Posts Tagged ‘Hurricane Sandy

31
Aug
17

A True Comforter-In-Chief

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23
Aug
17

Barack Obama: My President

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18
Jan
14

Rise and Shine

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama stand together in the Blue Room of the White House, before a brunch celebrating the Inauguration, Jan. 18, 2013 (Photo: Pete Souza)

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The Week Ahead:

Saturday and Sunday: The President has no public events scheduled.

Monday: The President and the First Lady will participate in a community service project in the Washington, DC area in celebration of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service and in honor of Dr. King’s life and legacy. (1:30 EST).

Tuesday: The President and the Vice President will meet with members of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration.

Wednesday: The President and the Vice President will host an event for the Council on Women and Girls at the White House.

Thursday: The President will host a reception for mayors at the White House.

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

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BREAKING NEWS

Steve Kornacki: Christie Camp Held Sandy Relief Money Hostage, Mayor Alleges

Two senior members of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration warned a New Jersey mayor earlier this year that her town would be starved of hurricane relief money unless she approved a lucrative redevelopment plan favored by the governor, according to the mayor and emails and personal notes she shared with msnbc. The mayor, Dawn Zimmer, hasn’t approved the project, but she did request $127 million in hurricane relief for her city of Hoboken – 80% of which was underwater after Sandy hit in October 2012. What she got was $142,000 to defray the cost of a single back-up generator plus an additional $200,000 in recovery grants.

In an exclusive interview, Zimmer broke her silence and named Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno and Richard Constable, Christie’s community affairs commissioner, as the two officials who delivered messages on behalf of a governor she had long supported. Two days later, Zimmer got a call from the Lieutenant Governor, Kim Guadagno, who wanted to come to town to do an event at a ShopRite to spotlight businesses that had recovered from the storm.

On May 13, Guadagno and Zimmer met at the Hoboken ShopRite. That is where, Zimmer said, Guadagno delivered the first message about the relief aide. Zimmer shared this diary entry which she said she wrote later that day. “At the end of a big tour of ShopRite and meeting, she pulls me aside with no one else around and says that I need to move forward with the Rockefeller project. It is very important to the governor. The word is that you are against it and you need to move forward or we are not going to be able to help you. I know it’s not right – these things should not be connected – but they are, she says, and if you tell anyone, I will deny it.”

The second warning, according to Zimmer, came four days later. She and Constable, who now led Christie’s department of community affairs, were seated together on stage for a public television special on Sandy recovery. Again, Zimmer provided this diary entry from May 17, which she said captured the incident. “We are mic’ed up with other panelists all around us and probably the sound team is listening. And he says “I hear you are against the Rockefeller project”. I reply “I am not against the Rockefeller project; in fact I want more commercial development in Hoboken.” “Oh really? Everyone in the State House believes you are against it – the buzz is that you are against it. If you move that forward, the money would start flowing to you” he tells me.

More here

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USA Today: What A Shocker! Young People Like Obamacare

First it was, we think we are invincible. Then it was that the penalty was too low, or that we would be turned off by website glitches. After the Department of Health and Human Services released its initial age breakdown enrollment data Monday, it is time to finally put the pessimism to rest. Young people are enrolling in health care coverage under the Affordable Care Act, and for good reason — being covered is essential to their economic security.

Department of Health & Human Services announced that 30% of Obamacare’s 2.2 million private insurance enrollees are under the age of 35. More specifically 24% of enrollees are between the ages of 18- and 34-years-old. In other words, the exchanges have a percentage of young adult enrollees that is comparable to their proportion of the overall population. All the evidence suggests that youth enrollment will only go up as we get closer to the deadline.

More here

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“I’ve got to get back because somebody is having a birthday today…I’m going to go ahead and sign this bill.”

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Ari Berman: Members Of Congress Introduce A New Fix For The Voting Rights Act

The Sensenbrenner-Conyers-Leahy bill strengthens the VRA in five distinct ways: 1: The legislation draws a new coverage formula for Section 4, thereby resurrecting Section 5. States with five violations of federal law to their voting changes over the past fifteen years will have to submit future election changes for federal approval. This new formula would currently apply to Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Local jurisdictions would be covered if they commit three or more violations or have one violation and “persistent, extremely low minority turnout” over the past fifteen years.

The formula is based on a rolling calendar, updated with a current fifteen-year time period to exempt states who are no longer discriminating or add new ones who are, creating a deterrent against future voting rights violations. It’s based on empirical conditions and current data, not geography or a fixed time period—which voting rights advocates hope will satisfy Chief Justice John Roberts should the new legislation be enacted and reach the Supreme Court.

The new Section 4 proposal is far from perfect. It does not apply to states with an extensive record of voting discrimination, like Alabama (where civil rights protests in Selma gave birth to the VRA), Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia, which were previously subject to Section 5. Nor does it apply to states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that have enacted new voting restrictions in the past few years. Moreover, Department of Justice objections to voter ID laws will not count as a new violation.

