Over the weekend, I attended an international drone summit in Washington, DC, co-organized by CODEPINK, the Center for Constitutional Rights and Reprieve. Dr. Amna Buttar, a member of the Punjab Provincial Assembly in Pakistan, spoke at the summit. She[...]
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President Obama responds to Mitt Romney's claim earlier today that "of course" he would have done the same thing as Obama with respect to the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan?even though Romney himself had previously said he opposed Obama's strategy:
As far as my personal role and what other folks would do, I'd just recommend that everybody look at people's previous statements in terms of whether they thought it was appropriate to go into Pakistan and take out bin Laden.Mitt Romney, of course, famously said in 2007 that President Obama's willingness to go into Pakistan was "ill-advised" and "ill-considered" and that he did not "concur" with the Obama strategy.
I assume that people meant what they said when they said?that's been at least my practice. I said that I'd go after bin Laden if we had a clear shot at him, and I did. If there are others who have said one thing and now suggest they would do something else, then I'd go ahead and let them explain it.
Ball's in your court, Mitt.
The nation’s top housing regulator has indefinitely delayed a decision on mortgage relief for American homeowners, American Banker reports. Federal Housing Finance Agency head Edward DeMarco, who oversees Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, will not make a decision on principal reduction before the end of April as planned, an agency spokesperson said. “FHFA continues to work on its principal forgiveness analysis and is in discussions with the Department of the Treasury,” a spokeswoman for the agency said Friday. “A final determination on the Treasury proposal for triple investor incentives for Hamp Principal Reduction Alternative is being deferred until we conclude these activities.” DeMarco has consistently opposed principal reduction, even though it could save the FHFA billions of dollars and protect homeowners from foreclosure. Under pressure from congressional Democrats and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, he agreed to reconsider the proposal earlier this month.
A federal court in Texas today stopped the Texas legislature from denying Planned Parenthood funding from the state’s Women’s Health Program. The federal judge imposed a preliminary injunction on the law, over which Planned Parenthood sued a few weeks ago. Texas’s Planned Parenthood provides medical services to over 130,000 Texan women every year, and the law would apply to even those health clinics that do not provide abortion. According to Planned Parenthood, “over 40 percent of women who received services through the Women?s Health Program chose to rely on a Planned Parenthood health center for Women?s Health Program services.” In a response to today’s decision by the court, Patricio Gonzales, CEO of Planned Parenthood Association of Hidalgo County, said “The health and well-being of our patients is our number-one priority. We hope that this decision will allow us to continue our lifesaving work of providing high-quality health care and cancer screenings to some of Texas? most vulnerable women.”
Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) accused President Obama of advancing “the radical homosexual agenda” and waging a “shocking violation of religious liberty,” during an appearance on a conservative radio talk show last week. Huelskamp took to the program to promote his Military Religious Freedom Protection Act, a measure designed to protect servicemembers who express opposition to gay or lesbian people from discrimination. “I think you have this radical secularism and you put it together with the radical homosexual movement and say ?hey, if you have those beliefs that?s fine but you can talk about it for an hour on Sunday, maybe, and after that just keep quiet for the other hundred and some hours a week,” Huelskamp said. “The idea that chaplains would not be able to preach certain parts of the Gospel and say, ?you know what this is the way we interpret it and this is what it means,? and those are being shut down.” Interestingly, the military has yet to report a case of religious oppression or discrimination.
Were you planning on cutting the cord on your cable as soon as Hulu signed a few more content deals and let you watch your favorite shows the day after they aired? Think again. The New York Post reports that Fox is renegotiating its deal with Comcast in a way that would require Hulu to require users to prove that they already subscribe to cable in order to get access to its content. The authentication system would likely work the same way: users would log in to Hulu with their cable company logins, rather than with a Hulu ID. Fox is already somewhat more restrictive about its content than the other major networks (with the exception of CBS, which puts almost none of its content on Hulu and declines to stream many episodes at all). Currently, you have to have Hulu Plus to stream Fox shows the day after they air. Otherwise, you have to wait a full week to watch the shows supported only by ads.
It makes sense that now is the time Fox would strike. Hulu (and Netflix as well) are early in their efforts to create original content. And while those companies say publicly that their original shows are meeting their expectations, they haven’t been precisely clear about what those expectations were, or whether that means they’re even close to garnering network-level (or even cable-style) audiences for that programming. They’re nowhere near close to telling the television networks to shove it, so Fox is striking in what it sees as one of a few remaining moments of opportunity, especially because it wants to make sure it can retain the cash to pay its retransmission fees. The cable companies need to hang on to their subscribers both to ensure their own profits, and to meet their own outside demands. Until retransmission fees are out of the equation, it’s hard to imagine that this model is going to change dramatically.
