Monday December 9th, 2013
"It Is Not A Question of Who Is Right Or Wrong But What Is Right Or Wrong That Counts."
Updated 1003 PST
World & National
Budget deal expected this week amounts to a cease-fire as sides move to avert a standoff
House and Senate negotiators were putting the finishing touches Sunday on what would be the first successful budget accord since 2011, when the battle over a soaring national debt first paralyzed Washington.
The deal expected to be sealed this week on Capitol Hill would not significantly reduce the debt, now $17.3 trillion and rising. It would not close corporate tax loopholes or reform expensive health-care and retirement programs. It would not even fully replace sharp spending cuts known as the sequester, the negotiators’ primary target.
ObamaCare will exclude top hospitals
Americans who are buying insurance plans over online exchanges, under what is known as Obamacare, will have limited access to some of the nation’s leading hospitals, including two world-renowned cancer centres.
Amid a drive by insurers to limit costs, the majority of insurance plans being sold on the new healthcare exchanges in New York, Texas, and California, for example, will not offer patients’ access to Memorial Sloan Kettering in Manhattan or MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, two top cancer centres, or Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles, one of the top research and teaching hospitals in the country.
Obamacare Architect: If You Like Your Doctor, You Can Pay More
If you want to keep your doctor, you might have to pay more for it, Obamacare architect Zeke Emanuel said today on Fox News Sunday:
The host, Chris Wallace, said: "President Obama famously promised, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. Doesn't that turn out to be just as false, just as misleading, as his promise about if you like your plan, you can keep your plan? Isn't it a fact, sir, that a number, most, in fact, of the Obamacare health plans that are being offered on the exchanges exclude a number of doctors and hospitals to lower costs?"
"The president never said you were going to have unlimited choice of any doctor in the country you want to go to," said the Obamacare architect.
Cruz Slams the 'Lawless implementation of Obamacare'
Ted Cruz may no longer be the solicitor general of Texas, but the Republican senator has penned a legal memo about the White House’s “lawless acts on Obamacare.”
The Daily Caller was provided an early look at the memo, set for release Monday. This is the second time Cruz has released a report for his “The Legal Limit: The Obama Administration’s Attempts to Expand Federal Power” series.
Monday’s report focuses on the Obama administration’s implementation of the healthcare law and why Cruz believes the law is unconstitutional.
Putin dissolves state news agency, tightens grip on Russia media
President Vladimir Putin tightened his control over Russia's media on Monday by dissolving the main state news agency and replacing it with an organization that is to promote Moscow's image abroad.
The move to abolish RIA Novosti and create a news agency to be known as Rossiya Segodnya is the second in two weeks strengthening Putin's hold on the media as he tries to reassert his authority after protests against his rule.
Most Russian media outlets are already loyal to Putin, and opponents get little air time, but the shake-up underlined their importance to Putin keeping power and the Kremlin's concern about the president's ratings and image.
Tech companies call for an end to NSA online snooping
Leaders of the world’s eight largest Internet companies Monday urged President Obama to end online mass surveillance and bulk data-gathering, like that revealed by former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden.
Top executives from AOL, Apple, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Microsoft, Twitter and Yahoo published an open letter to the president and Congress in newspaper and online adverts. They called for a bold effort to make the United States a model for how governments across the world ought to handle the vast quantities of detailed, real-time data that all citizens’ electronic communications leave in the hands of technology companies.
Consuumers Face Higher Deductibles Under Obamacare Plans
Now that more individuals are able to enroll in plans through the improved Obamacare website, they are discovering that the lower insurance premiums mean more out-of-pocket costs that many may not be able to afford.
The deductibles are averaging $5,081 per year for the minimal coverage Bronze plans on the HealthCare.gov website in 34 of the 36 states on the federal exchange. That's 42 percent higher than the $3,589 deductible individual plans in 2013. For a couple or a family, deductibles may be as high as $12,700, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Greenspan: Economic 'Uncertainty' Greatest I Have Known
Uncertainty now represents the biggest problem plaguing the economy, says former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan.
While the Fed's massive easing program has stabilized much of the economy, "the issue goes beyond that, because, even though we have very major expansion of the balance sheets, it has not essentially spilled over in lending by commercial banks into the usual pattern that one sees when reserves go up," he told CNN's "GPS" program.
Lawmakers Eye Changes to Military Pension Plans in Budget Talks
Lawmakers are looking at whether changes to the military's pension procedure can help avoid even deeper cuts from the already-stretched Department of Defense budget next year.
House and Senate negotiators are working on an overall budget deal this week in hopes of avoiding sequestration in January, Politico reports, with the military pension issue taking a major role.
Some $41 billion has already been cut from military spending in 2013, and unless Congress agrees to lift the sequester in January, the Defense budget will need to be trimmed by another $52 billion in January. The 2013 Defense budget stands at approximately $633.3 billion.
