Tom Price’s ouster complicates Republicans’ latest health care push

The exit of Tom Price as the U.S. health secretary has many wondering if Republicans will be able to deliver on their promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare.

The Republican Party as of late has struggled to advance its health care agenda even though they have control of the White House and both chambers of Congress.

Price’s exit on Friday amid investigations into his use of costly charter flights for official travel at taxpayer expense seems to be the latest self-inflicted blow.

Regaining momentum to replace former President Obama’s law will be more difficult now that Trump administration must now also find his replacement.

“I think health care is a dead letter through the next election,” said Joe Antos, a policy expert with the business-oriented American Enterprise Institute.

Price — who Trump concluded had become a distraction — had been on the rocks with the president since before the travel flap. A former Republican congressman from Georgia, he proved less helpful than expected on the health care fight. Price played a supporting role while Vice President Mike Pence took the lead, especially with the Senate.

The health secretary’s departure — the latest in a list that now includes Trump’s chief of staff, national security adviser, press secretary and two communications directors — is also unlikely to end what has been a steady drip of revelations about potentially inappropriate travel on the part of Cabinet members.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has come under fire for requesting a government aircraft to use on his honeymoon, while Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said he’d taken three charter flights while in office, including a $12,375 late-night trip from Las Vegas to his home state of Montana in June. The Environmental Protection Agency’s inspector general has opened an inquiry into Administrator Scott Pruitt’s frequent taxpayer-funded travel on commercial planes.

The House Oversight and Government Reform committee has launched a government-wide investigation of top political appointees’ travel.

Trump ran on a pledge to “drain the swamp” in Washington and has taken pride in his efforts to reduce federal spending and negotiate better deals on behalf of American taxpayers.

In a memo Friday, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney said all travel on government-owned, rented, leased or chartered aircraft will now have to be approved by the president’s chief of staff, John Kelly. That gives more oversight power to a man who has tried to impose order and structure on what has been a chaotic White House.

On health care, the task of installing another secretary at the Health and Human Services department won’t be easy.

The nominee will have to run the gauntlet of Senate confirmation. The already contentious process will be more challenging as Democrats shift from playing defense to offense on health care, heartened by the survival of the Affordable Care Act and polls showing support for the government’s leading role in health care.

And HHS is not the only department that needs a leader. Trump has yet to pick a permanent replacement for Kelly, who left his previous job running the Department of Homeland Security in July.

Two potential candidates for health secretary already hold senior Senate-confirmed posts at HHS, which could be a plus for the White House.

Seema Verma leads the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which runs major insurance programs. Scott Gottlieb heads the Food and Drug Administration, which has regulatory authority across pharmaceuticals and consumer products.

Verma is a protege of Pence, who played a major role in negotiations with Congress this year on the futile “Obamacare” repeal effort.

Verma is seen as a talented policy expert, but she’s still relatively new to the ways of Washington. Gottlieb is a veteran, but he may prefer the FDA and its clearly defined mission to the quicksand of health care policy.

Also mentioned is Louisiana GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy, co-author of the last Republican health care bill that failed to advance. Cassidy would probably win confirmation easily, but his prospects in the Senate appear bright, and he may not want to depart for a Cabinet post in a tumultuous administration.

Another potential candidate is Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott, a former hospital executive who is term-limited after 2018. But Scott is expected to mount a Senate campaign against Democratic incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson next year, and he may have ambitions and interests beyond health care.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

GM, Unifor remain far apart as Ontario strike drags on

Production of the Chevrolet Equinox, GM’s top-selling crossover in the U.S. and Canada, was halted on Sept. 17 at the CAMI plant, which employs about 2,750 people. Photo credit: @CamiJobAction/Twitter

General Motors and Canadian union Unifor remain far apart in settling a strike over job security that has idled Chevrolet Equinox output at an Ontario plant since Sept. 17.

Unifor National President Jerry Dias plans to update factory workers on the status of negotiations when he is scheduled to join a picket line Sunday in Ingersoll, Ontario.

A team of negotiators from Unifor Local 88 met with GM officials on Thursday in Detroit to discuss job security.

The union said the Detroit meeting at GM’s headquarters included the heads of the company’s North American manufacturing and finance operations.

GM promised to respond to the union’s concerns by Friday.

Dan Borthwick, the president of Unifor Local 88, said in a blog post Saturday that GM’s response “did not address our issues.”

He says Unifor representatives and the bargaining committee will continue to meet with the automaker. But Borthwick said “there is little progress being made,” calling it “disappointing.”

Unifor wants a commitment from GM that the CAMI factory will remain the lead producer of the Chevy Equinox. The crossover is also assembled in Mexico.

