Posts Tagged ‘military

17
Apr
14

President Obama Honors Wounded Warriors

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President Barack Obama, flanked by Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, and Vice President Joe Biden, welcome the Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride to the South Lawn of the White House in celebration of the seventh annual Soldier Ride.

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USA Today: Obama To Wounded Warriors: “You Inspire Us”

President Obama paid tribute Thursday to once-maimed veterans who are now racing bikes. “You inspire us,” Obama said. “You inspire the country.” The president spoke at the seventh annual Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride to the White House. The event is designed to help the injured recover and to raise awareness of the challenges they face.

Some of the bikers were so badly injured they had to re-learn “the basics,” Obama said — “how to stand again, how to walk again, how to run again.” “You inspire me with your courage, your resolve, your resilience, your tenacity, your optimism,” Obama said. “It makes me proud to be your Commander-in-Chief.”

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The Coolest President EVER!

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President Barack Obama makes a face as Nancy Loubin takes a picture of him at the seventh annual Wounded Warrior Project’s Soldier Ride.

11
Apr
14

The President and First Lady’s Day

Arriving in New York

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Text of the President’s remarks here

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President Obama leads Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, HHS Secretary Nominee Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Vice President Biden from the Oval Office to the Rose Garden

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First Lady Michelle Obama, with Dr Jill Biden, applauds the crowd as they return the sentiment during an event for caregivers of veterans in the East Room of the White House. The First Lady and Dr Biden announced new steps by private and public sector organizations to help ease the heavy burden on a vital but largely invisible workforce.

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Leaving the White House

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Arriving at JFK

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President Obama shakes hands with Rev. Al Sharpton as he arrives to speak at the National Action Network conference

President Obama is greeted by Spike Lee and Rev Al Sharpton after speaking at the National Action Network

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11
Mar
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama waits in the Green Room prior to signing an Executive Order for the White House Council on Women and Girls in the East Room of the White House, March 11, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern):

10:0: President Obama receives the Presidential Daily Briefing

11:30: Designates the Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands as a national monument

2:15: Departs White House

3:25: Arrives New York City

5:15: Attends a DNC fundraiser; private residence; New York City

2:15: Delivers remarks and answers questions at a DSCC Event; private residence; New York City

9:10: Departs New York

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Freaking Hilarious. Watch Here

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LA Times: Obamacare Meeting Goal Of Reducing Number Of Uninsured, Data Indicate

Evidence has begun to resolve one of the odder controversies surrounding Obamacare: The new law appears to be achieving its top goal of reducing the number of Americans who lack health insurance. The dispute over that question is a strange one because the answer would seem to be fairly obvious: Under the Affordable Care Act, the government will spend hundreds of millions of dollars to subsidize families who decide to buy insurance, a product that the vast majority of Americans value highly. Basic economics would seem to say that those subsidies would have to increase the number of people buying insurance. Gallup, which surveyed about 28,000 Americans concerning their health insurance from Jan. 2 to Feb. 28, found that the percentage who say they lack any form of insurance has dropped significantly, from 18% of the U.S. adult population to 15.9%.

That would translate to between 4 and 5 million fewer people without insurance. As the unemployment rate has dropped, some people may have gained coverage at work, but Gallup’s numbers indicate that employer coverage has ticked downward by about 2 percentage points. Increases have come in the share of Americans buying their own insurance and the share covered by Medicaid, which the new law expanded. Those trends are all consistent with what the new law was expected to do. The other new piece of data comes from the McKinsey Co., which has conducted four surveys of people who are eligible to sign up for insurance under Obamacare. McKinsey found that 27% of those who signed up on the law’s new marketplaces in February were previously uninsured, up from 11% in its earlier surveys.