More here

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David Cay Johnston: Willful Blindness Worsens Inequality

The rich really are getting richer, while the vast majority is getting poorer. All you have to do is look at the official government data to know this. Sadly, though, most of our nationally prominent journalists, especially David Brooks of The New York Times and PBS, do not know this because they neglect to do a basic journalistic task. It’s called reporting. The first and overwhelming problem is that his scale is wrong, probably because Brooks just conjured up the only hard number in that passage. Brooks writes about “the growing wealth of the top 5 percent.”

The threshold to be in the top 5 percent income group in 2012 was $161,000, analysis of tax return data by economists Emanuel Saez and Thomas Piketty shows. That is a lot of money to most people, but it is pocket change for top Wall Streeters, the group whose pay Brooks properly calls perverse. Lloyd Blankfein, who runs Goldman Sachs, was paid $23 million in 2012. That is 142 times the threshold to be in the top 5 percent. Looked at another way, had Blankfein been paid weekly, his first paycheck would have shown almost 3 times the gross pay that those at the top 5 percent threshold labored all year to make.

Goldman’s 32,400 employees made $12.6 billion last year, which is as much money as the lowest-earning 6.2 million American workers made the year before. To put that in another inequality perspective, in 2012 America had 23.3 million workers, all of them part-time or seasonal, who made less than $5,000. They averaged $2,025 each. Ponder that for a moment. About one worker in six made only $2,000.

More here

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Think Progress: Governor Of State With Highest Minimum Wage Says It’s Still Too Low

Washington Governor Jay Inslee (D), whose state has the highest minimum wage of any in the country at $9.32 an hour, proposed raising it to between $10.82 and $11.82 in his State of the State address on Tuesday. “There are tens of thousands of jobs that people depend on that don’t provide a living wage in our state,” he said. “An increase in minimum wage means more money being spent in our economy.”

Republicans in the sate House and Senate expressed concerns that a higher wage could hurt small businesses, farmers, and businesses along the border with Idaho, which has a minimum wage at the federal level of $7.25. Democrats control the House but Republicans effectively control the Senate. Washington has lately become home to demands for even higher minimum wages. In the town surrounding the Seattle-Tacoma airport, voters approved a $15 minimum wage, although a court recently narrowed its impact to just those who work outside the airport. The group that organized support for the higher wage is fighting that decision.

More here

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TIME: Harvey Weinstein To Take Aim At NRA In New Movie

Film executive Harvey Weinstein said Wednesday he plans to make an anti-gun movie starring Meryl Streep that will take a direct shot at the National Rifle Association. 

“We’re going to take this issue head on, and they’re going to wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them,” Weinstein said on Howard Stern’s radio show. “I never want to have a gun,” Weinstein said. “I don’t think we need guns in this country, and I hate it, and I think the NRA is a disaster area.”

More here

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On This Day:

The “We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration At The Lincoln Memorial” on January 18, 2009 at the National Mall

President Obama shoots hoops with his personal aide, Reggie Love, at the White House Basketball Court, Jan. 18, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama meets with civil rights movement leader Rev. Dr. Joseph Lowery and his family in the Oval Office, Jan. 18, 2011 (Photo by Pete Souza)

31
Oct
13

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama hugs North Point Marina owner Donna Vanzant as he tours damage done by Hurricane Sandy in Brigantine, New Jersey, October 31, 2012

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Today (All Times Eastern):

12:0: Jay Carney briefs the press

12:0 Cory Booker will be sworn in as a U.S. senator by Vice President Biden

1:30: President Obama delivers remarks at the SelectUSA Investment Summit

3:15: President Obama meets with Senator-elect Cory Booker

5:15: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama welcome local children and military families to trick-or-treat at the White House

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Jonathan Cohn: Guess Who Really Wants To Take Away Your Insurance: Republicans

Republicans are outraged that some Americans must give up their current insurance plans because they don’t satisfy Obamacare’s new regulations for benefits and pricing. Partly they are mad at President Obama, because he repeatedly said people who like their coverage would get to keep it. And that’s fine. As I said yesterday, Obama should have said “most” people, not “all” people. Readers can decide for themselves whether, by the standards of politics, that’s a felony or misdemeanor.

But Republicans are also making a substantive argument here. It’s unconscionable, they say, that lawmakers would force people to give up their current coverage. Just a few minutes ago, during congressional testimony by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, an angry Representative Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee practically screamed at the witness: “You’re taking away their choice!”

It’s good politics, I’m sure. It’s also breathtakingly cynical. Republicans have repeatedly endorsed proposals that would take insurance away from many more Americans—and leave them much, much worse off.

More here

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LA Times: Another Obamacare Horror Story Debunked

Deborah Cavallaro is a hard-working real estate agent in the Westchester suburb of Los Angeles who has been featured prominently on a round of news shows lately, talking about how badly Obamacare is going to cost her when her existing plan gets canceled and she has to find a replacement.

She says she’s angry at President Obama for having promised that people who like their health plans could keep them, when hers is getting canceled for not meeting Obamacare’s standards.

