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Posts tagged ‘Wednesday’

Jonathan Urges Politicians To Put National Interest First.


Ruth Bamidele

President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday en joined politicians in the country to place national interest above every other motives in the new year  2014, adding that they should make Nigeria great and leave a better country to the next generations.

Nigeria's President Goodluck Jonathan

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan

The President made the call while speaking at the Catholic Church in Area 3, Abuja, where he observed his New Year Church service.

In his words, the president said, “All what we need to do is to make sure that we continue to do things right. That is why I always plead with my fellow politicians that yes we must play the politics but let us take the interest of the country more than our own individual interest. And as we continue to play the politics in that direction, leaders will come and go but the country will stay.”

He further added that, politicians should begin to plan for the next generation instead of wasting all energies on their own personal interests.

He also said that Nigeria has all it takes to be great and to provide leadership for the African continent.

“Luckily, we have a Constitution that says that nobody will be a governor or president forever. It is only in the parliament that you can be there till you die. As long as we consider the interest of our country, children, grand children and we begin to plan for the next generation instead of wasting all our energies to think about ourselves. Before we get to the next 100 years, the country will be better. Nigeria can even change in the next few years and things will be better for everybody.” he said.

The president promised that 2014, will be better than 2013 as he his administration will ensure that sustainable power supply is attained in the country from the middle of this year.

Source: African Examiner.

Facebook’s Zuckerberg Tops 2013 Charitable Giving List.


Image: Facebook's Zuckerberg Tops 2013 Charitable Giving List

By Andrea Billups

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg led the way on the giving list for U.S. philanthropists, gifting a Silicon Valley foundation with nearly $1 billion along with his wife, Priscilla Chan.

Zuckerberg, 29, who founded the social media website while a student at Harvard, offered the Silicon Valley Community Foundation 18 million in Facebook shares, totaling about $992 million.

The youthful social media pioneer joins 14 other big ticket donors in the U.S., including outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and businessman and political activist David Koch, who were among those giving away at least $100 million of their fortunes at one time, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, which released its annual charitable giving list Wednesday.

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Zuckerberg is the first person aged under 30 to top the list of biggest givers.

The year’s top 15 donors gave a total of $3.4 billion, the Chronicle noted, calling 2013 “notable because of a strong rebound in the number of gifts of $100-million or more.” The total amount of gifts of $100 million or more reached $9.6 billion —a jump of more than one-third over the 2012 figure.

Universities were the big gainers with 12 of the 15 biggest gifts going to higher-education institutes. The University of Michigan received two of those.

Zuckerberg made the same donation last year, 18 million shares of Facebook stock, but in 2012, those shares were valued at much less, worth under $500 million, Forbes reported. With stocks making significant gains in 2013, Facebook shares rebounded as well, nearly doubling Zuckerberg’s net worth from $12.5 billion last year to $25 billion this year.

Nike chairman Phil Knight came in second on the 2013 list, giving $500 million to the Oregon Health & Science University Foundation for cancer research. Outgoing New York mayor Bloomberg was third pledging $350 million to Johns Hopkins University and financier Charles Johnson was fourth for his offered $250 million pledge to Yale.

The others on the list are: Real estate developer Stephen Ross, $200 million pledge to the University of Michigan; real-estate heiress Muriel Block, $160 million bequest to the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Yeshiva University; real-estate develoeper John Arrillaga, $151 million pledge to Stanford University; Qualcomm co-founder Irwin Jacobs, $133 million pledge to Cornell NYC Tech; Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charles Munger, $110 million pledge to University of Michigan; David Koch, $100 million pledge to New York-Presbyterian Hospital; real-estate developer Frank McCourt, $100 million pledge to Georgetown University; investor Ronald Perelman, $100 million pledge to Columbia Business School; United National Corporation chairman T. Denny Sanford, $100 million pledge to the University of California at San Diego; financier Stephen Schwarzman, $100 million pledge to Tsinghua University; and real-estate heiress Deborah Joy Simon, $100 million pledge to Mercersburg Academy.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

US Embassy in Kabul Attacked on Christmas; No Casualties Reported.


KABUL, Afghanistan — The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan says its compound was hit by indirect fire just before dawn on Christmas Day. It says no Americans were injured.

An embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, says the attack happened at around 6:40 a.m. Wednesday, when “two rounds of indirect fire impacted the U.S. Embassy compound.” Indirect fire can refer to either mortars or rockets.

