Tuesday Open Thread

Christmas Candles12Feliz Navidad” is a Christmas song written in 1970 by the Puerto Rican singer-songwriter José Feliciano. With its simple Spanish chorus (the traditional Christmas/New Year greeting, “Feliz Navidad, próspero año y felicidad” or “Merry Christmas, and a happy New Year”) and equally simple English verse (“I wanna wish you a Merry Christmas from the bottom of my heart”), it has become a classic Christmas pop song in the United States, Canada and throughout the Spanish-speaking world.

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
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72 Responses to Tuesday Open Thread

  1. Liza says:

    EyeOnCollege Football
    VIDEO: Jameis Winston does the Top 10 on Letterman
    By Chip Patterson | College Football WriterDecember 17, 2013 10:16 am ET


  2. Mega Millions jackpot roars to near-record $636M




  3. Ametia says:

    Look at this POS Just in time for the holidays too

    Did Zimmerman Copy a Stock Photo for His ‘Original’ $100k Painting?
    by Matt Wilstein | 12:15 pm, December 17th, 2013


  4. Ametia says:

    Schweitzer Takes Aim
    A progressive populist has Hillary in his sights
    Dec 23, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 15• By MICHAEL WARREN

    During a recent appearance on MSNBC, Schweitzer attempted to opine thoughtfully on foreign policy (the Iran nuclear deal, he said, would “tip the balance away from the Saudis and the Egyptians to the Persians,” and the Middle East was experiencing “big changes”) and said one item on his “bucket list” is to visit every county in Iowa. He’s taking shots at potential primary rivals (Hillary Clinton) and expounding on where the party needs to go after Obama. There are no public plans for a (ghostwritten) book on the Montana values that shaped him and could reshape America—yet.


  5. Ametia says:

    2013 is THE YEAR the MEDIA went absolutely into the SEWER. WORST YEAR EVER. We don’t have it twisted with the bullshit about Obama and his poll numbers sinking.

  6. Ametia says:

    Google on Tuesday released its list of the top-trending searches of 2013, which showed that two year-end deaths resonated most in a year packed with news events, product releases and well-traveled memes.

    “Nelson Mandela” and “Paul Walker” were the top two trending search terms on Google’s global list, which this year surveyed the results of 72 countries — the largest sample Google has ever taken.


  7. rikyrah says:

    Where are the black women in Hollywood?
    Arienne Thompson, USA TODAY 1:18 p.m. EST December 17, 2013

    Black women are underrepresented in front of and behind the camera in movies and TV.

    Last week marked the beginning of the awards season frenzy, as nominations for the Screen Actors Guild Awards and Golden Globes were announced. Yet, there was one important group that made a poor showing among the roster of talented nominees: black women.

    While Oprah Winfrey (The Butler) and Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) both picked up supporting actress SAG nominations (and Nyong’o grabbed another from the Golden Globes), they are the lone black women on a list of lily-white female film nominees.

    In fact, black women are entirely absent in the best actress, best director and best screenplay categories, begging a troubling question: Where are the black women in Hollywood?

    “This is always such a tough question for me, because I’m really optimistic about my journey and I can’t really compare my journey to Cameron Diaz’s journey or Reese Witherspoon’s, because we’re not the same,” says Nia Long, whose romantic comedy The Best Man Holiday, which has taken in nearly $68 million at the box office so far. “We’re not considered for the same roles. We’re not paid the same. That’s just the truth.”

    Long’s hit film represents one of only a handful of times this year when multiple black actresses share the screen in a major motion picture.


  8. rikyrah says:

    this is from AquaGranny


    Hola Peeps! I have a share. I got an email from SIL’s Auntie godmother who attended the Memorial for Nelson Mandela & this part is so moving:

    She told me there were some youngsters near her screaming “Tata Obama” (Father Obama) when PBO appeared. This is huge. So many called Nelson Mandela “Tata Madiba.” She said when she heard this
    it gave her the “good chills” as if the baton of one great man was being
    passed to another great man to finish the race.

