Posts Tagged ‘arizona

28
Feb
14

Right Wing Tears Sustain Me

Let’s get this out of the way first.

Just because Jan Brewer vetoed the gay-hate bill in Arizona yesterday doesn’t make her a hero. She’s still an odious politician who shepherded the “papers please” legislation.

The only reason she vetoed the bill is because her paymasters told her in no uncertain terms that such blatant discrimination was bad for business. Moral, ethical, and human concerns did not enter into her veto decision. It was purely a matter of business not able to abide by such blatant and targeted bigotry. Gay money is as green as straight money, and hoovering it all up is the prime reason businesses exist.

So, a small cheer for Gov. Brewer doing, at last, the only logical thing. But, if she had truly been opposed to the law, she would have signaled while it was still in committee that it was dead on arrival to her desk. The fact that she milked the decision more than LeBron James did his indicates that she had no philosophical difficulty with banning gays from lunch counters. She just wanted to make sure that the Chamber of Commerce and its allies would back her politically. Without that backing, Arizona would be well on its way to an economic boycott not seen since the days of not commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

However, the meltdown in the hothouse corners of the Right makes this travesty almost worth all the angst it caused.

Continue reading ‘Right Wing Tears Sustain Me’

27
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

Terrell Anderson Jr, 3, of Detroit, a relative of Rosa Parks, with President Obama after the unveiling of a statue in her honor at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, February 27, 2013

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Today (All Times Eastern):

11:0: First Lady Michelle Obama unveils proposal for major changes to food labeling rules

2:0: President Obama meets with foundation and business leaders to discuss his “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative; State Dining Room

3:25: Delivers remarks on the My Brother’s Keeper initiative

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Jonathan Easley: Enroll America Adds Muscle To O-Care Push

An ObamaCare enrollment group with close ties to the White House is launching a final, coordinated push to sign people up for health insurance ahead of the March 31 deadline. A spokesman for Enroll America told The Hill the prominent nonprofit had grown its pool of volunteers to nearly 20,000, increased its field reach by 35 percent, hired more than 70 new employees since January, and increased its digital advertising budget from $5 million to $7 million for 2014. The group’s “Countdown to Get Covered” will include a bus tour through Texas and Ohio, with stops at events popular with the young, like the SXSW music festival, and more than 3,000 events assisting people with in-person enrollment.

“All of the work that our dedicated staff, volunteers, and partner organizations have done over the past five months has positioned us for success in this critical final stretch,” said Anne Filipic, president of Enroll America. “Thanks to the data we’ve collected, we know what works, and thanks to the huge coalition we have built, we’re ready to leave no stone unturned as we work right up to the deadline.” Enroll America is also working with the Ad Council on multimedia public service announcements for the Web, television, radio and print. In addition, the group will work with more than 2,200 partner organizations, including Planned Parenthood, MomsRising, Protect Your Care, Organizing for Action and National Congress for Black Women, and with groups participating in events like the National Youth Enrollment Day and Latino Enrollment Summits.

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Yahoo: Obama Embraces A Lifelong Cause: Helping Minority Boys Succeed

On Father’s Day last June, President Barack Obama welcomed 14 teenagers sporting black-and-white T-shirts that read “BAM” into the Oval Office. The letters stood not for the nickname occasionally slapped on the president by big-city tabloids, but for “Becoming a Man,” a program run by a Chicago nonprofit working with at-risk youth in the public schools. The president had met the group of young black men once before, when he dropped by one of BAM’s hourlong group discussion sessions at Hyde Park Academy High School last February. He’d pulled up a chair and sat in the boys’ circle that day, talking with them so long about their lives his aides worried he would blow up his carefully planned schedule during his visit to the city.

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As the teens gathered around the president, one handed him a green and gold Father’s Day card, which all the boys had signed. They had gone out and purchased it the day before, unbeknown to their counselor, Marshaun Bacon, who traveled with them to the White House. “I never signed a Father’s Day card before,” the young man explained as the president opened the card. “I’ve never signed a Father’s Day card, either,” Obama replied, according to an aide, improbably closing the distance between the Chicago teens and the American president. It was an intimate, private moment that moved him.

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The Obama administration’s most ambitious and high profile effort to tackle the systemic problems facing young men of color is rooted in a series of White House conversations led by Obama in the wake of the Trayvon Martin shooting two years ago. They continued and gathered momentum — including with first lady Michelle Obama — after the random shooting of another teen who lived just a mile from the Obamas’ Chicago home. After his re-election, those discussions began to shape a more serious policy debate as Obama quietly began to bond with the Chicago youngsters. But what started as a second-term presidential bid to confront a vexing social crisis may be turning into a lifelong cause.

