Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina

07
Jul
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama greets departing Associate Counsel to the President Alison J. “Ali” Nathan, left, Meg Satterthwaite, and their twin sons Oliver and Nathan, in the Outer Oval Office, July 7, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

11:30: Josh Earnest briefs the press

12:10: The President hosts a group of teachers for lunch

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The Week Ahead

Tuesday: The President will welcome NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen to the White House, ahead of the NATO summit in Wales this September. In the evening, he will depart for Denver, Colorado, where he’ll spend the night.

Wednesday: In Denver, the President will attend a DSCC fundraising event. He will then travel to the Dallas, Texas area for a DCCC event. In the evening, he will travel to Austin, Texas, where he’ll attend a DNC event and remain overnight.

Thursday: While in Austin, the President will attend a DNC event, and will deliver remarks on the economy, before returning to the White House.

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

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Spandan Chakrabarti: Barack Obama Bests Bill Clinton’s Private Sector Job Creation Record

the Labor Department released the employment figures for June, and the jobs numbers blasted through market predictions. June saw an addition of 288,000 jobs, compared to the 215,000 predicted by analysts. The unemployment rate fell to 6.1%, the lowest since before the beginning of the Bush economic collapse in September of 2008 – that’s a 1.4 percentage point drop in the last 12 months, the sharpest decline in nearly 30 years. The economy under President Obama’s leadership – and despite the Great Wall of Republican obstructionism – is not only showing signs of completing recovery from the worst economic calamity in American history save for the Great Depression,

it is now showing signs of coming back to the life it had before the previous administration began to mess with it. June marks 52 straight months of private sector job growth, the longest ever on record, beating out Bill Clinton’s record of 51 continuous months of private sector job growth from February 1996 to April 2000. The economy has added more than 200,000 jobs for five months in a row now, the longest such streak since 1999. In the first half of this year alone the economy has added 1.4 million jobs, another accomplishment not seen since 1999.

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Darlene Superville: First Lady Bucks GOP On School Lunch Rules

First ladies typically avoid getting into public scraps, but Michelle Obama has jumped into perhaps her biggest battle yet. She’s fighting a House Republican effort to soften a central part of her prized anti-childhood obesity campaign and says she’s ready “to fight until the bitter end.” Mrs. Obama even mocked the GOP effort in an opinion column and argued her case on Twitter. “Remember a few years ago when Congress declared that the sauce on a slice of pizza should count as a vegetable in school lunches?” she wrote in The New York Times. “You don’t have to be a nutritionist to know that this doesn’t make much sense. Yet we’re seeing the same thing happening again with these new efforts to lower nutrition standards in our schools.” Mrs. Obama lobbied largely behind the scenes four years ago for the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which requires more fruit, vegetables and whole grains in school meals, along with less sodium, sugar and fat.

It was a major achievement, the first update to school lunch rules in decades designed to make school meals more nutritious. Mrs. Obama says the requirements are based on sound science and that 90 percent of schools are meeting them. The association says districts are unprepared to meet the newest standards. “I’m going to fight until the bitter end to make sure that every kid in this country continues to have the best nutrition that they can have in our schools,” the first lady said at a White House event where she showcased elementary school students preparing and then eating a salad lunch using vegetables they had planted in her garden on the South Lawn. The White House has threatened to veto the House bill. The Senate version does not include the one-year waiver.

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Sally Kohn: Dear Speaker Boehner: Do Your Job Instead

President Theodore Roosevelt enacted 1,081 executive orders during his presidency. President Dwight Eisenhower had 484. President Ronald Reagan had 381. And President George W. Bush had 291. President Barack Obama has enacted 182 executive orders — yet the GOP accuses him of being an “imperial president,” and Republican members of the House of Representatives are preparing to sue him for violating the Constitution. With all due respect, Speaker Boehner, it’s as though the fog of extreme partisanship that has colored your dealings with President Obama since day one has suddenly turned into a full-on fever of irrationality. Think about this for just a second: House Republicans are using taxpayer dollars to fund a lawsuit against a President who has literally done not only what every president before him has done but has done it less often and is doing so now only because

House Republicans repeatedly refuse to even vote on legislation, let alone pass anything. And you have the gall to accuse the President of being the one in violation of the Constitution? Even more frustrating is how your repeated attacks on the President fall factually flat. In your essay for CNN, you write: “After years of slow economic growth and high unemployment under President Obama, they are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ ” This is a particularly laughable assertion given last week’s jobs report, which noted our economy added 288,000 jobs in June, marking 52 straight months of continuous job growth. Overall, under President Obama’s leadership, the private sector has added 9.7 million jobs and an economy that was in free fall when he was elected is now in a steady recovery.

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Matt Apuzzo: Students Joining Battle To Upend Laws On Voter ID

Civil rights groups have spent a decade fighting requirements that voters show photo identification, arguing that this discriminates against African-Americans, Hispanics and the poor. This week in a North Carolina courtroom, another group will make its case that such laws are discriminatory: college students. Joining a challenge to a state law alongside the N.A.A.C.P., the American Civil Liberties Union and the Justice Department, lawyers for seven college students and three voter-registration advocates are making the novel constitutional argument that the law violates the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18 from 21. The amendment also declares that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.” Over the past decade, Republicans have campaigned to tighten rules for voters, including requirements for photo ID, in the name of preventing fraud. Democrats have countered that the real purpose of those laws is to make voting more difficult for people who are likely to vote Democratic.

In Ohio, legislators proposed a law that would have cost colleges millions of dollars for helping out-of-state students vote locally. The measure died amid criticism from state schools. In Maine, the Republican attorney general — at the behest of the state party chairman — investigated 200 students for fraud. After finding no evidence, he sent the students a letter warning them to register their cars in Maine or to cancel their voter registrations. In Texas, voters must show a photo ID. A state handgun license qualifies, but a state university identification card does not. North Carolina students have also complained of government efforts, distinct from the new voting law, to shut down voting sites at Appalachian State University and Winston-Salem State University.

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BBC with the “DUH!” question of the day. But, a very interesting article nonetheless.

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Philip Rucker: Bloomberg’s Gun Group To Start 2014 Midterms Strategy By Surveying Candidates

The gun-control group founded by former New York mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I) will begin surveying all federal candidates in the 2014 midterm elections on gun issues Monday as it tries to become a political counterweight to the National Rifle Association. Bloomberg’s group, Everytown for Gun Safety, is asking all Senate and House incumbents and candidates to complete a 10-part questionnaire stating publicly where they stand on issues such as expanding background checks for gun buyers, limiting the capacity of ammunition magazines and toughening gun-trafficking statutes.

Bloomberg has since started the new group, Everytown, merging the mayors coalition and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. Everytown’s goal is to create a grass-roots movement to pressure not only Congress but also state legislatures. It is using data-driven organizing techniques from Barack Obama’s 2008 and 2012 campaigns to expand its network of supporters, which now totals nearly 2 million.

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Grant Smith: U.S. Seen As Biggest Oil Producer After Overtaking Saudi Arabia

The U.S. will remain the world’s biggest oil producer this year after overtaking Saudi Arabia and Russia as extraction of energy from shale rock spurs the nation’s economic recovery, Bank of America Corp. said. U.S. production of crude oil, along with liquids separated from natural gas, surpassed all other countries this year with daily output exceeding 11 million barrels in the first quarter, the bank said in a report today. The country became the world’s largest natural gas producer in 2010. The International Energy Agency said in June that the U.S. was the biggest producer of oil and natural gas liquids.

“The U.S. increase in supply is a very meaningful chunk of oil,” Francisco Blanch, the bank’s head of commodities research, said by phone from New York. “The shale boom is playing a key role in the U.S. recovery. If the U.S. didn’t have this energy supply, prices at the pump would be completely unaffordable.” Oil extraction is soaring at shale formations in Texas and North Dakota as companies split rocks using high-pressure liquid, a process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The surge in supply combined with restrictions on exporting crude is curbing the price of West Texas Intermediate, America’s oil benchmark.

