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Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief” Video highlights

Thanks to everyone who joined us for a night of great music and a show of support for the people of Haiti

Posted by: Audiegrl

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President Obama Signs Legislation

President Obama Signs Legislation Providing Immediate Tax Deductions for Haiti Charitable Contributions January 22, 2010.

President Obama Is Making It Easier for Americans to Support Haiti
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In the days since the earthquake in Haiti, Americans have shown their generosity with millions of dollars in donations. Tonight, President Obama signed a bill into law that makes it easier to give. This legislation will allow taxpayers to receive the tax benefit from donations made to the Haiti effort in this tax season, rather than having to wait until they file their 2010 tax returns next year. Specifically, cash donations to charities for the Haitian relief effort given after January 11 and before March 1 of this year may be treated as if the contribution was made on December 31 of last year so that the contribution can be deducted from 2009 income. This measure applies to monetary donations, not goods or services.


Clinton Bush Haiti Relief FundUNICEFAmerican Red Cross

WFP:  World Food ProgrammePartners In Health Oxfam America
Yéle Haiti

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Vice President Biden’s Meets with U.N. Secretary General’s Special Representative for Iraq

posted by: Audiegrl

Vice President Joe Biden meets with U.N Special Representative for Iraq, second from left, Ad Melkert, in the Roosevelt Room, January 5, 2010

The Vice President met with the U.N. Secretary General’s Special Representative for Iraq Ad Melkert, to discuss developments in Iraq. The Vice President offered continued U.S. government support for the indispensable role of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Iraq and thanked Mr. Melkert for his leadership, highlighting his recent support for Iraqi efforts to approve an election law. They discussed preparations for the upcoming national elections and pledged to help the Iraqis resolve outstanding national unity issues.

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Filed under Barack Obama, Government, Iraq, Media and Entertainment, Middle East, Military, News, Obama Administration, Peace Talks, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Presidents, Terrorism, United Nations, United States, Vice-President Joe Biden, War, Washington, DC

Dan Brown’s New Book, 2012 – Are You Ready for the Consciousness Shift?

dan-brown-lost-symbol-420x0Doc Childre and Deborah Rozman Ph.D.—Like The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown’s new book, The Lost Symbol, is creating controversy. This time it’s about what’s real and what’s not in his interpretations of the many mysterious symbols that are in our nation’s capitol. Were our founding fathers, who carefully designed and placed these mystical symbols, trying to tell us something? (They were Freemasons whose motto is ordo ab chao or “order out of chaos“.) Are Brown’s descriptions of noetic science (exploring the nature and potentials of consciousness) and quantum-indeterminate electronic noise REGS (Random Event Generators) fact or fiction? Are his assertions true that existing organizations had “categorically proven that human thought, if properly focused had the ability to affect and change physical mass” and that “our thoughts actually interacted with the physical world, whether or not we knew it, effecting change all the way down to the subatomic realm?

noeticscienceBrown states in The Lost Symbol that in the hours following the horrifying events of September 11, 2001 the field of noetic science made a quantum leap forward in proving a connection between science and mysticism and bringing order out of chaos. “Four scientists discovered that as the frightened world came together and focused in shared grief on this single tragedy, the outputs of thirty-seven different Random Event Generators around the world suddenly became significantly less random. Somehow, the oneness of this shared experience, the coalescing of millions of minds, had affected the randomizing function of these machines, organizing their outputs and bringing order form chaos.” His fictional character Trish talks about “software that quantifies the nation’s emotional state.” Brown goes on. His fictional scientist Katherine “created beautifully symmetrical ice crystals by sending loving thoughts to a glass of water as it froze. Incredibly the converse was also true: when she sent negative, polluting thoughts to the water, the ice crystals froze in chaotic, fractured forms.” What is Dan Brown trying to tell us?

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/17/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In his weekly address, President Barack Obama praised the progress that has been made on health insurance reform, and spoke out against those who defend the status quo in order to score political points and protect their profits. With reform the closest it has ever been to becoming law, the insurance companies are rolling out deceptive ads, paying for misleading studies, and flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists. Now, Washington needs to serve the American people, not the special interests.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 17, 2009

Over the better part of the past year, a great debate has taken place in Washington and across America, about how to reform our health care system to provide security for people with insurance, coverage for those without insurance, and lower costs for everyone. From the halls of Congress to the homes of ordinary Americans, this debate has helped us to forge consensus and find common ground. That’s a good thing. That’s what America is all about.

