New York - The National Security Agency paid millions of dollars to cover the costs of major internet companies involved in the Prism surveillance program after a court ruled that some of the agency´s activities were unconstitutional, according to top-secret material passed to the Guardian. (Snip) The October 2011 judgment, which was declassified on Wednesday by the Obama administration, found that the NSA´s inability to separate purely domestic communications from foreign traffic violated the fourth amendment. While the ruling did not concern the Prism program directly,
Comments: Sounds like hush money. Was this reported on this side of the Pond, or did I just miss it? The FISA Court was only required to an annual OK for spying, while any problems were left to be worked out while they did as they did.
Seattle - Boeing´s ties to the Pacific Northwest date back more than a century, when William Boeing purchased a Seattle shipyard that would become his first airplane factory. In recent years, however, those ties have been fraying, first with the company shifting its headquarters to Chicago, (Snip) In the contract vote late Wednesday, The International Association of Machinists District 751 rejected the proposal with 67 percent of the votes. Union members who called for a no vote did so in protest of Boeing´s push to end a traditional pension plan and increase their health care costs.
"Character is what you do when no one is watching." It´s a bit of a trite saying, attributed to coaches, motivational speakers and fortune cookie authors (by the way, whose idea was it for fortune cookies to replace predictions with treacly aphorisms from the "Successories" reject pile?). Still, the expression´s popularity illustrates the power of the idea behind it. Character is what you do when the only controlling authority is your conscience. Because young people do not yet have fully formed characters, they often need incentives beyond exhortations to do the right thing.
Washington - Problems with the federal health insurance website have prevented tens of thousands of low-income people from signing up for Medicaid even though they are eligible, federal and state officials say, undermining one of the chief goals of the 2010 health care law. The website, HealthCare.gov, is primarily seen as a place to buy private insurance with federal subsidies, but it is also a gateway to Medicaid, which generally provides more benefits at less cost to consumers. That door has been closed for the last six weeks, with the federal government unable to transfer its files to state Medicaid
Corydon, Iowa - The hills of southern Iowa bear the scars of America´s push for green energy: The brown gashes where rain has washed away the soil. The polluted streams that dump fertilizer into the water supply. Even the cemetery that disappeared like an apparition into a cornfield. It wasn´t supposed to be this way. (Snip) But the ethanol era has proven far more damaging to the environment than politicians promised and much worse than the government admits today. As farmers rushed to find new places to plant corn, they wiped out millions of acres of conservation land, destroyed habitat and
After dodging questions for months about video evidence said to show him using drugs, Mayor Rob Ford of Toronto stunned constituents and his own staff on Tuesday by telling a scrum of reporters, “Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine.” Video of Mr. Ford’s admission, during an impromptu news conference, showed him asking reporters to repeat the question they first raised in May, when journalists for Gawker and The Toronto Star described seeing video that appeared to show the mayor using drugs. When one reporter complied, asking, “Do you smoke crack cocaine?” the mayor admitted that he had done
Washington - A new book covering the 2012 presidential campaign uncovers a series of scathing remarks from political figures, but one alleged comment has stirred controversy around President Barack Obama and his administration’s use of targeted drone strikes. Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s book “Double Down: Game Change 2012” notes President Obama commenting on drone strikes, reportedly telling his aides that he’s “really good at killing people.” The quote from the book was first reported in Peter Hamby’s review in the Washington Post.
