President Barack Obama shakes hands with German President Joachim Gauck during a meeting in the Oval Office. The two leaders participated in a bilateral meeting that marked the 25th anniversary of German reunification
President Barack Obama is introduced by Terrance Wise, an organizer and fast food worker, at the White House Summit on Worker Voice
President Barack Obama speaks during White House Summit on Worker Voice in the East Room of the White House. The summit is an effort to give unions, organizers and some businesses a platform to discuss wages and other issues
President Barack Obama speaks during a event co-hosted by coworker.org during the White House Summit on Worker Voice. On stage with the president is Michelle Miller, co-founder of coworker.org
The full conference with President Obama and Vice President Biden’s remarks
President Barack Obama shakes a present that he received following a conversation co-hosted by coworker.org
President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, Natioanl Security Advisor Susan Rice, Secretary of State John Kerry and Samantha Power United States Ambassador to the United Nations, attend the “Leader’s Summit on Countering ISIL and Countering Violent Extremism” at the United Nations
First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama joins the “Let Girls Learn” Global Conversation at The Apollo Theater in New York City
Glamour’s Editor-in-Chief Cindi Leive (R) led a panel discussion with Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Founder of Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project and U.N. Messenger of Peace Charlize Theron, First Lady of the United States Michelle Obama and Girl ambassador from Plan International Nurfahada during Glamour “The Power Of An Educated Girl” at The Apollo Theater
President Barack Obama smiles as he arrives to deliver a speech at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at the United Nations Compound in Nairobi. President Obama’s visit to Kenya is focused on trade and economic issues, as well as security and counterterrorism cooperation
President Barack Obama and Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta take part in a roundtable with young businesspeople at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. He told African entrepreneurs in Kenya on Saturday they could help counter violent ideologies and drive growth in Africa, and said governments had to help by ensuring the rule of law was upheld and by tackling corruption
President Barack Obama speaks during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House. President Obama met with Vice President Joseph Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry, National Security Adviser Susan Rice and spoke on the gunmen attack at the office of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, France.
President Barack Obama approaches Marine One on the snow covered South Lawn prior to his departure from the White House
President Barack Obama, accompanied by 89th Airlift Wing Commander Col. John Millard, smiles as they walk on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base, Md.
President Barack Obama, followed by Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich and Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-Mich., as they arrive on Air Force One at Detroit Metro Wayne County Airport in Detroit
President Barack Obama speaks at Ford Michigan Assembly Plant in Wayne, Mich., about the resurgent American automotive and manufacturing sector
Ford plant manager, Phillip Calhoun, President Barack Obama, Mark Fields, president and CEO of Ford, and Bill Ford eye a new mustang at Ford Michigan Assembly Plant
President Barack Obama speaks at US Central Command (CentCom) at MacDill Air Force Base
President Barack Obama sits next to Commander of Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin III during in a briefing from top military leaders while at U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida
"Osama bin Laden is no more. Because of you, the core al Qaeda leadership in Afghanistan & Pakistan has been decimated" —Obama to our troops
President Barack Obama participates in a briefing from top military leaders while visiting U.S. Central Command at MacDill Air Force Base. From L-R are: United States Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco, National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Obama, Commander of Central Command Gen. Lloyd Austin III and U.S. Special Operations Commander Joseph Votel.
President Barack Obama greets members of the military upon his arrival at MacDill Air Force Base
"In three months, our combat mission will be over in Afghanistan & our war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end." —President Obama
President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Session One on “Investing in Africa’s Future,” at the U.S. Department of State (More here)
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President Barack Obama greets Mozambique’s President Armando Guebuza
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President Barack Obama shares a laugh with Ambassador Susan Rice, the President’s National Security Advisor, during a lunch he hosted for over 50 African leaders and their delegations at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit
If there were fairness in this world, Rita Rizzo would be a media star. Rizzo, 60, owns a management consulting firm for nonprofit groups and government offices in Akron, Ohio, with her husband, Lou Vincent, 64. Vincent, who suffers from Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, has gone without health insurance for 10 years. “We got 30 denial letters,” Rizzo told me last week. Three years ago, Rizzo got a hip replacement. Her own insurance premiums were going to rise by $500 a month, to about $800, so she chose instead to triple her deductible to $6,000 to keep the increase to a mere $150 a month. The couple used a $5,000 tax-deductible health savings account to cover her out-of-pocket expenses; Vincent’s medication, which ran to $178 a month; and his blood work-ups, at $2,400 a year. In December, Rizzo signed up for Obamacare. She now has a policy that covers her and Vincent together, including all his meds and lab work, for $379 a month, with a $2,000 family deductible. “I feel like I died and went to insurance heaven,” she says.
