Posts Tagged ‘abortion



19
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama volunteer at Burrville Elementary School during the 2013 National Day of Service in Washington, January 19

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The Week Ahead:

Today: The President has no public events scheduled.

Monday: The President and the First Lady will participate in a community service project in the Washington, DC area in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy. (1:30 EST).

Tuesday: The President and the Vice President will meet with members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

Wednesday: The President and the Vice President will host an event for the Council on Women and Girls at the White House.

Thursday: The President will host a reception for mayors at the White House.

Friday: The President will attend meetings at the White House.

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All Voces: California Hospital Aggressive Approach To Obamacare, Enlists ‘Uninsured’ In ER

California Covered is one of the most successful health insurance exchanges in country and it is no accident the state exchange has enrolled the largest number of “uninsured” in the country. 2.2 million have enrolled for private health plans across the country as of Dec. 31, 2013. Covered California is a commitment by the leadership in California, Governor Jerry Brown, who has been committed to the success of the Affordable Care Act since its inception. Of those 2.2 million, nearly 500 thousand residents of California are covered. Which means that the state has enrolled 22 percent of all the new enrollees, according to the California Healthline.

It is no accident that California is highly successful in a state that has its own health care exchange and has opted into the “Medicaid expansion.” Hundreds of thousands have qualified for Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program. The options for Californians are plentiful. There is this example at O’Connor Hospital in San Jose, Calif. nothing like a captive audience. Araceli Martinez works in the building at the Hospital and runs the Health Benefits Resource Center just down the hall from the ER at the hospital. The Center has beefed up staffing and hours in response to the Affordable Care Act, says a report from NPR on enrolling “insured” patients in emergency rooms.

Seems the department pays for itself because 5,000 “uninsured” people come into O’Connor Hospital’s emergency department each year. It is the job Martinez and others that work at the Center to help the “uninsured” find health care coverage. The state of California has the highest number of “uninsured” in the country, with 7,106,100 residents according to the Kaiser Foundation, without coverage before Obamacare went into full swing and one of the highest percentages of “uninsured” at 19 percent of the population.

More here

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AP: Horse Slaughter Blocked By Federal Law

The resumption of commercial horse slaughter in the U.S. was blocked Friday as President Barack Obama signed a budget measure that withholds money for required federal inspections of the slaughtering process. Although the measure provides temporary funding for the federal government, it stops the Agriculture Department from spending money for inspections necessary for slaughterhouses to ship horse meat interstate and eventually export it to overseas consumers.

“This clear message from Washington echoes the opinions of an overwhelming number of Americans from coast to coast: horse slaughter is abhorrent and unacceptable,” said Matt Bershadker, president and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The president’s action came as a New Mexico judge granted a preliminary injunction against a Roswell company from moving forward with its plans to start slaughtering horses.

More here

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TPM: Hoboken Mayor: Christie Team Shook Us Down For Sandy Relief

You may have already seen Mayor Zimmer in the news this week. Hoboken received only 1% of the aid they had requested for Hurricane Sandy relief and planning funds even though it was one of the hardest-hit communities in the state during the storm. At one point, 80% of the 50,000 person city was flooded. If you remember the footage of water gushing through an underground subway station, that was in Hoboken; it has, in fact, the highest per-capita use of public transit of any city in America. Yet so far the state of New Jersey has given the city about $350,000 from the billions of dollars in federal disaster relief and planning aid that it is charged with administering. That’s about $6 per resident. It has been enough to pay for one major planning study and to buy one backup generator for an $18 million emergency storm water pump. 50,000 people. 80% flooded. $6 a head.

This Hoboken story and the Fort Lee/GWB story might seem like separate tales. But they’re not. Moreover, these latest revelations put to rest the notion that Hoboken’s Sandy aid or the Fort Lee/GWB story have anything to do with local Democratic officials’ endorsement of the governor during his reelection campaign. Forget about the endorsements. It never really added up anyway. The subpoenaed documents in Bridgegate show that the Christie administration used the Port Authority as an extension of their political operation, although we do not yet know to what end. And the Hoboken story clearly demonstrates the Christie administration took steps to aid the material interest of a client of the chairman of that agency.

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Washington Post: How Aetna’s CEO Thinks About Obamacare

Aetna chief executive Mark Bertolini spoke Wednesday at the J.P. Morgan Health Care Conference — and he had a lot to say about the health-care law’s rollout. 1. The early exchange demographics are actually better than expected. Bertolini’s take on the age-breakdown of marketplace enrollees was really interesting — and different from the reaction in Washington. While most of us journalists pointed out that the Obama administration is falling short of its young adult enrollment target, that doesn’t really matter to Aetna. What matters to a health plan is who they expected to sign-up, and what type of age mixed they used to set their premium prices.

“Given the general demographics that CMS released yesterday, I’m not alarmed,” Bertolini says. “They’re better than I thought they would have been.” This is, incidentally, an idea that other insurance executives brought up this week: They don’t really care what goal the White House set for young adults. What matters to them — and what will determine if rates need to increase next year — is who they expected to sign up. “Things aren’t necessarily way out of whack with our expectations,” Wellpoint’s chief financial officer Wayne DeVeydt said at a separate presentation. “It’s not about whether or not you’re getting a sicker book. It’s whether you priced for it.”

More here

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Cosmopolitan: A Male Escort’s Perspective: What It’s Really Like Outside An Abortion Clinic

At least three Saturdays of every month, Chris Hill, 45, shows up at the Philadelphia Women’s Center, a privately funded abortion provider, to escort women past the protesters who assemble there. His job is to make women feel safe. Although there is a barricade in front of the clinic, and police lines that demarcate an area that the protesters are not supposed to cross over, there is no statewide buffer zone law in Pennsylvania. Hill, who has escorted hundreds if not thousands of women into the clinic over the last decade, wishes there were, as he has witnessed incidents of verbal assaults, threats and even physical contact. As a result of his personal experience, shared here, he cannot understand how the Supreme Court — now considering McCullen vs Coakley — could possibly overturn the 35-foot buffer zone law in Massachusetts.

I was 23 when I encountered my first protester. My then-girlfriend was 20 when she got pregnant. I was in college in New Orleans, and we knew it was not the right time for either of us to be parents. We went to a clinic, and after she checked in, I walked outside and ran into another guy who had also accompanied his girlfriend that day. Suddenly, these protesters came at us — they were shouting, and it felt like they were going to get physical. I was ready to start brawling when someone from the clinic intervened. “That’s what they want,” she said, ushering us back inside. I was fuming.

Ten years later, I had moved to Philadelphia and was walking with my then-wife who was six months pregnant. Suddenly, this guys starts shouting, “baby killers!” at us. I had no idea what he was talking about. He got up in my face and continued to shout that we were going to hell. I wanted to punch him, but my wife pulled me away. She realized that we were in front of a Planned Parenthood and that he was a protester. I was so pissed that I called the clinic to say, “What can I do to combat this?” They suggested calling the state attorney to register a complaint — and to consider being a male escort. I signed up that day. I joined the army at 17 because I believe in protecting people’s rights. I believe in reproductive rights, but the reason I do this work is to stop these mostly older white men from bullying women who are choosing what is best for them.

More here

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CNN: Barbara Bush Hopes Jeb Won’t Run For President

If former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush makes a bid for the White House, he may not have his mother’s blessing. Former First Lady Barbara Bush said in an interview with C-SPAN on Thursday that the United States needs to expand the number of families holding the nation’s highest political office beyond her own, as well as the Clintons and Kennedys.