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NYT: Little Know Health Act Fact: Prison Inmates Are Signing Up

In a little-noticed outcome of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, jails and prisons around the country are beginning to sign up inmates for health insurance under the law, taking advantage of the expansion of Medicaid that allows states to extend coverage to single and childless adults — a major part of the prison population. State and counties are enrolling inmates for two main reasons. Although Medicaid does not cover standard health care for inmates, it can pay for their hospital stays beyond 24 hours — meaning states can transfer millions of dollars of obligations to the federal government. But the most important benefit of the program, corrections officials say, is that inmates who are enrolled in Medicaid while in jail or prison can have coverage after they get out.

People coming out of jail or prison have disproportionately high rates of chronic diseases, especially mental illness and addictive disorders. Few, however, have insurance, and many would qualify for Medicaid under the income test for the program — 138 percent of the poverty line — in the 25 states that have elected to expand their programs. Health care experts estimate that up to 35 percent of those newly eligible for Medicaid under Mr. Obama’s health care law are people with histories of criminal justice system involvement, including jail and prison inmates and those on parole or probation. “For those newly covered, it will open up treatment doors for them” and potentially save money in the long run by reducing recidivism, said Dr. Fred Osher, director of health systems and services policy for the Council of State Governments Justice Center. He added that a 2009 study in Washington State found that low-income adults who received treatment for addiction had significantly fewer arrests than those who were untreated.

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The Detroit News: Dexter Cancer Patient Who Called Health Care ‘Unaffordable’ Will Save More Than $1K

A Dexter cancer patient featured in a conservative group’s TV ad campaign denouncing her new health care coverage as “unaffordable” will save more than $1,000 this year. Julie Boonstra, 49, starred last month in an emotional television ad sponsored by Americans for Prosperity that implied Democratic U.S. Rep. Gary Peters’ vote for the Affordable Care Act made her medication so “unaffordable” she could die. Peters of Bloomfield Township is running for an open U.S. Senate seat against Republican Terri Lynn Land.

The Detroit News and fact checkers last month cast doubt on the accuracy of the TV ad. On Monday, Boonstra acknowledged which health plan she chose, offering the first evidence of cost savings. Boonstra’s old plan cost $1,100 a month in premiums or $13,200 a year, she previously told The News. It didn’t include money she spent on co-pays, prescription drugs and other out-of-pocket expenses. By contrast, the Blues’ plan premium costs $571 a month or $6,852 for the year. Since out-of-pocket costs are capped at $5,100, including deductibles, the maximum Boonstra would pay this year for all of her cancer treatment is $11,952.

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Washington Post: Senate Easily Passes McCaskill’s Military Sexual Assault Bill

A bipartisan plan to overhaul the way sexual-assault cases are handled in the military was easily approved by the Senate Monday evening.  The measure written by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) was approved 97 to 0 — a rare unanimous vote. But Congress has been quick to respond to the rising rate of assault and rape in the ranks. Last year lawmakers voted to revamp the military’s legal system, ending the statute of limitations on assault and rape cases, making it a crime to retaliate against victims who report assaults and requiring the dishonorable discharge or dismissal of anyone convicted of sexual assault or rape.

McCaskill’s proposal goes further by eliminating the “good soldier” defense that takes irrelevant factors such as the service record of the accused into account. In cases where there is a dual jurisdiction because the crime occurred off of a military base, the victim would get a say in whether the case would be handled in a civilian or military court. The proposal would extend protections to students in service academies. It also would require that in every decision on every promotion in the military, that commander’s record on the handling of sexual-assault cases would have to be taken into account. Although it passed easily in the Senate, the proposal’s fate remains unclear in the House.

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Simon Shuster: Putin’s Man In Crimea Is Ukraine’s Worst Nightmare

A month ago, when Ukraine’s old regime was just starting to crack under the pressure of a revolution, few people in the country had ever heard of Sergei Aksyonov. He was then a marginal figure even in the local politics of the region of Crimea. His Russian Unity party had only three seats in the regional legislature and no representation anywhere else. But that has not stopped him from taking charge. In late January, as the protesters in Kiev began seizing government buildings, Aksyonov started to form an army on the Crimean peninsula. Now he is the de facto leader of the entire region, a post that has thrust him into the center of the most dire political crisis Europe has confronted in years. From the beginning, the stated aim of his paramilitary force was to defend against the revolutionary wave that was sweeping across Ukraine and, ultimately, to break away from the country entirely.