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NBC News: Pope Francis Meets Abuse Victims, Begs Forgiveness For Church

Pope Francis begged forgiveness for the Church on Monday and cited the need for “reparation” as he met with victims who had suffered at the hands of Roman Catholic priests. The pontiff invited six victims of abuse from Ireland, Germany and Britain to attend an early-morning private Mass at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the residence next to St. Peter’s Basilica where he lives. Francis called the abuse a “grave sin” decrying how it was hidden for “so much time” and “camouflaged with a complicity that cannot be explained.” “I ask for the grace to weep, the grace for the Church to weep and make reparation for her sons and daughters who betrayed their mission, who abused innocent persons,” the pope said in his homily. “I beg your forgiveness, too, for the sins of omission on the part of Church leaders who did not respond adequately to reports of abuse.”

He said abusive priests’ actions “profane the very image of God” and are “more than despicable.” Francis strongly praised the victims’ courage in speaking up and shedding “light on a terrible darkness,” telling the mass he is deeply aware of their deep and unrelenting pain. The pope then met privately with the victims, spending at least half an hour with each. While Francis’ predecessor met with abuse victims several times during his pontificate, this was the first time a pope had received victims inside the Vatican. The meeting was first announced by the pope on his flight back from a visit to the Holy Land, when Francis noted called child sex abuse “very serious” and “like celebrating a satanic mass.”

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The Denver Post: Colorado Claims Contraceptive Program Caused Big Drop In Teen Birth Rates

A state health initiative to reduce teen birth rates by providing more than 30,000 contraceptive devices at low or no cost has led to a 40 percent drop in five years, Gov. John Hickenlooper said Thursday. The Colorado Family Planning Initiative, funded by a private anonymous donor for five years, has provided intrauterine devices and other implants to low-income women at 68 family-planning clinics across Colorado since 2009. The clinics are in local health departments, hospitals and private nonprofit facilities. The program also provided training and technical assistance to family planning clinics statewide. “When families are planned and women have children when they’re ready and want them … it’s really a better situation for everyone,” Hickenlooper said during his state Capitol news conference. Seven of every 10 teen pregnancies in Colorado are unintended, officials said.

The decline in births among girls 15 to 19 years old served by the program accounted for three-quarters of the overall decline in the Colorado teen birth rate, the state said in a news release. That rate has fallen from 37 births per 1,000 girls in 2009 to 22 in 2013, officials said. The teen abortion rate dropped 35 percent from 2009 to 2012 in those counties where the initiative is in place, Hickenlooper said. The family-planning program has saved $5.68 in Medicaid costs for every dollar spent on the contraceptives, the state said. The state has saved millions in health care expenditures — $42.5 million in public funds in 2010 alone based on the latest available data.

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On This Day

First Lady Michelle Obama hugs an elderly nurse while holding a traditional Russian matreshka nesting doll during a visit to the Sisters of Mercy St. Dmitry Nursing College in Moscow, July 7, 2009

President Obama meets with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin at his dacha outside Moscow, Russia, July 7, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama meets with Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union, in Gostinny Dvor, Russia, Tuesday, July 7, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets attendees, including Oksana Yurievna the top graduating student, at the New Economic School graduation in Gostinny Dvor, Russia, July 7, 2000 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama leaves the Department of Treasury, in Washington, D.C., July 7, 2010, following her 20th agency visit to thank employees for their public service (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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07
Jun
14

The Warmest of Tributes

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First Lady Michelle Obama’s remarks at the Memorial Service for Dr Maya Angelou

Thank you so much.  (Applause.)  My heart is so full.  My heart is so full.  Bebe — Oprah, why did you do that?  Just why did you put me after this?  (Laughter.)

To the family, Guy, to all of you; to the friends; President Clinton; Oprah; my mother, Cicely Tyson; Ambassador Young — let me just share something with you.  My mother, Marian Robinson, never cares about anything I do.  (Laughter.)  But when Dr. Maya Angelou passed, she said, you’re going, aren’t you?  I said, well, Mom, I’m not really sure, I have to check with my schedule.  She said, you are going, right?  (Laughter.)  I said, well, I’m going to get back to you but I have to check with the people, figure it out.  I came back up to her room when I found out that I was scheduled to go, and she said, that’s good, now I’m happy.  (Laughter.)

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It is such a profound honor, truly, a profound honor, to be here today on behalf of myself and my husband as we celebrate one of the greatest spirits our world has ever known, our dear friend, Dr. Maya Angelou.

In the Book of Psalms it reads:  “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from you when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the Earth.”  What a perfect description of Maya Angelou, and the gift she gave to her family and to all who loved her.

She taught us that we are each wonderfully made, intricately woven, and put on this Earth for a purpose far greater than we could ever imagine.   And when I think about Maya Angelou, I think about the affirming power of her words.

The first time I read “Phenomenal Woman”, I was struck by how she celebrated black women’s beauty like no one had ever dared to before.  (Applause.)  Our curves, our stride, our strength, our grace.  Her words were clever and sassy; they were powerful and sexual and boastful.  And in that one singular poem, Maya Angelou spoke to the essence of black women, but she also graced us with an anthem for all women –- a call for all of us to embrace our God-given beauty.

And, oh, how desperately black girls needed that message.  As a young woman, I needed that message.  As a child, my first doll was Malibu Barbie.  (Laughter.)  That was the standard for perfection.  That was what the world told me to aspire to.  But then I discovered Maya Angelou, and her words lifted me right out of my own little head.

Her message was very simple.  She told us that our worth has nothing to do with what the world might say.  Instead, she said, “Each of us comes from the creator trailing wisps of glory.”  She reminded us that we must each find our own voice, decide our own value, and then announce it to the world with all the pride and joy that is our birthright as members of the human race.

Dr. Angelou’s words sustained me on every step of my journey –- through lonely moments in ivy-covered classrooms and colorless skyscrapers; through blissful moments mothering two splendid baby girls; through long years on the campaign trail where, at times, my very womanhood was dissected and questioned.  For me, that was the power of Maya Angelou’s words –- words so powerful that they carried a little black girl from the South Side of Chicago all the way to the White House.  (Applause.)

And today, as First Lady, whenever the term “authentic” is used to describe me, I take it as a tremendous compliment, because I know that I am following in the footsteps of great women like Maya Angelou.  But really, I’m just a beginner — I am baby-authentic.  (Laughter.)  Maya Angelou, now she was the original, she was the master.  For at a time when there were such stifling constraints on how black women could exist in the world, she serenely disregarded all the rules with fiercely passionate, unapologetic self.  She was comfortable in every last inch of her glorious brown skin.

But for Dr. Angelou, her own transition was never enough.  You see, she didn’t just want to be phenomenal herself, she wanted all of us to be phenomenal right alongside her.  (Applause.)  So that’s what she did throughout her lifetime -– she gathered so many of us under her wing.  I wish I was a daughter, but I was right under that wing sharing her wisdom, her genius, and her boundless love.

I first came into her presence in 2008, when she spoke at a campaign rally here in North Carolina.  At that point, she was in a wheelchair, hooked up to an oxygen tank to help her breathe.  But let me tell you, she rolled up like she owned the place.  (Laughter.)  She took the stage, as she always did, like she’d been born there.  And I was so completely awed and overwhelmed by her presence I could barely concentrate on what she was saying to me.

But while I don’t remember her exact words, I do remember exactly how she made me feel.  (Applause.)  She made me feel like I owned the place, too.  She made me feel like I had been born on that stage right next to her.  And I remember thinking to myself, “Maya Angelou knows who I am, and she’s rooting for me.  So, now I’m good.  I can do this.  I can do this.”  (Applause.)

And that’s really true for us all, because in so many ways, Maya Angelou knew us.  She knew our hope, our pain, our ambition, our fear, our anger, our shame.  And she assured us that despite it all –- in fact, because of it all -– we were good.  And in doing so, she paved the way for me and Oprah and so many others just to be our good, old, black-woman selves.  (Applause.)

She showed us that eventually, if we stayed true to who we are, then the world would embrace us.  (Applause.)  And she did this not just for black women, but for all women, for all human beings.  She taught us all that it is okay to be your regular old self, whatever that is –- your poor self, your broken self, your brilliant, bold, phenomenal self.

