Recently in National News Category

Palin urges Obama to stay home from Copenhagen

by Greta Kaul

            Sarah Palin published an op-ed piece in the Washinton Post that urged President Barack Obama to boycott the climate change talks in Copenhangen Wednesday.

            The former governor of Alaska accused scientists at the University of East Anglia in Britain of manipulating data and destroying records in order to hide a global temperature decline.

            She said the "Climate-gate" e-mail scandal undermines the science behind the Copenhagen climate summit.

            "Policy should be based sound science, not politics," Palin said.

            Obama's withdrawal from the conference would be shocking, the Los Angeles Times said, as he has been in favor of the United States' re-entry into global climate change talks.

            Obama is expected to make an appearance at the Copenhagen conference's  end next week, the LA Times said.


New York Senate votes against gay marriage

by Greta Kaul

            The New York Senate shot down legislation that would allow gay marriage  38-24 after two hours of emotional debate Wednesday, according to the New York Daily News.

            Activists hoped that New York would become the sixth U.S. state to allow gay marriage, according to Reuters. 

            Five U.S. states have approved same-sex civil unions, and 31 have explicitly voted down gay marriage, The New York Daily News said

            New York Governor David Paterson said he would have signed the legislation had it appeared on his desk, Reuters said.  In New York's Democrat-controlled Assembly, legislation to allow gay marriage has passed three times.  Wednesday was the first time the vote was put to the Senate.

             As politically-liberal voters, polls show that a majority of New Yorkers have been found in favor of legalizing gay marriage, according to Reuters.

Stimulus job reports may be innacurate

by Greta Kaul

            The federal stimulus watchdog said he would not vouch for the White House's claim that the stimulus saved or created 640,000 jobs Thursday.

            Earl Devaney, whose agency produced the data, said under questioning that accounting for job creation with reports filed by recipients of stimulus money was error-prone, according to the Associated Press.

            He added the administration should have been more skeptical of the numbers when it announced that the stimulus was on track with its goal of creating or saving 3.5 million jobs by the end of 2010, according to the AP.

            Devaney told officials that missing reports and inaccuracies in reporting could drive job numbers above or below the projected 640,000, the New York Times said. 

            Rep. David Obey, D-Wisc., an author of the stimulus bill, called the data mistakes "ludicrous," according to the NY Times.

            A report by the Government Accountability Office found many jobs reported by agencies that had not reported spending any of their stimulus money, and many agencies that received large sums of money reporting no job creation, according to the NY Times.

            Devaney said that the downside to the transparency of the federal stimulus was embarrassment, according to the AP.

Cao is sole Republican to vote for health care bill

by Greta Kaul

            Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao, R-La., was the only House Republican to vote in favor of the Democratic health care overhaul Saturday, according to CNN.

            Cao made his decision after a personal call from President Barack Obama around noon on Saturday, CNN said.

            The final vote on the health care bill came down to 220 to 215 in favor, Newsweek said.

            Despite Republican criticism, Cao said he made "the right decision based on my conscience"--he supported the bill only after the addition of an amendment that banned coverage of most abortions under the public option, according to CNN. 

            Cao represents one of the most impoverished regions of southern Louisiana, which includes areas that surround New Orleans, an area still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, Newsweek said.

Michelle Obama launches mentoring program

by Greta Kaul

            Michelle Obama launched a mentoring program to give local high school girls a chance to connect to the White House, the Associated Press said.

            To kick off the program, thirteen girls met with mentors at the White House to kick off the program Monday, the AP said.  The program has been a goal of Michelle Obama's since becoming first lady.

            The program, now in early stages, intends to match 20 high school girls with 20 mentors, the AP said.  The mentors will be senior women from the White House staff, the Washington Post said.

            The students were chosen by their high school principals as girls who could benefit from the program, the AP said.  They will meet with their mentors once a month through August at the White House.

            Michelle Obama has often talked about the importance of role models in her life, the Washington Post said.  She told the girls that she expects that they, too, become mentors in the lives of children, the AP said.

            The White House intends to start a similar program for boys, according to the Washington Post.