    She also said not to let those empty looking seats fool you. The weather was awful & many people sheltered in the upper tiers from the rain. Even though the rain made things more difficult, it was considered a huge blessing both for Madiba & the people who were there to celebrate his life.

    She thought that the crowd booing President Zuma was “a rude thing” but many are not happy with him plus he refused to name that day a holiday so that people took off work anyway. There was a big mess up with buses to the stadium also.

    All in all she considered this a great celebration for the life of a great man. She could not attend the viewing or his final journey home but did watch it on screen provided for those who could not be there.

  9. rikyrah says:

    @xicacha: I hope the #BlackFeministTwitterWar includes a snazzy dance number like in School Daze. http://youtu.be/5HUUvQ3Yac8

    Desus ‏@desusnice1h
    BREAKING: “Permed hair not welcome here” signs have began to pop up as peace talks have broken down #BlackFeministTwitterWar

    Desus ‏@desusnice1h
    Suicide bombers yelling “bell hooks is Great” before exploding into a cloud of shrapnel & open letters #BlackFeministTwitterWar

    Sydette ‏@Blackamazon1h
    #BlackFeministTwitterWar the only necessary question is do I get my Rhythm Nation uniform before or after the opening salon day

    Trudy ‏@thetrudz1h
    Will #BlackFeministTwitterWar include houses like Harry Potter? Pecan Pie House. Shea Butter House. Twist Out House. Twerk House.

    Imani ABL ‏@AngryBlackLady1h
    Confused. Are we fighting one another or white feminists? & how is this related to the midseason finale of Scandal? #BlackFeministTwitterWar

  10. Ametia says:

    With My N*ggers’: CNBC Apologizes for Unfortunate Choice of Musical Tease

    You need to be very careful when picking the bumper music for your cable news teases. On CNBC Monday afternoon, as anchor Kelly Evans went to commercial, the song they used as an outro contained uncensored usage of the n-word.

    The song in question was B2K’s Fizzo Got Flow, and needless to say, it’s a pretty colorful song. It was a few segments later, towards the end of the hour, when Evans apologized for airing the song “and for any offense that it may have caused.”


  11. rikyrah says:

    An Indispensable Player on Obama’s Team Takes His Leave, at Last

    Pete Rouse, President Obama’s “indispensable man” with a low profile and big footprint, is the quirky insider who built the Obama organization, hired nearly everyone from the White House chief of staff on down, plotted strategy and regularly said he was about to leave.

    But now, as Mr. Obama is in a trough after the bungled opening of the health insurance marketplace and Democrats smell trouble in next year’s midterm elections, Mr. Rouse, 67, swears he finally is leaving at year’s end, nine years after agreeing only to help Mr. Obama, the newly elected senator from Illinois, set up his office. For once, people are starting to believe him — including his boss.

    “It will be a tough loss,” Mr. Obama said in a brief interview on Wednesday, acknowledging Mr. Rouse’s departure plans. Then he added, “But it may be a situation where he feels more comfortable with some discreet assignments here and there, and certainly I will continue to rely on him for the good counsel and advice that I really can’t get from any other people in this town.”

    Mr. Rouse will lead a small exodus in coming months of other longtime aides, younger yet also exhausted. While Mr. Obama said Mr. Rouse cannot be replaced — “Pete is unique,” he said, partly for “his relationship with me” — the White House is trying to fill voids that he and others would leave, and to bring in fresh recruits. John D. Podesta, the former Clinton administration chief of staff, is coming for 2014 as a counselor. Phil Schiliro, Mr. Obama’s former chief congressional lobbyist, will return, after two years away, to deal with health care issues temporarily.

    “Nerves are stretched, and to have a steady hand like Pete at the White House gives senators a lot of confidence that the president is getting good advice,” said Senator Dick Durbin, Democrat of Illinois, for whom Mr. Rouse once was chief of staff. “But there does come a point — I understand that — where you want to lead a different life. And Pete throws his heart and soul into his jobs.”

