Posts Tagged ‘Sandy Hook

11
Jun
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama’s signature on a wall in a health classroom at Southwest High School in Green Bay, Wisconsin, where he attended a town hall meeting on health care, June 11, 2009. The physical education and health staff left a note asking the President to sign the wall for future students to see (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern)

10:50 President Obama meets with the United States Sentencing Commission, Roosevelt Room

1:50: Departs White House

3:20: Arrives Worcester, Mass.

4:0: The President delivers remarks at the Worcester Technical High School Commencement

7:0: Delivers remarks and answers questions at a fundraiser for House Democrats, private residence, Weston, Mass.

8:20: Departs Worcester

10:0: Arrives White House

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Later This Week

Thursday: The President will hold a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Tony Abbott of Australia at the White House. In the afternoon, the President will welcome the WNBA Champion Minnesota Lynx to the White House to honor the team and their victory in the WNBA Finals.

Friday: The President and the First Lady will travel to the Cannonball, North Dakota area to visit the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. Following their visit to Indian Country, they will travel to Palm Springs, CA.

Saturday: The President will deliver the commencement address at University of California, Irvine on the 50th anniversary of the dedication of the UC Irvine campus by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The President and the First Lady will return to Washington, D.C on Monday.

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President Obama and Tumblr’s founder, David Karp

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Adam Vaccaro: No, Obama’s Student Debt Executive Order Doesn’t Incentivize Colleges To Raise Tuition

When President Barack Obama announced yesterday that he would extend the “Pay as You Earn” federal student loan repayment program to older, previously ineligible debtors, it was met with a common contention. I’ve seen it in a few places, including the comments section in our article on the action. In short, people say that the order will make it easier for students to manage their debt, and that will incentivize schools to raise tuition. The assertion doesn’t make any sense. The Pay as You Earn program, which limits monthly payments to 10 percent of a borrowers’ income and can allow for loan forgiveness after 20 years of repayments, had previously only been available to new student borrowers. In order to be eligible, debtors could not have taken out a student loan before October 2007, and could not have stopped taking payments before October 2011.

In other words, the program was essentially put in place for the high school class of 2008 and later classes—meaning those currently in school are already eligible for the program. If the program incentivizes colleges to raise tuition—again, probably a fun debate, though it ignores that tuition was already skyrocketing well before the program was put in place—it was already happening. Obama’s action, meanwhile, extends the option to older borrowers—those who have already graduated and are making repayments, some at much higher rates than the program allows. The vast majority of those people are by definition already out of school. Who, then, would colleges raise tuition on that they couldn’t already?

More here

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Washington Post: Republican House Majority Leader Succumbs To Tea Party Challenger Dave Brat

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (Va.), the chamber’s second-ranking Republican, was badly beaten in a primary contest Tuesday by an obscure professor with tea party backing — a historic electoral surprise that left the GOP in chaos and the House without its heir apparent. Cantor, who has represented the Richmond suburbs since 2001, lost by 11 percentage points to Dave Brat, an economist at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va. It was an operatic fall from power, swift and deep and utterly surprising.

As late as Tuesday morning, Cantor had felt so confident of victory that he spent the morning at a Starbucks on Capitol Hill, holding a fundraising meeting with lobbyists while his constituents went to the polls. By Tuesday night, he had suffered a defeat with few parallels in American history. Historians said that no House leader of Cantor’s rank had ever been defeated in a primary. That left stunned Republicans — those who had supported Cantor, and even those who had worked to beat him — struggling to understand what happened.

More here

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Nick Wing: If It’s A School Week In America, Odds Are There Will Be A School Shooting

Since the 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, there have been an average of 1.37 school shootings for each school week, according to data maintained by Everytown for Gun Safety, a group fighting to end gun violence. Including Tuesday’s incident at a high school in Troutdale, Oregon, 74 school shootings have taken place in the approximately 18 months since the Dec. 14, 2012, Newtown shooting. The average school year typically lasts about 180 days, which means there have been roughly 270 school days, or 54 weeks, of class since the shooting at Newtown.

With 74 total incidents over that period, the nation is averaging well over a shooting per school week. The data maintained by Everytown for Gun Safety also shows that these shootings have occurred throughout the country. In all, 31 states have had an incident of gun violence at a school. Georgia has witnessed far more incidents than others, with 10 happening at schools there since Sandy Hook. There have been seven school shootings in Florida, five in Tennessee, four in North Carolina and four in California.

More here

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Caitlin MacNeal: Obama: ‘We Should Be Ashamed’ Of Failure To Address Gun Violence

President Obama on Tuesday slammed the failure to curb gun violence in the United States. “My biggest frustration so far is the fact that this society has not been willing to take some basic steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who can do just unbelievable damage,” he said during a Tumblr Q&A. “This is becoming the norm,” he continued about school shootings. “We should be ashamed.”