Today I turn 40, & I'm grateful to @BarackObama for the gift I am finally able to give myself. #Healthcare. Thank you Mr. President! #ACA
While Rizzo was working her way to thousands of dollars in annual savings, for example, Southern California Realtor Deborah Cavallaro was making the rounds of NBC, MSNBC, CNBC, CBS, Fox and public radio’s Marketplace program, talking about how her premium was about to rise some 65% because of the “Unaffordable” Care Act. What her viewers and listeners didn’t learn was that she hadn’t checked the rates on California’s insurance exchange, where (as we determined for her) she would have found a replacement policy for less than she’d been paying. The millions of beneficiaries of the measure — families excluded from insurance because of high premiums or preexisting medical conditions, low-income individuals made newly eligible for Medicaid, seniors receiving a new subsidy for prescriptions, women granted the legal right to affordable maternity coverage for the first time — seem to be absent from the news media or political ad campaigns. But you can’t turn on your TV without seeing a well-produced 30- or 60-second spot featuring a purported tale of woe.
NYT: Obama To Call For End To N.S.A.’s Bulk Data Collection
The Obama administration is preparing to unveil a legislative proposal for a far-reaching overhaul of the National Security Agency’s once-secret bulk phone records program in a way that — if approved by Congress — would end the aspect that has most alarmed privacy advocates since its existence was leaked last year, according to senior administration officials. Under the proposal, they said, the N.S.A. would end its systematic collection of data about Americans’ calling habits. The bulk records would stay in the hands of phone companies, which would not be required to retain the data for any longer than they normally would. And the N.S.A. could obtain specific records only with permission from a judge, using a new kind of court order.
As part of the proposal, the administration has decided to ask the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to renew the program as it exists for at least one more 90-day cycle, senior administration officials said. But under the plan the administration has developed and now advocates, the officials said, it would later undergo major changes. The new type of surveillance court orders envisioned by the administration would require phone companies to swiftly provide records in a technologically compatible data format, including making available, on a continuing basis, data about any new calls placed or received after the order is received, the officials said. They would also allow the government to swiftly seek related records for callers up to two phone calls, or “hops,” removed from the number that has come under suspicion, even if those callers are customers of other companies.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in two cases challenging the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It’s the second time in as many years that conservative business owners have argued to the Court that all or part of the health-care law is unconstitutional. While this challenge may look to be limited to just birth control, there is in fact a lot more at stake.The Supreme Court will hear in one hearing the legal challenges of two for-profit businesses, Hobby Lobby and the Conestoga Wood Specialties Corporation. Hobby Lobby is a national arts-and-crafts retail chain, while Conestoga is a Pennsylvania-based furniture maker. Both companies object to providing health insurance coverage for some kinds of contraception, claiming that the ACA’s requirement that businesses provide employees equal health insurance coverage violates the companies’ religious beliefs.
Prepping for tommorow's Hobby Lobby argument by reading the bible verse where God tells Moses to exclude birth control from insurance plans
Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood (and the myriad other for-profit businesses challenging the mandate) are arguing that the birth control benefit violates the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) of 1993. The RFRA is a federal law that says the government may not “substantially burden a person’s free exercise of religion,” unless that burden is “necessary to further a compelling government interest” and uses the “least restrictive means” necessary. Conestoga also claims that the mandate violates its religious exercise rights under the First Amendment generally, citing the Citizens United case for precedent. In plain English, that means the Court will be tasked with answering several distinct questions. The first is the most direct: Do secular, for-profit corporations fit the definition of “individual” under the statute? But to get to that answer, the Court will have to wade into the much more troubling question of whether individual business owners can transfer their religious beliefs to that of their business in a way that allows businesses to exercise religious rights.