Its first battalion of 700 men came from the youth group of Aksyonov’s political party, and as he continued calling in the proceeding weeks for a “full scale mobilization,” hundreds of others joined his Crimean self-defense brigades. By Feb. 21, the day the Kiev uprising toppled the Ukrainian government, Aksyonov was in command of several thousand troops. “All of them,” he says, “answer to me.” His rise to power has made him a valuable ally to Moscow and a serious threat to Ukraine and its Western partners. His written appeal to Russian President Vladimir Putin is what opened the door for the Russian occupation of Crimea at the beginning of this month, and on March 4, Putin recognized Aksyonov as the legitimate leader of Crimea, apparently without ever having met the man.

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Bloomberg: Ukraine Starts Military Exercises As Russia Warns On East 

Ukraine began military drills as Russian forces tightened their hold on the Crimean peninsula and the Foreign Ministry in Moscow warned of “lawlessness” in the former Soviet republic’s eastern provinces. Ukraine’s armed forces are testing the combat-readiness of troops, the Defense Ministry said today on its website, reiterating the government’s desire for a peaceful end to the standoff in Crimea. Russia, which has vowed to defend the ethnic Russians that dominate Crimea after an uprising in Kiev, accused Ukraine of ignoring radicals in the nation’s east.

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I. LOVE. THE. OBAMA. WHITE. HOUSE.

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Think Progress: Why Obama’s Appearance On ‘Between Two Ferns’ Worked

Usually, Galifianakis is the one making his guests feel incredibly uncomfortable (“I just have never interviewed a 7-year-old before,” he told Justin Bieber when the young star appeared on the show), but that dynamic was mostly flipped with Obama. Yes, Galifianakis did stumble over Obama’s name in the way he does for most guests (‘Bieber’ became ‘Beevers’), but almost immediately Obama was the one making Galifianakis feel awkward. “If I ran a third time, it’d be sort of like doing a third hangover movie,” Obama dug. “It didn’t really work out very well, did it?”

Obama took a risk going on a show as weird as Between Two Ferns; it could have made him look weird and awkward and bumbling. But he hacked it, flipping that dynamic back around on his host. This also made it easy for Obama, who is clearly trying to enroll the youth stoner demographic though his signature health care law, to make his plug for Healthcare.gov. Obama’s presidency has overlapped with the rise of the meme, and both he and Michelle have taken advantage of this. They have both made frequent appearances on late night shows (Obama is one of the politicians who’s slow jammed the news), and his administration is responsible for the pajama boy meme and the McKayla Maroney ‘not impressed’ face picture. Obama even embraced the existing meme of his ‘Not Bad’ faceduring a Reddit “ask me anything.”

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Katie Valentine: Neil DeGrasse Tyson To Science Deniers: ‘Science Is Not There For You To Cherry Pick

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and host of National Geographic and Fox’s new show Cosmos, said Sunday that he thinks the media needs to stop providing false balance in stories on scientific subjects like climate change. Host of CNN’s Reliable Sources Brian Stelter asked Tyson whether he thought the media had a responsibility portray science correctly, particularly when discussing climate change. “The media has to sort of come out of this ethos that I think was in principle a good one, but it doesn’t really apply in science,” Tyson said. “The ethos was, whatever story you give, you have to give the opposing view. And then you can be viewed as balanced.”

Stelter showed a clip of President Obama’s climate speech last year, in which he decried climate deniers by saying the country didn’t have time for a “meeting of the flat Earth society.” Tyson said the president’s reference was a good example of how the idea of “balance” in scientific stories doesn’t make sense. “In the clip you showed of the president — you don’t talk about the spherical Earth with NASA, and then say ‘now let’s give equal time to the flat Earthers,” he said. “Plus, science is not there for you to cherry pick…You can decide whether or not to believe in it but that doesn’t change the reality of an emergent scientific truth.”

