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The Left Column

Triana

Study: American public has ‘virtually no influence’ over politics in face of wealthy interest groups

(Al Jazeera America) It’s not just your imagination: The influence of money in politics has indeed drowned out the voices of American voters, a new analysis shows, with runaway corporate lobbying and a lack of campaign finance reform to blame for giving much more political weight to the wealthy.

Researchers at Princeton University and Northwestern University compared the public’s influence on 1,779 policy issues between 1981 and 2002, finding that more often than not, the interests of wealthy groups and individuals won out over the demands of the general public. For instance, when 80 percent of the public asked for a change of some sort, they got their way only about 43 percent of the time.

MindMover

Mitch McConnell Says He Stood Up for Women in a Sexual-Harassment Scandal and The Real Story Is ...

(Mother Jones) Facing his toughest reelection battle in years against a well-known and well-financed female opponent, Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) recently boasted that he led the Senate in ousting a GOP colleague accused of sexual harassment in 1995. But news reports from that time show that late in the investigation, McConnell tried to stall the probe against his fellow Republican, Sen. Bob Packwood (R-Ore.). He derided efforts by Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to hold public hearings on Packwood as "frolic and detour"—after the Senate ethics committee had substantiated nearly two-dozen claims of sexual harassment leveled against Packwood by female lobbyists and former staffers.

onehandle

Christie’s Presidential Chances Declining in New Hampshire

(Philly Mag) Who knows if it’s because of Bridgegate, or because of conservatives’ underlying suspicion of him, but Chris Christie’s New Hampshire support in the 2016 presidential election has declined precipitously. Power Line, a conservative blog, reports on the result of a new poll of Granite State Republican primary voters.

For Christie, there is very little good news in this poll. Sure, he places fourth with 12 percent support. But last July, the Granite State poll had him in the lead at 21 percent.

babylonsister

Debbie Wasserman Schultz Guts David Gregory’s GOP Cheerleading On Meet The Press

(Politicus USA) David Gregory repeatedly told Rep. Wasserman Schultz that he wasn’t interested in facts, or the merits as he called them. Gregory made it clear that he was only interested in pushing the Republican fantasy that Democrats are doomed because of Obamacare.

Wasserman-Schultz put him in his place by explaining reality. Millions of people do understand the ACA, because they now have health insurance, or they aren’t getting dropped because they have a preexisting condition. As far as the 2014 electoral map is concerned, Democratic Senate incumbents are leading in places like Arkansas and Louisiana, and they could easily pick up two more seats in Kentucky and Georgia.

applegrove

"Here’s how we got to 8 million Obamacare signups"

(WaPo) After a two-week extension of the Obamacare open enrollment deadline, the White House announced today that 8 million people have signed up through the health-care law's insurance marketplaces since it opened in October. That means about 900,000 people picked a health plan in the two weeks since the end of the original March 31 enrollment deadline.

babylonsister

Josh Marshall: How the GOP Bet on Failure And Lost

(TPM) As I noted recently, GOP policy analysts are pretty clear now that Obamacare isn't collapsing, hopes of the politicals notwithstanding. And strategists have started to hint that flat opposition - repeal with no alternative that provides something like the same range of benefits - may no longer be viable from a political standpoint.

Of course, in the Obamacare gotterdammerung bubble, Obamacare is on its last legs and President Obama will soon resign and ask the country for mercy as he's hustled off by federal marshals to stand trial for Obamacare and socialism. Back on planet earth though reality-based opponents see the writing on the wall.

The Straight Story

Construction underway for 'USS Gabrielle Giffords'

(CBS 5) Construction of the "USS Gabrielle Giffords" is underway in Alabama. Gabrielle Giffords etched her initials into the keel of the combat ship being built for the U.S. Navy. It's the first naval vessel of its kind to be named after a living woman.

babylonsister

McAuliffe moves to restore voting rights

(MSNBC) Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced today that he will shrink the time violent felons must wait to seek reinstatement of their voting rights and will remove some offenses from that list.

The policy slated to take effect April 21 comes on top of years of work to streamline the process, and aims to make the system easier to understand and to allow more felons to petition the state more quickly.

DonViejo

Obama Blasts GOP Govs Turning Down Medicaid Expansion: 'That's Wrong'

(TPM) President Barack Obama was uncharacteristically blunt Thursday while addressing the Republican governors and state legislators who have turned down Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.

"That's wrong," Obama said from the White House briefing room after he announced that 8 million people had enrolled in private coverage under the law. The White House simultaneously released a fact sheet, which said 5.7 million people would be left uncovered in 2016 if the 24 states that have not expanded the program maintained their opposition.

kpete

REID Finally Says it: Bundy supporters are ‘domestic terrorists’

(The Hill) “They’re nothing more than domestic terrorists,” Reid said Thursday at an event hosted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, according to the newspaper. “I repeat: what happened there was domestic terrorism.”