A former Israeli prime minister joined the growing chorus of top former officials to criticize the Netanyahu government’s hawkish approach to Iran, urging that time remained to broker a diplomatic deal and that heated rhetoric and historical comparisons could paint Israel into a corner.
Ehud Olmert, who left office in 2009 under a corruption scandal, told a conference in New York on Sunday:
There is enough time to try different avenues of pressure to change the balance of power with Iran without the need for a direct military confrontation with Iran.
He went even further in interviews with news media, warning off an Israeli attack. Olmert told Israel’s Channel 10:
There is no reason at this time not to talk about a military effort, but definitely not to initiate an Israeli military strike.
In an interview with the New York Times, he echoed concerns of Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, retired Israeli brigadier general Shlomo Brom, and his successor atop the Kadima opposition party Tzipi Livni that the Israeli government’s rhetoric on Iran was getting too heated. Olmert, who eschewed comparisons between Iran and Nazi Germany, said:
They talk too much, they talk too loud. They are creating an atmosphere and a momentum that may go out of their control.
At the conference in New York, the former top military officer in Israel, Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, said the Israelis “still have time” before they need to launch an attack and called for “crippling sanctions and much more severe sanctions.” His successor at the top military post Gen. Benny Gantz last week echoed reported Israeli and American intelligence estimates and said Iran “hasn?t yet decided whether to go the extra mile” and build a bomb.
While a potential Iranian nuclear weapon is widely considered a threat threat to both the security of the U.S. and its allies in the region, and the nuclear non-proliferation regime, those estimates give the West time to pursue a dual-track approach of pressure and diplomacy to resolve the crisis. Like their Israeli counterparts, American officials including President Obama vow to keep “all options on the table” to deal with the Iranian nuclear program, but questions about the efficacy and consequences of a strike have led U.S. officials to declare that diplomacy is the “best and most permanent way” to end the West’s crisis with Iran.
One of the things Americans like most about the Affordable Care Act is that insurance companies can no longer deny people coverage because of a pre-existing condition like cancer or diabetes. That provision will take effect in 2014, but in the meantime, individuals and families with pre-existing conditions can enroll in temporary high-risk insurance pools that provide coverage for those who are can’t find insurance elsewhere.
Since large groups of sick people are very expensive to insure — they spend the premiums they pay into the risk pool — enrollment has lagged behind expectations, as high risk pools attracted the sickest (and more desperate) individuals willing to pay a hefty price for coverage. But since the federal government instituted a series of reforms, enrollment has picked up. In Alabama, for instance, the size of the state’s pool increased six-fold over the last year, when premiums were cut by 40 percent. Other states also saw tens of thousands more Americans join their state’s pools:
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reports that as of the end of February, 389 people in Alabama were on the special insurance, an option for people with illnesses that make them a high risk, such as cancer or diabetes. Last February, there were 61 enrollees. [...]
Alabama’s uptick in enrollment follows a national trend over the last 12 months, when enrollment grew from 12,437 to 56,257. The plans are for people who have been denied coverage because of their health status and are struggling to find affordable insurance. To qualify, people must have gone without health insurance for six months and not be eligible for Medicaid or Medicare.
“For too long, Americans with pre-existing conditions were locked out of the health care system, and their health suffered,” HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a recent prepared statement. “Thanks to health reform, our most vulnerable Americans across the country have the care they need.”
Alabama is far from alone in seeing higher enrollment. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 49 states, plus Washington, DC, saw an increase in enrollment in their high-risk pools last year. (The lone outlier, Vermont, was not listed as having any enrollees in its pool, but is a “guaranteed issue state” which offers policies to all eligible applicants regardless of their health.) The federal government’s contribution to the program — $5 billion — is running out fact, but given the new enrollment numbers, the law is clearly having an impact.
by Carol M. Browner, via the Albright Stonebridge Group India Newsletter
In the energy and environment sector, India currently faces a clear inflection point with the potential to become an innovative leader in the use and development of clean energy and renewable products.
While the scale of the energy and environmental challenges is tremendous, it also represents a significant opportunity. The Government of India has also made investment in these areas a key focus and priority, though the country still suffers from shortages of electricity, inadequate water and sanitation, and overburdened infrastructure.
The Indian economy has grown rapidly over the past decade, with growth rates routinely topping 8%, and this year growth is expected to be robust again. Such growth rates are essential in India, where more than half a million new people enter the labor force each month. That being said, the Government of India recognizes that economic growth will falter unless there is more investment in energy, mobility, and water services to provide the critical underpinnings of development. To help meet this challenge, the government is planning to invest over $1 trillion in infrastructure projects over the next five years, half of that in the form of public-private partnerships. This represents a tremendous opportunity for U.S. firms with technological solutions to energy and environmental challenges to develop their presence in the Indian market.
