Daily Archives: December 10, 2009

Newswire: “Top al-Qaida leader” killed in Pakistan

“NOT Osama bin Laden”

A “high-ranking” al-Qaida figure was killed Thursday in an attack by a drone aircraft in northwest Pakistan, U.S. officials told NBC News.

The officials did not identify who was killed, except to say that it was not al-Qaida’s supreme leader, Osama bin Laden. If the report is confirmed, it would be the first time coalition forces had killed a top al-Qaida figure in almost a year.

The officials said the killing was the result of stepped-up operations targeting al-Qaida leaders in recent weeks.


MSNBC’s Bob Windrem reports:

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Obama Receives Nobel Peace Prize: Video and full text

Full text of speech here: Obama Nobel Speech(pdf)

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President and Mrs. Michelle Obama arrive in Oslo

Nobel Peace Prize laureate U.S. President Barack Obama (3rd L) and his wife Michelle (2nd L) pose for a picture with Norway's Queen Sonja, King Harald, Crown Princess Mette-Marit and Crown Prince Haakon (L-R) at the Royal Palace, prior to the Nobel ceremony at the City Hall, in Oslo December 10, 2009.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate U.S. President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle (2nd R) participate in the Nobel Peace Prize Signing Ceremony at Oslo City Hall December 10, 2009.

President Obama accepts the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize

From left, First Lady Michelle Obama, US President Barack Obama, King Harald, Queen Sonja, Crown Prince Haakon and Crown Princess Mette Marit at a banquet in Obama's honor in Oslo, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Lise Aserud, Scanpix)

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Barbara Walters Names First Lady Michelle Obama the Most Fascinating Person of 2009

Michelle Obama on her ‘Whirlwind‘ Year

First Lady Michelle Obama and Barbara Walters

First Lady Michelle Obama and Barbara Walters

ABCNews/Lauren Sher—First Lady Michelle Obama is Barbara Walters’ Most Fascinating Person of 2009.

Almost a year since the Obama family moved to Washington, D.C., the first lady reflected on the transition to the White House.

It has been a whirlwind. But it’s been amazing,” she told Walters. “I mean, if you think about this year, I had to get these two beautiful girls settled into a new city, into a new home, into a new school. We got a dog. I visited eight countries with my husband. I planted a garden. I’ve started a mentoring program. It has been everything. And now, here we are at our first Christmas in the White House.”

During her tenure as first lady, Obama has promoted healthy living and taken steps to combat childhood obesity — creating a vegetable garden on the White House lawn and holding health fairs with exercise stations for kids.

I think I’ve begun to lay the foundation to a conversation about the health of our kids — particularly when we’re looking at statistics that say that one in three kids in this country are obese, and those numbers increase if you’re African-American or Hispanic,” she said. “So we’re going to spend a lot more time on that issue in the years to come.”

First Lady Michelle Obama from her grade school years

First Lady Michelle Obama from her grade school years

The first African-American First Lady is also one of the fittest. Wearing a sleeveless dress in her official White House portrait, Obama’s toned arms have become part of her signature style — and the envy of many.

Obama, who often joins her husband in the White House gym, told Walters that her workout regimen began after the birth of their first daughter, Malia.

My personal routine hasn’t changed much in the past 11 years,” she said. “I really started right after I had Malia, our oldest, and some of that was, you know, in all honesty it was a little sort of revenge because I’m married to a man who has worked out all of his life. And regardless of how busy he is, he finds the time to work out. And there was a point at which I got a little resentful of that.”

[Malia] was still waking up for that four o’clock feeding and I’d get up because I’d be the first one to hear her, and he’d be asleep,” she added. “And I thought, ‘I’m up, I might as well go to the gym. And if I get to the gym, then he’ll have to wake up and do that feeding.’ I get a workout in and everyone will be happy. So you know, if there’s anything that I can attribute these arms to, it’s probably just determination.”

I think it’s the truth, the fact that he would have not pursued any of this had I really, really put my foot down,” she said. “It made it really hard to be the person that would stand in the way of someone else’s dreams, and the possibilities of his leadership. And I definitely didn’t want to be in that position. I think I made the right call.

Obama Family Portrait by Annie Leibovit

Between greeting world leaders and raising tweens, Malia and Sasha, in the national spotlight, Obama’s scheduled is packed. But even she has her “lazy days.” The first lady said her guilty pleasures are often “food based,” or are watching “really bad TV” with the family’s Portuguese water dog, Bo.

I sit with Bo, who usually climbs up on my lap. He thinks he’s a lap dog,” she said. “He’ll cozy up with me, and I’m just clicking through mindless shows. A lot of, you know, shows about food and design, and all that good stuff. And it’s just quiet, and I’m not thinking about anything for that second — not about the kids, not about my husband, not about my schedule. If I get an hour of that during the course of a week, it feels like heaven.”

Obama gushed about Bo, who instantly became the apple of the family’s eye.

Bo is my baby, he’s our son. He’s wonderful. He’s growing,” she said. “It’s like I’m a mother. You ask about my kid, I’m gone.”

