Posts Tagged ‘john



16
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

First Lady Michelle Obama greets visitors as they enter the Blue Room during their tour of the White House, Feb. 16, 2012 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Presidential Schedule (The Week Ahead):

Today: The President will remain at Sunnylands, the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Estate, and has no public events scheduled.

Monday: The President will return from Rancho Mirage, California.

Tuesday: The President will deliver remarks at an event on the economy in the Washington, DC area.

Wednesday: The President will travel to Toluca, Mexico, to participate in the North American Leaders Summit.

Thursday: The President will return from Mexico and attend the Democratic Governors Association dinner.

Friday: The President will meet with the Democratic governors in town for the annual National Governors Association Winter Meeting to discuss his Opportunity for All agenda and the Year of Action.

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Today is Jordan Davis’s birthday. He would’ve turned 19.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates: On The Killing Of Jordan Davis By Michael Dunn

I wish I had something more to say about the fact that Michael Dunn was not convicted for killing a black boy. Except I said it after George Zimmerman was not convicted of killing a black boy. Except the parents of black boys already know this. Except the parents of black boys have long said this, and they have been answered with mockery.

Jordan Davis had a mother and a father. It did not save him. Trayvon Martin had a mother and a father. They could not save him. My son has a father and mother. We cannot protect him from our country, which is our aegis and our assailant. We cannot protect our children because racism in America is not merely a belief system but a heritage, and the inability of black parents to protect their children is an ancient tradition.

More here

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Keith Boykin: We Continue To Wait For Justice For Jordan Davis

“We will continue to wait for justice for Jordan.” Those were the powerful words by Jordan Davis’ mother Lucia McBath Saturday night after a 12-person Florida jury could not reach a verdict on the shooting death of her son. The partial verdict in the trial means there is no conviction for killing Jordan Davis, only for shooting at the three other young males in the car the night he was killed. That means at least one juror believed Michael Dunn was justified in killing Jordan Davis, in fleeing to his hotel, in ordering a pizza, in taking his dog for a walk, in misleading his fiancée, and in never reporting the shooting to police. The problem is bigger than prosecutor Angela Corey or her team. It’s even bigger than Michael Dunn, the man who hated “rap crap” and fired 10 shots at a carload of unarmed teenagers.

We have a problem with our attitude toward guns in America. We have a problem with white racial entitlement in America. We have a problem with the objectification and demonization of young Black men in America. And we have a problem with a legal system that enables private citizens to take the law in their own hands and execute Black kids on the street. Dunn’s perceived victimhood personifies white privilege. Young Black men are not allowed the freedom to wear a hoodie, walk in a white neighborhood at night, play loud music in their cars, or get upset in a TV interview without being labeled thugs. And even when they do what society tells them to do, their Black maleness makes them inherently suspicious unless it exists within the ever-changing boundaries that are acceptable for white men who define them.

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SmartyPants: Jordan Davis And The Heritage Of Racism

Those who didn’t watch the trial might not know that Dunn’s testimony was that he had a verbal altercation with Jordan and “thought” he saw a weapon. In response, he started shooting. As the car Jordan was in tried to flee, Dunn got out of his car and continued shooting at it, narrowly missing killing the driver. It was this latter shooting that the jury agreed was attempted murder.

I join those who suggest that Dunn’s account of what happened between he and Jordan is simply not credible. Police found no gun in the car, no one but Dunn heard any threats from Jordan, Dunn fled the scene without calling the police and he didn’t say anything to his fiance about a gun over the next 24 hours as he tried to reassure her. But as I understand the law, the prosecutors had to prove – beyond a reasonable doubt – that Jordan did NOT have a gun. It is almost impossible to prove a negative. That, my friends, is the result of the odious and racist Stand Your Ground law.

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Margaret Morton: In My Eyes, Obamacare Literally Saved My Life

I’m so thankful for being able to tell my story—I’ve cashed in all my karma chips and then some, and I work every day to earn more back. In my eyes, Obamacare literally saved my life. In 2011, I knew something was wrong. And when my neck swelled to the size of my collarbone, I knew something was very, very wrong. They caught the top of my tumor: It was non-Hodgkin lymphoma. The cough I had was the result of my lungs being strangled.

Now, I was 22 when I started going to doctor after doctor. In May 2011, I turned 23—the age that I would have had to go off my parents’ health insurance plan. But luckily that was the year the Obamacare provision allowing children to stay on their parents’ plan until 26 went into effect. I’m in remission now. October was my two year anniversary. Right around then, my mother told me: “Some people are one-issue voters. Well, my issue is that my daughter wouldn’t be alive without Obamacare. The President saved her life.”

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Josh Israel: Florida County Eliminates Minority-Heavy Polling Places

On a party-line vote, a Florida county’s Republican majority Board of County Commissioners voted Tuesday to eliminate almost one-third of Manatee County’s voting sites. The board accepted a proposal by Supervisor of Elections Mike Bennett (R) by a 6-1 vote to trim the number of precincts, despite unanimous public testimony against the move — and complaints by the lone Democratic Commissioner that it would eliminate half of the polling places in his heavily minority District 2.

