Archive for December 5th, 2013

05
Dec
13

Madiba

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The rock quarry where Madiba was forced into hard labor for many years

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Entrance to the cell where Madiba was confined

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Madiba’s prisoner ledger

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Continue reading ‘Madiba’

05
Dec
13

Heads Up, And a Tribute or Two

8:0 EST President Obama Speaks at a Hanukkah Reception

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05
Dec
13

President Obama’s statement on Nelson Mandela

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@dougmillsnyt

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05
Dec
13

‘The Sun Shall Never Set On So Glorious A Human Achievement’

Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech, May 1994

Your Majesties, Your Highnesses, Distinguished Guests, Comrades and Friends:

Today, all of us do, by our presence here, and by our celebrations in other parts of our country and the world,confer glory and hope to newborn liberty.

Out of the experience of an extraordinary human disaster that lasted too long, must be born a society of which all humanity will be proud.

Our daily deeds as ordinary South Africans must produce an actual South African reality that will reinforce humanity’s belief in justice, strengthen its confidence in the nobility of the human soul and sustain all our hopes for a glorious life for all.

All this we owe both to ourselves and to the peoples of the world who are so well represented here today.

To my compatriots, I have no hesitation in saying that each one of us is as intimately attached to the soil of this beautiful country as are the famous jacaranda trees of Pretoria and the mimosa trees of the bushveld.

Each time one of us touches the soil of this land, we feel a sense of personal renewal. The national mood changes as the seasons change.

We are moved by a sense of joy and exhilaration when the grass turns green and the flowers bloom.

That spiritual and physical oneness we all share with this common homeland explains the depth of the pain we all carried in our hearts as we saw our country tear itself apart in a terrible conflict, and as we saw it spurned, outlawed and isolated by the peoples of the world, precisely because it has become the universal base of the pernicious ideology and practice of racism and racial oppression.

We, the people of South Africa, feel fulfilled that humanity has taken us back into its bosom, that we, who were outlaws not so long ago, have today been given the rare privilege to be host to the nations of the world on our own soil.

We thank all our distinguished international guests for having come to take possession with the people of our country of what is, after all, a common victory for justice, for peace, for human dignity.

We trust that you will continue to stand by us as we tackle the challenges of building peace, prosperity, non-sexism,non-racialism and democracy.

We deeply appreciate the role that the masses of our people and their political mass democratic, religious, women, youth,business, traditional and other leaders have played to bring about this conclusion. Not least among them is my Second Deputy President, the Honourable F.W. de Klerk.

We would also like to pay tribute to our security forces, in all their ranks, for the distinguished role they have played in securing our first democratic elections and the transition to democracy, from blood-thirsty forces which still refuse to see the light.

The time for the healing of the wounds has come.

The moment to bridge the chasms that divide us has come.

The time to build is upon us.

We have, at last, achieved our political emancipation. We pledge ourselves to liberate all our people from the continuing bondage of poverty, deprivation, suffering, gender and other discrimination.

We succeeded to take our last steps to freedom in conditions of relative peace. We commit ourselves to the construction of a complete, just and lasting peace.

We have triumphed in the effort to implant hope in the breasts of the millions of our people. We enter into a covenant that we shall build the society in which all South Africans, both black and white, will be able to walk tall, without any fear in their hearts, assured of their inalienable right to human dignity – a rainbow nation at peace with itself and the world.

As a token of its commitment to the renewal of our country,the new Interim Government of National Unity will, as a matter of urgency, address the issue of amnesty for various categories of our people who are currently serving terms of imprisonment.

We dedicate this day to all the heroes and heroines in this country and the rest of the world who sacrificed in many ways and surrendered their lives so that we could be free.

Their dreams have become reality. Freedom is their reward.

We are both humbled and elevated by the honour and privilege that you, the people of South Africa, have bestowed on us, as the first President of a united, democratic, non-racial and non-sexist South Africa, to lead our country out of the valley of darkness.

