Call it the Year of the Latte, or the Panini. When the new year rolls around, some people vow to spend more time with their family. Others pledge to step up their Pilates routines. But Beautiful Existence — yes, that’s the legal name of a real person, not a philosophical question triggered by the new year — has another resolution for 2013: To eat and drink only items from Starbucks for 12 straight months. Based in Seattle — like Starbucks — Beautiful Existence, who’s a wife, mother and veteran of the Year-Long Challenge
Four months have now passed since the terrorist attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi took the lives of Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans. But for all the vows that the perpetrators would swiftly be brought to justice, no one so far has been. Nor, it seems, is anyone likely to be. So much for President Obama’s solemn promise: “Make no mistake, we will work with the Libyan government to bring to justice the killers who attacked our people.” What’s happened instead? Tunisia last week released the only person who’s been arrested as a possible suspect, citing “lack of evidence.”
In 2011, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner was instrumental in guiding President Obama away from rejecting a deal with Republicans on increasing the debt limit. Geithner was almost alone, the adult in White House discussions on handling GOP demands. The president and his other advisers had political and ideological misgivings about a deal. (Snip)The switch at the Treasury Department and the bluster of Obama give us a preview of the president’s second term. Obama isn’t quite out of control, but he’s getting close. Reelection has not only emboldened him, it’s also prompted him to mock and belittle Republicans.
Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg has decided not to run for re-election, NBC 4 New York has learned. Sources familiar with Lautenberg´s thinking tell NBC 4 New York that the senator, who turns 89 this month, won´t run again in 2014. The news comes the same week that Newark Mayor Cory Booker has filed papers allowing him to raise money for a U.S. Senate run in New Jersey. Booker told NBC 4 New York last month that he was exploring a run for Lautenberg´s seat. NBC 4 New York was first to report the decision.
On Friday, MSNBC’s The Cycle investigated the outrage directed at cohost Steve Kornacki, as well as other journalists, for referring to President Barack Obama simply as “Obama” after the first reference. Seriously and without irony, this happened. And the hosts of The Cycle performed this auspicious duty without screaming obscenities or throwing objects into the cameras. It is a feat that I doubt I could replicate. Kornacki says he was inundated by angry emails and tweets from the president’s supporters after he referred to Obama on the second reference as simply “Obama.” Rather than dismiss this nonsensical
Media types swoon at the prospect of retired Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., in the Senate, rightfully recognizing in the 72-year-old raconteur both great copy and a staunchly liberal worldview backed up by a veteran committee chair’s command of policy. But, say Massachusetts Democrats and people close to Gov. Deval Patrick, Frank has undercut his own explicit hopes for the seat likely to be vacated if Sen. John Kerry is confirmed as secretary of State. Frank’s very public lobbying for the job—he disclosed his aspirations on Morning Joe—make Patrick, the man who would have power of appointment, less likely to go along.
Sally Field has been reluctant to say goodbye to Mary Todd Lincoln. “She won’t leave, not for a long time,” Ms. Field said this morning, from a hotel in Los Angeles. But as a newly minted best supporting actress nominee, playing the wife to Daniel Day-Lewis’s Lincoln, she can relive her performance for weeks to come. Ms. Field, a two-time Oscar winner, has been outspoken about having to campaign for this role with the director, Steven Spielberg. “I’ve always told him that this battle needed to happen,” she said, “because it was the beginnings of me finding the character
“Lack of Global Warming Means Cold, Empty Chairs at New York Times Environment Desk,” Jim Lakely writes on the Heartland Institute’s blog: From Inside Climate News [emphasis mine]: The New York Times will close its environment desk in the next few weeks and assign its seven reporters and two editors to other departments. The positions of environment editor and deputy environment editor are being eliminated. No decision has been made about the fate of the Green Blog, which is edited from the environment desk.
Washington politicians interested in never cutting a dime from Washington’s spending can bring forth the name of Head Start quicker than the name of their own districts. It’s a heart-string puller. It has its roots deep in the Great Society, established in 1965 and expanded over the years to become one of the country’s longest-running programs to combat the effects of poverty. More than 20 million American children have gone through the program, which is designed to impart parenting skills to parents, and cognitive, emotional, and health improvements to children. Over the years, the program has cost $180 billion.
I´ve just returned from a few days in Washington, where the conversation continues to center on whether Republicans can regroup and rebound from their disappointing defeat in the November election. Thoughts on what the GOP must do range from improving their Spanish to standing up in gay weddings. But I think 2014 will be a huge Republican year. The reason: Obamacare will be in place by the time Americans next go to the polls, and they´ll have tasted the true costs of a law they didn´t want in the first place.
Not so long ago bilingualism was thought to be bad for your brain. But it looks more and more like speaking more than one language could help save you from Alzheimer´s disease. The latest evidence from the bilingualism-is-good-for-you crew comes from Brian Gold, a neuroscientist at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine in Lexington. To test the idea, he had older people who grew up bilingual do an attention-switching task, a skill that typically fades with age. Earlier research has found that people bilingual since childhood are better at the high-order thinking called executive function as they age.
