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Posts tagged ‘New York Times’

Obama Library Gets Few Takers.


With barely three years to go in his final term, President Barack Obama’s presidential library still needs to find a home.

With Obama’s blessing, top supporters are launching a foundation to develop and build the library, which will house his presidential records and serve as a monument to his legacy.

The nonprofit Barack H. Obama Foundation will be led by Marty Nesbitt, a close Obama friend from Chicago, and Julianna Smoot, a former White House social secretary and top official in Obama’s re-election campaign.

A competition to host the library has already begun. Hawaii, where Obama was born, and Illinois, his longtime home, have been doing some lobbying.

In New York, Obama’s alma mater, Columbia University, also has hinted at interest.

“Columbia is proud to count President Obama among its alumni,” wrote Robert Hornsby, a university spokesman. “We look forward to learning more about the plans of the Barack H. Obama Foundation for the development of a library reflecting the president’s values and priorities.”

But some skeptical donors told The New York Times that the library doesn’t belong anywhere but Chicago. They wrote off Columbia’s statement as a way to create concern that the Windy City might lose out to Big Apple.

“They need this to be a bit of a bidding war,” one prominent Obama donor told the Times on the condition of anonymity.

Some prominent Obama donors have heard from people close to the president that he would rather live his post-presidential life in New York than Chicago, which they say feels “small for him,” the Times reports.

“No specific site, institution, city or state is advantaged over another at this point,” Nesbitt said. “The ultimate site will be chosen based on the merits.”

In February, the foundation will ask parties that want to host the library to make their interest known. That list will be culled and in May, the foundation will notify the groups that will be invited to submit formal, detailed proposals. The president and first lady Michelle Obama will make the decision, and the foundation will announce it in early 2015.

“He has asked us to lead the planning and development of a library in a way that reflects his values and priorities over the course of his career in public service,” Nesbitt said — values like expanding economic opportunity, promoting peace and dignity abroad, and inspiring the ethic of American citizenship.

The foundation plans to hire full-time staff later this year. Although it will start fund-raising right away to cover its own costs, most of the money to build the library won’t be raised until after Obama leaves the White House. While Obama is still in office, the foundation won’t take donations from foreigners, lobbyists or organizations that aren’t nonprofits. It also plans to disclose all donations over $200.

The president, Mrs. Obama and White House staffers won’t raise money for the foundation until Obama leaves office, the group said. Obama will be kept up to date but won’t be closely involved in the screening of the site proposals.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Newsmax Wires

US West Faces ‘Worst Drought in 500 Years’.


California’s three-year drought could end up being the area’s worst in 500 years, forcing even tougher restrictions on residents who have been cutting back on showers and farming already.

On Friday, the State Water Project, which is the main distribution system of municipal water in California, announced it would not be allocating any water from its reservoirs to local agencies this spring. It is the first time it has taken such action in its 54-year history.

Drinking water for 25 million people and irrigation for 1 million acres of farmland will be affected, Fox News reports. 

“We are on track for having the worst drought in 500 years,” B. Lynn Ingram, a professor of earth and planetary sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, told The New York Times.

Gov. Jerry Brown already had called on Californians to cut back on water use by 20 percent.

The State Water Project typically makes an announcement of water allocation on February 1, enabling farmers to plan what and how much they will plant based on how much water they will be able to use for irrigation. With the announcement that no allocation will be made, some farmers have opted to plant nothing, The New York Times reports. 

Others are planning to drill more wells to tap aquifers, which aren’t regulated by the state. But previous years’ use of those aquifers already have lowered their levels, and the ongoing drought has not given them time to return to normal range.

With fears that California could be in a 500-year drought, officials want water supplies to be preserved in case they are needed over the next several years.

“These actions will protect us all in the long run,” State Department of Water Resources Director Mark Cowin said in a news conference.

The crisis is pitting farmers, city dwellers and environmentalists against each other, but officials are appealing to residents to put aside long-held divisions.