“I think this is a great American country, great country, and if we can’t find more than two or three families to run for high office, that’s silly, because there are great governors and great eligible people to run,” she said. Though her son is certainly qualified to run for president, the former first lady said, “I hope he won’t.”

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Joe Conason: Straightforward? Not The Best Description Of Chris Christie – Or His Pal Karl Rove

When Karl Rove praises a politician’s “straightforward” approach to an erupting scandal, it seems wise to expect that something very twisted will instead emerge in due course – and to consider his real objectives. In this instance, the former Bush White House political boss – and current Republican SuperPAC godfather – was discussing Chris Christie’s response to “Bridgegate,” as the events surrounding the vengeful closure of part of the George Washington Bridge by the New Jersey governor’s aides is now known.

“I think his handling of this, being straightforward, taking action — saying, ‘I’m responsible’ — firing the people probably gives him some street cred with some Tea Party Republicans, who say that’s what we want in a leader, somebody who steps up and takes responsibility,” said Rove. Pandering to the Fox audience, he went on to contrast the righteous Christie with Bill and Hillary Clinton as well as Barack Obama, and to note that the IRS and Benghazi “scandals” hadn’t gotten nearly enough attention compared with Bridgegate.

While Rove sticks a halo on the man his old boss Dubya used to call “Big Boy,” everyone else might want to wait for the documents and testimony forthcoming from investigations at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge, in both houses of the New Jersey legislature, in the Department of Justice and in the United States Senate.

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On This Day:

President Obama visits sixth grade students at the Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia, January 19, 2010

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President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao of China greet guests on the South Lawn of the White House, Jan. 19, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First daughter Sasha Obama went on a field trip – to her own home. The nine-year-old attended the arrival ceremony at the White House that began Chinese President Hu Jintao’s state visit.

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcome President Hu Jintao at the North Portico of the White House for the State Dinner, Jan. 19, 2011 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama, President Hu Jintao, and First Lady Michelle Obama descend the Grand Staircase of the White House (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama watch as President Hu Jintao greets daughters Sasha and Malia before the start of the State Dinner reception (Photo by Pete Souza)

Dee Dee Bridgewater performs during the State Dinner reception in the East Room of the White House, Jan. 19, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama speaks about tourism and travel, Jan. 19, 2012, along Main Street USA at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama volunteer at Burrville Elementary School during the 2013 National Day of Service in Washington, January 19

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Vice President Biden helps package care kits for troops for the National Day of Service, Washington, January 19, 2013

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First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden participate in an interview prior to the Kids Inaugural Concert at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., Saturday, Jan. 19, 2013 (Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughters Sasha and Malia at the Kids’ Inaugural concert in Washington on January 19, 2013

10
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk towards the White House after observing a moment of silence for the victims of the Arizona shooting, on the South Lawn, Jan. 10, 2011 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Today:

The President has no public events scheduled

12:45: Press Briefing by Jay Carney

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USA Today: Obama to visit North Carolina next week

President Obama will prepare for his Jan. 28 State of the Union speech with a visit next week to North Carolina. Obama will travel to the Raleigh-Durham area on Wednesday for an event on the economy, the White House announced Thursday.

More here

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Steve Benen: December job totals disappoint

…. The new report from Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the U.S. economy added only 74,000 jobs in December, far below economists’ expectations. The unemployment rate dropped to 6.7% – its lowest point since October 2008 – but that appears largely to be the result of people dropping out of the workforce.

…. this is an initial estimate, which will be revised twice more, and may end up looking far less discouraging than it does right now. Indeed, the revisions from October and November showed an additional 38,000 U.S. jobs that had been previously unreported.

…. For congressional Republicans to undermine the economy on purpose by cutting off extended unemployment benefits makes it that much more difficult for the job market to return to where it needs to be.

All told, so far in calendar year 2013, the economy added 2.18 million jobs, while the private sector alone created 2.21 million jobs.

Full post here

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Steve Benen: Putting 2013 job totals in context

December’s job totals were clearly a bitter disappointment, but now that we have 12 months of job data, we can ask a different question: how did 2013 shape up?

In all, the U.S. economy added 2.186 million jobs last year, while the private sector created 2.213 million. Looking back over the last couple of decades, that means when it comes to the overall economy, 2013 was the best year for jobs in the United States since 2005 and the second best year since 1999.

That’s right: last year, the economy created more jobs than seven of the eight years Bush/Cheney was in office….

More here

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Brian Beutler: Most important political news this week: New report kills GOP’s radical agenda

Christie and the bridge is big. But Obamacare driving down healthcare inflation is even bigger. Here’s why.

The furthest-reaching political news of the week has nothing to do with who clogged the George Washington Bridge or what Robert Gates thinks of Barack Obama’s completely justifiable skepticism of David Petraeus and the war in Afghanistan.

It came in a seemingly boring actuarial report from a government agency most people probably have never of, showing that for the first time since the 1990s, total U.S. healthcare spending grew at a slower rate than the U.S. economy at the beginning of the current decade.

This sounds like the kind of thing only wonks and other nerds care about, which is probably why it didn’t become a #hashtag meme on Twitter or whatever, but the implications of the great healthcare spending slowdown are vast, and have thus reignited a long-simmering academic and ideological debate over whether, and to what extent, Obamacare deserves credit.

More here

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Paul Krugman: The Medicaid Cure

Something really interesting is happening on the health-care front: costs are rising much less rapidly than anyone expected. This is good news for the budget; it’s also good news for Obamacare. There was much skepticism about promises that health reform would “bend the curve”, reducing cost growth; well, the curve is bending, and it’s likely that the cost control measures that are part of Obamacare (and have been in effect for several years) are part of the reason.

One thing I haven’t seen mentioned much, however, is that another aspect of recent developments — the rapid rise in Medicaid enrollment, despite Republican efforts to block it — adds to the prospect of continuing good news on health costs.

More here

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Greg Sargent: Steve Beshear: Don’t fear the politics of Obamacare, Dems

The rollout of Obamacare in Kentucky may represent the most interesting experiment in the politics of health care in the country right now. Dem governor Steve Beshear is perhaps the most outspoken defender of the Affordable Care Act in the south. This, in a deep red state where the reform known as “Obamacare” is deeply unpopular; where the leading foe of the President’s agenda is on the ballot this year; and where the need for reform is urgent.

In an interview today, Beshear offered fellow Dems — red state and otherwise — some startling advice: Stand up for Obamacare because it’s the right thing to do. What’s more, Beshear insists, Republicans are wrong: the health law will be a political positive for Dems next fall.

“We’re doing the right thing,” Beshear told me. “That’s the most important point here. The people of America, and the people of Kentucky, deserve access to affordable health care. For the first time in the history of this country, we have a tool that allows us to accomplish this goal.”

More here

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LA Times: Remember the deficit? It’s melting

The capital may be enduring a brief spell of record-low temperatures this week, but the federal deficit continues to melt away.

According to the latest figures from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the red ink for the first quarter of fiscal 2014, which began Oct. 1, dropped by almost 40% compared with the same period a year earlier.

The deficit has gone down so much that the federal government actually ran a surplus for December — a one-time occurrence that resulted from some special circumstances but still an indicator of the rapidly improving state of the government’s finances.

More here

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The New York Daily News isn’t often linked here …. but if you missed it, the editorial on Christie is a bit of a must-read: here

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The Wire: The Four Key Questions Chris Christie Didn’t Answer at His Press Conference

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie held a lengthy press conference on Thursday aimed at answering questions about his administration’s involvement in the sudden decision to close traffics lanes in the town of Fort Lee last September. But a number of critical questions went unanswered.

