Posts Tagged ‘Biden

22
Jul
14

The President and First Lady’s Day

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 President Barack Obama signs the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act; a job-training legislation which aims to help job seekers gain valuable employment skills, as guests and members of Congress look on at the White House

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Text of the President and Vice President’s remarks here

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In other important news today…

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President Barack Obama meets with Apollo 11 astronauts Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin and Michael Collins to commemorate the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission

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Continue reading ‘The President and First Lady’s Day’

22
Jul
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama hugs Stephanie Davies, who helped keep her friend, Allie Young, left, alive after she was shot during the movie theater shootings in Aurora, Colorado. The President visited patients and family members affected by the shootings at the University of Colorado Hospital, July 22, 2012. (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today

All times Eastern

10:35: The President meets with Apollo 11 representatives to recognize the 45th anniversary of the moon landing

11:0: Josh Earnest briefs the press

12:10: The President signs H.R. 803, the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, South Court Auditorium

1:0 Departs the White House

3:30: Drink Up! with First Lady Michelle Obama, The White House

All times PDT

3:15: President Obama arrives Seattle, Washington

5:05: Attends a DNC fundraiser; private residence, Seattle

6:0: Attends a fundraiser for Senate Democrats; private residence, Bellevue, Washington

7:25: Departs Seattle

9:10: Arrives San Francisco

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The Week Ahead here

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Reuters: Obama, Biden Highlight Job-Training In Middle-Class Push

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will put a spotlight on job-training programs on Tuesday as part of a White House push to boost economic opportunities for middle-class Americans, an important voting group in November elections.

Obama will sign the “Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act,” which the White House said would help “improve business engagement and accountability across federally funded training programs.”

Biden will unveil a new report that will show the results of a study about how to make federal training programs more successful and better tailored to employers’ needs.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Palestinian Civilians Make Up Three-Quarters Of The Dead In Gaza

The Israeli ground operation in Gaza extended on Monday, as international calls for a cease-fire mounted and the death toll continued to increase. While Israel lost several soldiers in the last day, the number of those killed during the latest iteration of the war between Hamas and Israel has been disproportionate, with the vast majority of the dead being both Palestinian and civilian.

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) publishes a daily snapshot of the crisis, pulling together the numbers from health officials in Gaza and reports from the various humanitarian organizations in the field. In their last report, which covered from July 19 -20, they noted that 3,008 Palestinians had been injured in the course of the fighting, “904 of whom are children and 533 women.” And at the time the report was published on Sunday, the number of those killed was 395: 375 on the Palestinian side “including 270 civilians, of whom 83 are children and 36 women” and 20 Israelis “including two civilians and 18 soldiers.”

More here

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Ian Millhiser: BREAKING: Two Republican Judges Order Obamacare Defunded

Near the end of 2013, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) led a final crusade to defund the Affordable Care Act, eventually announcing on the Senate floor that “I intend to speak in opposition to Obamacare, I intend to speak in support of defunding Obamacare, until I am no longer able to stand.” Cruz did succeed in goading his fellow Republicans into shutting down the federal government, but his effort was ultimately doomed. The American people’s elected representatives voted not to defund Obamacare, and the shutdown ended.

On Tuesday, two Republican judges voted to rewrite this history. Under Halbig v. Burwell, a decision handed down by Judge Raymond Randolph, a Bush I appointee, and Judge Thomas Griffith, a Bush II appointee, millions of Americans will lose the federal health insurance subsidies provided to them under the Affordable Care Act — or, at least, they will lose these subsidies if Randolph and Griffith’s decision is ultimately upheld on appeal. Ted Cruz is undoubtedly smiling today. Two unelected Republicans just voted to erase his most embarrassing and most public defeat, and they voted to take away millions of Americans health care in the process.

More here

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TPM: Journalist Who Accused MSNBC Of Pro-Israel Bias: I’ve Been Canceled!

