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Woman Quarantined In Newark Shows No Signs Of Ebola

Huffington Post News - 39 min 19 sec ago

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey health officials say a woman who arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport from West Africa has tested negative for Ebola in a preliminary evaluation.

The New Jersey Department of Health says the woman remains in isolation at University Hospital in Newark on Saturday. She is a health care worker who returned from West Africa, where she had contact with Ebola patients. She showed no symptoms of the virus when she arrived Friday. The woman became the first traveler quarantined under an Ebola watch in New Jersey and New York. She later developed a fever.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier Friday announced a mandatory 21-day quarantine of medical workers and other airline passengers who have had contact with Ebola victims.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Outside Money Surge Makes Kansas Senate Race Costliest In State History

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 8 min ago

WASHINGTON -- Few Senate races have seen a gush of spending like the competition in Kansas between Sen. Pat Roberts (R) and independent challenger Greg Orman. That may be because, until lately, it had been unthinkable that a Republican incumbent could lose in the solidly red state.

But Roberts failed to break 50 percent in a primary against a weak tea party opponent. And on Sept. 3, the Democratic candidate dropped out after polls showed Orman could beat Roberts in a two-way race.

Spending by super PACs and dark money nonprofits has exploded by at least 560 percent since then, fueling what will end up being the most expensive Senate race in Kansas history.

Overall, independent groups have pumped $10.5 million into the Senate contest, according to Federal Election Commission records, with more than $8.8 million coming in the first three weeks of October. The only Senate race seeing a similar surge in outside spending is the three-way competition in South Dakota.

"The acceleration in spending is remarkable," said Mark Johnson, a Kansas City-based lawyer at the law firm SNR Denton and a lecturer on campaign finance and elections at the University of Kansas.

The late flood of spending for Roberts has largely come from entrenched business interests in the state, led by the billionaires Charles and David Koch, and entrenched business interests in Washington, including the National Rifle Association and a billionaire-backed super PAC.

The biggest spender in the race is Freedom Partners Action Fund, a super PAC founded by the Koch brothers, which has paid out nearly $2 million attacking Orman. Koch Industries, the private company owned by the brothers, is based in Wichita, Kansas, and has long backed Roberts. Its employees and political action committee are the leading funders of the senator's political career.

Roberts has made a name for himself recently as a forceful opponent of campaign finance reform. In debates over electoral spending by nonprofits that keep donors secret, Roberts has emerged as one of disclosure's leading opponents. The Kochs intensely oppose restrictions on how much the wealthy can spend on elections, as well as disclosure laws that show who is influencing voters.

The latest independent group entering the Kansas Senate race is a nonprofit formed in July. The Alliance for a Free Society Inc., a 501(c)(4) nonprofit registered in Delaware, reported more than $380,000 in expenses opposing Orman on Thursday. The organization, which also funds radio ads against Kansas Democratic gubernatorial candidate Paul Davis, has no website and a faint paper trail.

"I'm not really sure what that one is," said Johnson, who closely tracks the political campaigns and outside groups in Kansas.

The Alliance for a Free Society appears tied to the Koch political empire. According to documents filed with the FEC and local television stations, the group's chairman is Michael K. Morgan, a former Koch Industries lobbyist and board member to the American Legislative Exchange Council.

Koch Industries communications director Missy Cohlmia told The Huffington Post in an email, "Mike Morgan worked at Koch for a number of years; he left in 2006. Since then, he has worked as a consultant to Koch."

Roberts also has received the backing of corporate lobbying groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Realtors, American Hospital Association and the National Federation of Independent Business. All of these groups are lobbying powerhouses in Washington. They have combined to spend $1.6 million so far in October to boost Roberts.

The billionaire-backed Ending Spending Action Fund has put $1.1 million into the race to help Roberts. This super PAC, founded by billionaire TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts, is largely funded by Forbes 400 members, including Ricketts, hedge fund executives Paul Singer and Ken Griffin, World Wrestling Entertainment co-founder Linda McMahon, and coal titan Joe Craft.

Orman, meanwhile, is finding support from campaign finance reformers.

Mayday PAC, the super PAC to end all super PACs founded by Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, recently asked its supporters to raise $200,000 to help fund an advertising campaign for Orman. The super PAC, dedicated to supporting candidates who want to curtail the influence of money in politics, surpassed that goal and has reported spending nearly $900,000 in the race.

Mark McKinnon, a longtime consultant for Republican politicians and a co-founder of Mayday PAC, told The Huffington Post that Mayday supports Orman because of his support of campaign finance reforms.

"As expected, all the traditional special influence interests are now swamping Kansas with late money to try and save Pat Roberts," McKinnon said in an email. "The only way Orman will survive the onslaught is with the help of Mayday and the few others who have stepped up with rocks in our slingshots to take on this Goliath of the status quo."

Mayday PAC is funded by a small collection of big-dollar donors, mostly Silicon Valley titans like LinkedIn's Reid Hoffman, Facebook billionaire Sean Parker and venture capitalist Peter Thiel, and tens of thousands of smaller donations.
Orman also is backed by the millionaire investor Peter Ackerman, who has teamed up with tech industry entrepreneur Thomas Layton to fund the Committee to Elect an Independent Senate.

Ackerman, who made his millions trading junk bonds with Michael Milken in the 1980s, is best known in political circles for funding the online presidential primary site, Americans Elect. The effort aimed to let the public select an independent ticket for the presidency, but was seen as a platform for a pro-business moderate. The effort ultimately failed to find a candidate.

Felicia Knight, spokeswoman for the committee, said in an email, that those involved in creating the pro-Orman group met the candidate through Americans Elect. Layton is a friend of Orman's and serves as the committee's treasurer. "We support systemic political reforms aimed at leveling the playing field for independent candidates," she said.

"Our Committee is working to make sure there is a level playing field for the independent candidate," Knight added.

Another pro-Orman super PAC called Kansans Support Problem Solvers PAC received $500,000 from John Arnold, the Texas-based billionaire energy investor and supporter of centrist political candidates.

Arnold, a self-described moderate Democrat, is a major funder of public school privatization, including charter schools and attacks on teachers unions. He has dedicated large sums to advocating cutting public pensions. (Arnold and his wife Laura stepped in to fund the Head Start program during the 2013 government shutdown.)

This outside spending onslaught relieves the campaigns of spending their own money on television. But Johnson argued there are downsides for both campaigns.

"I'm not sure the Orman campaign is happy with all the outside spending," Johnson said, noting that the divergent interests may distract from the candidates' message of party independence. Of the Roberts campaign, Johnson said, "I think they believe that if there were no campaign, they'd win and so the quieter things are the better they'd be."

As for the people of Kansas inundated with election ads, Johnson said the novelty may outweigh the annoyance. After all, there hasn't been a competitive Senate race in the state in at least 40 years.

"I don't think they're sick of seeing these ads on TV because they've never been exposed to it," Johnson said. "We're not used to seeing this."

Categories: Political News and Opinion

5 Solutions To The Youth Unemployment Crisis You Probably Haven't Thought Of

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 8 min ago

Youth unemployment is an urgent problem that affects nearly a quarter of the world's 15- to 24-year-olds. While fixing the problem in the long term may require large-scale interventions, such as closing the wealth gap, smaller-scale policy measures and local programs could offer millennials some relief -- not to mention boost the global economy, which has already lost billions due to high levels of jobless youth.

At a conference hosted by Columbia University's International House on Friday, policymakers, leaders of nongovernmental organizations and other experts put their heads together in search of answers. Here are five of the most promising suggestions for America:

1. Start investing in infrastructure.

"Some of the highest unemployment numbers are in construction," CNN host and Washington Post columnist Fareed Zakaria said at the conference. "We need to use the low borrowing rates right now to invest in infrastructure."

Construction was one of the industries hit hardest by the recession in 2008, and it still hasn't recovered. Ramping up demand for construction workers, who tend to be on the younger side and can be unskilled, would help the demographics that are suffering the most.

It also happens that buildings and roads in the U.S. are, in some places desperately, in need of help. The American Association of Civil Engineers gave the country a D+ rating on its infrastructure last year and estimates that poor roads will cost taxpayers $1.6 trillion by 2020.

2. End the Catch-22 of needing experience to get experience.

Millennials know all too well that frustrating situation of being turned away from an entry-level job for not having done the job before. How are you supposed to get experience if you don't, er, already have it?

"Thirty-three percent of youth [in the U.S.] are unemployed, and much of that is because they don't get work experiences early," said Andrew Moore, a senior fellow for the National League of Cities.

But not having enough job experience for even that first job may not be millennials' fault. "Expectations in the workplace have changed," said the Clinton Foundation's Madhuri Kommareddi. "Employers are putting less and less money into training employees, so entry-level jobs require more experience."

So how do you make businesses want to hire younger people?

One idea is to create city and state programs to sponsor kids' summer internships while they're still in school. Another, which Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter has been trying out, is to partner directly with business.

"It's an internship tax, a tax break for finding young people summer opportunities," said Jamira Burley, who oversees the Philadelphia Youth Commission. "The problem is making sure employers are actually giving young people real training. You need to train adults to be able to provide the right things."

3. Let more tourists visit America.

"Most countries encourage people to come and visit, and most countries have tourism offices to encourage them," Zakaria said. "The U.S. does the opposite. It tries to keep people out and only lets in 1 out of 20 people who apply for a visa because it's so afraid of terrorism."

It would be a big boost for the economy, he said, to loosen the visa process and allow more tourists to enter. According to Zakaria, tourists "spend $4,000 each on a trip." Concerns about foreigners entering the U.S. are exaggerated, he said: "When was the last time a Chinese person who came to the U.S. was a terrorist?"

More jobs in hospitality would specifically help young people, Zakaria said, because much hotel and restaurant work requires little education and few skills, but offers the chance to advance and eventually earn a good salary. "Do you know how much the maitre d' at the Waldorf Astoria makes a year?" he asked. "One hundred and fifty thousand dollars."

As productivity increases in countries like Mexico, where workers demand a lower wage than Americans do for the same task, industries like manufacturing have tended to move outside the U.S. Hospitality is more resistant to outsourcing since it's tied to a particular location.

4. Get rid of obstacles that shouldn't be obstacles.

"In cities where a large amount of youth are unemployed, there is often high involvement with the juvenile justice system," Moore said. That can haunt individuals even after they've served their punishment. "Expungement of juvenile records needs to work properly so being in the system doesn't hold them back," he said.

Juvenile records aren't the only problem this group of young people often face. "Many of these kids' families aren't connected to the regular banking system," said Moore. "So we've developed systems where we can pay kids with a debit card and automatically open a bank account for them."

Other programs in Philadelphia and Detroit seek to teach young people what it's like to operate in a work environment, from waking up on time to following instructions. Such skills may seem intuitive, but for youth who lack working family members as models, these habits are actually harder to acquire than one might think.

5. Young people need to vote.

In 2010, only 24 percent of young adults voted, and in 2012, with the inducement of a presidential race, just 45 percent voted.

