Posts Tagged ‘TXLege

27
Apr
14

News Of The Day

On This Day: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visit Fort Stewart, Georgia, April 27, 2012

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The Philippines is 12 hours ahead of EDT

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Monday, April 28

The President travels to Manila, Philippines, and participates in an arrival ceremony at Malacanang Palace

Later that afternoon, President Obama meets with President Benigno S. Aquino III of the Philippines

President Obama participates in a joint press conference with President Aquino

The President greets members of the U.S. Embassy in the Philippines

Later that evening, the President attends a State Dinner with President Aquino at Malacanang Palace

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Tuesday, April 29

In the morning, President Obama delivers remarks at Fort Bonafacio

Later that morning, the President participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Manila American Cemetery

The President travels back to Washington, D.C.

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Text of the President’s remarks on Donald Sterling

With respect to the statements by the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers — for our Malaysian audience, this is a sports team, basketball team in the United States.  The owner is reported to have said some incredibly offensive racist statements that were published.  I don’t think I have to interpret those statements for you; they kind of speak for themselves.  When people — when ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk.  And that’s what happened here.

I am confident that the NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, a good man, will address this.  Obviously, the NBA is a league that is beloved by fans all across the country.  It’s got an awful lot of African American players.  It’s steeped in African American culture.  And I suspect that the NBA is going to be deeply concerned in resolving this.

I will make just one larger comment about this.  The United States continues to wrestle with a legacy of race and slavery and segregation that’s still there — the vestiges of discrimination. We’ve made enormous strides, but you’re going to continue to see this percolate up every so often.  And I think that we just have to be clear and steady in denouncing it, teaching our children differently, but also remaining hopeful that part of why some statements like this stand out so much is because there had been — there has been this shift in how we view ourselves.

And like Malaysia, we constantly have to be on guard against racial attitudes that divide us rather than embracing our diversity as a strength.  And I know that the people of Malaysia are committed to wrestling with those issues as well.  We have to make sure that we stay on top of it — and we will.

Full transcript of press conference here

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Dylan Scott: NYT Poll Blows Up GOP’s Obamacare Narrative

A poll released Wednesday offers yet another data point showing the politics of Obamacare aren’t as set in stone as the conventional wisdom would have you believe. Embracing Obamacare isn’t necessarily a political loser, and obstructing it isn’t necessarily a winner. The New York Times/Kaiser Family Foundation poll surveyed four Southern states that will help determine control of the Senate this fall. It earned headlines for finding the Democrats in better shape in the Senate races than most would have expected. But it also assessed the popularity of four governors who have taken vastly different approaches to Obamacare — and the findings are a direct contradiction of the narrative that the law is a loser, plain and simple, especially in states like these.

The poll showed Arkansas Gov. Mike Beebe (D) and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who expanded Medicaid under the law, are hugely popular. Their approval ratings are more than 20 points higher than their disapproval ratings; Beebe holds 68 percent approval, and Beshear is at 56 percent. But Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) are at best treading water with their constituents after they declined to expand the program to cover low-income residents.

More here

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NYT: Slavery Nostalgia Is Real, And It’s Dangerous

Northerners may be a little shocked that anyone could feel a bit nostalgic for slavery, in the manner of the government-hating Nevada rancher, Cliven Bundy. But in the South, such sentiments are hardly unheard of, even if they are usually muttered in private over a few bourbons rather than spoken at a news conference. Occasionally, in fact, they are expressed or embraced by public figures. A particularly relevant case started about 14 years ago, when Maurice Bessinger, owner of a chain of South Carolina barbecue restaurants called Maurice’s Piggie Park, began distributing pro-slavery tracts in his stores. One of the tracts, called the “Biblical View of Slavery,” said the practice wasn’t really so bad, because it was permitted in the Bible. It argued that many black slaves in the South “blessed the Lord” for their condition, because it was better than their life in Africa.

When the tract was discovered, Mr. Bessinger was denounced and his restaurants boycotted. Many retail stores pulled his distinctive (to be kind) yellow mustardy barbecue sauce from their shelves. But one prominent South Carolinian decided to stand up for Mr. Bessinger. Glenn McConnell, then a state senator from Charleston, stocked the sauce in his Confederate “art gallery,” which was loaded with secessionist flags and uniforms, as well as toilet paper bearing the image of Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman. When a local power utility banned its trucks from the parking lots of Piggie Park, Mr. McConnell threatened a legislative vendetta against the company. Mr. Bessinger died in February. Mr. McConnell is now the lieutenant governor of South Carolina.

More here

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President Obama’s Townhall At Malaya University

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Jackie Calmes: In Poorest States, Political Stigma Is Depressing Participation In Health Law

Inside the sleek hillside headquarters of Valley Health Systems, built with a grant from the health care law, two employees played an advertisement they had helped produce to promote the law’s insurance coverage for young, working-class West Virginians. The ads ran just over 100 times during the recent six-month enrollment period. But three conservative groups ran 12 times as many, to oppose the law and the local Democratic congressman who voted for it. This is a disparity with consequences. Health professionals, state officials, social workers, insurance agents and others trying to make the law work for uninsured Americans say the partisan divisions and attack ads have depressed participation in some places.

They say the law has been stigmatized for many who could benefit from it, especially in conservative states like West Virginia that have the poorest, most medically underserved populations but where President Obama and his signature initiative are hugely unpopular. Steven L. Shattls, chief executive of Valley Health, a network of 28 health centers, said his organization would like to rerun its ad before November, when enrollment resumes. But he also conceded, “We have limited resources.” Republican candidates and the so-called super PACs supporting them have made assailing the Affordable Care Act their No. 1 issue for the midterm elections

More here

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Koritha Mitchell: Supreme Court Agrees With Michigan Voters: Affirmative Action Must Remain For Whites Only

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Michigan’s voter-approved ban on affirmative action in admissions to the state’s public universities reinforces an ugly reality: that most Americans support affirmative action only when it is for whites and no one else. Nearly every time American rhetoric privileges states’ rights, it leaves marginalized groups open to even bolder discrimination than they already encounter. Michigan is simply reminding us that the South has never been the only place where Americans believe that whites are the only ones who should enjoy equal protection. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s 58-page dissent is a painfully necessary document that asks the nation to live up to its creed, but we desperately need to take this conversation in another direction. Rather than focus on the disadvantages of groups hurt by this decision, Americans must confront the unearned advantage of whiteness that inspired Michigan’s Proposal 2 in the first place. In short, Proposal 2 — and every instance of the sort of rhetoric that aligns with it — amounts to a declaration that setting a quota for whites of at least 75 percent is the American way.

The nation’s most effective, and palatable, affirmation action has always been for whites. In the early days of the republic, how else could land have been distributed to whites and not to Native Americans? The requirement for land was being white; the government set it aside for whites. How else could whites have secured the vast majority of land in the South (where blacks often outnumbered them) after Emancipation? The Homestead Act of 1863 and other government programs ensured that land was set aside for whites. How else did 98 percent of Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans granted between 1932 and 1962 go to whites? Numerous historians have shown that the federal government sanctioned discriminatory practices that ensured that access to home ownership was set aside for whites. And those homes not only enabled whites to build wealth; they also provided access to public schools that prepared their children for college. The same principles shaped the years after World War II. Thus, while G.I. Bill benefits yielded college degrees and small businesses for whites, black and brown veterans more often returned home to collect insult and injury.