Bennett, in his first term as elections supervisor, proposed reducing the number of Manatee County precincts from 99 to 69. In 2011, while serving in the Florida Senate, he endorsed making it hard to vote: “I wouldn’t have any problem making it harder. I would want them to vote as badly as I want to vote. I want the people of the state of Florida to want to vote as bad as that person in Africa who’s willing to walk 200 miles…This should not be easy.”

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Catherine Thompson: Joe Biden: ‘There Isn’t A Republican Party’

Vice President Joe Biden seized on disorganization in the GOP to rally House Democrats on Friday at a policy conference in Maryland. “There isn’t a Republican Party. I wish there were, I wish there was a Republican Party,” Biden said. “I wish there was one person we could sit across the table from, make a deal, make a compromise and know when you got up from that table it was done.” “All you had to do was look at the response to the State of the Union, what were there, three or four?” he added. “I’m not being facetious.”

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Justin Sink: Obama: Immigration Reform Will Get Done By End Of Presidency

President Obama predicted that Congress would pass an immigration reform bill before the end of his presidency in a Univision Radio interview airing Friday. “I believe it will get done before my presidency is over,” Obama president said. “I’d like to get it done this year.”  “The main thing people can do right now is put pressure on Republicans who have refused so far to act,” he said. “And I think sending a strong message to them that this is the right thing to do, it’s important to do, it’s the fair thing to do, and it will actually improve the economy and give people a chance.”

Obama also looked to deflate hopes that he could take executive actions to end deportations if Republicans don’t move a bill. “I’ve been able to prevent deportations of younger people with, the Dream Act kids, by administrative action,” he said. “But the problem is that’s just a temporary action that I’ve been taking. That’s not yet the law that’s been passed by Congress. And it doesn’t help their parents and others who are in the similar situations.”

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Caitlin MacNeal: McCain: The GOP Needs Immigration Reform

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) on Sunday called on House Republicans to pass immigration reform and said that the GOP needs to pass immigration reform to fulfill any hopes of winning a national election.

“States like mine, over time, the demographics will overtake, not only mine but throughout the whole Southwest and many other parts of the country,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union,” reiterating his belief that Republicans need to embrace reform in order to win over Hispanic voters.

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Becca Aaronson: Without Medicaid Expansion, Hospitals Seek Long-Term Solution

Citing shortfalls in Medicaid financing and billions in annual uncompensated care costs, the president and chief executive of the Texas Hospital Association said Friday that it was time for medical facilities to join together on a long-term strategy to compensate for the program’s shortcomings.  “Texas hospitals have the power to work together to propose a solution and shape our own future,” Ted Shaw, the head of the hospital association, said in a statement. “We recognize how contentious this issue is but understand the importance of a hospital-led solution to ensure that the losses are minimized and gains maximized.”

Texas’ Republican leadership decided not to expand Medicaid for low-income adults under the Affordable Care Act, saying that the program needed to be fixed, not expanded. If the state had expanded Medicaid eligibility, it would have received $100 billion in federal funds over 10 years and would have to pay $15 billion from general revenue, according to a report by Billy Hamilton, a tax consultant and former deputy comptroller, for Texas Impact and Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas Inc. “With federal health care reform, Texas had an unprecedented opportunity to cover a large portion of the state’s adult uninsured population,” Shaw said. “But because the state’s leadership made a philosophical point of rejecting this option, more than one million Texans will remain uninsured.”

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Jack Fitzpatrick: Voting-Rights Bill’s Backers Say There’s No Doubt It Will Pass

Civil-rights advocates are selling a bill amending the Voting Rights Act as a wholly bipartisan fix and saying it will pass this year, despite the partisan divide over voter-ID laws and other voting-rights issues. “It will pass this Congress,” said Scott Simpson, spokesman for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, which has advocated for an update to the law. “If anything can pass this Congress, it’s this.” The bill would revive a portion of the Voting Rights Act that gives the Justice Department final say on all changes to elections—from voter-ID laws to polling place relocations—in states with a history of discrimination.

The provision, known as the “preclearance” requirement, was included in the Voting Rights Act in 1965, but the Supreme Court in June 2013 struck down its outdated method of choosing which states would be placed under that requirement. Rather than choosing states based on discrimination in the 1960s, the new formula would be based on voting-rights restrictions in the last 15 years, and would be updated after every election. Attorney General Eric Holder said in a January interview with MSNBC that many states’ voter-ID requirements are passed by Republicans “for partisan advantage.” Reactions to the new preclearance formula have varied widely. Holder said he did not think the bill went far enough, and was concerned that Justice Department objections to voter-ID laws would not count as violations against states.

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NYT: Kerry Says Obama Wants New Options For Syria Strife

Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday that President Obama had asked aides to develop new policy options to deal with the deteriorating situation in Syria. Mr. Kerry said that none of the policy options had yet been presented to the White House for a decision. “He has asked all of us to think about various options that may or may not exist,” Mr. Kerry said at a news conference during a visit here to meet with China’s leaders about North Korea and other regional issues.

“The answer to the question ‘have they been presented?’ No, they have not,” he said. “But that evaluation, by necessity, given the circumstances, is taking place at this time. And when these options are ripe and when the president calls for it, there will undoubtedly be some discussion about them.” Mr. Kerry’s comments reflect increased concern within the American government and nongovernmental organizations over the escalating humanitarian crisis in Syria. In an oblique criticism of Russia, Mr. Kerry said the Security Council’s inability to take stronger action than the issuing of the nonbinding request reflected “the opposition of certain countries.”