We understand it still that there is no easy road to freedom.

We know it well that none of us acting alone can achieve success.

We must therefore act together as a united people, for national reconciliation, for nation building, for the birth of a new world.

Let there be justice for all.

Let there be peace for all.

Let there be work, bread, water and salt for all.

Let each know that for each the body, the mind and the soul have been freed to fulfill themselves.

Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.

Let freedom reign.

The sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement!

God bless Africa!

Thank you.

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Rest in peace, Madiba.

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05
Dec
13

President Obama Speaks at a Hanukkah Reception

White House Live

4:10 EST: President Obama Speaks at a Hanukkah Reception

05
Dec
13

Too Funny

I. Am. Still. Weeping.

Fixed it for them:

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Coming Up:

1:30: Jay Carney briefs the press

2:0: President Obama tapes an appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews

4:10: President Obama delivers remarks at a Hanukkah reception

8:0: President Obama delivers remarks at a Hanukkah reception

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Chat away!

05
Dec
13

Rise and Shine

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama listen to the Seneca Valley High School Chamber Choir in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House following a holiday reception, Dec. 5, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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Today (All Times Eastern):

1:30: Jay Carney briefs the press

2:0: President Obama tapes an appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews

4:10: President Obama delivers remarks at a Hanukkah reception

8:0: President Obama delivers remarks at a Hanukkah reception

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Jonathan Cohn: Healthcare.gov Is Not Amazon.com. Should We Care?

But the comparison to commercial websites should come with two very important caveats. One is an acknolwedgment of the huge, fundamental difference between what the two types of systems must do. Innovative companies like Amazon are constantly developing new, more efficient ways to sell books, clothing, and other goods. (Just check out those stories about the Amazon drones.) But they are still engaging consumers, producers and retailers in a series of relatively straightforward transactions.

Healthcare.gov, by contrast, must perform a whole series of complex transactions—taking and verifying identity and income, determining eligibility for government programs or private insurance subsidies, calculating individualized insurance prices based on that data, presenting options for consumers to buy, notifying and paying insurers, and following up with consumers after the process is done. To do that, the system must communicate with multiple government agencies, at both the federal and state levels, as well as private insurers.

If we’re going to compare the process of buying health insurance at healthcare.gov to the process of buying books at Amazon, we should also compare it to the process of buying health insurance before Obamacare came along. That wasn’t always so much fun, either.

More here

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Matthew Yglesias: Why Does The Economy Do Better Under Democrats?

They say a liberal is someone who doesn’t know how to take his own side in an argument, and the latest paper from former Clinton administration official Alan Blinder and co-author Mark Watson seems to confirm it. The paper looks at the well-established fact that GDP growth under Democratic Party presidents is more rapid than under GOP Presidents, and concludes that it’s all just a coincidence. Except they don’t mount a very strong argument for that conclusion. Consumer confidence is higher under Democrats: 25 percent. Fewer adverse oil shocks under Democrats: 12.5-25 percent. More positive TFP shocks under Democrats: 25 percent.

Unexplained: 25-37.5 percent. Lets take this in order. Consumer confidence is definitely something you could imagine the President being able to impact despite central bank independence and the separation of powers. People think of Democrats as representing majoritarian economic interests and unpopular secularism and internationalism. So when a Republican gets in, they expect America to stand tall on the world stage and stand up for core moral values but perhaps give short-shrift to the middle class. When a Democrat gets in, it’s just the opposite. So Democrats = more confidence.

More here

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@Arapaho415

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Alex Wayne: Medicare Drug Discount Saves Elderly $8.9 Billion

The Obama administration said the U.S. health-care overhaul has saved Medicare recipients $8.9 billion so far in prescription drug costs. The savings average out to $1,209 a person, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Servicessaid today in a statement. The savings are related to a discount program on medicines created by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

The discounts apply to recipients of Medicare, the U.S. health program for the elderly and disabled, who reach a coverage gap in the program’s prescription medicine plans called the “donut hole.” The law requires drugmakers to provide a discount to people in the gap until they spend so much in a year, after which the government covers almost all the medicine costs.