Background: The closure of most of the on-ramp lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge between New Jersey and New York the week of September 9 meant a massive traffic back-ups in Fort Lee, slowing emergency vehicles (with dangerous effect) and delaying commuters. The town’s mayor, Mark Sokolich, wrote a letter on Thursday of that week, suggesting the closures were punitive.

At the time, two Christie appointees ran the Port Authority’s New Jersey arm, both of whom have resigned. One, David Wildstein, had his emails subpoenaed, revealing that Bridget Anne Kelly, deputy chief of staff to Christie, told him shortly before the traffic change that it was “time for traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

Christie’s press conference lasted about two hours, but there remain some outstanding questions….

More here

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Read Steve Benen here on Rachel Maddow’s Bridgegate theory

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TPM: New Jersey Residents File Lawsuit Against Christie Over Traffic Jam

Six New Jersey residents have filed a federal lawsuit against Gov. Chris Christie, the state of New Jersey, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and others over traffic jams in September.

The suit filed in federal court Thursday appears to be the first civil claim over traffic jams that appear to have been caused as political punishment for the Fort Lee mayor.

The plaintiffs want it certified as a class action.

More here

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Charles Pierce: Big Chicken Exposed

…. I spent a couple of hours watching his bop-til-you-drop press conference this morning, and I came to the following conclusion.

What a fking poltroon.

…. The basic theme of the press conference was that Big Chicken was responsible for one thing and one thing only — of trusting people who preyed on his well-known innocence and his extensively documented and deeply held faith in his fellow human beings …. What a world it is when a man cannot trust the hacks whom he appoints to serve him. Jesus H. Christ in the HOV lane, Nixon threw Haldeman and Ehrlichman out the windows with more compassion and fellow feeling than Christie demonstrated yesterday.

…. the simple fact is that Big Chicken remains a bully, and now he stands exposed as a coward, as most bullies are, and an entirely self-centered cad. “You need to understand this,” he said. “I am resolved to do the job, but I am a very sad person today. A person I gave a high public office betrayed me. I might get angry later. But I am a sad person today.”

In so goddamn many ways.

Full post here

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ThinkProgress: All-Male Congressional Committee Considers Imposing Far-Reaching Abortion Restrictions

On Thursday morning, the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution and Civil Justice held a hearing on HR 7, the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act.” That subcommittee, which is headed up by Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and comprised of 12 other male lawmakers, is deciding whether to advance sweeping restrictions on abortion coverage that would make the procedure less affordable for women across the country.

Abortion opponents are relentless in their efforts to ensure that taxpayer dollars don’t end up financing abortion services. But HR 7 is actually deceptively titled. Under the guise of preventing federal money from covering abortion, it would actually have dramatic consequences for the insurance industry and the tax code as a whole, potentially creating a society in which private insurance no longer includes abortion care.

More here

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MoooOOOooorning!

05
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

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Pete Souza: President Barack Obama talks with Vice President Joe Biden in the Oval Office while National Security Advisor Tom Donilon and Counsel to the President Bob Bauer, right, confer in the Outer Oval Office, Jan. 5, 2011.

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HealthInsurance.org: Anatomy Of An Obamacare ‘Horror Story’

Texas daily went digging for victims of the ACA and Surprise! Reporter unearthed three Tea Partiers who hate the new law.

….. Yesterday I posted about a Fort Worth Star Telegram article that leads with the tale of Whitney Johnson, a 26-year-old new mother who suffers from multiple sclerosis (MS). Her insurer just cancelled her policy, and according to Johnson, new insurance would cost her over $1,000 a month.

That claim stopped me in my tracks. Under the ACA, no 26-year-old could be charged $1,000 monthly – even if she has MS.

Obamacare prohibits insurers from charging more because a customer suffers from a pre-existing condition. This rule applies to all new policies, whether they are sold inside or outside the exchanges.

At that point, I knew that something was wrong.

More here

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Fred Kaplan: Why Snowden Won’t (And Shouldn’t) Get Clemency

I firmly disagree with the New York Times’ Jan. 1 editorial (“Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower”), calling on President Obama to grant Snowden “some form of clemency” for the “great service” he has done for his country. It is true that Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency’s surveillance of American citizens—far vaster than any outsider had suspected, in some cases vaster than the agency’s overseers on the secret FISA court had permitted—have triggered a valuable debate,leading possibly to much-needed reforms. If that were all that Snowden had done, if his stolen trove of beyond-top-secret documents had dealt only with the NSA’s domestic surveillance, then some form of leniency might be worth discussing.

But Snowden did much more than that. The documents that he gave the Washington Post’s Barton Gellman and the Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald have, so far, furnished stories about the NSA’s interception of email traffic, mobile phone calls, and radio transmissions of Taliban fighters in Pakistan’s northwest territories; about an operation to gauge the loyalties of CIA recruits in Pakistan; about NSA email intercepts to assist intelligence assessments of what’s going on inside Iran; about NSA surveillance of cellphone calls “worldwide,” an effort that (in the Post’s words) “allows it to look for unknown associates of known intelligence targets by tracking people whose movements intersect.”

In his first interview with the South China Morning Post, Snowden revealed that the NSA routinely hacks into hundreds of computers in China and Hong Kong. These operations have nothing to do with domestic surveillance or even spying on allies. They are not illegal, improper, or (in the context of 21st-century international politics) immoral. Exposing such operations has nothing to do with “whistle-blowing.” In fact, as Snowden himself told the South China Morning Post, he took his job as an NSA contractor, with Booz Allen Hamilton, because he knew that his position would grant him “access to lists of machines all over the world [that] the NSA hacked.” He stayed there for just three months, enough to do what he came to do.

More here

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@StateDept: #SecKerry discusses South Sudan, Iraq, Syria and Mideast peace talks. Read his remarks: http://go.usa.gov/Zm2A 

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AlJazeera America: New York To Allow Limited Medical Marijuana Use

New York will soon allow the limited use of medical marijuana for seriously ill patients under a plan the state’s governor will announce in the next few days, the New York Times reported on Saturday. Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has steadily resisted pressure to legalize marijuana, was expected to announce the plan at Wednesday’s State of the State address, according to the newspaper’s website. The newspaper said the policy will be far more restrictive than the laws in Colorado or California, where medical marijuana is available to people with conditions such as backaches.

The move comes amid sharply shifting attitudes in the United States toward marijuana use. Earlier this week, Colorado became the first state to regulate and sell marijuana for recreational use. Twenty states and the District of Columbia have passed laws in recent years allowing for various uses of medical marijuana — though only Colorado and Washington have decriminalized its recreational use. Washington is not slated to open its first retail establishments until later in 2014. Under Cuomo’s plan, 20 hospitals across New York will be allowed to prescribe marijuana to patients suffering from cancer, glaucoma and other serious diseases that meet standards to be set by the state Department of Health, the newspaper said.

More here

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Morgan Whitaker: How A Minimum Wage Hike Could Lift Nearly 5 Million From Poverty

Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour could help to lift nearly 5 million Americans out of poverty, according to a new study released this week. University of Massachusetts-Amherst economist Arindrajit Dube found that proposals to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 would reduce the number of non-elderly living in poverty by around 4.6 million in the short term, and that nearly 7 million would be lifted from poverty over the long term. Shortly after winning re-election, President Obama first proposed raising the minimum wage to $9 during his State of the Union address in February.

Shortly thereafter Democratic Sen. Tom Harkin and Rep. George Miller introduced an even more ambitious plan to raise the wage to $10.10 (the proposal reviewed in the study.) The White House indicated in November that Obama would support that increase to $10.10, and Obama’s newly selected Labor Secretary, Tom Perez, said shortly thereafter that he would make a minimum wage hike a number one priority. But most Republicans oppose the minimum wage hike. A Gallup poll released in November found more than three quarters of Americans support raising the minimum wage to Obama’s proposed $9, and that the support increased by 5-points from when Obama initially made his pitch for the hike.