The Taliban claimed they fired four rockets at the embassy on Wednesday and inflicted heavy casualties. But the insurgents often exaggerate their claims.

Meanwhile, a roadside bombing in eastern Kabul wounded three Afghan policemen Wednesday.

Kabul police chief, Mohammad Zahir, says one suspect was arrested over that attack. He says police later uncovered an unexploded bomb in the same area and successfully neutralized it.

© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Source: Newsmax.com

‘Duck Dynasty’ Fans Rally Behind Exiled Robertson With #BringPhilBack.


Phil Robertson’s suspension from “Duck Dynasty” has led to widespread backlash toward A&E from his fans, after the network announced he would be indefinitely suspended following his remarks about homosexuality.

Robertson’s fans used the hashtags #BringPhilBack and #StandWithPhil in tweets to A&E, voicing their opinions.

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The tweets, compiled by Twitchy.com, are just a small sampling of the outrage by some after Robertson’s dismissal on Wednesday, stemming from an interview the 67-year-old gave to GQ magazine in which he referred to homosexuality and bestiality in the same thought.

Robertson’s granddaughter, Sadie Robertson, who appears on the show, also subtlety weighed in on the controversy on Wednesday.

A&E has yet to react to the online protests and appears to be standing by its decision to put Robertson on an indefinite hiatus.

In his interview with GQ, Robertson’s anti-gay comments included a paraphrasing of biblical passages that opposed homosexual behavior.

“[You] start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there — bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men,” Robertson told GQ.

“It seems like, to me a woman would be more desirable [than a man]. … That’s just me,” Robertson added in the interview. “She’s got more to offer,” he continued. “I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

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The comments were met with immediate criticism from the gay rights organization GLAAD, a spokesperson for which said that Robertson’s remarks were not reflective of how “true Christians” view gays, considering “Phil and his family claim to be Christian.”

Robertson subsequently issued a statement through A&E, in which he said he “would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me,” however his “mission … is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the Bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together.”

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Michael Mullins

War College Considers Removal of Confederate Portraits.


Image: War College Considers Removal of Confederate Portraits

By Melanie Batley

The U.S. Army War College is considering the possible removal of portraits depicting Confederate generals, including Robert E. Lee and “Stonewall” Jackson, after an official questioned why the school honors those who fought against the United States.

The issue arose as the college conducts an inventory of all its paintings and photographs, with plans to re-hang them in historical themes to chronicle the military’s history, The Washington Times reported Tuesday.

“This person was struck by the fact we have quite a few Confederate images,” college spokeswoman Carol Kerr, told the Times. “[Lee] was certainly not good for the nation. This is the guy we faced on the battlefield whose entire purpose in life was to destroy the nation as it was then conceived . . . This is all part of an informed discussion.”

Army Maj. Gen. Tony Cucolo, the commandment of the college, said that inaccurate rumors were spread about the removal of the portraits because a faculty member took them down as part of the inventory process. He nonetheless confirmed that changes would be made.

There will be change: over the years very fine artwork has been hung with care — but [with] little rationale or overall purpose,” he said Wednesday in a statement on the school’s website.

“I will . . . approach our historical narrative with keen awareness and adherence to the seriousness of several things: accurate capture of U.S. military history, good, bad and ugly; a Soldier’s life of selfless service to our Nation; and our collective solemn oath to defend the Constitution of the United States (not a person or a symbol, but a body of ideals). Those are the things I will be looking to reinforce with any changes to the artwork.”

Two portraits of Lee are on display at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., and his portrait is also on the walls of other military institutions and government buildings, according to the Times.

The Army War College was established in 1901 in Carlisle, Pa. for the study of lessons in warfare, and the institution has been the making of future field generals. It graduates more than 300 U.S. officers, foreign students, and civilians in two classes each year, according to the Times.

Lee led the Army of Northern Virginia for the Confederate States of America during the Civil War. Six months after surrendering to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant, Lee swore allegiance to the Constitution and to the Union.

In 1975, Congress enacted a joint resolution reinstating Lee’s U.S. citizenship, stating, “This entire nation has long recognized the outstanding virtues of courage, patriotism and selfless devotion to duty of General R.E. Lee.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Palin: Duck Dynasty Firing Endangers Free Speech.


Image: Palin: Duck Dynasty Firing Endangers Free Speech

By Sandy Fitzgerald

“Intolerants” are “hatin’” on “Duck Dynasty” patriarch Phil Robertson, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says, complaining that his suspension from his family’s reality show is an attack on all Americans.