The President addressed lawmakers who blame mass shootings on mental health, not access to guns. “The United States does not have a monopoly on crazy people. It’s not the only country that has psychosis. And yet, we kill each other in these mass shootings at rates that are exponentially higher than any place else,” he said.

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Rob Wile: Small Business Confidence Surges

The NFIB’s small business confidence index came in at 96.6 for May — the highest reading since 2007. That also beat expectations for 95.8. Pantheon Macro’s Ian Shepherdson says this index is more important than payrolls, and sees this jump to the as a major shift. “At last, small businesses are on the move. We have been waiting for four years for a clean break to the upside, and it’s finally here. The rise in the headline largely reflects a 9-point jump in economic expectations and a 5-point rise in sales expectations, but several other components rose too.”

 More here

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You built this racism, GOP.

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John B. Judis: Dave Brat And The Triumph Of Rightwing Populism

“Eric is running on the Chamber of Commerce and Business Roundtable principles,” Brat told a Tea Party audience. “They want amnesty for illegal immigrants. They want them granted citizenship. And it’s in the millions — 40 millions coming in. if you add 40 million workers to our labor supply, what will happen to the wage rate for the average American?” Brat’s appeal was frankly demagogic. Cantor was not supporting amnesty, and there are about 10 million illegal immigrants currently in the United States. Some of Brat’s Tea Party supporters took it a step further. Larry Nordvig, the head of the Richmond Tea Party, told a joke at Brat rally.

“A politician, a Muslim, and an illegal alien walk into a bar, and you now what the bartender said? Good evening, Mr. President.” If he is elected in November, Brat may, of course, jettison the anti-Wall Street and anti-big business side of his politics. His actual economic views appear to be close to those of the Cato Institute and Ayn Rand. His solutions for America’s flagging economy consist in flattening the tax code and cutting spending – positions that will certainly not alienate the Chamber of Commerce or Business Roundtable.

More here

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Jonathan Cohn: The GOP Just Got a Wake-Up Call: Eric Cantor’s Loss Proves The Tea Party Refuses To Rest In Peace

It’s going to take a while to figure out precisely what happened Tuesday night in Virginia’s 7th House District. Nobody thought Eric Cantor, the second most powerful Republican in the House, would lose his primary campaign to Dave Brat, an anonymous college professor too busy grading exams to attend campaign events. Not too many people even thought it’d be close. Robert Costa of the Washington Post wrote about Brat’s surprising popularity a month ago, but the rest of the political press barely noticed.

The obvious explanation for Cantor’s defeat is immigration. And in this case, the obvious explanation is probably right. Brat hammered Cantor for his supposed support of “amnesty.” Cantor swore the charge was untrue and, lord knows, he wasn’t doing anything to advance the cause of immigration reform publicly. It appears the voters didn’t believe him. Brat also attacked Cantor for his supposed cooperation with, and enabling of, Obama. This charge may seem strange to the White House and, for that matter, most sentient beings. Few Republicans have spent more energy fighting Obama and the Democrats. And Cantor played a pivotal role in killing the grand bargain that Obama was trying to negotiate with House Speaker John Boehner in 2011

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Julia Edwards: Obama Administration To Make Push On American Indian Voting Rights

Concerned that American Indians are being unfairly kept out of the voting process, the Obama administration is considering a proposal that would require voting districts with tribal land to have at least one polling site in a location chosen by the tribe’s government, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced on Monday. Holder said the Justice Department would begin consulting tribal authorities on whether it should suggest that Congress pass a law that would apply to state and local administrators whose territory includes tribal lands. The announcement came as President Barack Obama was expected to travel to an American Indian reservation in North Dakota on Friday.

Last Thursday, Holder addressed a tribal conference in the same state. Associate Attorney General Tony West on Monday will expand upon Holder’s announcement in Anchorage, Alaska, where he will address a conference held by the National Congress of American Indians. “Our proposal would give American Indian and Alaska Native voters a right that most other citizens take for granted: a polling place in their community where they can cast a ballot and receive voter assistance to make sure their vote will be counted,” West is expected to say, according a statement from the Justice Department.

More here

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Daniel Strauss: Cantor Conquerer Caught Off Guard By Policy Questions In Interview

David Brat, who defeated House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) in the Republican primary for Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, was surprised when he appeared on MSNBC on Wednesday that he would be asked policy questions. In his interview with MSNBC’s Chuck Todd Brat punted when Todd asked him both about the minimum wage and Syria. “Let me ask you a few other issue questions. Where are you on the minimum wage? Do you believe in it and would you raise it?” Todd asked. “Minimum wage, no, I’m a free market guy,” Brat responded.