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Philly Mag: NYT: Christie Turned Twin Towers Wreckage Into “Politically Motivated Gifts”

The New York Times reports this morning that Chris Christie’s administration used wreckage from 9/11 as “politically motivated gifts,” part of a politicization of the Port Authority that is coming under increasing scrutiny from federal prosecutors in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal. For a state that lost hundreds of lives on Sept. 11, the gifts were emotionally resonant: pieces of steel from the ruins of the World Trade Center. They were presented by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to 20 carefully chosen New Jersey mayors who sat atop a list of 100 whose endorsements Gov. Chris Christie hoped to win. At photo opportunities around the mangled pieces of steel, Bill Baroni, Mr. Christie’s top staff appointee at the Port Authority, told audiences how many people wanted a similar remnant of the destroyed buildings, and how special these mayors were.

Mayors lower on the list of 100 — such as Mark Sokolich, of Fort Lee, at No. 45 — received other Port Authority perquisites: an intimate tour of the National September 11 Memorial, or the new World Trade Center construction site, or Port Authority money for jobs programs or new firefighting equipment, even in towns far from the port. Turning wreckage of the twin towers into politically motivated gifts before Mr. Christie’s 2013 re-election was only one example. The authority became a means to reward friends (or hire them) and punish adversaries, and a bank to be used when Mr. Christie sought to avoid raising taxes. Major policy initiatives, such as instituting a large toll and fare increase in 2011, were treated like political campaigns to burnish the governor’s image.

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Zach Johnson: Aretha Franklin On President Obama’s “Respect” Flub: “Spelling And Giving It Is A Huge Difference”

Aretha Franklin realizes everyone make mistakes—even the President of the United States. After Barack Obama botched the spelling of “Respect” during the White House’sWomen of Soul Event last week, the Queen of Soul herself released a statement regarding the politician’s flub. “I’m sure the President had much on his agenda and was just a little tired,” Franklin told E! News. “However, spelling and giving it, is a huge difference. The President and I are mutual when it comes to R-E-S-P-E-C-T.”

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On This Day:

President Barack Obama greets members of the U.S. Senate youth program at the South Portico of the White House, March 11, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama meets with the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss health care reform in the State Dining Room of the White House, March 11, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama delivers remarks before a screening of the HBO ten-part World War II miniseries “The Pacific” in the Family Theater of the White House, March 11, 2010. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg, the two executive producers of “The Pacific”, sit in the front row (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a “Let’s Move!” and NHL partnership event with Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Capitals players on the South Lawn of the White House, March 11, 2011 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

President Obama talks with members of the Stanley Cup Champion Chicago Blackhawks following a ceremony to honor the team’s 2009-10 championship season on the South Lawn of the White House, March 11, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama talks on the phone with Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai from his vehicle outside the Jane E. Lawton Community Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland, Sunday, March 11, 2012. The President called to express his shock and sadness over the reported killing of Afghan civilians. (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama participates in a “Let’s Move!” Twitter Office Hour in the First Lady’s East Wing Office of the White House, March 11, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

09
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama jokes with members of the Dallas Mavericks in the Green Room of the White House before honoring the team and their 2011 NBA Championship victory, Jan. 9, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All Times Eastern):

11:00AM: The President and Vice President meet with Members of Congress, The Roosevelt Room

12:45PM: Press Briefing by Press Secretary Jay Carney

2:20PM: The President delivers remarks announcing Promise Zones, The East Room.

The first five  Zones are located in San Antonio, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Southeastern Kentucky, and the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The President first announced the Promise Zone Initiative during last year’s State of the Union Address, as a way to partner with local communities and businesses to create jobs, increase economic security, expand access to educational opportunities and quality, affordable housing and improve public safety.

