May Newsletter

EARTH DAY was Friday, 22 APRIL

Across the planet people are joining communities, contacting officials, signing petitions, planting trees, picking up plastic and more.

Earth Hour invites us all to join together, all over the world to take action!    What did you do? 

          

 


WE HAVE A NEW JUSTICE OF THE SUPREME COURT!

The Democrats you helped elect in 2020 are making many “firsts” in history to the benefit of Americans both at home and abroad. On Thursday, 7 April, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed as the first Black woman to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court! We’re celebrating this moment and excited by the lived experiences Justice Jackson will bring to the Court. She is a brilliant legal mind who will undoubtedly shape our nation’s future for the better for generations to come. Read DA’s full statement here.


VOTING NEWS

Upcoming Democratic Primary Elections

Democratic primary elections are quickly approaching in many states. This is your chance to decide which Democrat will go up against the Republican in the November general election.

May 3:    Indiana, Ohio

May 10: Nebraska, West Virginia

May 17: Kentucky, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania

May 19: Idaho

May 24: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Texas (runoff)

Request your ballot early AND return it early!

VOTING ALERT!


Here is what happened in Texas in January, and it could happen in other states too. 


Voting by Mail in Texas - 
by Alice Embree Jan. 13, 2022

“Texas Alliance for Retired Americans (TARA) has challenged the legality of new Texas voter suppression laws. We also discuss the issue of nonpartisan redistricting. Listen to this blog by a longtime Austin writer and activist, Alice Embree, guests Jan Lance, retired Austin ISD teacher and president of the Texas Alliance for Retired Americans (TARA), and Julie Fleming, a TARA activist.  TARA “seeks to enroll, educate and mobilize retired union, senior and community activists into a statewide grassroots movement advocating on behalf of Texas retirees and seniors.” Read more

Even Willie Nelson and wife Annie D’Angela-Nelson had trouble voting in the Texas primary - Friday, March 25, 2022 by April Slese

“It seems that no Texan is immune from the difficulties of trying to cast a ballot and adhere to the state’s stringent new voting laws. According to the Austin American-Statesman, it took Willie Nelson and his wife, Annie D’Angelo-Nelson, two attempts before they were able to vote absentee in the recent primary. D’Angelo-Nelson told the newspaper that it was ‘ridiculously difficult’ to try and cast a ballot. The two had trouble with SB 1’s identification requirement that states a voter must use the same ID to cast a ballot as the one they used when they first registered to vote.” Read more


STATE TEAM NEWS

State Teams were launched in September 2021. This initiative is designed to enhance DA’s voter assistance, voter mobilization and advocacy by 

Building partnerships with State and County Democratic Parties as well as grassroots advocacy groups

Providing connection and a sense of purpose in staying engaged with domestic politics (“skin in the game”)

Engaging and educating new members

Enhancing internal communication with newsletters and voter/election alerts

Join the State Team Slack to get the meeting links or email us

Join your Voting State group on Facebook


HEALTH & MEDICARE

With the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act last month, President Biden also authorized the very first Medicare Portability pilot program so that Americans like you and I may one day soon be able to draw our hard-earned benefits from abroad.
Our voices from abroad matter, and they are being heard by this administration!

Medicare must negotiate drug prices to stop more massive premium increases

Alex Lawson, 10 January 2022

(Washington, DC) — The following is a statement from Alex Lawson, Executive Director of Social Security Works, on the announcement that Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra will order Medicare to reconsider plans to increase premiums:

“Today’s announcement from Secretary Becerra is good news for seniors. Older Americans should not have to pay $22 more for Medicare every month to cover the outrageous prices of prescription drugs. 

Medicare will likely avoid such a large increase for one reason: Public pressure recently forced the pharmaceutical company Biogen to cut the price of Aduhelm, a controversial new Alzheimer’s drug, in half. But we can never rely on pharmaceutical corporations to do the right thing….” Read more

Tell Congress to Require Medicare to Negotiate Drug Prices

Americans already pay the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs and pharmaceutical corporations continue to raise prices. Meanwhile, retirees and their families can’t afford the medicines their doctors prescribe.

The Alliance for Retired Americans has posted this petition to tell Congress to take action on this vital issue. Take action — Sign today!

