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Health care reform debate to reach fever pitch
Sep 23rd, 2013 by Warren Swil

Public opinion wavers as

federal shutdown looms

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Hell) has lost control of his caucus – and the whole country will suffer. Click image to enlarge.
Click image to enlarge.

EXPECT THE BATTLE over health care reform to reach fever pitch this week as crazy Republicans in Congress tie repeal of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 to a possible shutdown of the federal government one week from today.
The debate is all over the map.
President Obama’s signature accomplishment in office – and one he vows to defend whatever the political cost – is not enormously popular with the American public.
But, a close examination of recent polls reveal that this is more out of ignorance about the law and its long-term implications – and irrational oppose-anything-Obama Tea Party naysayers – than a well informed public might feel.
Some benefits are already implemented (coverage for pre-existing conditions, for instance.)


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Obama expected to nominate Yellen as new Fed chief

HER SELECTION WOULD BE GOOD POLITICS, GOOD FOR THE ECONOMY
Blog note: This was originally posted Sept. 23. .

President Obama is expected to name – as early as Monday – Janet Yellen as his nominee to head the Federal Reserve Bank.
Yellen, seen as widely supported among the cognoscenti, would make an excellent choice.
It would be smart politics and the right thing for the economy – assuming the radical right-wingers don’t destroy it first by shutting down the federal government.


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Walls, checkpoints can’t give Middle East security

ONLY COMPROMISE CAN END PERPETUAL VIOLENT STALEMATE
It is totally understandable that in Israel, tight security checks at every public place have become a way of life. Residents don’t seem to notice; visitors, unaccustomed to it, hardly can not notice.
On two occasions during my recent 10-day visit to the region, security was both overwhelming and, seemingly, futile.
They are the strongest indications I got anywhere that security cannot be bought with walls and checkpoints. It is a chimera.
Security can only be attained through peace. And peace, it seems, can only be accomplished through compromise.
I don’t pretend to have all the answers. But, I do have a lot more questions.


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Holy Land’s fourth major religious shrine a place of peace, harmony

BAHAI FAITHFUL CALL HAIFA TOMB, GARDENS ITS HOLIEST SITE
As if being home to the holiest shrines of the world’s three major religions is not sufficiently complicated, Israel is also the location of a fourth – lesser known – holy shrine considered by millions the holiest of all.
The Bahai Gardens surrounding the tomb of the religion’s founder, The Bab, sit on the steep slope of Mt. Carmel affording a commanding view of the city of Haifa on Israel’s north coast.
The gardens abound with symbolism.
It is a place of peaceful harmony – quite unlike the bitterly contested Old City in Jerusalem, where the holiest shrines of the world’s three major religions are located.


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Future of newspapers brightens as some adapt to digital era (with video)

BEST NEWS OF THE WEEK: NYT CO. TO PAY DIVIDEND
The Thursday announcement that The New York Times Co. is restoring its dividend is the clearest signal yet that the Gray Lady is successfully adapting its business model to the new realities of publishing in the Internet age.
It comes after a decade of stern warnings that the end of print media in general – and daily newspapers in particular – was approaching rapidly.
It is becoming increasingly obvious that those who provide “indispensable journalism” and find a way to monetize their online content are those that will survive this wrenching transition.
It was definitely the best news of the week.


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Inequality rises, incomes flat – investors caught by surprise

FEDERAL RESERVE LOOKS AT NUMBERS, SEES REASON TO CONTINUE STIMULUS
The stock market was caught flat-footed on Wednesday by the Federal Reserve Bank’s decision to hold steady on its massive stimulus of the economy.
But, if investors had been following the real news released earlier this week by the Census Bureau on inequality and poverty in America, they would not have been surprised.
The FOMC obviously has been watching as middle class incomes (and jobs) stagnate, while the top one percent (stockholders and corporate CEOs) thrives.
Meanwhile, the GOP is threatening to shut down the government for non-existent reasons. If they think this is the way to win the next election, they must be insane.
Where is the Occupy movement when we really need it?


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GOP digs in over budget – for no rational reason

LUNATIC DEBT CEILING FIGHT WILL HARM ECONOMY, BUT RADICALS DON’T CARE
The looming budget battles in Congress are totally unnecessary and threaten to wreak havoc on an already fragile economy.
Republicans in the House of Representatives, pressured by far right-wing activist groups, don’t care.
It’s all about posturing and catering to the radial right wing of the party, which is holding the entire country hostage. Damn the torpedoes!
It’s enough to make your head explode.


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A long-term solution for Syria: 40-40-20 partition

MAP MUST BE REDRAWN TO REFLECT REALITIES ON THE GROUND
A proposal slowly gaining currency in the Middle East involves redrawing the boundaries of the modern nation state we know as Syria to more accurately reflect the religious and ethnic realities of the territory.
The political dimensions to such an arrangement are quite favorable.
It is time for a serious discussion of a long-term solution to the current stalemate.


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Not-so-world famous Hollywood landmarks: the tour

MANY OF THEM SHOULD BE WORLD FAMOUS
Living a stone’s throw from Hollywood is one of the fringe benefits of life in L.A.
But, for so many of the past 50 years, there was no “there” in Hollywood.
Visitors from around the globe had few choices when it came to checking out world famous landmarks. The community was run down, filled with derelict buildings and people.
That has changed recently.
The revitalization is proceeding apace.
Join us on a tour of some of the not-so-world famous landmarks, some of which should be on everyone’s list.


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INESCAPABLE CONCLUSION: U.S. influence in Middle East wanes

COVERAGE OF SYRIA DEAL HIGHLIGHTS AMERICA’S SECOND-FIDDLE STATUS
As Americans try to assess the short- and long-term implications of the deal on Syria, those most affected by the crisis (excluding the Syrians themselves) seem to have already made up their minds.
Russia won. The U.S. lost.
The influence of the United States is at its lowest ebb in generations here.
The Russian-initiated deal that leaves Syria’s president intact after he gassed his own people is just another nail in the coffin of waning U.S. ability to influence events in this troubled region.


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