More here

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Jonathan Cohn: Obamacare Cancelled Policies: Study Says Impact Was Actually Small

“Five million people lost their coverage around the country.” That quote comes from John Barrasso, chairman of the Senate Republican Party Committee. But if you’ve heard Republicans and their allies make the case against Obamacare, then you’ve inevitably heard some version of this. In some tellings, the number is 6 million. Sometimes conservatives cite this figure as proof that, on net, the number of Americans with insurance will decline because of the Affordable Care Act. That’s almost certainly not true, as a recent series of surveys have shown. The study, which appears online at the journal Health Affairs, is by Benjamin Sommers, an assistant professor at the Harvard School of Public Health. Using data from the Census Brueau’s Survey of Income Program and Participation, or SIPP, Sommers found that, historically, the non-group insurance has tended to have lots of churn.

In English, that means few people hold onto non-group policies for very long—typically, it’s just a transitional phase, while they are between jobs that provide insurance directly. In the sample that Sommers examined, the number of people who still had the same policy after just four months was already less than than two-thirds; after one year, it was down to 42 percent; after two years, it was down to 27 percent. So what does that tell us about Obamacare? According to Sommers, it suggests that most of the people who got those cancellation notices probably would have dropped existing coverage within a short time anyway. Sommers says that 65 percent of the people in his study had incomes below 400 percent of the poverty line, which means they’d be eligible for tax credits that make non-group insurance less expensive than the sticker price. That makes him skeptical about the extent of “rate shock”

More here

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Michael Tomasky: Republicans Are Racists? No, It’s Just All A Big Coincidence

Come on, fellow liberals. Calm down. I guess maybe it’s fair to call Cliven Bundy a racist. That “picking cotton” business put it over the top, and wondering whether they were better off under slavery. Even Sean Hannity, Bundy’s greatest media champion, threw in the towel last night: He wanted it to be “abundantly clear,” Hannity said at the top of his show, that he found the remarks “downright racist,” “repugnant,” “beyond disturbing,” and so on. OK, so Bundy’s a racist. It’s fine to point that out. But point up the fact that he’s a registered Republican? That’s where I draw the line, friends. I mean, come on. That’s just a coincidence. Total cosmic coincidence.

Just like it’s a coincidence that one federal judge who sent an email around to friends saying that Obama’s father was a dog happened to be a Republican. Complete and utter accident of fate, the puny matter of his voter enrollment. Those rancidly racist T-shirts and posters one sometimes sees at Tea Party rallies? They’re just a coincidence, too. I mean, Tea Party people might not be Republican, strictly speaking, and it’s totally unfair to assume that! OK, Tea Party candidates run in Republican primaries, not Democratic ones, and the Tea Party caucus in the House doesn’t include one Democrat. But still. Guilt by association!

More here

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Irin Carmon: Texas Women Are Running Out Of Options

There is no more birth control at the flea market. And if there ever were abortion pills, they’re long gone, too. At the Rio Grande Valley’s biggest outdoor market, known as la pulga, locals can buy car parts and fertilizer, watermelons out of a pickup, a parakeet, an iPhone case or stickers from their favorite Mexican fútbol team. But since this flea market was among several raided last August over suspicion it was selling abortion pills, if you even ask for birth control you’ll hear voices lower to a fearful whisper. You’ll be sent to the vendor who sells nuts, or the women selling jewelry. On a recent afternoon, all those destinations were a dead end. “Not anymore,” a woman whose table bore aspirin and homeopathic remedies said in Spanish. She shrugged. “Obama wants us to have more babies.” In fact, it wasn’t the federal government that raided four flea markets’ thriving illegal pharmaceutical trade, making undocumented residents that much more terrified to shop in them. The Sheriff of Hidalgo County, who took the lead, didn’t find any abortion pills, but he did charge nine people with selling prescription-drug contraband like diet pills and Viagra from Mexico.

The arrests came a month to the day after a front page New York Times story about how the state’s new omnibus law restricting abortion – the one Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis famously tried to block – was expected to close the Rio Grande Valley’s two abortion clinics.The combined crackdown by state and local authorities in Texas has done more than make it harder for the women of the Valley to get an abortion. They’re now having trouble getting any reproductive health care at all, since the same state legislature that shuttered the abortion clinics also slashed family planning funds and closed family planning providers. And Texas’ refusal to expand Medicaid means its distinction as the uninsured capital of the United States isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, making the state’s broader health care crisis even worse.

More here

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Ian Millhiser: Court Declares Arkansas Voter Suppression Law Unconstitutional

Voter ID laws, which require voters to show a photo ID at the polls, reduce voter turn out among young voters, low-income voters and people of color — all of whom are groups that tend to prefer Democrats to Republicans. Arkansas’ voter ID law is also unconstitutional, according to a state trial court’s decision handed down on Thursday. As Judge Timothy Davis Fox lays out the controlling law in this case, the constitutionality of Arkansas’ voter ID law isn’t even a particular difficult question. The Arkansas Constitution provides that “[n]o power, civil or military, shall ever interfere to prevent the free exercise of the right of suffrage; nor shall any law be enacted whereby such right shall be impaired or forfeited, except for the commission of a felony, upon lawful conviction thereof.” This law impairs the free exercise of the right of suffrage.

More here

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LEO Weekly: Mitch McConnell Enters A High-Risk Pool On Kynect Opposition

Gov. Steve Beshear announced the almost-final enrollment numbers for Kentuckians gaining access to health care coverage under Kynect before the spring deadline, in which a staggering 413,410 people — 9.6 percent of all Kentuckians — now have health insurance. Roughly 300,000 of these people previously did not have health insurance, and 52 percent of Kynect enrollees are under the age of 35. Sen. Mitch McConnell is beating the drum of repealing Obamacare “root and branch,” though he occasionally slips up and talks about a “fix.” Where this stance becomes dicey for him is when he’s asked what he would do for those 413,000 Kentuckians who have health insurance through Kynect, 300,000 of which were previously uninsured, if he succeeds in repealing the ACA. When cornered with this question, McConnell usually goes into talking points mode to avoid specifics, but last week His Swaggerness got McConnell to bite. Asked what he would do for terminally ill Kentuckians who would lose their new insurance if the ACA is repealed, McConnell actually presented what appears to be a specific answer

McConnell is referring to here is Kentucky Access, the state’s former high-risk pool that helped provide insurance on the private market for Kentuckians who were otherwise turned down by insurance companies due to their pre-existing condition. The program operated from 2001 until the end of last year, when it was rendered moot by the ACA. However, Kentucky Access was not very popular, as it was still too expensive for people to buy insurance. In 2013, only 3,988 Kentuckians gained coverage through the program — which did not provide the same consumer protections under the ACA — with the average basic premium for an individual being $680 a month, and the most popular plan with a pharmacy rider having a monthly premium of $1,118 for a male aged 64.

On the other hand, these same people — and hundreds of thousands more — can now gain coverage through Kynect, along with a subsidy to reduce their premium cost and new consumer protections that make their insurance more valuable if they have a medical emergency and cover the costs of basic check ups and screenings. What McConnell is essentially saying is that we should just go back to the way it was before, with vulnerable Kentuckians having to rely on expensive insurance through an unpopular program that did not provide the same protections they have now. Kynect? 413,000 Kentuckians signing up for insurance in the exchange shows you what a popular insurance pool looks like. And yes, 413,000 is greater than 4,000.

