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ProSense Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-27-11 02:43 PM
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President Obama's policies and proposals (good government)
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One Million Young Adults Gain Health Insurance in 2011 Because of the Affordable Care Act

The Affordable Care Act allows children to remain on their parents health insurance plans until age 26. This policy took effect for insurance plan renewals beginning on September 23, 2010, and was designed to address the fact that young adults are the age group least likely to have health insurance. This is one of the important early provisions in the Affordable Care Act designed to expand insurance coverage to uninsured Americans.

New results released today by the National Center for Health Statistics show that this policy has had a significant impact on improving insurance coverage among young adults. Data from the National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) show that in the first quarter of 2011, the percentage of adults between the ages of 19 and 25 with health insurance increased to 69.6%, from 66.1% in 2010.<1> This 3.5 percentage-point increase represents approximately one million additional young adults with insurance.<2> During this time period, the rate of being insured for all other age groups was essentially unchanged, from 85.9% in 2010 to 86.3% in 2011, which makes clear that the gains in coverage were specific to 19-25 year-olds and can be directly attributed to the Affordable Care Acts new dependent-coverage provision.

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HHS announces record number of National Health Service Corps members

WASHINGTON, Oct 13, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced that the number of participants in the National Health Service Corps (NHSC) has nearly tripled. Today, more than 10,000 National Corps members -- doctors, nurses and other health care providers -- care for Americans in communities nationwide. Thanks to investments in the National Health Service Corps through the Affordable Care Act, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and annual appropriations, the NHSC has awarded nearly $900 million in scholarships and loan repayment to health care professionals to help expand the country's primary care workforce and meet the health care needs of communities across the country.

Thanks to the these critical investments in our nation's health care workforce, there are nearly three times the number of NHSC clinicians working in communities across America than there were three years ago--increasing access to health care and supporting local jobs. In 2008, approximately 3.7 million patients were provided service by 3,600 National Health Service Corps providers. Now in 2011, with field strength of more than 10,000 clinicians, the National Health Service Corps provides health care services to about 10.5 million patients.

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Rate Review: Cutting Costs for Consumers and Small Businesses Chapter One

Today, consumers got some good news when a big insurance company Blue Shield of California announced it will be returning $295 million to consumers and the community by the end of the year. This announcement will provide some much needed relief to families who have seen their premiums increase in recent years. And its the fourth positive announcement weve heard this week alone about health insurance premiums.

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Weve known for a long time that rate review works, but this week alone, weve received more news about how rate review is helping States fighting high premium hikes and saving money for consumers:

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Seniors Save More Than $1.2 Billion on Prescriptions Thanks to the Affordable Care Act

(HealthNewsDigest.com) - So far this year, more than 2.2 million people with Medicare have saved more than $1.2 billion on their prescriptions, for an average of $550 per person, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced today. And more than 22.6 million seniors and people with disabilities have taken advantage of at least one free Medicare preventive benefit, including the new Annual Wellness Visit made possible by the Affordable Care Act.

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Obama Administration Scores Victory for Sound Science and Womens Access to Contraception

Washington, D.C. Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, commended Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius for accepting an expert panels recommendation that family planning be considered preventive health care. Now, newly issued insurance plans must cover the full range of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved contraception at no cost.

The federal health-care law requires newly issued health plans to coverat no costcertain preventive-health services that are specific to women. HHS appointed an Institute of Medicine (IOM) panel to recommend which services should be included. The panel of leading womens health experts recommended fully covering family-planning care. Secretary Sebelius decision to adopt this recommendation will make no-cost contraception a benefit required by law.

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Low-income state workers begin to gain access to Childrens Health Insurance Program

At least six states have opened their Childrens Health Insurance Program to the kids of low-income state employees, an option that was prohibited until the passage of the 2010 health-care law.

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Now, as a result of the policy change, families of lower-income state workers who have struggled to pay for family coverage can qualify for the program. CHIP, which is jointly financed by the states and the federal government, provides coverage to the uninsured children of families who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford private insurance.

The federal government had closed that option to most states when CHIP was established in 1997, because of concerns that it might be an easy way for financially strapped states to shift the costs of some public-employee health benefits to the federal government. Federal employees were allowed to enroll their children.

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Established the National Alzheimer's Project (Proclamation)

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The National Alzheimer's Project Act (NAPA) creates an important opportunity to build upon and leverage HHS programs and other federal efforts to help change the trajectory of ADRD. The law calls for a National Plan for ADRD with input from a public-private Advisory Council on Alzheimer's Research, Care and Services. The Advisory Council will make recommendations to HHS for priority actions to expand, coordinate, and condense programs in order to improve the health outcomes of people with ADRD and reduce the financial burden of these conditions on those with the diseases, their families, and society.