More here

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@USEmbassySeoul: Welcome to Korea, @VP Biden! Air Force 2 has just touched down. Wishing the VP a fruitful visit!

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The Atlantic: Biden’s 330-Minute Balancing Act In China

On Wednesday, fresh off a visit with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Joe Biden spent five and a half hours in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping over a series of meetings and dinner. The marathon diplomacy capped a delicate effort by the vice president this week to tamp down Japan’s anger over provocative Chinese actions in the East China Sea while not coming down too hard on China. So into the fray Biden has moved, counseling all parties to contribute to regional stability rather than undermining it and harming their own economic prospects and security.

In the past, America’s role as a guarantor of security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region may have created a moral hazard problem wherein nationalist leaders could shake their fists at each other over deep historical grievances without fearing the outbreak of war. As he travels through Asia, Biden appears to be subtly breaking with that state of affairs, pushing countries in the region to not free ride on American security but rather collectively develop a more stable and resilient infrastructure to handle crises. The goal, it seems, is to not only manage conflict but also build a future of what Biden called “limitless benefits.”

More here

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TPM: At Least 1.5 Million People Enrolled In Medicaid Since Obamacare Launch

Nearly 1.5 million Americans have enrolled in Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program since the state Obamacare marketplaces went live on Oct. 1, according to a new report released Tuesday. The report from the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is the most comprehensive look yet at how the low-income public insurance programs are faring under the health care reform law. It covers the month of October, and CMS said that more reports would be released on a monthly basis.

The total includes both those who are newly eligible for Medicaid in states that expanded the program and those in all states who were already eligible. They were funneled to the program both through the state-based insurance marketplaces that have opened under Obamacare and other sources (applying through local government offices, etc.). Coverage for those newly eligible under the Medicaid expansion starts on Jan. 1, 2014.

More here

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@Whitehouse

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Bloomberg: Economy In U.S. Grows At 3.6% Rate On Bigger Inventory Build

The U.S. economy expanded in the third quarter at a faster pace than initially reported, led by the biggest increase in inventories since early 1998. Gross domestic product climbed at a 3.6 percent annualized rate, up from an initial estimate of 2.8 percent and the strongest since the first quarter of 2012, Commerce department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 77 economists surveyed by Bloomberg predicted a 3.1 percent gain. Another report today showed first-time claims for jobless benefits dropped by 23,000 to 298,000 last week, according to the Labor Department. Still, housing and autos remain bright spots for the economy.

Residential construction increased at a 13 percent annualized rate, compared with a previous estimate of 14.6 percent, and added 0.38 percentage point to growth, today’s figures showed. More home-construction permits were issued in October than at any time in the past five years, a sign the residential real-estate market is gaining momentum heading into 2014, according to data last week from the Commerce Department. Auto sales remain on pace for their best year since 2007. General Motors Co. and Chrysler Group LLC led November U.S. sales gains that met or exceeded analysts’ estimates

More here

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Lt. Col. Robert Bateman: It’s Time To Talk About Guns And The Supreme Court

A woman charged with killing a fellow Alabama fan after the end of last weekend’s Iron Bowl football game was angry that the victim and others didn’t seem upset over the Crimson Tide’s loss to archrival Auburn, said the sister of the slain woman. People, it is time to talk about guns. I am embarrassed by our Supreme Court. The people who sit on a nation’s Supreme Court as supposed to be the wisest among us. They are supposed to be the men and women who understand and speak plainly about the most difficult topics confronting our nation. Our Supreme Court, however, has been failing us, as their actions have been almost the exact opposite of this ideal.

