BERLIN- German Chancellor Angela Merkel complained to U.S. President Barack Obama Wednesday about reports U.S. intelligence monitored her phone calls, a spokesman said. Merkel spokesman Steffen Seibert said the German chancellor, in a telephone call with Obama, said such surveillance would be "completely unacceptable," Der Spiegel reported. "This would be a serious breach of trust," Seibert said Merkel told Obama. "Such practices should be stopped immediately." Der Spiegel reported the surveillance, based on a review by the Federal Intelligence Service and the Federal Office for Security in Information Technology. Siebert said Merkel told Obama Germany expects U.S. authorities will brief Germany "about
While in a way one sympathizes with Merkel, one also rolls one´s eyes. No one can tell me that all countries don´t spy, in some sense, on all other countries all the time. That´s what consulates, embassies and Mil Groups, inter alia, are for, and everybody in the high-level diplomatic, economic and military spheres knows it.
The new Healthcare.gov is getting mixed reviews after its first major test. Many people who tried the revamped health insurance website say it is working better, while others say they´re still having trouble. Starting Tuesday, President Barack Obama launches a new effort to highlight the positive side of the Affordable Care Act. In a speech at the White House, the president will tout the benefits already provided under the Affordable Care Act, and the risks he sees in trying to repeal that law. Democrats running for re-election next year remain panicky. This is the president´s first concerted effort to calm them
After news of "Fast and Furious" actor Paul Walker´s death in a fiery one-car crash hit the Internet Saturday night , Erin Gloria Ryan, editor of the left-wing website Jezebel (which is part of the Gawker network), tweeted that she wished it had been Wisconsin Republican governor Scott Walker instead. [Tweet] Ryan´s first reaction to the controversy was to mock Later Ryan repeatedly apologized, including to Walker directly, and deleted what she admitted was "an incredibly tasteless joke."
WASHINGTON— In the Bluegrass state, there is a war being waged by two faux conservatives. One is Mitch McConnell. He is the Senate Minority Leaders and the incumbent in Kentucky. The other is Matt Bevin, who is his challenger. Bevin is a businessman, originally from Maine, who moved to Kentucky in 1999. McConnell is now regarded as the Godfather of Kentucky politics. Neither is a conservative. McConnell is symptomatic of what is wrong in Washington. He has been there since 1985. He is known around Washington as a deal maker, and that is the huge problem with Mitch McConnell. Last year, when
Federal food programs are now feeding more than 100 million Americans. The number of recipients has soared in recent years, thanks in part to Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign pledge to abolish childhood hunger by 2015. The food-aid explosion is worsening the nation’s obesity epidemic, though, and making a mockery of Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign. The Obama administration is aggressively expanding the largest federal food program, bankrolling food-stamp recruiting drives and swaying states to waive asset and income limits for applicants. The result is a boost in enrollment to almost 48 million. Numerous studies going back to the 1970s have
HERNDON, Va.- Listen closely as the Obama administration touts the Nov. 24 Geneva nuclear deal struck between the P5+1 countries (the United States, Britain, France, China, Russia, plus Germany) and Iran. The distant echo, "history repeats itself," resonates. Obama spin doctors will credit diplomacy with prevailing -- the world taking pause to step back from the precipice of war. But U.S. compliance will eventually cause 21st-century historians to tell a different story: As the P5+1 countries stepped back, Iran stepped forward. Once again, future generations will wonder how obvious warning signs were ignored. Democracies will be ostracized for failing to
As they splash around in their tanks, they look like any other healthy Atlantic salmon. Their eyes are bright, their skin is gloriously silvery and their fully grown bodies exude power. It’s only when you look closely at their hatching dates that the alarm bells start to ring. A normal Atlantic salmon takes 30 months to grow to maturity .?.?. this variety took just 16. The majestic specimens are ‘frankenfish’ — genetically modified salmon created in a secretive research base in the Panama rainforest. The salmon have been given genes from two other species of fish to make them grow
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Monday declined to detail the error rates for the back-end process that provides insurers with information about enrollees in Obamacare´s new insurance exchanges. The White House is trumpeting fixes to the healthcare.gov website, saying it met a self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline to deliver a smooth user experience to the “vast majority” of consumers. Insurers, however, say the federal website is nowhere near fixed, citing back-end issues with the online marketplaces. Insurance companies say they have been unable to receive data on many users who have successfully enrolled in Obamacare exchanges, preventing them