After expressing some candid on-air criticism of MSNBC, network contributor Rula Jebreal is wondering if she’s in the cable news channel’s dog house. Jebreal said in a tweet Monday evening that her “forthcoming TV appearances” had been canceled. The Palestinian journalist also questioned if there might be a “link” between the cancelations and her comments earlier in the day in which she said MSNBC’s coverage had been biased toward Israel amid the nation’s ongoing conflict with Hamas.

While appearing on Monday’s episode of “Ronan Farrow Daily,” Jebreal said the channel’s coverage of the conflict was too favorable toward Israel. She even singled out Andrea Mitchell, the NBC News foreign affairs correspondent and MSNBC host. “Look at how many airtime Netanyahu and his folks have on air on a daily basis. Andrea Mitchell and others,” Jebreal said. “I never see one Palestinian being interviewed on theses same issues.”

More here

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U.S. President Obama waves with Cordray during a trip Cleveland

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Amy Traub: The Enduring Success Of The CFPB At Three

Three years ago today the US Consumer Financial Protection Bureau opened its doors. It was a new government agency produced by the Dodd-Frank Act: part of Congress’ attempt to address the rampant misconduct by banks, mortgage lenders, ratings agencies and other financial institutions that brought on the 2008 financial crisis and started the Great Recession. In its three years of existence, the CFPB has already forced credit card companies to return $1.5 billion to consumers that they deceived with fraudulent add on products; reformed mortgage lending rules to ensure borrowers have a genuine ability to repay their loans; and began to sue student loan companies for predatory practices, among many other accomplishments. The agency also handles direct consumer complaints about abusive and deceptive financial products and services—400,000 of them so far. It’s a highly impressive record for a fledging agency.

Now the CFPB wants to let consumers take their complaints public, going beyond the existing database of bare-bones information to enable consumers to provide a full narrative with context about the financial products or services they believe harmed them and how the problem has impacted their lives. Consumers can anonymously tell the whole story about the credit reporting company that refused to remove a blatant error from their report, the mortgage servicer that started a foreclosure despite a history of on-time payments, or the car dealership that marketed deceptive auto loans. The companies they are complaining against would have an opportunity post a public response that would appear alongside the complaint at the same time it is made public.

More here

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Martin Shaw: Wagging The Dog: Gaza & MH17 Plane Deaths Stem From Netanyahu, Putin, Search For Popularity

The Ukraine and Gaza crises alike demonstrate the risks of aggressive policy based on short-term calculations. Vladimir Putin and Binyamin Netanyahu’s war-as-politics invites damaging long-term consequences.

The slaughters in Ukraine and Gaza have one thing in common. Both result from governments authorising violence which is overwhelmingly motivated by domestic politics and appears almost gratuitous from a strategic point of view. Such policies promise short-term domestic popularity, but risk losing international credibility and producing serious blowback. Vladimir Putin is now finding this out. Binyamin Netanyahu should take note: the blowback for Israel could be far more serious.

More here

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Michael Krancer: The Surprising Reasons Why Lowering CO2 Emissions Will Drive Our Electricity Bills Down, Not Up

If the customer wants clean energy, he’ll have to pay for it, right? Wrong. There’s actually no premium attached to low-carbon power, state utility regulators heard last week at their annual conference in Dallas. I’ll cut to the chase. Check out this report from Analysis Group, a five-star consultancy based in Boston, who presented at the conference. “Based on our own analysis and experience, we believe that the impacts on electricity rates from well-designed CO2-pollution control programs will be modest in the near term, and can be accompanied by long-term benefits in the form of lower electricity bills and positive economic value to state and regional economies.”

Here’s the back-of-the-envelope math. The EPA says that the Clean Power Plan—America’s no-nonsense blueprint to cut carbon pollution from its power plants—will cost between $4.3 billion to $7.5 billion per year by 2020. Let’s take a mean of $5.9 billion for the sake of fairness. That’s a mere 1.6 percent of America’s total spending of $363.7 billion on electricity in 2012. If you want an itemized bill, that $5.9 billion will include investment in cleaner generation, including increased zero-carbon low-cost nuclear power, the expense of wringing efficiencies from existing plants, fuel-switching costs, and “demand-side” efficiency measures—which translates to getting your customer use power more smartly.