"If young people voted consistently, they would be an irrepressible force in American politics," said Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League. "Policies that help baby boomers, for example, are the focus because politicians know that they vote. In the last 12 months, have we seen one hearing in Congress on youth unemployment?"

If young adults established themselves as a formidable voting demographic, they would likely see more policy initiatives protecting their interests and holding older generations accountable.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

My Mother, My Values, My Vote

Huffington Post News - 1 hour 44 min ago

Back in 1996, my mother was interviewed on Good Morning America. They were doing a story on the November election and wanted to know why she, an 89 year old Catholic woman, was voting for Democrats. In her responses to the GMA reporter, mom related how her life experiences had shaped her politics. Her words are as relevant today, as they were eighteen years ago.

In the matter of fact way that was her style, my mother began by telling how when her Lebanese immigrant family arrived in Northeast Pennsylvania at the turn of the 20th century, it was the Democratic Party in their town that helped them find their way. They lived in the heart of coal country and most of their neighbors were immigrants from Ireland or Eastern or Central Europe who worked long tough hours in the mines. Again, it was the Democrats who fought for their rights and protected their interests. When the Great Depression hit hard, it was Franklin Roosevelt's New Deal that put people back to work and created a safety net for those most impacted by the crisis.

And moving forward, it was Democrats who defended civil rights, Social Security, Medicare, and programs that addressed the needs of the poor, the disabled, and at risk children.

In short, Mom grew up not only believing that government had a responsibility to lend a helping hand to those who needed it. She had seen, first hand, government fulfilling those responsibilities and serving the greater good.

When I was in my teens, I read Ayn Rand and became enamored of Barry Goldwater's "Conscience of a Conservative". Mom would have none of it. One day as I was spouting off about individualism and the evils of government, my mother pointed a disapproving finger in my face and told me "if it weren't for Social Security survivor benefits [which I had been receiving since my father's death when I was 15], you'd be out working right now instead of being in school"; and if it weren't for the New York State scholarship you'd won, we wouldn't have been able to afford to send you to college". She concluded with "don't deny to others what you take for yourself".

The phase through which I had been going was typical stuff for teens--a kind of infantile narcissism where you think only of yourself. Mom's injunction was, in short, to grow up, get over my self-absorption, and see the bigger picture of benefits we receive from and the responsibilities we have toward others. My rebellion was short-lived.

My family, like so many other immigrants before us, and so many others who have come since then, arrived in the New World with nothing but hopes and dreams and a commitment to work hard to produce a better life for their families. Sure, my dad and mom worked hard. And yes, we succeeded--in many ways beyond their wildest dreams. But my mother's point was that the success we realized wasn't ours alone. It was also due to a social contract that had provided some degree of security and support when we and our neighbors and friends needed it most. Whether it was the public school system, the Works Progress Administration, Social Security, the efforts of unions that won battles for a minimum wage and a 40 hour work week, and the vast social movements that fought for civil rights and women's rights--we owe our success to working together and for each other.

At the end of her interview, the Good Morning America reporter attempted to throw mom a zinger. She asked "but you're a Catholic who goes to mass everyday, how can you vote for Bill Clinton, when he supports abortion?" Unfazed, my mother said "on issues like that I go to my priest. But when I vote for President I want someone who will fight to save Social Security and Medicare, and who'll be there to help those in need".

That was mom's lesson then, and the values she conveyed still apply today. Because I was born into a Lebanese immigrant home--grounded by my church, my ethnic heritage, and my family-- I look at every election through the lens of those values. That's why I vote for Democrats.

Follow @AAIUSA for more.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Weekly Address: Focused on the Fight Against Ebola

News from the White House - 2 hours 39 min ago

WASHINGTON, DC — In this week’s address, the President discussed the measures we are taking to respond to Ebola cases at home, while containing the epidemic at its source in West Africa.  This week we continued to focus on domestic preparedness, with the creation of new CDC guidelines and the announcement of new travel measures ensuring all travelers from the three affected countries are directed to and screened at one of five airports.  The President emphasized that it’s important to follow the facts, rather than fear, as New Yorkers did yesterday when they stuck to their daily routine. Ebola is not an easily transmitted disease, and America is leading the world in the fight to stamp it out in West Africa.

The audio of the address and video of the address will be available online at at 6:00 a.m. ET, October 25, 2014.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 25, 2014

Hi everybody, this week, we remained focused on our fight against Ebola.  In Dallas, dozens of family, friends and others who had been in close contact with the first patient, Mr. Duncan, were declared free of Ebola—a reminder that this disease is actually very hard to catch.  Across Dallas, others being monitored—including health care workers who were most at risk—were also declared Ebola-free.

Two Americans—patients in Georgia and Nebraska who contracted the disease in West Africa—recovered and were released from the hospital.  The first of the two Dallas nurses who were diagnosed—Nina Pham—was declared Ebola free, and yesterday I was proud to welcome her to the Oval Office and give her a big hug.  The other nurse—Amber Vinson—continues to improve as well.  And in Africa, the countries of Senegal and Nigeria were declared free of Ebola—a reminder that this disease can be contained and defeated.

In New York City, medical personnel moved quickly to isolate and care for the patient there—a doctor who recently returned from West Africa.  The city and state of New York have strong public health systems, and they’ve been preparing for this possibility.  Because of the steps we’ve taken in recent weeks, our CDC experts were already at the hospital, helping staff prepare for this kind of situation.  Before the patient was even diagnosed, we deployed one of our new CDC rapid response teams. And I’ve assured Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio that they’ll have all the federal support they need as they go forward. 

More broadly, this week we continued to step up our efforts across the country.  New CDC guidelines and outreach is helping hospitals improve training and protect their health care workers.  The Defense Department’s new team of doctors, nurses and trainers will respond quickly if called upon to help. 

New travel measures are now directing all travelers from the three affected countries in West Africa into five U.S. airports where we’re conducting additional screening.  Starting this week, these travelers will be required to report their temperatures and any symptoms on a daily basis—for 21 days until we’re confident they don’t have Ebola.  Here at the White House, my new Ebola response coordinator is working to ensure a seamless response across the federal government.  And we have been examining the protocols for protecting our brave health care workers, and, guided by the science, we’ll continue to work with state and local officials to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and health of the American people.

In closing, I want to leave you with some basic facts.  First, you cannot get Ebola easily.  You can’t get it through casual contact with someone.  Remember, down in Dallas, even Mr. Duncan’s family—who lived with him and helped care for him—even they did not get Ebola.  The only way you can get this disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone with symptoms.  That’s the science.  Those are the facts.

Sadly, Mr. Duncan did not survive, and we continue to keep his family in our prayers.  At the same time, it’s important to remember that of the seven Americans treated so far for Ebola—the five who contracted it in West Africa, plus the two nurses from Dallas—all seven have survived.  Let me say that again—seven Americans treated; all seven survived.  I’ve had two of them in the Oval Office.  And now we’re focused on making sure the patient in New York receives the best care as well. 

Here’s the bottom line.  Patients can beat this disease.  And we can beat this disease.  But we have to stay vigilant.  We have to work together at every level—federal, state and local.  And we have to keep leading the global response, because the best way to stop this disease, the best way to keep Americans safe, is to stop it at its source—in West Africa.

And we have to be guided by the science—we have to be guided by the facts, not fear.  Yesterday, New Yorkers showed us the way. They did what they do every day—jumping on buses, riding the subway, crowding into elevators, heading into work, gathering in parks.  That spirit—that determination to carry on—is part of what makes New York one of the great cities in the world.  And that’s the spirit all of us can draw upon, as Americans, as we meet this challenge together.

Categories: White House News

Fox News and Bill O'Reilly Keep Having Pastor Who Says Obama is "Paving the Way for the Future Reign of the Antichrist" as Guest

Huffington Post News - 5 hours 29 min ago

The First Baptist Church in downtown Dallas is a major institution within the Southern Baptist faith, long powerful and influential. Its senior pastor, Robert Jeffress, made headlines in 2007 with a Sunday sermon calling Willard Romney a member of a religious "cult." Specifically, he said this:

"Mitt Romney is a Mormon, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Even though he talks about Jesus as his Lord and savior, he is not a Christian. Mormonism is not Christianity. Mormonism is a cult."

Just before President Obama's reelection day in 2012, Jeffress stood in the pulpit and let fly this gem (audio here):

"I want you to hear me tonight, I am not saying that President Obama is the Antichrist, I am not saying that at all. One reason I know he's not the Antichrist is the Antichrist is going to have much higher poll numbers when he comes. {a laugh line, congregation responds accordingly} President Obama is not the Antichrist. But what I am saying is this: the course he is choosing to lead our nation is paving the way for the future reign of the Antichrist."

I'm no Doogie Howser, but isn't this medically certifiable in the real world? If the guy at the corner bar, or at the table next to you, says such nuttiness, don't you move away? I know I do. Weirdo's bother me. Call me old fashioned.

So here we are on October 24, 2014, and Jeffress is a guest on O'Reilly's show. The host says to him that the pastor no doubt spiritually counsels big and powerful people, to which the man of God nods approvingly. He's treated with great respect by O'Reilly. He then says bluntly that Islam is a "false religion," and O'Reilly says nothing in reply. Bill is "looking out for the folks," as he puts it.

This is Fox News, 2014, stirring the pot. It's what they do.

Barack Obama attended a popular mega-Christian church in Chicago for years before becoming president, and the Christian pastor was a firebrand who later raised the ire of Republicans. This radical Christian from Dallas doesn't elicit a peep. Romney wisely ignored the guy (Texas was always in the bag for him), and Republicans say nothing about him, yet Fox News still has him as a frequent guest on their shows. This is sheer crackpottery!

Romney and his family have continued to show up on Fox News for glowing interviews since 2012. Regular viewers should be more discerning. The joint is half-baked.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Magic runs out: Trick plays not enough for inconsistent Milan offense against ... - The Ann Arbor News

Berkley Information from Google News - 8 hours 24 min ago

The Ann Arbor News

Magic runs out: Trick plays not enough for inconsistent Milan offense against ...
The Ann Arbor News
MILAN -- Milan resorted to trickery on the offensive side of the ball more than a few times this season. When defenses saw through the smoke and mirrors, they found an inconsistent Big Reds offense that made too many mistakes to reach the postseason ...
Milan's season ends on heartbreaking 42-26 loss to Detroit Country DayMonroe Evening News

all 3 news articles »

Categories: Berkley Area News

A Song For Bruce Rauner, Illinois' Republican Governor Candidate

Huffington Post News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 11:30pm

While this election year may not be going just as how Illinois' Republican candidate for Governor Bruce Rauner would like them to, the multi-millionaire still has all his loot and now a lovely new tune to enjoy it with!

Matt Farmer, a Chicago lawyer and musician has composed and recorded "Plutocrat (The Ballad of Bruce Rauner)," a country song that is sure to get Rauner's legs moving, even with his pockets so heavily weighted with cash.

Watch the video above.

Farmer blogged about the tune for The Huffington Post, framing it as such:

What do you give a guy who owns nine homes, made $60 million last year and wants to be governor of Illinois?