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On This Day:

President Obama meets with senior advisors in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Feb. 16, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama signs a wall during a tour of the International Brotherhood of Electricians (IBEW) Local 26 headquarters in Lanham, Md., Feb. 16, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a taping for the “Biggest Loser” in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 16, 2012 (Photo by Sonya N. Hebert)

First Lady Michelle Obama greets members of the general public as they enter the Blue Room during their tour of the White House, Feb. 16, 2012 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Feb. 16, 2012: “Chuck Kennedy made this photograph of women reacting in the Red Room after being surprised by First Lady Michelle Obama during their White House tour.”

04
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: Senator Ted Kennedy, speaking at a rally for the presidential campaign of Senator Barack Obama in Hartford, the day before the Connecticut Super Tuesday primary. Congressional Representatives Rosa DeLauro, Chris Murphy and John B. Larson are onstage behind Ted Kennedy, along with Caroline Kennedy and Barack Obama. February 4, 2008

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Today:

11:10: President Obama visits a Buck Lodge Middle School classroom, Adelphi, Maryland

11:30: Delivers remarks on ConnectED

White House Live

1:0: Press Briefing by Jay Carney

3:0: The President and Vice President meet with Department of Defense leadership on Afghanistan

4:30: The President and Vice President meet with the House Democratic Caucus, The East Room

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AP: Obama Secures $750M in Pledges to Get Kids Online

Claiming progress in his campaign to get American schools wired for the future, President Barack Obama is announcing commitments from U.S. companies totaling about $750 million to connect more students to high-speed Internet.

Apple is pledging $100 million in iPads, computers and other tools. AT&T and Sprint are contributing free Internet service through their wireless networks. Verizon is pitching in up to $100 million in cash and in-kind contributions. And Microsoft is making Windows available at discounted prices and offering 12 million free copies of Microsoft Office software.

Obama was to announce the commitments Tuesday at a middle school in the Maryland suburbs near Washington. Also in the pipeline: an addition $2 billion that the Federal Communications Commission is setting aside from service fees over two years to connect another 20 million students to high-speed Internet.

More here

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Haaretz: Boycotting reality

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s statement at the Munich Security Conference, that Israel will face boycotts should negotiations with the Palestinians fail, is a level-headed view of reality that the Israeli government chooses to continually ignore.

…. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu beats them all: Instead of welcoming Kerry as an ally, he publicly quarrels with him and hints that the secretary of state is trying to pressure Israel to “give up essential interests.”

Netanyahu refuses to understand that Israel’s most essential interest is ending the conflict, and that Kerry is a fair, dedicated, mediator who needs the support of all parties in order to complete this complex process. Netanyahu refuses to understand that now is the time for big decisions, not small politics.

Full article here

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National Journal: How Obama Won the War on Iran Sanctions

A month ago, the president was on the outs – even among Democrats. Today, he’s quelled critics and getting his chance to make negotiations work.

The push for new sanctions on Iran has stalled. The Democrats who bucked President Obama to back the sanctions bill are backpedaling mightily—no longer even pretending they’re pushing Harry Reid to hold a vote on the measure. And while there’s still plenty of chest-pounding and posturing, the debate’s end result seems clear: The Senate will wait, at least so long as the negotiations move in the right direction.

That’s a full flip from just more than a month ago. Before the December recess, the Senate’s pro-sanctions faction was surging. Senators—including Democrats who are typically Obama loyalists—were agreeing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the nuclear negotiations with Iran bordered on capitulation.

So how did Obama — a supposedly feckless president when it comes to handling Congress — turn the tide? Obama’s in-person, all-hands-on-deck advocacy campaign with the Senate appears to have advanced his cause, but it’s not that simple.

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South Carolina’s battle over Medicaid expansion: After the Supreme Court ruled that states were not obligated to expand their Medicaid programs under the Affordable Care Act, South Carolina was one of the first to opt out. PBS NewsHour’s Mary Jo Brooks reports on the effects for residents who are still uninsured, plus a small alternative program designed to reach some of them.

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Bill Hammond (NY Daily News): Anti-Obamacare, facts be damned

House Speaker John Boehner lobbed a social media stink bomb this weekend that distilled Republican attacks on the Affordable Care Act to their cynical, knee-jerk essence.

“Sick kids denied specialty care due to #Obamacare,” his Twitter feed proclaimed on Saturday, linking to a conservative blog post based on a TV news report out of Seattle. His Facebook page weighed in on the same story, calling it “heartbreaking” and vowing that House Republicans “will continue working to scrap this broken law.”

There’s just one problem: The shocking claim — that the President’s health reforms resulted in sick children being denied care — was flat-out false. Which Boehner’s staff must have known, assuming they actually read the material they were helping to spread across the Internet.

In fact, all of the children in question did get care, as was perfectly clear in the Jan. 30 press release from Seattle Children’s Hospital that got this snowball started.

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USA Today: Obama to visit Saudi Arabia in March

President Obama will visit Saudi Arabia next month amid reports of a strained American-Saudi relationship over Iran and Syria.

