In Brief | Nation & World, 08-18-14


Ukraine says government troops have entered rebel-held city, captured police station

KIEV, Ukraine — Army troops have penetrated deep inside a rebel-controlled city in eastern Ukraine in what could prove a breakthrough development in the four-month-long conflict, the Ukrainian government said Sunday.

However, the military acknowledged that another one of its fighter planes was shot down by the separatists, who have been bullish about their ability to continue the battle and have bragged about receiving support from Russia. An Associated Press reporter spotted a column of several dozen heavy vehicles, including tanks and at least one rocket launcher, rolling through rebel-held territory on Sunday.

Talks in Berlin between the foreign ministers of Russia, Ukraine, Germany and France aimed at finding a political solution to the conflict ended without any substantial result.

Ukraine’s national security council said government forces captured a district police station in Luhansk on Saturday after bitter clashes in the Velika Vergunka neighborhood.

Weeks of fighting have taken their toll on Luhansk, which city authorities say has reached the verge of a humanitarian catastrophe. The siege mounted by government forces has ground delivery of basic provisions to a halt and cut off power and running water.

Obama administration pressed to enforce anti-discrimination provisions of health law

WASHINGTON ­— Ending insurance discrimination against the sick was a central goal of the nation’s health care overhaul, but leading patient groups say that promise is being undermined by new barriers from insurers.

The insurance industry responds that critics are confusing legitimate cost-control with bias. Some state regulators, however, say there’s reason to be concerned about policies that shift costs to patients and narrow their choices of hospitals and doctors.

With open enrollment for 2015 three months away, the Obama administration is being pressed to enforce the Affordable Care Act’s anti-discrimination provisions. Some regulations have been issued; others are pending after more than four years.

More than 300 patient advocacy groups recently wrote Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell to complain about some insurer tactics that “are highly discriminatory against patients with chronic health conditions and may ... violate the (law’s) nondiscrimination provisions.”

Among the groups were the AIDS Institute, the American Lung Association, Easter Seals, the Epilepsy Foundation, the Leukemia &Lymphoma Society, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Kidney Foundation and United Cerebral Palsy. All supported the law.

Ugandan gays who fled to Kenya still feel in danger, despite court striking down anti-gay law

NAIROBI, Kenya — When a Ugandan court overturned the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act this month, rights activists worldwide claimed a victory. But not gay Ugandans who fled persecution to live in a refugee camp in neighboring Kenya.

“The reaction shocked me. I went there. I thought it would be a celebration, but … nothing,” said Brizan Ogollan, founder of an aid organization that works in Kenya’s Kakuma refugee camp. “They knew at an international level and at the diplomatic level, the decision is going to have impact, but at the local level, it won’t really. You can overrule the law, but you can’t overrule the mind.”

Of the 155,000 refugees at Kakuma camp, 35 are registered with the U.N. refugee agency as lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Ugandans who fled because of the country’s Anti-Homosexuality Act, which became law in February.

The now-overturned law called for life jail sentences for those convicted of gay sex and criminalized vague offenses like “attempted homosexuality” and “promoting homosexuality” in a country where being gay has long been illegal.

By wire sources