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OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES $749 MILLION TO FUND HOUSING FOR VERY LOW-INCOME SENIORS AND PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES (Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act of 2010; Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Act of 2010)

WASHINGTON Thousands more very low-income senior citizens and persons with disabilities will have access to affordable supportive housing thanks to $749 million in housing assistance announced today by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These grants will help non-profit organizations produce accessible housing, offer rental assistance, and facilitate supportive services for the elderly and persons with disabilities.

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Enacted early this year with strong bipartisan support, the Frank Melville Supportive Housing Investment Act and the Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly Act provided needed enhancements and reforms to both programs. Nonprofit grant recipients will now receive federal assistance that is better connected to state and local health care investments, allowing greater numbers of vulnerable elderly and disabled individuals to access the housing they need even more quickly.

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FHA Providing Unemployed Homeowners Extra Time to Get Back on Their Feet

If youre unemployed and having trouble making payments on your FHA-insured mortgage, more help is on the way! The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) already requires its lenders to go the extra mile in helping un- or underemployed borrowers who are at least three months behind in their mortgage. Now, FHA is providing additional breathing room for unemployed homeowners by requiring FHA-approved lenders to extend special forbearance from four to 12 months.

This means certain unemployed borrowers with FHA-insured mortgages may have up to a full year to find work and get back on their financial feet. These special forbearance agreements between lenders and borrowers make it possible to delay any foreclosure action to allow you a chance to catch up missed payments in an agreed-upon timeframe. At the end of the forbearance period, the lender will review your financial situation again to determine what option might fit your circumstances like a loan modification or repayment plan. The extended forbearance period begins August 1st with another 60 days for lenders to implement.

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NLRB issues three decisions, two of which overturn Bush-era decisions

It looks like the National Labor Relations Board has decided to get in as many decisions as it can before December, when current member Craig Becker's term ends and the Board is down to two members, a level at which the Supreme Court has ruled it can't issue rulings. Republicans, of course, are vowing to block any nominees, so the Board is likely to stay at two members for the foreseeable future.

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A third decision actually reaches back to the George H.W. Bush era, when the NLRB had created a "special test for bargaining unit determinations in nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, and other non-acute health care facilities." In the Specialty Healthcare case decided Tuesday, a nursing home owner had applied this special test, arguing that the home's Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs) could not unionize by themselves but had to be joined by the home's cooks, dietary aides, data entry clerk and other non-CNA support staff. The NLRB overturned that special standard, and "Employees at such facilities will now be subject to the same 'community-of-interest' standard that the Board has traditionally applied at other workplaces."

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Its a good thing Obama saved the auto industry

Remember a few years ago, when the American auto industry was on the verge of collapse? When Republicans said the Obama administrations risky strategy would fail and Mitt Romney said we should let Detroit go bankrupt and we could kiss the American automotive industry goodbye if Obamas policy moved forward?

We can all be very glad right now that Republicans were wrong. The auto industry is one of the economys few bright spots.

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Obama signs 1st major patent law change since 1952

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia (AP) President Barack Obama signed into law Friday a major overhaul of the U.S. patent system, a measure designed to ease the way for inventors to bring their products to market. "We can't afford to drag our feet any longer," the president said.

Passed in a rare display of congressional bipartisanship, the America Invents Act is the first significant change in patent law since 1952. It has been hailed as a milestone that would spur innovation and create jobs.

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WTO Upholds Obamas Tire Industry Relief Decision

The World Trade Organizations (WTOs) Appellate Body yesterday upheld President Obamas decision based on U.S. trade law to provide relief for American tire industry workers against surging imports from China of passenger and light truck tires.

In September 2009, Obama became the first president to enforce U.S. trade law when he imposed tariffs to protect domestic workers against a surge in tire imports from China. The original complaint came from the United Steelworkers (USW), and Obamas decision led to a rebound in the tire industry.

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Statement from President Obama on the Submission of the Korea, Colombia, and Panama Trade Agreements

The series of trade agreements I am submitting to Congress today will make it easier for American companies to sell their products in South Korea, Colombia, and Panama and provide a major boost to our exports. These agreements will support tens of thousands of jobs across the country for workers making products stamped with three proud words: Made in America. We've worked hard to strengthen these agreements to get the best possible deal for American workers and businesses, and I call on Congress to pass them without delay, along with the bipartisan agreement on Trade Adjustment Assistance that will help workers whose jobs have been affected by global competition.