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On This Day

President Obama poses for a photo with a patron at Jerry’s Family Restaurant, a diner in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, April 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama tours MogoOrganic farm with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, right, and Morgan Hoenig, left, in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, April 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama visits with patrons who were playing bridge in a backroom at Jerry’s Family Restaurant in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, April 27, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama hugs children of Executive Office employees at the White House’s annual “Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work” day, April 27, 2011

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk across the South Lawn of the White House as they depart for Chicago to film a segment on the Oprah Winfrey Show, April 27, 2011

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Marian Robinson walk with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley from Air Force One to Marine One at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, Ill., April 27, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama chat with Oprah Winfrey during a taping of the Oprah Winfrey show, April 27, 2011, at Harpo Studios in Chicago

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President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama walk across the South Lawn before boarding Marine One at the White House April 27, 2012

President Obama and wife Michelle share a moment while meeting with military families at the headquarters for the Army’s 3rd Infantry Division in Fort Stewart, Georgia to sign changes in the GI Bill, April 27, 2012

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President Obama at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, DC on April 27, 2013

Conan O’Brien and First Lady Michelle Obama

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30
Mar
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama enters the South Portico of the White House following his arrival aboard Marine One on the South Lawn, March 30, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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The Week Ahead:

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Addicting Info: Ted Cruz Tries To Use Facebook To Prove No One Likes Obamacare And It Blows Up In His Face

The Tea Party crusade against the Affordable Care Act (ACA) hit a huge snag this week. On March 24, 2014, Texas Tea Party Senator, Ted Cruz, decided to put up a ‘quick poll,’ about the ACA on his facebook page. Problem? The Koch brothers don’t control the conversation on social media, the people do.

Ask a question, get an answer. The question Rafael ‘Ted’ Cruz asked on facebook was simple. Are you better off now than you were before the ACA, also called Obamacare, was signed into law, four years ago? Nearly 40,000 comments later, the resounding answer from people all across the country was YES.

More here

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NYT: New G.O.P. Bid To Limit Voting In Swing States

Pivotal swing states under Republican control are embracing significant new electoral restrictions on registering and voting that go beyond the voter identification requirements that have caused fierce partisan brawls. The bills, laws and administrative rules — some of them tried before — shake up fundamental components of state election systems, including the days and times polls are open and the locations where people vote. Republicans in Ohio and Wisconsin this winter pushed through measures limiting the time polls are open, in particular cutting into weekend voting favored by low-income voters and blacks, who sometimes caravan from churches to polls on the Sunday before election.

Democrats in North Carolina are scrambling to fight back against the nation’s most restrictive voting laws, passed by Republicans there last year. The measures, taken together, sharply reduce the number of early voting days and establish rules that make it more difficult for people to register to vote, cast provisional ballots or, in a few cases, vote absentee.In all, nine states have passed measures making it harder to vote since the beginning of 2013. Most have to do with voter ID laws. Other states are considering mandating proof of citizenship, like a birth certificate or a passport, after a federal court judge recently upheld such laws passed in Arizona and Kansas. Because many poor people do not have either and because documents can take time and money to obtain, Democrats say the ruling makes it far more difficult for people to register.

Last year, the Supreme Court struck down a central provision of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The decision allowed a number of mostly Southern states to alter their election laws without the prior approval once required from the Justice Department. A few weeks later, free of the mandate and emboldened by a Republican supermajority, North Carolina passed the country’s most sweeping restrictions on voting.

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Tara Culp-Ressler: Survivors Of Domestic Violence Now Have Better Access To Obamacare Benefits

Survivors of domestic violence who are living separately from an abusive spouse will now be able to claim tax credits to help them afford an Obamacare plan, thanks to new rules being developed by the federal government. Before the change, these individuals were locked out of federal assistance for health care unless they filed joint taxes with their abuser. Obamacare’s tax credits are intended to ensure that insurance plans on the new marketplaces are affordable for the Americans who may otherwise struggle to pay for health care. But in order for married people to qualify, the health law requires them to file their taxes jointly. If they file separately, they lose out on the federal assistance altogether. Domestic violence prevention advocates argue that policy ends up harming victims of abuse —

particularly because domestic violence is more concentrated among low-income households, and the victims who are financially dependent on their abusers are less likely to be able to extricate themselves from the relationship.  Last week, a group of 79 lawmakers, led by Reps. Louise Slaughter (D-NY) and Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), urged the Treasury Department to change this policy and safeguard victims of domestic violence. It only took a few days for Treasury officials to agree. “For victims of domestic abuse, contacting a spouse for purposes of filing a joint return may pose a risk of injury or trauma or, if the spouse is subject to a restraining order, may be legally prohibited. Your concerns are consistent to those expressed to us by numerous others in public comments and meetings,” the Treasury Department acknowledged on Wednesday in a written response to Slaughter and Doggett, explaining that the administration will work on finalizing a new rule on this issue.

More here

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Pete Souza: Pres Obama talks on phone to Pres Putin from Saudi Arabia Friday night

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Fareed Zakaria: Obama Pursues The Right Response To Russia’s 19th-Century Behavior

This is not an academic debate. The best way to deal with Russia’s aggression in Crimea is not to present it as routine and national interest-based foreign policy that will be countered by Washington in a contest between two great powers. It is to point out, as Obama did eloquently this week in Brussels, that Russia is grossly endangering a global order that has benefited the entire world. Compare what the Obama administration has managed to organize in the wake of this latest Russian aggression to the Bush administration’s response to Putin’s actions in Georgia in 2008. That was a blatant invasion. Moscow sent in tanks and heavy artillery; hundreds were killed, nearly 200,000 displaced.

Yet the response was essentially nothing. This time, it has been much more serious. Some of this difference is in the nature of the stakes, but it might also have to do with the fact that the Obama administration has taken pains to present Russia’s actions in a broader context and get other countries to see them as such. You can see a similar pattern with Iran. The Bush administration largely pressured that country bilaterally. The Obama administration was able to get much more effective pressure because it presented Iran’s nuclear program as a threat to global norms of nonproliferation, persuaded the other major powers to support sanctions, enacted them through the United Nations and thus ensured that they were comprehensive and tight. This is what leadership looks like in the 21st century.

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@GOPIsPoverty

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Guardian: Kerry To Meet Russia’s Lavrov For Ukraine Talks In Paris On Sunday

Halfway home from Saudi Arabia, US secretary of state John Kerry has abruptly changed course. He will now stay in Europe for talks on Ukraine. The news followed reports from Russia that Kerry had spoken to the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, by phone, a day after President Vladimir Putin called President Barack Obama. The Russian foreign ministry said Washington had initiated the call between Kerry and Lavrov, adding that they discussed Ukraine and plans for further contact.

Flying from Riyadh to Ireland for a refuelling stop, Kerry decided to turn around after speaking to Lavrov from the plane. State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki confirmed on Saturday that Kerry had arrived in Paris and that the meeting would be held on Sunday.

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Kate Nocera: Univision Works Overtime To Get Latinos Enrolled In Obamacare

The Obama administration has been working overtime in recent months to enroll uninsured Latinos — one of the groups most likely to be uninsured — but it’s not just the White House making a concerted effort. For more than a year, the Spanish-language television network Univision has embarked on their own company-wide effort to get Latinos signed up on the exchanges, working through newscasts, special programming, advertising partnerships, and a dedicated health care website. Univision has not only been providing information to their viewers as to how to sign up but openly encouraging them to do so.

The network’s “empowerment initiatives” team — which focuses primarily on health and educational programming — began looking for partners to help their audience find coverage last year. Univision ultimately went with the California Endowment and the Ford Foundation, launching in earnest last April. The company makes no bones about what they were trying to do. Empowerment Initiatives Director Stephen Keppel told BuzzFeed that the company thinks “it’s better to have health insurance than not to have it” and because of the high number of uninsured Latinos, it was an important initiative for them to take on.