    Mr. Rouse, who shuns attention, declined to say much for the record. “I never really cared about the publicity in this, and in my ideal world I would go away without a party, without any fanfare,” he said.

    Mr. Rouse began building the Obama organization in 2004, plotting strategy especially about matters in the Senate (where he was once called “the 101st senator”), and serving as a sounding board for Cabinet members and junior aides, as well as the president’s troubleshooter.


  12. rikyrah says:

    What #GotCovered means for Brian and Dianna: “Relief.”

    October 29, 2013

    Does this story sound familiar to you?

    When Dianna Burke lost her job, she and her husband Brian also lost their health insurance. Although Dianna found new work, it didn’t come with benefits. Since losing their insurance plan, the couple has only been able to obtain coverage through COBRA for the hefty price of more than $1,000 per month — and even that insurance expires at the end of this year.

    Millions of families have faced the kind of anxiety that comes with losing access to affordable health insurance. But through the Health Insurance Marketplace, there’s a new way to get covered.

    Brian and Dianna were thrilled when they found out how much they would save when they shopped for a plan through their state Marketplace, Covered California. After looking at their options, they chose a health insurance plan that would cost just $127 per month.

    Affordable health insurance now available through the Marketplace is helping families across America find quality coverage that fits their needs and their budget. For Brian and Dianna, that will amount to paying about $11,000 less for health insurance next year.


  13. Ametia says:

    NPR Gets $17-Million for Expanded Coverage and New Media Platform
    By Raymund Flandez

    Four foundations and three NPR trustees are giving a total of $17-million in grants to the national nonprofit broadcaster to expand its news coverage in three areas and to build a new platform aimed at tailoring its content to listeners’ preferences.


  14. rikyrah says:

    ThinkProgress: Church Leaders Shame Catholic University For Accepting Koch Dollars

    A group of 50 Catholic leaders are criticizing the president of the Catholic University of America (CUA) for accepting a $1 million donation from a foundation controlled by Charles Koch, arguing that his ideological agenda is not in line with Catholic theology.

    …. Charles, along with his brother David, run Koch Industries and fund a wide array of front-groups and lobbying efforts to expand their anti-tax, anti-regulatory agenda.

    “The Koch brothers are billionaire industrialists who fund organizations that advance public policies that directly contradict Catholic teaching on a range of moral issues from economic justice to environmental stewardship,” the group of priests, social justice advocates, theologians and other academics write. They point to Pope Francis’ strong condemnation of trickle-down economics and the importance of business serving the common good


  15. Liza says:

    Yes, “Feliz Navidad”! Very popular tune here in the southwest.

  16. rikyrah says:

    BET: Obamacare And Me

    McMillian, 54, is also one of millions of Americans who will benefit from the Affordable Care Actwhen it goes into full effect on Jan. 1. And she cannot wait to get some Obamacare. ”Having the opportunity to get affordable health care is so important to me and others, who have long awaited this kind of break,” she said. The Bellflower, California, resident owns and operates Kiddie Depot, a home-based family childcare business. Her son, now 18, was covered by the state-sponsored Healthy Families program. ”I couldn’t afford it. I have a pre-existing condition, which forces me to end up dropping my coverage each time I’ve purchased it, so I’ve been paying out of pocket,” As soon as she was able to, McMillian visited Covered California to get information about the state’s insurance exchange.

    “I put in my information and my son’s and I was just floored because the amount to cover us both was in the range of $183 per month,” she said. “That is extremely affordable for me.” Seeing how strongly opposed to the law congressional Republicans are, going so far as to shut down the government, makes her mad. ”They have excellent health care and could care less about me and aren’t going to pay my bills,” she said. “They’re trying to do everything they can to hurt the president, but they’re not hurting him — they’re hurting people like me.” It also has charged her up even more to help spread the word. ”At a community event I said do not let the Obamacare discussion stop inside your houses. Tell somebody. Think of five people you know and tell them about the [law] and then ask them to tell five more people,” she said.