“Our labor markets right now are already distorted from too many regulations. I think Cato estimates there’s $2 trillion of regulatory problems and then throw Obamacare on top of that, the work hours is 30 hours a week. You can only hire 50 people. There’s just distortion after distortion after distortion and we wonder why our labor markets are broken.” Todd then pressed Brat on the question. “Um, I don’t have a well-crafted response on that one,” Brat finally conceded. “All I know is if you take the long-run graph over 200 years of the wage rate, it cannot differ from your nation’s productivity. Right? So you can’t make up wage rates.”

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CBS News: Judge Strikes Down Teacher Tenure In California

A judge struck down tenure and other job protections for California’s public school teachers Tuesday, saying such laws harm students – especially poor and minority ones – by saddling them with bad teachers who are almost impossible to fire. In a landmark decision that could influence the gathering debate over tenure across the country, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Rolf Treu cited the historic case of Brown v. Board of Education in ruling that students have a fundamental right to equal education. Siding with the nine students who brought the lawsuit, he ruled that California’s laws on hiring and firing in schools have resulted in “a significant number of grossly ineffective teachers currently active in California classrooms.” He agreed, too, that a disproportionate number of these teachers are in schools that have mostly minority and low-income students.

The judge stayed the ruling pending appeals. The case involves 6 million students from kindergarten through 12th grade. The California Attorney General’s office said it is considering its legal options, while the California Teachers Association, the state’s biggest teachers union with 325,000 members, vowed an appeal. “Circumventing the legislative process to strip teachers of their professional rights hurts our students and our schools,” the union said. Teachers have long argued that tenure prevents administrators from firing teachers on a whim. They contend also that the system preserves academic freedom and helps attract talented teachers to a profession that doesn’t pay well. Other states have been paying close attention to how the case plays out in the nation’s most populous state. The lawsuit was backed by wealthy Silicon Valley entrepreneur David Welch’s nonprofit group Students Matter, which assembled a high-profile legal team including Boutrous, who successfully fought to overturn California’s gay-marriage ban.

More here

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Brian Beutler: Eric Cantor Lost Because He Exploited Conservatives, Not Immigration

Cantor practices a cunning, devious brand of politics. He played legislative strategy the same way he played intra-conference intrigue—devising too-clever-by-half schemes to seize momentary advantage, often at the expense of bigger picture goals. They frequently blew back at him. When Republicans took back the House, he advocated strategies that culminated in dangerous brinksmanship over funding the government and increasing the debt limit, exactly as conservatives demanded. But he also attempted to set the bizarre precedent of offsetting emergency spending for natural disaster relief with cuts to unrelated social spending programs. He never prevailed, but his position became extremely awkward when a rare and sizable earthquake severely damaged his own district in August 2011. After Obama’s re-election, Cantor had to reverse course and orchestrate ransomless debt limit increases, to the great dismay of Republican hardliners. He then pandered to those same hardliners in ways that frequently undermined John Boehner’s best-laid plans. These priorities were incongruous, and suggestive of an effort to situate himself as the Speaker’s heir apparent, rather than of a commitment to conservative causes.

Just two months ago, Cantor end ran around those same conservatives to secure passage of a bill protecting Medicare physicians from a substantial pay cut. For more than a year now, Cantor’s stable of influential operatives and former operatives have done battle with the purity obsessed hardliners and opportunists who tried to seize control of the party’s legislative strategy. Many of them sought retribution by taking aim at Cantor in his district. In the end the right’s beef with him—as with McConnell—was about more than just affect. It was about his willingness to use power politics and procedural hijinks to cut conservatives out of the tangle when expedient. The lesson of his defeat isn’t that immigration reform is particularly poisonous, but that the right expects its leaders to understand they can’t subsume the movement’s energy for tactical purposes, then grant it only selective influence over big decisions.

More here

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On This Day

President Obama checks how much time he has left during a health care reform town hall meeting at Southwest High School in Green Bay, Wisconsin, June 11, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama speaks with White House Counsel Gregory Craig in the Oval Office, June 11 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama sits with class valedictorian Jordan Smiley during the graduation ceremonies for Anacostia Senior High School on June 11, 2010 in Washington, DC

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President Obama talks with Betty White in the Oval Office, June 11, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Bo waits to greet President Obama in the Outer Oval Office, June 11, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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30
May
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Barack Obama lays a Presidential challenge coin on a grave in Section 60 at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., May 30, 2011. Section 60 is reserved for military personnel who have lost their lives while fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (all times Eastern)

* President Obama appears on Kelly and Michael – check your local listings here

10:15: President Obama meets with Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki, Oval Office

11:0: The President meets with the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force

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11:15 EDT: President Obama Makes a Statement

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1:0: Jay Carney briefs the press

2:15: The President attends a hurricane preparedness meeting, FEMA Headquarters

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Fareed Zakaria: Obama’s leadership is right for today

…. Obama is battling a knee-jerk sentiment in Washington in which the only kind of international leadership that means anything is the use of military force. “Just because we have the best hammer does not mean that every problem is a nail,” he said in his speech Wednesday at West Point.