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...The GOP's dual-trigger nightmare (Budget Control Act of 2011)

Imagine if the Democrats offered Republicans a deficit deal that had more than $3 in tax increases for every $1 in spending cuts, assigned most of those spending cuts to the Pentagon, and didn't take a dime from Social Security, Medicaid or Medicare beneficiaries. Republicans would laugh at them. But without quite realizing it, that's the deal Republicans have now offered to the Democrats.

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Veterans Opportunity to Work to Hire Heroes Act of 2011

Back in September, I sent Congress a jobs bill. And in it, I proposed a tax credit for any business that hires a veteran whos been unemployed for at least four weeks. I proposed an even bigger tax break if a business hires a veteran whos been unemployed for at least six months. And if a business hires an unemployed veteran with a disability related to their service, I proposed doubling the tax break that we already have in place.

Today, because Democrats and Republicans came together, Im proud to sign those proposals into law. And I urge every business owner out there whos hiring to hire a veteran right away.


Don't ask, don't tell' fades away (President Obama's statement)

More than 17 years after a tortured political compromise that left no one happy, dont ask, dont tell is done.

On Tuesday, President Bill Clintons 1993 directive that allowed gays and lesbians to serve in the military without discrimination as long as they stayed in the closet will be formally repealed. The measure had mandated that applicants werent to be asked about their sexuality, and it barred military brass from investigating a service members sexual orientation without credible evidence.

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EPA vetoes mega mountaintop-to-moonscape project

In these times, all too often The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity (hat tip: William Butler Yeats). And in these times, our government sometimes deserves praise for working just as it is supposed to.

Thats why the Environmental Protection Agency deserves a big thank you for vetoing the Spruce 1 mountaintop removal mine in Logan County a ruinous Goliath of a strip mine, one of the largest ever permitted in West Virginia. (See NRDC senior attorney Jon Devines statement on the veto here.) This decision gives hope to people across Appalachia who are fighting to defend their homes, their water supplies, and their mountains against this most devastating form of strip mining.

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War On Coal? EPA Regulations Boost Coal Employment To 15-Year High

The Environmental Protection Agency under the Obama administration has increased efforts to regulate the coal industry, using tougher environmental standards under the Clean Water Act to rein in destructive coal practices like mountaintop removal. That has sparked outrage from Republicans across the country and Democrats in coal states like Kentucky and West Virginia, where industry leaders and pro-coal politicians have decried Obama and the EPAs supposed war on coal.

But even as America deals with high unemployment and a sluggish economic recovery, coal employment this year rose to its highest level since 1996, according to data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration. In 2011, there were more than 90,000 coal jobs, and the 59,059 Appalachian coal jobs are the most since 1997. According to the same data, the spike in employment correlates to the EPAs crackdown on destructive mountaintop removal policies, the Charleston Gazette reports:

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As Wasson said, the industry and the politicians it contributes to most have slammed the EPAs regulatory policies as job killing and anti-coal. In reality, however, mechanized practices like mountaintop removal can reduce employment while boosting production and profits. Underground mining, a less destructive form of coal extraction, actually requires more workers than mountaintop removal or strip mining.

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Mercury and Air Toxics Standards

In a court filing on October 21, 2011, EPA made clear its opposition to a motion from the Utility Air Regulatory Group seeking a one-year extension of the promulgation date of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards. EPA proposed these standards on March 16, 2011.

EPA has actively sought public feedback on the proposed standards. This included holding three public hearings around the country and extending the public comment period by thirty days, which provided the public with 140 days from signature date to review the proposals. The Agency has received more than 900,000 comments, including approximately 20,000 unique comments.

Given the need to review all of these comments, EPA and the litigants have agreed to a 30-day extension to finalize these rules. As a result, the final standards will be issued on December 16, 2011.

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First Ever Fuel Economy Standards for Commercial Vehicles (Final rule, PDF)

The complementary EPA and NHTSA standards that make up the Heavy-Duty National Program apply to combination tractors (semi trucks), heavy-duty pickup trucks and vans, and vocational vehicles (including buses and refuse or utility trucks). Together, these standards will cut greenhouse gas emissions and domestic oil use significantly. This program responds to President Obamas 2010 request to jointly establish greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards for the medium- and heavy-duty highway vehicle sector.