More here

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BBC: Vladmir Putin: The Rebuilding Of ‘Soviet’ Russia

On 16 August 1999, the members of Russia’s parliament – the State Duma – met to approve the candidacy of a prime minister. They heard the candidate’s speech, they asked him a few questions, and they dutifully confirmed him in the position. This was President Boris Yeltsin’s fifth premier in 16 months, and one confused party leader got the name wrong. He said he would support the candidacy of Stepashin – the surname of the recently sacked prime minister – rather than that of his little-known successor, before making an embarrassing correction.

If even leading Duma deputies couldn’t remember the new prime minister’s name, you couldn’t blame the rest of the world if it didn’t pay much attention to his speech. He was unlikely to head the Russian government for more than a couple of months anyway, so why bother? That man was a former KGB officer, Vladimir Putin, and he has been in charge of the world’s largest country, as president or prime minister, ever since. Few realised it at the time, because few were listening, but that speech provided a blueprint for pretty much everything he has done, for how he would re-shape a country that was perilously close to total collapse.

More here

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Scott Keyes: It Saves Millions To Simply Give Homeless People A Place To Live

It is cheaper to give homeless people a home than it is to leave them on the streets. That’s not just the opinion of advocates working to end homelessness, nor is it the opinion of homeless people themselves. It is a fact that has been borne out by studies across the country, from Florida to Colorado and beyond. The latest analysis to back up this fact comes out of Charlotte, where researchers from the University of North Carolina Charlotte examined a recently constructed apartment complex that was oriented towards homeless people.

Moore Place opened in 2012 with 85 units. Each resident is required to contribute 30 percent of his or her income, which includes any benefits like disability, veterans, or Social Security, toward rent. The rest of the housing costs, which total approximately $14,000 per person annually, are covered by a mix of local and federal government grants, as well as private donors. In the first year alone, researchers found that Moore Place saved taxpayers $1.8 million. These savings comes from improvements in two primary areas: health care and incarceration.

More here

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Sara Fischer: Biden: Undocumented Immigrants ‘Already American Citizens’

Vice President Joe Biden echoed the West Wing’s “we can’t wait” mantra Thursday, telling a crowd at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Summit that “undocumented aliens” are already American citizens. “You know, 11 million people that are living in the shadows. I believe they’re already Americans citizens,” Biden said. “These people are just waiting, waiting for a chance to be able to contribute fully. And by that standard, 11 million undocumented aliens are already Americans in my view.”

Citing the contribution Hispanics have made to the American economy, Biden stressed the importance of passing immigration reform sooner rather than later, arguing, “It’s the single most significant thing we can do. It’s a game-changer financially for the country.”“Just this one act alone, if we pass the Senate bill, can extend Social Security solvency by two years.” Biden said. “Even Republicans think we should pass the Senate bill,” he later added.

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Chris Geidner: Federal Appeals Court Rejects Challenge To Texas Abortion Restrictions

A federal appeals court rejected Planned Parenthood’s challenge to Texas’ restrictive abortion law passed last summer, save for one small exception. Thursday’s unanimous decision of a three-judge panel of the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a trial court decision from October finding two provisions in the law unconstitutional.

Planned Parenthood challenged two provisions: One required physicians performing abortions to have admitting privileges “at a hospital no more than thirty miles from the location where the abortion is provided.” The second provision limited medication abortions by requiring that, with few exceptions, abortion-inducing drugs only be used when they “comply with the protocol authorized by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).”

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Michael Cohen: Obama’s Not-Another-Cold-War-Vision: Don’t Hate The Players – Play The Game

From the day Barack Obama took office, his approach to American foreign policy has vacillated between a seemingly irreconcilable set of impulses. There’s been the sentimentalist agitating for reductions in nuclear weapons, calling for a more modest approach – and the commander-in-chief ramping up the US drone war, surging in Afghanistan, going far beyond his mandate to affect regime change in Libya. There was the lawyer and internationalist drawing a redline on Syria’s use of chemical weapons – and the hard-headed realist who, to date, has assiduously avoided any policy that would risk miring the US in that country’s bloody civil war. Yesterday in Brussels, as Obama spoke about the proper response to Russia’s seizure of Crimea, those contending instincts were once again on stark display.

Yet rarely has Obama so effectively navigated the middle ground between them – or quite so lovingly embraced Europe as he cast a distinctly icy glare at Vladimir Putin. In the process, the American president offered perhaps the clearest sense of his own vision on international relations: one that upholds the international system for its role in creating a world of greater peace and security – and explaining why, in an era of retrenchment, that system matters more than ever.In Obama’s formulation, peace is a product of universalist ideals, yes. But it is sustained and reinforced by an international system of laws and norms.

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Betsy Phillips: Creationism Is Not Being Ignored On ‘Cosmos’ — It’s The Focus

Danny Faulkner, a “scientist” working for the same group that runs Kentucky’s creation museum was complaining last week that Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey doesn’t address creationism.Actually, Tyson is deliberately and straightforwardly giving a whole lot of time to creationism. Why did we have to sit through the history of the eyeball? Creationists love to argue that the complexity of the eyeball disproves evolution. Note how he talked specifically about how the eyeball isn’t actually this perfect mechanism, but something that works well enough for what we need it for, but not as well as it does in fish — the whole idea that the eyeball is a perfect, too-complex thing is a creationist argument.

 Another example: Why did Tyson spend so much time explaining the similarities and differences in how polar bears have evolved through natural selection vs. how dogs have changed in the time we’ve been breeding them for certain traits? Because creationists acknowledge that changes within species happen. They just like to pretend like one kind of organism couldn’t really have brought forth another kind of organism. Tyson isn’t ignoring creationism. Creationists wish Tyson were ignoring creationism. Tyson is instead standing on creationism’s home turf and playing by their rules.Tyson is taking creationists’ claims deadly seriously, and showing all the ways they’re wrong.

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Jon Emont: Can Israeli Business Leaders Push Netanyahu Toward A Palestinian Peace Deal?

In late January, the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu began to appear on scores of billboards in Tel Aviv. The caption read: “A strong state signs the deal. Bibi only you can do it!” The message—to work out a peace agreement with the Palestinians—was idealistic. But the money was all business. The 1 million shekel (around $300,000) advertising campaign was paid for by the Israeli wing of Breaking the Impasse, an alliance of more than 150 Israeli corporate executives. The campaign comes at a crucial time. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is one month away from his April 29 deadline to release a framework agreement that will establish the U.S. government’s principles for a final deal.

After nine months of discussion there is widespread worry that the framework agreement will be dead on arrival. Kerry’s demands from the Palestinians might cause Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to withdraw from talks or lose his authority to negotiate. At the same time, Kerry’s demands for Israeli concessions over settlements or East Jerusalem might lead the Israeli right to pressure Netanyahu to withdraw from the talks. Israelis are pessimistic about the peace process, and Netanyahu has little domestic incentive to make concessions to spur negotiations. This worries Israeli business executives. They’re concerned that Israel will face increasing international isolation, including an expanded boycott campaign, if the talks founder. BTI represents these business people. It’s planning a well-funded public campaign to pressure Netanyahu to make concessions and sign a deal.

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Katie Zezima: Just How Popular Was Michelle Obama’s Visit To China?

According to a tally by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, photos, videos and stories about Michelle Obama’s visit to China garnered more than 1 billion page views. Yes, that’s billion with a B.It’s probably not too far-fetched of a notion, according to Cheng Li, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution. “This is really Michelle fever in China,” he said.Cheng said Obama and her family –

her mother, Marian Robinson, and daughters, Malia and Sasha, traveled with her — showed respect for Chinese traditions and deftly weaved in diplomacy with lighter moments in a way that made the Chinese want to see what she was doing and where she was going. “Chinese do not only see this leader to leader. They see it family to family and in a broader context the respect of the two great countries,” he said. “This is why people got so excited.”