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RPT-Russia says receives Brussels proposal on gas talks

8 min ago - (Reuters) - Russia has received a proposal from European Union Energy Commissioner Guenther Oettinger for a three-way meeting on gas between Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission, a spokeswoman at the Russian Energy Ministry said on Wednesday. ... (Reuters)

NYTimes Poll Suprise: Southern Senate Dems In The Lead

17 min ago - DANIEL STRAUSS – APRIL 23, 2014, 9:41 AM EDT A round of new polls conducted by The New York Times and Kaiser Family Foundation have some good (and surprising) news for a handful of Southern Senate Democrats regarded as the most vulnerable in the 201 ... (TPM)

California Bill Reignites Affirmative Action Fight

1 hr ago - JULIET WILLIAMS – APRIL 23, 2014, 8:13 AM EDT SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Nearly 20 years after California became the first state to ban the use of race and ethnicity in college admissions, a proposal to reinstate affirmative action has sparked a back ... (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Judge To Mull Chelsea Manning Name Change Request

1 hr ago - JOHN MILBURN – APRIL 23, 2014, 8:07 AM EDT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas judge on Wednesday will consider Army Pfc. Chelsea Manning's petition to legally change her name from Bradley, as she continues serving a 35-year sentence for passing loads ... (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Republican Activists Push Party On Gay Marriage

1 hr ago - MICHELLE RINDELS – APRIL 23, 2014, 8:06 AM EDT LAS VEGAS (AP) — As bans against gay marriage crumble and public opinion on the issue shifts rapidly, some Republicans are pushing the party to drop its opposition to same-sex unions, part of a broader ... (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

More powerful sonar likely next step in jet search

1 hr ago - CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australia’s prime minister said Wednesday that failure to find any clue in the most likely crash site of the lost Malaysia Airlines jet would not spell the end of the search, as officials planned soon to bring in more power ... (Omaha World Herald-AP)

Austria says more sanctions on Russia would inflame tensions

2 hrs ago - (Reuters) - Additional sanctions against Russia would inflame tensions between Moscow and Kiev, Austria's chancellor said on Wednesday, urging de-escalation of the conflict instead. "I would fundamentally support what the German foreign minister (Fr ... (Reuters)

Medicare database plagued by flaws

3 hrs ago - By Matt Wynn At least 28 doctors received reimbursements from Medicare in 2012 while listing Nebraska addresses, even though they weren't licensed to practice in the state at the time, The World-Herald has found. Many of the doctors appear to have ... (Omaha World Herald)

Kremlin: Russia will retaliate to attack on its interests

4 hrs ago - Russia's Foreign Minister has issued a stark warning to the Ukrainian government, saying that his country will retaliate if its interests are threatened. Sergei Lavrov's words came as Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister announced a new phase of "anti-te ... (ITV)

MH370 search: 'Object of interest' found on Western Australian coast

4 hrs ago - By Ed Payne, CNN (CNN) -- An "object of interest" in the search for missing Malaysian Airlines plane has been recovered on the coast of Western Australia, several hours drive south of Perth, officials said. Australian Transport Safety Bureau Chief ... (CNN)

No air pockets found on key floors of sunken South Korean ferry

4 hrs ago - By Jethro Mullen and Andrew Stevens, (CNN) -- Divers have found no air pockets on the third and fourth floors of the sunken ferry Sewol, South Korean authorities said Wednesday. The announcement was made by Ko Myung-suk, the spokesman for the Joint ... (CNN)

Missouri executes inmate for 1993 farm slaying

7 hrs ago - Missouri executes inmate for 1993 farm slaying By JIM SALTER, Associated Press | April 22, 2014 | Updated: April 23, 2014 12:43am BONNE TERRE, Mo. (AP) — Missouri executed an inmate early Wednesday who was convicted of killing a farming couple in ... (Associated Press)

W.Va. SOS Calls Conservative Group's (Koch Bros) Voter Registration Mailing "Misleading"

8 hrs ago - The West Virginia secretary of state is calling an Americans for Prosperity mailing about voter registration "misleading" and "confusing." The mailer says the recipient only has a few days to register to vote at his or her current address. It inclu ... (WCHS)

US Troops Head To Poland, Baltics To 'Reassure' Allies

10 hrs ago - World | Agence France-Presse | Updated: April 23, 2014 07:22 IST Washington: The United States is deploying 600 troops to Poland and the Baltics to highlight its commitment to NATO allies amid tensions with Russia over Ukraine, officials said on Tu ... (Agence France-Presse)

President Obama Says US-Japan Security Treaty Applies To Islands Claimed By China

10 hrs ago - TOKYO — President Barack Obama confirmed Wednesday that America's mutual security treaty with Japan applies to the islands at the center of a territorial dispute between China and Japan. "The policy of the United States is clear," he said in a writt ... (Associated Press)

