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Member since: Thu Oct 21, 2004, 06:06 PM
Number of posts: 16,094
Member since: Thu Oct 21, 2004, 06:06 PM
Number of posts: 16,094
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“We’ve got a lot of things going for us,” President Obama said at a press conference Tuesday. The economy was looking up; people were working, oil was flowing, life would be not so bad but for the “uncertainty caused by just one week of this nonsense.” Nonsense was one of the kinder words he had for the government shutdown—“We can’t make extortion routine”—and the possibility that Congress would let the United States default on its debts, about nine days from now. He called that an “economic shutdown.”
Obama kept asking people “just to boil this down to personal examples.” In their own lives, if they weren’t happy, they “don’t get to demand ransom in exchange for doing their jobs,” or decide not to pay bills out of grumpiness. They “wouldn’t deal with co-workers or business associates in this manner.” Just as “you’re not saving money by not paying your mortgage; you’re just a deadbeat,” refusing to raise the debt ceiling, the statutory limit on the amount Congress can borrow to pay its bills, would not make those bills go away. “What’s true for individuals is also true for nations, even the most powerful nation on earth.”
The national economy as household economy is usually one of the more spurious political-economic arguments. Countries aren’t actually like individuals. Their business and long-term investment priorities, vulnerabilities and basic morality, are too disparate, as are the exigencies around borrowing—or they should be. What is remarkable, and depressing, about a default is that the metaphors about creditors calling and bills stacking up would be descriptions of unfolding events. The United States of America really would become just some guy—that guy you know who has problems with money.
When Julianna Goldman, of Bloomberg, asked Obama if, as we got near the statutory debt ceiling, he might pay interest on bonds while skipping, say, Social Security checks, “to maintain the semblance of credit,” he said he didn’t think that he could fool the markets that way, or with some other legalistic move like “roll out a big coin.” (Presumably a platinum one.) What “the people who are buying treasury bills think” would count, and they’d know it was still the U.S. that wasn’t paying people, and not someone else who happened to live at the same address, and they would punish us, even without a technical default:
If you’ve got a mortgage, a car note, and a student loan that you have to pay, and you say, well, I’m going to make sure I pay my mortgage, but I’m not going to pay my student loan or my car note, that’s still going to have an impact on your credit. Everybody’s still going to look at that and say, “You know what? I’m not sure this person is that trustworthy.” And at minimum, presumably, they’re going to charge a higher interest rate.
Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2013/10/shutdown-debt-ceiling-obama-and-the-default-pirates.html?printable=true
Posted by Mira | Wed Oct 9, 2013, 11:28 AM (0 replies)
Since the media seems to think this whole thing is a bipartisan mess, I thought I'd get a second opinion. Take it away, Senator. (At 4:00, she nails it.) And the name she names? It's a party. Not a person.
Posted by Mira | Tue Oct 8, 2013, 08:12 PM (1 replies)
Posted by Mira | Sat Oct 5, 2013, 08:56 PM (26 replies)
I'm not out with my camera much these last few days, and my brain is frozen to only see political stories at the moment.
Here are four from my archives that tell "me a story" but I honestly don't even know if any of them qualify for the contest's theme.
Posted by Mira | Sat Oct 5, 2013, 12:43 AM (6 replies)
High school science teacher David Layman and other members of the “Unofficial Breaking Bad Fan Tour” Facebook group, paid for the Walter White death notice that appears on 4A in today’s Albuquerque Journal.
“I’ve been a humongous ‘Breaking Bad’ fan since the beginning,” says Layman, who notes that he has a student named Jesse. “I was actually in the pilot, and putting the obit in the paper was fitting, because the series was based in Albuquerque and it provides some of us some closure.”
Posted by Mira | Fri Oct 4, 2013, 12:15 PM (12 replies)
Posted by Mira | Thu Oct 3, 2013, 07:18 PM (8 replies)
At least 130 African migrants have died and many more are missing after a boat carrying them to Europe sank off the southern Italian island of Lampedusa.
A total of 103 bodies have been recovered and more have been found inside the wreck, coast guards say.
Passengers reportedly threw themselves into the sea when a fire broke out on board. More than 150 of the migrants have been rescued.
Most of those on board were from Eritrea and Somalia, said the UN.
The boat was believed to have been carrying up to 500 people at the time and some 200 of them are unaccounted for.
Continue reading the main story
Alan Johnston BBC News, Rome
This marked a tragic end to a long journey from countries as far as Eritrea and Somalia.
Over the years there have been numerous disasters involving migrants off Lampedusa, but seldom on anything like this scale. The island's mayor wept as she took in the scene on the harbour wall.
