Friday, March 12, 2010

News Headlines Roundup 12 Mar 2010

Health Care Bill Held Up by Uncertainty, Mistrust: It was a tumultuous political week in Washington: As Democrats scrambled to push a reconciled health bill through Congress, President Obama postponed a trip to Indonesia in order to stay in town and continue pressing for a vote on the embattled legislation.

..."It is almost unprecedented for a president to postpone an overseas trip for a domestic legislative agenda item," noted Ambinder, adding that Mr. Obama would spend the next few days chewing "the ear off recalcitrant house Democrats."

There "is a lot of horse trading going on," Ambinder said. Lawmakers "need to hear specific pledges and promises about what will and won't be included in the sidecar reconciliation package."

"The fundamental dynamic is mistrust between House Democrats and Senate Democrats," added Ambinder.

The reluctance of lawmakers is also a reflection of the uncertainty surrounding the reconciliation measure, argued Condon. "Everything is up in the air in terms of what is possible procedurally. The parliamentarian will play a big role in saying what the Senate can do and thereby what the House can do," she said.

Yesterday, Senate Republicans claimed that Parliamentarian Alan Frumin had ruled that Congress would not be able tackle a second bill until President Obama signs the current version into law.

However, "this morning the parliamentarian's office is backing away from that interpretation," Ambinder noted.




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On a lighter note from the White House Press Secretary in regard to the Olympics:

Robert Gibbs Wears Canada Hockey Jersey, Makes Good on Olympic Bet: White House press secretary emerged for his daily briefing in a Canada hockey jersey today, making good on a bet with Dimitri Soudas, spokesman for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, on the outcome of the Olympic gold medal hockey games.

Canada won the women's game 2-0 over the United States and the men's game in overtime, meaning that Gibbs had to wear a Canada jersey during one of his on-camera briefings.

Soudas, Gibbs told reporters, is "somewhere several hindered miles north laughing."

Gibbs wore the jersey for a few minutes while making jokes with reporters. He noted that the number on the jersey, 39, was in honor of U.S. goalkeeper Ryan Miller, the tournament MVP.

He then took the Canada jersey off -- revealing that he was wearing a team USA jersey underneath it. The move prompted applause from some of the reporters. Gibbs proceeded to answer questions from reporters while wearing the Team USA jersey, which was #10 in honor of 2010.

At one point, a reporter asked Gibbs to take the jersey off, so that when he showed up on the nightly news it would not have to be explained why he was wearing a hockey jersey in a story about health care. That would look a little strange, the reporter said.

Gibbs kept on the jersey.

"It can't be any stranger than any of the other stuff I see on the news," he quipped.

The reporter than shot back: "I'm just glad it was a hockey and not a wrestling bet."
(Gibbs did eventually remove the jersey, well into the briefing.)

Gibbs also announced that the White House has instructed the U.S. embassy to make arrangements to deliver one case of Molson Canadian beer and one case of Yuengling lager from Pottsville, Pennsylvania to Harper's office.

President Obama and the Canadian prime minister had wagered on the outcome of the men's hockey final.

"I'm sure Dimitri will take most of that home and consume it," joked Gibbs.



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American Foster Kids Hold Out Hope: In 2008, America's foster care system had 123,000 kids available for adoption. Just 45 percent -- 55,000 -- of them were adopted.

Typically the older they get, the worse their chances it will ever happen. Many children are also battling the scars of mental or physical abuse.

Many states and agencies post albums of available children...

Adoption awareness has been heightened by the Haiti earthquake -- which created thousands of new orphans. In the last eight weeks, more than 1,000 of them have come to America for adoption -- more than the last three years combined.

Adoption Resources:

Child Welfare League of America
Adoption Institute
Adopt Us Kids

From Denny: Many orphanages across America have gone for years without any children getting adopted. Yet Americans continue to look overseas for children to bring home when there are children who need them right here in America. They are losing hope and need you right now.



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And here's a story near and dear to my heart about wimpy journalists enabling liars like Fox News to thrive in America and the world. People like me who tell the truth are called "strident" for daring to oppose liars:

The media's active complicity in Fox News' ascent: It's good to see a media insider of Howell Raines' stature not only call out Fox News for "conduct[ing] a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration" but rebuke the rest of the media for being too timid to say what needs to be said about Fox:

Why has our profession, through its general silence -- or only spasmodic protest -- helped Fox legitimize a style of journalism that is dishonest in its intellectual process, untrustworthy in its conclusions and biased in its gestalt?

Alas, the situation is worse than Raines imagines. True, the "respectable" media has helped legitimize Fox through tepid at best efforts to challenge Fox's misdeeds. But they've gone further than remaining silent in the face of a massive journalistic fraud: They've actively enhanced Fox's reach and reputation by scurrying to repeat the dubious claims the cable channel promotes -- and by apologizing for not doing so sooner.

It would be bad enough if serious reporters simply averted their eyes, afraid to challenge Fox, as Raines says. But, as I detailed in my column yesterday, top editors at the New York Times and the Washington Post actually say they need to give more credence to the unjournalism that comes from Fox and similar "news" outlets.

Sadly, we're well past the point where legitimate news outlets aide Fox News merely through their silence -- at this point, they aide Fox News much more directly than that.