Children wave as the First Lady leaves after her visit to School No.7 in Chengdu
Rebecca Kaplan: Despite Tensions, No Sign Russia Has Backed Away From Nuclear Security
President Obama’s European trip, which is serving as a de facto background for international meetings around the Ukraine crisis, continues Tuesday with the second day of a Nuclear Security Summit.Though the news out of Monday’s meeting was a move by the Group of Seven (G-7) nations to further isolate Russia on the world stage, the U.S. announced the completion of projects with Belgium and Italy to remove nuclear material and reaffirmed a working relationship with Japan to dispose of highly-enriched uranium and separated plutonium stocks worldwide in order to prevent the materials from falling into the hands of criminals or terrorists.
Although Russia and the U.S. remain at odds – and trading sanctions – over the Russian incursion into the Crimean peninsula, National Security Advisor Susan Rice said Friday that the two countries continued to cooperate on the issue. “Nuclear security is an area where the United States has and continues to have an enduring interest in cooperation with Russia and other important countries where the security of nuclear materials remains of concern,” Rice said at a White House briefing last week. “We have every interest in continuing to cooperate with Russia and other countries, even where we have differences with them on other issues, on the issue of nuclear security.”
Miami Herald: Enrollment Drives Kick Into High Gear As Deadline Approaches To Sign Up For President Obama’s Health CareLaw
With a week to go before the March 31 deadline to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, South Florida enrollment efforts have surged. Organizers from elected officials to religious institutions are marshaling one last campaign to cover as many eligible consumers as possible. An army of volunteers and federally funded and trained counselors have fanned out across Miami-Dade, setting up shop in community rooms, public parks, local churches and health centers, hosting enrollment drives and health fairs nearly every day. At the Calle Ocho street festival in downtown Miami, a Liberty City health fair and the 93rd Street Community Baptist Church in West Little River, ambassadors for Obamacare have been signing people up for health insurance in South Florida.
Miami-Dade leads all Florida counties in sign-ups and has the nation’s second-highest enrollment rate among counties, according to April Washington, a regional government relations director for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services who attended the Liberty City enrollment drive. Florida, with the second highest rate of uninsured residents in the nation, leads all 36 states in sign-ups on the federally run exchange, with more than 442,000 people selecting a health plan, and an additional 124,000 assessed eligible for Medicaid. Many, such as Makiesha Victor, 20, bought health insurance for the first time. “I didn’t know anything about health insurance,” said Victor, a server at a McDonald’s restaurant. “I feel good knowing I’m covered. Before, I felt I couldn’t see a doctor.’’ Karina Valdivia, 32, an uninsured single mother of two young children, signed up at the 93rd Street church, too. Valdivia, who lives in Miami’s Brickell area and works for a cleaning service six days a week, found a silver-level plan that she said will cost her $21.36 a month in premiums. “I can afford it now,” she said, a surprised tone in her voice. “I thought it was going to cost more, but it was less.”
Eliza Thompson: American Nuns Announce Their Support For Obamacare Contraception Access
The National Coalition of American Nuns recently came out in support of the Affordable Care Act’s provision for contraception coverage. In a petition addressed to the U.S. Supreme Court (who will soon hear two cases where employers are denying their employees coverage because they don’t personally support contraception), the nuns wrote, “We want to make clear that the sin is not a person using birth control. The sin is denying women the right and the means to plan their families.” Well, that’s awesome.
Sister Donna Quinn, the head of NCAN, told ReligionDispatches.org that “it isn’t ‘faith and freedom’ when reproductive autonomy isn’t extended by the Catholic Church to women.” She added, “It isn’t freedom when a woman can be held hostage by the owner of a business.” The petition (which is extremely close to reaching its goal of 5,000 signatures) also had this to say about religious freedom: “We know that religious freedom means that each person has the right to exercise their own religious beliefs; religious freedom cannot mean that an individual or a corporation gets to impose their religious beliefs on their employees.”