“We expressed our concerns around our outstanding issues, such as job security, economics and contract language,” the union said in the blog posting.

GM shifted production of the GMC Terrain crossover from the Ingersoll plant to Mexico in July, resulting in 400 job cuts.

Hugh Hefner set up wife financially before his death – report – Film News | Film-News.co.uk

Hugh Hefner reportedly wanted to ensure his wife Crystal Harris was financially secure in the event of his death.

The Playboy multi-millionaire bought the 31-year-old Playboy playmate, who he married in 2012, a home in the Hollywood Hills and gave her a legal guarantee she would be entitled to $5 million (£3.7 million) on his death.

According to editors at TMZ, Hefner bought the 5,900 square foot mansion for her in 2013, not long after the pair married.

The spacious home includes four bedrooms, five bathrooms and has an infinity pool.

And despite previous reports that Crystal would inherit nothing, Hugh had made sure to add a clause to a prenuptial agreement the couple signed before it married, that the model and DJ would get a substantial payout when he died.

The publishing mogul passed away from natural causes at the age of 91, at his Playboy Mansion home in Los Angeles on Wednesday (27Sep17), and stars have been paying tribute to him ever since.

“Hef changed my life,” Kendra Wilkinson told E! News. “He made me the person I am today. I couldn’t be more thankful for our friendship and our time together. I will miss him so much but he will be in my heart forever.”

Kendra appeared alongside Holly Madison and Bridget Marquardt on U.S. TV reality series Girls Next Door, documenting their time living in the Playboy mansion.

Bridget, 43, also shared a tribute on Twitter, writing: “So sad but forever grateful for all the wonderful memories and amazing experiences #RIPHef #Playboy.”

Twins Kristina and Karissa Shannon, 27, two of his former girlfriends, told The Blast that they’re inconsolable after hearing the news.

“He was everything to us,” they said sadly. “No matter what happened in our lives he was always number one and ALWAYS had our back. Our love we shared was unconditional something many don’t get to experience in life. He helped us understand who we were. We had enough memories and fun to last forever!”

Monty Hall Dead at 96

‘Let’s Make a Deal’ Host

Monty Hall

Dead at 96

9/30/2017 3:23 PM PDT

Breaking News

Television icon Monty Hall — the co-creator and host of “Let’s Make a Deal” — died from heart failure at his home in Beverly Hills Saturday … according to multiple reports.

The legendary game show host began his TV career in the 1950s by working on several children’s shows. He moved on to host network game shows, and struck it big with ‘Deal’ in 1963 … with ran for 13 years and returned for a short run in the ’90s.

Hall also appeared as himself on popular shows like “The Hollywood Squares” and “Password All-Stars” … and produced several others.

He was inducted into the American TV Game Show Hall of Fame in 2007.

Hall was 96. 

RIP

Khloe Kardashian on the Anniversary of her Father’s Death

Khloé Kardashian is paying special tribute to her late father Robert Kardashian.

On Saturday, the 14th anniversary of his death, Khloé, 33, honored his memory with a touching Instagram tribute.

“To the great of the great…miss you everyday!” she 33, wrote alongside a series of sweet throwback pictures of herself and her dad.

Kim Kardashian West also retweeted two adorable video clips of her and her father as a way to pay her respects.

In January, Khloé — who is now pregnant with her first child — opened up on an episode of her TV show Revenge Body about what it was like to lose a father as a teenager.

“My dad died in 2003. I was 19. And when it set in, I was like, you spiral. For me, my spiral was food,” she said.

“I gained so much weight because I was so internally just suppressing so many things that it was like, eating me alive, and I was literally eating anything,” she added.

RELATED VIDEO: Khloé Kardashian Gets Tattoo Honoring Father Removed: ‘Bye Bye Tramp Stamp’

But even though she still misses her father, in March the Keeping Up With the Kardashians star thought it was time to get one of her “Daddy” tramp stamp removed.

“It’s the end of an era…got this bad boy when I was 16,” she wrote on Instagram alongside a video of the tattoo removal process. “I should’ve listened to Kim when she told me ‘you don’t put a bumper sticker on a Bentley.’ Bye-bye bumper sticker!!!”

Robert died Sept. 30, 2003 from cancer. He was 59 and is survived by ex-wife Kris Jenner, now 61, and their four children: Kourtney, 38, Kim, 36, Khloé, 33, and Rob, 30.

Mika Brzezinski Says ‘Trump’s Racism Is Costing Lives’

On Saturday, Morning Joe co-host Mika Brzezinski criticized how Donald Trump’s actions were negatively affecting Puerto Rico just as the president went on a tweet storm in response to the backlash he has received for his perceived lackluster response to the crisis there.