PS to our conservative friends: I know what you're thinking: Howell Raines! He's just biased against Fox -- a former New York Times editor can't be trusted to give conservatives a fair shake! Well, before you embarrass yourself painting Raines as a partisan warrior, you might want to acquaint yourself with the Times' editorial page's treatment of Bill Clinton while Raines was in charge of the department.

His column reprinted in the Washington Post: Why don't honest journalists take on Roger Ailes and Fox News?: One question has tugged at my professional conscience throughout the year-long congressional debate over health-care reform, and it has nothing to do with the public option, portability or medical malpractice. It is this: Why haven't America's old-school news organizations blown the whistle on Roger Ailes, chief of Fox News, for using the network to conduct a propaganda campaign against the Obama administration -- a campaign without precedent in our modern political history?

Through clever use of the Fox News Channel and its cadre of raucous commentators, Ailes has overturned standards of fairness and objectivity that have guided American print and broadcast journalists since World War II. Yet, many members of my profession seem to stand by in silence as Ailes tears up the rulebook that served this country well as we covered the major stories of the past three generations, from the civil rights revolution to Watergate to the Wall Street scandals. This is not a liberal-versus-conservative issue. It is a matter of Fox turning reality on its head with, among other tactics, its endless repetition of its uber-lie: "The American people do not want health-care reform."

Fox repeats this as gospel. But as a matter of historical context, usually in short supply on Fox News, this assertion ranks somewhere between debatable and untrue.

The American people and many of our great modern presidents have been demanding major reforms to the health-care system since the administration of Teddy Roosevelt. The elections of 1948, 1960, 1964, 2000 and 2008 confirm the point, with majorities voting for candidates supporting such change. Yet congressional Republicans have managed effective campaigns against health-care changes favored variously by Presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Clinton. Now Fox News has given the party of Lincoln a free ride with its repetition of the unexamined claim that today's Republican leadership really does want to overhaul health care -- if only the effort could conform to Mitch McConnell's ideas on portability and tort reform.

It is true that, after 14 months of Fox's relentless pounding of President Obama's idea of sweeping reform, the latest Gallup poll shows opinion running 48 to 45 percent against the current legislation. Fox invariably stresses such recent dips in support for the legislation, disregarding the majorities in favor of various individual aspects of the reform effort. Along the way, the network has sold a falsified image of the professional standards that developed in American newsrooms and university journalism departments in the last half of the 20th century.

...As for Fox News, lots of people who know better are keeping quiet about what to call it. Its news operation can, in fact, be called many things, but reporters of my generation, with memories and keyboards, dare not call it journalism.


Most Independents Were Once at the Party: Forty-two percent of Americans identified themselves as political independents in a CBS News/New York Times Poll conducted February 5-10 -- similar to percentages found in CBS polls conducted over the last year. These independents are a key swing group in elections and the poll finds evidence of their vacillating nature.





According to the poll, a majority of independents - six in 10 -- say they used to identify with one of the nation's two major political parties. Fourteen percent of independents were once Republicans, 23 percent are former Democrats, and another 24 percent say they actually belonged to each of the major political parties at one time or another.

Fifty-three percent of independents who were once Republicans hold an unfavorable view of their former party. Similarly, 55 percent of Democrats turned independents view their former party negatively. Less than four in 10 have a favorable opinion of their former party.

Like most Americans overall, these disenfranchised ex-partisans are dissatisfied or angry about the way things are going in Washington.

These former partisans do not differ much demographically from independents overall. They are mostly white; more than half are under age 45, and nearly four in 10 are moderates ideologically. Another third say they are conservative.

Still, 85 percent of independents who were once Democrats, Republicans, or both are registered to vote, compared to 64 percent of those independents who have never previously identified with a major party. This could be an indication that these former partisans are more engaged politically.

As might be expected, Americans who are currently affiliated with one of the two major political parties have stronger allegiances. Just 26 percent of Democrats used to be Republicans, and the same percentage of Republicans were once Democrats. Here too, these party switchers have little affinity for their former political party.


And don't forget Sunday is time to "Spring forward" your clocks one hour. How annoying is this custom? It's also difficult on the body, causing more heart attacks for the first 3 days after the change over and more...

Spring Forward Messes with More than Time: Daylight saving time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday. It's supposed to save energy -- pushing daylight later in the day means fewer lights turned on at night. Benjamin Franklin, annoyed by an early sunrise in Paris, first came up with the idea. Congress made it law in 1918 during World War I to conserve energy.

But when the country jumps ahead an hour Sunday morning, that one little lost hour of sleep has a big impact.

The number of serious heart attacks goes up 6 to 10 percent (PDF) on the first three workdays after the time change. On Wall Street, economists say sleep-deprived traders often produce "large negative returns" on that following Monday, once estimated at $31 billion.

"It turns out that it takes two to three days - sometimes even longer - to make up and to adjust to that extra hour lost," said Dr. Sonia Ancoli-Israel of the University of California San Diego School of Medicine.

Once we do make up for the hour, there's an upside: we're better drivers in daylight, reducing fatal car crashes and pedestrians getting hit.



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Will someone please travel back in Time and punch Ben Franklin in the nose for all of us fed up with this idiotic custom? :) Come on; we save maybe a few million dollars in energy on the lights but lose $31 billion on Wall Street. What kind of trade off is that?


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