But the case of National Security Adviser Susan Rice, counsel Kathy Ruemmler and homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco — the three women on the couch — offers a unique counterpoint to the argument that only men carry influence in the Obama White House. Nobody in the West Wing outranks them on national security issues, marking the first time that women have occupied all three positions in what has traditionally been a male-dominated field. Rice and Monaco are the ones who wake up Obama when something bad happens overnight. Collectively, the three women handle the most sensitive issues that cross the president’s desk — including the administration’s drone policy, military actions and the review of government surveillance techniques, which was the topic of discussion when the photograph was taken.
Waiting to see my new doctor. I am having my first appointment using my new insurance under ACA. Thank you President Obama!
“The notion that this is an all-male place is a joke,” Rice said, pointing out that women occupy half the seats at the senior adviser meetings. “I’m always struck by the disconnect between perception and reality.” Ruemmler said she had to be persuaded to do the interview, underscoring her point that women, more so than men, tend to shun the spotlight. “That, I think, is the general philosophy for most of the women here and that is just consistent with the way, to be candid, most of us were raised,” Ruemmler said. “It is about doing the work, getting the work done, and the work will speak for itself.” Rice chairs meetings in the Situation Room, where the people around the table are mostly men, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey and CIA Director John Brennan. But she said she’s generally not conscious about her status as one of a handful women in the room.
@BarackObama Thank you Mr. President. With the Affordable Care Act I've been able to get my neck checked out from injuring it two years ago.
The women try to do dinner once a month with the female Cabinet secretaries and White House senior staff. The confabs — part mentoring, part venting — were started by Janet Napolitano, the Homeland Security secretary in the first term, and continued by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. Ruemmler sometimes coaxes Jarrett and Mastromonaco out of the building for Friday afternoon lunches. They said they weren’t particularly struck by the photograph of the three of them sitting on the couch with Obama. That wasn’t an unusual moment, they said. It’s just what they do.
On one Friday earlier this month, more than 11,000 Muslims in mosques across the country heard a sermon about the Affordable Care Act. Hindu and National Baptist groups, meanwhile, are posting online announcements about the White House’s “Faith and Community ACA Days of Action”. Jewish women’s groups have visited college campuses to get students who think they’re “invincible” to sign up for health insurance. “What other time in our history will we be able to help our communities focus on wellness, to help every citizen access a means to be healthy and treat medical conditions, breaking the trend of making emergency rooms and ‘urgent care’ our primary care physicians?” asked Jacquelyn Dupont-Walker, director of the African Methodist Episcopal Church’s Social Action Commission.
The Rev. Gabriel Salguero, president of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition, has spearheaded information sessions at predominantly Latino churches around the country and radio spots on Hispanic Christian radio stations. Salguero noted that one in four persons who are eligible but uninsured are Latino. “It’s an urgent need in our community,” he said. “It’s a real service to that underserved community.” Salguero said he shares other evangelicals’ concerns about Obamacare’s coverage for what they consider to be abortifacients but nevertheless wants to make sure people have a chance to be educated about what the law does and does not include.
@BarackObama Thank you for my health care Mr. President
“My position is I’m a pro-life person so I don’t want anybody dying of preventable diseases if they can get health care,” he said. Likewise, in a rare move, the Roman Catholic bishop of San Bernardino, Calif., wrote a letter that was read at Masses in his diocese on March 15-16, noting that undocumented parents should “sign your child up for health insurance immediately” and that opting out could result in fines that will increase over time. “It is true that our Church has raised objection to elements of the law that relate to contraception and abortion services that might be provided through it,” Bishop Gerald R. Barnes wrote in the March 11 letter, “However, these factors do not mean that we, as Catholics, should disobey the new health care law. If we happen to have an insurance plan that includes services that are objectionable to our faith, which most plans in California do, our response is to not utilize these services.”
