Posts Tagged ‘Paul



07
Mar
14

Rise and Shine

President Barack Obama and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon walk along the Colonnade of the White House, March 7, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern):

11:05: The President and First Lady depart the White House en route Joint Base Andrews

11:20: Depart Joint Base Andrews

1:40: Arrive Homestead, Florida

2:25: The President and First Lady visit a Coral Reef High School classroom

2:40: The President delivers remarks

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Bruce Japsen: Employer Health Cost Increases At 15-Year Low As ObamaCare Comes Into View

U.S. employers this year face their “smallest increases in health care costs in 15 years,” according to a new survey showing the latest evidence of health inflation slowing. The trend comes as employers move to higher deductible health care plans that make workers think twice about choosing expensive tests and procedures, forcing employees to become better health care shoppers. Employers are also installing additional new strategies to encourage wellness activities such as financial incentives to stop smoking.

Most respondents to the survey are “recalibrating their health strategy” with 18 percent having either adopted a new strategy or updated an existing one, the Towers Watson executive summary of the report said. Another 57 percent of respondents are “in process,” the summary added. Two in five respondents cite the Affordable Care Act as the primary driver of their health care strategy.

More here

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TPM: U.S. Employers Add 175K Jobs Despite Harsh Weather

 U.S. hiring improved in February from the previous two months despite a blast of wintry weather, likely renewing hopes that growth will accelerate this year. The Labor Department said Friday that employers added 175,000 jobs last month, up from just 129,000 in January, which was revised up from 113,000. December’s gain was also revised higher. The unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low 6.6 percent. More Americans started looking for work but didn’t find jobs. That’s still an encouraging sign because more job hunters suggest that people were more optimistic about their prospects.

Some recent reports hint that the economy will accelerate as the weather warms. The number of people who applied for unemployment benefits fell last week and is at about the same level as before the Great Recession. Applications essentially reflect layoffs. The decline suggests that companies are confident about future growth, because layoffs would rise if employers expected business to weaken. Instead, businesses advertised more jobsonline last month, according to the Conference Board. Online job ads rose 268,100 in February to 5.19 million.

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AP: Cummings Says Issa Apologized And He Accepts

Rep. Elijah Cummings said Thursday night that California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa called him and apologized for refusing to let Cummings speak during an IRS hearing. The Maryland Democrat said he accepted the apology. Issa abruptly adjourned a hearing of the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday. He instructed committee staff to turn off the microphone of the committee’s top Democrat, Cummings.

“This evening, Chairman Issa telephoned me and apologized for his conduct, and I accepted his apology,” Cummings said in a statement. “My sincere hope is that as we move forward, we will respect the opinions of all members of the committee, we will proceed in a deliberate and considered manner to obtain the facts, we will refrain from making accusations that have no basis in fact, and we will seek resolution rather than unnecessary conflict.”

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Washington Post: Community Lenders’ Network Commits To Lend $1 Billion In Support Of ‘My Brother’s Keeper’

A network of community lenders is committing to lend $1 billion in support of President Obama’s “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative that aims to boost the life chances of young African and Hispanic men. The Opportunity Finance Network, which represents more than 225 community development financial institutions, will pledge Thursday it will expand financing for organizations and initiatives working to help young minority men.

Obama launched the initiative to help young minority men last week, saying this group of Americans are disadvantaged in today’s economy and deserve the nation’s attention. Obama’s solicited $200 million in financial commitments from foundations and companies to introduce programs aimed at keeping young men of color in the classroom and out of the criminal justice system. Mark Pinsky, chief executive of the Opportunity Finance Network, said his group was inspired by Obama’s commitment and decided to make their own.

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Igor Bobic: Sen. Harkin: Senate Would Have Confirmed Obama’s Top Civil Rights Nominee If He Was White

The U.S. Senate would have confirmed President Obama’s top civil rights nominee if he was white, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) suggested on Wednesday. “Here’s the message we sent today,” Harkin said. “You young people listen up. If you are a young white person and you go to work for a law firm … and that law firm assigns you to a pro bono case to defend someone who killed eight people in cold blood … my advice from this, what happened today, is you should do that … Because if you do that, who knows? You might wind up to be the chief justice of the United States Supreme Court.

“However, if you are a young black person and you go to work for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund … and you’re asked to sign an appeal for someone convicted of murder, what the message said today is, ‘Don’t do it! Don’t do it.’ Because you know what? If you do that, in keeping with your legal obligations and your profession, you will be denied by the U.S. Senate from being an attorney in the U.S. Department of Justice,” Harkin said.

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NBC News: White House Blocks Visas For Some Tied To Ukraine Crisis

The White House, toughening its response to the crisis in Crimea, said Thursday that it has revoked the U.S. visas of Russians and Ukrainians responsible for “threatening the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

It also threatened financial sanctions against people or companies that the United States determines are responsible for undermining the Ukrainian government. A senior administration official said that the number or names of revoked visas would not be made public. The official also said that no people or companies have yet been sanctioned.

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David Edwards: Paul Ryan At CPAC: Free School Lunches Means Poor Parents Don’t Care About Kids

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) asserted on Thursday that liberals did not understand that kids who got free lunches at school did not have parents who cared about them at home. Speaking to the Conservative Political Action Conference, the former Republican vice presidential nominee argued that conservatives should let Democrats be the “party of personality,” while “we will be the party of ideas.”

“I’m optimistic about our chances because the left, the left just isn’t out of ideas, they’re out of touch,” he explained. “Take Obamacare — not literally, but figuratively here, okay? We now know that this law will discourage millions of people from working. The left thinks this is a good thing.” Ryan insisted that liberals were only offering people “a full stomach and an empty soul.”

More here

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Thanks to the GOP

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Boston Globe: US Hiring Improved In February

US hiring improved in February from the previous two months despite a blast of wintry weather, likely renewing hopes that growth will accelerate this year. The Labor Department says employers added 175,000 jobs last month, up from just 129,000 in January, which was revised up from 113,000.

The unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent from a five-year low 6.6 percent. More Americans started looking for work, but didn’t find jobs. That’s still an encouraging sign because more job hunters suggest that people were more optimistic about their prospects.

More here

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Think Progress: Three More Abortion Clinics Forced To Close In Texas: ‘This Is A State Of Emergency’

Three more reproductive health care facilities in Texas have been forced to permanently close in the wake of a new state law that imposes stringent restrictions on abortion providers. The clinics are located in communities with high rates of poverty and uninsurance, leaving many vulnerable Texas women with no ready access to reproductive services. Two of the shuttered clinics are operated by Whole Woman’s Health, the largest independent abortion provider in Texas. That group used to operate five clinics in the state — but now, that number is shrinking to three. With the closure of another independently owned clinic in Harlingen, the Lone Star State is down to just 19 abortion clinics in the entire state. That’s a dramatic difference from where the reproductive health landscape stood just a few years ago. Back in 2011, there were 44 facilities in Texas that offered abortion care.

New restrictions on abortion providers went into effect at the beginning of November. Now, abortion doctors are required to obtain admitting privileges from a local hospital within 30 miles of their clinic, a medically unnecessary requirement that’s often impossible for doctors to meet. Nonetheless, the doctors who continue to practice without admitting privileges are at risk of getting their medical license suspended. So dozens of clinics — including Whole Women’s Health facility in McAllen — were forced to halt their abortion services in the fall. But that’s not the only burdensome restriction in Texas’ new law. Starting this September, abortion clinics will be required to bring their facilities in line with ambulatory surgical centers — which typically involves making expensive and unnecessary renovations, like widening hallways and installing water fountains.

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Washington Post: Crimea Sets Referendum On Joining Russia

Pro-Russian lawmakers in the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea sparked a showdown reminiscent of the Cold War on Thursday, accelerating their bid to leave Ukraine and join Russia in a move that President Obama, the new government in Kiev and European leaders described as provocative and illegal. Lawmakers in the autonomous region voted Thursday to join the Russian Federation and hold a referendum March 16 to validate the decision. The regional parliament, now led by Sergei Aksyonov — a businessman and politician known around Kiev as the “Goblin”

because of his alleged ties to organized crime, said it would nationalize Ukrainian state industries and begin setting up government ministries separate from Ukraine, which Crimea joined in 1954 when the nation was still a satellite of the Soviet Union. In Washington, Obama said the world was “well beyond the days when borders can be redrawn over the heads of democratic leaders,” as his administration imposed sanctions on Russians and Ukrainians involved in Russia’s military intervention in Crimea. European leaders also sounded alarms, denouncing the referendum plans as unacceptable.

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Damian Paletta: Unemployed Workers Stage Craigslist Fire Sale

Craigslist.org has always represented something of a virtual yard sale, but for many unemployed Americans it’s become something of a fire sale. You name it, they are selling it. Someone in Springfield, Ore., is selling a men’s watch for $100. “Unemployment is running out need money will sell for $100.00. Call before 8pm and after 8amplease be respectful. We can meet anywhere in public.”

And they are asking for it. Another worker in Kissimmee, Fla., whose post says lost benefits when Congress didn’t extend jobless payments Dec. 28, is asking for dog and cat food. “My dogs & cats are not picky,” the person wrote. Washington is wrangling with whether to extend long-term unemployment benefits, which ran out in North Carolina in July and in the other 49 states in late December as discussed in Monday’s Outlook column. But the financial pressures facing many Americans are much more complex than the Washington debate.

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White House: Readout of President Obama’s call with President Putin of Russia

President Obama spoke for an hour this afternoon with President Putin of Russia. President Obama emphasized that Russia’s actions are in violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, which has led us to take several steps in response, in coordination with our European partners. President Obama indicated that there is a way to resolve the situation diplomatically, which addresses the interests of Russia, the people of Ukraine, and the international community. As a part of that resolution, the governments of Ukraine and Russia would hold direct talks, facilitated by the international community; international monitors could ensure that the rights of all Ukrainians are protected, including ethnic Russians; Russian forces would return to their bases; and the international community would work together to support the Ukrainian people as they prepare for elections in May. President Obama indicated that Secretary Kerry would continue discussions with Foreign Minister Lavrov, the government of  Ukraine, and other international partners in the days to come to advance those objectives.

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James West: What The Ukraine Crisis Means For The Energy Industry

1. The United States is rushing to push more gas onto the market to undercut Putin’s power. Russia’s presence in Ukraine is prompting calls, especially among congressional Republicans, to loosen export restrictions on US natural gas in the hopes of diminishing Russia’s ability to use gas as a diplomatic weapon, like it did in 2006 and 2009. With America’s newfound dominance in gas production (in 2013, the United States surpassed Russia to become the biggest producer of oil and gas, thanks in part to fracking) comes greater power in energy diplomacy.

2. Russia isn’t as powerful as you might think. But for all the Russian posturing, and the canceled energy deal, Ukraine—and Europe more broadly—does have some leverage over Russia to prevent the situation from deteriorating further, says Edward Chow, an energy and security analyst at Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). “Interestingly, the gas pipelines, as well as critically important gas storage facilities, all go through Western Ukraine,” he says. “Until Russians build additional bypass pipelines…they are still highly dependent on Ukraine to transit gas exports to Europe.”

The United States and European Union are making energy reform central to their aid packages. Bill Gibbons, a spokesman for the US Energy Department, said on Tuesday that the Obama administration is directing part of the $1 billion loan guarantee that John Kerry delivered to Kiev this week to “energy security, energy efficiency and energy sector reform.” The European Union’s $15 billion package is also aimed, in part, at modernizing Ukraine’s gas transit system. With patrons of this much-needed aid linking their help to energy reform, there might well be a bigger chance of success, says Chow. “If you don’t do it now, when are you going to do it?” he asks. “Because Russia is not going to be interested in helping individuals from the new [Ukrainian] government extract rent like the previous government unless they can cooperate on other fronts. So this is quite a good opportunity to clean things up.”