The Political Folly of Siding with Pharma

With the narrowest of majorities, a complex set of policy issues, and huge differences between moderates and progressives, the path to the biggest, boldest piece of progressive legislation in recent memory was always going to be bumpy. Disagreements and disappointment were inevitable. But I have rarely seen a more selfish and self-defeating act than what three House Democrats did yesterday. As the Wall Street Journal reported:

“Democratic Reps. Scott Peters of California, Kurt Schrader of Oregon, and Kathleen Rice of New York voted against a measure enabling Medicare to negotiate for lower prescription drug costs in a House Energy and Commerce Committee vote Wednesday, preventing it from advancing when the panel deadlocked in a 29-29 tie.” Read more…

12 Mindless Habits that are Exhausting You

Feeling tired no matter how much rest you get? These behaviors you probably do every day could be to blame.

#1 Watching emotionally charged television shows!

One of the ways binge-watching emotionally charged TV shows can lead to mental exhaustion is through trait identification, which refers to the process of temporarily imagining yourself experiencing the same feelings and events of a specific character. Read more


Correction to March Newsletter by Toni Kamins, Co-Chair, Medicare Part B committee, Medicare Portability committee

Ms. Foss is right when she says that Medicare is unclear and difficult to navigate. As such, it’s understandable that we all have difficulty assessing our benefits, understanding our rights, and understanding Medicare.

To clear up a few things, Medicare Part B is part of the federal-government-run health-insurance program for those over 65, and it's not-for-profit. Medicare Advantage, which is offered as a comprehensive substitute for Medicare Parts A, B, D, and Medigap, is private, for-profit insurance. And yes, she is correct, that their agenda is about profits. Big profits. 

The insurance offered under the ACA (Obama care) is also private insurance provided by for-profit insurance companies that agreed to deliver specific sets of benefits via the federal and state ACA web portals. The doctors in those insurance-company networks are private clinicians and not employees of the federal government, unlike the US Public Health Service.

Finally, Physicians for Single Payer Healthcare is a national organization, and not limited to Kentucky.


image7.pngTAX NEWS

 If you owe tax to the IRS, it must be paid by 15 April. However, as Americans abroad we do not have to file our tax returns until 15 June, and if you file a tax extension (use form 4868), that date moves to 15 October – a full 6 month extension. 

The Democrats Abroad 2022 tax survey of Americans abroad ends today! 
Click here to take the survey. (Thank you for participating!)

 


NEWS AND STORIES FROM HOME AND ABROAD


The Loneliness, Loss and Regret: what getting old really feels like – new study (UK, September 2021)

Paula, 72, told me how four years ago she’d lost her husband. She had been his carer for over ten years, as he slowly declined from a degenerative condition. Read more

This health care practice robs many seniors of vitality and life in their twilight years

A year ago, a prolonged surgery and trips back to theatre to battle the complications affected his memory …  Read more 

Why so many elderly in China are unvaccinated

For weeks the authorities in Shanghai tried to stem an outbreak of covid-19 with a whack-a-mole approach. Individual buildings were locked down...Read more 


THIS MONTH IN U.S. HISTORY

April 4, 1949 - Twelve nations signed the treaty creating NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The nations united for common military defense against the threat of expansion by Soviet Russia into Western Europe.

April 8, 1913 - The 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified requiring direct popular election of U.S. senators. Previously, they had been chosen by state legislatures.

Many more historical events are listed here. 


UPCOMING EVENTS

April showers bring May flowers, and our Events are blooming too! 

Sunday, 10 April: The Seniors Caucus had its 2nd WEP meeting. We will update you in our next newsletter, so stay tuned for that.

Tuesday, 3 May: The DA Taxation Task Force is holding a session to recruit volunteers. 

Wednesday, 4 May the Women’s Caucus is launching a project to promote voter registration under the theme Reproductive Rights for ALL.

17 May: World Telecommunication and Information Society Day 

The ITU has chosen this year’s theme as: “Digital technologies for older person and healthy aging” to raise awareness about the important role of telecommunications/ICTs in supporting people to stay healthy, connected and independent, physically, emotionally and financially – to a life of healthy ageing - and as critical for the sustainability of economic and health systems.

From book clubs and cocktail hour trivia nights to heavyweight speakers answering our questions about Washington DC, Demystifying the DNC, and what’s coming up in the primaries in 2022, there is something for everyone at Democrats Abroad.


CHAIR’S CORNER

In April, we saw the escalation of the war in Ukraine, and I understood from some DA colleagues that many American Seniors abroad are quite worried about this state of affairs. Yes, we need to be hopeful and indeed supportive of our government’s policies with regards to this war. As I said in March’s Chair’s Corner many, if not all of us, “remember the trauma of World War II and many of us, had fathers and relatives who participated in that war. War always brings suffering and trauma.” Let us hope that this war does not drag on and that we can celebrate a peaceful solution to this conflict.