(Dr Angelou’s final tweet)

That was Maya Angelou’s reach.  She touched me.  She touched all of you.  She touched people all across the globe, including a young white woman from Kansas who named her daughter after Maya, and raised her son to be the first black President of the United States.  (Applause.)

So when I heard that Dr. Angelou had passed, while I felt a deep sense of loss, I also felt a profound sense of peace.  Because there is no question that Maya Angelou will always be with us, because there was something truly divine about Maya.  I know that now, as always, she is right where she belongs.

May her memory be a blessing to us all.  Thank you.  God bless.  (Applause.)

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07
Jun
14

First Lady at Dr Maya Angelou Memorial Service

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17
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama reads from a tablet computer during a flight aboard Marine One en route to Everett, Wash., Feb. 17, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today:

2:0 PST: President Obama departs Palm Springs, California

9:0 EST: Arrives Joint Base Andrews

9:15 EST: Arrives the White House

The Week Ahead:

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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Tonyaa Weathersbee: The Extermination Of Jordan Davis: An Empty Verdict, A Hollow Victory

So it looks like Michael Dunn, a white man who fatally shot black teenager Jordan Davis for refusing to turn down his “thug music,” may be going to prison for the rest of his life. But that’s a consolation prize. Not a real victory. It’s not a real victory because the jury that convicted Dunn, 47, didn’t convict him for killing the 17-year-old Davis. They convicted him for almost killing Davis’ three friends who were riding in the Dodge Durango with him. It’s hollow because it underscores what seems to be a scary trend. I guess now any random white man can confront a black teenager whose style of dress or music he doesn’t like or views as suspect.

And when that teenager doesn’t submit to him, or responds to him in a confrontational manner, or in a way that any rebellious teenager is apt to respond, then it’s perfectly fine to exterminate him. What the verdict says is that in this nation, in the 21st century, some white men still believe they have the right to intrude into the space of young black men and make demands. And if the black man is unarmed — with no weapon except his words — those white men can still kill him. And call it self-defense. All they need is a jury to buy it.

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Michael Grunwald: Five Years After Stimulus, Obama Says It Worked

Five years ago Monday, President Barack Obama visited the Denver Museum of Nature and Science to sign the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, his $800 billion stimulus bill. At the time, the U.S. economy was losing 800,000 jobs a month. In the fourth quarter of 2008, it had contracted at an 8% annual rate, a Depression-level free fall. “Today does not mark the end of our economic problems,” Obama said on Feb. 17, 2009. “But it does mark the beginning of the end.”And so it did. The Recovery Act increased U.S. GDP by roughly 2 to 2.5 percentage points from late 2009 through mid-2011, keeping us out of a double-dip recession. It added about 6 million “job years” (a full-time job for a full year) through the end of 2012. If you combine the Recovery Act with a series of follow-up measures, including unemployment-insurance extensions, small-business tax cuts and payroll tax cuts, the Administration’s fiscal stimulus produced a 2% to 3% increase in GDP in every quarter from late 2009 through 2012, and 9 million extra job years, according to the report.

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The report also estimates that the Recovery Act’s aid to victims of the Great Recession — in the form of expanded food stamps, earned-income tax credits, unemployment benefits and much more — directly prevented 5.3 million people from slipping below the poverty line. It also improved nearly 42,000 miles of roads, repaired over 2,700 bridges, funded 12,220 transit vehicles, improved more than 3,000 water projects and provided tax cuts to 160 million American workers. The Recovery Act jump-started clean energy in America, financing unprecedented investments in wind, solar, geothermal and other renewable sources of electricity. It advanced biofuels, electric vehicles and energy efficiency in every imaginable form. It helped fund the factories to build all that green stuff in the U.S., and research into the green technologies of tomorrow. It’s the reason U.S. wind production has increased 145% since 2008 and solar installations have increased more than 1,200%. The stimulus is also the reason the use of electronic medical records has more than doubled in doctors’ offices and almost quintupled in hospitals. It improved more than 110,000 miles of broadband infrastructure. It launched Race to the Top, the most ambitious national education reform in decades.

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Dahlia Lithwick: How The Moral Mondays Movement Is Redefining The Left

I spent most of this past weekend answering two questions: “Why are you so interested in what happens in North Carolina?” (Posed mainly by people not from North Carolina.) And: “Why doesn’t anyone care what’s happening here in North Carolina?” (Posed largely by folks rallying in North Carolina.) As state governments limit reproductive rights, gerrymander voting districts, harm workers and the environment, and suppress the vote, we are all North Carolina now. The answer to the second question is that I don’t really know why the major national media, with a few notable exceptions, keeps ignoring this story.

GOP-controlled redistricting and a truly nasty voter suppression bill attempt to ensure that this remains the permanent state of affairs in North Carolina. The legislature promptly raised taxes on the bottom 80 percent, eliminated the earned-income tax credit for 900,000 people, slashed education spending, passed radical gun legislation, declined the Medicaid expansion (leaving 500,000 of its poorest citizens without health insurance), and passed a draconian abortion bill that was tacked onto a motorcycle safety law. The state, in short, turned on its own workers, its own minorities, its own teachers, its own doctors, its poor, its women, and its prisoners, with what has looked like unbridled glee.

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Washington Post: Obamacare’s Sign-Up Period Is Ending. Here’s How Enroll America Is Getting Ready

Enroll America is gearing up for its own version of March Madness — one that has nothing to do with basketball. The pro-health law group has spent months now honing its outreach techniques and developing data-intensive maps meant to help their 18,000 volunteers and 2,000 partner organizations reach as many uninsured people before open enrollment on the exchanges ends March 31.

“We’re at this moment now, six weeks out from the end of open enrollment, and we’re looking at every tool that we have at our disposal about how we should be focusing our efforts,” Enroll America president Anne Filipic says. One new tool that the group has begun rolling out to partner organizations are a set of maps that show where, down to the census tract, uninsured Americans live — and how well that does, or doesn’t, line up with where people meant to help them enroll in Obamacare are based.

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Mike Lillis: House Democrats Seek To Force GOP’s Hand On Minimum Wage Hike

House Democrats are launching an effort to force Republicans’ hand on the minimum wage. The Democrats will introduce a discharge petition later this month designed to force a floor vote on a proposal to hike the minimum wage, even in the face of entrenched opposition from GOP leaders. The discharge petition faces a high bar, as it would require at least 18 Republicans to buck their leadership and endorse the measure – a scenario the Democrats readily acknowledge is unlikely.

Still, the Democrats are hoping the extra political pressure will amplify the Democrats’ economic message this election year, while highlighting the stark differences between the parties when it comes to strategy for helping the working class amid an ongoing jobs crisis. “It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s about time to do it,” Rep. Xavier Becerra (Calif.), head of the House Democratic Caucus, told reporters. Public opinion polls show overwhelming support for a minimum wage hike; even if the discharge petition fails, it puts Republicans in the tough position of rejecting a popular economic policy in a still-fragile jobs market.

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Alyssa Gerace: Obama Scorecard: Foreclosures Keep Trending Down, Home Sales Strong

The housing market recovery has continued into 2014, indicated by an ongoing downtrend in foreclosures, home sales remaining strong, and home prices notching annual gains, notes the Obama Administration in its January Scorecard. “The January Housing Scorecard shows that the Obama Administration’s efforts continue to have a positive effect on the housing market,” said HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Affairs Kurt Usowski in a statement. “With foreclosures down, home sales up, and equity continuing to grow, the housing market continues to make slow, but steadily improving progress.”

 The number of properties in foreclosure dropped 33% in 2013 compared to the previous year, said the scorecard citing RealtyTrac, with foreclosure starts at their lowest annual level since 2005. Through the third quarter of 2013, the number of underwater borrowers dropped from nearly 7.2 million in the previous quarter to less than 6.4 million, with homeowners’ equity gaining $3.4 trillion since the beginning of 2012.

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Americans waste 33M tons of food each year. Ben decided to change that.

