SEMI-NEWS: A Satire of Recent News
|SEMI-NEWS: A Satire of Recent News, January 5, 2014 Edition
Difficulty Adding Newborns to Obamacare Not a “Glitch” Says Sebelius
While admitting that the process for adding a new baby to a family's Affordable Care Act insurance coverage is “difficult,” Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius denied that it is yet another of a seemingly endless series of “glitches” to the program.
“Though this may come as a shock to some, the world is over-populated,” Sebelius contended. “Adding more people is something we need to discourage. Since we cannot outright restrict family sizes like they do in China we have to make do with a 'second-best' policy. The annoyance and anxiety factors that attend the paperwork aspect of the ACA program are as far as we thought we could go for now.”
“It's not as if the program doesn't provide other options,” the Secretary continued. “The new policies all cover birth control and abortion services at no out-of-pocket cost to the policy holders. We are hopeful that a greater appreciation of the contrast of these free services compared to the extra hassles of obtaining coverage for a socially unnecessary augmentation of the population will push people's decisions in the right direction.”
Criticism of Obamacare's complexities vs. the ease with which families could add a new member under the so-called “substandard” policies in existence prior to enactment of the ACA were dismissed by Sebelius as “short-sighted and selfish. An increase in the population is a matter of collective concern. It shouldn't be easy for individuals to inflict this burden on society.”
In related news, Sebelius insisted that the two hours Dr. John Venetos’ office staff spent on hold trying to get authorization from ACA policy holder Sheri Zajcew’s insurance for surgery “wasn't just wasted time. The majority of surgeries are unwarranted. If this type of miniscule delay can prevent some of them both the patient and America will be better off for it.”
Evidence that Charter Schools Better Serve Poor People Disparaged
A 2013 study on Michigan charter public schools done by Stanford University and a recently released study by the Mackinac Center for Public Policy showing that charter schools do a better job serving low-income students than public schools was disparaged by US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan as “off target.”
The studies indicated that charter schools enroll a larger proportion of students from low-income families (70%) than public schools (55%). On top of this, the Stanford study found that black and Hispanic students did significantly better in reading and math when in charter schools than their peers in conventional public schools.
“The objective of government's education policy must be to provide a uniform common experience for all children,” Duncan asserted. “Any evidence that charter schools provide a better experience for some drives us further away from this goal. Do these researchers give any thought to the difficulties that minorities attending charter schools might have relating to their peers who are less skilled in reading and math? What good will their ability to read instructions or calculate sums be to them if they become outcasts from their community?”
North Korean Execution Method Sparks Controversy
Reports that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un had his uncle Jang Song Thaek executed by feeding him to a pack of 120 ravenous dogs was met with mixed reactions in the US.
On the one hand, some environmental activists expressed relief that the traditional “bullet-to-the-back-of-the-head” method previously used by North Korea had been avoided. “Lead shot is a major factor in environmental pollution,” said Global Advocates for Environmental Awareness spokesperson, Laura Looney. “Granted, the absolute impact of one bullet is tiny. However, the turn toward a more organic method of disposal of unwanted criminals is a powerful symbolic statement that presents a model we hope others will follow.”
On the other hand, Sunny Day, vice-president of Citizens Against Cruelty to Animals found the event to be “horrifying in its brutality. These 120 dogs were starved for three days and then were given only six humans to eat in the execution. On top of that, these humans were thrown into the cage alive and were able to injure many of the dogs before they were killed. Other dogs injured each other in the feeding frenzy.”
Day said she hoped that “North Korea would more carefully plan any future executions using this method to ensure that no animals are harmed in the process. Perhaps the condemned could be tied up or otherwise immobilized and the ratio of dogs to people kept at a more reasonable level to better guard against injury.”
In related news, the White House listed the doubling of the dogs in residence as one of the Administration's accomplishments for the year 2013. During the year, Sunny, a female Portuguese Water Dog, joined Bo, a male Portuguese Water Dog, who moved into the White House in 2009. President Obama said he has no plans to include either dog in any future executions, “the drone strikes have been completely satisfactory in that regard.”
New NYC Mayor Vows to “Crush Inequality”
Newly inaugurated New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told those attending the ceremony that he would “put an end to inequality in this City. For too long we have tolerated a situation where some have had too much while others have had too little.”
The first step toward Blasio's egalitarian utopia will be the elimination of Central Park horse-drawn carriage rides, which the Mayor labeled “frivolous and degrading. First of all, horses represent an inefficient form of transportation. Anything horses can do electric cars can do better. Carriages pulled by electric cars would enable people to tour Central Park more effectively and with less pollution.”
“Secondly, horse-drawn carriages convey an image of aristocracy,” de Blasio continued. “This is an image we should be extirpating from our consciousness. A person overpaying for these posh jaunts humiliates everyone who can't afford to do the same. The excuse that it is 'harmless recreation' and that it provides jobs cannot override its negative impact on people's psyches.”
The Mayor doesn't have the last word on this. The City Council must approve the ban before it can take effect. If it does, 200 drivers will lose their jobs and 200 horses will likely be shipped off to slaughterhouses to be made into dog food.
In related news, New York City’s Department of Investigation conducted a test to ascertain the probability of success for vote fraud. In the test, undercover agents went to various polling places and made 61 attempts to fraudulently obtain a ballot. On 39 occasions they used the names of dead people, 14 times they used the names of incarcerated felons, and eight times used the names of non-residents. They were denied ballots only twice. De Blasio discounted the significance of the findings by maintaining that “to my knowledge, very few elections in this city have been decided by as few as 59 votes. So I'd have to say that the fears that fraud might play a decisive role in who gets elected are way overblown.”
As Polls Turn Sour Admin Urges Less Media Coverage
As polls indicate that the majority of Americans disapprove of President Obama's performance and that only 10% feel that government works well, the Obama Administration is now urging the media to pay less attention to polls in the run up to the 2014 off-year elections.
“I know there's a certain 'horse race' kind of excitement that makes the polls interesting to a lot of people, but this isn't as inconsequential a matter as a horse race,” Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “Promulgating the negative feelings expressed in these polls runs the risk of seriously undermining the people's faith in their government. Is the momentary thrill of knowing who is leading at any given point really worth it?”
As an alternative, Carney recommended that “the media should undertake an effort to educate the public in a more meaningful way. There are a number of significant achievements and agenda items yet to be accomplished that the voters will need to understand if they are to make informed choices at the ballot box in November.”
Among the significant achievements to be touted, according to Carney is “the mandating of universal health care insurance. Critics may joke about the unforeseen consequences of a misfiring web site, soaring costs, and a net decrease in the number of people insured under the Affordable Care Act, but the fact is that for the first time in our history the government has made it illegal for anyone to decline to buy coverage. That is something the media has an obligation to make sure everyone knows before they vote.”
“And let's not forget that the economy is robust enough to support a record number of Americans on welfare and disability,” Carney added. “Administration opponents would like everyone to believe that a decline in the portion of the population holding down jobs is a bad thing. But work is something people do in order to afford the good things of life. That the President's policies have enabled a growing number to obtain good things without having to work for them is something we ought to be celebrating.”
In related news, U.S. District Judge Mary Scriven permanently halted enforcement of a Florida law that requires welfare recipients to take drug tests. Scriven ruled that “the contention that the tests are needed to prepare these recipients for jobs is contrary to both human rights and federal policy. Whether one has a job is a choice that every person is free to make, but the right to sustenance is a human right that cannot be abridged by the State in contradiction to federal rules under the Constitution's 'supremacy clause.'”