A snow survey Thursday in the Sierra Nevada showed a snowpack of only 12 percent of normal, Fox reported. Reservoirs are lower than in 1977, one of the state’s previous worst drought years.

With forecasts still calling for no rain, 17 rural communities that provide water to 40,000 people could run out of within 60 to 120 days, The New York Times reports.

“Every day this drought goes on we are going to have to tighten the screws on what people are doing,” the governor said.

“I have experienced a really long career in this area, and my worry meter has never been this high,” Tim Quinn, executive director of the Association of California Water Agencies, told The New York Times. “We are talking historical drought conditions, no supplies of water in many parts of the state. My industry’s job is to try to make sure that these kind of things never happen. And they are happening.”

Besides drinking supplies and farm irrigation, the lack of water is threatening the endangered salmon and other fish species. And air pollution in Los Angeles, which had been declining over the past 10 years, is on the rise without rain to clean the air. Bans have been put on fireplace wood burning to combat the problem.

© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Italian Court Again Convicts Amanda Knox for Murder.


Image: Italian Court Again Convicts Amanda Knox for Murder

An Italian court on Thursday convicted American Amanda Knox and her former Italian boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito for a second time for the murder of a British student in Perugia in 2007.

The court sentenced Knox to 28 years and six months in prison and Sollecito to 25 years.

Knox was following proceedings in the Florence courtroom from her hometown of Seattle where she returned after a previous acquittal. In a statement, she said, “I am frightened and saddened by this unjust verdict. Having been found innocent before, I expected better from the Italian justice system.”

Lawyers said Sollecito, who was in court earlier Thursday for a morning hearing, was not present for the verdict as is his right under Italian law. Italian news agency ANSA said he may have left Florence.

Editor’s Note: ObamaCare Is Here. Are You Prepared?
Exchange student Meredith Kercher was found dead in the house she shared with Knox on Nov. 2, 2007 in the university town of Perugia in central Italy.

Explaining her decision not to return to Italy, Knox, 26, told the New York Times: “I would be putting myself in the hands of people who very clearly want me in prison for something that I didn’t do.”

Knox, who is finishing a degree in creative writing at the University of Washington, added: “I never thought that I would be convicted and then look what happened.”

Kercher’s family were also in Italy for the ruling.”The anxiety builds as we get nearer the time. It’s really hard to say what we expect the verdict to be,” her brother Lyle, 34, said before the verdict. “We are not going to get closure today, so there won’t be any celebration on our part, but it’s hopefully a step towards reaching a conclusion,” he said.

“To lose someone you love so dearly is hard enough, especially in the way she died, but that has been compounded by the fact that it has gone on for six years and three months.”

Knox, Sollecito and a third person, drug dealer Rudy Guede, were initially convicted for the crime, which prosecutors said was the result of a sex game turned violent due to tensions between Kercher and Knox.

Guede is now the only one of the three still in prison after exhausting his appeals but investigators say that multiple stab wounds on the body from two different knives indicate he could not have acted alone.

Knox and Sollecito have always protested their innocence and Guede has changed his story several times but maintains he did not commit the murder although he was in the house when it happened.

Prosecutors have asked for Knox to be given a 30-year sentence and Sollecito 26 years, saying the punishment should be harsher for her because she initially accused someone else of the crime, bar owner Patrick Lumumba.

Knox says the accusation of Lumumba, as well as her since retracted memory of hearing Kercher’s screams, were due to intimidating police interrogation tactics.

Knox now says she was at Sollecito’s house that night.

The two served four years for the murder and were acquitted in 2011 but the supreme court overturned that ruling in 2013, sending the case back for re-trial.

Thursday’s verdict might still not be the final word in the long-running case since both the prosecution and the defense have the right to appeal again.

Knox explained her absence in an email to the court in which she told jurors: “I am not a monster.”