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Market Watch: Why Job Hunters Should Cheer The End Of The Winter

The bad weather has done more than give people a case of cabin fever — it’s kept them out of work, which means there’s another reason to cheer for warmer days ahead. While some economists argue that consumer spending and hiring are down for reasons beyond Mother Nature’s control, it’s clear the below-average temperatures have had an impact. For instance, there were 142,000 jobs added to private payrolls in January, about 46,000 jobs short of the four-month average, says Michael Montgomery, a U.S. economist for IHS Global Insight. Some of those jobs were likely held back because of the weather, says Montgomery, adding they may push that hiring to the coming months as the weather gets back to normal.

“Because February stunk too, the makeup is deferred until March or later,” he says. Hiring also tends to pick up in the spring and summer anyway because more people are likely to shop, go out to eat and travel more often when the weather is nice, says Mark Hamrick, the Washington bureau chief for Bankrate.com. Those habits lead to higher demand for workers in the retail and tourism industries, he says. More homeowners also look for help with landscaping and painting the house after the weather warms up, adds Montgomery.

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On This Day:

Sen. Barack Obama at a campaign rally Friday March 7, 2008 in Laramie, Wyoming (Photo by Ken Driese)

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President Obama, Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia, and members of the Australian and American delegations look up at the presidential seal in the Oval Office ceiling following their bilateral meeting, March 7, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama practices passing a football with Prime Minister Julia Gillard of Australia in the Oval Office, March 7, 2011. Under Australian Football League rules, a player must hold the ball in front of them and punch it with a clenched fist in order to conduct a legal pass to another player (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama greets Davis Marsico, 6, and other supporters upon his arrival at Charlotte Douglas International airport, March 7, 2012

People line the motorcade route as President Obama makes his way to the Mount Holly Truck Manufacturing Plant in Charlotte, N.C, March 7, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama gives a thumbs up after signing the Violence Against Women Act as he is joined by Vice President Joe Biden and members of women’s organizations, law enforcement officials, tribal leaders, survivors, advocates and members of Congress, at the Interior Department on March 7, 2013. The law strengthens the criminal justice system’s response to crimes against women, including domestic violence, sexual assault and trafficking

13
Feb
14

Rise and Shine

Feb. 13, 2012 – Pete Souza: “From early spring to late fall, the light in the Oval Office is fairly consistent with the sun high above the horizon during the day. But during the winter months, the sun is lower and splashes through the back window in the early morning and late afternoon. Here, in the midst of the morning light, the President talks on the phone with British Prime Minister David Cameron.”

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Presidential Daily Schedule:

The President has no public events scheduled – due to bad weather, the White House has postponed the President’s announcement about a new project designed to help young African-American and Hispanic men find jobs and get a good start in life. “We will reschedule the event,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney.

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@petesouza: Overhead angle of Presidents Obama and Hollande before last night’s state dinner

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(The last five minutes of the interview)

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ThinkProgress: Uninsurance Rate Falls To Five-Year Low As 3.3 Million Enroll In Obamacare

The Obama administration on Wednesday released its monthly update on health insurance enrollment under the Affordable Care Act. Nearly 3.3 million Americans enrolled in private health plans through Obamacare’s state and federal marketplaces from October through February 1, with 1.1 million signing up in January alone. The data comes on the same day that a Gallup survey found that the U.S. uninsurance rate has hit a five-year low.

“We’re seeing a healthy growth in enrollment,” said Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a conference call with reporters. According to Sebelius, an additional 6.6 million Americans have been deemed eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) during the first four months of the open enrollment period.

More here

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National Journal: Obamacare Enrollment Is Back on Track

With two months left to go, Obamacare enrollment is on track to hand the White House a significant win over the law’s critics.

About 3.3 million people had signed up for private insurance plans through the end of January, according to new data the Health and Human Services Department released Wednesday. January itself was a little better than expected, and the growth put the administration within reach of a strong total when open enrollment ends in March.

There are significant gaps in the data that could affect assessment of the law’s ultimate success, but barring any wild surprises, things are looking good for the White House.

Here’s what you need to know from the latest data….

More here

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Obama-Prayer

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SmartyPants: President Obama’s Faith: “Maintaining Your Moral Compass”

As someone who is dedicated to trying to understand President Obama, it is always interesting to come across a speech or an interview with him from the past that I haven’t seen before. And so I was delighted to find this interview from March 2004 that he did with Cathleen Falsani about his religious faith. If you are interested, I suggest that you go read the whole thing. But I’m going to excerpt a few things he said that stood out to me. First of all, he recounts a history that we have all become familiar with by now. 
I am a Christian. 
So, I have a deep faith. So, I draw from the Christian faith.
 On the other hand, I was born in Hawaii where obviously there are a lot of Eastern influences. 
I lived in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country in the world, between the ages of six and 10. 
My father was from Kenya, and although he was probably most accurately labeled an agnostic, his father was Muslim.

And I’d say, probably, intellectually I’ve drawn as much from Judaism as any other faith… So, I’m rooted in the Christian tradition. I believe that there are many paths to the same place, and that is a belief that there is a higher power, a belief that we are connected as a people. That there are values that transcend race or culture, that move us forward, and there’s an obligation for all of us individually as well as collectively to take responsibility to make those values lived.

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I’m a big believer in tolerance. I think that religion at it’s best comes with a big dose of doubt. I’m suspicious of too much certainty in the pursuit of understanding just because I think people are limited in their understanding. And so, the biggest challenge, I think, is always maintaining your moral compass. Those are the conversations I’m having internally. I’m measuring my actions against that inner voice that for me at least is audible, is active, it tells me where I think I’m on track and where I think I’m off track. When I tuck in my daughters at night and I feel like I’ve been a good father to them, and I see in them that I am transferring values that I got from my mother and that they’re kind people and that they’re honest people, and they’re curious people, that’s a little piece of heaven.

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WBIR: Healthcare.gov Enrollments In Tennessee Higher Than National Average

Tennessee’s enrollment rate in the federal health exchange was higher than the national enrollment growth rate in January, according to new federal statistics released Wednesday.