President Barack Obama rests his foot on a football during the Domestic Policy Council Meeting in the Oval Office, March 25, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
A young woman reacts after seeing President Barack Obama, during his visit to Prairie Lights, an independent bookstore in Iowa City, Iowa, March 25, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)
President Barack Obama greets a boy, whose first name is also Barack, following the President’s remarks on health care at the University of Iowa Field House in Iowa City, Iowa, March 25, 2010. The President spoke about health insurance reform and how it will impact families and small businesses. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama surprises Personal Secretary Katie Johnson with a gift and birthday cake in the Oval Office, March 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama gestures during a briefing with a bipartisan, bicameral group of members of Congress on the situation in Libya, in the Situation Room of the White House, March 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks with Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-Md., following a briefing with a bipartisan, bicameral group of Members of Congress, in the Situation Room of the White House, March 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama greets Medal of Honor recipients on the South Lawn of the White House, March 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama visits with Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis in the Green Room of the White House prior to a Greek Independence Day reception, March 25, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks with Sung Kim, U.S. Ambassador to Republic of Korea, aboard Marine One during an early morning flight from Osan Air Base to the landing zone at U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan in Seoul, Republic of Korea, March 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama and President Lee Myung-bak of the Republic of Korea walk down the grand staircase following their bilateral meeting at the Blue House in Seoul, Republic of Korea, March 25, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama meets with senior advisors in the Oval Office, March 26, 2013. Pictured, from left, are: Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett; Alyssa Mastromonaco, Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations; Kathryn Ruemmler, Counsel to the President; Pete Rouse, Counselor to the President; Chief of Staff Denis McDonough; Rob Nabors, Deputy White House Chief of Staff for Policy; and David Simas, Deputy Senior Advisor for Communications and Strategy. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama host a Passover Seder Dinner for family, staff and friends, in the Old Family Dining Room of the White House, March 25, 2013.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Donna Dem’s (@NoShock) Black History Month ‘Did You Know?’ Series:
In honor of Black History Month I decided to do a “Did You Know” series for the month of February. So often we hear about well known African-Americans who have made history through the ages. In order to give a little more perspective, I wanted to share some of the back stories that are rarely ever spoken of.
Did You Know That?
Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on friend Maya Angelou’s birthday, on April 4, 1968. Angelou stopped celebrating her birthday for years afterward, and sent flowers to King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, for more than 30 years, until Coretta’s death in 2006.
Did You Know That?
Muhammad Ali, Golden Glove champion, Olympic Gold medalist, Heavy Weight boxing champion and Presidential Medal of Freedom awardee is considered one of the greatest athletes in boxing history had a penchant of being controversial and outspoken. He didn’t disappoint when he was awarded a star on the infamous Hollywood Walk of Fame. Ali didn’t want anyone “stepping on him” so of the more than 2500 stars that have been honored he is the only celebrity whose star is not located on the sidewalk. He was installed on a wall of the Kodak Theatre in true “I am the greatest” Muhammad Ali style.
Did You Know That?
Allensworth, CA is the first all-black Californian township, founded and financed by African Americans. Created by Lieutenant Colonel Allen Allensworth in 1908, the town was built with the intention of establishing a self-sufficient city where African Americans could live their lives free of racial prejudice.
It has since been designated Colonel Allensworth State Historic Park.
Did You Know That?
Althea Gibson, the first AA to win a Tennis Grand Slam event, the French Open and then later Wimbledon was also a talented vocalist and saxophonist who appeared at the legendary Apollo Theater and on the Ed Sullivan show before starting her tennis career.
Did You Know That?
After the success of Negro Digest (similar to the Reader’s Digest but aimed to cover positive stories about the African-American community), publisher John H. Johnson in 1945 decided to create a magazine to showcase black achievement while also looking at current issues affecting African Americans. The first issue of his publication, Ebony, sold out in a matter of hours. The magazine has been published continually since the autumn of 1945.
Did You Know That?
Frederick Douglas, Black abolitionist, orator and writer and Moneta Sleet, the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for his iconic photograph of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s widow, Coretta Scott King, at Dr. King’s funeral and Gregory Hines, world renowned tap dancer, choreographer, actor, singer and director all share a birthday on ♥ ♥Valentine’s Day ♥ ♥ .