Five of the nine members of the Supreme Court agreed that the part in the Second Amendment which talks about “A Well Regulated Militia, Being Necessary To The Security Of A Free State…” did not matter. In other words, they flunked basic high school history. The lengths to which Justice Scalia had to go in his attempt to rewrite American history and the English language are as stunning as they are egregious. In essence, what he said about the words written by the Founding Fathers was, “Yeah, they didn’t really mean what they said.” You have got to be fking kidding me. Seriously? You spent nearly 4,000 words to deny the historical reality of thirteen words? That, sir, is an embarrassingly damning indictment not just of you, but of an educational system that failed to teach history.

More here

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Leslie H. Gelb: Obama Wins Round One On Iran

The Obama team has won the first round on the six-month agreement with Iran by a knockout. The phony, misleading, and dishonest arguments against the pact just didn’t hold up to the reality of the text. As night follows day, the mob of opponents didn’t consider surrender, not for a second. Instead, they trained their media howitzers on the future, the next and more permanent agreement, you know, the one that has yet to be negotiated. The Saudis lost most gracefully.

They simply said this step has been taken and they’ll see about the next one. The Israelis lost most tendentiously. Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu called the interim arrangement “a historic mistake.” His minions went further to say that, in retaliation, Israel might well just trash the ongoing private negotiations with the Palestinians, probably the last chance for a treaty in Obama’s tenure. More creatively, American neoconservatives and conservatives are now contending that with his first round, Obama has mortgaged America’s future security. As for Obama having lost his negotiating leverage on economic sanctions, that is pure nonsense.

More here

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Michael Tomasky: Why Obamacare Could Help The Democrats In 2014

If some Republicans are sounding just a little bit desperate right now, I think I know why. “Obamacare is not just a broken website,” House Speaker John Boehner sputtered the other day in retreat as it emerged that the website is now working well. “This bill is fundamentally flawed.” He sure hopes he’s right about that—and by the way, Mister, it’s a law, not a bill. But I bet late at night, when he’s having that last smoke and thinking back over his day, he fears that he’s wrong and that the central Republican…“idea,” if you want to call it that, of the last three years—get rid of Obamacare—is going to look awfully stupid to a majority of Americans eight or 10 months from now. If you haven’t gone to HealthCare.gov just for kicks, I certainly recommend now that you do. Pretend that you’re from a state that didn’t create an exchange. I just did, for the first time in weeks, an hour before scribbling these sentences. I was amazed. It was lightning fast. Explanations were clear and straightforward.

Instead of bureaucratese, I encountered something I didn’t expect at all: plain English! And here’s the key thing. It gave me loads of choices. I pretended to be a 35-year-old man from Kansas with a spouse and child. Without even having to enter my fake income, the site delivered me in a split second to a page with loads of plan options. Choice. That’s what America’s about. How many options? An amazing 42, to be precise. Forty-two plans! That might be more than the number of available potato-chip flavors in America. And this is where Republicans, if they’re looking around the corner, might be freaking out.  No American who has 42 choices is going to feel like the jackboot of the state is stomping on his neck. And sometime next year, the people in the states that didn’t take Medicaid money are going to start noticing something else: that in a lot of cases, they’re going to be paying more for the same plan that a person in a participating state is paying. How’s that going to go down, Rick Perry? Mr. Speaker, light up another one. It’s going to be a long night.

More here

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President Obama meets with National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling in the Oval Office, Dec. 4 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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On This Day:

Following the Kennedy Center Honors, President Obama receives a briefing from Jeff Bader, Senior Director for Asian Affairs, left, and National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, right, before placing a telephone call to President Hu Jintao of China in the Oval Office, Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the Kennedy Center Honors at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., Sunday, Dec. 5, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets Elie Wiesel in the Oval Office, Dec. 5, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama pose in front of the Official White House Christmas Tree in the Blue Room of the White House, Dec. 5, 2010 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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05
Dec
13

Early Bird Chat

@FLOTUS: The First Lady & Bo welcome military families for the first look of the @whitehouse holiday decorations

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MoooOOOooorning Early Birds!




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