More here

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Kyle Balluck: State Department: South Sudan Talks ‘Critical’

The State Department late Saturday urged negotiators participating in South Sudan peace talks in Ethiopia to make “rapid, tangible progress.” The Intergovernmental Authority on Development announced the start of direct talks in Addis Ababa on Saturday. “The parties must use these talks to make rapid, tangible progress on a cessation of hostilities, humanitarian access, and the status of political detainees,” State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said in a statement. Harf said the U.S. urges South Sudan to uphold its commitments and release political detainees immediately.

Secretary of State John Kerry hailed the start of talk, but said they were “only a first step.” “Both parties need to put the interests of South Sudan above their own, and that has been a message we have consistently delivered to those engaged in this conflict,” Kerry told reporters in Jerusalem. “Negotiations have to be serious. They cannot be a delay gimmick in order to continue the fighting and try to find advantage on the ground at the expense of the people of South Sudan. They have to be credible talks, and both parties need to approach the talks with courage and with resolve, with the clear intent of trying to find a political solution.”

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NYT: Kerry Opens Door To Iran’s Participation In Syrian Peace Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry suggested on Sunday that Iran might play a role at the peace talks on Syria that are scheduled to take place later this month. It was the first time that a senior American official indicated that Iranian diplomats might participate in the session, which is to convene in Switzerland on Jan. 22. But Mr. Kerry also made clear that there would be limits on Iran’s role if Tehran did not formally accept that the goal of the conference would be to work out arrangements for a transitional authority that would govern Syria if President Bashar al-Assad could be persuaded to give up power.

“Now, could they contribute from the sidelines? Are there ways for them conceivably to weigh in?” Mr. Kerry said, referring to the Iranians. “Can their mission that is already in Geneva be there in order in order to help the process?” “It may be that that could happen but that has to be determined by the secretary general,” he added, referring to Secretary General Ban Ki-moon of the United Nations. “It has to be determined by Iranian intentions themselves.” Mr. Kerry made the comments at a news conference in Jerusalem before he headed to Jordan to continue his consultations with King Abdullah on the Middle East peace talks. Mr. Kerry planned to head to Saudi Arabia later Sunday to meet with the Saudi monarch before returning to Israel.

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Lauren Rankin: The Unprecedented Attack On Reproductive Rights

As if we needed any more proof that a war is being waged on reproductive freedom in the United States, a new report from the Guttmacher Institute definitely answers yes. According to the report, more abortion restrictions were enacted from 2011-2013 than in the entire preceding decade. From 2000-2010, 189 abortion restrictions were enacted. From 2011-2013, that number jumps to 205. Two hundred five abortion restrictions in three years isn’t just a trend; it’s a crisis. According to the report, 22 states enacted 70 abortion restrictions in 2013 alone, making it second only to 2011 in the number of new abortion restrictions passed in a single year. 2013 saw unconstitutional 20-week, 12-week, and even 6-week abortion bans, from Texas to Arkansas to North Dakota, and this report makes clear that anti-choice activists aren’t slowing down — they’re actually growing more brazen in their attacks.

The terrain continues to shift from under our feet. The Guttmacher Institute reports that in 2000, 31 percent of women of reproductive age lived in one of the 13 states hostile to abortion rights. By 2013, 56 percent of women or reproductive age live in one of the 27 states hostile to abortion rights. There is no middle ground anymore, as even purple states like Ohio and Virginia, or even more traditionally blue states like Michigan and Wisconsin, have embraced fanatic anti-abortion restrictions.

More here

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Jason Seher: No Clemency For Snowden, Ex-Homeland Security Chief Janet Napolitano Says

Count Janet Napolitano among the Washington luminaries dismissing the possibility of clemency for NSA leaker Edward Snowden. In an interview with NBC’s David Gregory that aired Sunday on “Meet the Press,” the former Homeland Security secretary rejected any possibility of excusing the contractor-turned-whistleblower, saying Snowden significantly damaged the United States’ intelligence infrastructure.

“I think Snowden has exacted quite a bit of damage and did it in a way that violated that law,” the ex-DHS chief said. “The damage we’ll see now and we’ll see it for years to come.” Asked by Gregory whether she believes the administration should consider negotiating a plea bargain with Snowden in exchange for the return of classified documents, the former Department of Homeland Security chief hesitated to weigh in, saying she “would require intimate knowledge of what he allegedly has” to properly evaluate if such a deal could be brokered. “From where I sit today, I would not put clemency on the table at all,” she said.

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WSOCTV: Affordable Care Act Takes Full Effect

The new year has a new meaning for Tracy Morgan. She has health coverage under the ACA without worry of a pre-existing condition leaving her without insurance. “It means that if anything happens to me. I won’t be dropped from a policy,” said Morgan.  In 2010, she lost coverage when the company she worked for filed for bankruptcy, a year after her husband was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. With the forecast calling for costly treatments, getting covered seemed impossible. “I was just distraught,” she said. She received coverage through a state-run program and became an advocate for healthcare reform. North Carolina was an early adopter of the Affordable Care Act.

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Husband Of The Year

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Hawaii News Now: First Lady Gets A Few Extra Days Of Hawaiian Sun

First lady Michelle Obama is getting a few extra days of Hawaiian sun. While President Barack Obama is departing Hawaii late Saturday, Mrs. Obama is staying behind to spend time with friends ahead of her upcoming 50th birthday party. The White House says the extra time in the islands is part of Mrs. Obama’s birthday gift from the president. The first lady turns 50 on Jan. 17. The White House did not say when she planned to return to Washington.

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The First Family is back at the White House

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Hawaii News Now: President Barack Obama’s Hawaii Vacation: Day 15

How President Barack Obama spent Day 15 of his holiday vacation in Hawaii on Saturday: WEEKLY ADDRESS: Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address to urge Congress to reinstate job benefits for more than 1 million Americans. The president said failing to do so will cause the economy to slow. A Senate proposal would extend the benefits for three months. Obama says he will sign it if it passes.

HIKING: Obama and his wife went on a brief morning hike Saturday, visiting a popular trail near their Kailua vacation home that overlooks the ocean. GOLF: The president played one last round of golf at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, having hit the links frequently during his trip. DINNER: For their final dinner in Hawaii on this trip, the Obamas went to Buzz’s Lanikai, a steakhouse and seafood restaurant across the street from Kailua Beach Park that has been a regular stop for the family on previous vacations.

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A Year Ago Today:

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama make their way to board Air Force One on January 5, 2013 upon departure from Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu

27
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

President Obama at the NCAA basketball game between Oregon State and Howard University on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 …  a day after he needed 12 stitches in his lip when he took an elbow during a game of basketball with friends and family at Fort McNair

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Today (All Times Eastern):

1:20: President Obama pardons the National Thanksgiving Turkey

2:35: Holds a bill signing

4:30: The First Family participates in a service event

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Steve Benen: Turning The Health Care Corner

Political journalism is sometimes criticized, fairly, for its “pack” mentality. Major news organizations wait for the conventional wisdom to organically take shape, and then the players stick to their scripts, reinforcing an agreed upon consensus. In practically no time at all, there are certain political facts that “everyone knows” to be true.

But soon after, that gets dull, the conventional wisdom invites skeptics, and contrarian instincts kick in. Maybe, the political world starts to wonder, those truths that “everyone knows” aren’t so true after all.