Did You Know That?
Carter G. Woodson, the “Father of Black History“, was an African-American historian, author, journalist and University Dean. In 1926, Dr. Woodson initiated the celebration of Negro History Week, which corresponded with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln. In 1972, it was renamed Black History Week. The celebration was expanded in 1976 to include the entire month of February and today Black History Month garners support throughout the country as people of all ethnic and social backgrounds discuss the black experience.
Did You Know That?
In her early life, Coretta Scott King was as well known for her singing and violin playing as she was for her civil rights activism. The young soprano won a fellowship to the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, Massachusetts, the city where she met future husband Martin Luther King Jr.
Did You Know That?
Rosa Parks known as “the mother of the freedom movement” because she refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus, in 1965 she moved to Detroit and worked for U.S. Representative John Conyers as a secretary and receptionist until 1988. She was a gifted speaker but would donate all of her speaking fees to charity. At the end of her life she was being financially supported by the generosity of those in her community and was the first woman to lie in state at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda.
Tom Kludt: Obama To Continue Economic Tour In New York, Pennsylvania
President Barack Obama is expected to embark on a two-day bus tour next week to both New York and Pennsylvania where he’ll “discuss another cornerstone of his vision for a better bargain for the middle class,” a White House official told a pool reporter.
Obama will travel through the two states on Aug. 22-23. Politico’s Maggie Haberman, citing sources familiar with Obama’s plans, said the President will deliver the remarks in upstate New York.
Adam Peck: Missouri State Fair Apologizes After Mocks, Threatens Rodeo Clown In An Obama Mask
Officials from the Missouri State Fair are busy putting out fires after the organizers of the fair’s bull riding exhibit brought a clown in an Obama mask into the ring and goaded the bull into chasing him around the enclosure.
Videos of the racially-charged incident began circulating across local news organizations shortly after it took place on Saturday evening, and public consternation was quickly followed by condemnations from Republican Party officials and lawmakers across the state. Officials from the state fair issued a public statement via its Facebook page on Sunday evening, calling the performance “inappropriate and disrespectful.”
TPM: Biden To Attend Harkin’s Annual Iowa Steak Fry
Vice President Joe Biden is expected to deliver the keynote address at Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D-IA) annual steak fry this year in Iowa, The Des Moines Register reported. A Biden spokesperson told the Register that Biden has intended to attend the event, one of the biggest fundraisers for the Democratic Party in the Hawkeye State, ever since he was unable to make it last year.
San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro, who delivered the keynote address at last year’s Democratic National Convention, is also expected to attend the steak fry, scheduled to be held Sept.15, in Indianola, Iowa.
When Anastasia Tolmasoff went to a Planned Parenthood clinic in March to receive her quarterly injection of Depo-Provera, she discovered she could no longer afford to receive birth control there. “I’m living paycheck to paycheck, so getting pregnant and having another child is not an option for me,” said Tolmasoff, 33, who rehabilitates wildlife at a nonprofit organization. She and her husband cannot afford health insurance. Tolmasoff is one of thousands of women affected by the Texas Legislature’s 2011 decisions to drastically cut family planning financing and remove “abortion affiliated providers” — namely, Planned Parenthood — from state health programs.
In its 2013 session, the Legislature sought to mitigate the impact of those cuts with the largest financial package for women’s health services in state history, increasing spending to $214 million in the 2014-15 budget from $109 million. Still, women’s health advocates have raised concerns that the financing does not go far enough. Moreover, some advocates argue that strict abortion regulations approved during a special session will create additional burdens on women already struggling to access contraception……
President Barack Obama speaks with White House Counsel Gregory Craig in the Oval Office, June 11 2009. (White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Sara Kliff: The Obama administration will comply with a court order to allow over-the-counter emergency contraceptive sales to women and girls of all ages, according to documents filed late Monday.
While the Department of Justice initially appealed this policy, it has now asked a judge with the Eastern District Court of New York to withdraw that challenge, provided he approves the federal government’s plan for compliance.