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Peter Schroeder: CFPB Sues For-Profit School System For Predatory Lending

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is launching a lawsuit against one of the nation’s largest for-profit college programs. The watchdog announced Wednesday it was suing ITT Educational Services for predatory lending practices, pushing prospective students into costly loans and misleading them about future job prospects. CFPB Director Richard Cordray said the suit should serve as “a warning to the for-profit college industry that we will be vigilant about protecting students against predatory lending practices.”

In a U.S. District Court, the regulator sued the Indiana-based company and charged that the company pushed students into predatory loans without properly explaining what they were signing up for. The CFPB said some students did not even realize they had taken out the loans until they received calls from collection agencies. The CFPB also claimed that ITT credits did not transfer to many other schools. That meant that the company would threaten expulsion and the loss of money already spent on a first year to “coerce” students into taking out more loans.

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USA Today: Chokwe Lumumba, Activist And Jackson Mayor, Dies At 66

Mayor Chokwe Lumumba, a longtime civil rights activist, died Tuesday afternoon at a hospital after experiencing chest pains. He was 66. His chief of staff choked up as she announced the news. “It is with heavy heart that we inform you that our beloved brother, human rights activist and mayor of the great city passed away this afternoon,” Safiya Omari said at a news conference Tuesday evening. “We ask that you pray for his children and family, his friends and for this great city of ours.” The national civil rights community took note when Lumumba became mayor last year of Mississippi’s capital city — a place that had seen its share of violence during the civil rights movement. Lumumba, a black nationalist, had worked with mainstream and leftist figures in the civil rights world.

The native of Detroit was born Edwin Taliaferro and graduated cum laude from Wayne State University Law School. He renamed himself after Patrice Lumumba, the Congolese independence leader, and the Chokwe, an Angolan tribe. Lumumba’s activism began early. On the day after Martin Luther King Jr. died, he took part in a student takeover of a campus building at Western Michigan University, where he was a student. He and others were demanding more black educators and scholarships for black students. He also pushed for more black studies programs at colleges and universities in the Midwest. He worked with Julian Bond and Dick Gregory as a leader with the Republic of New Afrika, a social movement that proposed an independent black country in the southeastern United States. He also was a target of the FBI’s counterintelligence operation.

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Steve Benen: Court Rejects Texas’ Ban On Marriage Equality

Opponents of marriage equality have been on a losing streak that’s nothing short of brutal. A federal court struck down Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage two weeks ago, which came on the heels of similar rulings in Kentucky,Oklahoma, and Utah. But today, the trend reached the largest of the nation’s ruby-red states. A federal judge in San Antonio ruled Wednesday that Texas’ ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutionally deprives some citizens of due process and equal protection under the law by stigmatizing their relationships and treating them differently from opposite-sex couples.

U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia cited recent U.S. Supreme Court rulings as having trumped Texas’ moves to ban gay marriage. “Today’s court decision is not made in defiance of the great people of Texas or the Texas Legislature, but in compliance with the U.S. Constitution and Supreme Court precedent,” the judge wrote. “Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution.” Does this mean marriage equality has come to Texas? Not quite yet. Garcia concluded that the state ban on marriage equality is unconstitutional, but existing Texas law will remain in place as the appeals process gets underway.

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Joy-Ann Reid: Are The Unarmed Unequal Under Stand Your Ground?

In the wake of the verdict in the case of Michael Dunn, convicted of three counts of second-degree attempted murder and of firing 10 shots at a car containing four teenagers, state Rep. Alan Williams underlined the need to repeal Florida’s Stand Your Ground law. One of the teenagers was Jordan Davis, who was killed by Dunn. Williams said recent cases of black teenagers shot to death by strangers in the state “have renewed the argument that this injustice in our laws makes ordinary citizens feel empowered to shoot first and ask questions later; boosting murder rates and justifiable homicides and putting individuals that people too often presumed to be a threat in particular peril.”

Indeed, a January 2013 study by Texas A&M researcher Mark Hoekstra found that homicide rates have increased by 7 percent to 9 percent in the 23 states that have Stand Your Ground-type laws versus those without them.  For young black men in particular, who are more often consigned to societal unworthiness by implicit racial bias with the damning label of “thug” — based on how they dress or wear their hair, or their choice of music — Stand Your Ground effectively demands a specific kind of submissiveness: If they want to live, submit to the invisible authority of virtually any civilian who might believe, like Michael Dunn, per his jailhouse letters, that “if more people would arm themselves and kill these [expletive] idiots when they’re threatening you, eventually they may take the hint and change their behavior.”