Kim Jon Un's Purge of His Uncle May Test Ties With China
The dramatic purge of Jang Song Thaek, uncle to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, highlights the ongoing power struggle in the Hermit Kingdom and Pyongyang's awkward relationship with China, its longtime ally
North Korea today confirmed that Kim Jong Un‘s once-powerful uncle Jang Song Thaek, has been purged—and purged in a spectacular fashion.
In a television segment broadcast Monday, Jang, the erstwhile #2, is shown being arrested in front of an audience of top party members. State media kept up the drumbeat with charges Jang was “affected by the capitalist lifestyle,” and allegations ranging from economic mismanagement, to womanizing and drug use. “Jang pretended to uphold the party and leader,” reported KCNA, the party mouthpiece. “But was engrossed in such factional acts such as dreaming different dreams and involving himself in double-dealing behind the scene.”
The Latest IRS Power Grab
The left wants the disclosure of private information about conservative donors.
Six months after the Internal Revenue Service's inspector general revealed that the tax-collection agency had been targeting conservative organizations for added scrutiny and delaying their applications for tax-exempt status, the IRS has proposed new rules for handling political activity by nonprofits. The proposed rules would plunge the agency deeper into political regulation.
The rules would upset more than 50 years of settled law and practice by limiting the ability of certain tax-exempt nonprofits, organized under Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, to conduct nonpartisan voter registration and voter education. Such organizations would be forbidden to leave records of officeholder votes and public statements on their websites in the two months before an election.
Barney Frank vs. Dodd-Frank
Treasury moves to regulate asset managers as 'systemic risks.'
After JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon warned that regulation under the Dodd-Frank law was going too far, Washington retaliated with investigations leading to a record $13 billion settlement. But how will Team Obama react now that one of the law's principal authors is questioning the regulatory expansion?
Retired House Democrat Barney Frank is the last person on the planet you'd expect to criticize implementation of the 2010 law that bears his name. But there he was at a recent event hosted by the Clearing House trade group, suggesting that regulators ought to focus on banks instead of mutual-fund companies.
Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in action against an enemy force which can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the Armed Services of the United States.
GeneTrerally presented to its recipient by the President of the United States of America in the name of Congress.
The first award of the Medal of Honor was made March 25, 1863 to Private JACOB PARROTT.The last award of the Medal of Honor was made September 15, 2011 to Sergeant DAKOTA MEYER.
Since then there have been: • 3458 recipients of the Medal of Honor.
• Today there are 85 Living Recipients of the Medal of Honor.
CSM Jon R. Caviani
UNITED STATES ARMY
CAVAIANI, JON R.
Rank and organization: Staff Sergeant, U.S. Army, Vietnam Training Advisory Group, Republic of Vietnam. Place and date: Republic of Vietnam, 4 and 5 June 1971. Entered service at: Fresno, Calif. Born: 2 August 1943, Royston, England. Citation: S/Sergeant.
Cavaiani distinguished himself by conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty in action in the Republic of Vietnam on 4 and 5 June 1971 while serving as a platoon leader to a security platoon providing security for an isolated radio relay site located within enemy-held territory. On the morning of 4 June 1971, the entire camp came under an intense barrage of enemy small arms, automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenade and mortar fire from a superior size enemy force. S/Sergeant. Cavaiani acted with complete disregard for his personal safety as he repeatedly exposed himself to heavy enemy fire in order to move about the camp's perimeter directing the platoon's fire and rallying the platoon in a desperate fight for survival. S/Sergeant. Cavaiani also returned heavy suppressive fire upon the assaulting enemy force during this period with a variety of weapons. When the entire platoon was to be evacuated, S/Sergeant. Cavaiani unhesitatingly volunteered to remain on the ground and direct the helicopters into the landing zone. S/Sergeant. Cavaiani was able to direct the first 3 helicopters in evacuating a major portion of the platoon. Due to intense increase in enemy fire, S/Sergeant. Cavaiani was forced to remain at the camp overnight where he calmly directed the remaining platoon members in strengthening their defenses. On the morning of S June, a heavy ground fog restricted visibility. The superior size enemy force launched a major ground attack in an attempt to completely annihilate the remaining small force. The enemy force advanced in 2 ranks, first firing a heavy volume of small arms automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenade fire while the second rank continuously threw a steady barrage of hand grenades at the beleaguered force. S/Sergeant. Cavaiani returned a heavy barrage of small arms and hand grenade fire on the assaulting enemy force but was unable to slow them down. He ordered the remaining platoon members to attempt to escape while he provided them with cover fire. With 1 last courageous exertion, S/Sergeant. Cavaiani recovered a machine gun, stood up, completely exposing himself to the heavy enemy fire directed at him, and began firing the machine gun in a sweeping motion along the 2 ranks of advancing enemy soldiers. Through S/Sergeant. Cavaiani's valiant efforts with complete disregard for his safety, the majority of the remaining platoon members were able to escape. While inflicting severe losses on the advancing enemy force, S/Sergeant. Cavaiani was wounded numerous times. S/Sergeant. Cavaiani's conspicuous gallantry, extraordinary heroism and intrepidity at the risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, were in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the U.S. Army.