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EPA Takes First Steps Towards Limits on Power Plant Carbon Pollution to Protect Our Health and Safety(NHTSA Fact Sheet, PDF)

Today the Obama Administration took the first steps forward to set limits on dangerous carbon pollution from power plants. The government announced today that EPA will propose carbon pollution standards for new power plants, after a 90-day inter-agency review that began this week.

Strong carbon pollution safeguardstogether with standards that are needed for existing plants toowill make our air safer to breathe, curb climate change, and help usher in a cleaner, more modern fleet of power plants.

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Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (PDF) (PDF statement of policy)

On July 6, 2011, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized a rule that protects the health of millions of Americans by helping states reduce air pollution and attain clean air standards. This rule, known as the Cross-State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), requires 27 states to significantly improve air quality by reducing power plant emissions that contribute to ozone and/or fine particle pollution in other states.

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WH: Partnership for Sustainable Communities (Priority Areas of Focus for 2011)

(1) HUD Announces FY11 Sustainable Communities Awards

On November 21, 2011, the HUD Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities will invest almost $96 million that will help 27 communities and 29 regions establish their own blueprints for a more livable, equitable, and economically competitive future. These grants join the 87 HUD Sustainable Communities grants announced last year.

(2) Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities

On Nov. 17, the Partnership for Sustainable Communities and USDA released Supporting Sustainable Rural Communities (PDF 52p 3MB) , a report that describes how federal programs are helping rural America enhance its economic vitality and protect the environment.

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(4) Federal Barriers to Local Housing and Transportation Coordination

HUD and DOT recently released a report that summarizes the history of barriers to local coordination of housing and transportation resulting from HUD and DOT statutes and regulations, efforts to date to identify barriers within each agencys programs, and a description of efforts underway to address these barriers.

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Court Approves Historic Agreement to Speed Endangered Species Act Protection for 757 Imperiled Species

TUCSON, Ariz. A federal judge today approved a landmark legal agreement between the Center for Biological Diversity and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requiring the agency to make initial or final decisions on whether to add hundreds of imperiled plants and animals to the federal endangered species list by 2018. The court also approved an agreement with another conservation group that it had previously blocked based on legal opposition from the Center.

The courts approval today will allow this historic agreement to move forward, speeding protection for as many as 757 of Americas most imperiled species, said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. The historic agreement gives species like the Pacific walrus, American wolverine and California golden trout a shot at survival.

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Pictures: Six New Natural Landmarks Named

Lake Bill Chinook in central Oregon is now part of The Island, one of six new national natural landmarks designated last week by U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar.

"One of the major goals of President Obama's America's Great Outdoors initiative is to develop a conservation ethic for the 21st century," Salazar said in a statement.

"By designating these remarkable sites in Arizona, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington as national natural landmarks, we help establish and pass down to future generations those awe-inspiring places that make America truly beautiful."

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New huge national wildlife refuge and conservation area in the Everglades north of Lake Okeechobee

KISSIMMEE -- The U.S. Interior Department unveiled Wednesday details of a new huge national wildlife refuge and conservation area in the Everglades north of Lake Okeechobee, aimed at protecting wildlife, wild lands, and fresh water that sustains South Florida.

Most of the proposed Everglades Headwaters National Wildlife Refuge and Conservation Area would consist of up to 100,000 acres of pasture land to be protected through conservation easements purchased from willing landowners. Ranchers would retain ownership of their land but agree not to allow development there. Another 50,000 acres would be targeted for outright purchase by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to create the refuge itself where public hunting, fishing, and hiking would be permitted. The area extends from southwest Osceola County south to the Lake Okeechobee, including swaths of Polk, Okeechobee and Highlands counties.

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President Obama to Sign Proclamation Designating Fort Monroe a National Monument

President Obama today will sign a Proclamation to designate Fort Monroe a National Monument under the Antiquities Act. Until recently, Fort Monroe was the third-oldest Army post in continuous active service, and is integral to the history of slavery, the Civil War, and the U.S. military. Todays announcement is part of a series of executive actions to put Americans back to work and strengthen the economy.

Fort Monroe has played a part in some of the darkest and some of the most heroic moments in American history. But today isnt just about preserving a national landmark- its about helping to create jobs and grow the local economy. Steps like these wont replace the bold action we need from Congress to get our economy moving and strengthen middle-class families, but they will make a difference, President Obama said.

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Pew Applauds Obama Administration's Final Plan To Protect Grand Canyon From Mining (Conservation Wins A Big One At The Grand Canyon)

Jane Danowitz, U.S. public lands director for the Pew Environment Group, issued the following statement today in reaction to a final plan from U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to bar new mining claims on nearly 1 million acres of public land surrounding Grand Canyon National Park.