  17. rikyrah says:

    President Obama’s Interview with Steve Harvey

    Steve Harvey Show, Friday, Dec. 20

  18. rikyrah says:

    North Carolina Home Schools To Get Public School Money
    By Stephanie Mencimer Tue Dec. 17, 2013 3:00 AM GMT

    In July, the increasingly right-wing legislature in North Carolina passed a bill to divert $10 million from the public school budget to create vouchers that would give low-income students up to $4,200 a year to pay for private school tuition. Such vouchers are a popular conservative proposal for “reforming” failing public schools.

    North Carolina’s vouchers, which will become available in 2014, allow public money to go to unregulated private schools that are not required to meet any educational or teacher preparation standards. In addition, thanks to the way the law was written, the money will be available to “home schools”—literally schools set up in someone’s house. Homeschooling traditionally has been done by parents. But the state recently changed its home schooling law to allow people who aren’t parents or legal guardians educate kids in a group setting. The only requirement for such schools is that the teacher have a high school diploma, that the school keep immunization and attendance records on its students, and that it give kids a national standardized test every year.


  19. Yahtc says:

    We Can Learn The Real Meaning Of The Season From A Holiday Most Of Us Don’t Celebrate

    Posted: 12/12/2013

    Hi SG2, Ametia, and rikyrah,

    Carmen invited me to her group’s 1st day celebration of Kwanzaa this Sunday and to her house for the last day of celebrating Kwanzaa. I am looking forward to going!

  20. Yahtc says:

    A New Mobile App Every African American Should Download
    BlackTradeLines a mobile application that is connecting black-owned businesses with their customer base using mobile geolocation based technology.


  21. Yahtc says:

    Investing in African-American Women Could Jump-Start Economy


  22. rikyrah says:

    Edward Snowden reportedly tells Brazil he’ll help probe NSA spying there if granted asylum

    RIO DE JANEIRO — National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden wrote in “an open letter to the Brazilian people” that he would be willing to help Brazil’s government investigate U.S. spying on its soil, but that he could do so only if granted political asylum.

    In a letter obtained and published early Tuesday by the respected Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, Snowden said he’s been impressed by the Brazilian government’s strong criticism of the massive NSA spy program targeting Internet and telecommunications around the globe, including monitoring the mobile phone of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.

    Brazilian senators have asked for Snowden’s help during hearings about the NSA program’s aggressive targeting of Brazil, an important transit hub for trans-Atlantic fiber optic cables that are hacked.

    “I’ve expressed my willingness to assist where it’s appropriate and legal, but, unfortunately, the U.S. government has been working hard to limit my ability to do so,” said the letter, translated into Portuguese by the newspaper. It didn’t make the English original available online.

    “Until a country grants me permanent political asylum, the U.S. government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak out,” the letter added.


  23. rikyrah says:


    Dan Beecher and his wife, Louise Coogan Beecher, unemployed since they lost their jobs in the 2008 housing crash, couldn’t find any affordable health insurance.

    Tears of Relief

    As a couple older than 50, they were offered premiums of $700 per month, which was too much for them to afford.

    After being uninsured for five years, the couple recently was insured under the Affordable Health Act. They signed up during an enrollment fair for the Affordable Care Act in Cornwall last Saturday and found they were eligible for a government subsidy. Now they qualify for a free health plan.

    “We can finally see doctors,” Mrs. Beecher said, wiping her tears.

  24. rikyrah says:

    The Morning Plum: The consequences of GOP opposition to Obamacare
    By Greg Sargent
    December 17 at 9:06 am

    As of now, over two dozen states are not opting in to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, thanks largely to hostility to the law among GOP governors who are turning down huge sums of federal money that could otherwise go towards expanding coverage to their own constituents. Result: untold numbers risk falling into a “Medicaid gap,” making too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid, yet too little to qualify for subsidies on the exchanges.

    We now have a new look at the consequences of this: Millions will likely remain uninsured, and racial and geographic disparities in access to coverage will worsen.