More here

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Steve Benen: Russia’s U.S. Standing Plummets, Still More Popular Than Congress

It wasn’t too long ago that Russia was fairly popular in the minds in the American mainstream …. It takes real effort to go from 41% to 19% favorability in the course of five months.

But what stands out for me is a CNN poll from a few weeks ago that said Congress has a 14% approval rating.

Let’s pause to appreciate what this is telling us.

Most Americans believe that Russia will try to cover up its possible involvement in the death of 298 people ….. despite this recent bloodshed, still very much on the minds of millions, Russia is still a few points more popular than Congress.

More here

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The People’s View: Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, And Lessons In Reform And Pragmatism

This will be a little hard to hear for the fashionable Lefty detractors of the president’s: Sen. Elizabeth Warren is openly celebrating President Obama’s financial reform law. There have always been detractors who routinely bemoan the Barack Obama’s “capitulation” and “friendliness” to big banks, presenting as evidence what they call a meaningless banking reform bill – Dodd-Frank – the president’s key financial reform accomplishment. In the next breath, they lament why Barack Obama could not “fight” the banks like Elizabeth Warren – with no hint of irony that a key part of President Obama’s financial reform is Warren’s brainchild: the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Even when acknowledged, the moaning crowd is still upset that Warren is now a United States Senator rather than the head of CFPB.

And of course… no perpwalks on Wall Street! Because, what good is reform without theater? Today is the fourth anniversary of the most significant financial reform law since the 1930s, which among other things created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This is a fact not often noticed by those who see Warren as salvation from the “compromiser in chief” Obama, but the gravity of the achievement certainly did not escape Warren herself. On her Facebook page and in an email sent to supporters, Warren has two words for Dodd-Frank and the CFPB: It worked.

More here

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Stephanie Armour: Health Plans Must Disclose Changes To Contraceptive Coverage

The Obama administration said that employers that stop covering contraceptives in workers’ health plans under a Supreme Court ruling must disclose the change to beneficiaries. The court’s late-June Hobby Lobby decision allows some closely held companies to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive requirement on religious grounds. The administration’s notice Thursday made clear that if all or a subset of contraceptive services aren’t covered under a group health plan,

beneficiaries must be informed of the extent of the exclusions. Federal law covering pension and health plans requires that employers alert employees if they change or drop benefits. Plans that reduce or eliminate coverage must provide expedited notification, generally no longer than 60 days after the change. The requirement applies to all group health plans, including those that pay workers’ health claims directly and those that rely on an insurer for that.

More here

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On This Day

Sen. Barack Obama speaks as Sen. Chuck Hagel listens during a news conference at the citadel July 22, 2008 in Amman, Jordan

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Continue reading ‘Rise and Shine’

21
Jul
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: Sen. Barack Obama listens as Gen. David H. Petraeus discusses security improvements in Baghdad while giving him and Sens. Jack Reed and Chuck Hagel an aerial tour of the city Monday, July 21, 2008

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Today (all times Eastern)

10:30: The President signs an Executive Order that protects gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees from discrimination by companies that do federal government work, East Room

11:0: The President makes a statement on the situation in Ukraine

11:45: Participates in a town hall focusing on the My Brother’s Keeper Initiative; Walker Jones Education Campus, Washington

1:0: Josh Earnest briefs the press

3:10: The President awards Ryan M. Pitts, U.S. Army, the Medal of Honor, East Room

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The Week Ahead here

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NYT: Obama to Issue Order Barring Anti-Gay Bias by Contractors

President Obama plans to sign an executive order on Monday that protects gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender employees from discrimination by companies that do federal government work….

The order will also, for the first time, explicitly protect federal employees from discrimination on the basis of gender identity, officials said. Federal workers are already protected based on their sexual orientation.