For the last several weeks, the consensus in establishment circles was that the Affordable Care Act’s open-enrollment period was not only a disaster, but a catastrophe that would destroy Obama’s presidency, the Democratic Party, the American health care system, and the very idea of progressive governance. Pundits could hardly contain their analogies – this was Obama’s Katrina, Obama’s Iraq, Obama’s Watergate, Obama’s Iran-Contra, and even Obama’s Bay of Pigs.

But the funny thing about narratives is that they’re sometimes fleeting….

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Paul Krugman: The Obamacare Worm Turns

I suggested yesterday that we’re probably heading for a turning point in the health reform discussion. Conservatives are operating on the assumption that it’s an irredeemable disaster that they can ride all the way to 2016; but the facts on the ground are getting better by the day, and Obamacare will turn into a Benghazi-type affair where Republicans are screaming about a scandal nobody else cares about.

And it’s already starting to happen.

…. media coverage is shifting fast. It’s still mostly trying for equivalence — each positive story of people being helped matched by a negative story of people hurt. But the stories don’t actually match up at all.

… At this rate, the whole horrors-of-Obamacare meme will be gone in weeks, not months. But the GOP echo chamber won’t be able to let it go.

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Barbara Starr: Official: U.S. B-52s Flew Over China’s Controversial New Air Defense Zone

Two U.S. military aircraft flew into China’s newly claimed and challenged air defense zone over the East China Sea, a U.S. official said. The U.S. Air Force B-52 planes — which were not armed because they were on a training mission — set off Monday from Guam and returned there without incident. The mission lasted for several hours, and the aircraft were in China’s newly declared air zone for about an hour, according to the U.S. official.

The flights came two days after China unilaterally announced the creation of a “Air Defense Identification Zone” over several islands it and Japan have both claimed. The two countries have been sharply at odds over those isles, which are believed to be near large reserves of natural resources. Washington responded negatively to what Secretary of State John Kerry characterized as an “escalatory action (that) will only increase tensions in the region and create risks of an incident.” The U.S. government has rallied around its ally Japan, where thousands of its troops are stationed as part of a security treaty.

And specifically regarding China’s new air defense zone, the United States has said it won’t recognize it. Japan’s two main commercial airlines said Wednesday that following a request from the Japanese government, they and other members of the Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan will not submit flight plans to Chinese authorities for flights through the zone claimed by Beijing.

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Charles Pierce: Success Is Not News

Look, there’s something going on with the Affordable Care Act that doesn’t require an IT specialist to explain. There’s a world beyond the ginned-up anecdote. Who knew?

…. through Covered California, the state’s individual insurance marketplace, they’ve found a plan through Sharp Healthcare that will cover them both for a total premium of $142 a month …. More important than that was knowing that they couldn’t be turned down for coverage come Jan. 1. “We felt we didn’t have to panic, or worry,” Holzman says. “If not for the Affordable Care Act, our ability to get insurance would be very limited, if we could get it at all.”

….. this is increasingly looking like the last chance for the United States to join the rest of the industrialized world in crafting a sensible health-care policy for its citizens. All of its citizens.

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Think Progress: Treasury And IRS To Crack Down On Super PACs Masquerading As Tax-Exempt Social Welfare Groups

The U.S. Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service issued proposed guidelines on Tuesday that could force dark-money political groups like Crossroads GPSand the American Future Fund to spend less of their money on campaign advertising and other overt electioneering. If implemented, this guidance would clarify what actions by tax-exempt social welfare organizations are limited “candidate-related political activity” and what actions can count toward their principal purpose.

According to the Wall Street Journal, these rules would label “campaign advertising, voter registration, get-out-the-vote efforts, and distribution of voter guides and campaign materials,” as “candidate-related political activity.” None of that would be able to count as part of the group’s tax-exempt purpose — meaning only a minority of its work could fall into those categories. While 501(c)(4)s would still be free to engage in those activities, they couldn’t be the main focus. This could mean groups accused of masquerading as (c)(4)s could have to find new ways to spend their money.

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Sally Kohn: The GOP’s Late-Term Abortion Strategy Is Backfiring

As the Supreme Court announces it will hear a challenge to Obama’s contraception mandate, a study on late-term abortion seekers finds the GOP’s anti-abortion laws are backfiring.

Right wing politicians who are push laws to restrict a woman’s access to later-term abortions presumably do so because they don’t want women having abortion after 20 weeks. But new research from medical school-based scholars finds that other policies that conservative Republicans are pushing, including restrictions on access to clinics as well as constrained access to health insurance, actually result in more women seeking later-term abortions. In other words, not only are Republicans hypocrites—but their hypocrisy is backfiring.

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Mother Jones: Republicans Refuse To Cover The Poor, Then Complain That Obamacare Isn’t Covering The Poor

The New York Times has gotten hold of the “House Republican Playbook” on Obamacare, and I have to admit that it brought back warm memories. It’s just like the launch kits. In any case, it’s all pretty predictable stuff: Obamacare is an abomination; people are losing their insurance; small companies are being ruined; etc. etc.

Needless to say, this is primarily because Republicans governors have refused to implement Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, even though it’s 100 percent paid for at first and 90 percent paid for forever. These governors literally prefer to have their state’s residents pay taxes and get nothing in return rather than give so much as an extra dime to poor people who need health care. It’s truly hard to fathom what kind of human being is callous enough to do this, but apparently there are a bunch of them in the Republican Party.

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Erik Wemple: ’60 Minutes’ And Benghazi: Five Hard Realities

CBS News distributed a summary of findings from an internal investigation into the discredited Oct. 27 “60 Minutes” report on Benghazi. The investigation was conducted by Al Ortiz, executive director of standards and practices at CBS News, and the findings addressed the various red flags that “60 Minutes” failed to heed in featuring the testimony of Dylan Davies, a security contractor in Benghazi at the time of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. interests in the Libyan city. The document cited 10 discrete issues with the Benghazi story. Lara Logan, the correspondent on the story, and the segment’s producer, Max McClellan, are taking leaves of absence following the breakdowns.

 CBS News and “60 Minutes” might as well be on different planets. For CBS News, Benghazi represents the folly of firewalls. Right after the Benghazi attack itself, “60 Minutes” correspondent Steve Kroft asked President Obama how he viewed the tragedy. “Do you believe that this was a terrorist attack?” asked Kroft. Here’s how he responded: OBAMA: Well, it’s too early to know exactly how this came about, what group was involved, but obviously it was an attack on Americans. And we are going to be working with the Libyan government to make sure that we bring these folks to justice, one way or the other.

Trouble was, the public didn’t find out about the president’s response for weeks, until just two days before Election Day — long after it might have affected the course of the campaign. Somewhere between “60 Minutes” and the rest of CBS News, the Kroft-Obama exchange got lost.

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Larry Derfner: Under The Radar: Israel’s Security Establishment Supports New Iran Agreement

The news from Israel is that Israel hates the Iranian nuclear deal struck in Geneva – but the news is not entirely accurate. It’s true, of course, that Netanyahu and his government ministers (with the exception of Justice Minister Tzipi Livni) think the agreement is bad, very bad, very very bad, and that Obama and the West sold the Jews out to Hitler again. But there are some other extremely powerful Israelis who don’t think the agreement is so bad, and who certainly prefer it to the no-agreement that Bibi and AIPAC were driving toward – and these Israelis make up the country’s military-intelligence establishment.