Experts doubt that Knox could ever be extradited to Italy, but she may not be able to travel freely outside the United States if Italy issues an international warrant for her arrest.

Urgent: Is Obamacare Hurting Your Wallet? Vote in Poll

© AFP 2014

Source: Newsmax.com

Grimm’s Re-election in Doubt as Federal Probe Continues.


Image: Grimm's Re-election in Doubt as Federal Probe Continues

 

By John Gizzi

The profane outburst at a TV reporter Tuesday by Republican Rep. Michael Grimm of New York has focused new attention on the recent indictment of one of his top fundraisers for campaign finance violations which, along with an ongoing federal investigation, has raised questions about the congressman’s re-election this year.

Were Grimm’s sole problem this lone outburst, his political problems would be minimal.

But what prompted the question from NY1 cable news reporter Michael Scotto following the State of the Union address concerned the investigation resulting in the Jan. 13 indictment of his longtime fundraiser Diana Durand of Houston on charges she tried to evade federal limits on campaign donations.

And looming large in the background is an FBI probe into whether Grimm accepted illegal donations — including large amounts of cash from foreigners in his first race for Congress in 2010.

The case involves Israeli Rabbi Yoshiyahu Pinto, who has congregations in Israel and Manhattan, and who has agreed to testify for the FBI.

Durand, frequently referred to in press reports as a former girlfriend of Grimm’s, is charged with reimbursing two co-workers for donations to someone the FBI complaint refers to as “Congressman A” — and who The New York Times identifies as Grimm.

According to the complaint, Durand, who had already given the legal limit of $4,800 to Grimm, wrote both of the co-workers by email, saying, “I still have to make the deposit but I can write you both a check, or I can get your account numbers and do a transfer, whatever works for you.”

The Durand case is currently being handled by the office of the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Asked by Newsmax if Grimm was a target of any investigation, spokesman Robert Nardoza of the U.S. Attorney’s office said, “I can’t say, and I won’t confirm or deny that.”

The FBI probe involving Grimm and Pinto is more complex and potentially more devastating to the only Republican member of Congress from New York City.

Ofer Biton, a former top aide to Pinto, is alleged to have raised more than $500,000 for Grimm in 2010 from wealthy members of the rabbi’s congregation, including amounts of cash over the legal limit as well as donations from foreigners, which is illegal in federal races in the United States.

At the same time, Biton is also accused of embezzling millions of dollars from Pinto’s congregation, and last August pleaded guilty to visa fraud.

Rabbi Pinto is also alleged to have attempted to bribe Ephraim Bracha, a senior police official in Israel, who promptly reported the matter to superiors.

The Israeli news outlet Arutz Sheva reported this month that “Rabbi Pinto has reportedly leveled his own charges against Grimm, claiming that Grimm’s associates attempted to blackmail him if he did not encourage his followers to donate to Grimm’s campaign.” The nature of the blackmail has not been disclosed publicly.

Grimm, a former FBI agent, has denied any knowledge of the financial schemes. But the recent indictment of Durand suggests that the feds may be tightening a noose around Grimm.

No leaders of either the Republican Party or the New York Conservative Party, whose ballot line the congressman carried in his two winning races, would speak on the record to Newsmax about Grimm facing further trouble or the possibility of a primary challenge.

Privately, however, there is growing concern among both GOP and Conservative chieftains in the Empire State that if there is more controversy ahead for Grimm, opposition might emerge out of fear that the 43-year-old congressman could be defeated.

Two years ago, Grimm defeated Democrat Mark Murphy — an aide to then-public advocate and now mayor, Bill de Blasio — with about 53 percent of the vote.

This year, the Democratic nominee is expected to be former City Councilman Domenic Recchia of Brooklyn.

The New York press has speculated that the former popular conservative Republican congressman from Staten Island, Vito Fossella, may challenge Grimm. Fossella has denied such plans, but an online poll conducted by the Staten Island Advance had more than 80 percent of respondents encouraging him to make a bid.

