughout his life,” she said.

Scott Perry, PA-6

WITF: Midstate AHCA opponents to Rep. Perry: 'shame on you'

Republican Scott Perry represents Pennsylvania's 4th district, which is in the commonwealth's south central region. The day after the health care vote, he had a crowd of people outside his Wormleysburg office in Cumberland County.

One protester, Mary Rosenkrans, said Perry's support of the plan is disingenuous. She explained, his comments at a March town hall made her hope he'd take a different position. "He said he would listen to his constituents," she said. "I don't think he's listening. That's why we're here."

Brad Wenstrup, OH-2

Cincinatti.com: Brad Wenstrup vote to pass GOP health bill brings protests

Several of the demonstrators said that Rep. Wenstrup is not representing them. A live town hall would give all constituents an opportunity to share their views, Sandy Sommer of Mount Adams said.

"We feel disenfranchised. We don't feel like we're being heard," she said. This is her third or fourth time Sommer said she's been out to Wenstrup's office.

"We've got no idea what the statistics are for how many have called in supporting Obamacare versus Trumpcare," she said.

Marsha Blackburn, TN-7

The Tennessean: Franklin opposition to health care changes ask for 'mercy'

Former Jars of Clay singer Dan Haseltine had one message for Franklin when it comes to health care.

"The poor and the sick lead us in generosity," he said at a press conference inside the Franklin Community Center on the corner of Natchez Street.

"When we want our kids offering more than they have to give, you need to look at the poor. Today, I stand here because I want to support good work, so the poor have the health care that they need, so they can recover with dignity and be nursed back to health."

David Valadao, CA-21

KernGoldenEmpire.com: Protest against David Valadao's vote in favor of AHCA

Juanita Chavez who benefited from Obamacare said, “I believed until last night that he was going to vote the right way on this bill and I believe that he may have kept us guessing just to diminish our actions our pressure against him. I've had severe degenerative liver disease since the time I was 19 and it is only to the fact that I’ve had access to quality health care that I’m here alive today after a liver transplant in but if I become more ill it will be impossible for me to work and I will need to have access to healthcare."

Lynn Jenkins, KS-2

The Morning Sun: Community Protests AHCA

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“We are just concerned citizens making our voice heard in opposition to the AHCA,” Pittsburg resident Adriane Fain said. Before protesting the group delivered a letter to Jenkins’ office regarding the bill.

The group had concerns about health care for those with disabilities, pre-existing conditions, the elderly and newborn children born with health issues. “Twenty-four million people will lose health care — a number before CBO estimates,” Fain said.

Many of the protestors, including Harry L. Humphries, of Pittsburg, said the bill was rushed through and the Congressional Budget Office still had not looked over the costs. “They rushed it through without the American people having a chance to look at it,” he said.”

John Culberson, TX-7

Houston Chronicle: Protests target Culberson's 'yes' vote for GOP health care bill

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Under the AHCA, insurers and individual states would have more latitude to craft coverage. It is widely expected that Texas will return to high risk pools to cover those with pre-existing conditions or chronic medical needs. People enrolled are charged more and separated from the risk pool of healthier populations. Under the ACA, that was illegal.

It is the pre-existing condition questions that raised the ire of many at the gathering Sunday, including Jaime Lawson, a 37-year-old sustainability consultant who has multiple sclerosis. "I'm afraid I would end up in a high risk pool," she said.

Diane Black, TN-6

SpartaLive.com: Healthcare CandleLight vigil “protest” being held at Congressman Black’s office

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These citizens are holding a candlelight vigil “protest” in response to today’s passage of the US House bill that repeals the Affordable Care Act and replaces it with the Republican’s version.

Despite the rain, community leaders, organizers, and religious leaders have gathered in this candlelight vigil regarding the recent healthcare bill that was passed by the US House.

Dennis Ross, FL-15

WMNF: Protest against Trumpcare at Dennis Ross’ Lakeland office

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There have been protests in Florida and elsewhere against Congress members who voted for the American Health Care Act on Thursday.

Matt Gaetz, FL-1

CW55: Group To Protest Local Republican Representative, American Health Care Act Monday Night

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A local Democratic group plans to protest the recent House vote to repeal Obamacare, starting at the doorstep of a local Congressman who voted in favor of the repeal.