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Get Covered Illinois: #GCISuccess Stories

Rebecca S.: Rebecca, a 27 year-old Chicago resident, was denied coverage in 2012 because of her pre-existing condition. Upon being rejected in the private market, Rebecca enrolled in a plan for high-risk individuals that was beyond her price range and didn’t cover many of her health care needs. Now, Rebecca is enrolled in a Silver plan that saves her $1,600 per year compared to her previous coverage and covers the majority of her needs. Rebecca sees her new health insurance as more than just comprehensive coverage at a fair price. She believes enrolling in affordable health care is her chance at the American dream to be young and hardworking without the fear that an accident or illness will derail her dreams.

Joe Z.: Joe, a 55 year-old self-employed realtor from Chicago, previously had a COBRA plan that ended in 2013. Preparing for the New Year, Joe enrolled in a Silver plan with Blue Cross Blue Shield through the Marketplace. He was amazed to learn that his premium would be reduced by over 50% and that his new plan offered more extensive coverage. Joe is thankful that he was able to find affordable coverage on the Marketplace, especially with his pre-existing condition. In 2005, Joe underwent open heart surgery and said it was nearly impossible to find reasonable coverage with his medical history until the Affordable Care Act. Since enrolling, he has already used his insurance at his annual checkup with his cardiologist. Joe can rest easy now knowing his medical history will never dictate the type of coverage he can get again.

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On This Day

 Standing on the Colonnade with Phil Schiliro, assistant to the President for Legislative Affairs, prior to the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act Bil signing ceremony in the Red Room of the White House, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 President Obama walks to a podium in the Cross Hall, Grand Foyer of the White House, before making a statement regarding the American auto industry, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

President Obama walks away from the podium after delivering a statement regarding the American auto industry in the Cross Hall, Grand Foyer of the White House, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

 President Obama and Staff Secretary Lisa Brown on the Colonnade prior to the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act Bill signing ceremony, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 

 President Obama conducts interviews in the Map Room of the White House, March 30, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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 President Obama walks towards the Oval Office, after returning to the White House from Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Va., March 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and Vice President Biden meet with advisors for a health care implementation meeting in the Oval Office, March 30, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama greets actress Hilary Swank and other guest mentors in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House during an event celebrating Women’s History Month, March 30, 2011 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

President Obama shakes hands with members of the audience following his speech on energy security at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., March 30, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 President Obama greets James Brady in Press Secretary Jay Carney’s West Wing office at the White House, March 30, 2011. Brady, former President Ronald Reagan’s press secretary, was wounded during the assassination attempt on President Reagan 30 years ago. Brady’s wife Sarah, right, and son Scott, center, joined him for the meeting (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with White House correspondents Bill Plante, CBS News, and Savannah Guthrie, NBC News, in the Upper Press Office of the White House, March 30, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama looks out the window of Marine One as he departs the White House South Lawn en route to Joint Base Andrews, Md., for a trip to Vermont, March 30, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Marcelle Leahy aboard Air Force One en route to Burlington, Vt., March 30, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama is reflected in sunglasses as he greets people on the tarmac following his arrival at Portland International Jetport in Portland, Maine, March 30, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

 

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Nov
13

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama waves to people along the motorcade route while traveling from the University of Indonesia to the airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nov. 10, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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The Week Ahead:

Today: The President has no public events scheduled

Monday: The President and First Lady host a breakfast for veterans from across the country. Later in the morning, the President will travel to Arlington National Cemetery where he will participate in a wreath-laying ceremony and deliver remarks there

Tuesday: The President will attend meetings at the White House

Wednesday: The President will address the 2013 Tribal Nations Conference

Thursday: The President will travel to Philadelphia where he will participate in a campaign event for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee

Friday: The President will attend meetings at the White House

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National Journal: American Health Care’s Good Old Days

If you’ve been following the news cycle, you probably read the stories about Obamacare’s victims: the healthy, employed couples making $70,000 or $80,000 a year, just above the subsidy threshold for Obamacare, who now need to pay a bit more each year for insurance.  But the reason that couples’ insurance is more expensive now is because insurers are no longer able to discriminate against the less fortunate, driving up the costs for the relatively healthy and wealthy. To put Obamacare victims’ strife in perspective, let’s take a trip down memory lane. You know, the golden years of American health care in … oh, let’s say 2007, back when you could be denied coverage for something as benign as acne or as mundane as pregnancy.

Back then, anecdotes about people who were denied coverage abounded. They included this 12-year-old boy who died in 2007 from an abscessed tooth after his family’s Medicaid lapsed. And this 17-year-old boy whose insurance was revoked after he tested positive for HIV. This woman who was denied coverage for breast cancer because she wasn’t diagnosed at the correct clinic. And this woman whose double mastectomy was denied after her insurance company learned she had visited a dermatologist for acne treatment the year before. Ah, yes, those were the days!

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Bryce Covert: Forty Percent Of Workers Made Less Than $20,000 Last Year

Nearly 40 percent of all workers in the country made less than $20,000 last year, according to data from the Social Security Administration, which doesn’t include figures on benefits such as health insurance or pensions. That’s below the federal poverty threshold for a family of four and close to the line for a family of three. On average, these workers earned just $17,459.55.

This income inequality has been growing since the 1970s, as the richest 20 percent of Americans saw their income grow much faster than the bottom 20 percent. But things have accelerated in the economic downturn. For the past three years, those at the top of the income ladder saw their incomes grow by 5 percent while everyone else’s income dropped. The top 10 percent of the country’s earners took home half of the income in 2012, the largest amount on record.

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CBS: No Deal Reached In Iran Nuke Talks

Talks on curbing Iran’s nuclear program ended with no deal early Sunday after France objected that proposed measures didn’t go far enough. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said “significant progress” had been made on the remaining differences. Six world powers and Iran agreed to resume talks Nov. 20.

Both sides badly wanted agreement. The U.S. and its five partners were looking for initial caps on Iran’s ability to make an atomic bomb, while Tehran sought some easing of sanctions stifling its economy. But France would not soften its concerns over Iran’s plutonium project and the level of its uranium enrichment program.

The talks showed the enormous complexity facing negotiators after a generation of mistrust between Iran and the West since the Islamic Revolution of 1979. Any agreement would be a breakthrough after nearly a decade of mostly inconclusive discussions. Still, Kerry’s talks in Geneva were the longest high-level negotiations between Iran and the United States in decades – a sign of the improved atmosphere between the two countries since moderate President Hassan Rouhani took office in August.

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Sabrina Tavernise: Cuts In Hospital Subsidies Threaten Safety-Net Care

The uninsured pour into Memorial Health hospital here: the waitress with cancer in her voice box who for two years assumed she just had a sore throat. The unemployed diabetic with a wound stretching the length of her shin. The construction worker who could no longer breathe on his own after weeks of untreated asthma attacks and had to be put on a respirator.

Many of these patients were expected to gain health coverage under the Affordable Care Act through a major expansion of Medicaid, the medical insurance program for the poor. But after the Supreme Court in 2012 gave states the right to opt out, Georgia, like about half the states, almost all of them Republican-led, refused to broaden the program.

“I understand that the state needs to balance its budget, and control the runaway costs of Medicaid, but to turn a blind eye and say, ‘Let the chips fall where they may,’ you’ll end up with a gutted health care system,” said Maggie M. Gill, chief executive at Memorial Health.