King County (Brooklyn) Conservative Party Chairman Jerry Kassar told Newsmax that a committee met with Grimm and “we discussed his case. He may not like talking about it with reporters but he had no problems taking questions from us about it. He said he anticipates a conclusion of his discussions with federal government officials and nothing new will come up.”

As to whether Grimm is having political problems in New York’s 11th District, which includes Staten Island and a sliver of Brooklyn, Kassar said, “Any time some clouds appear, there is always a chance of a storm. But so far, this seems a case of guilt by association. We have confronted him directly about this and he has adequately responded to our questions.”

John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

Obamacare Delivers Staggering Knockout Blow To Middle Class.


“And here’s what you need to know. First, I will not sign a health care plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future. I will not sign it if it adds one dime to the deficit, now or in the future, period” – Barack Obama, September 9, 2009

The hard, cold reality of Obamacare is that it adds $6,200,000,000,000.00 to our national deficit. One of the largest, most impactful laws ever to be passed in American history, and it is 100% based upon a lie.

The Week: ObamaCare has delivered another sucker punch to the middle class. This time it’s sticker shock. Now that most people can get past the tech problems of HealthCare.gov and actually see the real cost of insurance plans available, they are finding that Affordable Care is a big hit to the family budget. And when the family budget gets hit in the solar plexus, guess what happens to consumer spending and the economy?

obamacare-sticker-shock-obama

In California, policies for about 900,000 Californians are being canceled because of ObamaCare’s mandates, and about two-thirds of these do not qualify for subsidies, according to The Chicago Tribune. The result: These folks will be paying higher premiums.

In Alabama, premiums have doubled for some middle-class families, like that of Courtney Long, a stay-at-home mother of four. She told WHNT News, “It’s devastating. I started crying.”

“I mean, we have worked so hard to get out of credit card debt, get ahead on the car loan, transfer our mortgage to a 15- from a 30-year mortgage… and for what?”

In Tennessee, GOP Sen. Lamar Alexander issued an analysis of a White House report and found the following:

    • Today, a 27-year-old man in Memphis can buy a plan for as low as $41 a month. On the exchange, the lowest state average is $119 a month — a 190 percent increase.
    • Today, a 27-year-old woman in Nashville can also buy a plan for as low as $58 a month. On the exchange, the lowest-priced plan in Nashville is $114 a month — a 97 percent increase. Even with a tax subsidy, that plan is $104 a month, almost twice what she could pay today.
    • Today, women in Nashville can choose from 30 insurance plans that cost less than the administration says insurance plans on the exchange will cost, even with the new tax subsidy.
    • In Nashville, 105 insurance plans offered today will not be available in the exchange.

In Washington state, ObamaCare will increase the underlying cost of individually purchased health insurance by 34 to 80 percent on average, according to Forbes.

The list goes on and on and includes Texas, Florida, New York, Illinois, Georgia, and North Carolina. But premiums are just the beginning. The deductibles are outrageous, too.

A recent article in The New York Times tells the story of Doug and Ginger Chapman, ages 55 and 54, a middle-class couple “sitting on the health care cliff.” Their annual income of around $100,000 a year makes them ineligible for a subsidy in New Hampshire (if they earned under $94,000, it would cut their costs by half). They have to replace their family insurance which includes the two of them and their two sons. The premium cost alone, not including any deductible, is $1,000 a month, or 12 percent of their income.

The Times‘ analysis found the following:

The cost of premiums for people who just miss qualifying for subsidies rises rapidly for people in their 50s and 60s. In some places, prices can quickly approach 20 percent of a person’s income. Experts consider health insurance unaffordable once it exceeds 10 percent of annual income. By that measure, a 50-year-old making $50,000 a year, or just above the qualifying limit for assistance, would find the cheapest available plan to be unaffordable in more than 170 counties around the country, ranging from Anchorage to Jackson, Miss. [The New York Times]

The other group that gets disproportionately hit is the young, according to Forbes. For a 40-year-old, the 2013 average deductible was $4,045, and the monthly cost increased 29 percent to $309. For a 64-year-old man, the monthly cost of a plan with a $3,494 deductible increased 64 percent to $806.