I am happy to report that our WEP Committee had its first meeting on April 6th and a smaller group met on April 9th. We are working hard to come together to eliminate WEP. I would like to thank Rebecca Lammers, Chair of the Taxation Task Force for her help and leadership in our formation of this WEP committee. Also, the Medicare Part B/ Medicare Portability Committee had our first meeting on April 14th. We are liaising with the Medicare Portability Task Force (MPTF), chaired by Heather Stone and thank her for her help. In our new Seniors Medicare Part B Committee, chaired by Toni Kamins (who is also a member of the MPTF) we are hoping to have a clear understanding of Medicare Part B for those of us living abroad as well as to make Medicare Portable. Thank you to all those members of the Seniors Caucus who volunteered for these committees. We need many hands on deck.

Finally, I would like to celebrate with you the confirmation of Ketanji Brown Jackson as an Associate Justice for the Supreme Court. It was a difficult confirmation. I felt horrified and sometimes physically sick by how this dear judge was treated by some Senators in the Judiciary Committee. It felt to me as if their words were shaped by racism and misogyny. Nevertheless, this well-qualified and intelligent woman was confirmed. I am currently reading the biography of Constance Baker Motley, another judge who was an inspiration for Justice Jackson. Both are inspirational women and patriotic Americans. 


FRAUD CORNER

Thanks to Steering Committee member Tilly Gaillard for bringing this to our attention — fraud police in France that help elderly people with issues relating to fraud, online security and more. 

We also found that the UK has a similar program. If you know of one in your country, please write us an email to let us know so we can share that information with our members. Thanks!

Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors

By Robert Scott

Seniors are being targeted with financial scams more and more each year. According to a consumer report from Georgia, financial scams are now considered “the crime of the 21st century.” In this first report we will identify the Top 10 Scams Targeting Seniors and we will examine other aspects of these scams in subsequent articles. Read more…

Why Fraud is so Wide Spread? A bit of history…

We missed this anniversary in last month’s newsletter, but the next time you get angry at some breach of your privacy via social media, thank Jeff Flake, the Republican Party, and their corporate “constituents”. THIS is Republican governance. Read more


TECH CORNER

Memorizing multiple passwords can be a pain, but it's downright dangerous to use the same one for everything, and online privacy is not the place you want to be cutting corners. With many employees still working remotely, it's never been more essential to make sure that your online presence is secure and safe from prying eyes.  Please click here to find out more on how to keep your passwords safe! As promised, here is the latest on the best apps to keep your passwords safe. 


IN SEARCH OF VOLUNTEERS...

We are still looking for volunteers for the Global Senior Caucus Steering Committee. What does a member of the Steering Committee involve?

  • Good communication skills in meetings and enjoying the company of others.
  • Steering Committee Meetings are via WebEx once a month (the 1st Wednesday of the month) for 60-90 minutes at 8 am Eastern Time.
  • Taking on a specific role on the Steering Committee and helping the Caucus to organize around your role. 

Please click here to find out more and to contact us.

The Global Communications Team is also looking for volunteers as they ramp up for the midterms! Do you have a communications background and are interested in helping? If so, please fill out the Global Communications Team Interest Form. Thanks!


DA IS GETTING A NEW WEBSITE!

From time to time, websites need to be updated, with new technology and a fresh look. It’s more important than ever in this election year to have a strong digital presence. 

We’ve been working on the new design, and are working to put it into place, but we need your help – more funding. If you can, please help with this vital upgrade that will help us reach more Americans like you, living abroad, to VOTE this year.   Please chip in today!


image9.jpgGRATITUDE: THE SHORT FILM BY LOUIE SCHWARTZBERG

 “The one day that’s given to you – right now. The only appropriate response is ... gratefulness.” 

The invitation: Open up your heart and feel grateful for this day, the beauty of this planet, the people we meet.

Watch now as we celebrate the 52nd EARTH DAY on 22 April.


 MEMBERS OF THE STEERING COMMITTEE

Chair Betsy Ettorre (Finland)
Vice Chair Jim Dobson (Finland)
Secretary Lois Floyd (Panama)
IT Will Prescott (Mexico)
GOTV (Get Out The Vote) Jim Mercereau (Spain)
Legislation and WEP Antonio Nichols (Austria)
Medicare Portability Marnie Delaney (France)
Communications, Social Media, Newsletter Lauren Hakulinen (France)
Eric Jackson (Panama)
Member/Volunteers Recruitment Tilly Gaillard (France)
Dan Smith (Israel)
Member-at-Large
Karen Lee (Greece)
Melanie Gardner (Canada)
Robert Scott (Germany)
Member (ex-officio)
Candice Kerestan Chair, Democrats Abroad 
Katie Solon, DNC, DA Member (Germany)

 


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