…. “With the stroke of a pen, the president will have a very real and immediate impact on the lives of millions of L.G.B.T. people across the country,” Chad Griffin, the president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement on Friday. “These actions from the president have the potential to be a keystone in the arch of his administration’s progress, and they send a powerful message to future administrations and to Congress that anti-L.G.B.T. discrimination must not be tolerated.”

More here

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MSNBC: Obama’s My Brother’s Keeper initiative gets $104 million boost

Six months since the launch of My Brother’s Keeper – the president’s boldest effort since taking office to address the dire state of young minority men – Obama is set to announce that millions are being dedicated to expanding the initiative.

According to a White House official, Obama will announce Monday at the Walker Jones Education Center in Washington new partnerships with public and private groups to the tune of about $104 million in funding to help this demographic succeed at critical stages throughout their lives – from early education to college and career.

Young minority men generally faces some of the worst social, academic and economic outcomes in the country.

“Tomorrow’s announcements are an important next step in continuing to build ladders of opportunity for all and to highlight the President’s commitment to ensuring that all children have a fair shot to succeed in this country,” a White House official said.

More here

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BBC: Gaza crisis: UN calls for ceasefire as deaths pass 500

The UN Security Council has called for an immediate ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza. It comes as US Secretary of State John Kerry heads to Cairo for talks on the crisis amid a mounting death toll.

Over 500 Palestinians, mainly civilians, have been killed since the Israeli offensive began two weeks ago, Gaza’s health ministry says.

Twenty Israelis – 18 of them soldiers – have died, Israel says, as it seeks to end rocket fire on the country.

On Sunday Gaza saw its deadliest day since the start of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, with 13 Israeli soldiers and more than 100 Palestinians killed. Israel says it has killed at least 120 militants since the ground offensive began on Thursday night.

More here

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Washington Post: Flight 17: U.S. builds case against rebels, Russia in downing of jet in Ukraine

The Obama administration expanded its case Sunday accusing Ukrainian separatists and Russian forces of working hand in hand to acquire and operate a missile battery believed to have shot down a Malaysia Airlines jetliner last week, killing nearly 300 people.

Citing an “enormous amount of evidence,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry accused Russia of providing SA-11 antiaircraft missiles to the pro-Russian rebels and training them how to fire the advanced weapons. He also said U.S. intelligence agencies “saw the launch” of a missile from rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine and recorded its trajectory at the moment the passenger plane vanished from radar.

Meanwhile, in Kiev, the U.S. Embassy said American intelligence analysts had confirmed the authenticity of recorded conversations in which rebel leaders bragged about shooting down what they thought was a Ukrainian military transport plane moments after the Malaysian jetliner was blown apart.

More here

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WH.gov: President Obama to Award the Medal of Honor

On July 21, 2014, President Barack Obama will award Ryan M. Pitts, a former active duty Army Staff Sergeant, the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry.  Staff Sergeant Pitts will receive the Medal of Honor for his courageous actions while serving as a Forward Observer with 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company, 2nd Battalion (Airborne), 503rd Infantry Regiment, 173rd Airborne Brigade, during combat operations at Vehicle Patrol Base Kahler, in the vicinity of Wanat Village in Kunar Province, Afghanistan on July 13, 2008.

Staff Sergeant Pitts will be the ninth living recipient to be awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in Iraq or Afghanistan. He and his family will join the President at the White House to commemorate his example of selfless service.

More here

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On This Day

 U.S. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, and Sen. Barack Obama at Baghdad International Airport, July 21, 2008

 Sen. Obama shakes hands with a U.S. Soldier outside Multi-National Division South East Headquarters in Basra, Iraq July 21, 2008

 Gen. David H. Petraeus gives an aerial tour of Baghdad to Sen.’s Obama, Jack Reed and Chuck Hagel Monday.