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NPR: For Lower-Income Students, Snow Days Can Be Hungry Days

For many Americans it’s been a harsh, disruptive winter, from the country’s Northern edges to the Deep South. When cold snaps and blizzards shutter schools, kids miss more than their daily lessons. Some miss out on the day’s nutritious meal as well. This recently became apparent to school administrators in rural Iowa, where extreme cold delayed openings two days in a row at Laurens-Marathon Community School, where 59 percent of students who eat school lunch qualify for free or reduced-price meals. On the first day, some students arrived on empty stomachs because parents thought breakfast would still be served that day.

“Two students were found in our lunchroom waiting to be fed,” says Meredith Allen, a teacher at the school. “Several co-workers had stockpiles of food,” but it wasn’t enough.  Last year, more than 21 million children nationwide ate free or reduced-price lunches, according to data from the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service. That’s 70 percent of the total students who ate school lunches, not counting those who brought meals from home. In the same year, more than 23 million households received SNAP benefits, known as food stamps.

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CBS News: John Kerry Accuses Syria Leader Bashir Assad Of Stonewalling Geneva Peace Talks

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of stonewalling in peace talks and called on Russia to push its ally to negotiate with opposition leaders. “Right now, Bashar al-Assad has not engaged in the discussions along the promised and required standard that both Russia spoke up for and the regime spoke up for,” Kerry said during a press conference in Jakarta with Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa. He said Assad’s team “refused to open up one moment of discussion” of a transitional government to replace Assad’s regime.

“It is very clear that Bashar Assad is trying to win this on the battlefield instead of coming to the negotiating table in good faith,” Kerry said Peace talks last week in Geneva ended with no progress toward breaking the impasse in the nearly 3-year-old conflict in Syria. Kerry also had harsh words for Assad’s allies in Moscow. “Russia needs to be a part of the solution and not be contributing so many more weapons and so much more aid that they are in fact enabling Assad to double down,” he said. Russia has told the U.S. it was committed to helping create a transitional government, Kerry said, but has not delivered “the kind of effort to create the kind of dynamic by which that could be achieved.”

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Molly K. Hooper: GOP Flocks To Bill Curbing Obama’s Power

Dozens of House Republicans have recently backed legislation that calls for legal action against President Obama. Forty-three Republicans have cosponsored the resolution since Obama’s State of the Union address, where he threatened to enact policies if Congress didn’t act. The “Stop This Overreaching Presidency (STOP)” measure, introduced by Rep. Tom Rice (S.C.), now has 104 co-sponsors, Rice explained that STOP resolution is aimed at reversing Obama’s delay of the employer mandate, enactment of the DREAM Act, extension of “substandard” health insurance plans and ending work requirements for welfare.

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Celeste Katz: De Blasio Administration Cuts First Labor Contract – With Environmental Officers

The de Blasio administration has settled its first labor contract, a quick deal with 200 environmental officers that could signal a smoother period of labor relations after the cold war between the unions and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The officers, whose duties include patrolling the city’s watershed upstate, had been working without a contract for an astounding nine years.

Under the new agreement, they will receive an average of more than $50,000 each in back pay. Kenneth Wynder, who represents the officers as head of the Law Enforcement Employees Benevolent Association, praised the de Blasio administration for its “fairness.” “We got treated with respect,” he said. “We felt much better compared to the nine-year battle we had with the old administration,” he told the Daily News.

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On This Day:

Close-up detail of President Obama’s signature on a bill, and a pen used for the signing, aboard Air Force One on a flight from Buckley Air Force Base, Denver, Col. to Phoenix, Ariz., Feb. 17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama meets with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar aboard Air Force One during a flight to Denver, Col., Feb. 17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama salutes, departing Andrews Air Force Base for Denver, Col., Feb. 17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama with Vice President Biden speaks with CEO of Namaste Solar Electric, Inc., Blake Jones, while looking at solar panels at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in Denver, Col., Feb. 17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

A toe marker for President Obama as he prepares to make remarks at the Signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Denver, Col., Feb. 17, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama welcomes King Juan Carlos I of Spain to the White House, just outside the Oval Office, before their lunch in the President’s private dining room, Feb. 17, 2010. At left is Chief of Protocol Capricia Marshall (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama meets with his national security team on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Situation Room of the White House, Feb. 17, 2010. General Stanley McChrystal, U.S. Commander in Afghanistan, was among those joining the discussion via videoconference (left screen) (Photo by Pete Souza)

Vice President Biden’s personal aide Fran Person holds the door for President Obama as he waits to make remarks during the one-year Recovery Act Anniversary event in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House, Feb. 17, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama gestures during a phone call in the Oval Office, Feb. 17, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., as Vice President Biden talks with Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., after a lunch with the Democratic House leadership in the Oval Office Private Dining Room, Feb. 17, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg before a dinner with Technology Business Leaders in Woodside, California, Feb. 17, 2011. Also pictured, left to right, are Carol Bartz, Yahoo! President and CEO; Art Levinson, Genentech Chairman and former CEO; Steve Westly, Founder and Managing Partner, The Westly Group; and Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman and CEO of Google (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama joins a toast with Technology Business Leaders at a dinner in Woodside, California, Feb. 17, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama sits in the cockpit of a 767 during his tour of the Boeing Plant production facility in Everett, Wash., Feb. 17, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama exits a 787 Dreamliner to greet workers and deliver remarks at the Boeing-Everett Production Facility in Everett, Wash., Feb. 17, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets students from Medina Elementary School in Medina, Wash., Feb. 17, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

…. greeting Beth Hamilton, principal of Medina Elementary School

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Chips: D’you wanna know how awesome Nerdy is? I just had the photos done for R&S last night, then I go back to it this morning and she’s added a whole bunch of wonderful articles, tweets and links. If the woman didn’t love Chelsea, she’d be perfect. Thank you so much legend – and moooOOOooorning everyone!

11
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

A child reaches out to First Lady Michelle Obama prior to a Faith and Community Groups Leading the Way event at Northland, A Church Distributed, in Longwood, Fla., Feb. 11, 2012. The event was held in celebration of the second anniversary of the “Let’s Move!” initiative. (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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Presidential Daily Schedule (All times Eastern):

9:00 AM: Arrival ceremony at White House for State Visit of French President Francois Hollande

10:00AM: President Obama begins meetings with President Hollande

12:00PM: Joint press conference

1:15PM: Vice President Biden hosts a luncheon in honor of President Hollande

6:55PM: State Dinner in honor of President Hollande

8:40PM: President Obama gives a toast at the State Dinner honoring President Hollande

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President Obama and President Hollande Visit Monticello (@PeteSouza)

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Chicago Tribune: Illinois Partners With The Onion To Push Obamacare Enrollment

Get Covered Illinois, the state’s official Affordable Care Act outreach vehicle, has partnered with the satirical news source The Onion in a push to spur more young and healthy people to sign up for health insurance plans.

Under terms of the agreement, The Onion will run banner ads on its website featuring a man who is forced to sell his action figures to pay for his medical bills because he doesn’t have health insurance. The Onion also will create a video, an editorial and a custom news section about Get Covered Illinois that will be featured online through March 31, the enrollment deadline.

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Washington Post: President Obama To Launch Major New Effort To Help Young Men Of Color

President Obama will launch a significant new effort this week to bolster the lives of young men of color, seeking to use the power of the presidency to help a group of Americans whose lives are disproportionately affected by poverty and prison. Obama on Thursday will announce a new White House initiative called “My Brother’s Keeper,” which will bring foundations and companies together to test a range of strategies across the country to support young male minorities, taking steps to keep them in school and out of the criminal justice system, a White House official said.

He will also announce that his administration will launch a more vigorous evaluation of what policies work best and publicize results to school systems and others across the country. But the announcement of the initiative is just the latest way that Obama, in his second term, has been addressing race and the fortunes of urban youth more directly. Last month, Obama and his wife, Michelle,hosted a forum at the White House to persuade colleges to recruit more low-income Americans. And last year, the Justice Department overhauled drug-sentencing guidelines so that low-level and nonviolent offenders do not face stiff minimum sentences.

More here

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Zachary A. Goldfarb: In Meetings With Young Black Men, Obama Tries To Leave A Mark

Kerron Turner sat with more than a dozen other teenagers in a classroom at Hyde Park Academy High School on this city’s troubled South Side, nervously settling in for an unusual meeting with the president of the United States. They told their stories: Turner worried about the gangs he passes on his way home from school. Robert Scates had dropped out of high school and was working to catch up in time to graduate. Lazarus Daniels feared what would happen to his anger if he couldn’t play football anymore.