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Daniel Strauss: Davis ‘Pleased’ Texas Judge Ruled Gay Marriage Ban Unconstitutional

Texas State Sen. Wendy Davis (D), the likely Democratic nominee for governor, is pleased with a federal judge’s ruling that declared the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional. “She is pleased with the ruling because she believes that all Texans who love one another and are committed to spending their lives together should be allowed to marry,” press secretary Rebecca Acuña said in a statement to TPM on Wednesday afternoon.

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Tony Plohetski: Despite Negative Blood And Breath Tests, Man Arrested For DWI

To Austin attorney Daniel Betts, driving while intoxicated can sometimes be what he calls “an opinion crime.” Law enforcement must decide, sometimes within only a matter of minutes, whether a person is intoxicated and should go to jail — or be allowed to simply drive way. On the night Austin police arrested his client, they made the wrong choice, he says – his opinion bolstered by a voluntary breath and blood test showing Larry Davis wasn’t intoxicated when he was arrested Jan. 13, 2013. He tested 0.00 on a Breathalyzer – the lowest possible reading — and the blood test, which took months to be tested, came back negative.

“My reaction was just shock that it happened,” Betts said of the arrest, after watching a police dash cam video and reviewing the evidence. The arrest meant Davis spent a day in jail, and he was left with a criminal case looming over him for more than a year. Prosecutors last week dismissed the case against Davis. “I was arrested for nothing, really,” he said. “It was suspicion of drunk driving, which I wasn’t so I was surprised and hurt at the same time.” Davis is now working to have his arrest record wiped clean, a process that could take several more months.

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Brett Logiurato: Texas To Appeal Gay Marriage Ruling

Texas will appeal a federal judge’s ruling Wednesday that the state’s ban on gay marriages is unconstitutional, Attorney General Greg Abbott said. Here’s the full statement from Abbott, who is also the Republican frontrunner in the state’s gubernatorial race: “This is an issue on which there are good, well-meaning people on both sides. And, as the lower court acknowledged today, it’s an issue that will ultimately be resolved by a higher court. Texas will begin that process by appealing today’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit.

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Lalita Clozel: U.S. Vows To Deny Visas To Those Accused Of Wartime Sexual Violence

Secretary of State John F. Kerry announced on Tuesday a ban against issuing U.S. visas to foreigners implicated in wartime sexual violence. “No one at the highest level of military or governance who has presided over, or engaged in, or knew of, or adopted these kinds of attacks is ever going to receive a visa to travel into the United States of America from this day forward,” Kerry said during talks with his British counterpart, William Hague.

Hague applauded the announcement. “The shattering of impunity … is the crucial ingredient so that people know they will not get away with it,” he said. Awareness of the use of sexual violence in conflicts grew after the 1990s war in the former Yugoslavia, where more than 20,000 women and girls were reportedly raped, and the Rwandan genocide, during which the figure is believed to have reached into the hundreds of thousands.

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AP: Child Care Centers To Follow First Lady Guidelines

The nation’s second-largest for-profit child care provider is adopting Michelle Obama’s healthy eating and activity guidelines. The Learning Care Group, based in Novi, Mich., says it will limit TV and computer time for children, eliminate fried foods, serve fruits and-or vegetables at every meal, replace sugary drinks with water or plain, low-fat milk, and provide at least an hour of daily physical activity. It will also allow mothers to provide breast milk for their children and accommodate mothers who want to breast feed.

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The Learning Care Group says it provides early education and child care services to more than 100,000 children between the ages of 6 weeks and 13 years at its 900 centers around the country. The centers operate under five brand names: Childtime Learning Centers, Tutor Time Child Care/Learning Centers, The Children’s Courtyard, Montessori Unlimited and La Petite Academy.  The first lady this week has been marking the fourth anniversary of “Let’s Move,” the initiative to combat childhood obesity that she launched in February 2010. The healthy eating and activity guidelines for child care centers, which were released in 2011, are part of that program. Some 13,000 child care centers nationwide are now following the rules, said Sam Kass, the executive director of “Let’s Move.”

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Daniel Arkin: Arizona Governor Jan Brewer Vetoes Anti-Gay Bill

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has vetoed a hot-button measure that would have permitted businesses in the state to deny service to gay and lesbians for religious beliefs. At a news conference at the State Capitol Wednesday evening, Brewer said the bill “could result in unintended and negative consequences.” “I sincerely believe that Senate Bill 1062 has the potential to create more problems than it purports to solve,” Brewer said.

