The Ongoing History of New Music, encore presentation: A guide to genres, part 1

Humans have already tried to make sense of the universe by putting things into neat little piles and filing them away for further reference. It just makes things easier.

If you study biology, you’ll know about kingdoms, phyla, classes, orders, families, genera, and species. Libraries organize books with the Dewey Decimal System and the Universal Decimal Classification. And when you go grocery shopping, there are signs directing you to the right aisle or department.

This applies to music, too. We like to organize music into categories called genres.

This used to be fairly easy. At the turn of the 20th century, things were lumped into some basic piles: the popular songs of the day (vaudeville, show tunes, and the like), folk and traditional music, religious music and material from the classical composers.

But music has always separated and stratified and evolved, leading to a myriad of subcategories. Just within classic music, we have baroque, chamber music, choral, and so on.

As the population changed and as the recorded music industry began to take hold and more people began to buy records, this fragmentation began to speed up.

Jazz began to show up in the 1910s. It soon splintered into a bunch of different sounds. By the 1920s, we were hearing the origins of what would eventually become all the flavours of country and western music. The blues records of the 20s and 30s were the forerunner of rhythm and blues.

And when the rock’n’roll came along in the 1950s, things started simply enough–it was a vaguely defined sound that you knew when you heard it. But the more time went by, the more complicated rock became. Genres broke down into subgenres, sub-sub genres, and sub-sub-sub genres. Derivations, off-shoots, spin-offs outgrowths, branches, by-products.

And now that we’re all about streaming, something that requires precise categorization across many, many different data points for the algorithms to work, the number of genres has exploded. People are confused.

That’s why we’re going to strip back all the terms used to describe rock in order to understand the natural order of things when it comes to organizing and categorizing music.

Songs heard on this show:

  • Velvet Underground, Rock and Roll
  • Stooges, Raw Power
  • Ramones, Beat on the Brat
  • Sex Pistols, Anarchy in the UK
  • The Vapors, Turning Japanese
  • Devo, Through Being Cool
  • REM, Radio Free Europe
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees, Christine
  • Replacements, Left of the Dial
  • The Smiths, William It Was Really Nothing

Eric Wilhite has created this playlist.

The Ongoing History of New Music can be heard on the following stations:

We’re still looking for more affiliates in Calgary, Kamloops, Kelowna, Regina, Saskatoon, Brandon, Windsor,  Montreal, Halifax, Charlottetown, Moncton, Fredericton, and St John’s and anywhere else with a transmitter. If you’re in any of those markets and you want the show, lemme know and I’ll see what I can do.

If you ever miss a show, you can always get the podcast edition available through Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you get your on-demand audio.

© 2021 Corus Radio, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Nearly 20% of Canadians still hesitant or refusing to get COVID-19 vaccine: poll

WATCH: Nearly half of unvaccinated Canadians would be convinced if offered incentives, poll finds

Nearly 20 per cent of Canadians still need to be convinced to get vaccinated against COVID-19, a new poll suggests — with one in 10 saying they definitely won’t get the shot.

The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found 82 per cent of the 1,000 adults surveyed have either already been vaccinated or are awaiting their appointment. That bodes well for a high level of immunity among the Canadian population, particularly if those who are unsure can be convinced to get the jab.

“If you can get up to 90 per cent (of the population inoculated) in any jurisdiction, I think most epidemiologists would say we’re doing pretty well,” said Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos Public Affairs.

Yet the poll also found mixed enthusiasm for various incentives that could push people to get vaccinated, including cash lotteries and time off from work.

Read more:
Addressing, understanding vaccine hesitancy among friends, family

While the nine per cent of those refusing to get the shot may never be convinced, Bricker says the group that’s unsure will likely continue to shrink as access improves and first-hand experience grows.

“The more people that they know, the more people, their families and their close social circles that get vaccinated and are OK, that will convince them to to try things on themselves,” he said.

More hesitancy among women, young people

After a sluggish winter that saw supply issues and long waits for eligibility to expand, Canada’s vaccination campaign has become a success story.