Eventually, it was President Obama’s turn to check in — to say how he was feeling emotionally, physically, intellectually and spiritually. Obama’s quiet visit a year ago to the “Becoming a Man” program for inner-city youth in Chicago, along with a follow-up meeting several months later, would test whether Obama could transform the symbolism of his presidency into something more personal, one young man at a time. The meetings left a mark on the president, who has used them as motivation for a forthcoming White House initiative on young men of color that he promised to launch in this year’s State of the Union address.

Back in Room 208 of Hyde Park Academy that winter afternoon, Obama told the group he tries to exercise every day but was feeling the aches of a 51-year-old. Emotionally, he was always thinking about his daughters, and he said he feels intellectually challenged all the time. Spiritually, he said, he prays every night. Then Obama was asked to tell his story: How did a black man become president? He talked about his anger as a young man growing up without a father in the picture. When he was a teen in high school, he partied too much, ignored school too much. He confided that he drank and smoked pot. Daniels struggled to grasp what the president was saying. That could not be the life of the man who became a president, Daniels thought. He half-raised his hand, and asked, “Are you talking about you?” It wasn’t a question the president was expecting. “Yeah, I’m talking about me,” Obama said. “None of this is a secret. I wrote about all of this in my book.” Obama has recounted his meetings with the young men as among the most raw encounters of his tenure.

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Slate: Charlie Crist Thinks Opposition To Obama Might Be A Little Bit Racist

The closest Crist gets to controversy, something I left out of the review, comes in a collection of musings about the rise of the Tea Party. Crist has trouble understanding the alacrity with which anti-Obama anger became so mainstream.

“Sometimes,” he says, “the public’s feelings seemed partly racial. Sometimes, I’m sure they were not. But Barack Obama was the first African American in the White House. Florida had helped to put him there. And it was impossible to imagine an equal measure of virulence for any politician whose skin was white.”

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Jamie Fuller: 80,000 People Protested In NC This Weekend. Here’s Why

The NAACP estimates that 80,000 to 100,000 people gathered outside the North Carolina State Capitol Saturday morning for the Moral March in Raleigh (official attendance numbers have not been released yet). The march was the culmination of a year of Moral Monday protests at the State Capitol organized by The Forward Together Movement, a “fusion movement” of over 150 groups fighting for mostly progressive causes in North Carolina.

A year ago, only 15,000 turned out for the same march in Raleigh. The leap in turnout is a good indicator of the growing support for the movement’s agenda in the months before the 2014 midterms, and a show of how much more popular the movement has become since last February.

So why were nearly 100,000 people in the streets of Raleigh on Saturday? Mostly dissatisfaction with the current state government, which has left North Carolina — once a bastion of progressive policy-making from both parties — a petri dish for Tea Party political experimentation in the eyes of Reverend Dr. William J. Barber, president of the North Carolina chapter of NAACP and leader of the Forward Together Movement.

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Reuters: White House ‘Disappointed’ Invitation Withdrawn For North Korea Visit

The White House said on Monday it was “deeply disappointed” by North Korea’s decision to rescind an invitation to U.S. envoy Robert King to visit Pyongyang to discuss the release of imprisoned U.S. missionary Kenneth Bae. The White House remains prepared to send King, the U.S. special envoy for North Korean human rights issues, to North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), White House spokesman Jay Carney said.

“We are deeply disappointed by the DPRK decision for a second time to rescind its invitation for Ambassador King to travel to Pyongyang to discuss Kenneth Bae’s release,” Carney told reporters at a briefing. Bae, a 45-year-old Korean-American, has been held for more than a year in North Korea after being sentenced to 15 years of hard labor on charges of trying to overthrow the state.

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TPM: CBO: Guys, We Didn’t Say Obamacare Would Cost 2.5 Million Jobs

The Congressional Budget Office issued its official rebuttal Monday to the Republican talking point that Obamacare would cost 2.5 million American jobs. In a new FAQ explainer of last week’s budget report, CBO director Doug Elmendorf, answering if 2.5 million people will lose their jobs by 2024 because of the health care reform law, said: “No, we would not describe our estimates in that way.”

In the immediate aftermath of the CBO report, some Republicans characterized the report’s findings as: The law would “cost” the U.S. economy up to 2.5 million jobs. The phrase quickly found its way into a Senate GOP web advertisement. But what the CBO actually said was much different, as TPM reported. The agency said that some Americans would choose to stop working or work less because of the law. They could change their work habits for various reasons, such as starting a new business or choosing to spend time at home. The voluntary cutback in hours would be equal to 2.5 million full-time jobs.

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On This Day:

President Obama leans backward as Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel speaks during a National Economic Council and Domestic Policy Council planning meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, Feb. 11, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Council of Economic Advisers Chair Christina Romer and Cecilia Rouse, a member of the Council of Economic Advisers, watch as President Obama signs the Economic Report of the President in the Oval Office, Feb. 11, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama reviews his prepared remarks on Egypt at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office, Feb. 11, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Vice President Biden welcomes home members of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division who returned from Afghanistan, at Fort Campbell, Ky., Feb. 11, 2011 (Photo by David Lienemann)

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First Lady Michelle Obama at Northland in Longwood, Florida, Feb 11, 2012

First lady Michelle Obama reaches for a hand as she arrives for physical activity with kids at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at the Walt Disney World Resort, Orlando, Florida, Feb. 11, 2012

Continue reading ‘Rise and Shine’

09
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

First Lady Michelle Obama claps along with students as they sing during her visit to Burgess-Peterson Academy in Atlanta, Ga., Feb. 9, 2011 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

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The Week Ahead:

 Sunday: The President has no public events scheduled.

Monday: The President welcomes President Hollande of France to Washington for a State Visit. They will tour Monticello, the residence of Thomas Jefferson, one of the United States’ earliest envoys to France.

Tuesday: The President and First Lady will officially welcome President Hollande with an arrival ceremony, after which the Presidents will have a bilateral meeting and press conference. That evening, the President and First Lady will host a State Dinner for President Hollande.

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

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

Friday: The President will deliver remarks at the House Democratic Issues Conference in Cambridge, Maryland. Following the conference the President will depart for Rancho Mirage, California, for a meeting with His Majesty King Abdullah II of Jordan at Sunnylands, the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Estate.

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Bob Christie: Victory For Brewer: Judge Tosses GOP Suit Challenging Obamacare Medicaid Expansion In Arizona

A lawsuit challenging Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer’s Medicaid expansion plan that was filed by fellow Republicans in the state Legislature was dismissed in a ruling released Saturday, handing Brewer a major victory in her battle against conservative members of her own party.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Katherine Cooper agreed with Brewer that the lawmakers challenging the law don’t have the right to sue, saying their argument that a hospital assessment included in House Bill 2010 that passed in June required a supermajority vote of the Legislature under Arizona’s Constitution was incorrect.

Cooper’s ruling said it is the Legislature itself that determines if a 2/3 vote is required under a voter-approved constitutional amendment called Proposition 108.

More here

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Ari Berman

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News Observer: Saturday’s Big Protest In Raleigh Reflects Mainstream Not Fringe

The protesters came to Raleigh on Saturday by bus and car and on foot. They came from various parts of North Carolina and from nearby states. They came from many places on behalf of varied causes, but they were driven by a single imperative – to stand up. There were the usual protesters – labor and civil rights supporters – and some unlikely ones, school teachers. Teachers’ jobs often involve keeping order among the unruly, but they’ve learned there is no virtue in keeping quiet about pay that’s near the lowest in the nation. To see the long ranks of protesters was to wonder how much longer North Carolina’s Republican leaders can dismiss them as a rabble, as outsiders, as “takers,” as agitators, and not see them for who they are: The People.