In Tennessee, the federal government reported that 59,705 people had enrolled in Marketplace plans as of February 1. As of the last report, which covered through December 28, there were about 36,250 enrollees in Tennessee. That’s a growth rate of about 65 percent.

However, enrollment in the federal exchange grew by 50 percent nationally in January. As of February 1, there are 3.3 million enrollees nationally.

More here

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Miami Herald: After Website Woes Decrease, Obamacare Enrollment Surges In Florida, Nation

Nearly 300,000 Floridians have signed up for Affordable Care Act plans, an 88 percent increase in a month, reflecting an enrollment surge that coincides with the end of Obamacare’s major website woes.

Florida’s number of enrollees, the second-highest in the nation behind California, accounts for almost 9 percent of the nation’s 3.3 million total enrollees, according to figures released Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

More here

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Adam Serwer: North Carolina Voting Law Hits Black Voters: Study

North Carolina’s recent voting law changes will disproportionately affect black voters in the state, according to a study published Wednesday by Dartmouth University.

“The study provides powerful ammunition for the pending legal challenges,” says Brenda Wright, a voting rights expert with the liberal think tank Demos. “It shows that virtually every key feature of North Carolina’s election legislation will disproportionately cut back on registration and voting by African Americans in North Carolina as compared to whites.”

North Carolina was once covered by the Voting Rights Act’s requirement that states and other jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting submit their voting law changes to the Justice Department for approval. After the Supreme Court struck down as unconstitutional last year the formula for determining which jurisdictions were covered by that requirement, North Carolina’s Republican-dominated legislature passed a package of voting law restrictions. Among the changes were shortening the time for early voting, instituting a photo ID requirement, eliminating same-day voter registration and limiting pre-registration for teenagers to those who will be of voting age on Election Day. According to the study, all of those changes “will have a disparate effect on black voters in North Carolina.”

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Sara Kliff: Obamacare Beat A January Enrollment Projection

The Obama administration has beaten a monthly health insurance enrollment target for the first time, according to data released Wednesday showing that more than 1.14 million people signed up for health plans in January in the new insurance marketplace.

The latest enrollment data from the Obama administration show that 3.3 million people have signed up for private health insurance through federal and state insurance exchanges created under the Affordable Care Act. This figure represents all enrollment from Oct. 1 through Feb. 1. It includes both people who have and have not paid their first month’s premium. Of those people, 1,146,100 selected their health insurance plans in January, meaning there was a 53 percent increase enrollment last month alone.

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Reuters: In First NYC Budget, de Blasio Pushes Pre-K, Retiree Healthcare

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio included a tax on the wealthy to pay for universal pre-kindergarten in his first budget and proposed restoring $1 billion to a retiree healthcare fund that his predecessor’s plan would have drained. The proposal marks the first time in 20 years that a Democrat has drafted a spending plan for the biggest city in the United States. The Democrat-led City Council must approve a budget by the start of the fiscal year on July 1.

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NYT: Obama’s Weekend in Sunnylands, With Lots of TV

President Obama has added an item to his agenda for Presidents’ Day weekend:

The leader of the free world is looking forward to binge-watching DVDs of his latest favorite television show: HBO’s edgy new “True Detective” series starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.

Mr. Obama made a point of approaching HBO’s chief executive, Richard Plepler, at the state dinner for France on Tuesday night.

“Where is my True Detective and Game of Thrones?” Mr. Obama asked Mr. Plepler as he told him that the coming weekend would be a good time to have the DVDs.

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TPM: Rand Paul Accused Of Plagiarizing His Big Obama Lawsuit

Did Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) plagiarize the lawsuit he filed Wednesday against President Barack Obama and the National Security Agency? The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank reported that Paul originally drafted the class action suit he filed under former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s (R) name with the help of Bruce Fein, who recently served as an attorney for former NSA contractor Edward Snowden’s father.

Fein’s ex-wife and spokeswoman, Mattie Fein, told Milbank that Cuccinelli stole “the work product, intellectual property and legal genius of Bruce Fein” without payment. She added that Paul, who “already has one plagiarism issue, now has a lawyer who just takes another lawyer’s work product.”

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Crooks and Liars: Stephen Colbert Declares Himself First Lady of France Following Invite to State Dinner

The Colbert Report may never be the same now that sitting next to the First Lady at the White House state dinner has gone to Stephen’s head.

Video at link

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Jenna Levy: U.S. Uninsured Rate Drops So Far In First Quarter Of 2014

The percentage of uninsured Americans fell to 16.0% so far in the first quarter of 2014 from 17.1% in the fourth quarter of 2013. These data are based on more than 19,000 interviews with Americans from Jan. 2-Feb. 10, 2014, as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index. While more than a month remains in the first quarter, these preliminary data show the uninsured rate appears to be on track to drop to the lowest quarterly level measured since 2008.

if the uninsured rate continues to fall over the next several months, it may suggest that the Affordable Care Act’s requirement for most Americans to have health insurance, which took effect on Jan. 1, is responsible for the decline. The percentage of uninsured 26- to 34-year-olds, which has been dropping since the third quarter of 2013, is now 25.7%. Americans in this age group have had the highest uninsured rate since 2011. The uninsured rate among 26- to 34-year-olds has been declining faster than it has among any other age group.

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama arrive to present the National Medal of Arts and Humanities Medal in the East Room at the White House, February 13, 2012

President Obama honors National Medal of Arts recipient Al Pacino in a ceremony in the East Room of the White House in Washington, February 13, 2012

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President Obama runs to the stage before speaking to workers and guests at the Linamar Corporation plant in Arden, N.C., on Feb. 13, 2013, as he travels after delivering his State of the Union address

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26
Jan
14

The President’s Fiscal Record

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Paul Krugman: Obama And The One Percent

Another week, another outburst by a one-percenter comparing progressive taxation to Nazi atrocities. Anyway, thinking about this sort of thing makes me realize that there’s a danger, especially for progressives, of confusing the proposition that Obama’s billionaire haters are stark raving mad — which is true — with the proposition that Obama has done nothing that hurts the plutocrats’ interests, which is false. Actually, Obama has been tougher on the one percent than most progressives give him credit for.