The country is now among the top five in the world in administering high numbers of doses daily, and leads the globe in the share of the total population that has received at least one dose — more than 65 per cent.

According to the COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, 75 per cent of eligible Canadians have received at least one dose, while at least 18 per cent are fully vaccinated with two doses.

Federal health officials have said the country needs to reach a 75 per cent inoculation rate among Canadians aged 12 and over for provinces and territories to begin safely loosening health restrictions, with at least 20 per cent fully vaccinated.

However, Canada’s chief public health officer Dr. Theresa Tam said this week that the first number should potentially be bumped up beyond 80 per cent due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, which is on track to become the dominant form of COVID-19 in the country.

Read more:
Delta COVID-19 variant: A look at the risks, symptoms and impact on vaccines

Although the Ipsos poll suggests the country may be on track to reach that updated goal, it also found concerning gaps in who is resisting the shot.

Among the respondents, women were more likely than men to say they are hesitant (20 per cent versus 18 per cent) or “definitely not” getting the vaccine (11 per cent compared to six per cent of men).

Younger Canadians also showed more hesitancy, with 15 per cent of those aged 18 to 35 saying they were unsure, compared to 11 per cent of 35 to 54-year-olds and only two per cent of those aged 55 and up. Another 10 per cent of young adults said they would not get the shot at all.

Bricker says past polling has shown women are generally more cautious about taking risks, particularly when it comes to their health. Younger people in some parts of the country may also still be waiting to become eligible for their shot, he adds, or are ensuring more vulnerable populations get inoculated first.

What’s also troubling, Bricker says, is that some parts of the country like Atlantic Canada showed higher numbers of hesitancy or refusal in the poll compared to other provinces. More than 20 per cent Atlantic respondents said they were unsure if they’ll get a shot, compared to just seven per cent in Quebec.

“If (hesitancy is) concentrated among specific groups of the population, particularly specific groups of the population that come in contact with each other a lot, that’s a big problem,” he said.

“Ten percent (refusal or hesitancy) generally distributed across the population, that’s less of a risk than if it’s, say, 25 per cent of youth in a particular area.”

Mixed attitude about incentives

Some provinces are trying to combat hesitancy by offering perks to those who get their shot. Alberta this week launched a $1-million lottery, while Manitoba is offering several prizes of $100,000.

But the poll suggests those incentives may only sway about half of unvaccinated adults at most. Just 55 per cent of those surveyed said the chance to win $1 million would change their minds, while the rest held firm.

About the same number of unvaccinated adults said they could be tempted by Manitoba’s prize system and other potential rewards, including smaller cash payments or a paid day off from work.

Read more:
Alberta announces COVID-19 vaccine lottery, 1st prize aimed at 70% 1st-dose goalpost

Bricker says even those gains are worth it.

“Every centimeter of that last kilometer is going to count,” he said.

“That last 10 per cent — the people that are really, truly not ever going to consider this — there’s really little incentive that you can offer to them to get them on. … But that other 10 per cent that are (unsure), these different incentives are not necessarily a bad idea.”

Bricker said further incentives will also come from society, as governments and businesses debate issues like vaccine passports or barring unvaccinated people from certain activities and large gatherings.

“Unless people are absolute hermits, this will be another thing that pushes them into into considering being vaccinated,” he said.

“I do think that the data is showing that there’s way, way more opportunity to vaccinate people today than there is a need to really focus on convincing people that they need to be vaccinated.”

These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between June 11th and 14th, 2021, on behalf of Global News. For this survey, a sample of 1,001 Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed online. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census parameters. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Cyclist struck by vehicle in Brampton dies in hospital, police say

WATCH ABOVE: Nick Westoll speaks with members of the York Regional Police major collision investigations unit to get a fuller understanding of how math and science propel reconstruction cases forward.

A cyclist is dead after he was struck by a vehicle in Brampton late Thursday, Peel Regional Police say.

According to a posting on the service’s Twitter account, emergency crews were called to the intersection of Highway 50 and Queen Street East just after 11:35 p.m.