A similar sentiment was expressed in the farewell address of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, a strong leader who refused to intervene in the Suez crisis, the French collapse in Vietnam, two Taiwan Strait confrontations and the Hungarian uprising of 1956.

At the time, many critics blasted the president for his passivity and wished that he would be more interventionist. A Democratic Advisory Council committee headed by Acheson called Eisenhower’s foreign policy “weak, vacillating, and tardy.” But Eisenhower kept his powder dry, confident that force was not the only way to show strength. “I’ll tell you what leadership is,” he told his speechwriter. “It’s persuasion — and conciliation — and education — and patience . It’s long, slow, tough work. That’s the only kind of leadership I know — or believe in — or will practice.”

Maybe that’s the Obama Doctrine.

Full article here

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Fred Kaplan: Obama Lays Siege to His Critics

President Obama’s speech at West Point on Wednesday morning could be called a tribute to common sense, except that the sense it made is so uncommon. The ensuing cable pundits’ complaints—that it was insufficiently “muscular” or “robust”—only proved how necessary this speech was.

Obama’s point was not (contrary to some commentators’ claims) to draw a “middle-of-the-road” line between isolationism and unilateralism. That’s a line so broad almost anyone could walk it.

The president’s main point was to emphasize that not every problem has a military solution; that the proper measure of strength and leadership is not merely the eagerness to deploy military power; that, in fact, America’s costliest mistakes have stemmed not from restraint but from rushing to armed adventures “without thinking through the consequences, without building international support and legitimacy for our action, without leveling with the American people about the sacrifice required.”

More here

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Graduating cadets listen to President Obama deliver the commencement address at West Point, May 28, 2014 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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NPR: Transcript And Audio: President Obama’s Full NPR Interview

NPR’s Steve Inskeep interviewed President Obama on Wednesday about foreign policy, including his approaches to Syria, Ukraine and China, as well as his remaining White House priorities and his effort to close Guantanamo Bay prison. A full transcript of the interview follows:

STEVE INSKEEP: I want to begin this way. You’re here at this historic place, trying to speak with a sense of history. And I was thinking of past presidents that I know you have studied and commented on. And a couple came to mind who were able to express what they were trying to do in the world in about a sentence. Reagan wanted to roll back communism by whatever means. Lincoln has a famous letter in which he says, I would save the union by the shortest means under the Constitution. As you look at the moment of history that you occupy, do you think you can put into a sentence what you are trying to accomplish in the world?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: I’m not sure I can do it in a sentence because we’re fortunate in many ways. We don’t face an existential crisis. We don’t face a civil war. We don’t face a Soviet Union that is trying to rally a bloc of countries and that could threaten our way of life. Instead, what we have is, as I say in the speech, this moment in which we are incredibly fortunate to have a strong economy that is getting stronger, no military peer that threatens us, no nation-state that anytime soon intends to go to war with us. But we have a world order that is changing very rapidly and that can generate diffuse threats, all of which we have to deal with.

More here

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My Brother’s Keeper Task Force Report to the President – PDF

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Greg Sargent: GOP retreat on Obamacare continues apace

A new report this morning confirms that House Republicans are likely to delay plans to offer an alternative to Obamacare until after the elections; that multiple Republican candidates are retreating from repeal; and that they are increasingly mouthing support for the law’s general goals. Once again: There’s no real policy space for a meaningful alternative, but the base still sees repeal as its lodestar, yet everyone else opposes repeal, forcing Republicans to claim they’d scrap it and replace it with something or other doing all the popular things in it, without saying what.

More here

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 Justin Wolfers (NYT): Deceptive Dip in G.D.P. Points to Perils of Election Forecasting

An economic report issued [yesterday] provides a good example of the hazards facing election forecasters. The Bureau of Economic Analysis reported that in the first quarter of this year, Gross Domestic Product, a broad indicator of the health of the economy, shrank at an annual rate of 1 percent. Even worse, an alternative and more accurate measure, called Gross Domestic Income, shrank at an annual rate of 2.3 percent. If that persisted, we’d call it a sharp recession.

But no one is using the R-word. Nor should they. Markets have taken the news in their stride, and few economists have changed their view that the economy is growing and will continue to through 2014. Likewise, consumers remain confident about their economic prospects. Their confidence rests partly on other indicators that suggested far better growth throughout the quarter, such as nonfarm payrolls, which grew by 569,000 over the same period.