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President Obama: Three New Initiatives to Help Community Health Centers

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President Barack Obama shakes hands with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after signing a memorandum expanding government funded health clinics across the country, Dec. 9, 2009

President Barack Obama shakes hands with Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius after signing a memorandum expanding government funded health clinics across the country

White House.gov—Two causes all Americans can get behind are initiatives to improve our health care system and create jobs in a struggling economy. In an effort to accomplish both at once, today President Obama announced that $600 million in stimulus money will go towards improving community health centers across the country:

Starting today, we’re making $88 million in funding available for centers to adopt new health information technology systems to manage their administrative and financial matters and transfer old paper files to electronic medical records. These investments won’t just increase efficiency and lower costs, they’ll improve the quality of care as well –- preventing countless medical errors, and allowing providers to spend less time with paperwork and more time with patients.

That’s the purpose of the final initiative I’m announcing today as well -– a demonstration project to evaluate the benefits of the “medical home” model of care that many of our health centers aspire to. The idea here is very simple: that in order for care to be effective, it needs to be coordinated. It’s a model where the center that serves as your medical home might help you keep track of your prescriptions, or get the referrals you need, or work with you to develop a plan of care that ensures your providers are working together to keep you healthy.

So taken together, these three initiatives –- funding for construction, technology, and a medical home demonstration –- they won’t just save money over the long term and create more jobs, they’re also going to give more people the peace of mind of knowing that health care will be there for them and their families when they need it.

And ultimately, that’s what health insurance reform is really about. That’s what the members of Congress here today will be voting on in the coming weeks.

Now, let me just end by saying a little bit about this broader effort. I know it’s been a long road. I know it’s been a tough fight. But I also know the reason we’ve taken up this cause is the very same reason why so many members from both parties are here today –- because no matter what our politics are, we know that when it comes to health care, the people we serve deserve better.

President Obama announces that the Recovery Act will provide new funding for Community Health Centers to finance new construction, modernize information technology, and build a “medical home” model. December 9, 2009

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Sotomayor’s Opinion Marks the Supreme Court’s First Use of the Term ‘undocumented immigrant.’

Posted by Audiegrl

ThinkProgress.org/Amanda Terkel—Yesterday, the Supreme Court “released its first four decisions in argued cases this term,” including one marking Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s debut.

In an otherwise dry opinion, Justice Sotomayor did introduce one new and politically charged term into the Supreme Court lexicon.

Justice Sotomayor’s opinion in the case, Mohawk Industries v. Carpenter, No. 08-678, marked the first use of the term “undocumented immigrant,” according to a legal database. The term “illegal immigrant” has appeared in a dozen decisions.

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Sotomayor Draws Retort From Fellow Justice Clarance Thomas

New York Times/Adam Liptak—The Supreme Court released its first four decisions in argued cases this term on Tuesday. They were all minor, but one was notable for being Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s Supreme Court debut and for prompting a testy concurrence from Justice Clarence Thomas.

The case concerned whether federal trial-court rulings concerning the lawyer-client privilege may be appealed right away. Justice Sotomayor, with methodical reasoning and a formal writing style, said no.

Justice Sotomayor said that result was dictated by sound policy and was consistent with a law governing appeals.

The decision was unanimous, but Justice Clarence Thomas declined to join the part of Justice Sotomayor’s opinion discussing why the cost of allowing immediate appeals outweighs the possibility that candid communications between lawyers and their clients might be chilled.

In a concurrence, Justice Thomas took a swipe at his new colleague, saying she had “with a sweep of the court’s pen” substituted “value judgments” and “what the court thinks is a good idea” for the text of a federal law.

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If your wondering about that sound your hearing? Don’t worry, it’s just Lou Dobbs’ head exploding. 😉

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44-D’s Twenty-Five Days of Christmas Music Videos (Dec 10th)

The Christmas Song Performed by Nat King Cole

The Christmas Song” (1944), commonly referred to as “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire“ or “Merry Christmas to You”, is a classic Christmas song, written by vocalist Mel Tormé and Bob Wells. According to Tormé, the song was written during a blistering hot summer. In an effort to “stay cool by thinking cool,” the most-performed (according to BMI) Christmas song was born.

I saw a spiral pad on his piano with four lines written in pencil,” Tormé recalled. “They started, ‘Chestnuts roasting … Jack Frost nipping … Yuletide carols … Folks dressed up like Eskimos.’ Bob (Wells, co-writer) didn’t think he was writing a song lyric. He said he thought if he could immerse himself in winter he could cool off. Forty minutes later that song was written. I wrote all the music and some of the lyrics.”

The Nat King Cole Trio first recorded the song early in 1946. At Cole’s behest — and over the objections of his label, Capitol Records — a second recording was made the same year utilizing a small string section, this version becoming a massive hit on both the pop and R&B charts. Cole re-recorded the song in 1953, using the same arrangement with a full orchestra arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle, and once more in 1961, in a stereophonic version with orchestra conducted by Ralph Carmichael. The latter recording is generally regarded as definitive and continues to receive considerable radio airplay each holiday season, while Cole’s original 1946 recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1974.

Lyrics

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire,
Jack Frost nipping at your nose,
Yuletide carols being sung by a choir,
And folks dressed up like Eskimos.

Everybody knows a turkey and some mistletoe,
Help to make the season bright,
Tiny tots with their eyes all a-glow,
Will find it hard to sleep tonight.

They know that Santa’s on his way
He’s loaded lots of toys and goodies on his sleigh,
And ev’ry mother’s child is gonna spy,
To see if reindeer really know how to fly.

And so I’m offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although it’s been said
Many times, Many ways
Merry Christmas to you.

[musical interlude]

And so I’m offering this simple phrase,
To kids from one to ninety-two,
Although it’s been said
Many times, Many ways
Merry Christmas to you.

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