The cyclist, who was described by officers as a man in his 60s, was taken to a hospital with critical injuries.

Read more:
How math, science and forensics come together to unlock collision reconstruction cases

In an update released early Friday, police reported the cyclist later died in the hospital.

Officers closed Highway 50 between Queen Street East and The Gore Road as major collision bureau and forensic investigators attended the scene to gather evidence.

The service noted the driver of the vehicle remained at the scene. It’s not clear what, if any, charges the driver might be facing.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Shopping for a new vehicle? Why the semiconductor chip shortage is making certain models hard to find

Global's Consumer Matters reporter Anne Drewa tells us how a shortage of computer chips is creating a shortage of new cars.

If you’re shopping for a new set of wheels, a specific vehicle model may be hard to find, especially if it’s a truck or SUV.

Automakers around the world have been forced to halt or slow down production thanks to a global shortage of semiconductor chips.

Semiconductor chips are used to power a variety of vehicle features, from power steering and backup cameras to emergency breaking systems. Right now, car dealer lots are facing low inventory as they patiently wait for chips to arrive.

“Normally, we would have 225 to 250 pickup trucks stocked at all times because we have both Chevrolet and GMC brands, and there’s been many times in the last six months we’ve been down to three or four,” said Peter Heppner, owner of the Preston Chevrolet Buick GMC Cadillac dealership in Langley, B.C.

Auto plant closures during the pandemic, fire at a major chip supplier factory and the jump in demand for electronic devices have all fueled the chip shortage.

According to Statistics Canada, the Canadian auto industry has been impacted by the shortage since January, but worsened in April as every major auto manufacturer had to stop or slow down production.

“In some cases, it’s meant manufacturers are building vehicles without the chips, storing them on site until they are able to resolve that issue. Some manufacturers are postponing the introduction of models,” said Blair Qualey, president of the New Car Dealers Association of BC.

Read more:
B.C. woman’s $30 online order with a 3rd-party seller on Amazon turns into $436 vehicle bill

Depending on the type of model, some consumers have been forced to wait months, even up to a year for the vehicle of their choice.

“It’s a perfect storm. We haven’t seen shortages like this since the 1980s,” said George Iny, president of the non-profit Automobile Protection Association.

When it comes to pricing, Iny said car makers are quietly slipping in price increases.

“We are not seeing the same level of cash rebates as we did. However, I believe there will be much more inflationary pressure going forward because of the limited supply.”

The reduced supply is also driving people to the used car market where inventory is also low and prices extra high.

“Used cars are like real estate right now. There are cars that are selling for grossly higher amounts – 25, 30 per cent, 40 per cent more than they would have sold at the same time a year and a half ago.”

While trucks and SUVs continue to be in high demand, you’re in luck if your vehicle of choice is a mid-sized sedan.

“If you want a used Camry or a Hyundai Sonata, those prices did not come up that much because that’s a segment of the market that is in decline and is not going anywhere,” Iny said.

Read more:
B.C. driver fights for compensation after vehicle damaged by road marking paint

This may also be a good time to sell an old vehicle.

“Even if it’s a piece of junk on four flat tires, the price of scrap cars has gone up. So you could get $500 for your old heap of metal. Someone will want it if it has the original catalytic converter.”

Iny said he expects to see an improvement in the supply of semiconductor chips in December, with normal levels hopefully returning by next spring.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Millions in illegal cannabis seized by police at Niagara Region grow-op

Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) say they took down a multi-million-dollar non-licenced cannabis operation in Niagara Region on Thursday.

The Provincial Joint Forces Cannabis Enforcement Team, which included Niagara police, seized over 1,700 kilograms (3,852 lbs.) of processed cannabis worth around $3.8 million and close to 1,300 cannabis plants worth close to $1.3 million from a residence in Wainfleet, Ont.

Investigators says a large sum of Canadian cash was also seized from a safe.

Two men from Markham, aged 37 and 31, are facing four charges tied to harvesting, distributing and selling cannabis without authorization.