It shouldn’t be a big surprise; these are the same people who, with an assist from President Shimon Peres and the Israeli media, stopped Netanyahu and then-defense minister Ehud Barak from bombing Iran like they wanted to last year. Israel’s generals don’t relish going head-to-head with the United States, they don’t live on paranoia, apocalyptic visions and scare-mongering, and right there you have enough to understand why they don’t go along with Netanyahu on Iran. The Israeli brass are certainly not peaceniks. They’re not sanguine at all about the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. They are not opposed in principle to bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities – in fact, like with most Israelis, their preferred solution is for the U.S. to bomb them. But unlike Netanyahu and the right, they don’t automatically see red when they look at Iran

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AP: Obama’s Gatekeeper Now Point Man On Health Care

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough was ready to vent. “I’ve had too much humble pie,” he fumed, striding into a top aide’s West Wing office. “That was the last slice. I’m full.” McDonough had just finished another hand-holding meeting with health care advocates anxious over the disastrous rollout of the health care law. McDonough’s message: It was time to change tactics, quit lamenting the problems and start emphasizing the benefits of the health care overhaul.

McDonough is now holding evening meetings every day with key players in the health care rollout, offering support even as he holds agency leaders accountable. “We went straight into problem solving,” he said last week during a stroll on the White House South Lawn. “We knew that going into this, that no plan survives first contact. We knew that we would be confronted with challenges along the way. “We are focused on getting it working, absolutely, and we’re making good progress on that.”

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“Denis takes everything personally. Nobody is going to be harder on Denis than himself,” says his friend Ben Rhodes, a deputy White House national security adviser. “He was angry, frustrated, all of the above. If there is a problem, it is his personal mission to fix it, even if it is beyond his direct capacity to do so.” Of all the chiefs of staff who have worked for Obama, McDonough, 43, has the closest relationship with the president. McDonough is a fierce defender of the president, known during his national security days for vigorously challenging reporters. In a recent meeting with Democratic senators, a participant in the room said, he had a feisty exchange with Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, over a fix the president had proposed to the health care law.

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President Barack Obama runs down the White House Colonnade with Denis McDonough’s children

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On This Day:

First lady Michelle Obama, Sasha Obama and President Obama look on during an NCAA basketball game between Oregon State and Howard University on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2010 in Washington

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14
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

Pete Souza: “We were on Air Force One heading to the Summit of the Americas in Singapore. Since the 1990’s, the host country for this Summit chooses a shirt that all heads of state wear to the formal ceremony. White House press secretary Robert Gibbs was showing the President pictures of past leaders wearing – shall we say – not the most dignified of shirts.” Nov. 14, 2009

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Today (All Times Eastern):

11:35: President Obama to make announcement on a fix for health plans canceled under ACA

12:0: First Lady Michelle Obama delivers keynote address at Disney’s first-ever Veterans Institute workshop at Walt Disney World Resort

1:0: President Obama departs the White House

2:25: Arrives in Cleveland

2:30: VP Biden delivers remarks in Atlanta

2:55: President Obama tours ArcelorMittal, Cleveland

3:40: Delivers remarks on the economy

4:35: Departs Cleveland

5:30: VP Biden attends DNC event in Atlanta

5:45: President Obama arrives in Philadelphia

7:45: Delivers remarks at a fundraiser for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

9:10: Departs Philadelphia

10:05: Arrives at the White House

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Igor Volsky: The Official Obamacare Numbers And What They Mean For The Future Of Health Care Reform

The Obama administration released October’s enrollment numbers for HealthCare.gov on Wednesday afternoon, providing the first official glimpse into the administration’s progress towards implementing the Affordable Care Act. Here is the breakdown: 106,185: filled out the application and have selected a plan through a federally run or state run exchange. 79,391: filled out the application and have selected a plan through a state-run exchange.

26,794: filled out the application and have selected a plan through a federal exchange. 846,184: filled out the application but have not yet selected a plan 1,509,883: individuals applying for coverage with completed applications 1,081,592: total individuals eligible to enroll in an exchange plan 396,261: eligible for Medicaid or CHIP. Enrollees by state: California 35,364; Federal exchange 26,794; New York 16,404; Washington 7,091; Kentucky 5,586.

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Media Matters: The Obamacare Fact-Check CBS Should Have Done (But Didn’t)

CBS News, already in trouble for not bothering to fact-check sensational claims about the Benghazi attacks, has stepped in it again with an exclusive story on the Affordable Care Act that has quickly fallen apart.

On November 11, CBS News reported that the “project manager in charge of building the federal health care website was apparently kept in the dark about serious failures in the website’s security.”

CBS investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson’s report was based on an exclusive “first look at a partial transcript” of closed-door testimony by project manager Henry Chao that was likely leaked to the network by Republicans on the House Oversight Committee. Other media outlets picked up CBS’s scoop and ran with it.

…. Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-VA) questioned Chao at a November 13 Oversight Committee hearing and revealed how misleading CBS News’ report was….

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Charles Pierce: If It’s Not One Thing, It’s CBS

…. Gee, CBS gets scammed by a con-man like Darrell Issa. Hoocoodanode?

Perhaps a CBS reporter who has proven to be a reliable mark in the past.

Sharyl Atkisson? The Sharyl Atkisson? The one who proved so valuable to Issa in his attempt to promote the Fast And Furious fakery? …. She was also a dependable mouthpiece in the early days of Benghazi, Benghazi!, BENGHAZI! …. the Sharyl Atkisson who did so much to mainstream anti-vaccine propaganda and give Julia Ioffe whooping cough? That Sharyl Atkisson?

The Tiffany Network is having a tough week.

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Greg Sargent: What The Obamacare Enrollment Numbers Really Tell Us

To Larry Levitt, a vice president at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, another very telling number is this one: over 975,000 have been determined eligible for a marketplace but haven’t yet chosen a plan.

“That’s one of the most telling numbers — a million people have been determined eligible,” Levitt tells me. “That means if the website had been working well, and a million people had gotten to the end of the process, we’d be looking at a very different trajectory now. We heard about the surge in traffic when HealthCare.gov went live. This suggests there is in fact a lot of interest.”

Meanwhile, the 100,000 number is getting a lot of attention, but the report also finds nearly 400,000 were determined eligible for Medicaid. “In total that’s over 500,000 people who signed up for insurance in the midst of a tumultuous launch,” Levitt says. “People make a distinction between the marketplace and Medicaid, but those are both elements of the Affordable Care Act — both are mechanisms to get people insured.”

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Mother Jones: If GOP Repeals Obamacare, 137 Million Americans Could Get Cancellation Notices

how many Americans’ health plans would receive some form of cancellation notice if GOP hardliners got their wish and repealed Obamacare? Probably at least 137 million. Let’s do the math. Most of the 49 million Americans who were uninsured before the Affordable Care Act will now be eligible to obtain health coverage—either through the expansion of Medicaid or through federal subsidies they can use to purchase insurance on the cheap through the exchanges.

From that number, subtract the 30 million or so low-income people who will not sign up for coverage, either because they can’t afford it, or they live in one of the 24 states where Republican governors decided not to expand Medicaid. That takes us down to 19 million uninsured Americans whose coverage would disappear if Republicans repeal Obamacare. Now add to that number the 267 million Americans who have insurance, but will now receive better coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

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Bob Cesca: The Truth About The Obamacare Enrollment Numbers

You’ve probably heard the number 106,000 bouncing around the tubes today. It represents the supposed number of Americans who have signed up for health insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act. Of course it’s not the most accurate indication of what October really looked like.

According to Jonathan Cohn, the total number of Americans who have submitted applications for coverage via Healthcare.gov and state exchanges? Try 1.5 million people, if you factor in households with multiple people receiving coverage — dependents and so forth, who, by the way, are included among the 30 million Americans without insurance prior to the ACA.