Their issues include labor conditions, pay for public employees, environmental protections, voting rights, fair taxation, help for the unemployed, gay rights, abortion rights and civil rights. But another of their issues is one they hold in common: They feel they are not being heard. And the deafness of the state’s political powers is deliberate. Legislative leaders and the governor can’t hear above the sound of the corporate money that steers their agenda. And even if they could, they wouldn’t listen. The people in the streets holding signs and chanting are not people they consider “the mainstream” or “real Americans.”

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Bloomberg: U.S. To Add New Legal Protections For Same-Sex Couples

Same-sex married couples will receive many of the same federal legal protections and benefits as their opposite-sex counterparts under Justice Department guidelines to be issued Feb. 10, Attorney General Eric Holder said. The moves will affect procedures in U.S. courtrooms and the aid provided surviving spouses of slain law officers, among other matters. The policy will “formally instruct all Justice Department employees to give lawful same-sex marriages full and equal recognition, to the greatest extent possible under the law,” Holder said in remarks

The change will apply to same-sex couples residing in states where such marriages are not recognized. It also represents the first time the Justice Department has officially interpreted the words “spouse” and “marriage” in federal laws it enforces to apply to same-sex couples. “As attorney general, I will not let this department be simply a bystander during this important moment in history,” Holder said. Under the policy, the Justice Department will recognize that same sex couples are entitled to the same rights as their opposite-sex counterparts in civil and criminal cases, according to Holder. As a result, Holder said, federal prosecutors won’t object if a same-sex spouse declines to provide testimony that might incriminate his or her partner.

More here

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Tampa Bay Times: State Blocks Use Of UF Student Union As Early Voting Center

Election supervisors and the League of Women Voters have a new complaint with Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature over early voting. After years of complaints by supervisors who struggled with historically long lines at the polls in 2012, lawmakers last year expanded the list of early voting sites to include fairgronds, civic centers, courthouses, county commission buildings, stadiums, convention centers and government-owned community centers. But when the city of Gainesville — which is heavily Democratic — asked if it could use the University of Florida student union for early voting in next month’s municipal elections, the state said no.

“I’m very upset about this,” said Polk County Supervisor of Elections Lori Edwards, president of a statewide supervisors’ group. “I just can’t understand why they feel the need to be so restrictive about where people are allowed to vote … This is strategic. They’re worried about young people voting.” The union, named for former UF President J. Wayne Reitz, is used as a regular voting precinct in county, state and national elections. About 50,000 students attend UF, and the city said the request to use the Reitz Union for early voting came from a group of students. With the UF student union now off limits, the city plans to use two early voting sites for the March 11 election, assistant city attorney Nicolle Shalley said. One is about 1.5 miles away and the other about three miles away

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William Launder: AOL Chief Reverses Changes To Benefits Policy

AOL Inc.’s Chief Executive Tim Armstrong said Saturday the company would reverse a recent change to its employee 401(k) policy and he apologized for remarks used to explain the rationale for the initial change in the benefits policy. The company had recently moved to a policy in which employees get an annual lump sum 401(k) contribution from AOL at the end of the year, rather than matching contributions each pay period.

On Thursday, Mr. Armstrong had caused a stir with employees and on social media when he said that care for two staffers’ “distressed babies” in 2012 cost the company about $1 million each. He used that example to help explain the rationale for changing the 401(k) policy. Mr. Armstrong was accused of using the infants as cover for the unpopular policy change and was criticized for singling out the two mothers.

More here

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IAEA: IAEA And Iran Joint Media Statement In Connection With Implementation Of Framework For Cooperation

Following talks between IAEA and Iranian experts in Tehran, the two sides today released the following joint statement: On 8 and 9 February 2014, the Agency and the Islamic Republic of Iran (Iran) held constructive technical meetings within the Framework for Cooperation that was agreed between the parties last November. During the meetings, the two sides reviewed progress on the implementation of the six initial practical measures that were agreed three months ago. Iran has taken the initial practical measures that were foreseen.

Iran and the Agency reached agreement on seven practical measures to be implemented by Iran by 15 May 2014. The agreed measures are: Providing mutually agreed relevant information and managed access to the Saghand mine in Yazd; Providing mutually agreed relevant information and managed access to the Ardakan concentration plant; Submission of an updated Design Information Questionnaire (DIQ) for the IR-40 Reactor; Taking steps to agree with the Agency on the conclusion of a Safeguards Approach for the IR-40 Reactor

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Shorter Greenwald and Snowden: President Obama is a TYRANT!

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Tom Boggioni: Missouri Governor Facing Impeachment Over Order Allowing Same-Sex Marriage Tax Returns

A member of the Missouri House of Representatives has filed articles of impeachment against Governor Jay Nixon (D) for ordering Missouri’s Department of Revenue to accept joint tax returns filed by same-sex couples who have been legally married in other states. According to Missourinet, Representative Nick Marshall (R-Parkville) has filed two articles of impeachment charging that Gov. Nixon issued an executive order that is a “direct violation” of Missouri’s Constitution.

Further, Marshall says Nixon “misstates and misrepresents the meaning and requirements under Missouri’s constitutional and statutory law and thereby misleads the citizens of this state.” In November of last year, Gov. Nixon issued an executive order stating that Missouri must accept such joint returns because Missouri’s tax code is tied directly to the federal government, and the state requires married couples who file joint returns to also file state taxes jointly. The office of Attorney General Chris Koster (D) has stated that Nixon’s order appears to comply with Missouri law.

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Kyle Balluck: NJ Newspaper: Christie Endorsement Regrettable

The Star Ledger “blew” its fall endorsement of Gov. Chris Christie’s (R-N.J.) reelection campaign, a member of the Newark, N.J., newspaper’s editorial board wrote on Sunday. “An endorsement is not a love embrace. It is a choice between two flawed human beings. And the winner is often the less bad option. But yes, we blew this one,” Tom Moran wrote.

“Yes, we knew Christie was a bully,” he added. “But we didn’t know his crew was crazy enough to put people’s lives at risk in Fort Lee as a means to pressure the mayor. We didn’t know he would use Hurricane Sandy aid as a political slush fund. And we certainly didn’t know that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer was sitting on a credible charge of extortion by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.”

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TIME: 2014 Midterm Elections: NRCC Websites Not What They Seem

Hardball politics and campaign trickery are as American as apple pie, but even in that rough and tumble world, some rules apply. A new Republican fundraising tactic reminiscent of “spoofing” telemarketing scams has some asking where the line is these days between clever campaigning and fraud. At first glance, AnnKirkpatrick.com looks like any normal campaign website. A big picture of the smiling Arizona Democrat stands next to a “Kirkpatrick For Congress” banner above a fat “DONATE” button, all in the same colors as those used by the real website for Kirkpatrick, who’s fighting to keep her House seat. Read closer and the text of the site reveals lines like “Kirkpatrick is a huge embarrassment to Arizona,”

but anyone who didn’t bother to read the site closely (or who couldn’t due to bad eyesight) before trying to make a donation to Kirkpatrick’s campaign would find that they’d just contributed to the coffers of the National Republican Congressional Committee—the House GOP’s campaign arm backing Kirkpatrick’s opponent. Annkirkpatrick.com is one of a series of websites (TIME has found 16, so far) the NRCC has set up that are clearly designed to trick the viewer—at least at first—into thinking they’re on a legitimate campaign website. In at least one instance, reported by the Tampa Bay Times on Monday, a Florida doctor accidentally donated to the NRCC through a spoofed website for Democrat Alex Sink (that site has since been taken down and the NRCC gave the doctor his money back).

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Joe Conason: Deficit Of Truth: What Republicans Hope You Don’t Know And Never Find Out

Listening to Republicans in Congress wailing incessantly about our spendthrift culture raises a nagging question: What would they do, besides talking, if they actually wanted to reduce federal deficits and, eventually, the national debt? First, they would admit that President Obama’s policies, including health care reform, have already reduced deficits sharply, as promised. Second, they would desist from their hostage-taking tactics over the debt ceiling, which have only damaged America’s economy and international prestige. And then they would finally admit that basic investment and job creation, rather than cutting food stamps, represent the best way to reduce both deficits and debt, indeed the only way — through economic growth.