More here

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National Journal: Lies, Damn Lies, and Global-Warming Rules

The president is about to take a major step to fight global warming. Here’s what you need to know.

President Obama promised to take action on global warming with or without Congress’s permission. Next week, he’ll tell the world how he plans to do it.

The administration is preparing to release the central pillar of Obama’s climate-change agenda: a proposal for far-reaching rules that will require power companies to cut carbon emissions.

The rules will mark the most significant federal action on climate change since Democrats’ cap-and-trade bill died in the Senate four years ago, and they’re Obama’s best shot at adding broad action on global warming to his legacy.

The rules will also touch off a political war of the first order, offering battleground for environmentalists, industry groups, and politicians to fight over the nation’s energy future.

Here’s what to watch for when the administration pulls back the curtain.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Redskins’ Twitter Campaign To Defend Their Name Goes About As Well As You’d Expect

The Washington Redskins — desperate to defend the name that Native Americans, members of Congress, a majority of the United States Senate, religious leaders, civil rights groups, several current and former NFL players, United Nations Human Rights representatives, and even President Obama have said should be changed because it is a “dictionary-defined” racial slur — started a Twitter campaign to rally support Thursday afternoon.

It started with this tweet asking fans to tell Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who has made a habit of chiding the team over its name, how they felt:

More here

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USA Today: Biden to attend U.S. World Cup soccer match

The United States men’s World Cup soccer team will have a particularly vocal fan when it takes on Ghana next month: Joe Biden.

The vice president will attend the U.S.-Ghana match on June 16 in Natal, Brazil, as part of a trip that will also take him to Colombia and the Dominican Republic as well as Brazil.

More here

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I’m not sure whether to love this video, or be freaked out by it:

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 I shouldn’t laugh, but:

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On This Day

Sen Obama attends a rally in Great Falls, Montana, whilst campaining in the race for the White House. May 30, 2008

Sen. Obama addresses a rally at The Four Seasons Arena May 30, 2008 in Great Falls, Montana

Continue reading ‘Rise and Shine’

14
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

Text of the President’s address:

One year ago today, a quiet, peaceful town was shattered by unspeakable violence.

Six dedicated school workers and 20 beautiful children were taken from our lives forever.

As parents, as Americans, the news filled us with grief.  Newtown is a town like so many of our hometowns.  The victims were educators and kids that could have been any of our own.  And our hearts were broken for the families that lost a piece of their heart; for the communities changed forever; for the survivors, so young, whose innocence was torn away far too soon.

But beneath the sadness, we also felt a sense of resolve – that these tragedies must end, and that to end them, we must change.

From the very beginning, our efforts were led by the parents of Newtown – men and women, impossibly brave, who stepped forward in the hopes that they might spare others their heartbreak.  And they were joined by millions of Americans – mothers and fathers; sisters and brothers – who refused to accept these acts of violence as somehow inevitable.

Over the past year, their voices have sustained us.  And their example has inspired us – to be better parents and better neighbors; to give our children everything they need to face the world without fear; to meet our responsibilities not just to our own families, but to our communities.  More than the tragedy itself, that’s how Newtown will be remembered.

And on this anniversary of a day we will never forget, that’s the example we should continue to follow.  Because we haven’t yet done enough to make our communities and our country safer.  We have to do more to keep dangerous people from getting their hands on a gun so easily.  We have to do more to heal troubled minds.  We have to do everything we can to protect our children from harm and make them feel loved, and valued, and cared for.

And as we do, we can’t lose sight of the fact that real change won’t come from Washington.  It will come the way it’s always come – from you.  From the American people.

As a nation, we can’t stop every act of violence.  We can’t heal every troubled mind.  But if we want to live in a country where we can go to work, send our kids to school, and walk our streets free from fear, we have to keep trying.  We have to keep caring.  We have to treat every child like they’re our child.  Like those in Sandy Hook, we must choose love.  And together, we must make a change.  Thank you.

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9:25 AM EST: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama observe a moment of silence and light candles for those lost at Sandy Hook

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A Year Ago Today:

Dec. 14, 2012 – Pete Souza: “The President reacts as John Brennan briefs him on the details of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The President later said during a TV interview that this was the worst day of his Presidency.”

President Obama pauses during a meeting to observe a moment of silence in the Oval Office at 9:30 a.m. Dec. 21, 2012, in remembrance of the 20 children and six adults killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14. Joining the President, from left, are: Director of Communications Dan Pfeiffer; Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett; Chief of Staff Jack Lew; and Pete Rouse, Counselor to the President. (Photo by Pete Souza)

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See more at ThinkProgress

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Paul Krugman: A Health Care Mystery Explained

….. here’s the thing: Republicans don’t want to help the unfortunate. They’ll propound health-care ideas that will, they claim, help those with preexisting conditions and so on — but those aren’t really proposals, they’re diversionary tactics designed to stall real health reform….