Peter Roskam, IL-6

CLTV: Protester: “Peter Roskam today voted to let my brother die”

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REPORTER: “Protesters gathered outside a Republican fundraiser in Wheaton vowing the GOP will pay dearly for the way its members voted today.”

JAX WEST: “We did not elect you to get rid of the ACA. There are problems with it, sure. Fix it.”

REPORTER: “Many here because they have family members with pre-existing medical additions and they say there are fearful now.”

PROTESTER: “Oh my god, I am so upset. This is so personal. My entire family have pre-existing conditions.”

PROTESTER: “My brother has a pre-existing condition of cancer, and my brother is a constituent of Peter Roskam, and Peter Roskam today voted to let my brother die.”

Fred Upton, MI-6

M-Live: Upton's support of GOP health care bill sparks protest

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Some constituents of U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, are not happy with his yes vote on the GOP health care legislation, which they made clear with multiple protests at his Kalamazoo office… Later that day, Upton said he would support the legislation with an $8 billion amendment added over five years to assist those with pre-existing conditions in states that seek waivers under the Republican health care plan. That's not going to be nearly enough," Martha Faketty, of Kalamazoo said of the amendment. "It's going to cost lives."

Sean Duffy, WI-7

WSAW-TV: Locals protest in opposition of new health care bill

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Joyce Luedke was at the protest and described the bill as unfair, immoral and unchristian.

"I told Congressman Duffy we the taxpayers cover his family of 10 with quality health insurance. Has he ever acknowledged our contribution to him and his family," asked Luedke.

Joel Lewis, the organizer of Thursdays protest, said that although Obamacare is not perfect it's better than limiting access by making it unaffordable for Americans, especially those with pre-existing conditions.

"295,000 members of his district will be affected because that's the amount of people that have pre-existing conditions. So we are concerned that people will be discriminated against because of pre-existing conditions and that it will be harder for working Americans to get health care," said Lewis.

Rodney Frelinghuysen, NJ-11

Observer: Anti-AHCA Protesters Rally as Frelinghuysen Casts Yes

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“He’s called a representative and I’d actually like him to represent us,” Sarah Foye of Montville said. Foye’s son has a disability, something that she said could reduce his coverage options and subject him to discrimination under the GOP healthcare bill, known as the American Health Care Act.

Steve Knight, CA-25

Los Angeles Daily News: Constituents slam Steve Knight for healthcare vote at Santa Clarita rally

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“As President Donald Trump and House Republicans in Washington D.C. celebrated the passage of their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, some Southern Californians gathered outside one of those GOP members’ offices in Santa Clarita in a different mood.”

“We are devastated at the vote that (Steve Knight) took today to take away the rights of those that have health coverage under the Affordable Care Act,” said Celinda Vazquez, vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles.

Vasquez said a provision in the bill would defund Planned Parenthood, blocking patients from receiving a variety of medical services from Planned Parenthood facilities.

Darrell Issa, CA-49

KGTV - Cancer Patient Protests Issa’s Health Care Vote

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REPORTER: “Blanco says for her family this is life and death. Her husband suffers from diabetes. Her grandson has autism, and she is battling a rare form of melanoma, pigment producing cells in her membranes have turned cancerous. She currently receiving immunotherapy treatment.”

BLANCO: “It is $30,000 a dose, and I have to have a minimum, a minimum, of 15 doses.”

REPORTER: “A preexisting condition this bill, she says, wouldn't cover. And a bill that passed the House that wouldn't require insurers to charge the same rates as they do for the healthy.”

Mike Gallagher, WI-8

NBC: Protests in Appleton in response to Congress' health care vote

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Protesters gathered outside of Congressman Mike Gallagher's office in Appleton Thursday in response to the health care vote in congress.

Daniel Dillon of Marion, suffers from a chronic back injury says he's concerned about the lack of information he's received about a new bill. "It’s not fair to the American public to be doing this,” said Dillon. “We need health care reform. The Affordable Health Care Act is not perfect by any means but it does cover people like myself that otherwise could not get insurance."

Tom Nelson of Outagamie County was also at the protest.

“You're talking with everything from special education students, people with pre-existing conditions,” said Nelson. “You know just here in North East Wisconsin about 300,000 people have pre-existing conditions. What’s going to happen to them?"