White House press secretary Jay Carney announced that Obama would meet with Saudi King Abdullah in late March, calling it “part of regular consultations” between the two countries.

“The president looks forward to discussing with King Abdullah the enduring and strategic ties between the United States and Saudi Arabia as well as ongoing cooperation to advance a range of common interests related to Gulf and regional security, peace in the Middle East, countering violent extremism, and other issues of prosperity and security,” Carney said.

The Saudi stop will be added to a late March trip that includes the Netherlands, Belgium, Italy and Vatican City.

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Brian Beutler: Angry right’s secret revulsion: Why they really dodge minimum wage questions

Obama’s decision to increase the minimum wage for a small number of federal contractors has drawn out the crazies

It’s no great secret that Republicans oppose increasing the minimum wage. They don’t pretend it’s something they want to do under any circumstances. They don’t even really bother disguising their opposition. They cloak their view in dated and oversimplified economic arguments about labor demand and economic growth when the real impediment is ideological, and so it’s a somewhat better kept secret that many Republicans oppose the minimum wage altogether.

Opposing the minimum wage isn’t a politically seemly thing to do, though, and thus the great political consequence of President Obama’s decision, announced during his State of the Union address, to institute a $10.10 minimum wage for future federal contracts, will be to draw the extent of this opposition out into the open.

More here

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Missed this yesterday:

Jonathan Capehart: O’Reilly outFoxed by Obama

The pre-Super Bowl interview with President Obama conducted by Bill O’Reilly was not only notable for the Fox News anchor’s constant interruptions, but also for his harping on old news. The travails of HealthCare.gov, the murderous attacks in Benghazi and the actions taken by the IRS against conservative groups chewed up 9 minutes and 45 seconds of the 10-minute sitdown.

We all know that those topics are nothing but chum for O’Reilly’s anti-Obama audience. But the president successfully avoided the rhetorical traps set by the ambassador from “fair and balanced.” And he respectfully stood up to the disrespect demanded by said audience by giving as good as he got.

…. It’s always difficult to tell whether the tail is wagging the dog over there at Fox, but I would argue that the IRS conspiracy theories and others are in large part due to O’Reilly and Fox. Neither the station nor its anchor has shown Obama or his office the respect both deserve. And that 10-minute interview was a perfect illustration of it.

Full article here

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Steve Benen: A narrow path for ‘common ground’

Every Saturday morning, President Obama delivers a weekly address, which is immediately followed by a Republican response, but this week’s GOP address was a little different: it was delivered by four Republicans instead of one. The message: there may be some room for a little “bipartisan common ground.”

…. Before getting into the particulars, it’s striking to realize just how small the “common ground” is. There are all kinds of popular ideas that enjoy broad public support – on job creation, aid to struggling families, immigration, public safety, etc. – but none of them made the cut in the official Republican statement.

Instead, progress is now possible in just four areas – four narrow areas.

More here

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Steve Benen: NRCC crafts new fundraising gambit

Florida’s 13th congressional district will host a special election next month and by all appearances, it should be a close contest. Democrats have nominated former state CFO Alex Sink, who very nearly won the 2010 gubernatorial race, and have high hopes about her chances.

The National Republican Congressional Committee is also taking the race very seriously – so seriously, in fact, that the NRCC has come up with an unusual fundraising gambit.

Folks can go to a website that looks legitimate – contribute.sinkforcongress2014.com – and find a nice photo of the Democratic candidate alongside a graphic that reads, “Alex Sink – Congress.” If you’re not reading carefully, you might assume this is a page for Sink supporters to make a campaign contribution to their preferred candidate. But it’s not – this is a page set up by Republicans.

More here

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On This Day:

Hartford, February 4, 2008

Senator Obama shakes hands with supporters at the end of a rally at the XL Center in Hartford

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President Obama greets attendees after making remarks in Washington, D.C., Feb. 4, 2010 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Obama signs pictures and other items in a holding room before making remarks in Washington, D.C., Feb. 4, 2010 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport, Feb 4, 2013

The Minneapolis Police Department Special Operations Center, Feb 4, 2013

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MoooOOOooorning!

02
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

Feb. 2, 2009 – Pete Souza: “The light was streaming through the windows behind his Oval Office desk as the President talked with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.”

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Washington Post: Life After Jan. 1: Kentucky Clinic Offers Early Glimpse At Realities Of Health-Care Law

The envelopes began arriving in December across eastern Kentucky, one of the sickest and poorest corners of the country. “Dear member . . . We want you to be healthy . . .” read the letter to Mary Combs, and with it came a plastic card representing the first insurance she ever had: a Medicaid plan made possible by the nation’s new health-care law, effective Jan. 1. Nine days into the new year, the 41-year-old call-center worker headed to the health clinic on Highway 15. She saw a doctor about her chronic stomach ulcers, had her blood drawn for tests and collected referrals for all the specialists she had been told she needed but could never afford. The next week, she saw a neurologist, who found lesions on her brain and prescribed medicine for the cluster headaches, which are also called “suicide headaches” for pain that is far more intense than a migraine and which Combs had been treating with an alcohol-soaked cloth wrapped around her head.