Sen. Obama looks on during a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Baghdad, July 21, 2008

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President Obama tapes an interview before an event celebrating country music at the White House on July 21, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

The First Family listens to a performance during an event celebrating country music in the East Room of the White House on July 21, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama and Vice President Biden walk from the Oval Office to the motorcade on the South Lawn driveway, July 21, 2010. They traveled to the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., to sign the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and Vice President Biden ride in the motorcade from the White House to the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., July 21, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama shakes hands with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi after signing the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., July 21, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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 First Lady Michelle Obama colors props for a theater production with children during a visit to the Naval Air Station Oceana Summer Camp in Virginia Beach, Va., July 21, 2011 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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18
Jul
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama plays basketball with senior staff and their family members during a retreat at Camp David on July 18, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (all times Eastern)

11:25: Live from the 2014 Kids’ State Dinner

11:30: President Obama delivers a statement on the situation in Ukraine

1:0: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest

1:30: The President and Vice President meet with Secretary of the Treasury Lew, Oval Office

1:45: The President and Vice President meet with Secretary of State Kerry, Oval Office

4:20: The President meets with Secretary of Health and Human Services Burwell, Oval Office

5:40: The President departs the White House en route Camp David

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BBC: MH17 Malaysia plane crash in Ukraine: What we know

At least 298 people are presumed dead after a Malaysia Airlines jet crashed in eastern Ukraine, close to the border with Russia.

Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was travelling over the conflict-hit region when it disappeared from radar. A total of 283 passengers and 15 crew members were on board.

More here

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A candlelit vigil in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

BBC: MH17 crash: Ukraine rebels ‘to allow access to site’

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine are to give international investigators access to the crash site of a Malaysia Airlines jet.

The rebels vowed to secure the site and allow the recovery of bodies, the Organization for the Security and Co-operation in Europe said.

The plane, carrying 298 people, crashed in rebel-held territory on Thursday.

The two sides in Ukraine’s civil conflict have accused each other of shooting the jet down with a missile.

More here

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A ball of fire is seen following an early morning Israeli air strike, on July 11, 2014, on Rafah in the southern of Gaza strip

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Juan Cole: Falluja and Gaza: Why Counter-Terrorism fails when the Problem is Political

….. the Israeli military profoundly misunderstands Hamas. It is ridiculous to dismiss it as a terrorist organization. it is broadly based and has an important political wing.

For this reason, the Israel ground invasion of northern Gaza will be no more successful than the US invasion of Falluja. The Israelis cannot actually destroy Hamas or its capabilities as long as significant numbers of Palestinians in Gaza support it. That support is political, having to do with the organization’s role in at least trying to stand up to Israeli oppression, occupation and blockade.

Just as the enemies of the US ultimately prevailed in Falluja, so the enemies of Israel will prevail in Gaza.

Oppression and occupation produce resistance. Until the oppression and the occupation are addressed, the mere inflicting of attrition on the military capabilities of the resistance will not snuff it out. Other leaders will take the place of those killed.

Full post here

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Children read while sitting in a street shelter, in anticipation of Code Red sirens alerting of incoming rockets, on July 11, 2014 in Nitzan, Israel

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Nathan Thrall (NYT): How the West Chose War in Gaza

As Hamas fires rockets at Israeli cities and Israel follows up its extensive airstrikes with a ground operation in the Gaza Strip, the most immediate cause of this latest war has been ignored: Israel and much of the international community placed a prohibitive set of obstacles in the way of the Palestinian “national consensus” government that was formed in early June.

That government was created largely because of Hamas’s desperation and isolation. The group’s alliance with Syria and Iran was in shambles. Its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt became a liability after a July 2013 coup replaced an ally, President Mohamed Morsi, with a bitter adversary, Gen. Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Hamas’s coffers dried up as General Sisi closed the tunnels that had brought to Gaza the goods and tax revenues on which it depended.

More here

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On This Day

 President Obama meets with Warren Buffett, the Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, in the Oval Office, July 18, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Vice President Joe Biden arrives for a meeting with President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon in the Oval Office, July 18, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

The 2012 NCAA champion Lady Bears with President Obama at the White House on July 18, 2012

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Morning again everyone – short of time again this morning, so just a few links to the two main international stories of the day (thank you Jackie and Vickie), we’ll catch up with other news through the day.