Fortunately for those Republicans and sadly for everyone else, the American public has little comprehension of current fiscal realities. Most people don’t even know that the deficit is shrinking rather than growing. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, it is Republican voters, misinformed by Fox News, who most fervently and consistently insist on these mistaken ideas, with 85 percent telling pollsters that the deficit has increased. Less than a third of Democrats gave that answer. But nearly 60 percent of independent voters agree with the Republicans on that question

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Washington Post: We Hit The Debt Ceiling Today. These Charts Show When We Could Default

Today, for the fourth time in three years, the nation will hit the federal debt limit, launching a mad rush to raise the legal cap on borrowing or risk an unprecedented default. The Treasury Department now will deploy “extraordinary measures” — effectively, accounting techniques — to buy time before the government is at risk of running out of cash to meet all of daily obligations. The Treasury says it can’t promise to meet all obligations past late February, and as shown in this chart, based on data from Nancy Vanden Houten of Stone & McCarthy Research Associates, the administration definitely won’t be able to make it past the first two weeks of March.

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On This Day:

Just a few hours after returning from the town hall in Elkhart, Ind., President Obama is introduced at his first prime-time press conference at the White House, Feb. 9, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama hugs student Tammy Nguyen in the Red Room of the White House before an event announcing a campaign to combat the rapidly growing problem of childhood obesity while Tiki Barber checks his notes before they take the stage, Feb. 9, 2010 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

After delivering remarks at the daily press briefing, President Obama smiles as he walks past Press Assistant Priya Singh through the Lower Press Office of the White House en route to the Oval Office, Feb. 9, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Pete Souza: “During a spirited bi-partisan Congressional leadership meeting, both the President and House Minority Leader (soon to be Speaker of the House) John Boehner speak at the same time.” Feb. 9, 2010

President Obama, the First Family, Vice President Joe Biden and others in the audience applaud Joan Baez after her singing “We Shall Overcome” at the “In Performance At The White House: A Celebration Of Music From The Civil Rights Movement” concert in the East Room of the White House, Feb. 9, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama at Burgess-Peterson Academy, Feb 9, 2011

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First Lady Michelle Obama arrives at Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Arkansas to highlight the military’s efforts to improve the nutrition of food served, Feb 9, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama kicks off a nationwide tour celebrating the second anniversary of “Lets”s Move”, Des Moines, February 9, 2012

First Lady Michelle Obama at a “Let’s Move” event attended by over 10,000 youths at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines

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15
Jan
14

The Wolfpack Welcomes The President

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President Barack Obama speaks about the economy, jobs, and manufacturing at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C.

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OBAMA-JOBS

Continue reading ‘The Wolfpack Welcomes The President’

15
Jan
14

How to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory

Will Rogers’ old aphorism—”I belong to no organized political party; I’m a Democrat”—was, at one point, an endearing shorthand for the messiness of Democratic politics. Now, however, it may threaten Democratic chances to gain back the House and hold the Senate this year.

A few examples:

* Today President Obama travels to North Carolina for an event. Democratic senator Kay Hagan is staying in Washington, DC, for the Senate session. Now, while commendable, it is rather interesting that she couldn’t spend a couple of hours welcoming the leader of her party to her state as she gears up for a tough election battle. One has to wonder if she’s putting distance between herself and the President.

* Gov. Brian Schweitzer, putative 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, was asked in an interview to name one positive thing accomplished by Pres. Obama. After much reflection he came up with this:

“My mother, God rest her soul, told me ‘Brian, if you can’t think of something nice to say about something change the subject,’” he said.

But he couldn’t help himself, slamming Obama’s record on civil liberties (the NSA revelations were “un-effing-believable”), his competency (“They just haven’t been very good at running things”), and above all, Obamacare (“It will collapse on its own weight”).

This is the man touted as one of the 2016 frontrunners: someone who wants to expurgate Obama’s two terms as President from the collective memory.

Continue reading ‘How to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory’

15
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

Pete Souza: “Interrupting a Christmas Holiday photo line, the President confers with Rob Nabors, Assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, about the latest developments in the payroll tax cut extension as the First Lady waits in the background.” Dec. 15, 2011

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Today:

6:20 EST: The First Family attends Christmas in Washington, National Building Museum

The schedule for the week ahead has not yet been released, but the First Family will depart the White House en route Honolulu, Hawaii on Friday

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Katharine Haenschen: My $55,000 Migrane, Or Why Young Americans Should Enroll In Health Insurance

Many years ago when I was a 23-year-old working as a hostess-with-the-mostess at a fancy seafood restaurant, saving up money to go back to school. I was hanging out in my apartment one night when my vision suddenly tunneled, and an unbearable pain exploded in the left side of my head. I couldn’t make a fist with my right hand. It was super scary. I called my Dad, who said “Go to the hospital right now.” The doctors at the emergency room took great care of me, and determined that no, I was not having a stroke. They took a spinal tap, did some scans, and sent me home a few hours later with ample headache pills. But the headache kept coming back, unbearably painful such that I couldn’t function at work and spent as much time as possible lying down.

I eventually landed back in the ER and even had to be admitted over night, until the doctors figured out that my spinal tap never healed — as 10-20% don’t, causing a slow drip of brain juice out the bottom of your spinal column.   And then the hospital bills came. At first I was afraid to open them — and that’s even though I was thankfully still covered by my Mom’s health insurance plan through her job. After all, just walking into the ER cost me $100 in co-pays each time.

Finally, I opened the big envelopes from the hospital and found a bill for $55,000. The amount I owed? $0. That’s right. Zero dollars. Because when I got my freak $55,000 headache, I was covered. No one plans to have emergency medical care — but we can prepare for the possibility of it happening by signing up with healthcare.gov. Of course, now that migraine — and my later gap in health insurance coverage — can’t come back to bite me in the butt later, because thanks to the Affordable Care Act I can’t be denied coverage for “pre-existing conditions” and I can’t be screwed over for gaps in consistent insurance coverage.

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Sun Sentinel: Affordable Care Act Really Does Work

I am one of the few people who has good things to say about Obamacare. You probably only hear from those who complain. My daughter has applied on the Internet for health insurance. She had no problem whatsoever linking to the site. Everything worked like a dream. My daughter is self-employed in a small business. She has been paying more than $2,800 every other month for her health insurance. Her entire yearly salary pays for the cost of her current insurance. She received a letter from her insurance company telling her that under Obamacare, this very same policy — without any change — will cost her $625 per month. This is less than half the price of what she is currently paying, which has been highway robbery.

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Keith Naughton: How U.S. Workers Rebuilt An Industry

In June 2009, the last auto plant in Detroit was idle, mausoleum-quiet and a symbol of failure. Weeds had grown three-feet tall around Chrysler’s sprawling Jeep factory at the desolate crossroads of Jefferson and Conner as the company went dark during bankruptcy. Among the bills the near-dead automaker couldn’t afford to pay: lawn service. Yet on one Monday morning came the drone of lawn mowers and buzz of weed whackers — sounds of rebirth. Chrysler was emerging from Chapter 11 and something had to be done about the eyesore the plant had become. The Detroit Three also overhauled their lineups to field their best cars in a generation, which now command higher prices than formerly formidable foreign offerings. Ford’s fashionable Fusion, whose looks draw comparisons to Aston Martin, has an average price of $27,444, which exceeds the Toyota Camry by $3,251, according to researcher Kelley Blue Book.

“It’s flipped,” marveled Lutz, 81, who served as a senior executive at all three Detroit automakers over the last half-century before retiring in 2010. “All of a sudden, the Japanese are behind.” Detroit’s new strength is embodied in Chrysler’s reborn Jefferson North Assembly Plant. The Jeep factory has gone from barely breathing to bursting at the seams. Its future was in doubt when it closed during Chrysler’s 2009 bankruptcy. Since then, employment there has more than tripled to 4,500, from fewer than 1,400 when Chrysler went bankrupt, and production has more than quintupled to 325,000 models this year, from 60,584 four years ago. It spits out Jeeps 20 hours a day, seven days a week and still can’t keep up with demand for the Grand Cherokee. Sales soared 21 percent for the hot model last year and are up 15 percent more this year through November. Chrysler said it expects to make as much as $2.2 billion this year.