“Please explain to me,” she told Maria Bartiromo on CNBC Wednesday, “how my plan is a ‘substandard’ plan when … I’d be paying more for the exchange plans than I am currently paying by a wide margin.” Bartiromo didn’t take her up on her request. So I will.

The bottom line is that Cavallaro’s assertion that “there’s nothing affordable about the Affordable Care Act,” as she put it Tuesday on NBC Channel 4, is the product of her own misunderstandings, abetted by a passel of uninformed and incurious news reporters.

I talked with Cavallaro, 60, after her CNBC appearance. Let’s walk through what she told me…

More here

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Spandan (The People’s View): The Cheapest Shot Against Obamacare, And Why Men Should Pay for Maternity

Right wing Obamacare opponents have a rehashed talking point: the Affordable Care Act forces people to purchase coverage for things they do not need. This accusation comes from the fact that the ACA requires insurance plans to cover maternity and newborn care, and that is outrageous because men, who will never get pregnant, are being forced to pay for a policy that covers maternity care.

It’s heartening to see the sudden Republican realization that men will never get pregnant; one only wishes they could apply such factual conviction to decisions about a pregnancy and let those who do get pregnant, rather than the government, determine whether to carry those pregnancies to term.

But I digress. Before the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies were free to charge women more for health insurance than men – essentially treating the fact of being female as a pre-existing condition – with the excuse that women could get pregnant, and thus they, and not those who couldn’t be pregnant, should have to pay for the cost of childbearing.

More here

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@DahmPublishing

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Steve Benen: Budget Deficit Shrinks To Five-Year Low

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor recently appeared on Fox News and when the discussion turned to the budget, the Virginia Republican said lawmakers should be “focused on trying to deal with the ultimate problem, which is this growing deficit.”

In reality, the deficit is not growing; it’s shrinking:

For the first time in five years, the U.S. government has run a budget deficit below $1 trillion….

This is the fastest deficit reduction seen in the United States since the end of World War II.

More here

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Laura Smith-Spark: Syria Has Met First Chemical Weapons Destruction Deadline, OPCW Says

Syria has destroyed all its declared chemical weapons mixing, filling and production facilities, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said Thursday. The watchdog body’s announcement means that the first deadline has been met in an ambitious program to eliminate the country’s entire chemical weapons stockpile by the middle of next year. The joint United Nations-OPCW mission visited 21 out of 23 sites, the OPCW statement said, and 39 of the 41 facilities at those sites.

The remaining two sites were too dangerous for the inspectors to go to, it said, but Syria had declared those sites as abandoned. The chemical weapons equipment there was moved to other sites, which were inspected. The OPCW said it was “now satisfied that it has verified — and seen destroyed — all of Syria’s declared critical production and mixing/filling equipment.” The next milestone for the mission will be November 15, it said, when the body’s executive council must approve a detailed plan submitted by Syria for the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile.

More here

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CNBC: US-Single Family Home Prices Rise In Aug, Yearly Gain Best Since 2006

U.S. single-family home prices rose in August and also posted their strongest annual gain in more than seven years, a closely watched survey showed on Tuesday. The report suggested the housing sector continued to recover despite those headwinds. Home prices have been rising nationally since early 2012 and economists have singled out housing as one of the bright spots of the U.S. recovery.

More here

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Think Progress: Senate May Soon Have Enough Votes To Pass Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) To Protect LGBT Workers

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has promised a Senate vote on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) before Thanksgiving, and possibly as early as next week. This bill, which has been proposed in every Congress since 1994, would make it illegal for employers to make hiring, promotion, or firing decisions based on an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Like all Senate legislation, ENDA will require a cloture vote of 60 votes before it can pass, and it seems the votes are almost all there, with several new endorsements this week.

An overwhelming majority of the country believe the employment protections already exist at the federal level, when in fact only 21 states protect sexual orientation and 17 protect gender identity. Under the current mosaic of protections, LGBT people have indicated that they much prefer working in states where they are protected, impacting businesses across the country.

More here

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Marine One departs the South Lawn of the White House at the start of President Obama’s trip to Boston, Oct. 30, 2013 (Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

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@NewsBreaker: White House decorated for Halloween as POTUS returned from Boston

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On This Day:

President Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talk with local residents at the Brigantine Beach Community Center, which is serving as a shelter for those displaced by Hurricane Sandy, in Brigantine, N.J., Oct. 31, 2012 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama greets a woman in the audience after speaking at Cleveland State University in Cleveland, Ohio, Oct. 31, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

First Lady Michelle Obama waits with Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg in the Green Room of the White House before making remarks to the White House Historical Association, Oct. 31, 2011 (Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

It was Halloween at the White House for military families and the First Lady began dancing with some of the their children, Oct. 31, 2010 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama and Marian Robinson welcome children from Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia schools for Halloween festivities at the North Portico of the White House, Oct. 31, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)

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First Lady Michelle Obama hands out treats during a Halloween reception for military families and children of White House staff in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 31, 2009. (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama reacts to performers during a Halloween reception for military families and children of White House staff in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 31, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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