“That’s the big question — does getting insurance bend the cost curve or the health outcomes curve?” said Karen Ditsch, the executive director of Juniper Health, which runs the nonprofit Breathitt clinic. Life since Jan. 1: The number of uninsured has dropped by 520 people, which represents about 21 percent of the those without coverage. Of that 520, 472 qualified under the health-care law’s expanded income parameters for Medicaid, which is aimed at the working poor. Here and there, for-profit clinics that never accepted the uninsured have hung “Welcome new patients!” signs on doors. A new blue billboard hovering above the Hardee’s advertises surgery to treat acid reflux.

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Michael Hiltzik: What’s Behind Anthem’s Huge Premium Increase? Not Obamacare

Insurance companies, bless their hearts, seem determined to remind us why we need the Affordable Care Act. The latest example comes from Anthem Blue Cross, which has just hit 306,000 customers in California with premium increases of up to 25%. As reported by my colleague Chad Terhune, the increases average 16% and are scheduled to kick in April 1, unless the state Department of Insurance jawbones Anthem into backing down.

Here’s the kicker: No one can blame these increases on the mandates of the Affordable Care Act, a popular argument among critics of the act. That’s because the increases are for grandfathered policies exempt from the act.

“It’s a rich irony,” says Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access, a leading California consumer advocacy group. “The insurers can’t have it both ways — they can’t blame the increases on the ACA while increasing rates on their non-ACA-compliant plans as well.” Luckily, Anthem customers have a choice this time around. They can check the state’s insurance exchange at coveredca.com to see if they can replace their old plan with a new one that might well be better, at lower cost.

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Sandra Fluke: What Mike Huckabee Wants To Take Away From Women

Memo to former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee and the bosses at for-profit corporations who think they belong in every doctor’s office and that they should be able to decide whether their employees have access to birth control: Women who use birth control do not have an “overactive libido.” We are not looking for a handout from “Uncle Sugar” to score a contraceptive fix. We are not sluts. This is not the reality for women — it never has been and never will be.

In fact, women who use birth control are your mother, partner, sister, and daughter. Ninety-nine percent of sexually active American women have used birth control at some point in their lives. We are just regular people trying to take care of ourselves medically and financially. That’s why seven in ten Americans believe that health insurance companies should be required to cover the full cost of birth control, just as they do for other preventive services.

More here

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Jonathan Cohn: Farewell To Henry Waxman, A Liberal Hero

One of America’s most accomplished lawmakers—a crusader responsible for cleaner air, safer food, and healthier kids—is calling it a career. On Thursday, Congressman Henry Waxman announced that he would retire at the end of this term, 40 years after he first came to Congress. The list of laws for which he deserves substantial credit is simply staggering—not only for its length, but also for its breadth. Waxman was behind the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments, the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments, plus laws regulating lead, greenhouse gas emissions, and formaldehyde. That arguably makes him his generation’s most influential lawmaker on environmental issues.

He was also behind a series of Medicaid expansions, the Ryan White Care Act, the Orphan Drug Act, the Waxman-Hatch Generic Drug Act, and, of course, the Affordable Care Act. That almost certainly makes him the most influential living lawmaker on health care issues. Other major accomplishments include the Food Quality Protection Act and the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act—and, somewhere along the way, he found time to modernize the postal service. How has Waxman done it? For one thing, Waxman recognizes that lawmaking requires patience and persistence—that you have to build the case for legislation, through investigations and stagecraft, even if that takes years or even decades.

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Hannah Allam: Kerry’s First Year As Top U.S. Diplomat Yields Breakthroughs On Thorny Issues

A year ago, John Kerry succeeded Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, joking on one of his first days at work that he had “big heels to fill.” Now a year into his role as America’s top diplomat, Kerry has proven that any trepidation about following such a high-profile figure was misplaced. Kerry’s anniversary this week – he assumed office on Feb. 1, 2013 – finds him, in the opinion of foreign policy analysts, with more significant, concrete breakthroughs than Clinton had in her entire four-year term. As showpieces they hold up the nuclear deal with Iran and the chemical weapons pact with Syria.

A year into Kerry’s tenure, Ross said, the picture from Asia is brighter. Ross, who’s in Beijing for six months, said U.S. diplomacy has brought about improved cooperation with China on North Korea, including landmark banking and other sanctions. And while there are still no U.S.-Chinese military agreements, he said, there are deeper military contacts so that American officials can “pick up the phone and call them if there’s an escalation.” “Secretary Kerry speaks with a quieter voice and made real policy adjustments,” Ross said. “The quiet approach has been more useful than his predecessor’s.”

More here

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Robert McCoppin and Lolly Bowean: Low Wage Workers Struggle To Get By

In the bitter cold, dark hours of the night, as many others are sleeping, Rocio Caravantes begins her hourlong journey on public transportation from her home in Logan Square to one of her two jobs downtown. Once she arrives at work, Caravantes spends hours vacuuming and scrubbing floors, polishing sinks and toilets, cleaning the bar areas and event spaces and tidying up the rugs in an upscale luxury hotel where she can’t afford to spend a night. Panic at times grips her as she thinks about how she will pay all her bills, she said.