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Start with taxes. The Bush tax cuts haven’t gone completely away, but at the very high end they have been pretty much reversed; plus there are additional high-end taxes associated with Obamacare. The result is that taxes on wealthy Americans have basically been rolled back to pre-Reagan levels. No, Obama isn’t Hitler; but he is turning out to be a little bit of FDR, after all.

More here

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Perfect response to Krugman’s piece by a commenter named John

Nice to see you giving a bit of credit to the president and his team for a change. Yes he’s gradually pushed the top rates back to pre Reagan levels and he’s done it largely by stealth. It also needs to be pointed out that, despite all the endless hyperventilating, Federal spending levels IN REAL TERMS is 50% higher than it was when Clinton was in office in 2000. Partly this is a consequence of the war in Afghanistan but quite a lot of it is goodies handed out by Bush as cover for his tax cuts. In fact in overall terms Obama has been very effective at protecting overall federal spending despite a relentless assault. In a way the Republicans have reason to be ticked. When Obama leave office his progressive credentials are going to be looking pretty good even if the far left are disappointed that paradise has been postponed yet again.

Turning to Kristallnacht Perkins, you do have to wonder what the WSJ was thinking. I’ve seen lots of loopy letters there over the years but this was a beaut. Since it’s a conservative own goal, I suspect the letters editor will be getting bawled out by Gigot. How unfortunate.

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05
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

Des Moines, Nov 5, 2012 – the final rally of the campaign

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Today (all times Eastern):

11:30: President Obama and VP Biden meet with business leaders to talk about the impact overhauling immigration laws will have on U.S. economy

2:10: President Obama departs the White House en route Bethesda, Md. where he will visit wounded troops at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He will also visit Fisher House, a program that supports military families

4:0: Michelle Obama makes remarks at White House Diwali celebration

6:30: VP Biden and Jill Biden host reception for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

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Video of President Obama addressing OFA yesterday – see here

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NYT: For Uninsured, Clearing a Way to Enrollment

Kelli Cauley’s fingers raced over her keyboard as she asked the anxious woman at her side a series of questions. What was her income? How many people lived in her household? Did she smoke? (“That’s the only health question it asks,” Ms. Cauley said of the application they were completing.)

The woman, a thin 61-year-old who refused to give her name, citing privacy concerns, had come to the public library here to sign up for health insurance through Kentucky’s new online exchange. She had a painful lump on the back of her hand and other health problems that worried her deeply, she said, but had been unable to afford insurance as a home health care worker who earns $9 an hour.

Within a minute, the system checked her information and flashed its conclusion on Ms. Cauley’s laptop: eligible for Medicaid.

The woman began to weep with relief. Without insurance, she said as she left, “it’s cheaper to die.”

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Jonathan Cohn: ‘I Would Jump At It’ The media labeled her an Obamacare victim. Here’s what she really thinks.

If you’ve followed the stories of insurance cancellations related to Obamacare, you may have heard about Dianne Barrette. She’s the 57-year-old Florida realtor who was paying $54 a month for a Blue Cross insurance plan. The plan won’t be available after December. And while FloridaBlue offered her a new plan, the company told her the premium would be $591 a month. Barrette, who makes $30,000 a year and could not pay for such a plan, was flabbergasted. Jan Crawford of CBS News made her the key source for a story about plan cancellations. An appearance on Fox News followed, as did multiple cameos in press releases from Obamacare critics. For at least a few days, she was the poster child for the Obamacare cancellation story.

But Barrette’s situation defies quick and easy description. It’s true that she can’t keep her current policy—and that most policies available to her for next year have higher premiums. But those plans also offer real coverage, and her current plan does not. Some people might resent government effectively prohibiting her current plan. Barrette doesn’t appear to be one of them. Based on conversations we’ve had over the past few days, she wants more comprehensive insurance and, within reason, she’s willing to pay more for it.

More here

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Bob Cesca: Another Obamacare ‘Horror Story’ Debunked; And, No, the President Didn’t Lie About the Law

As the week began, another “Obamacare” horror story hit the press, instigating a fleet of outrage-pornographers and concern trolls across the political spectrum to resume its self-flagellation and screeching about the disastrous Affordable Care Act — selectively forgetting about actual healthcare horror stories that existed before the law was implemented. It was a story focusing on yet another vague, anecdotal tale about a hapless ACA victim whose insurance policy was canceled, thus vindicating the accusation that the president lied about “keeping your existing insurance policy if you like it.”

Before we dive into the lie accusation, let’s take a closer look at an op/ed for the Wall Street Journal written by a stage-4 gallbladder cancer survivor, Edie Littlefield Sundby.

More here

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Sally Kohn: 6 other Obamacare promises – and these are very much coming true

Republicans recently pounced on the fact that, yes, some Americans will lose their current crummy insurance plans that don’t meet the new standards set by the Affordable Care Act.

These Republicans are accusing President Obama of having misled the American public – or worse, having lied.

I think that’s a ridiculous claim. If you like your crummy plan, you can’t keep your crummy plan under Obamacare, but odds are you will find a better plan that is also more affordable, with subsidies available to more than half of Americans.

Aside from parsing this promise that you could keep your plan, it is wrong to say that this alone was how Obamacare was sold to the public.

…. here, for the record, are a few of the Affordable Care kept promises:

More here

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Washington Post: Congratulations, America! Your deficit fell 37 percent in 2013

The federal government’s 2013 fiscal year ended Sept. 30, though most of us were so busy focusing on the government shutdown that accompanied the new fiscal year that there wasn’t much time to reflect on the year that had passed.

Now the Treasury and Office of Management and Budget is out with the final budget results. Surprise! The deficit fell quite a bit in 2013. The federal government took in $680 billion less revenue than it spent, or about 4.1 percent of gross domestic product. In 2012, those numbers were $1.087 trillion and 6.8 percent of GDP. That means the deficit fell a whopping 37 percent in one year.