The reversal means that emergency contraceptives, a heated policy area that has vexed two presidential administrations, will soon be available to young women off of the pharmacy shelf.
John Stanton: House Democratic Assistant Leader James Clyburn charged Monday that a series of high-profile leaks about secret domestic spying programs are part of a broader effort by opponents of President Barack Obama to damage the administration politically. “There is an attempt by several people to do political harm to this president. I just think this is part of that,” Clyburn told BuzzFeed.
Clyburn, one of the top Democrats in the House, said he “absolutely” believes Snowden, who is currently in Hong Kong, should be extradited back to the United States to face charges.
Brad Plumer: On Monday evening, the Senate voted 66 to 27 to approve a massive farm bill that will set the course of U.S. food policy for the next half-decade. The old farm bill expired last year, and its replacement is 1,150 pages long, costing some $955 billion over 10 years. So what’s actually in it?
Food stamps and nutrition, $760.5 billion over 10 years. This is by far the biggest part of the farm bill, with the bulk taken up by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which helps low-income families pay for food. The Senate bill tweaks some of the rules governing eligibility and cut spending slightly by $3.9 billion compared to what would happen if current policy was kept. (There’s also a controversial amendment by David Vitter to ban anyone convicted of a violent crime from food stamps for life.)
President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Prime Minister Mario Monti of Italy aboard Air Force One, June 6, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Obama’s image juxtaposed with this discussion says a lot about how far we’ve come but how there is much more progress needed
Ken Wheaton: Last week, a new ad from Cheerios was deemed controversial when media outlets discovered that the racist contingent of the idiocracy known as the YouTube comment section trashed the ad for featuring a mixed-race couple and a biracial child.
But according to data from Ace Metrix, Americans like the ad. In fact, “Good for Your Heart” (called “Just Checking” on YouTube) tested the highest of six new Cheerios ads this year and garnered attention and likeability scores 9% and 11% “above the current 90-day norm for cereals.”
Jeffrey Goldberg: Now Rice will be, in effect, Kerry’s supervisor. McCain and Graham, by turning Rice into the scapegoat of the Benghazi debacle, have inadvertently allowed the president to bring her into the innermost ring of power, in a role that requires no Senate confirmation.
Honored to be named the President's next NSA. To all my @USUN & @StateDept colleagues, we've accomplished a ton. Thanks for 4.5 great years.
In the highly centralized White House foreign-policy and national-security operation (critics would call it overcentralized, and they have a point) the secretary of state, even one of Kerry’s stature, does comparatively little to set the administration’s overarching policy. It will be Rice’s job to interpret the president’s broadest wishes and put them into place across several government departments.
Her influence will be especially pronounced, I think, because she is part of Obama’s original foreign-policy team — in what could have been a near-suicidal career move, Rice, a former official in President Bill Clinton’s administration, signed on to Obama’s campaign when his victory didn’t seem at all assured. Her appointment today is partly payback for her loyalty, and a thumb in the eyes of her Senate critics. It is also a sign that the president and Rice are in sync on a broad set of issues, and here is where it gets interesting.
New York Times: Wisconsin and Minnesota are neighboring states with long traditions of caring for the least fortunate, but, at the moment, only one of them is concerned about the health of the poor and uninsured. In February, more than 130,000 Minnesota residents who lack health insurance became eligible for coverage when the state expanded its Medicaid program under the health care reform law. That will save the state $129 million in the first two years alone.
Wisconsin, however, has chosen to take the path of indifference. On Tuesday, the Republicans who control the State Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee voted to reject the expansion of Medicaid, even though it would have covered 85,000 people at less cost to the state. The committee was marching in lock step behind the governor, Scott Walker, who claims to be worried that federal financing will run out. What’s really going on, of course, is that state Republicans have made poor people the victims of their ideological resistance to President Obama and his health care law.
Joshua Foust: 1. Congress voted to legalize expansive surveillance powers in 2001 (The USA PATRIOT ACT), 2008 (retroactive immunity for warantless NSA wiretaps in the FISA Amendments Act), and in 2012 (renewing the FISA Amendments Act).