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Archive for: November 2014

Month: November 2014

Laurene Powell Jobs, widow of computer pioneer Steve Jobs, has become a very vocal advocate and philanthropist in the areas of education and immigration reform. She also supports environmental initiatives and is a major contributor to Ready for Hillary, a super PAC which contributes money toward the Presidential election of the former First Lady. Forbes magazine has ranked her among the most influential women in the world (#39 in 2013 and #29 in 2014).

Laurene Powell Jobs has had a long-term interest in education reform. In 1997, she co-founded an organization called College Track to help “underserved” students in East Palo Alto, CA. The effort supports students with scholarships, leadership training, and other programs to help them succeed in high school and college. The College Track students regularly graduate at impressively-high rates, and the program has since expanded into five other cities. Her experience with College Track has opened her eyes to the problems of undocumented youth in the United States and pushed her toward working for immigration reform.

Toward that end, Powell Jobs founded and now chairs Emerson Collective, an organization seeking changes in immigration policy in the United States. She has been quite forthright in her support of the DREAM Act, a hotly-debated congressional effort to provide a path to citizenship for the many law-abiding residents who were brought to the United States by their parents when they were young.

Powell Jobs recognized that these youth graduate from high school but are then unable to receive state and federal money for college because they are undocumented. In a television interview (12 April 2013), she called the lack of immigration reform “such a waste of lives, such a waste of potential, such a waste for our country not to have the human capital that we developed … We need all of these brains, we need all of that energy.” And in support of these efforts, Emerson Collective has funded the production of the documentary The Dream Is Now, which focuses on the issues faced by undocumented youths.

Powell Jobs’ Emerson Collective has already come out in support of the new immigration policy presented by President Obama on 20 November 2014. Because Congress has been unable to pass the DREAM ACT, not much has changed for these undocumented youths over the past five years. However, with immigration now brought into fresh light, her efforts will no doubt be redoubled.

Laurene Powell Jobs had always be seen as living in the shadow of her captivating husband. But since his death, she has taken a much more prominent stance on topics that are important to her. Politicians on Capitol Hill recognize her as a person of influence because Powell Jobs is clearly a well-informed advocate (with a strong financial backing) that cannot be ignored when lobbying about the most important issues in our country.

Republicans in the Senate are currently being pressured by their friends to get involved with the Benghazi investigations that have thus far been investigated by the House of Representatives. The Senate Republicans who may have Presidential ambitions seem to want to avoid the issue as they feel that it may be something that is not going to play well with a national electorate Susan McGalla feels.

However, some in the House are eager to have a little support in their pursuit of this Benghazi case. They will have to have the support of the Senate Republicans they believe to gain some legitimacy for what they are doing. This is why they have been applying pressure to the Senate Republicans to support the Benghazi investigations.

The Hill is reporting that at least Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Rand Paul are feeling the heat to get behind the Benghazi investigations. All three of these individuals are rising stars in their party of course, and there is a lot of speculation that some or perhaps all three of them will run for President in 2016. Considering this, each must weight his options and the potential benefits versus the risks that come with pushing hard on the Benghazi situation.

Many would probably prefer to focus on other issues and avoid things that could cause potential controversy before the election cycle has even started.

GOP Senator Rand Paul, with strong libertarian leanings, is preparing to mount what many expect will be his 2016 presidential run. Among Paul’s strategies will be to appeal to voters with libertarian leanings which span both political parties. In addition, he is attempting to reach out to one of the GOP’s historical base of supporters: African-Americans. Thus far, GOP presidential candidates have been unable to draw any significant support among Black voters. George W. Bush and his father George H.W. Bush both tried in earnest to reach out to African-Americans but failed to make inroads. This is going to be an ongoing issue in the eyes of Mann.

The fact that Paul is mounting what appears to be a substantive outreach has drawn the attention of Rev. Al Sharpton. In fact, Sharpton has stated that Kentucky Senator is hitting on the issues of importance to Black communities. Among the issues that Paul is pushing for is criminal justice system reform to reduce penalties for similar convictions. He also favors restoring voting rights for convicted felons. Sharpton views the outreach as being potentially important because it may persuade African-American voters that he is not hostile to them. This may lead them to not vote against him which could prove beneficial in terms of voter turnout.