I decided to give him the gift of music.

After all, a guy who loves Wrangler jeans and Carhartt coats as much as Bruce Rauner does would probably enjoy blasting a good country song over the stereo in his 20-year-old van.

While the instrumentals will please almost any ear, the lyrics may remind Rauner of some of the troubles he has encountered in his bid to unseat incumbent Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn.

The lyrical jabs are many, and they are sharp. Rauner's pitch to win black voters with a $1 million investment comes under fire, "I'm tryin' hard to buy your November votes,"; as does his alleged use of loopholes in tax filings, "Who hates payin' taxes for Medicare,"; and his choice of where to store all his money, "And I bank in the Cayman Islands anytime I can."

After trailing Rauner for months, Quinn has rallied and the two are now in a close race with just weeks to go, some polls giving Quinn the edge. The contest between the two has been messy, and Rauner's image has taken a hit with news that a Chicago Sun-Times reporter resigned after the newspaper allegedly bowed to pressure from the Rauner campaign to punish the reporter for writing a story the campaign was not happy with.

But now Rauner has this great tune to put some spring in his step!

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article identifed the Governor of Illinois as Sally Quinn. The Governor of Illinois is Pat Quinn.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Eriksen helps Wolves overcome slow start - Detroit Free Press

Berkley Information from Google News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 11:24pm

Detroit Free Press

Eriksen helps Wolves overcome slow start
Detroit Free Press
Friday's game between Oakland Activities Association Red champion Clarkston and OAA White champion Farmington Hills Harrison featured a chance for both teams to gear up for the state playoffs. Clarkston won, 31-24, in a game in which each team ...
Nolan Eriksen's career-best game helps lead Clarkston past Farmington Hills

all 3 news articles »

Categories: Berkley Area News

Rushing attack lifts Rockets into the playoffs - Detroit Free Press

Berkley Information from Google News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 11:23pm

Detroit Free Press

Rushing attack lifts Rockets into the playoffs
Detroit Free Press
It was a must win game Friday for Westland Glenn, and the Rockets sure played like it. Lead by a three-headed running attack of Jamie Melchor, Leon Crawford and Kimari Johnson, the Rockets rushed for over 400 yards, flying past host Southfield-Lathrup ...

and more »

Categories: Berkley Area News

Remarks by the First Lady at a Grassroots Campaign Event with Democratic Candidate for Governor John Hickenlooper and Democratic Candidate for Senate Mark Udall -- Fort Collins, Colorado

News from the White House - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 10:39pm

Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado

:21 P.M. MDT
MRS. OBAMA:  This is a crowd!  Oh, my goodness!  Yes!  (Applause.)  Look at you guys.  You all are fired up, I love it.  Oh, my goodness.  You guys sound so good.  This sounds like a lot of work is going to be happening, right?  (Applause.)  Thank you guys so much. 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  I see you, First Lady!
MRS. OBAMA:  I see you!  I see you -- see you!  (Applause.)  Now I want to see you vote.  (Applause.)  Well, if you haven’t noticed, I’m thrilled to be here at CSU with all of you guys.  And I’m thrilled to be here to support your Senator and Governor, our friends Mark Udall and John Hickenlooper.  Let’s give them a big round of applause.  (Applause.) 
Now, I just want to start with Mark, because I think it says a lot about Mark that, as you heard, years ago, he served as the Executive Director of Colorado Outward Bound.  And he’s spent his life scaling some of biggest, baddest mountains here in this state and around the world.  That’s pretty cool.
That tells you that he knows what it means to run a business, which is why he has fought to support clean energy, aerospace, and high-tech businesses here in this state so that they can keep creating good jobs.  Mark’s background also tells us that he is practical and tenacious, which is why Mark has reached out across party lines out in Washington.  And he’s focused on real solutions, like getting the best services for our veterans, working to balance our budget, ensuring that folks in this state had the relief they needed after those devastating floods and wildfires.  (Applause.)
So this is a man after my own heart.  And he’s a good family man, too, a decent man, man with good values. 
And as for your Governor, John, you heard -- his record as Governor speaks for itself.  (Applause.)  I want to repeat this, because during his time in office, Colorado’s unemployment rate dropped from 9.1 percent to 4.7 percent.  That’s what your Governor did.  (Applause.)  Your Governor took this state from 40th to 4th in the nation in the creation of jobs.  That’s amazing -- 200,000 new jobs in this state.  (Applause.)  That’s important work.
John has passed four balanced budgets with bipartisan support.  He’s started restoring funding in education, which is so important.  (Applause.)  Yes to education!  (Applause.)  It is absolutely the most important thing we can be doing in this country, without a doubt.
John has worked with businesses and environmental groups to adopt clean air standards.  He’s helped our veterans and our military spouses, which is near and dear to my heart.  He’s done so much for this state.  
And I just want to tell you that Mark and John both understand the values of independence and fairness that folks here in Colorado believe in.  That’s why they fought to raise the minimum wage; as you heard, get women equal pay for their work, and will stand up for women’s rights to make our decisions about our own bodies.  That’s what’s at stake.  (Applause.) 
So this is why I’m here.  This is why this race is so important.  If you all want a Senator and a Governor who share your values, and who will be there for you and your families every single day, then we’ve got to get this done.  You need to reelect Mark Udall as your Senator and John Hickenlooper as your Governor.  You guys, we can get this done.  We can get this done.  (Applause.) 
I just want to also recognize a couple of other outstanding Colorado leaders we have here today.  We’ve got Senator Bennet, of course, Congressman Jared Polis.  (Applause.)  And your next State Treasurer, former Congresswoman Betsy Markey.  They’re all here.  We’re so grateful for their leadership and for their service.
But I’m here also because I want to thank all of you.  Really.  (Applause.) 
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  We love you, Michelle!  (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA:  And let me tell you, I love you guys.  Because the students here -- and while I love everyone, but -- (laughter) -- but I’m so proud of our young people, because you all are the next generation.  For you all, this is important.  And you all are important to us. 
And that’s why I’m so excited to see so many young people.  Because this election is really about you guys.  It’s about your hopes and your dreams, and the world that you want to pass onto your kids and your grandkids.  That’s why I get all passionate about this stuff.  (Applause.)  We’re handing this over to you.  And I know your President wants to make sure he doesn’t hand you a mess.  (Applause.) 
So these elections are important.  But here’s the thing:  Despite that fundamental truth -- that elections are important -- I know that too many young people feel that elections just don’t matter; that politics doesn’t really make a difference so why bother to show up and vote.  So if there’s anyone here who feels this way, or knows someone who feels this way, I just want you to consider some facts.  I want you to think about all the change that we’ve seen these past six years under President Barack Obama.  (Applause.) 
Now, some of you may be too young to really remember what things were like back in 2008 when Barack first took office, because you guys were young.  (Laughter.)  But let me just break it down, because sometimes when things are better, we don’t really have a sense of how bad things were.  But things were bad.
Our economy was literally on the brink of collapse, and that is not an exaggeration.  Wall Street banks were folding.  You can imagine -- folding.  We were losing 800,000 jobs every month -- every month.  People were worried about whether we were headed for another Great Depression -- can you imagine that?  And that wasn’t just talk, that was a real possibility. 
This was just some of the mess that Barack was handed on day one as President of the United States.  And I could go on.  (Laughter and applause.)  But I don’t want to dwell on the past, because we’re living in a better future.  (Applause.) 
So now I want you to think about how things look today, just six years later.  Think about this as you wonder whether politics matters, whether voting matters. 
By almost every economic measure, we are better off today than when Barack first took office.  Why?  Our businesses have created more than 10 million new jobs since 2010 -- do you hear me?  This is the longest -- this marks the longest uninterrupted run of private sector job growth in our nation’s history.  (Applause.)  The unemployment rate for young people is down from a high of about 10.6 percent in 2009 to 6.2 percent today. 
More young people are graduating from college than ever before.  (Applause.)  And here’s something that you might be feeling right now -- your President has helped to expand financial aid.  (Applause.)  Yes!  And for millions of students, we’re going to be capping federal student loan payments at no more than 10 percent of your income, because we believe that you shouldn’t be buried in debt when you’re just starting out in life, like me and the President were.  (Laughter.)  So we understand what this means for you. 
Under the Affordable Care Act, millions of young people have health care because they can now stay on their parents’ insurance until they’re 26 years old.  (Applause.)  So when you graduate from school, if you can’t find a job right away, if you’re trying to do something entrepreneurial, if you’re trying to do something creative, you won’t be left out in the cold just praying that you don’t get sick or hurt -- which was the case before the Affordable Care Act.  (Applause.)  
And for the last six years, we’ve had a President who shares our most fundamental values; a President who ends hurtful policies like “don’t ask, don’t tell;” a President who truly believes that everyone in this country should have a chance to succeed no matter what they look like, how much money they have, or who they love.  (Applause.) 
I could go on and on and on.  Who represents you matters.  So if anyone ever tells you that elections don’t matter, you tell them to look back at the last six years.  Tell them about those two elections that changed the course of history in this country.  And tell them that the same thing is true this year right here in Colorado.  It’s true right here.
As you heard, in this election, you all have the opportunity to vote for leaders who share your values; leaders who are going to fight to create jobs, make sure those jobs pay decent wages; leaders who will build good schools, make college more affordable.  That’s the kind of leader Mark is.  That’s the kind of leader John is.  And that’s why we need to do everything we can to get them reelected as your Senator and your Governor.  And you all can make that happen.  We are counting on you. 
So let’s talk about how we’re going to do this -- because it won’t be easy.  We know that there is too much money in politics -- that’s a given.  We know that special interests have way too much influence -- that’s a given.  But the thing, especially for young people, I want you to understand is that they had plenty of money and plenty of influence back in 2008 and 2012, and we still won those elections.  Remember that. 
And you want to know why we won?  Because young people like so many of you -- for years, folks had counted you out.  That was the conventional wisdom -- that young people don’t care, young people aren’t engaged, they won’t show up on Election Day, hoping you’ll oversleep, just forget.  But boy, did you all show up for Barack Obama.  (Applause.) 
Young people, so many of them, knocked on doors.  You all did the work of making the calls.  You used every kind of social media tool available -- things I’d never even heard of.  (Laughter.) 
And here’s the thing -- you inspired people across the country to get to the polls and to cast their votes.  And what happened in 2008 and 2012 reminded us of a simple truth:  that at the end of the day, the folks running those special interest groups and pouring all that money into campaigns, they each just have one vote -- and so do all of us.  And those votes are what decides elections in this country -- remember that.  And that’s why Barack Obama is President right now.  He’s President because a whole bunch of folks who never voted before showed up and voted in 2008 and 2012. 
And that’s why a lot of people were shocked when Barack won.  They were shocked.  Some people are still shocked, because, sadly, they were counting on folks like us to stay home.  But we proved them wrong.  Barack won because record numbers of women and minorities and young people showed up.  (Applause.) 
But here’s what happens, is that when the midterms came along, too many of our people just tuned out.  We’re still not in the habit of knowing that it’s every two years there’s something serious happening.  (Laughter.)  And that’s what folks on the other side are counting on this year, because they know that when we stay home, they win.  So they’re assuming that we won’t care.  They’re hoping that we won’t be organized.  They’re praying that we won’t be energized.  And only we can prove them wrong. 
So make no mistake about it, this race is going to be tight.  We know that races like this can be won or lost by just a few thousand, even a few hundred votes.  I just want to make this real for you -- just think back to the Senate race here in Colorado in 2010.
The outcome of that election was decided by about 14,000 votes.  And while that might sound like a lot, when you break that number down, that’s just five votes per precinct.  And this is where I want the young people to understand -- that’s five votes per precinct.  That decided an election.  And that could be the margin of difference this year; in all likelihood, it will be. 
And I know that every single person in this room knows five people that you can get to vote for Mark Udall and for John Hickenlooper.  I know you do.  (Applause.)  Just think of that five when you’re thinking about whether you’re going to mail your ballot in; when you think about talking to your peers and they’re like, I’m tired, I don’t know -- it’s five votes.
So let’s be clear:  This one is on us.  This is our votes.  This one is on us.  We can’t wait around for anyone else to do this.  It’s on us to get people organized and energized and out to vote. 
And you can start right now, today, by voting by mail, voting early in person -- Mark ran over it -- you vote by mail, be sure to put your ballot in the mail as soon as possible with two stamps.  Or you can just bring it to the early-voting location nearest you.  You can also vote early in person, as Mark said, from now until Election Day.  In this state it couldn’t be easier. 
However you decide to vote, just don’t wait another minute, especially for our students.  You guys, do this now.  Get this done.  Don’t put this off.  Just check it off your to-do list today.
I want a show of hands of how many people have already voted.  (Applause.)  All right, that’s not enough.  (Laughter.)  We’re very excited, but there’s a lot of potential just in this room. 