This is the first sub-$1 trillion and sub-5 percent of GDP deficit since the 2008 fiscal year, which ended the very month that Lehman Brothers fell and a deep crisis set in.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Three Progressive Measures On Tuesday’s Ballot That You Should Know About

Congress may not be up for grabs, but Election Day 2013 still comes with high stakes for progressive economic policy ideas. On Tuesday, voters in Colorado, New Jersey, and a small Washington town are getting an up-or-down vote on some proposals that would improve lives both today and decades from now. Here’s a rundown of the three ballot initiatives:

Colorado’s Amendment 66 would raise income taxes and commit $1 billion in new revenue to public schools….

New Jersey’s Question 2 would raise the minimum wage and keep it rising….

SeaTac, Washington’s Proposition 1 would mean a $15 minimum wage for one of the country’s busiest airports….

More here

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Steve Benen: Rand Paul caught once again

After Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was caught presenting others’ work as his own by The Rachel Maddow Show, BuzzFeed, and Politico, the senator’s office seemed to realize Paul had a problem on his hands. It reached the point late Friday that the senator’s aides started making it more difficult to access Paul’s speeches, perhaps fearful more evidence would come to light.

Unfortunately for the senator, it’s too late to hide op-eds Paul has already written and published…

More here

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A Year Ago Today – The Final Day of the Campaign

Madison:

Photo by Scout Tufankjian

Orlando:

Columbus:

Photo by Scout Tufankjian

Photo by Scout Tufankjian

Greatest Intro Eveeeeeeeeeer:

…. with Jay-Z and Bruce Springsteen at Nationwide Arena, Columbus, Ohio

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Reunited in Des Moines:

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MoooOOOooorning!

19
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

Completely random old pic (Portsmouth, N.H., Sept. 7, 2012)

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Today (all times Eastern)

11:0: President Obama receives the presidential daily briefing

11:45: Meets with senior advisors

12:45: Josh Earnest briefs the press

2:15: President Obama meets with independent financial regulators

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A sign along Harding Hill in West Tisbury, Massachusetts, August 18

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USA Today: Coming off a week’s vacation, President Obama deals Monday with new rules on the financial system.

Obama holds a closed-door meeting with financial regulators to discuss the impact of new laws, the White House says, including the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform bill and the Consumer Protection Act.

The guest list includes the Comptroller of the Currency, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), and the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA).

Also: The chairs of the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (FRB), the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the National Credit Union Administration, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

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Times Tribune: Biden to join Obama in Scranton

In a rare occurrence, Vice President Joe Biden will join President Barack Obama in Scranton for the last stop on the president’s two-day bus tour promoting affordable higher education.

…. The president is scheduled to appear Friday at Lackawanna College, a school spokeswoman and the White House confirmed Friday. The school will be the last stop on a tour that takes Mr. Obama on Thursday to the University of Buffalo in Buffalo, N.Y., and the State University of New York and Henninger High School in Syracuse. Hours before the Scranton stop, the president will take part in a town hall at Binghamton University.

“At each stop, the president will discuss the importance of ensuring that every American has the opportunity to achieve a quality education by reducing cost and improving the value of higher education for middle-class students and their families,” a White House official said…

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ThinkProgress: How Testicular Cancer Convinced A Former Republican Staffer To Leave His Party

Before he could realize the value of affordable health care, one Republican campaign staffer had to experience what it’s like to be without it.

Clint Murphy, who’s been involved with Republican campaigns since the 1990s, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2000 when he was 25 years old. Four years and four rounds of chemo treatment later — all of which was covered by insurance — Murphy was in remission. Insurance wasn’t a problem in his subsequent political jobs — he worked on John McCain’s election campaign in 2008 — but when he quit politics in 2010 and entered real estate, he realized just how difficult obtaining insurance with a pre-existing condition could be.

…. That’s why Murphy had this to say to his Republican friends who oppose Obamacare on Facebook last week: “When you say you’re against it, you’re saying that you don’t want people like me to have health insurance.”

More here

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Steve Benen: Far-right ‘ready to erupt’ over health care?

President Obama’s weekly addresses tend to be pretty tame, at least as far as political rhetoric goes, but over the weekend his latest weekly message included some fairly pointed language about Republican efforts to sabotage the federal health care system.

Some congressional Republicans, Obama said, are “working hard to confuse people, and making empty promises that they’ll either shut down the health care law, or, if they don’t get their way, they’ll shut down the government…. A lot of Republicans seem to believe that if they can gum up the works and make this law fail, they’ll somehow be sticking it to me. But they’d just be sticking it to you.”

And while the White House pushes against the GOP shutdown threats, far-right activists continue to push in the opposite direction.

More here

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Paul Krugman: One Reform, Indivisible

Recent political reporting suggests that Republican leaders are in a state of high anxiety, trapped between an angry base that still views Obamacare as the moral equivalent of slavery and the reality that health reform is the law of the land and is going to happen.

But those leaders don’t deserve any sympathy. For one thing, that irrational base is a Frankenstein monster of their own creation. Beyond that, everything I’ve seen indicates that members of the Republican elite still don’t get the basics of health reform — and that this lack of understanding is in the process of turning into a major political liability.

On the unstoppability of Obamacare: We have this system in which Congress passes laws, the president signs them, and then they go into effect. The Affordable Care Act went through this process, and there is no legitimate way for Republicans to stop it.

More here

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Reuters: Illinois expands background checks to all gun purchases

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn signed a gun-control measure into law on Sunday that expands background checks to cover all firearms purchases in the state, closing what he said was a loophole that exempted gun sales between private parties.

The new law also requires all gun owners to report any lost or stolen firearms to local police within 72 hours.

“Guns are a plague on too many of our communities,” Quinn, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Making sure guns do not fall into the wrong hands is critical to keeping the people of Illinois safe. This commonsense law will help our law enforcement crack down on crime and make our streets safer.”

The expanded background checks go into effect on January 1, 2014.