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RH Reality Check: On Medicaid, Shame, And Not Being Silent

When the Obamacare exchanges became open for enrollment this fall, I eagerly went online to check out my options for affordable health care in my state. It was exciting to know that I could potentially afford health insurance. I considered how my life would be affected: doctors’ visits, blood tests, checkups, an eye exam,a teeth cleaning—all the things I’ve longed for as an uninsured adult. After wading through a sea of questions about my income and expenses to determine my eligibility, I discovered what I had not considered a possibility: I qualify for Medicaid. Wow. Am I that poor? For so long I made just enough money to not qualify for Medicaid. Now, I do qualify.

While I was relieved to know I wouldn’t need to pay out-of-pocket each month for health care, I felt uncomfortable. I had originally intended to write about my experiences navigating Obamacare, how I’m weighing the options or different health-care plans in my state. But how was I going to write about that now? I couldn’t possibly share my experiences navigating Medicaid in public. My initial thoughts and feelings were rooted in shame. I didn’t want people to know my income is so low that I qualify for Medicaid. Shame is a tool. It keeps people immobilized, silent, and afraid. It keeps people in closets, in hiding, invisible.

And I’m sure this is only one of the reasons why nearly 700,000 people nationwide who qualify for Medicaid haven’t enrolled in the program. Money and time is spent to keep the “welfare queen” mythology alive, not only informing budget cuts, but also the minds of people who qualify for public assistance but decide not to use it. Shame is ridiculous. It will have you believe you deserve nothing—that you don’t deserve the resources you qualify for, resources that can support your livelihood.

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A Message From Isonprize

Hey my TOD pals, have you voted for PARENTS UNITED for PUBLIC EDUCATION today?

Parents United for “Non profit of the year” and Eileen Duffey, RN, for “Do gooder of the Year”, FIERCE advocates for public education in Philadelphia.

Please don’t let us lose to a skate park!! :lol:

And for good measure, scroll to the bottom and PLEASE VOTE to EXCOMMUNCATE Gov. Tom “Cut It” Corbett

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Ari Berman: North Carolina Shows Why The Voting Rights Act Is Still Needed

A federal judge in Winston-Salem today set the schedule for a trial challenging North Carolina’s sweeping new voter restrictions. There will be a hearing on whether to grant a preliminary injunction in July 2014 and a full trial a year later, in July 2015. This gives the plaintiffs challenging the law, which includes the Department of Justice, the ACLU and the North Carolina NAACP, a chance to block the bill’s worst provisions before the 2014 election. Earlier this year, in July 2013, the North Carolina legislature passed the country’s worst voter suppression law, which included strict voter ID to cast a ballot, cuts to early voting, the elimination of same-day voter registration, the repeal of public financing of judicial elections and many more harsh and unnecessary anti-voting measures.

These restrictions will impact millions of voters in the state across all races and demographic groups: in 2012, for example, 2.5 million North Carolinians voted early, 152,000 used same-day voter registration, 138,000 voters lacked government-issued ID and 7,500 people cast an out-of-precinct provisional ballot. These four provisions alone will negatively affect nearly 3 million people who voted in 2012. Ironically, it took the North Carolina legislature less than a month to approve the law, but it will take a year before an initial hearing on it and two years before a full trial. That’s because in June 2013 the Supreme Court invalidated Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which meant that previously covered states like North Carolina, with the worst history of voting discrimination, no longer had to clear their voting changes with the federal government.

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Ian Millhiser: Meet The Next Ruth Bader Ginsburg

With her confirmation to the second highest court in the nation very early Thursday morning, Judge Nina Pillard should immediately rocket to the top of the Democratic shortlist of potential nominees to the Supreme Court. Though there are a number ofDemocratic judges who possess the youth, brilliance and legal credentials required from a new Supreme Court justice, Pillard brings something to the bench that is quite rare among judges — she’s won two of the most important civil rights victories to reach the Supreme Court during her career.

Pillard was a member of the legal team in United States v. Virginia, which eliminated the Virginia Military Institute’s discriminatory policies against women and cemented the rule that no law may engage in gender discrimination unless there is an “exceedingly persuasive justification” for doing so. Seven years later, Pillard argued and won Nevada Department of Human Resources v. Hibbs, an important case helping women (and men) with families to have a fair opportunity to participate in the workplace.

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Katya Gorchinskaya: EuroMaidan

No amount of live video feeds or news stories can convey the essence of EuroMaidan. The Dec. 11 massive attack by Berkut riot-control police, for example, took people by surprise. Although there was an alert from the leaders of the political opposition that there would be a police raid at 1 a.m., people simply dismissed as ludicrous the idea that a raid would happen that night. I left Maidan around 1 a.m., with no visible signs of an imminent attack, and with just a few handfuls of protesters shivering near the stage. I rushed back to find it completely transformed in a matter of 15 minutes after receiving a tip-off that Berkut is advancing.

When Berkut started crashing through the first barricade, it was truly scary. It was not clear what their plan was, and at that point it seemed that it would be a miracle if no blood got spilled. Now, when we know that only 20 people required hospital treatment after that night, it does seem nearly miraculous. It soon became clear that Berkut was acting under orders to go easy on the protesters, and the resulting scuffle looked like a practice session of police units, not real action. As police broke through the first barricade, the church bells of St. Michael’s started to ring – an ancient and powerful call for alarm and mobilization.

For hours that followed, those watching Maidan saw massive shoving between Berkut and demonstrators, and its footage was top news around the world. But what was even more striking is how quickly Kyiv mobilized and moved into the city center, turning a crowd of a few hundred into a mass of tens of thousands of people in a matter of several hours. There was a lot of dignity in it, and a lot of pride. This was the massive proof that EuroMaidan is not about its leaders, that it’s truly the will of the people.

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Frank Schaeffer: The Slow Motion Lynching Of President Barack Obama

I’ve watched liberal and right wing commentators alike blame the president for being lynched. They say “he’s not reaching out enough” or “he’s too cold.” It’s the equivalent of assuming that the black man being beaten by a couple of thug cops must have “done something.” I am a white privileged well off sixty-one-year-old former Republican religious right wing activist who changed his mind about religion and politics long ago. Weirdly, I just realized that through all my writing, this has been the first time in my life I’ve personally gone to bat for a black man. It just happens that he’s a president. But my emotional stake in his life is now personal. So I’ve changed from a white guy who used to read news about some black man getting shot or beaten by cops or stand-you-ground types who assumed that the black man must have “done something,” to a white guy who figures that the black man was probably getting lynched. I’ve changed ideology but I’ve also changed my gut intuitive reactions.

I’ve changed because if this country will lynch a brilliant, civil, kind, humble, compassionate, moderate, articulate, black intellectual we’re lucky enough to have in the White house, we’ll lynch anyone. What chance does an anonymous black man pulled over in a traffic stop have of fair treatment when the former editor of the Harvard Law review is being lynched? One famous liberal commentator wrote a book on how Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neil could disagree and still be friends. Why, he asked on many a TV show promoting his book, couldn’t President Obama be like that? Because, I yelled at the screen, those two men were white Irish Americans and part of a ruling white oligarchy.

Because, I yelled, you might as well ask why Nelson Mandela didn’t talk his jailers in South Africa into seeing reason. Because, I yelled, the president is black and anytime he’s reached out he’s pulled back a bloody stump. Because, I yelled, liberal white commentators have been as bothered by a black man in the White House, who’s smarter than they are as much as right wing bigots have been bothered. Because, I yelled, President Obama has been lied about, attacked, vilified, and disrespected since Day One. Because, I yelled, this country may have passed laws so blacks can vote and eat in a white man’s world, but in our hearts are stuck in a place more like 1952 than 2013.

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On This Day:

First Lady Michelle Obama greets guests in the Grand Foyer of the White House during a holiday party, Dec. 15, 2009 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

President Barack Obama walks from the White House to Blair House in Washington, D.C., to attend a working meeting with business leaders, Dec. 15, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama is joined by First Lady Michelle Obama and Bo, the Obama family dog, as he delivers remarks during a Christmas holiday reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 15, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama descend the Grand Staircase to greet guests at a holiday reception in the Grand Foyer of the White House, Dec. 15, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)




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