“It is impossible to live on $8.25 an hour,” Caravantes said in Spanish, through an interpreter. “Not even three jobs are enough. I earn $495 biweekly. The first check goes to rent — it’s $500 a month. The second is for transportation, food, (phone) and education.” Caravantes, 40, is one example of the minimum wage workers who have become the focus of a national conversation about salaries for the working poor. It’s a political debate in the Illinois governor’s race, and Gov. Pat Quinn used his State of the State address last week to renew his push for an increase in the state minimum wage. President Barack Obama weighed in on the issue too when he asked Congress to increase the federal wage to $10.10.

But the Economic Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research organization in Washington, D.C., paints a broader portrait of low-wage workers. “People tend to think of low-wage workers as teenagers who are working on the weekends for extra spending money,” said David Cooper, an analyst with the institute. “While that is a portion of these workers, the vast majority don’t fit that stereotype.” According to the institute’s research, more than half of low-wage workers are older than 30.

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Jacob J. Lew: MyRA: A Start To A Secure Retirement

As President Barack Obama made clear in his State of the Union address, it is time to focus on restoring opportunity for all. That means helping to make sure more Americans can take part in our growing economy and build some economic security for the long term. To get that done, we are putting forward real, concrete solutions to our most pressing problems – from college affordability and job training to fair wages and a stable retirement.  This program, which will begin later this year, is called myRA or My Retirement Account. This account is designed to help low- and middle-income workers, who are too often overlooked or ignored, begin saving for retirement. We are talking about the waitress who is holding down two part-time jobs to support her kids; the recent graduate who landed a job but is grappling with student loans; the janitor who has never been given the chance to invest in a retirement account.

Here is how myRA, which is simple, safe and affordable, will work. You will be able to start saving with an initial deposit of as little as $25 and contribute as little as $5 each payday. If an employer chooses to participate, contributions are made through automatic payroll deductions, making them hassle-free. There are no fees – 100 percent of any contribution goes into the account and is invested in a Treasury security. That means it will be backed by the full faith and credit of the United States, will earn the same interest rate that is available to federal employees for their retirement savings, and the balance will never go down. Finally, myRA is not tied to any one employer – it belongs to the worker, not the workplace. In other words, the account is portable and can be easily rolled into a Roth IRA. And if myRA savers ever need to, they can withdraw their contributions tax-free, at any time.

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Brian Murphy: Well, That Escalated Quickly

It is utterly irrelevant if Chris Christie ‘wins the day’ or the weekend or the next 5 minutes or the next week. Irrelevant. The bottom line is that he is in serious trouble, politically and legally. On the legal front, the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey is probing allegations by the mayor of Hoboken that a member of Christie’s cabinet and the lieutenant governor linked federal Hurricane Sandy relief funds to the the mayor’s support for a redevelopment project in Hoboken that would exclusively benefit one of Christie’s closest allies – whom he appointed to chair the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

This morning on his MSNBC show Steve Kornacki discussed reporting he and I (and producer Jack Bohrer) did showing that those federal Hurricane Sandy funds have not been monitored by the Christie Administration as required by a law that Christie himself signed last March. Furthermore, relief funds have been extremely hard to account for because Christie vetoed a bill that would have created a single website to track Sandy funding and contract information. Based on the reactions of two congressmen who watched the report with me, officials in Washington will be loath to trust Christie with the next round of federal funds and we should not be surprised if an investigation is on the horizon.

More here

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Chicago Tribune: Push To Bring Obama Library To Chicago Begins

The push to build Barack Obama’s presidential library officially got underway Friday with the establishment of a foundation managed by three of his longtime supporters. “The president’s future library will one day serve as an important part of our nation’s historical record, and our mission is to build a library that tells President Obama’s remarkable story in an interactive way that will inspire future generations to become involved in public service,” Nesbitt said.

The foundation is responsible for developing a library that reflects Obama’s values and priorities, according to Nesbitt. He said it will focus on economic opportunity, inspiring an ethic of American citizenship and promoting peace, justice and dignity around the world, among other things.

More here

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Happy Super Bowl Sunday!

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On This Day:

St Louis, Feb. 2, 2008

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Pete Souza: “White House valets had moved the sofas in the Oval Office to accommodate the large number of press photographers that were covering the President’s meeting with Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas. When the photo-op ended, the President said to Gov. Douglas, ‘let’s move the sofas back in place.’ Gov. Douglas didn’t quite know what to do as the President did the heavy lifting. The valets now good-naturedly cringe when they look at this picture because it was their responsibility to move the sofas back in place.” Feb. 2, 2009

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President Obama walks to the Oval Office after returning to the White House following a trip to Nashua, N.H., Feb. 2, 2010 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

First Lady Michelle Obama speaking alongside Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Democratic Senator Tom Harkin of Iowa, on childhood obesity during a meeting with Cabinet and Congressional members in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, February 2, 2010

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Vice President Joe Biden talks with Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., after President Barack Obama signed the New START Treaty in the Oval Office, Feb. 2, 2011. Behind them, the President talks with Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama is updated on the severe winter storm currently moving across the country during a phone call with Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate in the Oval Office, Feb. 2, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Vice President Joe Biden snaps a photo of President Barack Obama and keynote speaker Eric Metaxas during the National Prayer Breakfast at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, D.C., Feb. 2, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

20
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

Five Years Ago Today

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Today:

1:30 EST: The President and First Lady participate in a service project, Washington, DC area

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Washington Post: Martin Luther King Jr. And The Catalyst Of Change

MARTIN LUTHER King Jr. preached nonviolence, practiced it and led a great movement guided by its principles. Yet surely he knew, as did most of his followers, that what they were doing would lead to violence. One need only look at the old black-and-white photos of civil rights protests, at the hatred, scorn and, perhaps most important, fear on the faces of some of the white people there to confront the demonstrators to understand how such simple acts as sitting down in a bus or entering a restaurant, seeking the right to vote or go to a better school, could lead to the worst sorts of violence — a bitter truth that followed King to the day of his death.