    Two new studies released by the Kaiser Family Foundation today illustrate this in new detail. You can read them here and here, and they take a close look at who makes up the population of those who fall into the Medicaid gap. The key findings:

    * Some 4.8 million uninsured non-elderly American adults nationwide are likely to fall into the Medicaid gap.

    * Some 79 percent of those who fall into the Medicaid gap are from the south (where Republican governors have disproportionately decided not to opt in).

    * Those falling into the Medicaid gap are disproportionately non-white. Some 53 percent of them are black, Hispanic or “other.”

    * Some 47 percent of those falling into the Medicaid gap — over 2.2 million people — are white. If attacks on beneficiaries of the Medicaid expansion as freeloaders and takers have “racial undertones,” as National Journal argued the other day, this is a reminder that huge numbers of poor whites will also be impacted by the refusal of GOP governors to opt into the expansion.


  25. rikyrah says:

    The Morning Plum: The consequences of GOP opposition to Obamacare
    By Greg Sargent
    December 17 at 9:06 am

    As of now, over two dozen states are not opting in to Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, thanks largely to hostility to the law among GOP governors who are turning down huge sums of federal money that could otherwise go towards expanding coverage to their own constituents. Result: untold numbers risk falling into a “Medicaid gap,” making too much to qualify for traditional Medicaid, yet too little to qualify for subsidies on the exchanges.

    We now have a new look at the consequences of this: Millions will likely remain uninsured, and racial and geographic disparities in access to coverage will worsen.

    Two new studies released by the Kaiser Family Foundation today illustrate this in new detail. You can read them here and here, and they take a close look at who makes up the population of those who fall into the Medicaid gap. The key findings:

    * Some 4.8 million uninsured non-elderly American adults nationwide are likely to fall into the Medicaid gap.

    * Some 79 percent of those who fall into the Medicaid gap are from the south (where Republican governors have disproportionately decided not to opt in).

    * Those falling into the Medicaid gap are disproportionately non-white. Some 53 percent of them are black, Hispanic or “other.”

    * Some 47 percent of those falling into the Medicaid gap — over 2.2 million people — are white. If attacks on beneficiaries of the Medicaid expansion as freeloaders and takers have “racial undertones,” as National Journal argued the other day, this is a reminder that huge numbers of poor whites will also be impacted by the refusal of GOP governors to opt into the expansion.


  26. rikyrah says:

    Paul Ryan’s Pathetic Bluff on the Debt Limit
    Monday, December 16, 2013 |
    Posted by Spandan C at 12:05 PM

    On Sunday, Paul Ryan went on Fox News to declare that he and his Republican buddies in Congress are going to “huddle” to figure out what it is they want out of next year’s debt limit fight. They “don’t want nothing.”

    That’s cute, Paul. But the truth is that you will get nothing out of any fights you decide to wage next year over the debt limit. Paul Ryan’s statement on Fox News Sunday wasn’t so much a shot across the bow as it were an attempt to appease the right wing fringe groups that are up in arms because of the budget agreement he and Sen. Murray struck this past week.

    Let’s be clear about something: the president made clear a year ago that he would not engage in a political game where Republicans try to extract ransom for doing their job and paying the bills that Congress already racked up (aka raising the debt limit). And so far, the GOP has tried to fight it twice since the president’s drawing of line in the sand, and been embarrassed both times. Let’s revisit:

    Republicans tried to pull the same stunt back in January, and none other than Newt Gingrich called it a bad idea. Here on TPV we discussed why their threat didn’t have any teeth back then. We turned out to be right. Three days after the president’s second inauguration, House Republicans caved and passed an extension (more accurately, a pause) of the debt limit.

    They wanted to pause it merely until May, so that they would have time to fight over it again, but the Obama recovery rudely intruded and increased tax revenues, coupled with extraordinary methods deployed by the Treasury extended the deadline for the federal government to run out of money all the way into mid-October, roughly the same time government funding would run out.