Gay rights advocates gathered outside the Capitol broke out in loud cheers immediately after Brewer’s announcement. The controversial bill had sparked outcry from LGBT activists and drew vocal criticism from civic leaders, business interests and state economic groups. “Discrimination has no place in Arizona, or anywhere else,” said Alessandra Soler, executive director of the ACLU of Arizona. “We’re grateful that the governor has stopped this disgraceful law from taking effect, and that Arizona will remain open for business to everyone.”

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Zachary Roth: Ohio Cuts Early Voting Method Favored By Blacks

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted announced Tuesday he is cutting early voting on Sundays and weekday evenings, dealing another blow to the voting rights effort in the nation’s most pivotal swing state. Husted’s change would spell doom for a voting method that’s popular among African-Americans in Ohio and elsewhere. Many churches and community groups lead “Souls to the Polls” drives after church on the Sunday before the election. There’s little doubt that cuts to early voting target blacks disproportionately. In 2008, black voters were 56% of all weekend voters in Cuyahoga County, Ohio’s largest, even though they made up just 28% of the county’s population.

“By completely eliminating Sundays from the early voting schedule, Secretary Husted has effectively quashed successful Souls to the Polls programs that brought voters directly form church to early voting sites,” said Mike Brickner, a spokesman for the Ohio American Civil Liberties Union, in an email. The news comes days after Republican Gov. John Kasich signed two GOP-backed bills that cut six more days from the early voting period, end same-day registration and make it harder to vote absentee. Together, the restrictions could significantly reduce minority turnout this fall and in 2016.

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Sy Mukherjee: Rand Paul Blocks Surgeon General Nominee For Saying Gun Violence Is A Public Health Threat

On Wednesday — two years to the day after George Zimmerman shot and killed Trayvon Martin — Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) placed a hold on President Barack Obama’s nominee for Surgeon General, Dr. Vivek Murthy, over Murthy’s view that gun violence represents a significant public health threat. “In his efforts to curtail Second Amendment rights, Dr. Murthy has continually referred to guns as a public health issue on par with heart disease and has diminished the role of mental health in gun violence,” wrote Paul in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. But Paul is actually out of step with most physicians.

The idea that gun violence is a danger to public health is utterly uncontroversial among doctors’ groupsacademic institutions that focus on public health, and children’s safety advocates. Although Paul criticizes Murthy’s position that physicians and pediatricians should ask patients about the presence of guns in their households, the American Medical Association (AMA) adopted a resolution in 2011officially opposing any law that bars doctors from having open conversations about gun safety and the risks of having firearms in a household with their patients. In fact, just yesterday, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued new guidelines recommending that households with children who are diagnosed with depression should remove guns and ammunition from their homes entirely.

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Michael Hiltzik: The Simple Math That Tells You The New GOP Tax Plan Is A Scam

The long-awaited Republican tax reform plan was released today by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich). It’s being hailed as a breakthrough in putting real reform on the table, but also being instantly eulogized as dead-on-arrival in a Congress that wants no part of any tax reform, now or ever.  Still, it’s instructive to examine the Camp plan for a primer on the latest mathematical trickery aimed at making something that preserves, even enhances, tax benefits for the wealthy appear instead to be a tax increase for the wealthy. Nice try, Congressman Dave. Here’s the easiest calculation. Camp says he’s eliminating the preferential tax rate on capital gains, and taxing them the same as ordinary income. That would be a big philosophical change and a big tax hike on the rich, if it were true. It’s not true. Camp’s plan exempts 40% of capital gains (and investment dividends) from any taxation at all.

How does this work out in real numbers? The top marginal tax rate on married taxpayers today is 39.6% (couples with more than $457,600 income). The top capital gains rate is 20%. Camp wants to cut the top marginal rate to 35%. If you tax capital gains at 35%, but exempt 40% of them from any tax, your effective rate on all capital gains works out to (… wait for i t…) 21%. In other words, Camp is raising the standard cap gains rate by a single percentage point. But since he’s also cutting the top rate on all income by nearly five percentage points, rich taxpayers still come out ahead. Camp would make the job of the IRS harder. He would ease the registration process for C-4s, and allow them to keep almost all their donors secret not only from the public, but from the IRS too. This is really sleazy of him. It gives rich political campaign donors more of a shield from the law than they deserve, and much more than is healthy for the public interest. If there were a single reason to laugh this tax “reform” off the table, this would be it.