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ABC6: Obama Says He Will Visit Indian Country Next Year

President Barack Obama told Native American leaders Wednesday that he will make his first trip as president to Indian Country next year, expanding on his vow to enhance the bond between the federal and tribal governments. Obama told the tribal leaders at the fifth annual White House Tribal Nations Conference that the federal government still has work to do to sustain a strong relationship with tribal governments.

He says the United States can do more to give tribes more control over their communities and says that high rates of poverty among Native Americans are “a moral call to action.” In addition, he says the federal government needs to ensure that Native Americans have access to affordable health care and must help tribes be good stewards of their native homelands.

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Tim Dickinson: How Republicans Rig The Game

As the nation recovers from the Republican shutdown of government, the question Americans should be asking is not “Why did the GOP do that to us?” but “Why were they even relevant in the first place?” So dramatically have the demographic and electoral tides in this country turned against the Republican Party that, in a representative democracy worthy of the designation, the Grand Old Party should be watching from the sidelines and licking its wounds. Not only did Barack Obama win a second term in an electoral landslide in 2012, but he is also just the fourth president in a century to have won two elections with more than 50 percent of the popular vote.

What’s more, the party controls 55 seats in the Senate, and Democratic candidates for the House received well over a million more votes than their Republican counterparts in the election last year. And yet, John Boehner still wields the gavel in the House and Republican resistance remains a defining force in the Senate, frustrating Obama’s ambitious agenda. Through a combination of hyperpartisan redistricting of the House, unprecedented obstructionism in the Senate and racist voter suppression in the states, today’s GOP has locked in political power that it could never have secured on a level playing field.

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Steve Benen: HHS Releases Obamacare Enrollment Data

Over the first month of open-enrollment, 106,185 consumers signed up for health insurance through an exchange – about a quarter of that total signed up by way of the federal marketplace. In addition, another 396,261 Americans have gained coverage through Medicaid expansion. By this reasoning, about 500,000 consumers gained health insurance in October thanks to the Affordable Care Act

nearly 1 million consumers – on top of those who gained coverage – began the process “by applying and receiving an eligibility determination” but have “not yet selected a plan.” For many of these folks, this is the result of the broken website – the totals are not a reflection of demand, but rather, capacity.

And therein lies the point: the administration assumed that that demand for coverage would be there, and those assumptions were correct. The problem, of course, is the dysfunctional website – people haven’t been able to purchase the product they want to buy. Fix the site and the pieces of the system fall nicely into place.

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Digital Journal: President Obama Signs School Access To Emergency Epinephrine Act

President Obama today signed into law the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act during a ceremony attended by Food Allergy Research & Education (FARE) CEO John L. Lehr, members of FARE’s board of directors and key congressional sponsors. This historic and potentially lifesaving legislation is the first federal law encouraging schools to stock epinephrine for use in allergic emergencies, and has been championed by FARE for more than two years.

The law, passed by the Senate on Oct. 31 and by the U.S. House of Representatives on July 30, encourages states to require schools to keep lifesaving epinephrine on hand and ensure school personnel are trained to use it. The bill received strong bipartisan support and was passed by unanimous consent in both chambers. “We are thrilled to see this legislation signed by President Obama and thank him for bringing national attention to the need to protect students with food allergies,” said John L. Lehr, CEO of FARE

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Department Of Justice: Court Authorizes IRS To Issue Summonses For Records Relating To U.S. Taxpayers With Offshore Bank Accounts

U.S. District Judge Kimba M. Wood of the Southern District of New York entered an order on Nov. 7, 2013, authorizing the IRS to issue summonses requiring Bank of New York Mellon (Mellon) and Citibank NA (Citibank) to produce information about U.S. taxpayers who may be evading or have evaded federal taxes by holding interests in undisclosed accounts at Zurcher Kantonalbank and its affiliates (collectively, ZKB) in Switzerland; and U.S. District Judge Richard M. Berman of the Southern District of New York entered an order today authorizing the IRS to issue summonses requiring Mellon, Citibank, JPMorgan Chase Bank NA (JPMorgan),

HSBC Bank USA NA (HSBC), and Bank of America NA (Bank of America) to produce similar information in connection with undisclosed accounts at The Bank of N.T. Butterfield & Son Limited and its affiliates (collectively, Butterfield) in the Bahamas, Barbados, Cayman Islands, Guernsey, Hong Kong, Malta, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. These cases once again demonstrate the department’s resolve to uncover and identify taxpayers who tried to hide money overseas as a way to avoid federal taxes,” said Assistant Attorney General Keneally.

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Think Progress: Senate Democrats Unveil Pro-Choice Bill To Prevent States From Chipping Away At Abortion Rights

Last week, Senate Republicans introduced a national abortion ban that would chisel away at the constitutional rights guaranteed under Roe v. Wade. Now, their Democratic colleagues are striking back with some abortion-related legislation of their own. a group of pro-choice senators plan to introduce the Women’s Health Protection Act of 2013, a measure intended to stem the barrage of state-level restrictions on reproductive rights.

the new bill would preempt state’s efforts to indirectly restrict abortion by requiring new laws to be medically necessary. The measure emphasizes that new abortion regulations shouldn’t decrease access to abortion services or require doctors to go against their best judgment.

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Michael Tomasky: The Democrats Need To Stop Freaking Out About Obamacare And Take Charge

Bill Clinton conceded those rhetorical inches to the right on Obamacare, which Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) seized on immediately. At least two blue-state senators, Dianne Feinstein (CA) and Jeff Merkley (OR), have jumped on the “fix Obamacare” bandwagon. At the same time, there’s no need for panic. Even with the continued existence and success of Fox, reality is still reality, and in the end, reality usually trumps cable and hyperventilating reports about who won the morning in Politico. And reality says the enrollment period doesn’t end until next spring, and it’s really not possible to tell how things are going until enrollment has ended and we see both the number of people who’ve enrolled and what percentage healthy vs. sick, because insurers made their guesstimates and pegged their rates to those guesstimates.

I remember a lot of other times when it was supposedly curtains for Obama, too, because inside the Beltway, the more disciplined Republicans, who after all are in the luxurious position of just sitting back and firing away, have an easier time winning news cycles. But out beyond the Beltway, the party that shut down the government for three weeks and killed immigration reform and wants to decimate food stamps and can’t even pass its own spending bills doesn’t look very appealing to most people. The fate of Obamacare can be changed. The DNA of the GOP cannot.

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On This Day:

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard and President Obama laugh as they brush their hair during a group photo during the APEC summit

First Lady Michelle Obama hosts the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ spouses luncheon at Kualoa Ranch in Ka’a’awa on the island of Oahu in Hawaii on November 13, 2011 (Okay, a day late)

President Obama chats with Singapore’s Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, right, and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, at the APEC leaders dinner in Singapore, Nov. 14, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama shares a laugh with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper at the APEC leaders dinner in Singapore, Nov. 14, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama eats a green tea ice cream bar during his visit to the Great Buddha of Kamakura at the Kotoku-in Temple in Kamakura, Japan, Nov. 14, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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10
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama waves to people along the motorcade route while traveling from the University of Indonesia to the airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nov. 10, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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The Week Ahead:

Today: The President has no public events scheduled

Monday: The President and First Lady host a breakfast for veterans from across the country. Later in the morning, the President will travel to Arlington National Cemetery where he will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony and deliver remarks there

Tuesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House

Wednesday: The President will address the 2013 Tribal Nations Conference

Thursday: The President will travel to Philadelphia where he will participate in a campaign event for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

Friday: The President will attend meetings at the White House

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National Journal: American Health Care’s Good Old Days

If you’ve been following the news cycle, you probably read the stories about Obamacare’s victims: the healthy, employed couples making $70,000 or $80,000 a year, just above the subsidy threshold for Obamacare, who now need to pay a bit more each year for insurance.  But the reason that couples’ insurance is more expensive now is because insurers are no longer able to discriminate against the less fortunate, driving up the costs for the relatively healthy and wealthy. To put Obamacare victims’ strife in perspective, let’s take a trip down memory lane. You know, the golden years of American health care in … oh, let’s say 2007, back when you could be denied coverage for something as benign as acne or as mundane as pregnancy.