Now, as the debate draws to a close, we can point to a broad and growing coalition of doctors and nurses, workers and businesses, hospitals and even drug companies – folks who represent different parties and perspectives, including leading Democrats and many leading Republicans – who recognize the urgency of action. Just this week, the Senate Finance Committee approved a reform proposal that has both Democratic and Republican support. For the first time ever, all five committees in Congress responsible for health reform have passed a version of legislation. As I speak to you today, we are closer to reforming the health care system than we have ever been in history.

But this is not the time to pat ourselves on the back. This is not the time to grow complacent. There are still significant details and disagreements to be worked out in the coming weeks. And there are still those who would try to kill reform at any cost. The history is clear: for decades rising health care costs have unleashed havoc on families, businesses, and the economy. And for decades, whenever we have tried to reform the system, the insurance companies have done everything in their considerable power to stop us.

We know that this inaction has carried a terrible toll. In the past decade, premiums have doubled. Over the past few years, total out of pocket costs for people with insurance rose by a third. And we know that if we do not reform the system, this will only be a preview of coming attractions. A new report for the Business Roundtable – a non-partisan group that represents the CEOs of major companies – found that without significant reform, health care costs for these employers and their employees will well more than double again over the next decade. The cost per person for health insurance will rise by almost $18,000. That’s a huge amount of money. That’s going to mean lower salaries and higher unemployment, lower profits and higher rolls of uninsured. It is no exaggeration to say, that unless we act, these costs will devastate the US economy.

This is the unsustainable path we’re on, and it’s the path the insurers want to keep us on. In fact, the insurance industry is rolling out the big guns and breaking open their massive war chest – to marshal their forces for one last fight to save the status quo. They’re filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads. They’re flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign contributions. And they’re funding studies designed to mislead the American people.

Of course, like clockwork, we’ve seen folks on cable television who know better, waving these industry-funded studies in the air. We’ve seen industry insiders – and their apologists – citing these studies as proof of claims that just aren’t true. They’ll claim that premiums will go up under reform; but they know that the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office found that reforms will lower premiums in a new insurance exchange while offering consumer protections that will limit out-of-pocket costs and prevent discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. They’ll claim that you’ll have to pay more out of pocket; but they know that this is based on a study that willfully ignores whole sections of the bill, including tax credits and cost savings that will greatly benefit middle class families. Even the authors of one of these studies have now admitted publicly that the insurance companies actually asked them to do an incomplete job.

It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, “Take one of these, and call us in a decade.” Well, not this time. The fact is, the insurance industry is making this last-ditch effort to stop reform even as costs continue to rise and our health care dollars continue to be poured into their profits, bonuses, and administrative costs that do nothing to make us healthy – that often actually go toward figuring out how to avoid covering people. And they’re earning these profits and bonuses while enjoying a privileged exception from our anti-trust laws, a matter that Congress is rightfully reviewing.

Now, I welcome a good debate. I welcome the chance to defend our proposals and to test our ideas in the fires of this democracy. But what I will not abide are those who would bend the truth – or break it – to score political points and stop our progress as a country. And what we all must oppose are the same old cynical Washington games that have been played for decades even as our problems have grown and our challenges have mounted.

Last November, the American people went to the polls in historic numbers and demanded change. They wanted a change in our policies; but they also sought a change in our politics: a politics that too often has fallen prey to the lobbyists and the special interests; that has fostered division and sustained the status quo. Passing health insurance reform is a great test of this proposition. Yes, it will make a profound and positive difference in the lives of the American people. But it also now represents something more: whether or not we as a nation are capable of tackling our toughest challenges, if we can serve the national interest despite the unrelenting efforts of the special interests; if we can still do big things in America.

I believe we can. I believe we will. And I urge every member of Congress to stand against the power plays and political ploys – and to stand up on behalf the American people who sent us to Washington to do their business.