“Hard to believe but this could be worse than Charlottesville… Trump’s racism is costing lives. #heisnotfit,” Brzezinski wrote, referencing the white nationalist march in Virginia in August and Trump’s widely criticized response where he failed to initially outright condemn neo-Nazis and white supremacists.

So far Hurricane Maria — which ravaged the island on Sept. 20, leaving the entire island without electricity and destroying many homes — has claimed at least 16 lives in Puerto Rico so far, the Associated Press reports. Experts estimate that without electricity and supplies, that number could increase to thousands.

http://people.com/

While Brzezinski didn’t elaborate on her claims about Trump being a “racist,” she is hardly the first person to speak out about his response to the storm. Dozens of officials and celebrities have criticized Trump for seemingly ignoring the crisis after the storm hit and, on Saturday morning, many more chimed in to condemn him after he slammed the mayor of San Juan, Carmen Yulín Cruz, for speaking out against him and begging for more aid.

On Saturday afternoon the president responded to the widespread backlash against his handling of the situation in Puerto Rico — insisting that he had been working with local officials to ensure that they were getting the help they needed.

“Despite the Fake News Media in conjunction with the Dems, an amazing job being done in Puerto Rico. Great people!” he wrote.

http://people.com/

Trump also complimented Puerto Rico’s governor Ricardo Rossello, who said that the federal government has been helping the commonwealth with their recovery effort — but that they still needed more aid.

“The Governor of Puerto Rico, Ricardo Rossello, is a great guy and leader who is really working hard. Thank you Ricky!” Trump said.

RELATED VIDEO: Watch: Natasha Stoynoff Breaks Silence, Accuses Donald Trump of Sexual Attack

“Just spoke to Governor Kenneth Mapp of the U.S. virgin Islands who stated that #FEMA and Military are doing a GREAT job! Thank you Governor!” Trump continued.

”To the people of Puerto Rico: Do not believe the #FakeNews! #PRStrong” he continued. “We must all be united in offering assistance to everyone suffering in Puerto Rico and elsewhere in the wake of this terrible disaster.”

Brzezinski, who has publicly clashed with the president in the past — and even becoming the target of some of his meaner tweets — responded to Trump’s defense saying it was “too late” and that “no one” believed him.

“Too late. No one believes you now,” she wrote. “But what else is new? #heisnotfit.”

Hurricane Maria pummeled Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 with ferocious 155-mph winds that ripped trees from the ground, tore roofs from buildings, and caused flooding that made many streets look like raging rivers. The most powerful storm of its kind to hit the island since 1932, it ravaged the island and left millions homeless.

Electricity has been knocked out completely, with residents in need of electricity having to rely on backup generators. Experts estimate it could take half a year to restore power to the 3.5 million people who live there. Cell phone service has also been completely shut down.

Celebrities Are Posting Hilarious #PuberMe Photos in Support of Puerto Rico

It’s probably safe to say most of us have photos from when we were around 12 or 13, just as we were going through puberty, that we’d rather not see ever again. And whenever they do surface on social media or while you’re flipping through old photo albums, we start to shudder and think, “How did I ever look like that?” Well, Nick Kroll and Steven Colbert are banking on that. That’s why they started the trending hashtag #PuberMe to raise funds for Puerto Rico’s hurricane relief.

When Kroll appeared on Colbert’s show Thursday night he discussed his upcoming Netflix show Big Mouth, a cartoon series about characters in the midst of puberty. He’d already created the hashtag to encourage celebrities to share the cringe-worthy photos of their early teenage years so the rest us can see that we really weren’t alone. But Colbert took Kroll’s idea one step further when he announced that his AmeriCone Dream Foundation would be partnering with Kroll to promote the hashtag.

“I’m happy to announce that for every celebrity—and I get to determine who’s a celebrity—who posts their awkward teenage photos with the hashtags #PuberMe and #PuertoRicoRelief, the AmeriCone Dream Foundation will donate $1,000 to One America Appeal,” Colbert announced. That’s the fund set up by former Presidents Obama, George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush, and Jimmy Carter to raise money for hurricane relief.

Kroll promised to match whatever amount of money is raised.

So far Twitter and Instagram have been blowing up with celebrities sharing their pubescent photos. Some are pretty hilarious and others are totally unrecognizable. Keep scrolling to see some of our favorites.

It’s been amazing to see the outpouring of love and support from celebrities like Beyoncé who released a remix of “Mi Gente” by J Balvin and Willy William and will donate the proceeds to relief charities and Jennifer Lopez who donated $1 million to Puerto Rico’s hurricane victims.

If you don’t happen to be a celebrity or have a million dollars to spare but still want to help those affected by the hurricane, here are some great resources to get you started.