Furious demands are being made for an end to the dangerous trafficking of people across the Mediterranean. But it is hard to see how the flow could be curbed, with so many people so desperate for a chance to make a new life in Europe, and traffickers in so many ports ready to take their money.
Italian Interior Minister Angelino Alfano said the ship had come from Misrata in Libya and began taking on water when its motor stopped working.
It is thought that some of those on board set fire to a piece of material to try to attract the attention of passing ships, only to have the fire spread to the rest of the boat.
Simona Moscarelli, a spokeswoman from the International Organization for Migration in Rome, told the BBC that in order to escape the fire, "the migrants moved, all of them, to one side of the boat which capsized".
She estimated that only six of about 100 women on board survived, adding that most of the migrants were unable to swim.
"Only the strongest survived," she said.
It is one of the worst such disasters to occur off the Italian coast in recent years; Prime Minister Enrico Letta tweeted that it was "an immense tragedy". The government has declared a day of national mourning on Friday.
"There is no miraculous solution to the migrant exodus issue," said Italian Foreign Minister Emma Bonino. "If there were we would have found it and put it into action."
more at source:
Posted by Mira | Thu Oct 3, 2013, 04:53 PM (4 replies)
Shutdown impact: Tourists, homebuyers hit quickly
Posted: September 28
WASHINGTON &MDASHA government shutdown would have far-reaching consequences for some, but minimal impact on others.
Mail would be delivered. Social Security and Medicare benefits would continue to flow.
But vacationers would be turned away from national parks and Smithsonian museums. Low-to-moderate income borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays.
A look at how services would or would not be affected if Congress fails to reach an agreement averting a government shutdown at midnight Monday.
Federal air traffic controllers would remain on the job and airport screeners would keep funneling passengers through security checkpoints. Federal inspectors would continue enforcing safety rules.
The State Department would continue processing foreign applications for visas and U.S. applications for passports, since fees are collected to finance those services. Embassies and consulates overseas would continue to provide services to American citizens.
Social Security and Medicare benefits would keep coming, but there could be delays in processing new disability applications. Unemployment benefits would still go out.
Federal courts would continue operating normally for about 10 business days after the start of a shutdown, roughly until the middle of October. If the shutdown continues, the judiciary would have to begin furloughs of employees whose work is not considered essential. But cases would continue to be heard.
Deliveries would continue as usual because the U.S. Postal Service receives no tax dollars for day-to-day operations. It relies on income from stamps and other postal fees to keep running.
All national parks would be closed, as would the Smithsonian museums, including the National Zoo in Washington. Visitors using overnight campgrounds or other park facilities would be given 48 hours to make alternate arrangements and leave the park. Among the visitor centers that would be closed: the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in New York, Independence Hall in Philadelphia, Alcatraz Island near San Francisco and the Washington Monument.
New patients would not be accepted into clinical research at the National Institutes of Health, but current patients would continue to receive care. Medical research at the NIH would be disrupted and some studies would be delayed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be severely limited in spotting or investigating disease outbreaks, from flu to that mysterious MERS virus from the Middle East.
The Food and Drug Administration would handle high-risk recalls suspend most routine safety inspections. Federal meat inspections would be expected to proceed as usual.
A small number of Head Start programs, about 20 out of 1,600 nationally, would feel the impact right away. The federal Administration for Children and Families says grants expiring about Oct. 1 would not be renewed. Over time more programs would be affected. Several of the Head Start programs that would immediately feel the pinch are in Florida. It's unclear if they would continue serving children.
The Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children, known as WIC, could shut down. The program provides supplemental food, health care referrals and nutrition education for pregnant women, mothers and their children.
School lunches and breakfasts would continue to be served, and food stamps, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, would continue to be distributed. But several smaller feeding programs would not have the money to operate.
Americans would still have to pay their taxes and file federal tax returns, but the Internal Revenue Service says it would suspend all audits. Got questions? Sorry, the IRS says taxpayer services, including toll-free help lines, would be shut as well.
Many low-to-moderate incomes borrowers and first-time homebuyers seeking government-backed mortgages could face delays during the shutdown. The Federal Housing Administration, which guarantees about 30 percent of home mortgages, wouldn't underwrite or approve any new loans during the shutdown. Action on government-backed loans to small businesses would be suspended.
NASA will continue to keep workers at Mission Control in Houston and elsewhere to support the International Space station, where two Americans and four others are deployed. The National Weather Service would keep forecasting weather and issuing warnings and the National Hurricane Center would continue to track storms. The scientific work of the U.S. Geological Survey would be halted.
The majority of the Department of Homeland Security's employees are expected to stay on the job, including uniformed agents and officers at the country's borders and ports of entry, members of the Coast Guard, Transportation Security Administration officers, Secret Service personnel and other law enforcement agents and officers. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services employees would continue to process green card applications.