Clean energy is one of the brightest opportunities in India. In 2011, India had the fastest growth rate in clean energy investment of any major economy: $10.3 billion was invested in the sector, a 52% increase over 2010. Under its ?National Solar Mission? the Indian government has established a formal goal of 20,000 MW of electricity from solar by 2020. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, 2011 saw a substantial increase in grid-connected solar capacity in India, up from 18 MW in 2010 to an estimated 277 MW by end of 2011. The total installed capacity took another giant leap forward last week with the commissioning of the world?s largest PV power plant (600 MW) in the state of Gujarat. With projects like that, it is no wonder that credible sources are forecasting the country may overshoot its 2020 goal. The key to unleashing a true flood of solar investment will be when the price of solar power falls to parity with traditional grid power, a milestone India appears on track to reach as soon as 2018 (indeed, in rural areas, the equivalent of grid parity has already arrived, with solar today providing power more cheaply than diesel fuel).
The Indian wind sector is another success story that continues to build; it added a record 2,827 MW of capacity in 2011, bringing total wind capacity to just over 16,000 MW. This put India just behind China and the U.S. in terms of new capacity additions, and India is on track to add even more this year. A 2011 study by the Global Wind Energy Council forecast that India?s wind energy capacity could increase to more than 65 GW by 2020 if supported by aggressive policies. Perhaps the most exciting recent news for the Indian wind sector is a study released last month by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in the U.S., which pegged India?s wind energy potential at 2 to 3 million MW, which is 20 to 30 times greater than previous official estimates. Much of the increase is due to the fact that modern turbines are taller, and therefore able to take advantage of faster wind speeds at higher altitudes. This vast potential, coupled with prices for wind power that are now cost competitive with imported coal and natural gas, bode well for continued rapid growth in the sector.
And solar and wind are just two of the energy and environmental sectors in the midst of exciting growth.
There is also activity in energy transmission, storage, smart grid, and efficiency. Biomass (wood, agricultural residues, animal dung, etc.), which is still responsible for nearly a quarter of India?s total energy consumption, especially in rural areas, is being given a 21st century spin with the help of gasification technology, which can transform these dirty fuels into clean-burning gas. The gas, in turn, can be used for heat, cooking, or even power generation, even in remote, off-grid locations. In the field of urban mobility, there has been increased focus on electric vehicles, with Mahindra & Mahindra, General Motors, and others introducing all electric city vehicles for 2012. In the area of water provision and wastewater treatment, the Indian market is growing rapidly as well, topping $50 billion per year. As with solar, India has launched a National Water Mission, which has among its goals to increase overall water use efficiency by 20%.
Advocates of U.S.-India trade have been increasingly active in recent years, and there is enormous opportunity for a fruitful partnership between the two nations in the areas of energy and environmental technology. The U.S.-India Business Council and the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) recently committed themselves to the goal of achieving $500 billion in two?way trade by 2020, up from $100 billion today (and up from just $25 billion in 2006).
The U.S. government recognizes the opportunity for U.S. businesses as well. U.S. Secretary of Commerce John Bryson just recently led a 5-day trade mission to India devoted to infrastructure. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy has selected three consortia that will make up the $125 million US-India joint Clean Energy Research and Development Center. This project will bring together experts from national labs, universities, and industry in both the U.S. and India, allowing researchers to leverage their expertise and resources in solar technology, advanced biofuels, and building efficiency.
Finally, non-profit and academic circles are also actively engaged in efforts to strengthen clean technology ties between the U.S. and India. Just this week, The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) and Yale University are hosting the third U.S.-India Energy Partnership Summit in Washington, D.C. This is a gathering of luminaries ? including Al Gore, Sen. John Kerry, and Ambassador Nirupama Rao ? and advocates, all dedicated to the summit?s theme of ?Fostering Innovations for a Sustainable Future.? They are actively exploring ways in which the U.S. and India can cooperate to produce and disseminate clean energy technologies throughout their economies.
The scale of India?s economic development challenges is enough to boggle the mind, but it also represents a unique opportunity for companies with effective solutions to energy and environmental challenges.
This piece was originally published in the Albright Stonebridge Group India Newsletter and was re-printed with permission.
Carol M. Browner is a Senior Counselor at ASG and a Distinguished Fellow at the Center for American Progress. Ms. Browner most recently served as Assistant to President Obama and director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy. From 1993 through 2001, Ms. Browner served as the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
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On this Sunday's Meet the Press, host David Gregory allowed Romney adviser Ed Gillespie to make the exact same distortion on George W. Bush's record on job creation that he made on his show almost two years ago. And just like two years ago, Gregory failed to call out Gillespie for intentionally misleading the viewers.