If even a fraction of the middle class and upper middle income earners divert some of their discretionary dollars to pay for health care, it will have a significant impact on consumer spending. What will that mean for the economy? Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of the nation’s GDP, although experts say that number is likely to decline.

The top 20 percent of income earners account for about 40 percent of all spending in the U.S. When you increase the costs of health care and the new taxes associated with ObamaCare, you can hear the wallets closing. source – The Week.

by NTEB News Desk.

Boehner: Immigration Reform Will Be Tackled ‘One Step at a Time’.


House Speaker John Boehner is expected to back step-by-step measures to revamp the country’s immigration laws in a way that non-tea party conservatives can live with, The New York Times reported.
He previously signaled that he would take positions — on the budget and immigration — opposed by the tea party faction saying that it had “lost all credibility.”
Boehner is still against the Senate’s immigration bill as too sweeping a way to address the presence of all 11 million illegal immigrants, according to the Times.
“The American people are skeptical of big, comprehensive bills, and frankly, they should be,” he said. “The only way to make sure immigration reform works this time is to address these complicated issues one step at a time.
“I think doing so will give the American people confidence that we’re dealing with these issues in a thoughtful way and a deliberative way,” Boehner said.
Boehner lately hired immigration specialist Rebecca Tallent who had worked for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., an advocate of immigration reform.
Non-tea party Republicans could back a series of individual bills — after the 2014 primary season — that would grant legal status to, among others, agricultural laborers and those who were brought to the United States illegally as minors by their parents, according to the Times.
House Republicans will discuss immigration reform at a retreat later in January.Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, architect of the budget deal, is expected to play a key role in articulating a Republican immigration strategy, the Times reported.

Immigration reform could help Republicans make inroads in the sizable bloc of Hispanic voters which Mitt Romney overwhelmingly lost to President Barack Obama, the Times reported.
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© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

By Elliot Jager

Michael Moore: ‘Awful’ Obamacare is Liberals’ ‘Dirty Little Secret’.


Image: Michael Moore: 'Awful' Obamacare is Liberals' 'Dirty Little Secret'

Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, whose 2007 documentary “Sicko” slammed the health care industry, blasted Obamacare Wednesday as “awful.”

“That is the dirty little secret many liberals have avoided saying out loud for fear of aiding the president’s enemies, at a time when the ideal of universal health care needed all the support it could get,” Moore — whose “Bowling For Columbine” won an Academy Award — wrote in an op-ed piece for The New York Times.

On the day millions got coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the documentary filmmaker blasted the troubled law as a “pro-insurance industry plan” badly implemented by President Obama “who knew in his heart that a single-payer, Medicare-for-all model was the true way to go.”

“… Obamacare’s rocky start — clueless planning, a lousy website, insurance companies raising rates, and the president’s telling people they could keep their coverage when, in fact, not all could” was all the result of that “one fatal flaw,” he wrote.

Obama, he charged, took “Romneycare, a program designed to keep the private insurance industry intact, and just improved some of its provisions.”

He also laid into the law’s affordability, saying it’s akin to “a cruel joke” — using the example of a 60-year-old couple making $65,000 a year who’d be stuck with premiums of nearly $12,000 a year and a deductible of $12,600 a year.

“If both become seriously ill, they might have to pay almost $25,000 in a single year,” he wrote.

Moore touted Vermont’s single-payer plan, starting in 2017, saying it “will change everything, with many states sure to follow suit by setting up their own versions.”
“Obamacare can’t be fixed by its namesake,” Moore concluded. “It’s up to us to make it happen.

© 2013 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

 

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