Read more:
Multi-million dollar cannabis grow-op busted by OPP in Quinte West, Ont.

The accused were released from custody on undertakings and are scheduled to appear at an Ontario Court of Justice at a yet to be determined date.

On Tuesday, OPP undertook a similar operation in Quinte West in which 3,500 cannabis plants and over 360 kilograms of processed pot were seized. The take was valued at approximately $4.5 million.

Two people from Scarborough and a Markham resident have been charged under the Cannabis Act with cultivating, propagating or harvesting illicit cannabis plants and possession for the purpose of distributing.

OPP say there was no link between the two grow-ops.


© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

COVID-19: Businesses, residents react to Alberta inching closer to Stage 3 of reopening plan

WATCH ABOVE: Calgary business owners and event planners are excited and anxious as the province inches closer toward Stage 3 of its latest pandemic reopening plan. Christa Dao reports.

The province is on the verge of meeting the criteria the government requires for moving into Stage 3 of its pandemic reopening plan and there is a mixture of anticipation and anxiety among Albertans.

In Stage 3, large-scale events — both indoors and outdoors — can resume, such as football games and concerts. The ban on indoor social gatherings will also be lifted. Masking and distancing will not be required in this stage.

Rob Browatzke is a co-owner at Evolution Wonderlounge in downtown Edmonton. The nightclub has been shut down since March 2020 and Browatzke is itching to reopen the doors.

“We were one of the first businesses in the city and the province that needed to close. We will be one of the last ones to reopen,” he said.

Read more:
Active cases, hospitalizations continue to drop as Alberta identifies 150 new COVID-19 cases Thursday

“Definitely, as a business, it has been challenging because we’ve had zero revenue whereas we’ve had most of our expenses still happening.”

Browatzke said most of the nightclub staff have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and those who are not will wear masks and work away from customers. There are plans to put sanitizer all over the business once it reopens.

Though he’s eager to get back to work, he admits there is a tinge of anxiety.

“Sometimes even a crowded line at the supermarket right now triggers that anxiety, so it will be interesting to see what happens on that first crowded Saturday night,” he said.

“But I think that kind of anxiety will be short-lived because the excitement of being around people and seeing happy smiling bottoms of people’s faces again potentially, that’s pretty exciting.”

It’s excitement also being felt at The Garage Sports Bar in Calgary. Owner Charlie Mendelman said he’s receiving more corporate calls inquiring about larger parties, as Alberta nears Stage 3.

“Our phone rings a lot more now,” he said. “We’ve had calls already — more starting in the fall — of regulars saying that (they’d) like to come down.”

The reopening means the business can finally turn a profit, Mendelman said.

“It means that we can operate our business finally, (and) probably profitably,” he said. “It’s been a dry year — a very difficult dry year — for business.”

Mendelman is hopeful that larger parties will come back and he anticipates by the fall there will be more corporate bookings.

Organizers of Nashville North in Calgary said the space is being adjusted to a canopy-style tent for more airflow and to allow for more social distancing. Lineups will go digital and the venue is looking at rapid COVID-19 testing and proof of vaccinations.

Read more:
Nashville North announces all-Canadian lineup for Calgary Stampede

Shelly Beaton is torn about reopening. The Edmonton woman has two sons — aged 28 and 30 — who are transplant recipients and immunocompromised.

“I’m really excited because I haven’t seen my family in forever — like, all of my extended family,” she said. “But I’m also nervous because of the boys.

“We’ve been in such a great bubble for 15 months. It’s kind of scary to come out of it.”

Beaton said she will act carefully when Alberta lifts public health restrictions.

“I think it’s going to be a while before I’m comfortable to go to inside dining,” she said. “It will probably be a while too before I go to a big concert and stuff.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Lethbridge city council candidate calls Pride committee ‘not inclusive’ after not inviting him to speak at event

WATCH ABOVE: A candidate for Lethbridge city council is defending a video he posted on Facebook this week about a Pride ceremony at city hall earlier this week. Ben Christensen, who is openly gay, said he feels disrespected and excluded by organizers who did not invite him to speak at the flag-raising ceremony. Quinn Campbell reports.