More here

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Michael Tomasky: Julian Assange Loves Rand Paul and His ‘Very Principled Positions’

Julian Assange, who back when he roamed the earth freely used to do things like show up on the steps of St. Paul’s to protest the wrongs of capitalism, has now apparently placed his faith in the man who is arguably the capitalists’ single biggest lickspittle in Washington, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY). In and of itself, this is only mildly interesting. But Assange’s admirers on the left are so seduced by his oppositionalist posture and his desire to stick it to the man (as long as the man is the government of the United States) that they seem willing to follow him off any cliff, maybe even the cliff of voting for Paul in 2016. It’s a jejune politics, and ultimately a politics of leisure. No one whose day-to-day life is materially affected by the question of who is in office has time for such silly games, and therefore, no one who purports to be in solidarity with those people should either.

… these seemingly left-wing anti-establishment types should never be trusted. These are just playtime politics, luxuries for the leisure class. If you want a real left-winger, I say stick with Marx. At least he understood that politics is chiefly about economic relations. Anyone who doesn’t understand that is sending you down blind alleys, knows little about politics to begin with, and should be shunned by anyone who claims to be anywhere on the broad left side of the spectrum.

Full post here

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Ari Berman: Time to March on Washington — Again

They carried signs that demanded “Voting Rights,” “Jobs for All” and “Decent Housing.” They protested the vigilante killing of an unarmed black teenager in the South and his killer’s acquittal. They denounced racial profiling in the country’s largest city.

This isn’t 1963 but 2013, when so many of the issues that gave rise to the March on Washington fifty years ago remain unfulfilled or under siege today. That’s why, on August 24, a broad coalition of civil rights organizations, unions, progressive groups and Democratic Party leaders will rally at the Lincoln Memorial and proceed to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial to honor the fiftieth anniversary of the march and dramatize the contemporary fight. (President Obama will participate in a separate event commemorating the official anniversary on August 28.)

The Supreme Court’s decision gutting the Voting Rights Act in late June and the acquittal of George Zimmerman less than three weeks later make this year’s march “exponentially more urgent” with respect to pressuring Congress and arousing the conscience of the nation, says Ben Jealous, president of the NAACP, a co-sponsor of the march.

More here

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MoooOOOooorning!

15
Aug
13

Rise and Shine

A year ago today: “The President hugs the First Lady after she had introduced him at a campaign event in Davenport, Iowa. The campaign tweeted a similar photo from the campaign photographer on election night and a lot of people thought it was taken on election day.” (Photo by Pete Souza)

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The Hill: Obama Group’s New Ad Touts Healthcare Law Insurance Rebates

The political advocacy group spun off from President Obama’s reelection campaign on Thursday unveiled a new ad touting the benefits of ObamaCare, their third national ad as the administration readies to rollout their healthcare reforms.

The new ad from Organizing for Action (OFA), titled “Every Day” features a North Carolina family discussing the insurance rebate they received under the healthcare law. The parents Rebecca and Russell worried about how to pay for their son’s medical care in the face of rising premiums.

“When the Affordable Care Act was passed we ended up getting a $350 rebate from our insurance company and then his premiums were going to go down by $60 a month,” says Rebecca in the ad.

“ObamaCare is helping everyday families every day,” reads onscreen text.

“It’s nice to see somebody looking out for the little guy,” says the father Russell.

“The law works,” Rebecca adds.

More here

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FirefoxScreenSnapz001

Steve Benen

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The Grio: Eric Holder’s Sentencing Reforms Represent A Sea Change

This week, Attorney General  Holder announced that Federal Prosecutors would have more discretion (i.e. more leeway) in maneuvering around some of this nation’s more draconian sentencing practices impacting substance abusers and others whose lives and families have been decimated by the so-called War on Drugs. Nearly half of the federal inmate population is serving time for drug offenses.  The significance of this policy shift initiated by AG Holder and the DOJ should not be underestimated.

Holder’s announcement this week signals both his leadership and commitment to these issues as well as his capacity to hear and respond to calls for equal justice from the litany of voices aimed at ending the war on drugs and reforming our broken criminal justice system. The Department of Justice memo sent to all U.S. federal prosecutors this week requires them to not include information regarding drug quantities – thereby allowing them to sidestep mandatory minimums – for drug defendants that meet a reasonable set of criteria, including having no affiliations with drug cartels or other criminal organizations, no prior criminal record, and no violent crimes connected to their offenses.

More here

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Jonathan Cohn: The Big Savings Obamacare Critics Miss

Obamacare critics keep insisting that Obamacare is a bad deal for most people buying insurance on their own. And a big reason is that they don’t think much of the subsidies.

I know. You’re getting tired of hearing about the subsidies. Bear with me, because today we have some new and important information, thanks to a new study from the Kaiser Family Foundation.

To review: Obamacare provides offers tax credits to offset the cost of insurance. If your income is less than four times the poverty line, and if you’re buying through one of the new insurance exchanges, then the tax credit will operate like a discount. The less money you have, the bigger the discount. Nowadays, most Obamacare critics acknowledge that the subsidies exist. But they tend to dismiss them as trivial. “Some low-income people will get subsidies,” Rich Lowry of the National Review wrote on Monday. “But that doesn’t change the essential facts.”

Actually, it does change the essential facts—by quite a lot….

More here

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USA Today: Obama Team Alters College Loan Program

The Obama administration has made changes to a college loan program designed to help more families qualify for college aid.

African-American college presidents and lawmakers had sought changes to the PLUS loan program…..

“The Education Department says families that have recent but small-scale debt may now become eligible for PLUS loans through appeals …. Black lawmakers have been pressuring the administration, saying large numbers of previously eligible applicants have been denied aid under tighter credit rules.

“Parents and graduate students who use PLUS loans have no borrowing limit, but they face some of the highest interest rates in the federal student loan system.”

Full post here

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maya

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Carrie Healey: Obama’s Half-Sister Speaks On Human Trafficking, Peace Gardens

President Obama’s half-sister, peace advocate and educator, Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng spoke today at the Center for American Progress on human trafficking.