No-fly list used by FBI to coerce Muslims into informing, lawsuit claims

11 hrs ago - In February 2012 Shinwari, who has lived in the US since he was 14, flew to Afghanistan to get married. He says that before he could get home to Omaha, Nebraska, he was twice detained and questioned by FBI agents who wanted to know if he knew anythin ... (The Guardian)

(Arizona Gov.) Brewer vetoes gun bills

11 hrs ago - Arizonans will not be allowed bring their guns into public buildings, at least not this year. Gov. Jan Brewer this afternoon vetoed HB 2339 which would have allowed those who have a state-issued permit to carry a concealed weapon to ignore a "no gun ... (Arizona Daily Star)

'Piles and piles' of bodies in S. Sudan slaughter

12 hrs ago - By JASON STRAZIUSO NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) - The townsfolk believed the mosque was safe. They crammed inside as rebel forces in South Sudan took control of the town from government troops. But it wasn't safe. Robbers grabbed their cash and mobile phones ... (AP-Excite)

Hundreds in Mexico protest telecommunications reform they say will allow for censorship

12 hrs ago - Hundreds in Mexico protest telecommunications reform they say will allow for censorship By The Associated Press April 22, 2014 8:40 PM MEXICO CITY - Hundreds of students and activists are marching to protest a telecommunications law being debated ... (Associated Press)

UConn Grad Student Employees Will Soon Bargain First UAW Contract

12 hrs ago - By Doug Cunningham Nearly 2200 graduate student employees at the University of Connecticut will begin bargaining their first union contract soon. Two-thirds of the university teaching assistant’s signed cards recently to join the Graduate Employee U ... (Workers Independent News)

Tom Steyer: I’m not the Koch brothers

12 hrs ago - Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer insisted Tuesday that he’s not the left’s version of the Koch brothers. “That is not something I embrace. I think there are real distinctions between the Koch brothers and us,” Steyer said in an interview with POLITICO ... (Politico)

At a rare field hearing, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson calls Miami Beach ground zero for sea level rise

13 hrs ago - Miami Beach became ground zero for climate change Tuesday when U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson convened a rare field hearing to draw national attention to the dangers posed by rising seas. “For those who deny sea level rise and climate change, here is the pr ... (Miami Herald)

First distress call on S. Korean ferry from passenger, not crew, coast guard says

14 hrs ago - By Michael Pearson, Kyung Lah and K.J. Kwon Jindo, South Korea (CNN) -- The first distress call from the ferry Sewol came not from the crew, but from a boy who used a cell phone to contact emergency services from aboard the sinking ship, the South K ... (CNN)

Army Vs. National Guard: Who Gets Those Apache Helicopters?

15 hrs ago - For decades the National Guard has fought hard against the stereotype that it was the place to avoid the draft during the Vietnam War, or that it's a place to get college money rather than combat duty. Guard leaders thought that after more than a de ... (NPR)

Cuban-American youth nonprofit secretly helped with U.S.-built ‘Cuban Twitter’

15 hrs ago - Cuban-American youth nonprofit secretly helped with U.S.-built ‘Cuban Twitter’ Leaders of Roots of Hope, a Cuban-American nonprofit, worked as consultants for the U.S.'s 'Cuban Twitter,' a network aimed at undermining the Cuban government. The disc ... (Associated Press)

Judge In Cole Attack Case Orders Prosecutors To Share CIA Secret Prison Details With Defense

16 hrs ago - By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) — Prosecutors must turn over never-revealed details about the time a Guantanamo Bay detainee spent in secret CIA prisons after his arrest in connection with the deadly attack on the USS Cole in ... (Associated Press)

Court critical of Ohio law punishing campaign lies

16 hrs ago - WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court appears to be highly skeptical of laws that try to police false statements during political campaigns, raising doubts about the viability of such laws in more than 15 states. Justices expressed those concerns earl ... (AP)

Gov. Ghris Christie Named 'Father of the Year'

16 hrs ago - Meet Chris Christie, father of the year. For real. The Father's Day/Mothers Day Council has selected the New Jersey governor as a national father of the year. He'll be honored with an award in June, along with shoe designer Vince Camuto. It's a welc ... (The Washington Post)

Court: Ohio man must pay $489,000 for false call

16 hrs ago - CINCINNATI (AP) — An Ohio man who was 19 when he made a false distress call that triggered a massive, 21-hour search on Lake Erie must pay $489,000 in restitution to the U.S. and Canadian agencies involved in the needless rescue effort, a federal app ... (AP)

Rahm, in a switch, opens door to 2016 Democratic convention

17 hrs ago - WASHINGTON—Mayor Rahm Emanuel opened the door on Tuesday for the city to bid for the 2016 Democratic convention, a switch from February, when City Hall was not interested. “We will evaluate the opportunity this could provide and proceed accordingly, ... (Sun Times)

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