• In early February, U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to the Philippines to announce an agreement to expand U.S. bases there as a buffer against China’s growing presence in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. The visit re-established the long-time U.S. military alliance with the Philippines. Ahead of the announcement, Austin met with Philippine President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, son of corrupt Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
Mao Ning, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry, declared that the U.S. base expansion was “an act that escalates tensions in the region and endangers regional peace and stability.”
• ProPublica reports the giant health insurer Cigna used an automated billing system to reject routine medical claims without even opening patient files. Former Cigna executives admitted the health insurance company rejected claims en masse using its “PXDX’ automated review system developed 10 years ago.
(“How Cigna Saves Millions by Having its Doctors Reject Claims Without Reading Them,” ProPublica, March 25, 2023)
• On April 4, Brandon Johnson, a former teacher, union organizer and a Democratic county commissioner who was unknown to many Chicagoans just a few months ago, came from behind to win Chicago’s mayoral race. He defeated conservative Democrat Paul Vallas, a former school executive backed by the city’s police union and establishment politicians, who ran on a law-and-order platform pledging to expand the police force and crack down on crime.
(“Brandon Johnson Won the Race for Chicago’s Mayor by Loving and Fighting for the City,” In These Times, April 4, 2023; “How Brandon Johnson Made Up Ground and Won Chicago’s Mayoral Race,” New York Times, April 5, 2023)
This week’s News Summary was narrated by Anna Manzo.