  27. rikyrah says:

    Democrats Gave Paul Ryan an Inch and Now He Is Trying to Take a Mile
    By: Rmuse
    Monday, December, 16th, 2013, 5:14 pm

    There is an idiom, “Give somebody an inch and they’ll take a mile” that means if you allow someone to behave badly at all, they will start to behave very badly; especially when it involves making concessions. One can excuse someone for making concessions to a party they believe will not take the act of conceding as a sign of weakness, start behaving very badly, and take more until there is nothing left to take, but there is no excuse for conceding anything to bad actors dedicated to taking everything. Such is the state of Democrats who made concessions to Republicans in the recent bicameral negotiations resulting in a bad budget agreement that House Democrats approved to avert a government shutdown in January. The agreement typifies the idiom that because Democrats gave Paul Ryan and Republicans an inch, they will take a mile, and that is what Ryan said yesterday before the agreement is even approved in the Senate and signed by the President setting it in stone for two years.

    Ryan, the new face of “compassionate conservatism,” went on Fox News yesterday and said what many predicted the GOP would do when Congress must act to prevent the United States from defaulting on its debts; extract more concessions from Democrats. Ryan said, “We as a caucus — along with our Senate counterparts — are going to meet and discuss what it is we’re going to want out of the debt limit. We don’t want nothing out of this debt limit. We’re going to decide what it is we’re going to accomplish out of this debt limit fight.” Ryan even revealed that Republicans were planning on concessions they will demand for doing their Constitutional duty and pay debts Congress already ran up; in part for billions in oil, church, and agriculture subsidies, but that is another story.


  28. rikyrah says:



    EXCLUSIVE – Sins of the ‘affluenza’ boy’s parents: Millionaire father and mother of teen let off despite killing four in DUI crash have been accused of more than TWENTY crimes and traffic violations

    Fred and Tonya Couch have had many brushes with the law from speeding to assault

    Mr Couch has been arrested for theft, evading arrest and an alleged assault against his now ex-wife. He paid out over nine driving citation fines

    Mrs Couch paid a $500 fine for forcing a driver off the road

    Son Ethan Couch, 16, was drunk and high when he plowed into a broken down car, taking four lives and injuring more in June last year
    He had faced 20 years behind bars but walked away with 10 years probation last week
    This was because State District Judge Jean Boyd agreed his upbringing had given him ‘freedoms’ he couldn’t deal with
    Ethan would invite strangers back to the huge Burleson, Texas, where he lived alone, according to a friend

    By Will Payne In Fort Worth, Texas and Daniel Bates

    The parents of the drunk driving teen controversially spared jail after killing four people have more than 20 criminal and traffic offense claims on their records – but have never served any time in prison, MailOnline can reveal today.

    Ethan Couch, 16, was only sentenced to ten years’ probation following June’s horrific car wreck after his defense attorney argued he suffered from a condition called ‘affluenza’ which means he is so spoiled by his mother and father he is not fully responsible for his actions.

    Now MailOnline can reveal his parents, millionaire sheet metal manufacturer Fred Couch and ex-wife Tonya have had many brushes with the law themselves.

    They have several driving citations on their records and Mr Couch has been arrested for alleged crimes including theft, evading arrest and an alleged assault against Mrs Couch, according to official court documents obtained at the Johnson County Court records office in Cleburne.

    But aside from a number of small fines for their motoring offenses and a six-month community supervision order issued to Mrs Couch, neither of them have been punished further.

    In fact all of the more serious cases against Mr Couch, going back as far as 1989, have been dismissed.

    Charges were dropped in the two theft cases, because Mr Couch paid substantial restitution.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2524872/Millionaire-parents-affluenza-teen-20-arrests-citations.html#ixzz2nk1KXqOP

    • Liza says:

      I would be looking for a relationship between these multi-millionaire lawbreakers and some folks in the so-called justice system in that town. This reeks of payola, the kid killed four people for crying out loud. It’s worth investigating.