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Geoffrey Cowley: A New Report Bodes Well For Obamacare

The next goal is to push private enrollment from 2 million to 7 million by March 31, and to control costs by balancing older (costlier) subscribers with younger ones. The new survey suggests that both goals are feasible. Among the marketplace visitors questioned in December, 51% (versus 37% in the earlier survey) found it easy to compare the subscription fees (premiums) for different plans, and 43% (up from 30%) had no trouble comparing the benefits. And when the researchers questioned potential enrollees who hadn’t visited a health care exchange, or hadn’t applied for coverage, nearly 60% said they still planned to find a plan before the 2014 enrollment period ends in late March. “If that large a percentage of eligible consumers enroll in either Medicaid or the marketplace plans,” says Sara Collins, the Commonwealth Fund’s vice president for health care coverage and access, “that would make for a very successful first year of enrollment.”

Especially when you consider the age patterns the survey reveals. Now that insurers can’t penalize or exclude people who may actually require medical care, they depend heavily on young, healthy subscribers to help dilute the cost. Rates would skyrocket if the exchanges attracted only high-risk subscribers, but the new survey should help allay that fear. It found that 19- to 34-year-olds, who make up roughly 40% of potential enrollees, accounted for roughly 40% of marketplace visitors through December—and they were just as determined as older consumers to find coverage. Some 58% of the young adults who hadn’t yet enrolled said they would return before March 31. The figures were 61% among 35- to 49-year-olds and 55% among 50- to 64-year-olds.

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TIME: Gates Was Offended Obama Thought He’d Write A Memoir

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates writes in his new memoir that President Barack Obama was concerned his national security advisers might later write memoirs — much to Gates’ offense. Gates recounts an April 2010 meeting to discuss Iran policy in the Oval Office. Gates encouraged Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to consider the ramifications of a surprise Israeli strike on Iranian nuclear facilities, he writes. Gates details that he wanted Obama to beef up the U.S. military’s posture in the region that year, including moving in a second aircraft carrier, and additional radar and missile defense capabilities.

Gates writes that Obama ended the meeting on a noncommittal note. I was put off by the way the president closed the meeting.  To his very closest advisers, he said, “For the record, and for those of you writing your memoirs, I am not making any decisions about Israel or Iran. Joe you be my witness.”  I was offended by his suspicion that any of us would ever write about such sensitive matters. Maybe Obama’s fears weren’t too far off the mark.

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Molly Redden: Christie Administration’s Bridge Lane Closure Slowed Search For Missing 4-Year-Old, Says Official

Private messages released on Wednesday strongly suggest that a top adviser to Republican Gov. Chris Christie orchestrated a massive traffic jam in Fort Lee, New Jersey, as political retaliation against the city’s Democratic mayor. Calling the messages “astonishing” and “unconscionable,” members of the Fort Lee borough council described the mid-September traffic disaster, caused when the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey unexpectedly closed two of the town’s access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, as having dire consequences.

“There was a missing child that day. The police had trouble conducting that search because they were tied up directing traffic,” says Jan Goldberg, a Fort Lee councilman who works with local emergency personnel. Police found the missing child, a four-year-old. “But with the streets in the condition they were, I would venture to say that the search took longer,” Goldberg says. Ila Kasofsky, a Fort Lee councilwoman, tells Mother Jones that ambulances and other emergency vehicles could not get through the gridlock. In the aftermath of the lane closures, Kasofsky says she spoke with a Fort Lee resident who couldn’t get over the bridge to support her husband through major surgery. Another Fort Lee woman was unable to pick up her son after his dialysis session.

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Linh Tat: EMS Responses Delayed By GWB Lane Closures In Fort Lee

Emergency responders were delayed in attending to four medical situations – including one in which a 91-year-old woman lay unconscious – due to traffic gridlock caused by unannounced closures of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, according to the head of the borough’s EMS department. The woman later died, borough records show.