Montpelier, Ohio - As the mother of three children in Montpelier Exempted Village Schools, Teresa Hickman calls the district’s plan to arm the custodial staff with guns an effective way to prevent incidents like the shootings in Newtown, Conn. (Snip) The school board voted unanimously on Wednesday to allow four janitors to carry their own guns inside the school. Mrs. Hickman, who learned about the plan in a letter the district sent to parents, said that the school district is taking a protective stance that could deter shooters from entering school property and could serve as a model
Before his closed-door meeting with gun-control advocates on Wednesday, Vice President Joe Biden chatted briefly with reporters. What he told them incensed right-wing news sources. (Snip) He made no mention of bans, or confiscation, which the White House—besides—could not accomplish through executive order, even if it wanted to. Operating without Congressional approval, President Obama could appoint a new ATF director or require federal agencies to report mental health records, but he could not enact an assault weapons ban, let alone an outright ban.
Senate Democratic leaders urged President Barack Obama to take any steps he can to pay U.S. financial obligations if congressional Republicans don’t support a debt-limit increase that Democrats deem acceptable. In a letter to Obama yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and three other top Democrats said Obama “must be willing to take any lawful steps (Snip) Boehner has said cuts must match or exceed the amount the ceiling is raised. McConnell said yesterday that Democrats “are falling all over themselves in an effort to do anything they can to get around the law -- and to avoid
President Barack Obama has signaled to his senior advisers that Denis McDonough, currently a deputy national security adviser, is his leading candidate to succeed Jack Lew as White House chief of staff, according to two people familiar with the matter. Selecting McDonough would elevate a former congressional staffer whose loyalty to Obama is unquestioned, according to the people. The chief of staff serves as the president’s gatekeeper, making the position one of the most powerful in the White House. (Snip) McDonough, 43, would be Obama’s fifth chief of staff.
New York - New Jersey Transit incorrectly used federal government software that otherwise could have warned officials against a disastrous decision to leave hundreds of millions of dollars worth of equipment in a low-lying rail yard before Superstorm Sandy struck, a Reuters examination has found. The agency based its decision, at least in part, on software provided by the National Weather Service that allows users to simulate an approaching hurricane and show areas vulnerable to flooding from storm surge, according to Sandy-related forecast documents obtained by Reuters from New Jersey
When police in Minority Report predicted who would commit crimes and stopped them before they did it, it was considered so futuristic, the film was set in 2054. Now, however, law enforcers in two American states are using crime-prediction software to predict which freed prisoners are most likely to commit murder, and supervising them accordingly. Instead of relying on parole officers to decide how much supervision inmates will need on the outside by looking at their records, the new system uses a computer algorithm to decide for them.
DALLAS — A representative for former U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison says the Texas Republican would not consider a position in President Barack Obama´s Cabinet. Hutchison served two decades in the Senate before deciding not to seek re-election last year. She was mentioned in one report as a possible successor to Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, also a Republican. Hutchison´s executive assistant, Melinda Poucher, said in an emailed statement Friday that Hutchison "would not consider a cabinet position of any kind."
AUSTIN, Texas — A Texas judge refused to allow Planned Parenthood to temporarily rejoin a health program for low-income women on Friday, saying the organization would unlikely win its court fight to get around a new law that disqualifies health clinics with any affiliation to abortion providers. Planned Parenthood was one of the largest chains of health clinics in the Texas Women´s Health Program, which provides cancer screenings, contraceptives and other basic health services to more than 110,000 eligible low-income women statewide. Planned Parenthood offers abortion
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst is calling for state-funded, specialized firearms training for teachers and administrators to guard against school shootings. Dewhurst suggested Friday that school districts would nominate who they want to carry weapons on campus under his plan. The training would be more extensive than what´s required for a Texas concealed handgun license and include how to react technically and emotionally in an active shooter situation. Dewhurst says the state funding needed would depend on the number of participating districts and how many people want training.
Democratic leaders in the Senate on Friday urged President Obama to consider bypassing Congress to prevent the nation from defaulting on its spending obligations if lawmakers cannot agree to raise the nation’s $16.4 trillion debt ceiling next month. In a joint letter that served as a warning to congressional Republicans, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and his leadership team encouraged Obama to “take any lawful steps” to avoid default — “without Congressional approval, if necessary.” The letter appeared to be an effort to push the White House to play hardball
Few will be surprised by the news that David Gregory won’t be prosecuted for possessing a high-capacity magazine during his appearance on “Meet the Press.” The decision was made by District of Columbia Attorney General Irvin Nathan, who turns out to be a social acquaintance of Gregory and his wife. The decision not to prosecute Gregory is explained in a statement you can read here. The statement makes it clear that the decision not to prosecute is an act of prosecutorial discretion. In other words, the AG had no doubt that Gregory violated the law; he simply decided
President Obama said on Friday that the United States is moving toward a “responsible end” to the war in Afghanistan that has lasted for 12 years. (Snip) He also applauded an agreement to turn over control of prisons that house terrorism suspects from the United States to Afghanistan. Mr. Karzai said that these steps, which the Afghans consider important to regaining full sovereignty over their country, would enable him to support a demand by the Obama administration that all American troops remaining in the country after 2014 be granted immunity from prosecution under Afghan law.
The surface of the sun erupted in a solar flare early Friday, unleashing a blast of super-heated plasma into space. A huge sunspot known as AR1654 produced the M1-class flare at 4:11 a.m. EST, officials with NASA´s Solar Dynamics Observatory said in a description of the event. The SDO spacecraft is one of several sun-watching space telescopes keeping tabs on solar flares and other sun weather events. According to Spaceweather.com, sunspot AR1654 is growing more active and is now "crackling with M-class solar flares" like the one that erupted today. "AR1654 is getting bigger as it turns toward Earth,"