Posts Tagged ‘Sandy Hook

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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Get Covered

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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.

More here

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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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