So in fact, if you live here in Larimer County, you can vote right in the Lory Center.  So just head down to the North Ballroom of this building and cast your vote.  Get it done now, and bring everyone you know with you.  Bring your roommate.  Bring your teammate.  Bring folks from your fraternity or your sorority.  (Applause.)  Bring that cute girl or guy that you met at the party last weekend -- and for the parents in the room, for you -- who met them at the library.  (Laughter.)  You’re studying very hard. 
And then, as Mark said, we need you to volunteer.  That’s really important, especially for students.  We need you to knock on some doors, make calls.  Do that hard work.  You can just go to, and that’s where you can sign up there.  Or you can find somebody here with the clipboards and sign up.  Don’t leave here without getting that done.  Don’t wait another minute.  Get started.  Because we’ve got less than two weeks until Election Day. 
And this year simply could not be more important.  Because if we don’t get folks out to vote, if we don’t elect leaders like Mark and John, then we know exactly what will happen.  We are going to see more folks interfering in women’s private decisions about our health care.  We’re going to see more opposition to immigration reform, to raising the minimum wage for hard-working folks.

So let’s be very clear:  If you think that folks who work 40 or 50 hours a week shouldn’t have to live in poverty in the wealthiest nation on the planet; if you don’t want women’s bosses making decisions about their birth control; if you think women should get equal pay for equal work; if you think that every young person in this country should have a chance to go to college and build a good life for themselves, then we need you to step up now and get everyone you know to vote for Mark Udall and John Hickenlooper.  (Applause.)   
That’s what’s at stake in this election -- it’s the kind of country that we want to leave for you all.  And I want us to remember, our kids are counting on us to stand up for them.  And there are wonderful kids all over this country who are counting on us.  I meet them everywhere I go.  I know there are many of these kids here today.
They’re kids like Rashema Melson, who is one of my mentees at -- in the White House program where we mentor kids.  Rashema’s father was murdered when she was a baby, and for years her family was homeless.  There were days when Rashema didn’t have clean clothes to wear to school. 
But here -- Rashema showed up every morning to school.  She threw herself into every class.  This girl’s brilliant, vibrant personality -- often waking up in the middle of the night to do her homework because that’s the only time it was quiet in the homeless shelter where she lived. 
And by senior year, Rashema had earned herself a 4.0 GPA.  She graduated as valedictorian of her class.  And right now, today, this minute, she is on full scholarship at Georgetown University.  I’m so proud of her.  (Applause.) 
But there are millions of Rashemas across this country.  There are thousands of them here.  There are hundreds of them in this room.  I meet so many kids like her -- kids who wake up early and take the long route to school to avoid the gangs.  Kids who juggle afterschool jobs to support their families and stay up late to get their homework done.  Kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English, but who are fighting every day to realize their dream of a better life.  
These kids have every reason to give up.  They have every reason to quit.  But they are so hungry to succeed.  They are so desperate to lift themselves up.  And that is why we do what we do.  That is what keeps Barack and I working hard, despite the mess.  We work hard because those kids never give up, and neither can we.  (Applause.) 
So this is what we need to do:  Between now and November 4th, we need to be energized for them.  We need to be inspired for them.  We need to pour everything we have into this election so that they can have the opportunities they need to build the future they deserve.
And if we all do that, if we keep stepping up -- just look at the power in this room.  You feel the energy right here.  If we keep stepping up and bringing others along the way, then I am confident that we can keep on making that change we believe in.  I know we will reelect Mark Udall as Senator.  I know we will reelect John Hickenlooper as Governor.  And I know that together, we can build that future worthy of all our kids.
You guys stay fired up.  Get it done.  I love you all so much.  (Applause.)
3:44 P.M. MDT

Categories: White House News

Remarks by the First Lady at a Grassroots Campaign Event with Democratic Candidate for Senate Mark Udall -- Denver, Colorado

News from the White House - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 10:39pm