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BBC: Ukraine Interim Leaders Warn Of ‘Unpopular Steps’ Ahead

Ukraine’s acting President Olexander Turchynov and PM-designate Arseniy Yatsenyuk have warned of the need for “unpopular” steps to help restore the country’s economy and politics. Mr Yatsenyuk told the BBC the central challenge for the newly named government was to “stabilise” Ukraine. Ukrainian MPs are expected to vote later on the new cabinet line up. Meanwhile, the regional parliament and government headquarters in Crimea have been seized by armed men. The two buildings in the regional capital Simferopol were seized overnight by a group of at least 50 pro-Russian men who were preventing government workers from entering, regional Prime Minister Anatoliy Mohilyov told AFP news agency.

The Russian flag was seen flying over both buildings. Interim President Turchynov warned the crowds the new government would “have to pass unpopular decisions”. “The government will be criticised, treated like dirt. But they must fulfil their obligations and work to the bone for the sake of Ukraine.” He has promised to resign once the country is back on its feet. Acting government officials predict Ukraine needs $35bn (£21bn) in bailout loans to get through the next two years. On Wednesday, the US said it was considering offering Ukraine’s struggling economy – which faces default – loan guarantees of up to $1bn. Meanwhile, Mr Yanukovych has been put on the international wanted list.

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On This Day:

Before giving a policy speech on Iraq, President Obama places his hand on his heart as the national anthem is played backstage at the Field House in Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Feb. 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama attends a Washington Wizards vs Chicago Bulls basketball game at the Verizon Center, Washington, D.C., Feb. 27, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama holds conference call from the Situation Room of the White House concerning the earthquake in Chile, Feb. 27, 2010. Pictured are, left to right, Tom Donilon, deputy national security advisor, Rajiv Shah, administrator of USAID, and Rahm Emanuel, White House chief of staff. Other Cabinet officials joined the meeting by phone (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and Dr. Jill Biden, react while watching Sasha Obama and Maisy Biden, the Vice President’s granddaughter, play in a basketball game in Chevy Chase, Md., Feb. 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama and Vice President Biden greet Susannah Flanagan, daughter of Frank Buckles, at Arlington National Cemetery Memorial Chapel in Arlington, Va., March 15, 2011. Buckles, the last surviving American World War I veteran, passed away on Feb. 27, 2011, at his West Virginia home. He was 110. (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama listen as Gladys Knight performs during the Governors Dinner in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 27, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama meets with former Chief of Protocol Selwa “Lucky” Roosevelt, left, and guests in the Oval Office, Feb. 27, 2012. The President signed a presidential commendation in honor of Roosevelt’s government service (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden talk outside the State Dining Room before addressing the National Governors Association annual meeting at the White House, Feb. 27, 2012 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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President Barack Obama talks with senior advisors following a meeting in the Oval Office, Feb. 27, 2013. Standing, from left, are: Rob Nabors, Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Policy; Pete Rouse, Counselor to the President; Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett; Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Senior Advisor Dan Pfeiffer; Mark Childress, Deputy Chief of Staff for Planning; Miguel Rodriguez, Director of Legislative Affairs; Danielle Gray, Cabinet Secretary; Press Secretary Jay Carney; and Alyssa Mastromonaco, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama greets veterans of the 2nd Ranger Infantry Company (Airborne) in the Oval Office, Feb. 27, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama at a “Let’s Move!” event in Clinton, Miss. with Rachael Ray, February 27, 2013

President Obama at the unveiling of a statue in honor of civil rights activist Rosa Parks at the U.S. Capitol, February 27, 2013

15
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

@petesouza: POTUS w LeBron and D-Wade before [yesterday's] event at the White House

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):

9:45: President Obama departs White House

11:10: Arrives Raleigh, North Carolina

11:35: Tours Vacon, Inc.; Durham, North Carolina

1:05: Delivers remarks; North Carolina State University, Raleigh

2:05: Departs Raleigh

3:15: Arrives White House

3:20: President Barack Obama will make a personnel announcement

4:0: First Lady Michelle Obama Speaks on Education

5:30: President Obama meets with Senate Democratic Caucus

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Jim Burress: Obamacare Giving Big Boost To Georgia’s Health IT Industry

Politically, Georgia is fighting the health law at every turn. Gov. Nathan Deal, a Republican, has chosen not to expand Medicaid, and the state’s insurance commissioner publically vowed to obstruct the Affordable Care Act.  But that doesn’t mean Georgia isn’t seeing a financial benefit from the law. Take the company called PreMedex.  Founder and president Van Willis knows that just a few years ago, a company like his would’ve been a hard sell — impossible, even.  The two-year-old company contracts with hospitals and doctors’ offices to call patients after they’re discharged. Under the Affordable Care Act, hospitals are penalized if Medicare patients are readmitted within a month for several specific illnesses.