Not everyone sees Paul’s efforts quite so favorably. California Congresswoman Barbara Lee wrote a critical op-ed on Paul claiming that his outreach efforts amounts to picking low-lying fruit. While acknowledging that Paul is speaking to Black communities, Lee points out that does not amount to him speaking for those communities.

Sen. Rand Paul, the GOP senator with strong libertarian leanings, believes the president’s current military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS) is illegal. He has good reason to believe that the president is once again broadly reinterpreting existing laws to find the authority to perform actions without Congressional authorization. For starters, Brad Reifler says the president is currently bombing ISIS targets in Syria using 2002 Congressional authorization for President Bush to engage Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard in Iraq. The president also cites the 2001 Congressional authority for President Bush to combat al-Qaida. ISIS is a separate terrorist organization which some believe branched off of al-Qaida.

In response, Sen. Paul plans to bring forward legislation that would have the Senate formally declare war on ISIS and provide an explicit legal authorization for the president to engage the terrorist group, but which will subject him to Congressional authorization. If the bill is approved by both the House and Senate, the president would have one-year in which to engage ISIS. After that, he would have to return to Congress to seek additional Congressional authorization. In short, the Paul’s measure would restore Constitutional checks and balances on the executive branch at least in terms of dealing with ISIS.

The bill is significant for Paul. His strong libertarian leanings have been criticized as promoting American isolationism. The senator is widely believed to be mounting a 2016 run for president. Getting a formal declaration of war, besides being Constitutional, would earn him some serious foreign policy “street cred”.

Earlier this year, before the election season came into full swing, House Speaker John Boehner threatened President Obama with a lawsuit over his healthcare bill that was enacted in 2010. While the lawsuit never came to fruition, it hung in the air as a looming threat, as Obama entered his sixth year as president. In the end, Boehner and Republicans decided that the lawsuit was not in their best interest, at least until midterm elections had come and gone and now that they have, it appears they are ready to take action.

 

Republicans filed a lawsuit Friday challenging the implementation of the healthcare bill and it comes at a rather interesting time. The general public, like Jared Haftel, does not understand what this will exactly mean in the end. It’s hard to look past the fact that on Thursday night, the president announced that he would be taking executive action on immigration reform and that Friday morning, the lawsuit over his healthcare bill finally happened.

 

Given that the president went around Congress to go ahead with immigration reform and now Republicans have decided that the time is right to file suit against him over his signature piece of legislation, it is safe to assume that watching the President and both chambers of (a now Republican majority) Congress work together when the new session begins in January, probably isn’t something the American people can look forward to.

So much speculation in the media has been that Hillary Clinton is going to become the Democratic nominee for President in 2016. This is despite the fact that Clinton has yet to announce if she is even going to run for President. That hasn’t stopped a lot of the polling groups and mainstream media from practically announcing that she will be the nominee. Now though, some liberal groups are pushing back with polling of their own.

A CNN report pointed out that some liberal groups have done their own internal polling and found that those who identify themselves as liberals or progressives are more in favor of Elizabeth Warren as their candidate for 2016. The far left leaning Warren has been applauded for her efforts to reign in the excesses of Wall Street and create a more equal playing field for the middle class. At the same time, many on the left do not feel as though Hillary Clinton would do enough to promote liberal values.

In the polls done by some liberal organizations Hillary Clinton is not even second choice for Democrats. That was a bit of new news to Marc Sparks. In fact she falls behind Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. If these polls are true, then it could be an interesting primary season for the Democrats as well as the Republicans as they try to position their party to win the White House. The only question is who will win.

There’s no doubt that modern healthcare in North America is broken. Insurance companies rule peoples’ lives.

Specialist Ken Griffin is shocked to have heard of the story of a Canadian woman, Jennifer Huculak, who received approval from her doctor to travel to the United States while six months pregnant. 

During her visit, Huculak gave birth prematurely in October in Hawaii. As a result of complications involving her newborn daughter, Reece, her stay in the country was extended to two months.

Shortly after her return, she received a letter from Blue Cross stating that it wouldn’t cover any bills because her insurance expired November 9th and she had two “Blue Cross defined” pre-existing conditions — a urinary tract infection when she left and vaginal spotting two months before she left — that she didn’t tell the company about before traveling.