Exdo Center
Denver, Colorado

1:13 P.M. MDT
MRS. OBAMA:  Hey!  (Applause.)  How are you guys doing?  Are we ready to get this done?  (Applause.)  Good.  I’m really thrilled to be here today.  Can you all hear me?
MRS. OBAMA:  All right, I can’t tell.  You can hear me?  (Applause.)  I’m very excited to be here today to support your outstanding Senator, Mark Udall.  (Applause.)
Now, as I’m sure you all know by now, Mark is the real deal.  In fact, I think it says a lot about Mark that years ago, he served as Executive Director of Colorado Outward Bound, and he’s spent his life scaling some of highest, hardest mountains here in this state and around the world.  And that tells you that he knows what it means to run a business, which is why he’s fought so hard to support clean energy, aerospace, and high-tech businesses here in this state so they can create good jobs here.
Mark’s background also tells you that he’s practical and tenacious, which is why he’s never gotten caught up in the bickering and partisanship back in Washington.  Instead, time and again, Mark has reached out across the aisles to get things done for this state.  And Mark is focused on real solutions -- that’s why I’m here -- whether it’s getting the best services for our veterans, or working to balance our budget, or ensuring that folks here in Colorado had the relief they needed after those devastating floods and the wildfires.
And as a fifth generation Coloradan, Mark understands what makes this state special.  He understands the values of independence and fairness -- all the things that folks here believe in.  And that’s why Mark has fought so hard to make sure women get equal pay for their work.  (Applause.)  It’s why he will always stand up for women’s right to make our own decisions about our bodies and about our health care.  (Applause.)  
So make no mistake about it, if you all want a Senator who truly shares your values and will keep on standing up for you and your families every day out there in Washington, then you need to do everything in your power to reelect Mark Udall as your Senator.  We’ve got to get this done, and I know that we can.  (Applause.)  
Now, while he couldn’t be here with us today, I also wanted to say a few words about your outstanding Governor, John Hickenlooper.  (Applause.)  Because there are a lot of good facts around your Governor.  During his time in office, Colorado’s unemployment rate dropped from 9.1 percent to 4.7 percent -- (applause) -- and Colorado went from 40th in the nation for job creation to 4th, with more than 200,000 new jobs here in this state.
John has balanced your budgets.  He’s invested in education.  He’s helped veterans and military spouses -- something near and dear to me -- helped them get good jobs.  And he’s done so much more.  So I think John’s record speaks for itself.
So when you vote to reelect Mark as your Senator, be sure to also reelect John Hickenlooper as your Governor, as well.  Let’s get it done.  (Applause.)
I also want to recognize a few of your outstanding Colorado leaders.  I know that Senator Michael Bennet was here earlier, and we’re going to do some more rallying it up after I leave here.  And Representative Diana Degette is here, as well.  (Applause.)  She brought me a really cool candle; I’m going to take that home.  (Laughter.)  So we’re so grateful for their leadership and for their service, as well.
But really, I’m here because I want to thank all of you.  Really.  So many of you have been with us from the very beginning -- (applause) -- back when we were talking about hope and change, and getting fired up and ready to go.  (Applause.)
And then so many of you were with us when Barack first took office, and he got a good look at the mess he’d been handed and wondered what on Earth he’d gotten himself into.  (Laughter.)  I want to take us back a little bit, to remember how bad things were back then.  See, because sometimes when things get better, we forget how bad they were.
But we were in full-blown crisis mode.  And I know there are young people here too young to even know.  Our economy was literally on the brink of collapse.  Wall Street banks were folding.  Businesses were losing 800,000 jobs a month -- 800,000 jobs a month.  People were panicking about whether we were headed for another Great Depression -- and that wasn’t just talk, that was a real possibility.  I could go on.  Things were bad.  And this is what Barack walked into on day one as President of the United States.
Now think about the way things look today, less than six years later, under your President.
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Thank you, Obama!  (Applause.)
MRS. OBAMA:  By almost every economic measure, we are better off today than when Barack first took office.  And while, yes, I’m his wife -- I love him, I am proud of my husband, he’s doing a phenomenal job -- I say this because I have some facts.  So let me share some facts with you, because sometimes we don’t deal in facts.
Our businesses have created more than 10 million new jobs since 2010.  (Applause.)  This would constitute longest uninterrupted run of private sector job growth in our nation’s history -- do you hear me?  In our nation’s history.  The unemployment rate has dropped from a peak of 10 percent back in 2009 to 5.9 percent today.  (Applause.)
Your President has cut taxes for tens of millions of working families across this country.  (Applause.)  And last year, the number of children living in poverty decreased by 1.4 million, which is the largest drop since 1966.  (Applause.)
Our high school graduation rate is at a record high.  More of our young people are graduating from college than ever before, and we’re so proud of them.  Education is key for our young people.  And because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans have finally gotten health insurance.  (Applause.)
I could go on and on and on.  But I want you to just think about how different our country looks to children growing up today.  Think about how they take for granted that a black person, a woman -- anyone -- can be President of the United States of America.  (Applause.)  They take for granted that their President will end hurtful policies like “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and speak out for equality for every American.  (Applause.)
So while we still have plenty of work to do, we have truly made so much of that change we were talking about.  But here’s what I want you to remember, especially now -- all this didn’t just happen because we elected Barack Obama.  It happened because we also elected outstanding leaders in states across this country -- leaders like Mark Udall, who stand up for our jobs, for our kids’ education; leaders who fight to raise the minimum wage and get women equal pay for their work.  (Applause.)  
So it’s important for you all to be just so clear that if we want to finish what we all started together, then we need to reelect Mark Udall as your Senator.  That has got to happen.  (Applause.)
And we know this won’t be easy.  We know that there is too much money in politics.  Special interests have way too much influence.  But remember, they had plenty of money and plenty of influence back in 2008 and 2012, and we still won those elections.  (Applause.)  You want to know why we won?  We won because we showed up and we voted.  And at the end of the day, the folks running those special interest groups, the folks pouring millions of dollars into those elections, guess what?  They each just have one vote -- and so do all of us.
And ultimately, the only thing that counts are those votes.  That’s what decides elections in this country.  And that’s why Barack Obama is President right now.  (Applause.)  He’s President because a bunch of people who never voted before showed up in 2008 and 2012.
And a lot of people were shocked when Barack won, because they were counting on folks like us to stay home.  But, see, we proved them wrong.  Barack won because record numbers of women and minorities and young people showed up to vote.  (Applause.)  Remember that.
See, but then what happened is that when the midterms came along, too many of our people just tuned out.  And that’s what folks on the other side are counting on this year.  Because when we stay home, they win.  So they’re assuming that we won’t care.  They’re hoping that we won’t be organized and energized.  They’re praying that we just stay put.  And only we can prove them wrong.
So make no mistake about it, this race is going to be tight.  We know that races like this can be won or lost by just a few thousand, even a few hundred votes -- understand this.
Just think back to the Senate race here in Colorado in 2010.  The outcome of that election was decided by about 14,000 votes.  And while that might sound like a lot, when you break that number down, that’s just five votes per precinct.  I want you to really take that in.  Because I go around the country and break these numbers down, and the margin of difference of victory and defeat, the numbers are countable.
So I want people to think before they forget to mail in their ballot, or when they’re thinking about the calls that we need you to make -- that every call that you make, every person that you turn around will absolutely make the difference.
And I know that everyone here in this room alone -- every single one of you -- knows five people that you can get to vote for Mark Udall, right?  You know five people who didn’t bother to vote in the last midterm elections.  You know these folks.
So understand that this one is on us.  These are our folks that we’re talking about getting to vote.  These are people who support Mark, who support this President, who support the issues.  And it’s up to us just to get them out there.  We can’t wait around for anyone else to do this for us.
If we want to keep on making change here in Colorado, then we need to take responsibility, and to work to make it happen.  Because we all know that the real problem isn’t that people don’t care.  Or course we care, right?  We care deeply about what’s happening in our communities.  We care deeply about justice and equality.  We care deeply about giving our kids opportunities they never dreamed of.
But the fact is that sometimes folks get busy.  Folks are juggling demands at home, the needs of their families.  Sometimes people just aren’t informed about the issues at stake in this election.  Sometimes they just don’t know how to make their voices heard on Election Day.  Some people don’t even know that election is happening.
So that’s why you all are here.  It’s up to us to educate folks and make sure they know how to cast their votes in this election.  That’s your job.  That’s what we’re counting on.  (Applause.)  That’s why I’m here.  It’s up to us to get out and, first, to vote ourselves.
So first of all, I want to know how many people here have already voted.  (Applause.)  All right, that’s still not everybody.  (Laughter.)  So that starts with voting, here in this room.  And voting by mail, voting early, in person -- all that -- it’s the easiest thing you can do.
If you vote by mail, be sure to put your ballot in the mail today, or as soon as possible, with two stamps.  Two -- do you -- two stamps.  Or you can just bring your early-voting ballot to the voting location nearest you.  You can also vote early in person from now until Election Day.
However you decide to vote, don’t wait another minute.  Do it today.  Just promise me that everybody in this room will vote today.  In fact, do it as soon as this event is over.  (Applause.)  Think about those five people as you do it.
And that’s really my key message today:  to vote as soon as you can, and get everyone you know to vote with you -- everyone.  Call your friends, your family.  You -- everybody knows somebody who’s sitting on the couch right now who’s not even focused on this.  Find that person in your lives, just shake them up -- (laughter) -- and make sure they put those ballots in the mail, or they get out to the polls.
And then we need all of you, every one of you to volunteer.  That’s how it happens.  That’s how we get votes done.  That’s how we did it in the past elections -- making those calls, knocking on those doors.  I know so many of you are already doing that, but we’ve just got a few more days to go.
So this isn’t a lot of time.  So everybody here can be a part of pulling another five people in just by calling them on the phone and saying, hey, did you know an election was coming up, get your ballot.
AUDIENCE MEMBER:  Yes, we can!
MRS. OBAMA:  Yes, we can do this!  (Applause.)  See, that’s the thing:  We absolutely can do this.  And we need you to go to --  And I know there are enough young people here who can help the technologically challenged of us to do that -- right, young people?  (Applause.)
But better yet, you can sign up with one of the organizers that are here today.  There are clipboards all around, so don’t leave here until you volunteer.  It’s a few hours out of your time, and it will absolutely make a difference.  Don’t wait another minute to get started because we’ve got less than two weeks until Election Day.
And we all need to be as passionate and as hungry for this election as we were back in 2008 and 2012.  In fact, we need to be even more passionate and even more hungry, because these midterm races will be even harder and even closer than those presidential elections -- but they’re just as important.  Do you hear me?  They’re just as important.
And the stakes this year simply could not be higher.  Because if we don’t elect leaders like Mark who will put our families first instead of fighting for special interests, then we know exactly what will happen.  We will see more folks interfering in women’s private decisions about our health care.  We’ll see more opposition to immigration reform and raising the minimum wage for hard-working folks.
So let’s be very clear:  If you don’t think people who work 40 or 50 hours a week should have to live in poverty in the wealthiest nation on the planet; if you don’t want women’s bosses making decisions about their birth control; if you think women should get equal pay for equal work; if you want your kids to have quality preschool and the college education they need to fulfill every last bit of their God-given potential, then you all need to stand up and get everyone you know to stand up and vote for Mark Udall.  We can make this happen.  (Applause.)
That’s what’s at stake in these elections –- it’s the kind of country we want to leave for our kids and grandkids.  And those kids are counting on us to stand up for them.  If you want to know the thing that keeps me and Barack going, it’s thinking about our kids in this country.  Because we know these kids.  They’re everywhere, and they’re counting on us.
And I meet them everywhere -- kids like a young man named Lawrence Lawson, who worked with me on my Reach Higher initiative.  This young man’s father died when he was eight years old.  Then at the age of nine, this kid suffered a major seizure where he had to learn to read and walk and speak again.  Then at 12, his mother died, and this kid was passed from his aunt in Atlanta to his sister in Baltimore.
But see, the beauty of Lawrence is that no matter what was going on in his life, whatever chaos was surrounding him, this kid did his best in school.  He joined the marching bank.  He interned at Johns Hopkins Hospital.  And he graduated as the valedictorian of his high school class.  (Applause.)
And as I travel across this country, I meet so many kids just like Lawrence.  I know that right now in this crowd, there are kids like Lawrence -- these are our kids.  Kids who wake up early and take the long route to school to avoid the gangs -- these are our kids.  Kids who juggle afterschool jobs to support their families, stay up late to get their homework done -- these are our kids.  Kids whose parents don’t speak a word of English, but who are fighting every day to realize their dream of a better life.
This is what’s at stake.  These kids have every reason to give up, but they are so hungry to succeed.  They are so desperate to lift themselves up.  And that’s what we have to remember.  We’re here today because of them.  Because if those kids never give up, then neither will we.  We will never give up on these kids.
So between now and November 4th, we need to be energized for them.  We need to be inspired for them.  We need to pour everything that we have into this election so that they can have the opportunities they need to build the futures they deserve.
So that’s why we’re here.  That’s why we’re here.  That’s why those five votes just don’t make sense.  We cannot let this election go, because it will have an impact on our children that they will feel for a very long time.
So are you guys ready for this?  (Applause.)  We got two weeks of hard work, two weeks of knocking on doors, two weeks for voting, two weeks of calling.  We can get our people out, and we can get them to vote.  And when we do that, we will get Mark Udall into office.  We’ll reelect John Hickenlooper.  We will keep working for that change we believe in.  And we will keep building a better future for our children.
Thank you all so much.  (Applause.)
1:30 P.M. MDT

Categories: White House News

Lamphere High musical promotes literacy - C&G Newspapers

Berkley Information from Google News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 10:32pm

C&G Newspapers

Lamphere High musical promotes literacy
C&G Newspapers
MADISON HEIGHTS — This year marks the 50th anniversary of the children's book “Flat Stanley,” by Jeff Brown. To celebrate, the Lamphere High Drama Club is adapting the story to the stage in the form of a musical, featuring special effects for the 2-D ...

Categories: Berkley Area News

Why Every Vote Counts

Huffington Post News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 9:46pm

What do a dairy farmer, the New York State Senate and LGBT equality have in common?

The answer: 18 votes.

Two years ago, Cecilia Tkaczyk was running for office in the 46th Senate District in the Capital Region of New York. At the time, she was relatively unknown as a political leader in a district that had been rezoned specifically to secure a Republican seat. The odds were against CeCe.

Groups like the Pride Agenda and others that were advocating for equality in New York -- whether for LGBT rights, women's rights, the environment, education or any number of other issues -- wanted to see CeCe win and put our power behind her to try to turn the polls in her favor.

After a lot of sweat and tears, knocking on doors and making phone calls, it all came down to Election Day. Despite the forecasts and all that the opponent had done to seize the votes, in the end CeCe was victorious, though the margin was incredibly close -- so close, in fact, that the winner wasn't declared until Jan. 18! She won by just 18 votes!

It's that time of year when you'll see memes and signs and commercials that try to beat it into you that your vote matters, that every vote counts. It's easy to feel disenfranchised from that banter and from your role in government more generally. It often feels like what you, as one individual, say or do doesn't actually have an impact on the big picture.

The truth is, though, that you do have the power to influence change in government, and, in fact, we need each and every individual citizen to realize that and to speak up on behalf of those issues that are meaningful to you. You might be one of the 18 people who decide not to vote, and that decision could make the difference between electing a pro-LGBT senator or one who doesn't support our issues. Every vote counts on the floor of the Senate, and losing that one vote could mean the difference between passing laws that further equal rights and being left high and dry as second-class citizens.

At the Pride Agenda, we've been busy vetting all the candidates running for office in New York and supporting those who commit to furthering LGBT equality and justice. To support our get-out-the-vote efforts (and have some fun) we launched an "#OUTtheVote" campaign to encourage LGBT New Yorkers and allies to show us why they will vote on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Remember, we elect the officials who represent us. We have the power to keep them in office or show our voting power and elect someone who will stand up for us, and we have a responsibility to exercise our democratic right to vote.

Tell us why you'll #OUTtheVote on Election Day, and join me at the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 4!