Steve Stivers, OH-15

ABC6: Ohioans raise concerns about GOP health care bill

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"The problem is I have no idea (what this will do to my insurance)," said Kay Barker, a small business owner who buys her family's insurance through an exchange set up by the Affordable Care Act. "No one has any idea what this is going to do. I do know the ACA has helped us immeasurably and it is affordable." Barker was one of roughly 40 people protesting in Hilliard outside Rep. Stivers' office… "Unfortunately what this did was take it from bad to worse or from worse to worst," said Steve Wagner who runs the non-partisan healthcare advocacy group UHCAN Ohio. "There is just not the funding that's there that would make this affordable for most people that have pre-existing conditions."

Speaker Paul Ryan, WI-1

CBS58: Protesters gather outside of Speaker Paul Ryan's office after House passes GOP health care bill

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“Healthcare for all. We shall not be moved." These were the chants of protesters outside Speaker Paul Ryan's office. The group of protesters didn't budge on their hopes even after hearing the vote to repeal and replace Obamacare had passed the House of Representatives.

Nikki Aiello was protesting for her nephew, who she says is one of those 24 million people that will lose insurance. She says he was born with a pre-existing condition.

"I don't know how Paul Ryan can claim to be supportive of life when he's doing something like this that will deprive people of healthcare and will cost people their lives," stated Aiello.

Billy Long, MO-7

OzarksFirst: Worried Missourians Protest Health Care Vote

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Missourians who are worried about the future of their health care were protesting the Trumpcare vote outside of Congressman Billy Long's office in Springfield…

"We were finally in a place where we didn't have to worry about being priced out of insurance," said Crystal Brigman Mahaney with Missouri Health Care for All… "It's going to make it very difficult to have access to care for many people in our nation," said Rev. Phil Snider, a senior minister at Brentwood Christian Church, who joined protesters outside Long's office.

Scott Taylor, VA-2

Southside Daily: Crowd gathers in Virginia Beach to protest Rep. Taylor, GOP healthcare bill

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Protesters gathered at Town Center Thursday evening to hold a candlelight vigil after the House of Representatives, including Rep. Scott Taylor, voted to pass a bill to repeal Obamacare.

(…)

Erin Edlow of Virginia Beach, viewed the bill and the ACHA plan as a “travesty.”??“I am one of the 400,000 Virginians that does not have healthcare insurance because Virginia was a state that opted out of expanding Medicaid in this state,” she said. “This new plan that is going further than non-expansion in 2020 is definitely going to affect me because it’s not even going to be an option after 2020.”

Erik Paulsen, MN-3

Minnesota Star Tribune: Protests online, outside offices of Reps. Erik Paulsen and Jason Lewis follow GOP health care vote

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Demonstrators gathered Friday outside Twin Cities-area offices of two Republican U.S. representatives who voted a day earlier for the Republican measure repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act.

About 150 people showed up outside the Eden Prairie office of U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen over the lunch hour, and another 50 at the Burnsville office of U.S. Rep. Jason Lewis. (U.S. Rep. Tom Emmer, the third Minnesota Republican in the House, also voted for the American Health Care Act.)

Mark Meadows, NC-11

ABC: Protesters use die-in to show displeasure over GOP health care bill

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People unhappy with the House Republicans' health care reform bill staged a die-in at a local congressman's office Thursday…

They held signs saying the repeal of the Affordable Care Act killed them. Then they laid on the grass to illustrate what they say will happen under the new GOP health care bill. They said the legislation will have a negative impact on 200,000 people in Meadows' congressional district.

"For example, a woman with breast cancer, the Kaiser Foundation is estimating it's going to cost $44,000 for her to get into that high risk pool that Congressman Meadows and his Freedom Caucus friends have created," Kathleen Barnes, of the Transylvania County NAACP, said.

Mia Love, UT-4

AP: People With Preexisting Conditions Fret Over Health Overhaul

Utah's all-Republican House delegation voted Thursday in favor of a health care overhaul that could impact people with pre-existing conditions, triggering serious worries from people who fit that category.

Salt Lake City resident Emilee Sharp said she is considering rushing a major spinal surgery in case she loses her insurance even though her doctor warned it's risky.??"It's horrible to think that 'oh my insurance may be taken away and now I have to enter into surgery that is extremely risky; it could go wrong,” said Sharp.

Murray resident Jake Martinez, 32, said he's worried about getting health insurance in the future since he has epilepsy, considered a pre-existing condition by insurers. "Today, it really kind of sunk in that not only are we not going to potentially have health care coverage, but that it was done as a political win rather than a well-thought out plan," said Jake Martinez, a former chef who is studying social work. "That's what stings about it."