SPRINGFIELD— Illinois lawmakers on Tuesday are poised for a landmark vote on fixing the state´s financially out-of-whack government worker pension system, testing long-standing political allegiances among both political parties. For Democrats, a vote to cut retirement benefits could alienate public worker unions that provide campaign contributions and foot soldiers at election time. Republicans, meanwhile, were split. Hard-liners argued that the agreement doesn´t do enough to cut pension benefits for state workers, and others contended the measure inflicts too much pain on employees. Business groups jumped on board, providing Republican lawmakers with a measure of political cover. While understanding the proposal
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Kentucky authorities are offering a $10,000 reward for information that helps authorities solve the disappearance of hundreds of bottles of pricey bourbon. The 65 cases of 20-year-old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon and nine cases of 13-year-old Van Winkle Family Reserve rye were taken from the Buffalo Trace Distillery at Frankfort in mid-October. The missing whiskey is valued at more than $26,000, and the case has become a compelling mystery in a state that produces 95 percent of the world´s bourbon. Franklin County Sheriff Pat Melton said Monday the reward could provide "a heck of a Christmas" for someone
On Monday, the White House tweeted out that it wanted Americans to join a Google Hangout with Obama ally Kal Penn on Obamacare. The White House recommended that Americans ask questions with “#WHYouth”: [Tweet] The Google Hangout touted, “Calling All Young Americans: Youth Summit Preview.” The hashtag #WHYouth prompted all sorts of Hitler Youth-related mockery: [...more Tweets]
DETROIT- The largest-ever municipal bankruptcy petition in U.S. history faces a watershed moment on Tuesday, as the judge overseeing Detroit´s bankruptcy case is scheduled to rule whether the city is eligible for protection from creditors - an event that has citizens, public officials, creditors, retirees and others awaiting the judge´s words and preparing responses. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes has scheduled a hearing for 10 a.m. EST on Tuesday to announce his decision, which will be followed by the release of a written opinion. Rhodes´ ruling will begin a new chapter in the case that first arrived in federal court
President Obama stood in the Rose Garden and promised a "tech surge" to fix healthcare.gov. In reality, the surge was a tiny influx of "about a half-dozen people." In a multi-page story on the effort to rebuild the troubled website, the NY Times reported Saturday that one of the President´s fixes was actually a bit of hyperbole. The "tech surge," which the President announced during a Rose Garden speech last month, was not a wave of software engineers. It was a tiny handful of people: In fact, the surge centered on about a half-dozen people who had taken leave from
A Republican strategist is reminding his party that President Reagan is dead. Ford O´Connell, who worked on Sen. John McCain´s (R-Ariz.) 2008 presidential campaign, says if Republicans want to win the White House in 2016, they need to break free of the "obsessive Reagan disorder." Rule #1 of the political analyst´s newly released book, "Hail Mary: The 10-Step Playbook for Republican Recovery," is: "Ronald Reagan is dead. Accept it." Such a sentiment is sure to be tough to digest for a party insistent on using the 40th president´s legacy as a GOP litmus test to prove conservative credentials. "The Reagan fixation is a drag
Jeffrey P. Bezos has never been known for thinking small. And in an interview aired Sunday on CBS´s "60 Minutes," he outlined his latest plan for revolutionizing the retail industry: using drones to deliver packages in as little as 30 minutes. Declaring himself an "optimist," the Amazon.com founder and chief executive predicted the technology could be brought to market in as little as five years. This is more than a theoretical idea. Bezos showed CBS´s Charlie Rose a working prototype of an eight-rotor helicopter drone called an "octocopter." Emblazoned with "Amazon Prime Air," the flying robot has a claw at
Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said on MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation” Wednesday that when Jesus fed five thousand people with five loaves of bread and two fish, “he didn’t charge food stamps.” “When Jesus had those five loaves and two fishes, he didn´t charge food stamps. He didn´t ask anybody how much money they had. He fed them because they were hungry, and that´s really where we ought to be,” McDermott said in response to Republican critics of the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). In September, the House approved a plan by Republicans to cut $39 billion in food stamps over the next