Hence the rage of the right. Here they were, with a whole raft of ideas they could throw out, like chaff thrown out to confuse enemy radar, to divert and confuse any attempt to actually provide insurance to the uninsured. And those dastardly Democrats have gone ahead and actually incorporated those ideas into real reform.

…. There’s no mystery here; it’s just top-down class warfare as usual.

Full post here

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ThinkProgress: The Six Worst Attacks On Reproductive Freedom In 2013

2013 hasn’t been a great year for reproductive rights. Ever since 2010, abortion opponents have imposed a flurry of state-level legislation intended to slowly chip away at abortion access, and that trend certainly continued this year.

But women’s health advocates also believe there was something different about 2013. This year, a far-right contingent of the anti-choice community appeared to abandon their incremental strategy — in which they undermine women’s access to abortion bit by bit, largely with indirect laws that don’t strike at the heart of Roe v. Wade — and get bolder. They started pushing for extremely harsh abortion restrictions that fly in the face of the constitutional right to choose, and they got more serious about shutting down abortion clinics one by one. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), lawmakers in more than 25 states proposed some kind of outright ban on abortion this year.

And they were largely successful. Here’s what the anti-choice community managed to accomplish in 2013…

More here

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The People’s View:  Politifact’s Obama Derangement Syndrome Leads to Propaganda of the Year

Politifact, the Tampay Bay Times’ dubious “fact check” arm that rates political statements on a scale of “True” to “Pants on Fire” has picked President Obama’s promise to Americans that they could keep their health care plan if they liked it as their “lie of the year.” Because, I guess, the claim by numerous Republicans that letting America default on its debts would strengthen the economy was really a 50-50.

Politifact falls victim to its own Obama Derangement Syndrome and follows the trail of political inconveniences the insurance companies caused the president by scaring their customers and refusing to bring their plans into alignment with the ACA requirements for the last 3 years (but they changed the plans nonetheless so that they wouldn’t be eligible to be grandfathered in under the law) combined with the website problems and declares that the scare-storm caused by insurance companies and the political right was really the president’s fault.

More here

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ThinkProgress: Why Doesn’t Twitter Take Gender-Based Harassment More Seriously?

Twitter caused quite a stir late Thursday regarding a change in its block policy, provoking outrage from victims of online harassment and advocates. The new policy, which would have allowed blocked users to keep following and retweeting their blockers, was reversed hours after its debut.

But while the decision to reverse the change was welcomed, it may not go far enough for those most vulnerable to violent threats and harassment — specifically women, people of color, and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered community.

Women took to Twitter soon after the announcement to protest the change, explaining they used the block function to shield themselves from rape and death threats. In a petition against the new policy, several users shared examples of how they had been stalked and threatened on Twitter.

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama whistles as he walks along the Colonnade of the White House following a holiday reception, Dec. 14, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Dec. 14, 2011 – Pete Souza: “During one of the Christmas Holiday receptions at the White House, I noticed the First Lady’s hands resting on the podium as the President made brief remarks.”

Dec. 14, 2011 – Pete Souza: “There was a sea of maroon berets as the President and First Lady greeted troops following remarks on the end of America’s war in Iraq, at Fort Bragg, N.C.”

First Lady Michelle Obama, with first dog Bo, at an annual event at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, Dec. 14, 2012

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Morning everyone.

13
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are introduced at the “Christmas in Washington” taping at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., Dec. 13, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern):

1:0: Jay Carney briefs the press

2:15: President Obama and VP Biden meet with newly elected mayors

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Michael Tomasky: Told You So: Obamacare’s Back

From an atrocious starting point, enrollment on HealthCare.gov is essentially quadrupling. As predicted, by next fall, the law is going to be a net plus for Obama and the Democrats.

….. if we could graph it, the bar line of enrollment would make for a pretty impressive ski slope: After just 27,000 people signed up in the whole of October, about 100,000 people signed up in November, and then, in the first week of December alone, 112,000 chose plans …. If that pace were to continue, the 7 million figure would be cleared in March.

…… I would definitely and unflinchingly bet on the central proposition I argued last week:  By next fall, HealthCare.gov is going to be a net plus for Obama and the Democrats.

…. The thing is that all this isn’t going to make the papers and the cable channels much. There isn’t a lot of inherent news value in a free cervical-cancer screening or a prescription-drug refill. But these millions of people live real lives, not on TV, and they and their families and friends will know what has happened.

More here

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PCTC: Ever See An Insurance Company’s Pre-Existing Conditions? They’re Scary

If you’re wondering why so many people claim they liked their old health insurance, the answer is simple. Very few people with health insurance ever use it for anything other than health maintenance, like doctor visits and annual checkups and the like.