“From a hospital standpoint, there was very little, if any, communication with patients once they leave,” Willis explains. “A logical way to communicate with patients if you can’t be in their homes is, of course, through the telephone.” Scattered around a half-dozen office cubicles, PreMedex employees don telephone headsets on a recent morning and sit down in front of computers that automatically dial patients. After telling patients they are calling on behalf of doctors and hospitals, the workers ask some simple but important health questions: Have you had any fever? Are you in any pain? How patients answer could mean the difference between a hospital’s profit and loss. PreMedex started with five employees. It’s up to 25 and growing.  It’s a story told over and over across Georgia, according to Tino Mantella, who heads the Technology Association of Georgia.

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The Atlantic: What Happens When the President Sits Down Next to You At A Cafe

Thursday into Friday, my head cold got worse, so on Friday morning I walked down to a bar-cafe-restaurant in my neighborhood….

…  the president arrived, 40 minutes later – stepping out of his SUV, smiling, with a little wave …

…. He picked up the baby. The baby’s mom told him about the baby …. He was adorable. Obama really seemed to appreciate holding him, and bounced him for probably a minute. The baby’s mom told him that their family had just been stationed in Kenya, that thats where the baby was born.

He seemed to stumble for a second, as he realized he could not phrase a joke in exactly the way he could phrase it in private.

“That’s, that’s where Donald Trump thinks I was born,” he said.

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James Fallows: The Iran Vote: This Really Matters, And You Should Let Your Senators Know

If the nuclear deal is going to fail, let that happen at the negotiating table – and not be engineered under the Capitol dome.

…. The Obama Administration, along with some of the usual U.S. allies – the U.K., France, Germany – and such non-allied parties as Russia and China, has taken steps with the potential of peacefully ending Iran’s 35-year estrangement from most of the rest of the world. That would be of enormous benefit and significance to Iran, the U.S., and nearly everyone else concerned.

… derailment is what seems to be underway in the Senate right now. Republicans led by Mitch McConnell are pushing for a sanctions bill that is universally recognized (except by its sponsors) as a poison-pill for the current negotiations. Fine; opposing the administration is the GOP’s default position.

But a striking number of Democrats have joined them, for no evident reason other than AIPAC’s whole-hearted, priority-one support for the sanctions bill…

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Al Jazeera: Hard Road Back to “Big 3″

When the U.S. auto industry nearly collapsed during the 2008 financial crisis, the three major American auto makers – GM, Chrysler and Ford – asked the government for a $50 billion bailout to avoid bankruptcy.

(Technically, Ford didn’t need the money, they requested the funds to stake equal advantage with their subsidized brethren.)

Although the prospect of losing millions of industry jobs loomed, a reluctant Congress wasn’t quick to grant the money…. Today, the Big 3 are back reporting healthy profits and manufacturing vehicles they think the world wants to drive.

More here

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Jonathan Cohn: On Second Thought, Republicans Say, Let’s Stiff The Unemployed

Republicans determined to help the poor and the unemployed? That’s so last week.

On Tuesday, two proposals to extend jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed failed to get past key procedural obstacles in the Senate. One proposal would extend benefits until the end of 2014, offsetting the cost by tacking on an extra year of sequestration cuts in 2024. The other proposal would extend benefits for just three months, without offsetting cuts or revenue, but in the hopes that future negotiations would produce another extension that was fully paid for.

Prospects for passage of such a proposal seemed better last week, when Democrats and a half-dozen Republicans voted to begin debate on a benefits extension, providing the 60-vote majority necessary to overcome a filibuster. But on Tuesday, when it came time to end debate and move ahead, Democratic leaders couldn’t win over the same handful of Republicans. They had only 52 votes to proceed—a majority, but short of the super-majority it takes to pass most legislation these days.

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Reuters: World Bank Sees Stronger Growth As Rich Economies Expand

The World Bank on Tuesday raised its forecast for global growth for the first time in three years as advanced economies started to pick up pace, led by the United States. The rosier outlook suggests the world economy is finally breaking free from a long and sluggish recovery after the global financial crisis. The poverty-fighting institution predicted global gross domestic product will expand 3.2 percent this year, from 2.4 percent in 2013, according to its twice-yearly “Global Economic Prospects.” In the bank’s last forecast in June, it expected global growth to reach 3 percent in 2014.

The bank said the global economy had come to a “turning point,” as fiscal austerity and policy uncertainty no longer weighed as heavily on most richer economies. The bank expected stronger growth in the United States in particular, of 2.8 percent in 2014, from 1.8 percent last year. “For the first time in five years, there are indications that a self-sustaining recovery has begun among high-income countries – suggesting that they may now join developing countries as a second engine of growth in the global economy,” the bank’s chief economist Kaushik Basu said in the report.