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USA Today: Feds Seek $864M From BofA Over Countrywide Loans

Federal prosecutors want Bank of America to pay about $864 million over losses incurred by the government after it bought thousands of home loans made by Countrywide Financial during the housing boom. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara made the request in documents filed late Friday with the U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

A jury in October found Bank of America, which acquired Countrywide in 2008, liable for knowingly selling thousands of bad home loans to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac between August 2007 and May 2008. The panel also returned the verdict against Countrywide and a former executive, Rebecca Mairone.

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Bob Cesca: Millionaire Dylan Ratigan Whines About His New Obamacare Premium

“I bought a catastrophic health policy for $170/mo when I left MSNBC. Obamacare cancelled the policy. New rate $600/mo. Thnx Mr. President!” Awww. Let’s all shed one tear for poor, poor rich guy Dylan Ratigan who made millions on cable news and, according to Wonkette, recently sold his Manhattan apartment for $1.38 million. Evidently Ratigan can’t afford an additional $4000 per year for this alleged $600 per month health insurance plan, which is more expensive this his previous “catastrophic” plan that only covered major injuries and nothing else.

Meanwhile, this $600 plan, Christopher noted, is likely a Platinum top-of-the-line policy offered in the exchange. Interesting that Ratigan would compare his former bare-bones premium with, obviously, a high-end plan. Honest of him. And what about “Obamacare cancelled the policy?” That’s a lie. Obamacare isn’t canceling any policies — insurance companies are. Full stop.

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MSNBC: Abortion Right Advocate Wendy Davis Declares, ‘I Am Pro-Life’

Wendy Davis hinted at how she’ll handle the issue of abortion on the campaign trail in the conservative Lone Star State. The Democratic candidate for Texas governor declared, “I am pro-life,” suggesting her stance on women’s reproductive rights doesn’t mean she doesn’t care about people or life itself.

“I care about the life of every child: every child that goes to bed hungry, every child that goes to bed without a proper education, every child that goes to bed without being able to be a part of the Texas dream, every woman and man who worry about their children’s future and their ability to provide for that future,” Davis said, according to The Dallas Morning News. “I care about life and I have a record of fighting for people above all else.”

“This isn’t about protecting abortion. It’s about protecting women,” Davis added, The Huffington Post reported. “It’s about trusting women to make good decisions for themselves and empowering them with the tools to do that.”

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Tufts University:  The Battle Lines Of Today’s Debates Over Gun Control, Stand-Your-Ground Laws, And Other Violence-Related Issues Were Drawn Centuries Ago By America’s Early Settlers

Last December, when Adam Lanza stormed into the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, with a rifle and killed twenty children and six adult staff members, the United States found itself immersed in debates about gun control. Another flash point occurred this July, when George Zimmerman, who saw himself as a guardian of his community, was exonerated in the killing of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, in Florida. That time, talk turned to stand-your-ground laws and the proper use of deadly force. The gun debate was refreshed in September by the shooting deaths of twelve people at the Washington Navy Yard, apparently at the hands of an IT contractor who was mentally ill.

Such episodes remind Americans that our country as a whole is marked by staggering levels of deadly violence. Our death rate from assault is many times higher than that of highly urbanized countries like the Netherlands or Germany, sparsely populated nations with plenty of forests and game hunters like Canada, Sweden, Finland, or New Zealand, and large, populous ones like the United Kingdom, Germany, and Japan. State-sponsored violence, too—in the form of capital punishment—sets our country apart. Last year we executed more than ten times as many prisoners as other advanced industrialized nations combined—not surprising given that Japan is the only other such country that allows the practice. Our violent streak has become almost a part of our national identity. What’s less well appreciated is how much the incidence of violence, like so many salient issues in American life, varies by region.

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@dougmillsnyt: President Obama joins former NBA Miami Heat, Alonzo Mourning, right, at the Grande Oaks Golf Course in Ft. Lauderdale, Nov 9, 2013

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President Obama arriving in Miami, Nov 8

President Obama at the Port of New Orleans, Nov 8 – all photos by @dougmillsnyt

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Nine ….. nine! …. years ago this week:

Candidate for the U.S. Senate Barack Obama (D-IL) sits with his wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia in a Chicago hotel room as they wait for election returns to come in

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On This Day:

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visit the main prayer hall during a tour of the Istiqlal Mosque with Grand Imam Ali Mustafa Yaqub in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nov. 10, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

On This Day: First Lady Michelle Obama greets children of U.S. Embassy staff at the Shangri-La Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nov. 10, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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03
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama looks out the window in the Blue Room of the White House before holding a press conference, Nov. 3, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today: President Obama delivers remarks at a campaign event for Terry McAuliffe at 2PM ET.

The Week Ahead:

Monday: The President will welcome the five-time Stanley Cup champions, the Chicago Blackhawks, to the White House to honor the team and their 2013 Stanley Cup victory. Following the visit, he will deliver remarks at an Organizing for Action event.

Tuesday: The President will travel to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and visit with wounded warriors who are being treated at the hospital and with their families. He will also visit the Fisher House, a program that supports military families by welcoming them to stay at the house while their loved ones receive specialized medical care.

Wednesday: The President will travel to Dallas to participate in DSCC events.

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

Friday: The President will travel to the New Orleans area for an event on the economy. Later that day, he will travel to Miami, Florida to participate in DNC and DSCC events.

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AP: Obama: Budget Is About Choices, Priorities

President Barack Obama says budget negotiations in Congress are about choices and priorities. In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama urges Congress to pass a budget that includes spending on education, infrastructure and research. Obama says there’s an obsession with cutting spending just for the sake of cutting. He says it’s not helping grow the economy. He’s pointing out that deficits are falling fast on his watch.

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Elizabeth Drew: The Republican’s War On The Poor

The way the program to provide the poor with the bare minimum of daily nutrition has been handled is a metaphor for how the far right in the House is systematically trying to take down the federal government. The Tea Party radicals and those who either fear or cultivate them are now subjecting the food-stamp program to the same kind of assault they have unleashed on other settled policies and understandings that have been in place for decades. Breaking all manner of precedents on a series of highly partisan votes, with the Republicans barely prevailing, the House in September slashed the food-stamp program by a whopping $39 billion and imposed harsh new requirements for getting on, or staying on, the program. The point was to deny the benefit to millions.

Food stamps are largely responsible for the near-elimination of the severe hunger and malnutrition that was widespread in many poverty-stricken areas,” says Bob Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Food stamps are far from an extravagant benefit. The average allocation is $1.40 per person per meal. (Try it some time.)

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NYT: This Is Why We Need Obamacare

Far more serious is the kind of catastrophe facing people like Richard Streeter, 47, a truck driver and recreational vehicle repairman in Eugene, Ore. His problem isn’t Obamacare, but a tumor in his colon that may kill him because Obamacare didn’t come quite soon enough. Streeter had health insurance for decades, but beginning in 2008 his employer no longer offered it as an option. He says he tried to buy individual health insurance but, as a lifelong smoker in his late 40s, couldn’t find anything affordable — so he took a terrible chance and did without.

By September, Streeter couldn’t stand the pain any longer. He went to another doctor, who suggested a colonoscopy. The cheapest provider he could find was Dr. J. Scott Gibson, a softhearted gastroenterologist who told him that if he didn’t have insurance he would do it for $300 down and $300 more whenever he had the money. Streeter made the 100-mile drive to Dr. Gibson’s office in McMinnville, Ore. — and received devastating news. Dr. Gibson had found advanced colon cancer.

“It was heartbreaking to see the pain on his face,” Dr. Gibson told me. “It got me very angry with people who insist that Obamacare is a train wreck, when the real train wreck is what people are experiencing every day because they can’t afford care.”