In a video posted to Facebook, Ben Christensen, who is running for a seat on Lethbridge city council, said he was excluded from a flag-raising event at city hall involving the Lethbridge Pride Fest committee.

“I see that the mayor of our city got an invitation to speak, to address members of our LGBT community. Where was my invitation?” he asks in the video.

Christensen is not a member of the Lethbridge Pride committee, but said as a member of the LGBTQ2S+ community, he should have been given the chance to speak at the recent flag-raising event.

Read more:
From Whoop-Up Days to Pride Fest: What southern Alberta events are happening this summer

“It’s a common courtesy for events to take place in our city, to invite public dignitaries — or people who are looking to become public dignitaries — to have a voice at those events and have a presence in our community, and I don’t feel that that was respected,” Christensen said.

Lethbridge Pride chair Lane Sterr said it is actually not common practice to invite city council candidates to speak at the event.

“The Pride flag-raising is not a political event to gain favourability for people who are running for council,” Sterr said. “Yes, we have invited the mayor — the mayor has always participated and been at our Pride events.”

He added if one candidate is invited to speak, then all candidates would need to be given the chance and that would take away from the event itself.

Christensen said he did not ask organizers to speak at the event beforehand but feels the committee should have extended the invitation to show true inclusion. He said in the past, people running for provincial seats have been allowed to speak at the event, like past Lethbridge Pride chair Devon Hargreaves.

“For me to be excluded from a public event where other past candidates have been invited, especially where the mayor was also invited to that event, to me, I felt that was extremely exclusionary on their part,” Christensen said.

Sterr said the flag-raising event was scaled back this year and streamed online due to current COVID-19 restrictions. People were encouraged to watch from home.

‘I think that Lethbridge Pride Fest is always striving to do our best to represent our queer community, and when I say that, I mean everyone,” Sterr said.

“I want everyone to know that we are one community and I want to make sure their is space for everyone.”

Read more:
‘A symbol of equality and support’: Lethbridge Crosswalks painted ahead of Pride Fest

In the video, Christensen says if elected, he will still advocate for Pride events, but not support funding the Pride Fest event.

“I will make it known to the heart of the city and to Lethbridge city council, that if I am elected, that I oppose the funding for this event until such time as the members of the committee for the Lethbridge Pride committee get themselves in check,” he said.

Sterr said he found the candidate’s comments on denying the Pride committee funding if elected disheartening.

“Just to not be personally invited or invited to speak at this event, and to in turn threaten to halt our funding that we receive from the city is just kind of — it’s very disheartening and discouraging.”

Christensen said since posting the video he has received many negative, hateful and threatening comments. He said such comments do not highlight what Pride stands for.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Kingston, Ont. family say they were targeted by racist attack while shopping at Walmart

Another Kingston family says it was subject to racist behaviour while out shopping. The Arzek family says their daughter was followed and yelled at while shopping at Walmart.

A Kingston, Ont., family is beside themselves after they say they were targeted by a racist rant while shopping at the local Walmart location last Sunday.

“I’m shocked, because this is not normal in Canada,” Ahed Arzek told Global News.

The Arzek family came to Kingston from Lebanon, where they lived as refugees originally from Syria.

The father and his 17-year-old-daughter headed to Walmart on Sunday to grab some things for their house.

When the duo separated to get through their list faster, that’s when the incident happened.

Read more:
Muslim mother, daughter victim of hate-motivated harassment at Kingston Canadian Tire: police

“I was in Walmart, and there is a woman that like was surrounding and following me,” the daughter told Global News. The family asked that her identity be hidden to prevent further harassment.

“And then start to talk to me like we have money more than you all guys, like Muslims. And we can’t imagine how stupid you are because you are wearing like a stupid thing.”

Ahed Azrek says that Kingston police were called to look at the surveillance footage from the Walmart location.

Walmart staff closed the doors to the store in an effort to find the woman who allegedly harassed the teenager, but she has not yet been located.