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/10/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In his weekly address, President Barack Obama praised past and current political leaders from across the spectrum who have come forward to support reform. Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and drug companies have already expressed their support. In the past several days Governor Schwarzenegger, Mayor Bloomberg, former Senate Major Leader Bob Dole, and former Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson, among others, have all come forward to say that the status quo is unsustainable and that now is the time to reform the system. They see that this is a not a Democratic or a Republican problem, but an American one in need of a solution.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 10, 2009

The historic movement to bring real, meaningful health insurance reform to the American people gathered momentum this week as we approach the final days of this debate. Having worked on this issue for the better part of a year, the Senate Finance Committee is finishing deliberations on their version of a health insurance reform bill that will soon be merged with other reform bills produced by other Congressional committees.

After evaluating the Finance Committee’s bill, the Congressional Budget Office – an office that provides independent, nonpartisan analysis – concluded that the legislation would make coverage affordable for millions of Americans who don’t have it today. It will bring greater security to Americans who have coverage, with new insurance protections. And, by attacking waste and fraud within the system, it will slow the growth in health care costs, without adding a dime to our deficits.

This is another milestone on what has been a long, hard road toward health insurance reform. In recent months, we’ve heard every side of every argument from both sides of the aisle. And rightly so – health insurance reform is a complex and critical issue that deserves a vigorous national debate, and we’ve had one. The approach that is emerging includes the best ideas from Republicans and Democrats, and people across the political spectrum.

In fact, what’s remarkable is not that we’ve had a spirited debate about health insurance reform, but the unprecedented consensus that has come together behind it. This consensus encompasses everyone from doctors and nurses to hospitals and drug manufacturers.

And earlier this week, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg came out in support of reform, joining two former Republican Senate Majority Leaders: Bob Dole and Dr. Bill Frist, himself a cardiac surgeon. Dr. Louis Sullivan, Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George H.W. Bush, supports reform. As does Republican Tommy Thompson, a former Wisconsin governor and Secretary of Health and Human Services under President George W. Bush. These distinguished leaders understand that health insurance reform isn’t a Democratic issue or a Republican issue, but an American issue that demands a solution.

Still, there are some in Washington today who seem determined to play the same old partisan politics, working to score political points, even if it means burdening this country with an unsustainable status quo. A status quo of rising health care costs that are crushing our families, our businesses, and our government. A status quo of diminishing coverage that is denying millions of hardworking Americans the insurance they need. A status quo that gives big insurance companies the power to make arbitrary decisions about your health care. That is a status quo I reject. And that is a status quo the American people reject.

The distinguished former Congressional leaders who urged us to act on health insurance reform spoke of the historic moment at hand and reminded us that this moment will not soon come again. They called on members of both parties seize this opportunity to finally confront a problem that has plagued us for far too long.

That is what we are called to do at this moment. That is the spirit of national purpose that we must summon right now. Now is the time to rise above the politics of the moment. Now is the time to come together as Americans. Now is the time to meet our responsibilities to ourselves and to our children, and secure a better, healthier future for generations to come. That future is within our grasp. So, let’s go finish the job.

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Filed under Democrats, Economy, Jobs, Media and Entertainment, Politics, Pres. Barack Obama, Republicans, Weekly YouTube Address, Women's Issues

Congress Set To Allow Gay Marriage In Nation’s Capital

Posted by Audiegrl

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Washington Post/Tim Craig—Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill said it appears unlikely that Congress will block a bill to be introduced Tuesday that would allow same-sex marriages in the District.

D.C. Council leaders have vowed to expedite the bill and said they hope to put it to a final vote before Christmas. But even if same-sex couples start marrying next year, the long-term survival of the practice would be in doubt for years, depending on the makeup of the House and Senate, congressional officials said.

I hate to say this, but I think this is going to be rough sledding,” said Rep. James P. Moran Jr. (D-Va.). “I don’t think [conservatives] are going to give us a pass. . . . I don’t think we can always escape this issue coming to the floor.”

On Tuesday morning, D.C. Council member David A. Catania (I-At Large) will introduce his bill, which says that “any person . . . may marry any other eligible person regardless of gender.” The legislation, which has 10 co-sponsors including Catania, is expected to sail through the council’s committee process. Under Home Rule, Congress will have 30 legislative days to review the council’s action before it becomes law.

Given the stakes for the gay community locally and nationally, many city leaders and activists have begun calculating how Congress might react to the sight of same-sex couples getting married in the shadow of the U.S. Capitol.