In at least two of those instances, response time doubled, noted EMS coordinator Paul Favia, who documented those cases in a Sept. 10 letter to Mayor Mark Sokolich, which The Record obtained. On Sept. 9, the first day of the traffic paralysis, EMS crews took seven to nine minutes to arrive at the scene of a vehicle accident where four people were injured, when the response time should have been less than four minutes, he wrote.

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Washington Post: Chris Christie’s Problem Is That He’s Really, Truly A Bully

Christie inhabits a rare space in American politics: He’s a bully. He’s followed around by an aide with a camcorder watching for moments in which Christie, mustering the might and prestige of his office, annihilates some citizen who dares question him. Almost everywhere Christie goes, he is filmed by an aide whose job is to capture these “moments,” as the governor’s staff has come to call them. When one occurs, Christie’s press shop splices the video and uploads it to YouTube; from there, conservatives throughout the country share Christie clips the way tween girls circulate Justin Bieber videos. One video on Christie’s YouTube channel — a drubbing he delivered to another aggrieved public-school teacher at a town hall in September — has racked up over 750,000 views.

It’s not an accident that Christie emerged in a period when the Republican Party is out of power. His videos make them feel powerful at a moment when they’re weak. The reason Chris Christie is so good at this is that Chris Christie is actually a bully. What makes Christie unusual is that he’s a bully with power. That can be a dangerous combination. There have been previous hints that Christie’s proclivity to publicly humiliate his opponents is matched by a tendency to privately punish them, too. a former governor who was stripped of police security at public events; a Rutgers professor who lost state financing for cherished programs; a state senator whose candidate for a judgeship suddenly stalled; another senator who was disinvited from an event with the governor in his own district.

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Sharon Stone on The Talk on how ObamaCare is helping her charity, ‘A Better LA’ and improving lives. Video here. Go to minute 28:12:

“I became involved with it, one, because it’s working, which I really like; these platforms that are making sense and are working. Logically, you know, ‘A Better LA’ is about helping to end gang violence and gang violence…[crowd applauds]…thank you…thank you; because we’re really gonna need your support because you know, we’re just, we’re really grassroots organization that we hope will become ‘A Better Chicago,’ ‘A Better Detroit,’ ‘A Better Philadelphia,’ because gang violence, you know gangs are really how drugs get in the street. Gangs, if you worry about your kids getting on drugs, you really need to stop the gang violence, because gangs are the way that drugs are distributed; and so, what we’re doing is, we’re getting people that are in gangs, who want to be out of gangs to come out. We train them in an eighteen week program, together with the police, and with people so that they learn mediation techniques. Then they go back in and they get in and work inside gangs, and they tell us what they need and we help them. We don’t tell them what to do, they tell us what they need. And we’re really having a great deal of success, where we went from, like, seventeen hundred deaths a year to four hundred deaths, three hundred deaths a year. We’re really seeing it coming down. [crowd applauds]. Yes it’s huge and we’ve been able to get neutral areas because you know, the parks are sort of like gang offices and so now these parks are becoming more neutral areas where the gang people’s kids can play and be safe; and because it’s still families, I mean, these are really low economic areas and so people who have real leadership skills become the heads of gangs. I mean, if we were in these low economic areas, we’d be the gang leaders because we have leadership skills. So you have to figure out how other people like you and me, who just don’t have good opportunities. So you have to show them, here’s how you can have a good opportunity and have a different kind of life. [crowd applauds].

So, we recently started a new program which I’m so excited about, using Obamacare and we are the first organization in America, who’s a 501(3c) where we took Obamacare and we insured our gang mediators as a group and UCLA helped us to form them as a group; and so all of our mediators got healthcare. [crowd applauds]. So when they go back in, they’re like, I have healthcare, when my wife has a baby, she can go to the hospital. Someone in my family needs drug rehab, dental care, my kid can have braces, and they’re also a group. Bonded organization where they may have come from all these different gangs or different neighborhoods, or different organizations; they’re now a bonded group, together. I’m very excited about it. One of the reasons I think Obamacare is so great is because you know, we are living for a  really long time now and you know, we’re not retiring at sixty-two. So when we’re fifty, we’re not like, thinking oh I’m gonna knock off here in about ten years, what am I gonna do? We’re thinking, gee, what I do wanna do with the next thirty, forty years of my life? And we start thinking, well, maybe I don’t wanna do the same thing I’ve been doing until now. What do I want to do with my second career? What do I want to do now that my kids are grown up and gone, and I don’t have to just keep it all together because I’m keeping my family together, I have to pay those house bills, I have to put them through college. What do I want to do now for me?