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Erin Kelly: McCain, Flake Vote Against Bill To Restore Long-Term Jobless Benefits

A bill that would have restored long-term unemployment benefits to more than 17,000 jobless Arizonans died Tuesday after Republicans blocked a vote on the legislation. Arizona Republican Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake joined most other Republicans in blocking the bill from coming to a vote, arguing that its cost needed to be paid through budget cuts. Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, whose state has the highest unemployment rate in the nation, was the only Republican to join Democrats in supporting the bill.

The Senate’s failure to pass the bill means that another 22,500 Arizonans could lose their benefits during the next six months. It also means the House is unlikely to take up the legislation. Arizonans are still struggling with an unemployment rate that is about 1 percentage point higher than the national average, which was 6.7percent in December. The bill’s supporters fell four votes short of the 60 they needed to end the Republican filibuster and allow a vote on the $6.4billion bill to extend benefits by three months. In the end, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid,

D-Nev., changed his “yes” vote to a “no” — a procedural move that allows him to bring the bill up again if he can secure more GOP votes. Heller and Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., offered the bill to restore benefits under the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program, which helps people who have been unemployed for more than six months by sending them about $300 a week. The program, which expired Dec.28, gave unemployed Arizonans a maximum of 63weeks of benefits. Without the program, jobless Arizonans can get a maximum of 26weeks.

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BBC: General Motors To Pay First Dividend Since 2008

US carmaker General Motors (GM) said it will resume dividend payments, capping a remarkable turnaround since its 2009 bailout by the US government. It will pay a dividend of 30 cents per share, the first since July 2008. GM filed for bankruptcy at the height of the global financial crisis and was rescued after the government pumped in billions of dollars.

But the firm has since seen a strong recovery, led by a jump in sales in key markets such as the US and China. On Tuesday, the firm said it sold 9.71 million vehicles in 2013, an increase of 4% on the year before. “This return to shareholders is consistent with our capital priorities, and is an important signal of confidence in our plans for a continuing profitable future,” Dan Ammann, GM’s chief financial officer, said in a statement.

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McClatchy: Michelle Obama On her 50th birthday: My Message To Women Is Be Healthy

First Lady Michelle Obama said she’s yet to peak – even as she celebrates her 50th birthday at the White House this week. “I’m first lady of the United States of America – that’s pretty high up,” Obama said in a birthday-themed interview with People magazine. “But I’ve always felt like my life is ever-evolving.”

… Post her husband’s presidency, Obama noted she’ll be in her early 50s, with more to accomplish … “I’ve got to keep figuring out ways to have an impact – whether as a mother or as a professional or as a mentor to other kids.”

She noted that when the first couple leaves the White House, eldest daughter Malia will be in college and Sasha will have a few more years “and then she’ll be in college. “At that point in life,” Obama said. “Whoa, the sky is the limit!”

…. she says by 70, she’d like to be traveling — to remote castles in Ireland, on rafting trips and to the Hoover Dam, which she said she hasn’t seen.

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On This Day:

On This Day: President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Malia (partially seen at left) and Sasha attend church services at Zion Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

06
Aug
13

News Of The Day

ALERT: PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL BE ON THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO AT 11:35PM ET / 10:35PM CT

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President Barack Obama smiles as he is warmly received before speaking about housing at Desert Vista High School in Phoenix, Arizona.

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USA Today: Obama Says It Is Time To Wind Down Fannie And Freddie

Almost five years after taxpayers bailed out mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, President Obama said on Tuesday that it’s time for private investors to take a bigger role in the mortgage market. Fannie and Freddie collapsed in 2008 before being bailed out with almost $200 billion in taxpayer funds. But with the nation’s real estate market on the mend, Obama said in an address in Phoenix on home ownership that it is time to wind down the two companies and make clear that the days of a guaranteed government bailout are over.

“For too long, these companies were allowed to make big profits buying mortgages, knowing that if their bets went bad, taxpayers would be left holding the bag,” Obama said. “It was heads we win, tails you lose. And it was wrong.” With his remarks, Obama for the first time endorsed bipartisan efforts in the Senate for mortgage reform. At the same time, he made it clear that he expects any legislation will spell out a limited government role for backing Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in the future, and that it must ensure Americans’ continued access to a 30-year mortgage at a fixed interest rate.

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USA Today: U.S. Files Criminal Charges Over Benghazi Attack

A Libyan militia leader has been charged in last year’s terrorist attacks on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi that left U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans dead, two federal officials said.

Ahmed Kattalah is the first person to be charged in the Sept. 11 incident that sparked a political firestorm about the initial U.S. response to the assault.