The military's 1.4 million active duty personnel would stay on duty, but their paychecks would be delayed. About half of the Defense Department's civilian employees would be furloughed.
All 116 federal prisons would remain open, and criminal litigation would proceed.
Most services offered through the Department of Veterans Affairs will continue because lawmakers approve money one year in advance for the VA's health programs. Veterans would still be able to visit hospitals for inpatient care, get mental health counseling at vet centers or get prescriptions filled at VA health clinics. Operators would still staff the crisis hotline and claims workers would still process payments to cover disability and pension benefits. But those veterans appealing the denial of disability benefits to the Board of Veterans Appeals will have to wait longer for a decision because the board would not issue any decisions during a shutdown.
Federal occupational safety and health inspectors would stop workplace inspections except in cases of imminent danger.
Associated Press writers Matthew Daly, Frederic J. Frommer, Kevin Freking, Andrew Miga, Deb Riechmann, Lauran Neergaard, Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, Mark Sherman, Stephen Ohlemacher, Lolita Baldor, Jesse Holland, Seth Borenstein, Mary Clare Jalonick and Alicia Caldwell contributed to this report.
Posted by Mira | Mon Sep 30, 2013, 08:28 PM (0 replies)
States of Health
by Atul Gawande October 7, 2013
Ours can be an unforgiving country. Paul Sullivan was in his fifties, college-educated, and ran a successful small business in the Houston area. He owned a house and three cars. Then the local economy fell apart. Business dried up. He had savings, but, like more than a million people today in Harris County, Texas, he didn’t have health insurance. “I should have known better,” he says. When an illness put him in the hospital and his doctor found a precancerous lesion that required treatment, the unaffordable medical bills arrived. He had to sell his cars and, eventually, his house. To his shock, he had to move into a homeless shelter, carrying his belongings in a suitcase wherever he went.
This week, the centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, which provides health-insurance coverage to millions of people like Sullivan, is slated to go into effect. Republican leaders have described the event in apocalyptic terms, as Republican leaders have described proposals to expand health coverage for three-quarters of a century. In 1946, Senator Robert Taft denounced President Harry Truman’s plan for national health insurance as “the most socialistic measure this Congress has ever had before it.” Fifteen years later, Ronald Reagan argued that, if Medicare were to be enacted, “one of these days you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it once was like in America when men were free.” And now comes Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell describing the Affordable Care Act as a “monstrosity,” “a disaster,” and the “single worst piece of legislation passed in the last fifty years.” Lacking the votes to repeal the law, Republican hard-liners want to shut down the federal government unless Democrats agree to halt its implementation.
The law’s actual manifestation, however, is rather anodyne: as of October 1st, healthcare.gov is scheduled to open for business. A Web site where people who don’t have health coverage through an employer or the government can find a range of health plans available to them, it resembles nothing more sinister than an eBay for insurance. Because it’s a marketplace, prices keep falling lower than the Congressional Budget Office predicted, by more than sixteen per cent on average. Federal subsidies trim costs even further, and more people living near the poverty level will qualify for free Medicaid coverage.
How this will unfold, though, depends on where you live. Governors and legislatures in about half the states—from California to New York, Minnesota to Maryland—are working faithfully to implement the law with as few glitches as possible. In the other half—Indiana to Texas, Utah to South Carolina—they are working equally faithfully to obstruct its implementation. Still fundamentally in dispute is whether we as a society have a duty to protect people like Paul Sullivan. Not only do conservatives not think so; they seem to see providing that protection as a threat to America itself.
Obstructionism has taken three forms. The first is a refusal by some states to accept federal funds to expand their Medicaid programs. Under the law, the funds cover a hundred per cent of state costs for three years and no less than ninety per cent thereafter. Every calculation shows substantial savings for state budgets and millions more people covered. Nonetheless, twenty-five states are turning down the assistance. The second is a refusal to operate a state health exchange that would provide individuals with insurance options. In effect, conservatives are choosing to make Washington set up the insurance market, and then complaining about a government takeover. The third form of obstructionism is outright sabotage. Conservative groups are campaigning to persuade young people, in particular, that going without insurance is “better for you”—advice that no responsible parent would ever give to a child. Congress has also tied up funding for the Web site, making delays and snags that much more inevitable.
Some states are going further, passing measures to make it difficult for people to enroll.
Read the rest
Posted by Mira | Mon Sep 30, 2013, 08:12 PM (2 replies)
and Chris Hayes
HBO 10 pm EST
and a repeat at 11 pm
Posted by Mira | Fri Sep 20, 2013, 09:06 PM (6 replies)