MIDDLETOWN, Del.- Remembering the plot of a short story is no longer good enough in teacher Amy Lawson´s fifth-grade classroom. Today´s students are being asked to think more critically. For example, what might a character say in an email to a friend? "It´s hard. But you can handle this," Lawson tells them. Welcome to a classroom using the Common Core State Standards, one of the most politicized and misunderstood changes in education for students and their teachers in kindergarten through high school. In 45 states and the District of Columbia, Lawson and and other teachers are starting to use the standards
An education official at a Texas high school is under fire after telling some female students they have been dressing like ‘hoes.’ According to KRIV Fox 26, School Support Officer Dr. Tameca Richardson made the remark to female students at Jack Yates High School in Houston during an assembly on campus. A spokesperson for the Houston Independent School District confirmed the language used by Richardson, the station reported. Some parents expressed anger over Richardson’s terminology, saying the Ph.D.-level educator should have used language that was less offensive. "That was out of line and she should be disciplined for that,"
Gov. Chris Christie’s “bizarre behavior’’ in refusing to say he’ll support a possible GOP challenger to Gov. Cuomo next year could derail his chances to become president, state and national GOP insiders have told The Post. “Christie already has a problem with many Republicans refusing to forgive him because of his embrace of [President] Obama and his socially liberal policies,’’ said a nationally prominent GOP operative. “But this bizarre behavior in suggesting he won’t help a Republican defeat a Democratic governor, and a Cuomo no less, could finish off his chances of becoming his party’s nominee for president in 2016,’’ the
In the US we are used to abortion advocates claiming that the risk of elective abortion is relatively trivial, and major medical organizations denying any link between abortion and breast cancer. Now a powerful new study from China published last week by Yubei Huang and colleagues suggests otherwise. The article, a meta-analysis pooling 36 studies from 14 provinces in China, showed that abortion increased the risk of breast cancer by 44% with one abortion, and 76% and 89% with two and three abortions. This new article is another example of the recent excellent scholarship on abortion in peer-reviewed journals coming out
Senior officials in the White House have said that Israel Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “is desperate and weak,” in reaction to Netanyahu´s remonstrations against the deal struck with Iran over its nuclear weapons program. Israeli television Channel 10 quoted the officials as saying “His pronouncements show a lack of self-confidence,” in an unusually harsh personal attack on Netanyahu. “We are not perturbed by his vocal opposition.”
The nation’s view of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, colored by the horrific Benghazi assassination of the U.S. ambassador to Libya on her watch, has suddenly turned upside down, with more now holding an unfavorable opinion of the likely 2016 presidential candidate. A new YouGov/Economist poll found Clinton, whose approval ratings have typically been sky high, with an unfavorable rating of 48 percent, more than the 46 percent who have a favorable opinion of her. The YouGov pollsters said that the change in American attitudes toward Clinton "suggests that negative press surrounding the tragic
A push by activists to ease the 30-year-old blanket ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men faces a key test this week as a federal panel hears results of the latest research. The findings will be released amid growing pressure from politicians and advocates, including college students, to change the policy. Critics say the ban is a hangover from the early, fear-filled days of AIDS, stigmatizing gay men and ignoring advances in treatment and detection in the decades since. Supporters of the policy say politics, not science, is driving the proposed change, which would heighten the risk of
President Obama completed an ambitious fundraising schedule for Democrats in November, but many of the congressional candidates he is trying to help are finding their election prospects next year imperiled by the president’s faulty health care law. Several polls in the past week have shown congressional Republicans pulling even or slightly ahead of Democrats in generic balloting for the midterm elections, a swing of at least 10 percentage points in less than a month. Pollsters attribute the seismic shift to the series of glaring flaws in Obamacare, most of which came to the public’s attention after the program’s rollout Oct.
Former Obama advisor David Plouffe appeared on This Week With George Stephanopoulos Sunday morning and predicted that President Barack Obama’s approval rating would rise over the next few months, following the increasing functionality of the Affordable Care Act. “This has been a tough task,” Plouffe said. “It’s not just health care. The shutdown affected everybody’s confidence in government. But let’s fast-forward to the State of the Union and the months after that. Health care working better, a lot of people signing up. The economy continuing to strengthen. Hopefully no Washington shutdowns.