We commend the Obama administration for honoring its commitment to protect the Grand Canyon from new uranium mining around its borders. For more than a century, this national treasure has endured because a series of American presidents have had the foresight and willingness to safeguard it from mining and other development interests.

Todays action reflects overwhelming public supportfrom prominent scientists, elected leaders, conservationists, tourism officials, and downstream water usersto give the Grand Canyon the lasting protection it deserves.

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ACLU: Justice Is Served (Fair Sentencing Act made retroactive)

June 2011 marks the 40th anniversary of President Richard Nixon's declaration of a "war on drugs" a war that has cost roughly a trillion dollars, has produced little to no effect on the supply of or demand for drugs in the United States, and has contributed to making America the world's largest incarcerator. Throughout the month, check back daily for posts about the drug war, its victims and what needs to be done to restore fairness and create effective policy.

Today is an exciting day for the ACLU and criminal justice advocates around the country. Following much thought and careful deliberation, the United States Sentencing Commission took another step toward creating fairness in federal sentencing by retroactively applying the new Fair Sentencing Act (FSA) guidelines to individuals sentenced before the law was enacted. This decision will help ensure that over 12,000 people 85 percent of whom are African-Americans will have the opportunity to have their sentences for crack cocaine offenses reviewed by a federal judge and possibly reduced.

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A Win for Free Speech: ACLU Recommendations Adopted by DHS!

The ACLU just scored a big win for freedom of speech from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). More than 2 years ago we filed a complaint with the DHS Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (OCRCL) concerning an effort to collect and distribute information about lawful demonstrations. Earlier this month, we received a letter from OCRCL letting us know that they have resolved our complaint, and are adopting our recommendations!

In 2006, DHS Federal Protective Service (FPS) distributed a Protective Intelligence Bulletin to local law enforcement detailing information about dozens of peaceful activist groups. The bulletin was entitled "Civil Activists and Extremists Action Calendar," and provided information on over 70 demonstrations, almost entirely peace, environmental and social justice rallies and marches where no violence or other criminal activity was expected.

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DOJ comes out swinging against DOMA

The Department of Justice on July 1 recommended a federal appeals court in California dismiss a motion promoted by the House of Representatives to dismiss a challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

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Williams Institute Legal Director Jenny Pizer, a former Lambda attorney, noted that, while this step is fully consistent with the position taken back in February, it was not at all assumed that the Administration would participate actively in the pending DOMA cases.

Attorney General Eric Holder, on February 23, sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner, alerting him that the administration considers Section 3 of DOMA to be unconstitutional. Section 3 states that the federal government will not, for any federal purposes, recognize any same-sex marriage. Holders letter said the administration would not defend it beyond the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals. (The First Circuit, noted Holder, has said that laws treating people differently on the basis of sexual orientation should be examined using the lowest level of judicial scrutinyrational basisunder which almost any reason can pass muster.)

Holders letter said the administration believes laws disfavoring persons based on sexual orientation should have to pass the most stringent judicial reviewheightened scrutiny. And it said the administration would argue so in two cases challenging DOMA in the 2nd Circuit.

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Obama administration sides with Edie Windsor in lawsuit against DOMA

Well, this is progress. For two years, any time we saw a DOMA-related legal document submitted by Assistant Attorney General Tony West, we'd cringe. Not anymore.

The Department of Justice is now on record in support of Edie Windsor's motion for summary judgment and in opposition to John Boehner's motion to dismiss her case. I've embedded the document here.

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President Obama ends a weapons system (Video)

Destroying Al Qaeda

The Al Qaeda network over the past three years suffered its greatest losses since the United States and its allies evicted the terrorist organization from Afghanistan in 2001. Consider the achievements:

  • President Barack Obama ordered a daring and risky Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011, and dozens of other senior Al Qaeda leaders have met their demise since President Obama took office.

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President Obama Has Ended the War in Iraq

In 2008, in the height of the presidential campaign, then-Senator Obama made a promise to give our military a new mission: ending the war in Iraq.

As the election unfolded, he reiterated this pledge again and again -- but cautioned that we would be "as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in."

Last year, the President made progress toward achieving that goal. He brought an end to the combat mission in Iraq, and through the course of the past 14 months, more than 100,000 troops have returned to their families.

Now, that promise will be wholly fulfilled. Today, President Obama announced that the rest of our troops will be home by the holidays:

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