Yet out of that violence came new understanding of a sort: People who had been all but invisible to much of the United States came to be seen through the newspapers and television as individual human beings : women and children being firehosed; war veterans returning home to be subjected to all the humiliations and restrictions of the time (or to be murdered, like Medgar Evers); polite young men trying to get a sandwich at a lunch counter; a dignified woman who refused to give up her seat on a bus; the children killed by a bomb in a Birmingham church. For many Americans, this marked the first time they had come face to face, or had allowed themselves to come face to face, with the cruelty of racial separation and oppression, a century after the official end of slavery.

More here

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John Blake: The Greatest MLK Speeches You Never Heard

‘Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community’ King’s fifth book was published in 196Why it’s important: This is King’s last — and most radical — book. By 1967, he was organizing a “Poor People’s Campaign,” a plan to dispatch an interracial army of poor people to occupy Washington and force the U.S. government to address poverty.

What he said: He takes on black nationalists who ridiculed nonviolence. He says the passage of civil rights laws is not enough. The country must institute a “massive, new national program” to attack poverty. He predicts the civil rights movement will go international as oppressed peoples in other countries adopt nonviolent tactics to combat America’s “economic colonialism.”

Signature lines: “White Americans must recognize that justice for black people cannot be achieved without radical changes in the structure of our society. The comfortable, entrenched, the privileged cannot continue to tremble at the prospect of change of the status quo. … This is a multiracial nation where all groups are dependent on each other. … There is no separate white path to power and fulfillment, short of social disaster, that does not share power with black aspirations for freedom and human dignity.”

What others say: “I get so tired of people turning Dr. King into a dreamer,” says Doreen Loury, a sociology professor at Arcadia University in Pennsylvania, who says she was blown away by the book when she first read it in the 1960s. “They made him safe. He was a revolutionary.”

More here

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AP: MLK Discusses Kennedy In Rediscovered 1960 Tape

As the nation reflects on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., an audiotape of an interview with the civil rights leader discovered in a Tennessee attic sheds new light on a famous phone call John F. Kennedy made to King’s wife more than 50 years ago. Historians generally agree that Kennedy’s phone call to Coretta Scott King expressing concern over her husband’s arrest in October 1960 — and Robert Kennedy’s work behind the scenes to get King released — helped JFK win the White House that fall.

King himself, while appreciative, wasn’t as quick to credit the Kennedys alone with getting him out of jail, according to a previously unreleased portion of the interview with the civil rights leader days after Kennedy’s election. “The Kennedy family did have some part … in the release,” King says in the recording, which was discovered in 2012. “But I must make it clear that many other forces worked to bring it about also.”

“I think Dr. King was aware in the tape that he probably did more for John F. Kennedy than perhaps John F. Kennedy did for him,” said Keya Morgan, a New York-based collector and expert on historical artifacts. John Kennedy didn’t actually commit to the movement until a few months before his assassination when civil rights leader Medgar Evers was gunned down by a Klansman outside his Jackson, Miss., home just after midnight on June 12, 1963. “There were a lot of black folks who … weren’t fully committed to his campaign,” said Winbush, who is also a historian and psychologist. “That call he made to Coretta moved black folks.”

More here

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Martin Luther King Jr.

Martin Luther King Jr., registering African-Americans to vote in Greenwood, Miss. on July 21, 1964

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Ned Resnikoff: Four Ways Martin Luther King Jr. Wanted To Battle Inequality

1. Ratify an economic bill of rights: In 1968, members of King’s premier civil rights group, the Southern Christian Leadership Council (SCLC), drafted a letter demanding “an economic and social bill of Rights” that would promise all citizens the right to a job, the right to an adequate education, and the right to a decent house, among others.

“It cannot take more than two centuries for it to occur to this country that there is no real right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for people condemned by the accident of their birth to an existence of hereditary economic and social misery,” wrote the letter’s drafters. While the SCLC was specifically concerned with the ways in which economic inequality perpetuates racial inequality, they made clear that the rights they proposed would apply to all citizens. It sounded radical at the time.

In fact, the effort echoed a proposal made by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during his 1944 State of the Union Address, when he called for a “second Bill of Rights,” to guarantee all citizens a “useful and remunerative job” and “adequate medical care.