“Walmart is committed to providing a safe and inclusive environment for our associates and our customers,” said Walmart manager of corporate affairs Jonathan Rumley.

“Our associates were extremely disappointed and very troubled to hear about this customer’s report.”

“A manager helped the customer contact Kingston police from the store,” Rumley added. “He then stayed with her and she decided to continue shopping with her family.”

The incident closely follows another similar occurrence, in which a Muslim family was harassed at a Canadian Tire.

Kingston police have confirmed that there is an open investigation into this latest potentially hate-motivated crime towards Arzek, but that the suspect has yet to be identified.

The Arzek family says the day of the incident was their two-year anniversary in Canada. It should have been a day that brought happy memories, but now is associated with a bad one.

“I’m not talking just for me, I’m talking because I need all of you to know,” the daughter said. “I don’t want this to happen with anybody.”

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Unexplained drop in breast milk donations prompts public appeal from Fraser Health

An unexplained drop in breast milk donations in the Fraser Health region has prompted a public appeal for donors.

The health authority says donations dropped by about 7,000 ounces, or 13 per cent, during the pandemic, while other health authorities have seen donations increase.

Read more:
Mothers turning to breast milk to protect children too young for COVID-19 vaccines

Officials aren’t sure what’s behind the decline, but say the decrease is worrisome in a program that can be life-saving.

“It’s concerning because our very sick and pre-term premature babies rely on it, so it’s literally a life-saving medical intervention for our sickest youngest population,” Baby-Friendly Health Initiative project lead Lucy Dominak told Global News.

Donated milk is used to help treat premature babies, along with infants who have infections, digestion problems, allergies, burns and other problems.

It can also be used to help babies heal and avoid infection after surgery.

Jyoti Jha, a software engineer and mother of a 22-month-old, was a regular donor to the program after childbirth, and called on other new moms to step forward if they are able.

Read more:
Is breastfeeding okay during pandemic? University of Regina professor provides clarity

“When I did it it felt so great,” she said.

“It’s something only a woman can do, and only at a certain age of their life, and not everyone has this opportunity for this lifetime, and it’s once in a lifetime or two in a lifetime opportunity so why not?”

Fraser Health has 17 donation depots throughout the Lower Mainland. Interested donors can find out more here.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

'Here to stay': Obamacare survives big challenge at U.S. Supreme Court

WATCH: Schumer, Pelosi praise Supreme Court decision to save Affordable Care Act

The Supreme Court, though increasingly conservative in makeup, rejected the latest major Republican-led effort to kill the national health care law known as “Obamacare” on Thursday, preserving insurance coverage for millions of Americans.

The justices, by a 7-2 vote, left the entire Affordable Care Act intact in ruling that Texas, other GOP-led states and two individuals had no right to bring their lawsuit in federal court. The Biden administration says 31 million people have health insurance because of the law, which also survived two earlier challenges in the Supreme Court.

Read more:
Trump says he’ll ‘come up with’ new health care plan if court strikes down Obamacare

The law’s major provisions include protections for people with existing health conditions, a range of no-cost preventive services, expansion of the Medicaid program that insures lower-income people and access to health insurance markets offering subsidized plans.

“The Affordable Care Act remains the law of the land,” President Joe Biden, said, celebrating the ruling. He called for building further on the law that was enacted in 2010 when he was vice president.

Also left in place is the law’s now-toothless requirement that people have health insurance or pay a penalty. Congress rendered that provision irrelevant in 2017 when it reduced the penalty to zero.

The elimination of the penalty had become the hook that Texas and other GOP-led states, as well as the Trump administration, used to attack the entire law. They argued that without the mandate, a pillar of the law when it was passed, the rest of the law should fall, too.

And with a Supreme Court that includes three appointees of former President Donald Trump, opponents of “Obamacare” hoped a majority of the justices would finally kill the law they have been fighting for more than a decade.

But the third major attack on the law at the Supreme Court ended the way the first two did, with a majority of the court rebuffing efforts to gut the law or get rid of it altogether.

