Chasing Ice movie reveals largest iceberg break-up ever filmed - guardian.co.uk)
Republican campaign consultant Scott Tranter appeared on a panel Monday hosted by the Pew Center on the States to discuss the long lines and voter ID controversies that plagued the 2012 election. In his comments, Tranter seemed to imply that he believed these issues were helpful to Republicans and should be pursued for that reason.
“A lot of us are campaign officials — or campaign professionals — and we want to do everything we can to help our side. Sometimes we think that’s voter ID, sometimes we think that’s longer lines — whatever it may be,” Tranter said with a laugh.
Tranter owns Vlytics, a company that was paid more than $3,000 by former presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign for “data consulting.”
The Treasury Department announced this afternoon that it is getting ready to sell 234,169,156 shares of AIG stock, which it received as part of a massive, $182 billion taxpayer-funded bailout of the failing insurer in 2008. The shares, which amount to 16 percent of the entire company, represented the government’s last remaining major investment in AIG, which had to be essentially nationalized when a gigantic pile of credit-default swaps underwritten by its Financial Products division went kaboom, and threatened to take the entire global economy down with it.
The government has been selling down its AIG shares for months, including a big sale in September that reduced its stake below 50 percent for the first time since 2008. The New York Fed, which put huge chunks of AIG’s most toxic assets into a series of holding vehicles called Maiden Lane I, II, and III during the bailout, got rid of the last of those assets earlier this fall.
The Treasury Department still owns a small number of AIG warrants, which allow it to buy more stock in the company if it chooses. But with the last remaining Treasury-owned stock about to be sold into the public markets, AIG is going to be free of government assistance, and the 2008-era bailouts will be all but over.
The Obama administration gave conditional approval on Monday to health insurance marketplaces being set up by six states led by Democratic governors eager to carry out President Obama’s health care overhaul. The six are Colorado, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington.
OK, these states are now my favorites as the best in the U.S. They actually care about their citizens.
By the way, I’ve only lived in one of them but have had happy moments in each of them. I encourage everyone to visit and enjoy and also to stay away from states that are dragging their feet or not willing to participate in increased access to health care for all.
Although the Supreme Court upheld the bulk of the landmark health reform law last summer, Obamacare’s proposed Medicaid expansion was scaled back when the court ruled that states should be able to decide whether or not to expand their programs. Since then, GOP governors have been digging in their heels against reform, refusing to expand their states’ Medicaid pools to extend affordable insurance to millions of low-income Americans. That’s led lawmakers in several GOP-run states, such as Texas and Louisiana, to toy with the idea of partially expanding Medicaid in individual counties as a way of overcoming their governors’ continued obstruction.
But Sebelius has confirmed that pursuing that option will make states ineligible for the matching funds that the federal government will offer to the states that choose to fully expand Medicaid:
[W]e explain how Exchanges and Medicaid administrative costs will be funded and how we will continue exploring opportunities to provide States additional support for the administrative costs of eligibility changes. We clarify in our new guidance that states have the flexibility in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program to provide premium assistance for Exchange plans as well as to adopt “bridge plans” that offer coverage through both Medicaid and Exchanges – keeping individuals and families together when they cross the line between Exchanges and Medicaid. And, while the law does not create an option for enhanced match for a partial or phased-in Medicaid expansion to 133 percent of poverty, we will consider waivers at the regular matching rate now and, in 2017 when the 100 percent federal funding for the expansion group is slightly reduced, broad-based State Innovation Waivers.
We hope states will take advantage of the substantial resources available to help them insure more of their residents. As an independent report highlighted, “Accounting for factors that reduce costs, states as a whole are likely to see net savings from the Medicaid expansion.”
Poll: Voters want to soak the rich to avoid fiscal cliff.
An American appetite for tax hikes gives President Barack Obama leverage in fiscal cliff negotiations.
A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll finds that 60 percent of respondents support raising taxes on households that earn more than $250,000 a year and 64 percent want to raise taxes on large corporations.
Even 39 percent of Republicans support raising taxes on households making more than $250,000. Independents favor such a move by 21 percentage points, 59 to 38 percent.
Only 38 percent buy the GOP argument that raising taxes on households earning over $250,000 per year will have a negative impact on the economy. Fifty-eight percent do not.
“Democrats really have a winning issue here, and we should drive it hard,” said Celinda Lake, the Democratic pollster who helped conduct the bipartisan poll. “We’re in an era now where there’s a lot of cynicism about trickle-down economics.”