Back then, anecdotes about people who were denied coverage abounded. They included this 12-year-old boy who died in 2007 from an abscessed tooth after his family’s Medicaid lapsed. And this 17-year-old boy whose insurance was revoked after he tested positive for HIV. This woman who was denied coverage for breast cancer because she wasn’t diagnosed at the correct clinic. And this woman whose double mastectomy was denied after her insurance company learned she had visited a dermatologist for acne treatment the year before. Ah, yes, those were the days!

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Bryce Covert: Forty Percent Of Workers Made Less Than $20,000 Last Year

Nearly 40 percent of all workers in the country made less than $20,000 last year, according to data from the Social Security Administration, which doesn’t include figures on benefits such as health insurance or pensions. That’s below the federal poverty threshold for a family of four and close to the line for a family of three. On average, these workers earned just $17,459.55.

This income inequality has been growing since the 1970s, as the richest 20 percent of Americans saw their income grow much faster than the bottom 20 percent. But things have accelerated in the economic downturn. For the past three years, those at the top of the income ladder saw their incomes grow by 5 percent while everyone else’s income dropped. The top 10 percent of the country’s earners took home half of the income in 2012, the largest amount on record.

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CBS: No Deal Reached In Iran Nuke Talks

Talks on curbing Iran’s nuclear program ended with no deal early Sunday after France objected that proposed measures didn’t go far enough. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said “significant progress” had been made on the remaining differences. Six world powers and Iran agreed to resume talks Nov. 20.

Both sides badly wanted agreement. The U.S. and its five partners were looking for initial caps on Iran’s ability to make an atomic bomb, while Tehran sought some easing of sanctions stifling its economy. But France would not soften its concerns over Iran’s plutonium project and the level of its uranium enrichment program.

The talks showed the enormous complexity facing negotiators after a generation of mistrust between Iran and the West since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Any agreement would be a breakthrough after nearly a decade of mostly inconclusive discussions. Still, Kerry’s talks in Geneva were the longest high-level negotiations between Iran and the United States in decades – a sign of the improved atmosphere between the two countries since moderate President Hassan Rouhani took office in August.

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Sabrina Tavernise: Cuts In Hospital Subsidies Threaten Safety-Net Care

The uninsured pour into Memorial Health hospital here: the waitress with cancer in her voice box who for two years assumed she just had a sore throat. The unemployed diabetic with a wound stretching the length of her shin. The construction worker who could no longer breathe on his own after weeks of untreated asthma attacks and had to be put on a respirator.

Many of these patients were expected to gain health coverage under the Affordable Care Act through a major expansion of Medicaid, the medical insurance program for the poor. But after the Supreme Court in 2012 gave states the right to opt out, Georgia, like about half the states, almost all of them Republican-led, refused to broaden the program.

“I understand that the state needs to balance its budget, and control the runaway costs of Medicaid, but to turn a blind eye and say, ‘Let the chips fall where they may,’ you’ll end up with a gutted health care system,” said Maggie M. Gill, chief executive at Memorial Health.

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USA Today: Feds Seek $864M From BofA Over Countrywide Loans

Federal prosecutors want Bank of America to pay about $864 million over losses incurred by the government after it bought thousands of home loans made by Countrywide Financial during the housing boom. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara made the request in documents filed late Friday with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

A jury in October found Bank of America, which acquired Countrywide in 2008, liable for knowingly selling thousands of bad home loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between August 2007 and May 2008. The panel also returned the verdict against Countrywide and a former executive, Rebecca Mairone.

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Bob Cesca: Millionaire Dylan Ratigan Whines About His New Obamacare Premium

“I bought a catastrophic health policy for $170/mo when I left MSNBC. Obamacare cancelled the policy. New rate $600/mo. Thnx Mr. President!” Awww. Let’s all shed one tear for poor, poor rich guy Dylan Ratigan who made millions on cable news and, according to Wonkette, recently sold his Manhattan apartment for $1.38 million. Evidently Ratigan can’t afford an additional $4000 per year for this alleged $600 per month health insurance plan, which is more expensive this his previous “catastrophic” plan that only covered major injuries and nothing else.

Meanwhile, this $600 plan, Christopher noted, is likely a Platinum top-of-the-line policy offered in the exchange. Interesting that Ratigan would compare his former bare-bones premium with, obviously, a high-end plan. Honest of him. And what about “Obamacare cancelled the policy?” That’s a lie. Obamacare isn’t canceling any policies — insurance companies are. Full stop.

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MSNBC: Abortion Right Advocate Wendy Davis Declares, ‘I Am Pro-Life’

Wendy Davis hinted at how she’ll handle the issue of abortion on the campaign trail in the conservative Lone Star State. The Democratic candidate for Texas governor declared, “I am pro-life,” suggesting her stance on women’s reproductive rights doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about people or life itself.

“I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry about their children’s future and their ability to provide for that future,” Davis said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “I care about life and I have a record of fighting for people above all else.”

“This isn’t about protecting abortion. It’s about protecting women,” Davis added, The Huffington Post reported. “It’s about trusting women to make good decisions for themselves and empowering them with the tools to do that.”

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Tufts University:  The Battle Lines Of Today’s Debates Over Gun Control, Stand-Your-Ground Laws, And Other Violence-Related Issues Were Drawn Centuries Ago By America’s Early Settlers

Last December, when Adam Lanza stormed into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, with a rifle and killed twenty children and six adult staff members, the United States found itself immersed in debates about gun control. Another flash point occurred this July, when George Zimmerman, who saw himself as a guardian of his community, was exonerated in the killing of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, in Florida. That time, talk turned to stand-your-ground laws and the proper use of deadly force. The gun debate was refreshed in September by the shooting deaths of twelve people at the Washington Navy Yard, apparently at the hands of an IT contractor who was mentally ill.

Such episodes remind Americans that our country as a whole is marked by staggering levels of deadly violence. Our death rate from assault is many times higher than that of highly urbanized countries like the Netherlands or Germany, sparsely populated nations with plenty of forests and game hunters like Canada, Sweden, Finland, or New Zealand, and large, populous ones like the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan. State-sponsored violence, too—in the form of capital punishment—sets our country apart. Last year we executed more than ten times as many prisoners as other advanced industrialized nations combined—not surprising given that Japan is the only other such country that allows the practice. Our violent streak has become almost a part of our national identity. What’s less well appreciated is how much the incidence of violence, like so many salient issues in American life, varies by region.

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@dougmillsnyt: President Obama joins former NBA Miami Heat, Alonzo Mourning, right, at the Grande Oaks Golf Course in Ft. Lauderdale, Nov 9, 2013

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President Obama arriving in Miami, Nov 8

President Obama at the Port of New Orleans, Nov 8 – all photos by @dougmillsnyt

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Nine ….. nine! …. years ago this week:

Candidate for the U.S. Senate Barack Obama (D-IL) sits with his wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia in a Chicago hotel room as they wait for election returns to come in

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On This Day:

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visit the main prayer hall during a tour of the Istiqlal Mosque with Grand Imam Ali Mustafa Yaqub in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nov. 10, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

On This Day: First Lady Michelle Obama greets children of U.S. Embassy staff at the Shangri-La Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nov. 10, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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