Dr. Soetoro-Ng proposed the U.S. plant peace gardens, create “reflective spaces,” and practice yogo in an effort to bring peace to victims of trafficking.

“My brother’s administration is committed to addressing this issue,” she said in regards to Obama’s handling of the issue. ”But today I would like us to consider some grassroots, pro-active, preventative, and educational solutions.”

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USA Today: Obama bus stops: Buffalo, Syracuse, Binghamton

President Obama’s two-day bus tour next week will start with three cities in Upstate New York: Buffalo, Syracuse and Binghamton.

The major topic will be college education.

Obama will “discuss the importance of ensuring that every American has access to a quality education by reducing costs and improving the value of higher education for middle-class students and their families,” said White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

The tour will be Aug. 22 and 23.

The bus tour – the latest in a series of middle-class speeches Obama has been delivering – will also include yet-to-be-determined stops in northeastern Pennsylvania.

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Charles Pierce: A Fine Bromance

Remember when a whole bunch of suckers from our side of the aisle got all gooey about Rand Paul, because Aqua Buddha and Aqua Buddha alone stood between us and a Hellfire missile fired up our keisters from a drone because we said mean things about the president? Well, in the days since, Aqua Buddha’s shown that he has more than a small sweet-tooth for the days when Freedom meant states could keep black people from eating in restaurants and, of course, voting:

“So really, I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.”  

….The suckers should be embarrassed to have lined up with this clown.

Full post here

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ThinkProgress: Three Republicans Who Opposed Sandy Relief Now Demand Disaster Aid For Arizona

Arizona Republicans Sen. Jeff Flake, Sen. John McCain, and Rep. Paul Gosar all voted against emergency relief funding after SuperStorm Sandy ravaged much of the New Jersey and New York area earlier this year. Now, following an Arizona wildfire, the same trio is vocally complaining that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is not doing enough to aid their state.

More here

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Time

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As Steve Benen said, “always check your spelling when writing about education”:

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On This Day:

Aug. 15, 2010 – Pete Souza: “Back in the Gulf Coast for a weekend, the President and First Lady toured St. Andrews Bay on a boat in Panama City Beach, Fla. I noticed their hands touching as they held the rail on the boat.”

Aug. 15, 2010: President Obama and daughter Sasha steer the “Bay Point Lady” during a tour of St. Andrews Bay off Panama City Beach, Fla. (Photo by Pete Souza)

Aug. 15, 2011: President Barack Obama greets children from the Valleyland Kids summer program outside a school in Chatfield, Minn., during a three-day bus tour in the Midwest (Photo by Pete Souza)

Aug. 15, 2011: President Obama holds a baby as he arrives for lunch at the Old Market Deli in Cannon Falls, Minn. (Photo by Pete Souza)

Aug. 15, 2011: President Obama greets people outside the Old Market Deli in Cannon Falls, Minn. (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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09
Aug
13

News Of The Day

OBAMA-PRESS-CONFERENCE

President Barack Obama holds a press conference in the East Room at the White House.

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Ben Armbruster: Obama Announces Plans To Reform Surveillance Programs

President Obama announced on Friday that he plans to institute new reforms to include greater oversight of the National Security Agency’s surveillance programs, just over two months after former NSA consultant Edward Snowden leaked secret documents detailing their scope and reach. First, Obama said he would work with Congress to reform the authorities authorizing NSA surveillance so that they include more safeguards and oversight to further protect from abuse.

Obama said he would also push to give greater assurances to the American people that the secret court authorizing surveillance that privacy is being protected, including having government arguments “challenged by an adversary.” Third, Obama said he wants to declassify more information about the programs, including the legal rationals behind them, and create a website to learn more about U.S. surveillance activities. Finally, Obama said he would assemble a team of outside independent experts to review communications and surveillance technologies and issue a report on findings and recommendations by the end of the year.

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ThinkProgress: Politico Revives Junk Science Suggesting Hispanics Are Dumber Than Whites

Earlier this year, Jason Richwine lost his job writing about immigration policy for the conservative Heritage Foundation after it came to light that he suggested Hispanics and blacks were genetically less intelligent than whites and Asians in his graduate dissertation. I conducted a lengthy review of Richwine’s research, finding that it was grounded in poor conceptual analysis and wildly outdated research.

Friday morning, Politico published an op-ed by Richwine misrepresenting his research, the controversy surrounding it, and the facts about race and intelligence in some really basic ways….

More here

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Sahil Kapur: Obama Torches GOP For ‘Ideological Fixation’ With Repealing ObamaCare

“Now, I think the really interesting question is why it is that my friends in the other party have made the idea of preventing these people from getting health care their holy grail,” he said. “Their number one priority, the one unifying principle in the Republican Party at the moment is making sure that 30 million people don’t have health care. And presumably repealing all those benefits I just mentioned. Kids staying on their parents’ plan, seniors getting discounts on their prescription drugs, a return to limits on lifetime limits, continuing to get blocked from health care insurance.”

“That’s hard to understand as an agenda that’s going to strengthen our middle class. At least they used to say, well, we’re going to replace it with something better. There’s not even a pretense now that they’re going to replace it with something better. The notion is simply that those 30 million people or the 150 million who are benefitting from the other aspects of affordable care, will be better off without it. That’s their assertion. Not backed by fact, not backed by any evidence. It’s just become an ideological fixation.”

More here

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Reuters: U.S. To Reopen 18 Of 19 Embassies Closed Amid Security Concerns

Eighteen of the 19 U.S. embassies closed this month due to worries about potential terrorist attacks will reopen on Sunday, the U.S. State Department said on Friday.

“Our embassy in Sanaa, Yemen, will remain closed because of ongoing concerns about a threat stream indicating the potential for terrorist attacks emanating from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

The United States will also keep its consulate in Lahore, Pakistan, shuttered, Psaki said, adding it closed on Thursday due to a “separate credible threat.”

More here

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Pete Souza: The pool press covers Pres Obama signing the student loan bill

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