“Free speech is an endangered species,” Palin wrote on her Facebook page Wednesday beneath a picture of herself posing with the A&E Network‘s reality stars. “Those ‘intolerants’ hatin’ and taking on the Duck Dynasty patriarch for voicing his personal opinion are taking on all of us.”

On Wednesday, the cable network suspended Robertson indefinitely from its top-ranked show after he compared homosexuality with bestiality in an interview with GQ Magazine.

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Robertson told the magazine — in anatomical terms — that being with a woman “would be more desirable” for a man. “She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

He went on to say that “neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

A&E on Wednesday said that the network is “extremely disappointed” in Robertson’s comments, emphasizing that its series Duck Dynasty do not reflect his opinions.

Palin and the Duck Dynasty family, including Robertson, have gotten close in recent weeks. They hosted the one-time vice-presidential nominee in Louisiana to help her promote her bestseller “Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas,”reports Breitbart,  and she has been quoted as being “happy, happy, happy” that her children believe the Duck Dynasty family is “cooler” than she is.

Meanwhile, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention Wednesday called Robertson’s suspension “ridiculous” while calling for “cultural conversation” instead of intimidation through restricting free speech.

Suggesting that people who hold to what every branch of the Christian faith has held to for 2,000 years is somehow bigoted or hateful is not productive for speech,” Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said.

“Silencing views one doesn’t agree with, rather than engaging them, is hardly open-minded.”

Further, Moore pointed out that A&E hired Robertson to be “comedic and sometimes shockingly homespun.” He admitted he found Robertson’s anatomical comments “ill-advised and crude, but that doesn’t seem to be where the controversy lies.”

But instead of suspending Robertson, Moore said on his blog, “why not engage one another, and have the debates in a civil fashion, without attempting to silence one another? Let’s have the sort of cultural conversation that allows us to seek to persuade each other, not to seek to silence one another with intimidation. That’s what real diversity is all about.”

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Boehner Fires at ‘Misleading’ Conservative Groups – Again.


House Speaker John Boehner Thursday accused outside conservative groups of “misleading their followers” while trying to push House Republicans more toward the right.

For the second day in a row, the Ohio Republican held a news conference to complain about the far right influence that’s being felt in the House from outside conservative groups, reports Roll Call. Just like in Wednesday’s media gathering, he didn’t bother hiding his frustration.

“Frankly, I think they are misleading their followers,” Boehner told reporters. “I think they’re pushing our members in places where they don’t want to be, and frankly I just think they’ve lost all credibility.”

He noted that conservative groups “pushed us into this fight to defund Obamacare,” leading to the two-week government shutdown in October, which the House leader said “wasn’t the strategy I had in mind.”

“The day before the government reopened, one of these groups stood up and said, ‘Well, we never really thought it would work.’

“Are you kidding me?” Boehner exclaimed.

The Ohio Republican insisted his criticism of conservative groups is nothing new, but “there just comes a point where some people step over the line.”

“I don’t really think that I’ve said anything new or anything different than what I’ve felt and what I’ve said in the past,” he continued.

As he did on Wednesday, Boehner criticized some groups for speaking out against the spending deal reached Tuesday by House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray, even before all the details of their proposal had been released.

“When you have no idea what you’re criticizing, it undermines your credibility,” he said.

The House is scheduled to vote on the Ryan-Murray budget Thursday night. Boehner said that even though many Republican members are protesting the measure, it is his “job and obligation to stand up for conservatives in Congress who want more deficit reductions and stand up for the work that Chairman Ryan did.”

The bipartisan plan, Boehner stressed, balances the national budget within 10 years while not raising taxes. While not having everything Republicans might want, he said it “takes giant steps in the right direction” for the country without compromising core conservative principles.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Sandy Fitzgerald

Congressional Staffers Warned Not to Assume They Have Healthcare Coverage.


Senate employees are being cautioned not to take for granted that they have healthcare coverage even if they signed up through the District of Columbia insurance exchange, Fox News reports.

“Please do not assume you are covered unless you have seen the Confirmation Letter from the Disbursing Office!” the Senate Disbursing Office warned in an email Wednesday. The message continued, “Do not rely on your ‘My Account’ page or other correspondence” from the exchange as proof of coverage.

Dan Strodel, the chief administrative officer of the House, said he was also aware of “significant problems” that had prevented enrollment through the DC Health Link exchange. He has asked the Office of Personnel Management to take “immediate steps” to ensure that House lawmakers and staff are able to sign up.