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President Obama’s Saturday Youtube Address 10/03/09

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WhiteHouse.gov—In this week’s address, President Barack Obama spoke of how the rising costs of health care are stifling America’s small businesses, and how reform will strengthen these businesses and the economy. Small businesses create roughly half of all new jobs, but they also pay up to 18 percent more for the very same insurance plans as larger businesses. Too many have been forced to cut benefits, drop coverage, shed jobs, or shut their doors entirely. Health insurance reform is integral to laying a new foundation for our economy so that small businesses can grow and create new jobs.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 3, 2009

When I took office eight months ago, our nation was in the midst of an economic crisis unlike any we’d seen in generations. While I was confident that our economy would recover, we know that employment is often the last thing to come back after a recession. Our task is to do everything we possibly can to accelerate that process.

And we’ve certainly made progress on this front since the period last winter when we were losing an average of 700,000 jobs each month. But yesterday’s report on September job losses was a sobering reminder that progress comes in fits and starts, and that we will need to grind out this recovery step by step.

That’s why I’m working closely with my economic team to explore additional options to promote job creation. And I won’t let up until those who seek jobs can find them; until businesses that seek capital and credit can thrive; and until all responsible homeowners can stay in their homes.

It won’t be easy. It will require us to lay a new foundation for our economy – one that gives our workers the skills and education they need to compete; that invests in renewable energy and the jobs of the future; and that makes health care affordable for families and businesses – particularly small businesses, many of which have been overwhelmed by rising health care costs.

This is something I hear about from entrepreneurs I meet – people who’ve got a good idea, and the expertise and determination to build it into a thriving business. But many can’t take that leap because they can’t afford to lose the health insurance they have at their current job.

I hear about it from small business owners who want to grow their companies and hire more people, but they can’t, because they can barely afford to insure the employees they have. One small business owner wrote to me that health care costs are – and I quote – “stifling my business growth.” He said that the money he wanted to use for research and development, and to expand his operations, has instead been “thrown into the pocket of healthcare insurance carriers.”

These small businesses are the mom and pop stores and restaurants, beauty shops and construction companies that support families and sustain communities. They’re the small startups with big ideas, hoping to be the next Google, or Apple, or HP. Altogether, they create roughly half of all new jobs.

And right now, they are paying up to 18 percent more for the very same insurance plans as larger businesses because they have higher administrative costs and less bargaining power. Many have been forced to cut benefits or drop coverage. Some have shed jobs or shut their doors entirely. And recent studies show that if we fail to act now, employers will pay six percent more to insure their employees next year – and more than twice as much over the next decade.

Rising health care costs are undermining our businesses, exploding our deficits, and costing our nation more jobs with each passing month.

So we know that reforming our health insurance system will be a critical step in rebuilding our economy so that our entrepreneurs can pursue the American Dream again, and our small businesses can grow and expand and create new jobs again.

That is precisely what the reform legislation before Congress right now will do. Under these proposals, small businesses will be able to purchase health insurance through an insurance exchange, a marketplace where they can compare the price, quality and services of a wide variety of plans, many of which will provide better coverage at lower costs than the plans they have now.

Small businesses won’t be required to cover their employees, but many that do will receive a tax credit to help them pay for it. If a small business chooses not to provide coverage, its employees will receive tax credits to help them purchase health insurance on their own through the insurance exchange.

And no matter how you get your insurance, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to deny your coverage because of a pre-existing condition. They won’t be able to drop your coverage if you get too sick, or lose your job, or change jobs. And we’ll limit the amount your insurance company can force you to pay out of your own pocket.

By now, the urgency of these reforms is abundantly clear. And after long hours of thoughtful deliberation and tough negotiation, the Senate Finance Committee – the final congressional committee involved in shaping health care legislation – has finished the process of crafting their reform proposal.

As we move forward in the coming weeks, I understand that members of Congress from both parties will want to engage in a vigorous debate and contribute their own ideas. And I welcome those contributions. I welcome any sincere attempts to improve legislation before it reaches my desk. But what I will not accept are attempts to stall, or drag our feet. I will not accept partisan efforts to block reform at any cost.

Instead, I expect us to move forward with a spirit of civility, a seriousness of purpose, and a willingness to compromise that characterizes our democratic process at its very best. If we do that, I am confident that we will pass reform this year, and help ensure that our entrepreneurs, our businesses, and our economy can thrive in the years ahead. Thank you.

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