    • Ametia says:

      Not a bit surprised at these findigns. And I’m sure if they dig deeper here with the Couchs and other wealthy families with high profile charges, they’ll find the same ugliness and stink of white privilege and money go them off the hook too.


  29. rikyrah says:

    – – -☺@ACAstories
    CT: Elizabeth Aviles is a Cert. Nursing Assist. who’s now covered too. She’s relieved she’ll get hlthcare she needs. http://www.seiu.org/2013/11/a-… …

    —- ☺@ACAstories
    CA: 19yo Victor Kaslye is glad he has #ACA. Without it “I probably wouldn’t be doing anything about health insurance” http://sacramento.cbslocal.com… …
    View summary

    – – -☺ ‏@ACAstories
    PA: Melinda Layten MT @mlayten Enrolled via http://healthcare.gov . We’ll have good medical & DENTAL insurance in the New Year 4 LESS MONEY

    ‏CA:Marla Miller MT @writersMAMA I enrolled & @CoveredCA staff is FAB!!! Saving LOTS of $$ too! Thank u POTUS & gang….:) – – –Woo! Hoo! – – – – -MORE L8R :>) – — –

  30. rikyrah says:

    GSK to stop paying doctors in overhaul of sales practices
    By Ben Hirschler
    LONDON Tue Dec 17, 2013 6:53am EST

    GlaxoSmithKline will stop paying doctors for promoting its drugs and scrap prescription targets for its marketing staff – a first for an industry battling scandals over its sales practices, and a challenge for its peers to follow suit.

    Britain’s biggest drugmaker also said on Tuesday it would stop payments to healthcare professionals for attending medical conferences as it tries to persuade critics it is addressing conflicts of interest that could put commercial interests ahead of the best outcome for patients.

    The move may force other companies to act, since the entire drugs industry has been under fire for aggressive marketing tactics in recent years.


  31. rikyrah says:

    Issa’s road trip reaches Texas

    12/17/13 08:47 AM—Updated 12/17/13 08:47 AM
    By Steve Benen

    It’s easy for House Republicans to hold an endless stream of congressional hearings condemning the Affordable Care Act, some of which generate attention from reporters covering Capitol Hill. But recently, GOP lawmakers have embraced “field hearings” – official congressional hearings held outside the Beltway, offering Americans far from Washington, D.C., a chance to hear Republicans bash “Obamacare” in person.

    As we talked about last week, House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has already held anti-ACA hearings in Arizona, North Carolina, and Georgia, and yesterday, the Republican road trip reached Richardson, Texas, near Dallas.

    Four Texas congressmen took aim Monday at the federally paid navigators who are helping Texans access insurance coverage through the Affordable Care Act.

    Their criticism came during an unusual “field hearing” by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

    The hearing focused on required navigator training and the lack of background checks and fingerprinting for those on the job.

    Each of the field hearings, it turns out, focuses loosely on a different complaint about the federal health care law. Yesterday’s gathering let Issa and his colleagues complaint for a couple of hours – to roughly 200 people – about the Navigator program, made up of folks who help guide Americans through the process of signing up for coverage, either through Medicaid or through an exchange marketplace.

    For those eager to sabotage the law, the hope is by targeting navigators, there will be fewer people available to help consumers, which means fewer Americans will enroll and get insured, which would undermine the system and satisfy Republican goals.


  32. rikyrah says:

    The Rachel Maddow Show
    A more functional Senate
    12/17/13 08:02 AM
    By Steve Benen

    The Senate keeps a running online tally of every floor vote, and looking over this year’s list, the word “confirmed” is popping up quite a bit more than it used to. Take last night, for example.

    The Senate on Monday evening confirmed Jeh C. Johnson as President Obama’s secretary of homeland security.

    Mr. Johnson’s nomination was held up in the Senate fight over filibusters. In the end, however, his appointment was approved, 78 to 16, after the relaxed filibuster rules forced by the Democrats allowed a final vote.