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Craig Whitlock: Air Force General To Retire After Criticism For Handling Of Sexual-Assault Case

A three-star Air Force general whose handling of sexual-assault cases drew withering criticism from advocacy groups and some lawmakers retired under pressure Wednesday. Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, the commander of the Third Air Force in Europe, acknowledged that he had become a “distraction” for the Air Force because of controversial cases in which he overturned a sexual-assault conviction of a star fighter pilot and decided that there was not enough evidence to court-martial an accused rapist. Franklin’s decision to grant clemency in February to a convicted fighter pilot at Aviano Air Base in Italy helped spark a national debate over sexual assault in the armed forces and about whether military leaders took the problem seriously enough.

The pilot, Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, had been found guilty in November 2012 by an all-male jury in what was seen as a test of the Air Force’s willingness to tackle such crimes. Franklin’s decision to grant clemency infuriated many female lawmakers and activists, who said the outcome would discourage victims from reporting abuse. Congress has since passed several measures to bolster the investigation of sex crimes in the military and has stripped commanders of the authority to overturn convictions — an outcome of Franklin’s decision in the Aviano case.

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Greg Sargent: Dems Slam GOP Senate Candidates Over Unemployment Benefits

Is it conceivable that the 2014 elections might not prove to be exclusively about Obamacare and nothing else? With the battle over unemployment benefits raging, Dems are increasingly focused on the fact that some House Republicans expected to oppose an extension under any circumstances — no matter what “pay for” is agreed to — are also running for Senate. Today, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee will hit multiple Republicans who are vying for their party’s Senate nomination in red states over the Republican refusal to extend benefits – in keeping with the broader Dem effort to make 2014 about economic mobility and inequality.

Dems are targeting GOP Senate candidates in Georgia, Arkansas,  Kentucky,  Louisiana, Montana, New Hampshire, and West Virginia. Here’s the release hitting House GOPers running for Senate in Georgia. Dems believe the failure to extend benefits — and opposition to a minimum wage hike — will build a general election case that centers on Republicans’ lack of an affirmative agenda for economically struggling Americans.

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Washington Post: Despite What The Critics Say, Obamacare Is Working

Despite the treasured right-wing talking points, it’s increasingly clear that Obamacare is a success. Moreover, in places where Obamacare is not succeeding, it’s also clear that the right wing is to blame. Well, it’s clear to any who look at the state-by-state numbers of the newly insured. A whole lot of Americans will have to look, however, for the program’s success to redound to Democrats’ advantage. Charles Gaba, an enterprising Web site designer, has taken it upon himself to track the number of Americans who have gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Tallying those who have signed up on the state and federal exchanges (2.1 million), those who have obtained Medicaid coverage (4.4 million) and those who gained coverage through the law’s requirement that private plans allow parents to cover their children up to age 26 (3.1 million), he cites more than 9 million newly insured through Obamacare. Which is to say, the ACA is working as planned, perhaps a little better, in the states where governors and legislatures chose to implement it, such as California and New York. Consider the implications: A larger share of Californians will be able to afford regular medical check-ups than Texans. A smaller share of Californians is likely to be bankrupted by the expense of major medical treatment than Texans. Only by publicizing the act’s manifest success in states where it has been implemented can supporters begin to change the public’s verdict.

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Members of the Price family watch as President Obama presents the Defense Superior Service Medal to departing Military Aide Lt. Col. Sam Price in the Oval Office, Jan. 9, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)




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