Happy Friday!

11
Jul
14

A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

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First Lady Michelle Obama tours the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site in Topeka, Kan., May 16, 2014. Stephanie Kyriazis, Chief of Interpretation and Education, leads the tour. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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President Barack Obama kisses First Lady Michelle Obama during her remarks at an Affordable Care Act reception in the East Room of the White House, May 1, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama adjusts a lapel pin for Vice President Joe Biden in the Outer Oval Office, May 23, 2014. Ferial Govashiri, Personal Assistant to the President stands at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama greets guests during a Federal Judges Association reception in the East Room of the White House, May 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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Dr. Jill Biden and White House Assistant Pastry Chef Susie Morrison help children plant scarlet runner beans to be presented during a Joining Forces initiative tea honoring military mothers in the State Dining Room of the White House, May 12, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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First Lady Michelle Obama joins students from Lame Deer Junior High School for a group photo in the China Room of the White House, prior to the White House Talent Show hosted with the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, May 20, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

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A soldier hugs President Barack Obama following his remarks at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, Sunday, May 25, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama holds a bobblehead doll of himself in the Outer Oval Office, May 14, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama hugs children participating in the White House Healthy Kids & Safe Sports Concussion Summit, in the East Garden Room of the White House, May 29, 2014. The President met with the group indoors when their South Lawn event was canceled due to weather. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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27
Jun
14

Rise and Shine

 On This Day: President Barack Obama looks out a cell window as he and First Lady Michelle Obama tour the Maison des Esclaves Museum on Gorée Island, Senegal, June 27, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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 Today

10:50 CT: The President delivers remarks on the economy, Lake Harriet Band Shell, Minneapolis

12:20 CT: Departs Minneapolis

3:45 ET: Arrives White House

5:0 ET: Meets with Acting Secretary of Veterans Affairs Sloan D Gibson and Rob Nabors

8:45 ET: Attends the Marine Barracks Evening Parade

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“Cynicism’s popular these days, but hope’s better.”

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Jonathan Cohn: Health Care Spending Down – One More Promising Sign About Obamacare

People tell me I worry too much. Maybe they are right. Back in April, I wrote a big article warning that we might be on the verge of another surge in health care spending. To critics of the Affordable Care Act, this apparent turn to health expenditure normalcy proved that the law had done little to control costs—and that it would eventually lead to much more spending. But the worrisome reports came with a huge asterisk. They were based on preliminary estimates and a whole lot of guesswork. As economists like David Cutler and Peter Orszag pointed out, other data points were more encouraging. Among other things, the cost of the federal government’s Medicare program was still rising very slowly. That suggested the health care industry really was reinventing itself and becoming more efficient—thanks, at least in part, to incentives that Obamacare had introduced.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis issued new estimates for how the economy and its component parts performed in the first quarter of 2014. The headlines were all about the economy shrinking. But that was expected, as QED’s Danny Vinik pointed out, given some one-time factors. The real surprise was health care. The supposed surge in health care spending was nowhere to be found. On the contrary, relative to the previous quarter, health care spending actually fell by 1.4 percent. it sure doesn’t look like Obamacare is bankrupting the country, as the critics always said it would. Better still, the law really may be nudging health care in the direction of more efficiency.

More here

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Benjamin Bell: Obama Calls Boehner Lawsuit Threat A ‘Stunt’ (Videos At Link)

Despite Republican House Speaker John Boehner’s threat this week to sue President Obama over his use of executive orders, the president refused to apologize for his actions during an exclusive interview with ABC News and took the Republican Party to task for what he described as its attempt to interfere with the basic functions of government. “You notice that he didn’t specifically say what exactly he was objecting to,” the president said when asked about the suit by ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos during an interview Thursday in Minnesota.