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Advocate: How Obamacare Will Affect Trans Folks And Families

Anand Kalra: Yes. First, the Affordable Care Act opens the door to coverage for a group of people that have been held outside. The ACA makes it illegal for an insurance company to refuse to sell an insurance plan to someone because they have “pre-existing conditions.” Historically, health insurance companies have considered gender identity disorder, the psychiatric diagnosis used to enable access to transition-related care, such as hormone replacement therapy, a pre-existing condition. So, if anywhere in your medical record you had been diagnosed with GID, an insurance company could use that against you, and refuse to insure you. Starting on January 1, 2014, that practice is prohibited for any diagnosis, including gender identity disorder.

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Irin Carmon: Abortion Restrictions In Oklahoma

On their last night in Dallas, the ramen noodles and microwave popcorn were finished. The money for the motel had run out too. So on a hot August night Jessica and Erick Davis and their three young kids slept in the Mazda rented for the trip. It had only been a few hours since Jessica’s abortion. Because the procedure needed to be performed later in her pregnancy, it stretched over three days.

 Earlier that month, at home in Oklahoma City, the Davises were told that the boy she was carrying had a severe brain malformation known as holoprosencephaly. It is rare, though possible, for such a fetus to survive to birth, but doctors told them that he would not reach his first birthday. “He would never walk, lift his head,” Jessica, 23, recalled in an interview. “I could let my son go on and suffer,” she said. Or she could accept a word she didn’t like – abortion – “and do the best thing for my baby.”

The Davises’ ordeal was always going to be painful. But the grim path that led them to a night in the car was determined, nearly every step of the way, by a state that has scrambled to be the most “pro-life” in the nation. There are no exceptions for families like the Davises. Oklahomans brag that theirs has become the reddest state.

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William H. Gross (Co-Founder of PIMCO): Scrooge McDucks

I would ask the Scrooge McDucks of the world who so vehemently criticize what they consider to be counterproductive, even crippling taxation of the wealthy in the midst of historically high corporate profits and personal income, to consider this: Instead of approaching the tax reform argument from the standpoint of what an enormous percentage of the overall income taxes the top 1% pay, consider how much of the national income you’ve been privileged to make. In the United States, the share of total pre-tax income accruing to the top 1% has more than doubled from 10% in the 1970s to 20% today. Admit that you, and I and others in the magnificent “1%” grew up in a gilded age of credit, where those who borrowed money or charged fees on expanding financial assets had a much better chance of making it to the big tent than those who used their hands for a living.

Yes I know many of you money people worked hard as did I, and you survived and prospered where others did not. A fair economic system should always allow for an opportunity to succeed. You did not, as President Obama averred, “build that,” you did not create that wave. You rode it. And now it’s time to kick out and share some of your good fortune by paying higher taxes or reforming them to favor economic growth and labor, as opposed to corporate profits and individual gazillions. You’ll still be able to attend those charity galas and demonstrate your benevolence and philanthropic character to your admiring public.

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LOL GOP: Obamacare ‘Horror’ Story Turns Out To Be Obamacare Success Story

This week Diane Barrette was briefly the poster woman for the estimated 3% of America in the private insurance market who will lose their insurance and pay more to get coverage that meets the new minimum standards laid out by the ACA. It turns out that she was paying $56 a month for a plan that covered — according to Yiddish experts — bubkis.

“She’s paying $650 a year to be uninsured,” Karen Pollitz, an insurance expert at the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation, told Consumer Reports. “I have to assume that she never really had to make much of a claim under this policy. She would have lost the house she’s sitting in if something serious had happened. I don’t know if she knows that.”

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Ian Millhiser: What You Need To Know About The Severely Conservative Judge Who Just Ruled Against Birth Control

Nine years ago, the California Supreme Court upheld a state law similar to the Affordable Care Act’s rules requiring most employers to include birth control coverage in their employee health plans. The sole dissent in that case was Justice Janice Rogers Brown. Nearly a decade later, Brown got her revenge. Though no longer a member of California’s highest court — President George W. Bush appointed her to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit over the strenuous objections of Democrats

Judge Brown is now the author of a 2-1 opinion holding that religious employers can ignore the federal birth control rules. What was once a fringe view held by a lone holdout is now the law in the second most powerful court in the country. There is a lesson here for Democrats trying to decide whether to invoke the nuclear opinion in the D.C. Circuit fight that Senate Republicans started this week. When Republicans had the courage to demand what they wanted and put a serious threat behind it, they got two of the most conservative judges in the country.

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Star Telegram: Voter ID Law Snags Former House Speaker Jim Wright

Former House Speaker Jim Wright was denied a voter ID card Saturday at a Texas Department of Public Safety office. “Nobody was ugly to us, but they insisted that they wouldn’t give me an ID,” Wright said. The legendary Texas political figure says that he has worked things out with DPS and that he will get a state-issued personal identification card in time for him to vote Tuesday in the state and local elections.

But after the difficulty he had this weekend getting a proper ID card, Wright, 90, expressed concern that such problems could deter others from voting and stifle turnout. After spending much of his life fighting to make it easier to vote, the Democratic Party icon said he is troubled by what he’s seeing happen under the state’s new voter ID law.

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Jonathan Cohn: From Boston, A Lesson About Obamacare

President Obama was in Boston on Wednesday—not to watch a baseball game, but to send a message about health care reform: The idea really works. Given all the news about Obamacare lately, it’s a message the country very much needs to hear. The template for the Affordable Care Act is the reforms that Massachusetts officials enacted in 2006.  As almost everybody knows by now, the Red Sox organization promoted the Massachusetts health reforms, sponsoring efforts to enroll people and even having players appear in ads directly addressing the young, healthy people who might think insurance was unnecessary.

That spirit still exists today, all across the country, although you might not have noticed. Leaders of the health care industry have been generally supportive of reform. You can see this clearly in the hospital industry, which rather than screaming publicly about payment changes in Medicare is quietly reinventing itself in ways that will, hopefully, make health care efficient. You also see it with the insurance industry, which rather than use website problems to endorse repeal has instead been lending the federal government technical assistance to get things working. Like everybody else in the health care business, these groups have plenty of financial incentive for playing nice. More people insured means more people paying bills.

That attitude has not prevailed in politics, obviously. At both the state and national level, Republicans have been at best indifferent and at worst hostile to implementation of the law—in some cases, openly wishing for its failure and urgingpotential partners with or surrogates for the federal government not to help enrollment.

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On This Day:

President Obama makes an election night phone call to Rep. John Boehner from his Treaty Room office in the White House residence a couple of minutes after midnight, Nov. 3, 2010 (Pete Souza)

President Obama talks with Vice President Biden in the Oval Office, Nov. 3, 2010 (Pete Souza)

Milwaukee, November 3, 2012

Gambier, November 2012 (Photo by Thomas Miller for Obama for America)

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01
Nov
13

Rise and Shine

First Lady Michelle Obama hugs a young girl during a “Get Out The Vote” rally at Canyon Springs High School in Las Vegas, Nev., Nov. 1, 2010 (Photo by Samantha Appleton)

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Today (all times Eastern):

1:30: Jay Carney briefs the press

2:10: President Obama hosts Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Vice President Biden will also attend

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The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell – Reporters debunk some of the claims made about the Affordable Care Act. Lawrence talks to Michael Hillzik and Wendell Potter

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ThinkProgress: How To Spot A Fake Obamacare Horror Story

Since insurers have begun informing beneficiaries that their health care plans do not meet the new federal requirements of Obamacare, and will be either cancelled or significantly altered, the media has profiled countless middle class Americans who claim that the new health care law will force them to pay more for coverage.

