‘Sex and the City’ actress defeated in NY election

Nixon had hoped to ride the crest of other upset victories by political first-timers in Democratic Party primaries for congressional seats in places like New York and Boston. (AFP)
Updated 14 September 2018
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‘Sex and the City’ actress defeated in NY election

  • Nixon headed into Thursday’s vote trailing Cuomo in every single demographic group
  • Said to harbor presidential ambitions, Cuomo is a long-time political operator who served as a cabinet secretary under Bill Clinton at the tender age of 39

NEW YORK: Cynthia Nixon, the left-leaning “Sex and the City” actress turned education activist, lost her dream of becoming New York governor Thursday, trounced in the Democratic Party primary by the two-term incumbent.
Andrew Cuomo, 60, in office since 2011 and who commanded a huge war chest from powerful donors, batted aside her insurgent bid at 66-34 percent, US media projected not long after the polls closed.
The result puts him on course to win a third term as chief executive of America’s fourth most populous state, which leans heavily Democrat, in the general election on November 6.
The 52-year-old mother of three dived into the race in March, in a bid to become the first woman and first openly gay governor, demanding change and supporting a raft of left-of-center hot-button issues.
Neither Cuomo nor Nixon made any immediate public comment after US media called the race.
Lower down the ticket, the candidate Nixon endorsed as lieutenant governor, Jumaane Williams, a 42-year-old city councilman from Brooklyn, was narrowly ahead of incumbent Kathy Hochul in a race that was considered too close to call by US media.
“He is an experienced man and she is totally inexperienced,” explained Cuomo voter Jack Buchanan, 87, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
“We already have a totally inexperienced guy in the White House, so why put one in Albany?” he added in reference to the state capital and President Donald Trump, who is hugely unpopular in the city.
“I don’t think she’s qualified,” Nixon voter Jill Vexler told AFP in Union Square, confessing it had been “more of a sympathy vote.”
“I don’t think she has enough strategy to get the money to do what she wants to do, but I do like what she wants to do.”
Nixon had hoped to ride the crest of other upset victories by political first-timers in Democratic Party primaries for congressional seats in places like New York and Boston.
The public school advocate and LGBT activist campaigned hard for universal health care, rent controls and fixing the decrepit subway.
Yet she headed into Thursday’s vote trailing Cuomo in every single demographic group, the governor leading 63-22 percent, up from 60-29 percent in late July, according to the latest poll from Siena College.
Winning state-wide is a much tougher gambit than a congressional seat, especially for a first-timer up against the well-oiled and well-funded machinery of a sitting governor.
“To break through, that requires a lot of money and organization,” said Michael Miller, professor of political science at Barnard College. “A lot of people would be surprised if she did pull it off,” he told AFP.
Cuomo, the son of a governor who married a daughter of Robert F Kennedy and had three children before they divorced, traded hard on his record on gun control, gay marriage and the minimum wage.
Said to harbor presidential ambitions, he is a long-time political operator who served as a cabinet secretary under Bill Clinton at the tender age of 39.
“Andrew Cuomo has outspent us 10 to one which says to me that he is really scared,” Nixon told supporters in Union Square earlier on Thursday, where queues formed to take a picture with her.
“Our voters are really pumped to get out and vote today and to get everybody they know out to vote, and in the end that’s what counts.”
The final home stretch of the race degenerated into ugly spats. She denounced as a smear campaign a Democratic Party mailer that implied she was anti-Semitic, to which Cuomo pleaded ignorance.
Then she sailed into controversy and free column inches of her own with a bagel order that incensed almost everyone, an incongruous lox, cream cheese, tomatoes and capers — on a cinnamon and raisin bun.


India launches world’s biggest health care scheme, dubbed as ‘Modicare’ 

Updated 23 September 2018
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India launches world’s biggest health care scheme, dubbed as ‘Modicare’ 

  •  “Modicare” plans to provide around $7,000 of medical coverage to half a billion people
  • The program has been launched in 400 districts out of 640 in India

NEW DELHI: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched a mega health care scheme, touted as the world’s biggest public health scheme, on Sunday in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. 

The National Health Protection Scheme, popularly known as “Modicare,” plans to provide around $7,000 of medical coverage to 100 million families or 500 million people, accounting for around 41 percent of people who fall below the poverty line.

 “The aim is to provide medical care to the people standing at the very margin of society. It has been a dream to provide health care to the needy and that dream is coming true today,” Modi said in a speech after inaugurating the scheme.

 “This is the first time in the world that a health care program is being launched where an individual will have an insurance cover of 5 lakh rupees ($7,000).”

The program has been launched in 400 districts out of 640 in India.

The intervention is meant to take the burden off the government hospitals and bring the expensive private hospitals within the reach of poor people.

For Ganesh Yadav, a daily wage earner, the “Ayushman Bharat Yojna,” as the program is officially called, is “a good move by the government if it really works.

 “Last year I spent more than 50,000 rupees ($720) in getting a kidney stone removed in a private hospital and I am still struggling to pay back the debt that I incurred. If the Modicare really works then poor people like me will not have to worry about the expenses in health care,” said Yadav, who lives in Noida, a satellite town of Delhi.

But one doctor raises doubts about the success of the program.

“An earlier health scheme also had the provision for insurance cover but the out-of-cost expenses of the poor people could not come down. There is a lack of clarity on this issue in the new scheme as well,” says Dr. Shakil, a cardiologist based in Patna, the capital of the eastern Indian state of Bihar.
 
Talking to Arab News, he asks: “How will you identify the real beneficiaries? Besides, the scheme will not build public health infrastructure but give benefit to the private players, which I think is the real drawback of this policy.
 
“The government is in a hurry to launch the scheme and not many preparations have gone into it before inaugurating it.”

Economist Venkat Narayana questions the budgetary provisions for the scheme. “Under the scheme 60 percent of expenses would be borne by the central government and 40 percent by the state government. But the poorer states cannot afford the huge sums involved in the expenditure,” says Narayana, who also runs NGOs for poor people in Warangal district in the South Indian state of Telangana.

“My experience suggests that such a program does not address the real health care needs of the people living in villages and smaller cities. The money that the government plans to spend on insurance can be spent in expanding and enriching the medical infrastructure across the country.”

But Nirala, a political activist associated with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, feels that “this is a visionary intervention in the health care system of the country.

“Modi has tried to address the gap that exists in medical system of the country by bringing private hospitals within the reach of the poor masses,” he told Arab News.

Political analyst Pawan Pratyay, however, feels that Prime Minister Modi "has played a big political gamble in the election year by launching this attractive looking and sounding health care policy.

“The government has been cutting the health budget year after year. By bringing this pro-poor scheme Modi wants to change the pro-rich image that he has acquired over the years and attract the voters from the economically marginalized demography.”