“I’m not going to apologize for trying to do something while they’re doing nothing,” the president added later. What I’ve told Speaker Boehner directly is, ‘If you’re really concerned about me taking too many executive actions, why don’t you try getting something done through Congress?’” the president said. “You’re going to squawk if I try to fix some parts of it administratively that are within my authority while you’re not doing anything?” Obama said, directing his comments toward Republicans.

More here

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(Weird title. Interesting article)

Chemi Shalev: America’s Bye-Bye Bash For President Peres Was Both Bittersweet And Over-The-Top

Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer hosted a gala dinner for President Shimon Peres at the Israeli Embassy on Wednesday, attended by a formidable representation of Washington’s high and mighty. He gave a witty and humorous speech in which he included his personal impressions of the meetings held earlier that day at the White House: “You could not imagine a better relationship than the one between Peres and President [Barack] Obama,” he said. And Dermer should know. He has the right perspective. He is far more familiar than most people with the far frostier relationship between Obama and Dermer’s own superior, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And “far frostier” is probably an understatement. For Obama, Peres might be the last vestige of the kind of Israel that the American left fell in love with until the Six-Day-War, the polar opposite of Netanyahu’s present-day Israel, adored most fervently by Obama’s enemies in the conservative right-wing.

In Obama’s eyes, Peres seeks peace and pursues it, while Netanyahu pays lips service and then runs for his coalition’s life. Why couldn’t things have been the other way round, with Peres as prime minister and Bibi as President, Obama may have wondered, and Peres would probably join him. Peres’ has also been Obama’s chief defender against the waves of criticism and sometimes hostility directed at the U.S. President in Israel. “I learned from Ben Gurion that one must judge people based on their record, not their image,” Peres told Haaretz. “I think Obama is being judged unjustly, based on an image that he did not create – but was created for him. I think people ignore his record. Tell me one thing in which he hasn’t been consistent in his attitude towards Israel and the Jewish people. He’s just added a billion dollars to the military aid for our anti-missile defense. What do people want from him?”

More here

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Mike Lillis: Democrats: No Bluff, Obama Will Go It Alone On Immigration

The Obama administration is “not bluffing” in its intent to take executive action on immigration policy if House Republicans don’t act soon, top Democratic leaders warned Thursday. President Obama has delayed any potential changes to his deportation policy to allow House GOP leaders time to bring legislation to the floor this summer. But if the Republicans don’t act in July, the Democrats say, unilateral changes by Obama are inevitable. “We’re at the end of the line,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said Thursday during a press briefing in the Capitol. “We’re not bluffing by setting a legislative deadline for them to act.

“Their first job is to govern,” Menendez added, “and in the absence of governing, then you see executive actions.” Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) piled on. Noting that a year has passed since the Senate passed a sweeping immigration reform bill with broad bipartisan support, he urged House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to bring a similar bill to the floor. “I don’t know how much more time he thinks he needs, but I hope that Speaker Boehner will speak up today,” Durbin said. “And if he does not, the president will borrow the power that is needed to solve the problems of immigration.”

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BBC: EU signs pacts with Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova

Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova have signed partnership agreements with the European Union, in a move strongly opposed by Russia. The pact – which would bind the three countries more closely to the West both economically and politically – is at the heart of the crisis in Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin said making Ukraine choose between Russia and the EU would split it in two. A ceasefire with pro-Russian rebels in east Ukraine is due to end on Friday. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, in Brussels to sign the pact, said he would take a decision on an extension to the truce when he arrived back in Kiev later on Friday.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he would welcome an extension, but not if it were simply an ultimatum for separatists to lay down their arms. Meanwhile the United Nations refugee agency said there had been a sharp rise in the numbers of displaced people in eastern Ukraine in the past week, with 16,400 people fleeing the area. The total number internally displaced has reached 54,400, while a further 110,000 people left Ukraine for Russia this year.