What many people seemed to be unaware of was that, under their old insurance policy, their company could simply refuse to sell them insurance, or cancel their insurance, and/or deny payment of a claim if, at any point, they decided they had a pre-existing condition.

…. And if you think pre-existing conditions were limited to extremely serious conditions, think again. Here is a list of pre-existing conditions from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, issued in 2011 (see link)

…. Be happy for Obamacare. Your insurance is better, because it’s now actually insurance.

Full post here

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Detroit Free Press: Ford To Hire 5,000 U.S. Workers In 2014

Ford will hire about 5,000 employees in the U.S. next year, during which it plans to launch 16 new vehicles in North America, including the 2015 Mustang and F-Series, and seven in the rest of the world.

The jobs will include salaried and hourly positions and are in addition to 14,000 added during the last two years in preparation for the new product onslaught coming, said Joe Hinrichs, Ford president of the Americas.

…. The expansion comes as the U.S. industry wraps up its best sales year since 2007, fueled by easier credit and rising consumer confidence.

…. “2014 will be our biggest year for product launches in our 111-year history,” Hinrichs said. “We keep investing in product.”

More here

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Michael Daly: What If The Founding Fathers Saw Newtown?

In a home built 45 years before the Second Amendment, six scared kids hid after their teacher and 20 classmates were shot dead. Our nation’s fathers would be weeping with the angels. Forget the Sandy Hook killer, but remember the Sandy Hook heroes such as 6-year-old Jesse Lewis, who had just seen his teacher shot when the gunman’s rifle jammed. Rather than use this moment to save himself, Jesse called to some fellow first graders who were standing off to the side, holding hands. “Run!” he told them. In the next moment, Jesse was killed, but the other youngsters escaped. Six of them, four boys and two girls, ended up outside a small yellow frame house nearby that is home to a psychologist named Gene Rosen.

 “We can’t go back to school,” one of the boys reportedly told Rosen. “Our teacher is dead.” In the mid-afternoon, I found the house empty and still, the stuffed animals where the children had left them as they headed home, having escaped the killer thanks to the monumental courage of a tiny hero. I took note of a wood plaque that attested to the year the house had been built. “1746” That was 30 years before the Declaration of Independence, 45 years before the ratification of the Second Amendment. I wondered what the founding fathers—whom the gun rights people love to invoke—would have said if they had happened to pass by here back then and been suddenly bestowed with the gift of prophesy.

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Suzy Khimm: Budget Deal Passes The House

In sharp contrast to the strife and infighting that led to the government shutdown, the House easily passed a bipartisan accord that sets spending levels for the next two years. The budget deal, which passed 332-94, marks a key victory for Speaker John Boehner, who struggled mightily to contain the GOP’s right flank just weeks earlier. The deal would reverse about one-third of sequestration’s automatic cuts for the next two years and reduces the deficit by $23 billion through higher fees and federal pension cuts, among other measures.

Thirty-two Democrats also voted against the bill, with many blasting the bill for failing to include an extension of federal unemployment insurance, which will expire at the end of December for 1.3 million jobless Americans. It was the last day the House was in session this year, leaving Democratic leaders resigned to revisiting the issue in early 2014. “Embrace the suck,” Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi told her caucus earlier Thursday. “We need to get this off the table, so we can go forward.”

More here

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Des Moines Register: Branstad, Feds Reach Agreement On Health Insurance Program For Tens Of Thousand Of Poor Iowans

Gov. Terry Branstad and federal officials have reached an agreement that will allow tens of thousands of poor Iowans to gain public health insurance. The two sides had been negotiating for months over details of the Iowa Health and Wellness Plan, which is an alternative to expanding Medicaid. The new program is to take effect Jan. 1, so time was running short. If no agreement had been reached, more than 50,000 people who now have public coverage would have become uninsured.

Federal officials announced Tuesday that they had approved the proposal, except for one part. They said they could not allow Iowa to charge monthly premiums to people who make less than the poverty level if they failed to comply with healthy activities, such as undergoing annual health assessments. Under the agreement, the state will be allowed to charge a few dollars per month in premiums for such people starting in 2015, but it won’t kick them off the insurance if they fail to pay. The Iowa Health and Wellness Plan will offer health insurance to Iowa adults who make up to about $11,500 per year. A related program, the Marketplace Choice Plan, will offer insurance to people making between that amount and about $15,900. People who think they might qualify can sign up by contacting the Iowa Department of Human Services. Go to https://dhsservices.iowa.gov/apspssp/ssp.portal, call 855-889-7985, or visit a local DHS office.