I had not seen this site before and just happened to come across it today, but it seems they quit updating the site back in September of 2010, which is a shame, because as they note at the top of the page, Meet the Press does not fact check its guests. Here's their entry on Gillespie from July of 2010 -- FACT-CHECK: Ed Gillespie ? After the Bush tax cuts, there were 52 months of continuous job creation, the largest such period in American history:
The following is a fact-check from the July 11, 2010 episode of Meet the Press:
ED GILLESPIE (Republican Strategist)
1) After the Bush administration tax cuts, there were 52 months of continuous job creation ? TRUE
2) 52 months of job creation is the largest such period in American history - TRUE
MR. GILLESPIE: Well, my point was not wanting to go back to the math because the fact is, under the Bush tax cuts, we did have 52 months of?in uninterrupted job creation, longest in the history of the country?
According to both CBS News and FactCheck.org, jobs were created for an uninterrupted period of 52 months from August 2003 to December 2007, which was indeed a record for consecutive job growth in the U.S. But as FactCheck.org points out, looking only at this record could be misleading, for while it is indeed the longest consecutive period of job creation, the number of jobs created during that period was not especially large. 8.3 million jobs were added between August 2003 and December 2007, but over the course of the Clinton administration, for instance, 22.7 million jobs were added during a period when there were also seven months which included declines (thus making that growth non-continuous). Therefore it would be difficult to argue that this was either a period of particularly substantial job creation or that the record continuity of that creation was ultimately more significant. It?s also not clear what role the Bush tax cuts had to play with regards to the job creation rate.
1) Because Mr. Gillespie?s statement that there were 52 months of continuous job creation is technically true, we must rate it TRUE - but believe that the overall context is somewhat misleading. 2) We rate Mr. Gillespie?s statement that the 52 month growth period was the largest in American history TRUE.
I take issue with their characterization that Gillespie's statement "could be" only "somewhat misleading." It's intentionally misleading to try to distort George W. Bush's record on job creation, which even The Wall Street Journal correctly noted was "the worst track record on record."
So despite the fact that George W. Bush actually had a terrible record on job creation, left the United States' economy falling off of a cliff and that we already know their failed policies of trickle-down economics don't work, we've got Gillespie pretending they did and calling for more of the same; tax cuts and deregulation.
Transcript via NBC below the fold.
DAVID GREGORY: Let me move to the economy. As I said at the outset, I watched Governor Romney's speech very carefully this week. And there were parts of it that I think got a lot of people talking about the sort of campaign he's going to run and what the major messages will be. He went on the offense during this victory speech, talking about the president's record. And let me play one portion of that.
MITT ROMNEY: He's asking us to accept that Washington knows best and can provide all. We've already seen where that path leads. It erodes freedom. It deadens the entrepreneurial spirit. And it hurts the very people it's supposed to help. Those who promise to spread the wealth around only ever succeed in spreading poverty around.
DAVID GREGORY: Let me focus on freedom as he uses it in that particular portion of the speech. And we know that taxes are going to be a huge issue in the fall campaign. Will freedom be eroded for wealthier Americans if they resume paying tax rates that they paid under President Clinton, a time of low unemployment and high economic growth for the country?
ED GILLESPIE: Well, David anytime you take from someone by virtue of taxation there's an erosion of freedom. Anytime you impose excessive regulations there's an erosion of freedom. Anytime you impose a government mandate there's an erosion of freedom. And what you have in a government-centered economy like President Obama has put forward are fewer jobs, stagnant incomes, higher prices for gas and electricity.
What you would have under a President Romney in a pro-growth economic agenda would be more jobs, rising incomes and lower prices for gas and electricity. The fact is we have 23 million Americans today who are either underemployed or unemployed as as result of President Obama's policies. You just saw that the GDP rate for the first quarter of this year was 2.2%. Very disappointing. We would have a much more vigorous recovery. Most Americans, it's not surprising, don't even believe we're in a recovery right now because of this president's policies. So--
DAVID GREGORY: Be he didn't-- (OVERTALK) --free enterprise when you had the Bush tax cuts over a course of eight years. You say we have--
There were jobs--
ED GILLESPIE: --there were 52 months of uninterrupted job creation under President Bush as a result of those tax cuts. That's the longest actually in American history. The longest period of uninterrupted job creation. Under this president what we're seeing is the stifling effect of excessive government regulation, constant call for raising taxes, a tax on businesses and major employers and that's the reason that we're not able to actually generate job creation in this country today is because of this excessive government intervention in our economy that-- that-- we would be better off with a little more freedom and there'd be a lot more growth.