Related stories:

David Spade Puts His 1987 Buick Grand National Up for Sale

David Spade

My Badass Buick’s Gotta Go …

Up for Sale for $33k

9/30/2017 11:49 AM PDT

Exclusive Details

David Spade‘s parting ways with one of his tricked out rides … and it can be yours for a pretty reasonable price.

Spade’s selling his recently revamped 1987 Buick Grand National — aka his “troublemaker car” — which was once featured on “Jay Leno’s Garage.” We’re told he’s unloading the car, which he’s had for 12 years, because he doesn’t have room for it anymore.

The ‘Joe Dirt’ star’s dropped nearly $9k on the vehicle the past year to get it in tip-top shape … and has it listed for $33,000.

And speaking of Joe Dirt … we’re told Spade might be selling the classic movie car he paid almost a million for next.

DAAAAAANG!!!

Hugh Hefner’s Girlfriend Who Found Playboy Mansion Says It Shouldn’t Become Museum

Hugh Hefner’s Former GF

Don’t Make the Mansion a Museum

9/30/2017 1:54 PM PDT

EXCLUSIVE

Barbi BentonHugh Hefner‘s former girlfriend known for discovering the Playboy Mansion in the ’70s — thinks the famous home should stay that way.

Barbi tells us it just wouldn’t be the same if the Mansion gets turned into a museum … even though she admits fans would enjoy it. Besides, the neighbors in the residential area would hate it.

The past Playboy model also reveals how she found the iconic mansion and convinced Hef to check it out … and how her mom played a role in him buying it. Barbi tells us Hugh’s stipulation was that she had to move in with him … which she did.

Hefner lived in the home for nearly 50 years. He died peacefully there Wednesday at the age of 91.

Rogue One Almost Got Rahm Kota, Star Wars Coolest Jedi

When building up what eventually became the prequel to A New Hope, the writers and producers had a great wealth of material to work with. In the old Star Wars canon, that time period was full of unique characters with exiled Jedi, daring heroes, and extraordinary villains that were included in books and comics, but never made it to the big screen. Eventually, Lucasfilm went with a set of heroes and villains that were either big screen familiar faces or total newcomers, but new information suggests that might not have always been the case, at least with Rogue One.

I Am Your Father director, Marcos Cabota was recently on the La Fosa del Rancor podcast and shared some interesting thoughts about where Rogue One could have gone and how it could have included the Star Wars universe’s coolest Jedi. As it turns out, Cabota had a close friend who was an actor and trying out for Rogue One. When his friend got there, he noticed a familiar name on the early version of the script. A blind Jedi by the name of Rahm Kota was originally slated to appear in Rogue One, but was later written out. Cabota explains.

“In fact, they were talking about a Jedi, who then did not appear in the movie but did appear somehow … Rham Kota was in Rogue One, I can tell you, he was a blind Jedi. And what do we find in Rogue One? A blind user of the Force … In the script we had from Rogue One, before becoming Rogue One, it was Rahm Kota.”

Rahm Kota is an old Jedi Master who survived Order 66 and is heavily featured in the Force Unleashed videogames. He’s a pretty awesome character, who is a Jedi based off of a Japanese Samurai as opposed to the traditional monk-like Jedi origins. Kota can be seen fighting as a rebel against the Empire with his own private army. In the opening of The Force Unleashed, he attacks an Imperial facility in an attempt to draw Darth Vader out, but is attacked by Galen Marek instead. As a result, Kota loses his sight, and is later found drunk in Cloud City, where he’s recruited to be Starkiller’s mentor on the path to the Light. Unfortunately, the game is no longer Star Wars canon.

The blind Jedi may sound familiar for another reason, as Chirrut Imwe ended up being one with the Force in Rogue One. Though Chirrut is not an official Jedi, he has a strong connection to the Force in the movie. It could very well be that Rahm Kota was never intended to be in the movie and that information that Marcos Cabota’s friend saw was just a way of masking the true identity of the character to keep major leaks from hitting the news outlets. The name could have just been a placeholder for Chirrut.

Chirrut Imwe has also been compared to Star Wars Rebels character, Jedi Master Kanan Jarrus, after he lost his eyesight during a battle with Darth Maul in Season 2 of the popular animated series. Lucasfilm could have been digging for characters from the Force Unleashed, but as it turns out, maybe the characters were just heavily based off of the video game, since it’s not considered to be official canon anymore. It is quite possible that the character would have been too obvious for certain fans, but the addition of Rahm Kota would have been a very cool tip of the hat to the video game series. You can check out the full interview with Marcos Cabota courtesy of the La Fosa del Rancor podcast.