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Kaiser Permanente Is Failing Its Mental Health Patients

Huffington Post News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 9:16pm

In September, after more than a year of stonewalling its patients and employees, Kaiser Permanente finally paid a $4-million fine levied against it by state regulators because of the HMO's chronic, illegal, and too often tragic failures in mental health care.

Spurred by whistleblower complaints from Kaiser's own mental health clinicians, an investigation by the state's Department of Managed Health Care (DMHC) found the HMO guilty of "serious" and "systemic" violations of California law that put mental health patients at risk. The result: In June 2013 the DMHC hit Kaiser with a $4-million fine -- the second largest in the agency's history -- for forcing thousands of patients to endure illegally lengthy waits for care, falsifying patients' appointment records, and violating the California Mental Health Parity Act, which requires HMOs to provide psychiatric services that are on par with their primary health services.

Kaiser appealed, of course, but, faced with the prospect of a hearing during which patients and whistleblowers would have given public testimony regarding Kaiser's deficient care, the HMO's lawyers finally threw in the towel. Kaiser had attempted to negotiate a settlement with the DMHC in hopes of avoiding such a spectacle but failed. And when, on the hearing's first day, Administrative Law Judge Ruth Astle declined to seal all the hearing's documents and questioned the ethics of Kaiser's star witness -- a former DMHC prosecutor now in private practice defending HMOs against regulators -- Kaiser's attorneys finally saw the writing on the wall.

The National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), which represents 2,500 mental health professionals at more than 100 facilities throughout California, stands with the thousands of patients who have suffered as a result of Kaiser's violations in applauding the DMHC for holding Kaiser accountable. But Kaiser's mental health care crisis is far from over. Kaiser clinicians have provided the DMHC with ample evidence that Kaiser continues to delay and deny care to its mental health patients, in violation of state and federal law.

Kaiser simply does not staff its psychiatry departments with enough psychologists, therapists, and social workers to handle the caseload. And that caseload is growing rapidly. This year Kaiser's enrollment has increased by 387,000 members in California under the Affordable Care Act. Withholding services while increasing membership is an effective way to score record profits -- Kaiser has made more than $13 billion since 2009, and this year's profits are on pace to double last year's -- but it has led to woefully inadequate care, as well as five class-action lawsuits filed by patients and families who say Kaiser's violations contributed to tragic outcomes, including suicides.

And the violations continue:

• As of September 2014, pediatric patients requiring neuropsychological testing waited 22 weeks before receiving a phone call from Kaiser's San Francisco psychiatry department to schedule an appointment, according to Kaiser's records.

• In August 2014, Kaiser's psychiatry department in San Francisco was so severely understaffed that dozens of patients' calls to the "Triage Team" languished in the voicemail system for more than a week before staff could even listen to them, let alone respond to them.

• In July 2014, Kaiser instructed employees in at least one clinic to falsify appointment records rather than provide patients with urgent appointments within 48 hours, as mandated by state law.

• In May 2014, Kaiser failed to provide timely mental health appointments to more than 60 percent of the patients seeking care at Kaiser's Oakland and Richmond facilities, according to data supplied by Kaiser.

• In April 2014, one of Kaiser's Southern California clinics required patients with acute conditions -- including auditory hallucinations -- to wait more than seven weeks for an appointment.

The parallels with the scandal that engulfed the Veterans Affairs Administration earlier this year are striking and prompted NUHW in June to call for a federal investigation into Kaiser's mental health services.

The DMHC is expected to release a follow-up survey of Kaiser's mental health services in November. While the findings in that survey are not yet known, a hint was proffered last month by a DMHC official. At a mental health forum in Santa Rosa, California, hosted by U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson and Sonoma County Supervisor Shirlee Zane, during which Kaiser was blasted by patients who had suffered as a result of its inadequate psychiatric services, Sherrie Lowenstein, the DMHC's deputy director for legislative affairs, vowed, "We are not done with Kaiser."

Considering the severity of the violations, and considering the preponderance of evidence that Kaiser continues to violate the law, NUHW strongly urges the DMHC to stay true to its mission by forcing Kaiser to fix its dangerously inadequate mental health services.

Without strict enforcement, Kaiser mental health patients will continue to endure illegal and unethical wait times for appointments; patients in need of ongoing one-on-one therapy will be forced to seek care outside Kaiser; and many patients in need of acute care will go untreated, sometimes with tragic consequences.

For more on Kaiser's mental health failures and the efforts of Kaiser clinicians to reform the HMO, see

Sal Rosselli is the president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW), a member-led movement for democracy, quality patient care, and a stronger voice in the workplace. NUHW represents more than 10,000 workers throughout California, including 3,000 Kaiser employees.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Friday Talking Points -- McConnell For Sale!

Huffington Post News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 9:05pm

A program note, before we get started: There will be no Friday Talking Points column next week. We have to make room for our traditional Hallowe'en column, where we try to scare the pants off of everyone across the political spectrum with spooky tales of what the upcoming election might mean (plus, we get to show off our politically-inspired Jack-o-lanterns). So don't miss that, but the Friday Talking Points column won't be back until after the election.

Campaign season has reached its peak, and is getting downright frenetic in all the big battleground Senate races. One of these is Kentucky, where first Democrats thought their candidate didn't have a chance, but then Alison Lundergan Grimes got some good polling numbers so the money is now flowing back in. Maybe some of it should go towards exposing what is supposed to -- no, really! -- be a pro-Mitch McConnell ad. An organization called the National Association of Realtors Congressional Fund tried to give McConnell a boost with a mailer. The only problem? Well, it's how they chose to present their message:

In large letters, you see "Mitch McConnell."

Below that, a sign with even larger letters: "FOR SALE."

Check the link out for the image of the mailer -- it's (pun intended) priceless!

A reader of ours in Kentucky also pointed out pointed out that the black line under the words "FOR SALE" is a flap on the mailer -- when you lift it up the word "SOLD" appears.

Now, everyone knows that the public really prefers to elect politicians who are bought and paid for, right? How could the positive message: "Mitch McConnell -- FOR SALE" not resonate with the voters? Maybe this is a cautionary story about how groups like this are not supposed to coordinate with campaigns -- which often leaves them to come up with their own ads, which can occasionally be off message. I mean, who in their right mind would think "FOR SALE" is a valid (again, pun intended) selling point to the voters?

In other bad campaign advertising news, we have a "Sharknado" ad attacking Gary Peters in Michigan. The idea's not that bad for what they trying to accomplish (they're trying to tie him to a loan shark), but the execution is pretty pathetic. Hire a better cartoonist next time, guys.

In Minnesota, Republicans are running an ad exploiting the death of a 4-year-old child without ever asking the family's permission. Stay classy, GOP ad creators!

Up in Alaska, Republican Don Young is saying some insulting things on the subject of suicide, and then when asked to respond to the controversy, saying even more insulting things. Now that's the way to win voters over!

Down in Georgia, a Republican House candidate showed how Godwin's Law relates to politics, by comparing public schools in America to Hitler's Third Reich. Here's the full quote: "Obviously, if we have government -- which is what the public school is -- if we have government indoctrinating what students are learning, then we have a problem. This took place in Germany, friends. I'm not trying to say we are necessarily headed in that direction, but it is undeniable that one of the first things Hitler did was to grab, so to speak, the minds of the youth."

Over in Wisconsin, a co-chair of the Republican National Committee showed how to respect a state's voters -- by calling them stupid. The full quote: "I don't want to say anything about your Wisconsin voters but, some of them might not be as sharp as a knife." Hoo boy.

North Carolina Republicans are fighting hard to keep college students from being able to easily cast their ballots. This is a prime example to use when arguing with anyone who swears the GOP is just interested in "voter fraud" and not outright voter suppression. How does making college kids travel further to vote have anything to do with "fraud," guys?

And finally (for campaign news this week), Republicans are now -- are you sitting down? -- portraying themselves as the saviors of Social Security. That's right, groups (like Karl Rove's) are attacking Democrats from the left for even considering the Bowles-Simpson plan a few years back. Democrats would have had to accept such "entitlement reform" in exchange for Republicans accepting some tax increases -- that's the way the "Grand Bargain" was supposed to work. It fell apart because Republicans would not accept it -- for the higher taxes, not for the Social Security changes. They were all for changing Social Security in fact, and now they're trying to flim-flam the public into believing it was the Democrats who were pushing for such changes. My guess is the public's just not that stupid, personally. Mitch McConnell apparently missed the memo, though, and is bizarrely out there bragging that he was trying to be "bipartisan" in passing George W. Bush's idea to privatize Social Security, showing that Republican logic is impossible to understand ("We're saviors of Social Security, except for Mitch!" maybe?)

Speaking of swimming against the tide in Republicanland, Michael Gerson wrote an interesting article about how the GOP may misread a Senate victory. Warning his fellow Republicans not to get too exuberant if they win, he writes some sobering thoughts, looking ahead to the national situation the GOP will face in the next election: "At the presidential level, the GOP brand is offensive to many rising demographic groups. Republicans are often perceived as indifferent to working-class struggles (because they sometimes are). The GOP appeal seems designed for a vanishing electorate."

In other sober news, this week saw a brief respite from Ebola panic on the nightly news, but then OH MY GOD ALL OF NEW YORK CITY IS GOING TO DIE!!! So I guess we're going for another trip on this insane merry-go-round. Buckle up, folks!

On the political side of Ebola, Think Progress has a great piece on all the politicians who use the cop-out "I'm not a scientist..." when talking about climate change, but then feel fully qualified to talk about Ebola and spread false information about it. Those dots needed to be connected, so hats off to Think Progress for doing so. To be fair, though, some Democrats are also fond of this cop-out.

Republicans came very close to admitting that all the political hay they're making over Ebola is precisely that -- a campaign issue to grandstand, not a serious crisis that needs an immediate response. Here's the quote: "In reality, Republicans are not planning a legislative response, at least for now, Republican leadership aides said Monday. They merely want their voices heard." Got that? They are not planning a legislative response for now. In other words, the issue will likely die right after the election is over. They're telling everyone to panic, but also that it's not important enough for them to act now. Cynical politics at its worst, or par for the course -- you decide.

Ebola is not exactly an "October Surprise," properly defined, since neither political party caused the Ebola outbreak to embarrass the other side. But it is October, and it is a surprise that the issue is so central in the heart of an election. What is being absolutely lost is that the system now appears to be working just fine, and none of the idiotic political responses would have changed things in New York City one tiny bit. The latest Ebola patient is an American, needs no visa to come here, did not take a direct flight from the affected country (since such flights do not actually exist), was self-monitoring his temperature, and immediately when he became symptomatic called the health authorities and was successfully quarantined. Not only is this precisely the way things are supposed to work, but none of the proposed travel bans would have affected him at all -- but try telling that to the politicians. Or the media.

It's not like there weren't interesting stories to report elsewhere. This week saw the court conviction of four Blackwater guards, for the massacre they perpetrated in Iraq years ago. This is a rather monumental court case, but you certainly wouldn't know that by reading much about it in the American media.