More here

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BBC: Ukraine Court Frees Protesters Held After Kiev Clashes

A Ukrainian court has freed nine people arrested during clashes between pro-EU protesters and riot police, a key demand of the protest movement. The nine were arrested during a violent crackdown on 30 November to drive protesters away from the presidential administration in the capital Kiev. Amid the international outrage, US Secretary of State John Kerry expressed “disgust” at the use of force. Protest leaders have joined talks with President Viktor Yanukovych.

Hundreds of demonstrators remain camped out in freezing temperatures on Kiev’s Independence Square, their numbers swelling each evening as thousands of others join them. The protests erupted last month after President Yanukovych pulled out of an association agreement with Brussels, which would have been a crucial step towards the former Soviet republic’s integration into the EU. His government continues to give conflicting signals over whether it will press ahead with the agreement after all.

More here

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Senate.Gov: Senate Confirms Seven Nominations

Cornelia T.L. Pillard, of the District of Columbia, to be U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit. Chai Rachel Feldblum, of D.C., to be a Member of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Elizabeth A. Wolford, of New York, to be U.S. District Judge. Landya B. McCafferty, of N.H., to be U.S. District Judge. Patricia M. Wald, of D.C. to be a Member of the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board. Brian Morris, of Montana, to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Montana. Susan P. Watters, of Montana, to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Montana

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Philip Elliot: Changes Ordered For College Loans For Gay Couples

Students in same-sex marriages will be treated the same as their straight married classmates when it comes to federal college loan applications, Education Secretary Arne Duncan said Friday in a shift that reflects this year’s Supreme Court ruling that broadened gay rights. “We must continue to ensure that every single American is treated equally in the eyes of the law, and this important guidance for students is another step forward in that effort,” Duncan said in a statement. The Education Department also revised its required Free Application for Federal Student Aid to reflect more inclusive language about students and their parents. The department said it would recognize a student — and parents — as legally married if the couple was legally married in a state that permits same-sex marriages.

The new application forms do not distinguish between gay or straight marriages. The department also said students’ eligibility for federal aid would be the same in all 50 states, regardless of where the student attends school. For instance, a same-sex couple from Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal, would be treated the same as a straight couple if one or both applied for a federal student loan to attend a school in one of the 34 states that do not permit gay marriage. The same standards would apply to parents in same-sex marriages. Before the Supreme Court ruled this summer, the Education Department was bound by the Defense of Marriage Act, which prohibited all federal agencies from recognizing same-sex marriages. The Clinton-era law defined marriage as between one and one woman and hurt many applicants in same-sex marriages.

More here

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Brian Beutler: Obama’s Shutdown Critics Look Like Morons After Budget Deal

Guess what, tired Beltway pundits: Obama’s successful leadership from October brought an end to GOP hostage-taking. most conservatives, and several allies of convenience in the mainstream media, argued that Obama needed to get his hands dirty and negotiate a settlement of both issues, even if it meant paying a modest ransom to the GOP. That his refusal to be extorted, to haggle over the terms of his own surrender — to say nothing of his prior inability to strike a grand bargain with the same hostage-taking party — amounted to a failure of leadership. Many said his position was unsustainable. National Journal’s Ron Fournier argued paradoxically that while Obama couldn’t cave to GOP ransom demands, he also needed to negotiate a ransom. Or that a more adroit leader would have been able to wring a mutually agreeable budget deal out of uncompromising House Republicans.

The budget agreement Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash. struck this week — mutually agreeable to many Democrats and many Republicans — badly discredits both arguments. “We’ve got to find a way to make divided government work,” Ryan told reporters Wednesday. It’s very hard to look back at the events of the past couple months and not credit Obama with provoking this volte-face. The deal he struck with Murray, by contrast, wasn’t negotiated under threat of default. As such, it contain no fruits of the right’s extortion fantasies. No cuts to big social insurance programs. No pound of Obamacare flesh. In that sense his refusal to negotiate in October wasn’t a failure of leadership, but precisely the tough-minded act of leadership Republicans needed to reach an understanding of the limits of their power.

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama address guests in the Grand Foyer of the White House during a holiday party, Dec. 13, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Christmas in Washington, December 13, 2009

First Lady Michelle Obama greets patients and staff at the Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., Dec. 13, 2010 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

President Obama pretends to shave a boy while filling care packages with Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers during a NBA Cares service event at the Boys and Girls Club at THEARC December 13, 2010

President Obama is joined by members of the 2010 NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers for an NBA Cares service project at the Boys and Girls Club at THEARC in Washington, D.C., Dec. 13, 2010. Lakers’ Head Coach Phil Jackson is at right ( House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama checks his BlackBerry en route to the Oval Office, Dec. 13, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)


President Obama signs the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 into law at Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Washington, D.C., Dec 13, 2010




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