So Republican ideas are unpopular — no surprise there. This is pretty much just a continuation of the trend in polling. Obama won reelection, so it’s no surprise most people back his ideas here. The alternate Republican ideas were also Mitt Romney’s ideas.
But that last question is so odd you wonder why they asked it. 75% support “cutting government spending across the board,” which is pretty much the same as going over the fiscal cliff. I suppose it’s so vague that it’s appealing; when you start to get into specifics, spending cuts get a lot more unpopular.
Thanks to Republican lawmakers, predatory payday lenders are back in business in Wisconsin, and worse than before:
Many of the lenders have shifted from payday loans that were good for as little as two weeks to what they call installment loans - high-interest loans that don’t fall under payday lending regulations. Installment loans can have annual interest rates of 500% or more.
More than 12,000 workers from throughout Michigan and the U.S. Midwest crowded into the state Capitol and marched outside in freezing temperatures on Tuesday as the legislature began debating a “right-to-work” law restricting unions in a stronghold of organized labor.
Michigan State Police Inspector Gene Adamczyk said the Capitol building was closed to visitors when it reached capacity of 2,200. An estimated 10,000 people demonstrated outside.
Protesters lined the railings of the inner rotunda of the Capitol in Lansing as the Republican-majority Michigan House of Representatives began debate on a law that would strike a heavy blow against unions by prohibiting them from compelling workers to be members and pay dues.
The pro-union forces earlier had chanted “Hey hey, ho ho, right-to-work has got to go,” and “What’s disgusting, union busting,” inside the building where police had arrested eight protesters last Thursday as Republicans gave preliminary approval to the laws.
Supporters of the right-to-work legislation also were inside the Capitol and on the grounds nearby, although they were heavily outnumbered by opponents. Security was tight with police dressed in riot gear, carrying long batons and with spray canisters on their belts.
Outside, where a nearby bank sign showed the temperature at 25 degrees Fahrenheit (-4 Celsius) and light snow fell, four inflatable rats dubbed the “Rat Pack” depicted Republican Governor Rick Snyder and the party leaders who have led the right-to-work effort.
A man dressed as Santa Claus stood on the Capitol steps holding a sign saying that Republicans had stolen Christmas.
A warm November and record-breaking early December means 2012 will be the warmest year ever for the U.S. As Jeff Masters reports:The NCDC’s Climate Extremes Index (CEI),which “tracks the percentage area of the contiguous U.S. experiencing top-10% and bottom-10% extremes in temperature, precipitation, and drought,” reports it has also been the most extreme January to November period on record. Some 46% of the continental U.S. saw top-10% extreme weather, which is more than double the average
…the U.S. heated up considerably in November, notching its 20th warmest November since 1895, said NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) in their latest State of the Climate report. The warm November virtually assures that 2012 will be the warmest year on record in the U.S. The year-to-date period of January – November has been by far the warmest such period on record for the contiguous U.S.–a remarkable 1.0°F above the previous record. During the 11-month period, 18 states were record warm and an additional 24 states were top ten warm. The December 2011 – November 2012 period was the warmest such 12-month period on record for the contiguous U.S., and the eight warmest 12-month periods since record keeping began in 1895 have all ended during 2012.
December 2012 would have to be 1°F colder than our coldest December on record (set in 1983) to prevent the year 2012 from being the warmest in U.S. history. This is meteorologically impossible, given the recent December heat in the U.S. As wunderground’s weather historian Christopher C. Burt reported, an early-December heat wave this week set records for warmest December temperature on record in seven states. December 2012 is on pace to be a top-20% warmest December on record in the U.S.
Virginia State Senator Charles “Bill” Carrico Sr. (R) has become the latest swing state-Republican to propose a scheme to rig presidential elections for future Republican candidates. Blue Virginia reports his proposed SB 723 would award the state’s electors based on which candidate gets the majority of votes in each gerrymandered Congressional district — rather than based on who gets the most votes statewide.
The Carrico bill would award one of Virginia’s 13 electoral votes to the presidential candidate who gets the most votes in each of the Commonwealth’s 11 Congressional Districts. The remaining two electors would go to the candidate who won the majority of Congressional Districts. With a Republican-controlled redistricting passed earlier this year, Virginia Democrats were heavily packed into three districts. Under these maps, Obama won Virginia by almost a 4 point margin, yet he carried just four Virginia Congressional Districts. Were Carrico’s scheme in place, Mitt Romney would have received seven of Virginia’s 11 electoral votes despite receiving just 47.28% of the vote statewide.