One amusing note that provided some comic relief this week was talk of secession. South Florida apparently wants to break off from the northern part of the state, but this isn't really "secession" so much as an attempted political divorce over irreconcilable differences. But the truly amusing story was of a bunch of Southern states that one man wants to see break away from America (refresh my memory: didn't they try that 150 years ago?), and then call their proud new country "Reagan." You just can't make this stuff up, folks.

And we have to end on a not-so-amusing note. Global warming has forced a town in Alaska to cancel door-to-door trick-or-treating on Hallowe'en. Because of polar bears. The bears used to be fine out on the ice shelf, but the ice receded and now they're walking through the town's main street. The town will put on a Hallowe'en party indoors, but still, you'd think this would be on the news (with video of some polar bears strolling down the street), wouldn't you?


It's not really "impressive," but Paul Begala got off a funny line, in an article talking about the "Fangate" debate in Florida between Rick Scott and Charlie Crist. In Begala's own words: "To begin with, Scott has all the telegenic appeal of a garden slug: lean and hairless and slick and creepy. But then again, I've been a friend and business partner of James Carville for 30 years, so who am I to judge?" Heh.

Joking aside, our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week is a House candidate from Massachusetts. An article in the Boston Globe exposed candidate Seth Moulton's not-so-dirty secret: he was a war hero.

In a stunning display of modesty (real heroes never call themselves heroes, that's a pretty good rule of thumb to use), Moulton declined to make his military record part of his campaign. From a story in the Washington Post by E. J. Dionne:

Seth Moulton, an Iraq veteran and Democratic congressional candidate on Massachusetts's North Shore, has done something with little precedent in political campaigning: He was caught underplaying his war record.

You read that right: An investigation by the Boston Globe found that, unlike politicians who go to great lengths to puff up their military backgrounds, Moulton, as the paper's Walter Robinson wrote, "chose not to publicly disclose that he was twice decorated for heroism until pressed by the Globe."

It took Robinson's reporting to discover that Moulton had won the Bronze Star and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for valor during the battles for control of Najaf and Nasiriyah.

In a telephone interview, Moulton said his reluctance reflected a "healthy disrespect" among his comrades-in-arms for boasting about citations.

. . .

"The relative few of us who really were on the front lines don't like to talk about it and don't like to brag about it," he said. "I saw a lot of heroic kids who were on the front lines ... and didn't get the recognition they deserved."

Nothing more really needs be said. Seth Moulton now has another award he can add to all his military decorations: the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week.

[We do not as a rule (for legal reasons) link to candidates' web sites. You'll have to search the name Seth Moulton yourself to contact him to let him know you appreciate his efforts.]


Pennsylvania's pornography scandal just keeps getting worse. In the wake of the sexual assaults at Penn State by Jerry Sandusky, an internal review was conducted in the Pennsylvania legal system. What it turned up was porn emails. Lots of them. So far, four people employed by prosecutors' offices have been forced out. Next in line is a member of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, Justice Seamus McCaffery. From the sordid story:

The court's action followed disclosures last week by Chief Justice Ronald Castille, a Republican, that McCaffery had sent or received 234 emails with sexually explicit content or pornography from late 2008 to May 2012. McCaffery apologized, calling it a lapse in judgment, but blasted Castille for "a vindictive pattern of attacks" against him.

A third justice, Michael Eakin, also a Republican, on Friday went public with a claim McCaffery had threatened to leak "inappropriate" emails Eakin had received if he didn't side with McCaffery against Castille.

McCaffery denied threatening Eakin, who reported the matter to the Judicial Conduct Board. Neither Eakin nor McCaffery participated in the court's decision.

Once again, there's not much left to say about this one. It's pretty obvious that Seamus McCaffery deserves this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.

[We couldn't find public contact information for Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery on his official webpage, but then again he probably won't be reading much email right about now anyway.]


Volume 325 (10/24/14)

OK, since this will be the last Friday Talking Points before the election, I thought I'd just do a rundown of the issues I'd run on if I were a Democratic candidate for Congress. These are pretty generic Democratic issues, although not every Democrat is on board with every idea. But for the most part, these are the things Democrats should be trying to make the case for, when convincing people to vote for them.

Campaigning is full of lots of mudslinging and bickering, but even at the heart of nasty tactics, there should always be a comparison: Democrats stand for "X," Republicans stand for "Y." Too often, this clear contrast gets muddied by Democratic candidates who listen to campaign consultants and try to run as inoffensive a campaign as possible ("Don't talk about X, our focus group shows 10 percent of the people don't want to hear about it").

My attitude is to go ahead and make the case. Tell the people why your views on governing are different than your opponents. Leave the gotcha stuff to the media, and make a strong case for the positive ideas Democrats can get behind to provide a better future. All of this week's talking points are a variation on: "I am a Democrat, and the difference between me and the Republican is pretty easy to see...."


   Hike the minimum wage

I have no idea why Democrats haven't made this a much bigger issue in this campaign.

"Elect Democrats to Congress and we will raise the federal minimum wage to at least ten bucks an hour. Giant corporations right now pay their full-time workers so little that a minimum wage earner qualifies for benefits such as food stamps. That is just wrong. If you work a full-time job, then you should be able to buy food for your family. If we raised the minimum wage to a living wage, not only would it not cost any tax dollars, but it would save the federal government money, because we wouldn't have to pay benefits to someone making a decent wage. Republicans' answer to every economic problem is to give big tax breaks to those on the top of the ladder. But trickle-down just doesn't work. Instead, Democrats want a rising tide to lift all boats -- raise the minimum wage, and wages will begin moving upward from the bottom up. Democrats are fighting for the little guy, while Republicans fight for the fat cats -- it's as simple as that."


   Scrap the cap

Save Social Security in one fell swoop.

"Democrats want to save Social Security not by raising retirement ages, cutting benefits, or privatizing it, but by making the program fiscally sound in a much easier and less painful way. We want every dollar earned taxed at the same rate. Right now, a firefighter or nurse pays a much higher rate than a doctor or hedge manager. Once you make about $120,000 each year, everything else you make above that is not taxed to pay for Social Security. Why? Why not tax every dollar multimillionaires make? Why should a policeman pay five times the tax rate as a banker? I support what is called 'scrapping the cap' on Social Security taxes -- making the system fair by taxing everyone exactly the same, instead of taxing the lower-wage worker at a much higher rate than the ultra-wealthy. By making this one change -- which would not raise taxes on anyone making less than the cap -- we could save Social Security and make it solvent for the next 75 years. Republicans' answer to the problem is always to make sure the little guy gets less. Democrats do not consider that an acceptable answer. That is the difference."


   Consumers first!

Once again, Democrats are on the side of the little guy. So point it out!

"Republicans have hated the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ever since it was created. They have sworn to destroy it. Why? Why, in the name of all that holy, would you remove an agency whose only purpose is to be on the side of the little guy and not the banks?!? The C.F.P.B. has already saved American consumers billions of dollars, and has done away with many of the 'stick it in the fine print' ways banks used to screw consumers. There is still a lot of work to be done, but Republicans want the banks to have free rein and for some reason hate the idea that the little guy should have anyone in his or her corner. There is only one reason for this: Republicans take their marching orders from Wall Street, even when it means crushing Main Street as a result. Why on Earth would Republicans want to kill a bureau that has helped millions of Americans, if it wasn't to do the bidding of the big banks? Democrats will fight hard to keep the C.F.P.B., because we fight for the little guy, not the banks."


   Millions insured

Defend Obamacare by pointing out what "repeal" would actually mean.

"Millions of people now have health insurance who didn't two years ago. Millions of people can now go to the doctor without wondering if they'll have enough money to pay for food afterwards. That is an enormous success story. Republicans want to end this. They want to take away that insurance from millions and millions of Americans. Don't be fooled by the way Republicans now wistfully try to claim that they can keep all the good parts of Obamacare and just get rid of the bad parts -- because that is never going to happen. When they say 'repeal, root and branch' what they mean is taking health insurance away from millions. In a world where incurable diseases do not check for a health insurance card before infecting, why would any sane individual want fewer people in the population insured? The more people we can get insured, the healthier the population will be. Obamacare is achieving this already, and repealing it would mean tossing millions of people off their health insurance. Republicans have held the House for four years now, and they have never come up with a replacement for Obamacare. Their magic 'we'll keep all the good stuff and toss out the bad' answer does not exist. Democrats will fight hard for those millions who now have health insurance they couldn't previously afford. Republicans will fight to take it away from them."


   Expand Medicaid

This is an issue Republicans are particularly vulnerable on.

"Why are Republican governors so dead set against expanding Medicaid? Well, not all of them, to be fair -- nine or ten states with Republican governors have realized that expanding Medicaid is good for their citizens, and have joined the Obamacare program. More Republican governors will likely realize in the future that they're fighting to keep their people uninsured which doesn't help anybody. But Republicans in Congress want to repeal the whole program, even though it has been a huge success so far. Once again, they like to pretend that the Medicaid expansion is somehow a separate thing from Obamacare, but this is not actually true. If they repeal Obamacare, they will end Medicaid for millions of people. They don't like to talk about it, but that doesn't make it any less true. Medicaid expansion has been a big success, and Democrats will fight to keep it. Republicans -- or, at least, those Republicans who don't have a state to run -- will fight to kill it. It's that simple."


   Doctor's First Amendment

Once again, I don't know why Democrats are so timid on this one.

"Democrats stand strongly for the First Amendment's right to free speech for all -- including doctors! We do not think politicians should dictate what a doctor can and cannot say to anyone seeking medical advice. Why in the name of Thomas Jefferson would you limit free speech by a professional medical practitioner? Why would you dictate what they have to -- or cannot -- say? Republicans are busy passing laws all over the country which do exactly that. Democrats want conversations between a doctor and a patient to be sacrosanct -- no politician should be in that room with them. When a rape victim asks a doctor for a morning-after pill or an abortion, the doctor should not have to preach a sermon before practicing his profession. He should not have to do medical procedures because some politician thought it'd be a good idea. The First Amendment should be absolute, for all American citizens including doctors. Democrats want to get the government out of the examining room, and protect the Bill of Rights. Republicans do not. That's the difference."


   Comprehensive immigration reform

Hammer Republicans with how their inaction has caused our current situation.

"Republicans are fear-mongering about Ebola, telling everyone who will listen that a wave of sick people is about to cross the southern border and infect everyone. They whine about border security and try to paint Democrats or Obama as being the problem somehow. This is laughable. Democrats and Republicans passed a bipartisan bill in the Senate which would -- if the House had voted on it promptly -- have doubled the number of Border Patrol agents. Yes, you heard that right -- we could have twice as big a Border Patrol right now if Republicans had just voted on the bill. In fact, there is nothing stopping the House from voting on this bill today. Democrats already voted to double the Border Patrol. Republicans refuse to. They complain about other parts of the bill and say they want to pass immigration reform piecemeal, starting with securing the border. But they have not done so. They've had years to act in the House, and no bill has appeared -- even one just dealing with the Border Patrol. Republicans are lying when they say they're concerned about the border, because they refuse to pass the bipartisan Senate bill and they also refuse to pass their own bill. The status quo must be just fine with them, which is why I have to scratch my head when they try to fearmonger on the issue during a campaign. Want the border secure? Then pass a freakin' bill. There is absolutely nothing stopping them from doing so."