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Ariane de Vogue: One Year After Top Court’s Ruling Gay Marriage Is Legal In 19 States

It’s the one year anniversary of a major Supreme Court decision on gay marriage. A lot can happen in a year. In United States v. Windsor, the justices didn’t squarely address the issue of a state ban on gay marriage. Windsor, written by Justice Anthony Kennedy, invalidated part of a federal law that denied benefits to same sex couples legally married in their states. But since June 26, 2013 , federal judges have adopted Kennedy’s equal protection language to strike down bans across the country. The latest ruling came Wednesday when the 10th Circuit Court ruled that Utah’s ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional.

Look at the statistics: A year ago same sex couples could marry in 10 states and DC. Today, that number has ballooned to 19 states and DC. Almost 44 percent of the country lives in states where same sex marriage is legal, according to Human Rights Campaign. The Supreme Court ruling fueled a social movement of such rapid pace that even veterans of social movements were taken by surprise: Here’s what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who as a young lawyer fought the battle against gender discrimination, said recently in an interview with the Wall Street Journal: : “I haven’t seen a social change that rapid – ever.”

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Greg Sargent: Get Ready For The Next (Fake) Obamacare Freakout

Health wonks and Dem operatives are quietly mulling the possibility of a new batch of health plan cancellations in October — just before the midterms. Dems believe a round of “cancellation” headlines could greet this development. They think headlines will be out of sync with the actual problem, perhaps dramatically so. But as the gap between last fall’s “horror stories” and subsequent hard data about Obamacare has showed, press coverage of the law tends not to err on the side of proportionality or restraint. According to Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Family Foundation, the possibility of more cancellations resides in the fact that an untold number of people may have renewed policies before January 1st,

meaning they did not have to meet Obamacare’s minimum standards. Those people with current plans that don’t comply could get cancellation notices 90 days before the end of this year, i.e., in October. “So much of this debate has been driven by anecdote, which can be misleading,” Levitt says. “When there is no data available to see whether the anecdotes are generalizable, they get reported anyway. This could be another example of a relatively small number of negative anecdotes being used by opponents of the law to discredit it.”

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Greg Sargent: The GOP Is Now Officially The Party Of ‘Get The Hell Out’

Exactly one year after the Senate passed an immigration reform bill that built a compromise on an exchange of increased enforcement for legalization for the 11 million, Republicans have now officially abandoned any pretense of a willingness to participate in solving the immigration crisis. Instead, they have committed the party to a course premised on two intertwined notions: There are no apparent circumstances under which they can accept legalization of the 11 million; and as a result, the only broad response to the crisis they can countenance is maximum deportations.

This means it’s now all in Obama’s hands to decide what he can do unilaterally to ease the pace of deportations and address the current unaccompanied migrant crisis. One way to understand what happened here is to trace the evolution of GOP Rep. Bob Goodlatte, chair of the Judiciary Committee. Now fast forward to yesterday. Goodlatte effectively declared immigration reform dead as long as Obama is in office, blaming his decision to defer the deportation of DREAMers for the current crisis of unaccompanied migrants crossing. This tells the entire story. Goodlatte was an early proponent of a form of legalization for the 11 million that could have been the basis for compromise.

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On This Day

Framed through two flags, President Obama takes questions during a press conference at the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, Sunday, June 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ride an escalator on the way to their bilateral meeting during the G20 Summit in Toronto, Canada, Sunday, June 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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 A little boy leans over to kiss President Obama during the Congressional picnic on the South Lawn of the White House, June 27, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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 President Obama participates in a joint press conference with President Macky Sall of Senegal at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, Senegal, June 27, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

June 27, 2013: “The President and his daughter Malia talk on the bow of a ferry traveling to Goree Island, Senegal.” (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama looks out of the “door of no return” during a tour of Goree Island, June 27, 2013, in Goree Island, Senegal

 First Lady Michelle Obama looks out a window at local children during her visit to a cultural center on Gorée Island, Senegal, June 27, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

 President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama greet residents as they walk towards the dock on Gorée Island, Senegal, June 27, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive for an official dinner at the Presidential Palace in Dakar, Senegal, June 27, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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