    On the vote to end debate on Johnson’s nomination, there were 57 votes – a majority of the Senate, but not enough to end a filibuster. But thanks to the so-called “nuclear option,” filibusters on executive-branch nominees are a thing of the past; 57 votes was more than enough to end debate; and Johnson was confirmed to lead DHS easily.

    And while President Obama is no doubt pleased to see the restoration of the traditional Senate confirmation process, it’s striking to see just how much progress there’s been in Congress’ upper chamber as a result of the recent rules change. As Rachel noted on the show last night, not only was Johnson approved, but so too was Anne Patterson, Obama’s nominee to be an Assistant Secretary of State.

    On Friday of last week, two other executive-branch nominees were confirmed on up-or-down votes. The day before, several judicial nominees were also approved. All told, the Senate has confirmed 13 executive-branch and judicial nominees in just 7 days. How many of them would have been delayed or blocked by Republican obstructionism under the old filibuster rules? According to a Democratic Senate source, all 13.

    In other words, by restoring majority rule to the Senate confirmation process, the “nuclear option” has made it possible for the chamber to be efficient and productive again. Maybe Democrats should have done this sooner.

    What’s more, the progress is just a hint of what’s to come – Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has slated 10 more nominees, include Fed Chair nominee Janet Yellen, for floor votes before the chamber breaks for the holidays. There may not be time for votes on all 10, but without the “nuclear option,” it’s likely we wouldn’t see votes on any of them this year.


  33. rikyrah says:

    How Democrats can stop financial sector abuse
    By Ryan Cooper
    December 16 at 3:13 pm

    A new Bloomberg News report details awful abuse at Bank of America’s “Office of the CEO and President.” While this is just the latest in a very long litany of financial sector abuses around the mortgage crisis, it is a good opportunity to hammer home the point that Democrats generally, and President Obama in particular, still have many tools at their disposal to restrain the increasingly lawless financial sector.

    For those who want to see the new “economic justice wing” of the Democratic Party gain in strength, this is a perfect issue to keep front and center.

    If you’ve kept even half an ear open to stuff that David Dayen has been writing since 2009, this the Bloomberg piece will not be terribly surprising. The broad stuff is the same as usual: under terms of the HAMP program and various bailout packages, banks were supposed to help distressed homeowners in certain ways. Instead, they used the opportunity to squeeze homeowners, stuff in as many frivolous fees as possible, and then foreclose anyway, often illegally. This time, it’s the same story from the same period, but apparently reaching all the way up to the CEO’s office. Though I hadn’t heard of this one before:


  34. Ametia says:

    Options D.C. charter school’s Medicaid billing is at center of investigation

    Federal investigators are looking into whether former leaders of the District’s Options Public Charter School committed Medicaid fraud by, among other things, exaggerating the needs of its disabled students and paying students with gift cards to ride school buses, according to several people familiar with the criminal investigation.

    Court documents filed in a related civil case, combined with numerous interviews, indicate that city officials and criminal investigators are examining the school’s busing program and other ways it obtained nearly $2 million in Medicaid reimbursements from June 2012 to June 2013. That included a sharp one-year increase in the number of Options students classified by the school as having the most intensive special education needs.

    Increased bus ridership and elevated special education needs would have allowed the school to increase the amount of local and federal taxpayer dollars it could claim. Court records show that a for-profit company founded by school leaders received hundreds of thousands of dollars in contracts from Options, including a fee of 25 percent of all Medicaid reimbursements.


  35. Ametia says:

    Good Morning, Everyone!. Feliz Navidad!

  36. rikyrah says:

    First Lady Michelle Obama welcomes military families to the White House for the first viewing of the 2013 holiday decorations and asks every American to remember what our military families and servicemembers often experience during this time of year, and the sacrifices they make to proudly serve all of us.


  37. rikyrah says:

    Good Morning, Everyone :)

  38. CarolMaeWY says:

    It’s been a joy listening to your Christmas Carols this week. This is one of my favorites. Best of Christmas wishes to you 3Chicspolitico.

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