Deborah Cavallaro, for instance, a real estate agent from Los Angeles, was enrolled in an individual plan that cost her just $293 per month. Under Obamacare, Cavallaro says she’ll have to pay over $400 for coverage she doesn’t need or want. But a higher premium doesn’t tell the whole story: while Cavallaro may spend more each month, she’ll be buying more comprehensive insurance with fewer out-of-pocket costs, better benefits that will cover more and cost her less if she actually falls ill, and much more robust consumer protections.

So before you buy into the sticker shock hysteria, here are four questions you should ask….

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Steve Benen: Obamacare’s Winners and ‘losers’

If the Republican National Committee had written the script for the week, it wouldn’t have gone quite this well for the right. The political world took a relatively obscure element of the debate over health care – insurers informing consumers about replacing poor, outdated coverage plans with new, better plans – and turned it into a “controversy.”

In an amazing twist, conservative Republicans who are desperate to take away coverage for millions of Americans are pretending to be outraged on behalf of Americans whose plans are being upgraded.

As we talked about earlier in the week, I’m not terribly impressed by the sudden apoplectic outburst from reporters and Republicans, but let’s consider the above pie chart and get a little more specific.

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Media Matters: Called On To Explain Big Story, Media Botches Obamacare

The rocky rollout of Obamacare has prompted commentators to attack the president and his team for having three years to plan for the launch and still not getting it right. That’s a legitimate critique as problems persist. But the same can be said for an awful lot of reporters doing a very poor job covering Obamacare. They also had three years to prepare themselves to accurately report the story.

So what’s their excuse?

The truth is, the Beltway press rarely bothers to explain, let alone cover, public policy any more. With a media model that almost uniformly revolves around the political process of Washington (who’s winning, who’s losing?), journalists have distanced themselves from the grungy facts of governance, especially in terms of how government programs work and how they effect the citizenry.

But explaining is the job of journalism. It’s one of the crucial roles that newsrooms play in a democracy. And in the recent case of Obamacare, the press has failed badly in its role. Worse, it has actively misinformed about the new health law and routinely highlighted consumers unhappy with Obamacare, while ignoring those who praise it.

More here

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LA Times: Obamacare hysteria: Don’t believe the canceled insurance hype

Obamacare’s critics are going to town on the cancellation letters millions of Americans are receiving from their health insurers, informing them that their health plans won’t conform to the new federal standards for health coverage as of Jan. 1.

We’re supposed to be scandalized by this, since President Obama himself assured everyone that if they liked their insurance they’d be able to keep it. And people just love plans that in some cases cost just $50 a month. At that price, what’s not to love?

Back in March, Consumer Reports published a study of many of these plans and placed them in a special category: “junk health insurance.” Some plans, the magazine declared, may be worse than none at all.

…. It’s time to tamp down the breathless indignation about these health plan cancellations. Many of the departing plans are being outlawed for good reason, and many of the customers losing them have no idea how much financial exposure they were saddled with in the old days. That’s the real scandal in American health insurance, and Obamacare is designed, rightly, to fix it.

More here

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WH.gov: Karmel’s Story: I No Longer Fear My ‘Pre-Existing Condition’

I do not have a pre-existing condition. But I have a pre-existing condition in-waiting that has caused me to live in fear for years.

A pre-existing condition. What does that mean, anyways? I am a type 1 diabetic, but that diagnosis certainly does not pre-exist me. No – pre-existing is not a medical condition; it is a legal one. Before the health insurance marketplace opened in my state, if I were to seek health insurance, my type 1 diabetes would be a pre-existing condition, and sufficient reason for most insurance companies to shut the door in my face.

… Without insurance, the medication required to keep me alive for more than a few months easily proves untenably expensive – never mind the medication and devices required to keep me healthy and free of long-term complications.

That is the frame of mind I have lived with for the past twenty years, and that was the frame of mind with which I approached CoveredCA.com, my state’s healthcare exchange, last month …. And suddenly I was free….

What does the Affordable Care Act mean for me? It means that I can finally take off the scarlet letter D that has marked me as a pre-existing diabetic, and I can shop for health care knowing that I am protected by American law.

More here

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OFA: Obamacare helped me keep my doctor of 27 years

After being denied insurance, I signed up for Obamacare on Day One.

When I was less than one year old, my mother noticed something strange. My hands and feet were a little blue and a little cold, so my mother took me to the hospital. Turns out, my aorta was narrow (called a coarctation of the aorta) and I required surgery right away.

… It was strange being denied health coverage for something that happened before I was born. Not being able to visit my cardiologist, a doctor I have relied on for 27 years, was extremely unnerving.

That’s why I signed up for Obamacare on Day One.

Thanks to the new law, I will no longer be denied coverage, and I can keep my doctor of 27 years…

More here

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You know how I love linking to GOPolitico? :???: Well, they’ve a piece today that you might want to read, the GOP’s ‘Obamacare Sabotage Campaign’ – see here

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Steve Benen: Court re-imposes Texas abortion restrictions

Earlier this week, reproductive-rights proponents appeared to have won a partial legal victory. A federal court in Texas blocked implementation of parts of a sweeping new law, signed by Gov. Rick Perry over the summer, which imposed some of the nation’s most severe restrictions on women’s health choices.

Last night, however, the success in the courts was short lived:

A federal appeals court ruled late Thursday that Texas’ abortion restrictions could immediately go into effect, overruling a Monday order from a lower court that found parts of the law unconstitutional. The decision may close the doors of one-third of Texas abortion clinics, many which will likely be unable to meet the requirement of hospital admitting privileges. Of course, that was the point of the law.
     
    “Today’s decision affirms our right to protect both the unborn and the health of the women of Texas,” said Governor Perry in a statement responding to the ruling. “We will continue doing everything we can to protect a culture of life in our state.”

…. We’re occasionally reminded that fights over judicial nominees matter. Last night offered a refresher for those who may have forgotten.

Full post here

More at ThinkProgress

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TPM: If We Can’t Have It, You Can’t Have It Either

There’s a lot of backstory to today’s showdown in the Senate over President Obama’s nominees to DC Circuit Court of Appeals …But there’s more to this particular face-off than the usual opposition to judicial nominees or the fight over whether the use of the filibuster has crippled the Senate. In this case, the underlying battle is just as if not more important than the supposedly larger issues it implicates.

What’s happening in this case is Senate Republicans are blocking wholesale the confirmation of any new judges to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The reason is simple: The D.C. Circuit tilts conservative right now and so long as the empty seats on the bench remain empty, that conservative tilt remains.

Republicans – and the anti-regulation crowd they represent – are particularly concerned about the D.C. Circuit because it has jurisdiction over many of the rules and regulations that the federal government writes. That makes it the front line in the battle between regulators and the regulated, between consumers and business, and between the liberal and conservative legal establishments over the scope and power of the administrative agencies who implement the laws Congress passes.

More here

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On This Day:

President Obama kisses a baby on the tarmac following his arrival at Denver International Airport, Nov. 1, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

Janet Kavandi, Director of Flight Crew Operations at Johnson Space Center, presents President Obama with a jacket during a drop by with the crew of the Space Shuttle Atlantis in the Oval Office, Nov. 1, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

VP Biden in Muscatine, November 1, 2012 (Photo by Christopher Dilts for Obama for America)

Las Vegas, November 1, 2012 (Photo by Scout Tufankjian)

Boulder, November 1, 2012 (Photo by Scout Tufankjian)

Boulder, November 1, 2012 (Photo by Scout Tufankjian)

Boulder, November 1, 2012 (Photo by Scout Tufankjian)

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MoooOOOooorning!




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