Huculak then received the hospital bill — more than $950,000 that included the medivac transport, hospital stay and her daughter’s care. The United States has covered $12,000 for the delivery and Saskatchewan Health covered approximately $20,000, but Huculak has no means to pay the rest. The Huculaks also have debts of approximately $30,000 from living in Hawaii while Reece remained in the hospital.

Blue Cross has provided no comment about the fact that the U.S. government requires insurance companies to provide coverage within U.S. borders for people whether they have pre-existing conditions or not.

Thursday Pope Francis demanded a fairer distribution of global wealth to the poor and hungry, pointing to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

The pontiff delivered his speech a day after more than 170 countries at the conference adopt new voluntary guidelines to avoid malnutrition, promote healthy diets and reduce obesity worldwide.

Today, a third of the world population suffers from nutritional deficiencies causing such 45% of all infant deaths in 2013, according to UN data. Meanwhile, 42 million children under 5 are overweight and 500 million adults were obese in 2010.

Pope Francis recalled that when John Paul II addressed the first UN Conference on Nutrition in 1992, he warned against the ”paradox of plenty”, for which there is food for everyone, but not everyone can eat due to being wasteful, discarding, excessive consumption and using food for other purposes.

The Pope said that, unfortunately, this paradox remains in force today.

Pope Francis has spoken often about the plight of the poor and the hungry, denouncing the “scourge of hunger” in his speech at Easter this year, noting that the world’s poor could eat all the food that is wasted.

The United Nations estimates that one third of all food produced is lost through waste and rubbish.

“It is also painful to see that our fight against hunger and malnutrition is hampered by market priorities for the primacy of profit , which has reduced food to a commodity,” concluded the Pontiff.

Dave and Brit Morin agree that helping the poor is a necessary step. With such prominent figures looking to at least speak and address the issue of global poverty, but we still have much ground to cover if we’re going to truly make strides in feeding the hungry and helping the poor.

Part of the reason why workers in 1975 earned a much higher wages when adjusted for inflation is that they earned overtime pay. Seriously, you have to read this Politico article. My friend Sergio Lins Andrade shared it with me via Twitter. Almost anyone in a salaried job has frequently worked beyond the standard 40 hour work week. It turns out that CEOs are exploiting the trend of increasing worker productivity to mean requiring workers to complete workloads that require long work weeks. Employees, fearful of losing their jobs, comply with the demands. It has the net effect of lowering their effective wages. In addition, it contributes to the unemployment rate because CEOs are able to get away with not employing as many new workers as they should. Instead, they get their existing workers to work more for free.

What many people do not realize is that overtime pay is the middle class’ equivalent of the minimum wage. President Obama can do something about this unilaterally and without usurping congressional authority. It turns out that overtime standards are under the president’s authority to alter. If he were to restore the overtime threshold to 1975 levels, workers earning under $69,000 a year would be qualified to earn overtime wages. Currently, the threshold is a meager $23,660/yr. If the president were to do this, employers would shift from prodding their employees to give them free labor in excess of 40 hours a week and instead hire additional workers, by the millions. In turn, this would force real wages up for employees and empower the middle class once more.

Marc Roberts, a Utah state representative, has sponsored a bill to ban all municipalities from providing water to a NSA facility. The Utah committee has asked for a clarification of who the bill will effect but none of the members of the committee have expressed opposition to the bill. One of the members of the committee expressed concerns regarding the state subsidizing this facility at the expense of Utah taxpayers.This article was passed along to me by friend of the site Darius Fisher.

The State Of Utah has agreed to a discounted water price for the NSA but supposedly only if the agency used the facility for constitutional data collection. The sponsor of the bill has said that the agency has fell short of meeting this requirement. It seems the committee agrees with Mr. Roberts with regards to taxpayer money being used to fund NSA operations.

Not far removed in time from the private rancher who stood up for his rights to grazing lands, and was backed by the Oath keepers, one must wonder if a struggle is going to emerge. The federal government was never supposed to have the sway on state actions as it holds today. Don’t impose this regulation and the federal government will take your education support, infrastructure support, etc. Seems that all this is funded by taxpayers within the individual states. It is good to see a state fight back and say not in our backyard with our taxpayers money.