The DC Health Link is not administered by the federal HealthCare.gov website. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said Wednesday in testimony on Capitol Hill that the Obamcare site is “working faster, responding more quickly” and handling “larger volumes of concurrent users.”

However, Fox New reported that the cueing system of the federal site briefly crashed on Wednesday.

Congressional Staffers will continue to have their current Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage until the end of January even if they were unable to sign up for new plans under Obamacare that take effect Jan. 1. Other Capitol Hill employees who do not work directly for a lawmaker are able to retain coverage under their old federal benefits package.

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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Elliot Jager

Sebelius Calls for Probe of Obamacare Website Launch.


Image: Sebelius Calls for Probe of Obamacare Website Launch

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Wednesday asked the department’s inspector general to investigate the performance of private contractors in the flawed launch of the Obamacare website.The healthcare enrollment website, a key part of President Barack Obama’s sweeping healthcare law, crashed on its Oct. 1 launch and was subjected to weeks of emergency fixes.

“I am asking the Inspector General to review the acquisition process, overall program management, and contractor performance and payment issues related to the development and management of the HealthCare.gov website,” Sebelius said in a blog post.

The 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, requires most Americans to have at least enrolled in health coverage by the end of next March or pay a penalty.

The number of people seeking health insurance under the law more than doubled in November to around 250,000, according to a government report released on Wednesday, showing Obamacare is still far from its goal of extending coverage to millions of uninsured Americans.

The website’s disastrous debut created a political crisis for Obama and fellow Democrats.

Sebelius, who is scheduled to testify before a congressional panel later Wednesday, also said she had asked Marilyn Tavenner, the chief of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, to create a new chief risk officer position at CMS.

The new official’s first assignment would be to review information technology contracting and identify the “risk factors that impeded the successful launch of the HealthCare.gov website,” Sebelius said.

Late last month, the Obama administration announced that QSSI, a unit of health insurer UnitedHealth Group, would serve as a general contractor to oversee repairs to HealthCare.gov.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Source: Newsmax.com

CEOs: Obamacare Uncertainty Harming Economic Rebound.


Uncertain corporate costs for President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law and other regulations continue to stymie U.S. employment and capital spending, business leaders said on Wednesday.

Roughly 39 percent of U.S. chief executives cited regulatory costs as their top concern for the next six months, according to a survey released by the Business Roundtable, a confederation of top U.S. companies.

The group said uneven implementation of the healthcare law, commonly known as Obamacare, has made it tough for businesses to decide where to allocate capital for new construction or hiring.

“There seems to be an exception every other day on the Affordable Care Act,” Jim McNerney, head of the Business Roundtable and chief executive of airplane maker Boeing Co , said in a conference call on Wednesday, using the law’s formal name.

“Is your preferred constituency going to get an exception or not? It’s hard to know, so people respond by hedging investment and hedging employment.”

Parts of the law requiring employers to provide healthcare for their workers was delayed earlier this fall until 2015 by the White House, though it remains unclear if that will be made permanent.

Broadly, U.S. companies remain concerned about taxes on so-called “Cadillac” health care plans, premium plans which many offer to employees, as well as efforts to cut costs of medical services, which could boost insurance premium costs for companies and employees, McNerney said.

“There’s no doubt that many in the American business community are concerned about the impact of Obamacare on their healthcare costs,” he said.

The 7.3 percent U.S. unemployment rate has ticked down from a recent high, and data released on Wednesday showed U.S. private sector hiring rose in November at the fastest pace in a year even as the service sector slowed.

CEOs also remain concerned about pending carbon emission regulations from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and increased oversight from the U.S. Department of Labor, he said.

Beyond Obamacare, U.S. CEOs believe the economy is modestly improving, with sales, capital spending and hiring all expected to rise in the next six months.

Ironically, McNerney said healthcare companies themselves stand to benefit from Obamacare spending.

“Certainly it does bring some additional revenue to companies that participate in the healthcare world,” he said.

The Business Roundtable’s CEO Economic Outlook Index rose to 84.5 for the fourth quarter from 79.1 in the third quarter.

A reading above 50 indicates economic growth is expected.

CEOs’ expectation for 2013 gross domestic product growth was 2.2 percent, unchanged from the last quarter.

The Roundtable surveyed 120 members between Nov. 4 and Nov. 21.

© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.
Source: Newsmax.com

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