Senate health care bill to include public option

by Greta Kaul

            Senate majority leader Harry Reid said Monday that he would include a contentious government-run plan in the health care legislation that is expected to reach the Senate floor within a few weeks, according to the New York Times.

            Currently, the bill gives states the freedom to adopt laws to opt out of the reform, the New York Times said.

            Democrats argue that a public health care option will lower costs and create competition in the health insurance market, according to Reuters.  Republicans call it a government takeover that will hurt private insurance companies, Reuters said.

            Senate Republicans are united in opposition to any bill that includes a public option, according to the New York Times.  Democrats will need all 58 Democratic votes in the Senate and at least two Independent or Republican votes to reach 60 votes to pass the legislation, the New York Times said.

            Democrats appear to be short of these numbers, as several caucus members have not committed to a vote yet, the New York Times said.

            President Obama is pleased that a public option will be included in the bill, Reuters said, though he does not consider it a mandatory part of health care reform.

by Greta Kaul

            House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Tuesday that the Democrat-drafted health care overhaul would reduce the budget deficit over 10 years and cost less than the target price tag of $900 billion, Reuters said.

            Three separate health care reform bills were analyzed for cost-effectiveness by the Congressional Budget Office and are now in the process of being merged, Reuters said.  According to Nancy Pelosi, all three cost less than $900 billion.

            As of now, a core component of all three bills is the "individual mandate," which requires all Americans to have health insurance, according to CBS News.  Many Republicans are opposed to the individual mandate, CBS said.

            Pelosi said that the final bill would include a government-run insurance option, Reuters said.

            The challenge for Democrats, according to CBS, will be to facilitate the expansion of health care insurance without going over $900 billion, however, Pelosi said that Democrats would not bring forward a bill that didn't meet President Obama's target cost.

Limbaugh bids on St. Louis Rams

by Greta Kaul           

            Conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has made a bid on the St. Louis Rams, Salon said Wednesday.

            Limbaugh lost his job as a sports commentator on ESPN after making racially charged comments about a Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, Salon said.

            NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said it would be inappropriate for the owner of an NFL franchise to make the sort of controversial statements Limbaugh does, according to the Washington Post.

            The Revs. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have publicly opposed the idea of Limbaugh owning the team, according to Salon.  In addition, several NFL players have said they would not play for a team owned by Limbaugh, the Washington Post said.

            The current team owners have not yet made a decision to sell control of the team, Salon said.  

Obama rallies doctors for health care in Rose Garden

by Greta Kaul

            President Obama outlined his health care plan to an audience of doctors from across the country in a televised event at the White House Monday, according to the Associated Press.

            Obama made his address to the 150 doctors in the White House Rose Garden.  He said that his overhaul plan would benefit medical professionals as much as it would benefit patients, according to the New York Times.

            Many of the doctors were members of Doctors for America, an outgrowth of Doctors for Obama, a group that worked to elect the president, said the New York Times.

            The Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote on the legislation later this week, according to the New York Times.

            Amendments to the legislation have reduced penalties for not carrying insurance, The AP reported.  It is now expected to grant coverage to 92 percent to 93 percent of Americans, down from 95 percent in earlier versions, the AP said.

Senate to approve health care bill

by Greta Kaul


            The Senate Finance Committee is expected to approve its health care bill later this week.           

            Under the plan, supported by President Obama, millions of uninsured Americans would receive subsidized health care benefits, and the government would regulate the growth of health spending, according to the New York Times.

            Obama stressed that, when passed, the health care reform will help small businesses and create jobs, according to the New York Times.

            At $900 billion over 10 years, the reform would meet Obama's requirement for offsetting spending increases by taxing those who refuse to buy insurance and limiting fees payable to doctors and hospitals under Medicare, the Los Angeles Times said.

            Democrats need 60 votes to bypass a possible filibuster by Republicans in the Senate, the New York Times said, and Republicans intend to fight the reform.

            After the bill is approved, full debate is expected to begin mid-October, and last for two weeks, in which Republicans are expected to propose amendments, the Los Angeles Times said. 


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