Mark Amodei, NV-2

CBS8: Nevada healthcare advocates disappointed by Trumpcare vote

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"This bill is inhumane, and a means by which to increase the profits of the health insurance industry," said Amy Vilela, healthcare advocate. Vilela's 22-year-old daughter died of a pulmonary embolism due to a blood clot. "I am the mother of a child who died because she couldn't provide proof of insurance," Vilela said. She says the hospital turned her daughter away, due to a lack of insurance. Vilela said Trump care will do little to change that.

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Cops Look for Answers in Policing the Mentally Ill

Taleah Everett, 20, a woman whose family members said suffers from psychotic episodes, was driving erratically two months ago near Capitol Hill in Washington, when Capitol Police, fearing a possible terrorist act, shot at her car to stop it. She was not injured.

There was a different outcome a few months earlier in New York City. A police sergeant, responding to a 911 call last October about an emotionally disturbed person in a Bronx apartment building, shot and killed Deborah Danner, 66. He said she threatened him with a baseball bat.

The shooting sparked outrage, including from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. De Blasio, reprimanded the officer and called Danner’s death "tragic" and "unacceptable."

Ironically, police had been called to Danner's home several times before to take her to the hospital during psychiatric episodes, the mayor said, and each

time, she was taken away safely.

There have been similar shootings and deaths during encounters between police and the mentally ill in cities across America. According to a Washington Post analysis, about 1 in 4 people that were fatally shot by police in 2015 were struggling with a mental health issue.

Increasingly, police are finding a large part of their job is dealing with the mentally ill, something for which they are not initially trained.

In fact, parts of the core training police receive that are beneficial in regular street encounters, such as developing “command presence,” can have the opposite effect when dealing with the mentally illness, said Matthew Horace, a CNN law enforcement analyst and former special agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.

Consequently, many police departments are putting some or all their officers through Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) so officers will be better prepared to deal with mental illness.

Even with the heightened awareness, only 16 percent, or 1 in 6, of the nation’s 18,000 police departments are currently initiating this training, according to Laura Usher, senior manager for criminal justice and advocacy for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, a national organization that lobbies for the mentally ill.

The training, though badly needed, police departments said, is highly encouraged but not mandatory.

Horace that the training isn’t mandatory because it can be expensive and it can be time consuming. Many departments have less than 40 officers, he said.

“There isn’t enough man power to remove officers off the streets and place them in training,” he said. “Another factor is there aren’t enough sufficient funds.”

Washington Officer William Kelly, 47, said he receives approximately five calls a day regarding incidents involving the mentally ill. Many of the people he encounters struggle with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, he said.

Kelly and many other officers in the 4th district in Northwest Washington have undergone 40 hours of CIT, which Kelly said has helped him immensely.

Courtesy Orange County Register: Santa Ana, California officers encounter a homeless woman who suffers from mental illness. She told the officers the “world ended” and she’s “from the sky.” After the Orange County, California, Grand Jury concluded nearly every local police agency was inadequately trained to handle the mentally ill, dramatic changes were made so officers would be better prepared than ever before.

“After taking the class, whenever I receive a call of something of that nature, I now have a better understanding of the situation and can further go with handling the dispute or incident properly,” he said.

The week-long training included virtual scenarios on how to the mentally ill, lectures by experts, site visits, and role playing scenarios, he said.

He has been in countless situations where he had to defuse domestic violence calls with the suspects/victims that were dealing with a mental crisis.

The D.C. Department of Behavioral Health partnered with Washington police after realizing police encounters with people with mental disabilities has become a major issue.

Officer Kyle Mitchell, 40, said he has been a part of the Metropolitan Police Department for over 26 years, and he welcomed the training and the partnership the people in behavioral health.

“The collaboration with the Department of Behavioral Health was probably one of the best things that could’vet happened,” Mitchell said. “People don’t know how many calls we receive day-to-day with situations with people dealing with mental illness, until finally someone said there’s a better way to go about this.”

Mitchell said about 5 percent of his department are CIT certified. Officer Chris Thompson, 32, said the training has given him a sense of awareness,

“I encourage all my fellow colleagues to take part in CIT,” Thompson said. “There have been a lot of cases where we had to refer people for treatment instead of jail. I believe this has saved a lot of people.”

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