Because the charges remain under seal, the officials were not authorized to comment publicly.

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President Barack Obama tours the home framing assembly area at Erickson Construction in Chandler, Arizona.

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AP: US Gov’t Sues BoFA Over Mortgage Bond Sale

The U.S. government has accused Bank of America Corp. of civil fraud, saying the company failed to disclose risks and misled investors in its sale of $850 million of mortgage bonds during 2008. The Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the bank and several subsidiaries in federal court in Charlotte, N.C., where Bank of America is based. The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a related lawsuit against Bank of America there, too.

The lawsuits accuse the second-largest U.S. bank of misleading investors about the risks of the mortgages tied to the securities. And the government said the bank failed to tell investors that more than 70 percent of the mortgages backing the investment were written by mortgage brokers outside the banks’ network. That made the mortgages more vulnerable to default, they said. The bank disclosed the percentage of such mortgage loans in the investment only to a select group of investors, the suits alleged.

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CBS News: CDC: Obesity Rates Falling Among U.S. Preschoolers

A new government study of preschoolers shows there has been progress in the fight against childhood obesity. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s new report found about one in eight preschool-aged kids are obese, but the rates may be falling. CDC researchers studied more than 11 million low-income preschool children in 43 U.S. states and territories from 2008 through 2011. They found obesity rates fell in 18 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Health officials hope the findings are a sign of things to come.

“Today’s announcement reaffirms my belief that together, we are making a real difference in helping kids across the country get a healthier start to life,” Mrs. Obama said in a news release from the White House. “Yet, while this announcement reflects important progress, we also know that there is tremendous work still to be done to support healthy futures for all our children,” she said.

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Read First Lady Michelle Obama’s Full Statement

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Jessica Chasmar: Oprah Winfrey: Trayvon Martin ‘Same Thing’ As Emmett Till Lynching

While promoting her new movie “The Butler,” Oprah Winfrey told The Grio that the death of Trayvon Martin was the “same thing” as the lynching of 14-year-old Emmett Till for allegedly flirting with a white woman in 1955. “Let me just tell you — in my mind, same thing,” she said in a preview of the interview on MSNBC. Last week, Oprah said Americans know “diddly-squat” about the history of the civil rights movement. She also said that when she hears the N-word, she thinks of the “millions” of people “who heard that as their last word as they were hanging from a tree.

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So delightful to watch. Yay FLOTUS!

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The Grio: Michelle Obama Turns To Hip-Hop To Promote Childhood Obesity Campaign

Michelle Obama is adding another fun element to her healthy kids campaign that seeks to tackle the issue of childhood obesity. Like her husband, the first lady has turned to hip-hop to demonstrate a point. She is distributing a hip-hop album complete with 10 music videos and 19 tracks to support her “Let’s Move!” nutrition program. Obama is partnering with Hip-Hop Public Health and Partnership for a Healthier America to release thenSongs for a Healthier America album on September 30th.

The single “Everybody” features the first lady joined by songstress Jordin Sparks, emcee Doug E. Fresh, and medical expert Dr. Oz. The video shows children of all ages dancing lightheartedly between takes of kids doing jumping jacks push ups, and drills.

“For years I have known that we need to reach children in the formative years to educate them to live a life of prevention,” said Dr. Mehmet Oz.  “The best way to do this is to build a bridge with the artists that they see on television and listen to. When someone like Doug E. Fresh shows our youngsters that health can be fun and cool, we are winning the battle.” Some other songs on the album include “Veggie Luv”, “Hip Hop LEAN”, and “Get Up Sit Up” most of which will be hip-hop based, according to U.S. News and Wold Reports.

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President Barack Obama listens as Lisa Monaco, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security, briefs him on the terror threat, in the Map Room of the White House, Aug. 6, 2013. Also participating in the briefing are National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice and Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama meets with former Negro League baseball players in the Cross Hall of the White House, Aug. 5, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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06
Mar
13

Gabby Giffords: “Fight, fight, fight.”

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AP: Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords returned to the scene of the horrific shooting that wounded her and killed six people two years ago, urging senators Wednesday to pass background checks for gun purchases in her first public event at the site since the rampage.

Giffords, who is still recovering from her injuries, spoke fewer than 20 words in the parking lot of the Safeway grocery store in her hometown of Tucson in a brief but emotional call for stricter gun control measures.

“Be bold. Be courageous,” Giffords said. “Please support background checks.”

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Gabrielle Giffords listens to a speaker Wednesday as an emotional husband Mark Kelly hugs her during a return to the site of a shooting in Tucson, Ariz., that left her critically wounded

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