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Categories: Political News and Opinion

Academics, infrastructure top Berkley School District's priority list - C&G Newspapers

Berkley Information from Google News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 8:45pm

C&G Newspapers

Academics, infrastructure top Berkley School District's priority list
C&G Newspapers
BERKLEY — Things are going well in the Berkley School District, but changes are still coming. That was the message from Superintendent Dennis McDavid during his update at the State of the City event Oct. 10 at Farina's Banquet Center in Berkley ...

Categories: Berkley Area News

Expand CDC Precautions Based Upon Evidence-Based Science: Quarantine, Not a Ban

Huffington Post News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 8:43pm

All major public health organizations, including the International Red Cross, challenge the scientific merits of a travel ban on African nationals traveling from Ebola-affected countries. It doesn't take a leap to appreciate the political and possibly even xenophobic implications of calling for such a ban shortly before hotly contested midterm races.

The time for politicization must end. We have very little time to avert the predicted 1.4-million-new-cases-by-January scenario, with its attendant risks in an interconnected world, unless we get serious and integrate evidence-based strategies now.

We need to prevent the spread of disease regardless of the country of origin of potentially infected individuals coming and/or returning to our country.

Instead of a travel ban, and in addition to the voluntary home monitoring recently recommended by the CDC, we must require that all travelers from countries experiencing an Ebola epidemic, including U.S. citizens returning to the States, isolate in place at home for 21 days and immediately report any Ebola-like symptoms. And if an individual who is not a U.S. citizen doesn't have a site in which to isolate once in the U.S., serious consideration should be given to denying that person entry to the U.S. in the first place.

Why should the CDC take this additional step of imposing a 21-day isolation period upon return for U.S. citizens, many of whom are health workers? We know that symptoms, and therefore contagiousness, may not occur immediately upon return to the U.S., and that upon experiencing symptoms, one might find herself, say, in a bowling alley, at a hospital emergency department, in the subway, or in a Manhattan restaurant, thus potentially exposing scores of additional passersby. Such casual-contact contagion requires complex contact tracing by our already overburdened public-health infrastructure. Our public-health epidemiologists and contact-tracing nurses are busy every autumn and winter with the seasonal flu and are already, this year, dealing with a variety of other sundry diseases, including measles and whooping cough, both of which have reemerged in our country because of reduced vaccination rates for diseases where vaccinations actually do exist.

Some may wonder why returning U.S. health workers, in particular, should be isolated when we need them working in U.S. health systems. It's precisely because of their day-to-day interactions with the sick and elderly; the uninsured and underinsured, who often delay treatment when symptoms emerge; and the immunocompromised (those with cancer, for example). Such interactions put returning health workers in a position to inadvertently spread this deadly disease here at home.

We applaud these health workers (and their health systems for sponsoring them) who take on the enormous personal health risk and interrupt their daily lives to take the fight to Africa. This is not to penalize these public-health heroes but to acknowledge that we are learning in place with this epidemic and need to protect all the patients with whom these aid workers come into contact.

Such a response would not rely upon the color of a returnee's passport to predict the likelihood of spread but upon the evidence that already exists about when this disease is contagious.

Categories: Political News and Opinion

New Studies, Reports Heighten Need for Action on Climate Change

Huffington Post News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 8:27pm

For years our Congress has ignored humans' impact on climate change.

Many members of Congress have used terms like "pseudoscience" and ignored the fact that 97 percent of scientists studying the issue have concluded that climate change is real, that its impact will significantly worsen with time and that human activity is the principal cause.

It is about time for Congress to address the issue and pass legislation that provides an innovative approach to both mitigating and adapting to climate change. Ignorance, benign neglect and self-interest need to be overcome. That is what leadership is all about.

Consider: The state of New York, through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), recently released a report titled "Responding to Climate Change in New York State: The ClimAID Integrated Assessment for Effective Climate Change Adaptation." The report was prepared for NYSERDA by researchers from Columbia University, the City University of New York and Cornell University. The findings are both predictable and sobering.

The study reviewed the impact of climate change on seven geographic areas of New York state in the areas of water resources, coastal zones, ecosystems, agriculture, energy, transportation, telecommunications and public health. The report states, "Temperatures are expected to rise significantly across the state, by 1.5 to 3°F by the 2020s, 3 to 5.5°F by the 2050s, and 4 to 9°F by the 2080s." In contrast to other areas of the country, the report says, "Annual average precipitation is projected to increase by up to 5 percent by the 2020s, up to 10 percent by the 2050s, and up to 15 percent by the 2080s." Sea-level projections "suggest 1 to 5 inches of rise by the 2020s, 5 to 12 inches by the 2050s, and 8 to 23 inches by the 2080s." If rapid melting of polar ice were to be factored in, sea-level increases would be projected to be "37 to 55 inches by the 2080s."

These numbers are astounding.

The report suggests how adaptation measures might reduce impacts but clearly recommends that "mitigation and adaptation measures should be considered in concert." The report also identifies the areas or locations and population groups that are likely to be affected if mitigation and adaptation measures are not adopted and implemented.

It's no surprise that the most vulnerable areas include rural areas, regions dependent on agriculture, low-income urban neighborhoods and coastal zones. As expected, the most vulnerable groups are expected to be the elderly, disabled and health-compromised individuals along with low-income groups.

For our policymakers who are not sympathetic to those who will suffer under the impact of human-induced climate changes, perhaps the economic effects will make a difference: The report suggests severe impacts to telecommunications, electric-grid infrastructure, agriculture, forestry resources, transportation, tourism and infrastructure.

Most recently the Pentagon released a report, "2014 Climate Change Adaptation Roadmap," that says climate change poses an immediate threat to national security. In the most recent report the Pentagon cites climate-derived impacts including strain on water supplies, destruction and devastation from more violent weather, droughts and crop failures and the potential for mass human migrations, all of which add up to global security threats.

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has directed the Department of Defense to develop plans to integrate climate-change risk across all its operations. If global security isn't enough to make our Congress take action, what is?

Categories: Political News and Opinion

Many Questions Loom Ahead of Ukrainian Elections

Huffington Post News - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 7:54pm

This Sunday, October 26th, Ukrainians will elect a new Parliament, continuing Ukraine's democratic process despite an undeclared war in the east of the country. The current Parliament, elected in October 2012, remains largely a holdover from the regime of former President Victor Yanukovych. At Yanukovych's request, this Parliament passed "dictatorship laws" that escalated the violence during the Euromaidan protests. Several current deputies in the Parliament have been accused of supporting the separatists in the east. The Ukrainian people deserve a chance to elect new representatives who will set Ukraine on a better path.

Of the 450 deputies of the Ukrainian Parliament, half are elected by proportional representation from party lists, while the other half are elected from single-seat districts, like Congressional districts in the United States. Currently, the President's party, the Petro Poroshenko Bloc, leads the polls at 30 percent. The rest of the parties that have a chance of winning seats are polling anywhere from 7-12 percent.

A major question is whether representatives who made up the majority of Parliament under Victor Yanukovych will hold onto their seats. Yanukovych's party, the Party of Regions, widely associated with nepotism and corruption, disintegrated after Euromaidan and Yanukovych's flight to Russia. Now, former Party of Regions deputies are running under new flags. The most popular of those are the Opposition Bloc and Strong Ukraine parties. However, these former Party of Regions deputies face very low public support, polling right around the five percent threshold needed to win seats in the Parliament.

Unbelievably, these representatives of the old regime are campaigning as though they have not contributed to the current crisis in Ukraine. In TV appearances, they have criticized President Poroshenko for not achieving meaningful reforms, overlooking the obstructionism of Parliament and deputies appealing to pro-Russian sections of the electorate. One candidate even claimed that Russia has not made an incursion into Ukraine, despite reports that approximately 3,600 Russian soldiers have died on Ukrainian soil.

Russia's shadow hangs heavily over these elections. The undeclared war in the Luhansk and Donetsk regions has intensified anti-Russian sentiments and become a central campaign issue. Instead of delivering concrete ideas on how to reduce corruption and reform government institutions, many candidates channel popular anti-Russian sentiment. For example, Oleh Liashko, whose populist Radical Party is polling at 12 percent, campaigns with a pitchfork, a traditional symbol of Ukrainian peasant protest. It's a ridiculous sight to see a man brandishing a pitchfork while shouting anti-Russia messages and cursing Vladimir Putin in a campaign speech.

Parties have also been competing to include popular military figures under their flags. Number one on Tymoshenko's Fatherland list is Air Force pilot Nadia Savchenko, who was abducted and is currently imprisoned in Russia on false charges. Colonel Yuliy Mamchur, who became famous when he refused to abandon his post in Crimea while being surrounded by Russian forces, appears prominently in Petro Poroshenko Bloc's campaign list. Military leaders may make good legislators, but that's not a given.

The most troubling aspect of the election is the fact that approximately 4.8 million Ukrainians will be disenfranchised because of continued Russian aggression. It is obvious that the twelve districts of Crimea, with a population of 1.8 million, will not be represented in the Parliament. Voting will likely not be able to take place in 18 of the 32 districts of Donetsk and Luhansk. This effective disenfranchisement of likely pro-Russian voters could be used as an excuse for continued Russian involvement and support for the rebels. Nevertheless, the election should go forward. The May 25th Presidential election was won by President Poroshenko with 54 percent of the vote and high voter turnout. Russia recognized Poroshenko's victory, despite similarly disrupted voting in Luhansk and Donetsk.

However, further conflict looms over the local elections in Donetsk and Luhansk. Russia has supported the rebel's local elections on November 2nd, despite President Poroshenko's announcement of local elections on December 7th, in accordance with the recently-passed regional autonomy laws. When President Putin and President Poroshenko met in Milan on October 17th to discuss the ongoing crisis, Poroshenko called on Putin to use his influence to stop the rebel's local election from happening. Instead, Putin claimed that these local elections were part of the agreed-upon Minsk Memorandum ceasefire agreement, which grants special autonomy to the eastern regions of Ukraine. Russia will most likely recognize the results of the rebel-organized local elections as legitimate, further entrenching the separatists.

While there are many concerning aspects of the election, there are some positives. For the first time in Ukraine's history, young civil society leaders will be elected into Parliament, appearing on many party lists. These people were leaders of the Euromaidan protests and most of the Ukrainian people respect them. Many of them are journalists, like Sergiy Leshchenko, who has reported on corruption schemes within the government. Now, Leshchenko and his compatriots have decided that criticizing these schemes is not enough, and are running in order to root out corruption from within the government. In addition, civil society activists are campaigning against deputies associated with Yanukovych's government that voted for the "dictatorship laws" in favor of more moderate candidates.

When describing the Ukrainian Parliamentary elections of 2012, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the "Ukrainian people deserve so much better." Hopefully the new Parliament will prove worthy of Ukrainian people.

Categories: Political News and Opinion