More here

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ZDF German news interview with President Obama from Friday

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Steve Kornacki: US Attorney Inquiry Into Christie Widens

The New Jersey mayor who publicly claimed this weekend that Gov. Chris Christie’s administration tried to withhold hurricane relief funds met Sunday in private with the U.S. attorney for the state of New Jersey. “This afternoon I met with the U.S. Attorney’s office for several hours at their request and provided them with my journal and other documents,” Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer said in a statement Sunday. “

As they pursue this investigation, I will provide any requested information and testify under oath about the facts of what happened when the Lieutenant Governor came to Hoboken and told me that Sandy aid would be contingent on moving forward with a private development project.”

Zimmer said Saturday in an interview with MSNBC that she would be willing to sign a sworn statement and testify under oath that she had been threatened by the governor’s staff to approve a development project or risk hurricane relief funding for her town of Hoboken, which was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012.

More here

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BBC: UN Invites Iran To Syria Peace Talks

UN chief Ban Ki-moon has invited Iran to take part in preliminary Syrian peace talks this week in Switzerland, an offer Tehran has accepted. Mr Ban said he had received assurances that Iran would play a positive role in securing a transitional government. The preliminary talks will open in Montreux on Wednesday and then continue in Geneva two days later.

Syria’s government and the main political opposition group earlier agreed to attend the meeting. The three-year conflict in Syria has claimed the lives of more than 100,000 people. An estimated two million people have fled the country and some 6.5 million have been internally displaced.

More here

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White House: Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on Ukraine

We are deeply concerned by the violence taking place today on the streets of Kyiv and urge all sides to immediately de-escalate the situation. The increasing tension in Ukraine is a direct consequence of the government failing to acknowledge the legitimate grievances of its people. Instead, it has moved to weaken the foundations of Ukraine’s democracy by criminalizing peaceful protest and stripping civil society and political opponents of key democratic protections under the law.  We urge the Government of Ukraine to take steps that represent a better way forward for Ukraine, including repeal of the anti-democratic legislation signed into law in recent days, withdrawing the riot police from downtown Kyiv, and beginning a dialogue with the political opposition.  From its first days, the Maidan movement has been defined by a spirit of non-violence and we support today’s call by opposition political leaders to reestablish that principle. The U.S. will continue to consider additional steps — including sanctions — in response to the use of violence.

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Finally got around to reading the New Republic article on Snowden, Greenwald and Assange – ironically written by a character who has ‘Obama Derangement’ issues himself.

Not sure there’s anything new in it, but the section on Snowden says it all about his agenda and motivation:

…. by the end of Bush’s second term, Snowden certainly held the president in low esteem. But not, apparently, his intelligence policies. Nor, it seems, was he drawn to insiders who exposed details of these programs. Quite the opposite: Snowden vilified leakers and defended covert intelligence ops.

In January 2009, Snowden lambasted The New York Times and its anonymous sources for exposing a secret Bush administration operation to sabotage Iran’s nuclear capabilities. Such infuriating breaches had occurred “over and over and over again,” Snowden complained. The Times, he railed, was “like wikileaks” and deserved to go bankrupt; sources who leaked “classified shit” to the Times ought to “be shot in the balls.” When an online interlocutor suggested that it might be “ethical” to report “on the government’s intrigue,” Snowden replied emphatically: “VIOLATING NATIONAL SECURITY? No.” He explained, “that shit is classified for a reason.”

Surprise, surprise:

… nearly as soon as Obama took office, Snowden developed a deep aversion to the new president …. he became furious about Obama’s domestic policies on a variety of fronts. For example, he was offended by the possibility that the new president would revive a ban on assault weapons. “See, that’s why I’m goddamned glad for the second amendment,” Snowden wrote, in another chat. “Me and all my lunatic, gun-toting NRA compatriots would be on the steps of Congress before the C-Span feed finished.”

And this from the ‘progressive’ hero:

At the time the stimulus bill was being debated, Snowden also condemned Obama’s economic policies as part of a deliberate scheme “to devalue the currency absolutely as fast as theoretically possible.” (He favored Ron Paul’s call for the United States to return to the gold standard.) The social dislocations of the financial collapse bothered him not at all. “Almost everyone was self-employed prior to 1900,” he asserted. “Why is 12% employment [sic] so terrifying?” In another chat-room exchange, Snowden (TheTrueHOOHA) debated the merits of Social Security:

<TheTrueHOOHA> save money? cut this social security bullshit

<TheTrueHOOHA> Somehow, our society managed to make it hundreds of years without social security just fine

….. Later in the same session, Snowden wrote that the elderly “wouldn’t be fucking helpless if you weren’t sending them fucking checks to sit on their ass and lay in hospitals all day.”

What a classy guy.

Snowden’s disgruntlement with Obama, in other words, was fueled by a deep disdain for progressive policies …. Contrary to his claims, he seems to have become an anti-secrecy activist only after the White House was won by a liberal Democrat who, in most ways, represented everything that a right-wing Ron Paul admirer would have detested.

Full article here

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On This Day:

Jan. 20, 2009 – Pete Souza: “President-elect Barack Obama was about to walk out to take the oath of office. Backstage at the U.S. Capitol, he took one last look at his appearance in the mirror.”

Continue reading ‘Rise and Shine’

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.

More here

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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.

More here

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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…

More here

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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.

More here

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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.

More here

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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.

More here

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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.

More here

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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.

More here

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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)




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