Trump’s appointees — Justices Amy Coney Barrett, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — split their votes. Kavanaugh and Barrett joined the majority. Gorsuch was in dissent, signing on to an opinion from Justice Samuel Alito.

Justice Stephen Breyer wrote for the court that the states and people who filed a federal lawsuit “have failed to show that they have standing to attack as unconstitutional the Act’s minimum essential coverage provision.”

Read more:
White House backs new effort to end Obamacare despite coronavirus pandemic

In dissent, Alito wrote, “Today’s decision is the third installment in our epic Affordable Care Act trilogy, and it follows the same pattern as installments one and two. In all three episodes, with the Affordable Care Act facing a serious threat, the Court has pulled off an improbable rescue.” Alito was a dissenter in the two earlier cases in 2012 and 2015, as well.

Like Alito, Justice Clarence Thomas was in dissent in the two earlier cases, but he joined Thursday’s majority, writing, “Although this Court has erred twice before in cases involving the Affordable Care Act, it does not err today.”

Because it dismissed the case for the plaintiff’s lack of legal standing — the ability to sue — the court didn’t actually rule on whether the individual mandate is unconstitutional now that there is no penalty for forgoing insurance. Lower courts had struck down the mandate, in rulings that were wiped away by the Supreme Court decision.

With the latest ruling, the Supreme Court reaffirmed that “the Affordable Care Act is here to stay,” former President Barack Obama said, adding his support to Biden’s call to expand the law.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton pledged to continue the fight against “Obamacare,” which he called a “massive government takeover of health care.”

But it’s not clear what Republicans can do, said Larry Levitt, an executive vice president for the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, which studies health care.

“Democrats are in charge and they have made reinvigorating and building on the ACA a key priority,” Levitt said. “Republicans don’t seem to have much enthusiasm for continuing to try to overturn the law.”

Republicans have pressed their argument to invalidate the whole law even though congressional efforts to rip out the entire law “root and branch,” in Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell’s words, have failed. The closest they came was in July 2017 when Arizona Sen. John McCain, who died the following year, delivered a dramatic thumbs-down vote to a repeal effort by fellow Republicans.

Read more:
Biden plans speech to defend Affordable Care Act as courts to mull its fate

Chief Justice John Roberts said during arguments in November that it seemed the law’s foes were asking the court to do work best left to the political branches of government.

The court’s decision preserves benefits that have become part of the fabric of the nation’s health care system.

Polls show that the law has grown in popularity as it has endured the heaviest assault. In December 2016, just before Obama left office and Trump swept in calling the ACA a “disaster,” 46 per cent of Americans had an unfavourable view of the law, while 43 per cent approved, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll. Those ratings flipped, and by February of this year 54 per cent had a favoruable view, while disapproval had fallen to 39 per cent in the same ongoing poll.

The health law is now undergoing an expansion under Biden, who sees it as the foundation for moving the U.S. to coverage for all. His giant COVID-19 relief bill significantly increased subsidies for private health plans offered through the ACA’s insurance markets, while also dangling higher federal payments before the dozen states that have declined the law’s Medicaid expansion. About 1.2 million people have signed up with since Biden reopened enrollment amid high levels of COVID cases earlier this year.

Most of the people with insurance because of the law have it through Medicaid expansion or the health insurance markets that offer subsidized private plans. But its most popular benefit is protection for people with preexisting medical conditions. They cannot be turned down for coverage on account of health problems, or charged a higher premium. While those covered under employer plans already had such protections, “Obamacare” guaranteed them for people buying individual policies.

Another hugely popular benefit allows young adults to remain on their parents’ health insurance until they turn 26. Before the law, going without medical coverage was akin to a rite of passage for people in their 20s getting a start in the world.

Because of the ACA, most privately insured women receive birth control free of charge. It’s considered a preventive benefit covered at no additional cost to the patient. So are routine screenings for cancer and other conditions.

For Medicare recipients, “Obamacare” also improved preventive care, and more importantly, closed a prescription drug coverage gap of several thousand dollars that was known as the “doughnut hole.”

© 2021 The Canadian Press

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