An emerging theme from Democrats struggling to explain the Obamacare fiasco is that stubborn Republican opposition has hobbled the administration´s efforts to implement President Obama´s complex national health care scheme. If you want the particulars, just glance at "The Obamacare sabotage campaign" by Politico´s Todd Purdum. But a memo revealed in a new Washington Post examination of the rollout shows the administration was already on a disastrous path in May 2010, just two months after Obamacare was signed into law -- and six months before Republicans won control of the House
Some inventions address needs that everyone has and go on to change the world. The Internet serves our constant craving for information; the internal combustion engine let anyone efficiently do mechanical work with little physical effort; antibiotics significantly reduced mortality rates around the world. Then there are the inventions that are the result of someone asking, "Hmm, I wonder if that would be a good idea?" From a "onesie" that lets your baby mop your floors to a mic-shaped sponge for rocking out in the shower, these are the inventions that are more noteworthy
"All we´ve been hearing the last three years is if you like your policy you can keep it.... I´m infuriated because I was lied to," one woman told this newspaper, as part of a story on how some middle-class Californians have been stunned to learn the real costs of Obamacare. And that lie looks like the biggest lie about domestic policy ever uttered by a U.S. president. The most famous presidential lies have to do with misconduct (Richard Nixon´s "I am not a crook" or Bill Clinton´s "I did not have sexual relations") or war. Woodrow Wilson campaigned on the slogan "He kept us out of war" and then plunged
The usual scenario involves suspicious glances, inattentive clerks or rude service — not handcuffs. Yet when a black teen said he was wrongly jailed after buying a $350 belt at a Manhattan luxury store, it struck a nerve in African-Americans accustomed to finding that their money is not necessarily as good as everyone else´s. Shopping while black, they say, can be a humiliating experience. Much attention has been paid to the issue over the years — Oprah Winfrey complained that a Swiss clerk did not think she could afford a $38,000 handbag, and even President Barack Obama has said he was once followed in
’m going to ruin sea otters for you. Or at least I’m going to tarnish their reputation as some of the most charming little beasties in the seas. For as cute as they are while intertwining paws at an aquarium, frolicking among the wafting fronds of California kelp forests, or smashing sea urchins open with stones, some sea otters have developed the disturbing habit of humping and drowning baby seals. When I first heard about the behavior from a marine biologist friend of mine, I didn’t quite believe sea otters could be so diabolical. Maybe the bad behavior was just a rumor. But no, the strange sea otter
President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years. Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC News that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next
President Obama announces today that he supports a “fix” for Obamacare that would allow some Americans to keep the healthcare plans they already had for an additional year. That was already built into the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare law. It’s not an actual change to anything, it’s just an attempt to get out ahead of the bills that Republican Fred Upton and Democrat Mary Landrieu are sponsoring in the House and Senate that would legislatively “fix” Obamacare. It’s an exercise in blame-shifting, and an abdication of leadership. As news of the plan leaked, skepticism spread.(Snip for tweets)Barack Obama’s credibility
To paraphrase Oscar Wilde, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to laugh at the unraveling of Obamacare. First, the obligatory caveats. It is no laughing matter that millions of Americans’ lives have been thrown into anxious chaos as they lose their health insurance, their doctors, their money, or all three. Nor is it particularly amusing to think of the incredible waste of time and tax dollars that has gone into Obamacare’s construction. And the still-unfolding violence that this misbegotten legislation will visit on the economy and our liberties is not funny either. This very magazine has been downright
In his 2007 biography of Barack Obama, Obama: From Promise to Power, Chicago Tribune reporter David Mendell described the exchange he had with then-Illinois state Sen. Barack Obama just minutes before he delivered the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston: After Obama and I slipped through a security checkpoint and he momentarily broke free from the entourage, I sidled up to him and told him that he seemed to be impressing many people of influence in this rarefied atmosphere. Obama, his gaze fixed directly ahead, never broke his stride. “I´m LeBron, baby,” he replied, referring to LeBron
On Wednesday, Senator Mark Udall (D-CO) introduced a bill in the Senate that would allow Americans to keep their health insurance plans for a limit of two years. “I have repeatedly said that the Affordable Care Act isn’t perfect,” Udall said, “and it will need to be improved as it is implemented.” Udall already wants to push off the open enrollment deadline on the Obamacare health exchanges until the end of May. But Udall’s plan isn’t the only one in the offing. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) has introduced the “Keeping the Affordable Care Act Promise Act,” co-sponsored by Sens. Dianne
Something is seriously wrong with conservatism. Since Ronald Reagan’s last year in office, Republicans have only twice won a majority of votes cast for president—both times with a George Bush atop the ticket. And neither Bush was a conservative. For 25 years, something has prevented conservatives from winning the White House and prevented the Republicans who do win from governing as conservatives. What could it be? The Tea Party has an answer: RINOs—liberal Republicans in Name Only—have sabotaged the right, most recently in October when they collaborated with Democrats to raise the debt ceiling and end the government shutdown. Once RINOs are
President Obama’s former spiritual advisor Joshua DuBois joined The O’Reilly Factor to talk about his new book, “The President´s Devotional: Daily Readings That Inspired Obama.” He told Bill O’Reilly, “The president’s a committed Christian and his faith is a really important part of his life. Every single morning for the last six years he’s woken up and read these devotionals to try grow closer to God and closer to his neighbors as well.” DuBois recalled going with the president to visit Reverend Billy Graham. “He doesn’t wear this stuff on his sleeve. That’s not the kind guy he is, but he
President Barack Obama issued a statement yesterday congratulating Hawaii for legalizing same-sex marriage, a move he said "exemplifies the values we hold dear as a nation." "I want to congratulate the Hawaii State Legislature on passing legislation in support of marriage equality," said Obama. "With today’s vote, Hawaii joins a growing number of states that recognize that our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters should be treated fairly and equally under the law. Whenever freedom and equality are affirmed, our country becomes stronger. By giving loving gay and lesbian couples the right to marry if they choose, Hawaii exemplifies the
President Barack Obama is expected to announce that individuals with insurance policies that are being canceled because they do not meet Obamacare´s standards will be allowed to renew them, sources told NBC News. But that insurance companies will be required to tell people re-enrolling about alternative options and the benefits they will lose. Obama, under pressure from Democrats facing angry calls from people who have lost their health insurance plans, will deliver a statement on Obamacare at the White House at 11:35 am ET, the White House said. CNBC.com will be streaming the event live.
First Lady Michelle Obama attended two of America’s finest schools - Princeton University and Harvard Law School. But on Tuesday she told a group of underprivileged Washington, DC high schoolers - many of whom are hoping to be the first in their families to go to college — that she once faced many of the same challenges and doubts as they do. “I was willing to do whatever it took for me to go to college,” Mrs. Obama said. “Get this - some of my teachers straight up told me that I was setting my sights too high. They told me I
LOS ANGELES – Despite his devotion to dinner time prayers and Christian values, "Duck Dynasty" star Willie Robertson has been axed from speaking at a benefit in Bristol, Tenn. for the faith and bible-driven organization, Family Ministries. Why? Wine. The famous family announced its latest business venture last week: Duck Commander Wines. In conjunction with the winemakers of Trinchero Family Estates in Napa, the Robertsons´ own line of Red, Moscato and Chardonnay is slated to hit stores next month. According to the Ministries, Duck Commander Wines goes against the organization´s core values.
Democratic lawmakers will announce this afternoon a bill to override state abortion laws that have placed restrictions on the services. The Women’s Health Protection Act “would protect a woman’s right to safe and legal abortion by preempting restrictive regulations and laws—such as those in place in states including Texas and Wisconsin—intended to curtail reproductive health services for women,” according to Sen. Richard Blumenthal’s (D-Conn.) office. Blumenthal will be joined at an afternoon press conference by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) and Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Marcia Fudge (D-Ohio) and Lois Frankel (D-Fla.). Also at the announcement of the bill will
There is one kind of bumper sticker I see almost daily here in my small Midwestern town: a small oval printed with "26.2" or "13.1." In case you´re lucky enough not to know what these numbers represent, let me explain: They indicate that the driver or someone in the car has run a marathon (26.2 miles) or a half-marathon (13.1 miles). There is only one reason running aficionados display the stickers. They want the rest of us to know about their long-distance feats. So let me be the first to offer my hearty congratulations. I´d even offer to give them