SCOTUS rules in favor of same-sex marriages

The White House is lit with the colors of the rainbow in celebration of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, June 26, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

The White House is lit with the colors of the rainbow in celebration of the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, June 26, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

In a 5-4 decision, the US Supreme Court reversed a judgement by the Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and now prohibiting states from banning same-sex marriages. Justice Kennedy authored the majority opinion,

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family”

Reaction to the decision swiftly washed across the nation. President Barack Obama called the plaintiff, Jim Obergefell as broadcast on CNN. Meanwhile, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio was to officiate same-sex weddings. Comedian Margaret Cho posted this image in celebration,

Post from Margaret Cho

Post from Margaret Cho

The decision caps off a remarkable sea change on several fronts. From the swift removal of the confederate flag, to the affirmation of the ACA to the adoption of same sex marriages across the nation.

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Supreme Court upholds provision of the Affordable Care Act

In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court upheld a critical part of the Affordable Care Act that the President signed into law five years ago. Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Anthony Kennedy joined the court’s left wing to form the majority opinion. Justice Scalia, penned the dissenting opinion for himself and Justices Alito and Thomas.

President Barack Obama hugs Kristie Canegallo, Deputy Chief of Staff, and Vice President Joe Biden hugs Chief of Staff Denis McDonough as they celebrate the Supreme Court ruling on Affordable Care Act subsidies in the Oval Office, June 25, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama hugs Kristie Canegallo, Deputy Chief of Staff, and Vice President Joe Biden hugs Chief of Staff Denis McDonough as they celebrate the Supreme Court ruling on Affordable Care Act subsidies in the Oval Office, June 25, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Chief Justice Roberts faced off against Justice Scalia, using the latters own words to bolster the majority opinion, “it is implausible that congress meant the Act to operate in this matter. See National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, 567 U.S. (2012) (Scalia, Kennedy, thomas, and Alito, JJ, dissenting)… (“Without the federal susidies… the exchanges would not operate as Congress intended and may not operate at all.”)”.

The ruling allows 6.4 million residents of federally facilitated exchange states to continue to receiving ACA premium tax credits. It also represents a major win for the Obama administration. The White House website reports,

“On March 23, 2010, I sat down at a table in the East Room of the White House and signed my name on a law that said, once and for all, that health care would no longer be a privilege for a few. It would be a right for everyone.

Five years later, after more than 50 votes in Congress to repeal or weaken this law and multiple challenges before the Supreme Court, here is what we know today:

This law worked. It’s still working. It has changed and saved American lives. It has set this country on a smarter, stronger course.

And it’s here to stay.”

Reaction was quick,

 

 

But opposition remains undeterred.

@MatureAmericans: House Passes Bill to Repeal ObamaCare Death Panel http://t.co/6jEz75beEK” — R J Kelley K5RJK (@RJKelley1) June 26, 2015

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Obama highlights links between climate change and public health

President Barack Obama, at at Howard University, participated in a roundtable discussion examining the impacts of climate change on human health.  The group explored the role of increased airborne particulates,shifts in insect-borne diseases and heat waves on respiratory distress, illness and heat stroke in Americans.

The administration also released an array of data that details links between climate change and public health. Google and Microsoft are now using that data to help inform communities about imminent climate-related threats.

In addition, the inter-agency U.S. Global Change Research Program is also drafting a Climate and Health Assessment report to describe human health impacts emerging from changes in extreme weather events, air quality and insect-borne diseases.

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2.6 Million New Jobs in 2014

US_jobs

The US private sector has shown positive growth for 57 straight months, extending the longest streak on record. Since the financial crash in 2008, some 10.9 million jobs have been been added.

In the past several months, hiring has increased rapidly, with 321,000 new jobs created in November.

Gains were mainly observed in construction and hotels and restaurants,with growth in professional and business services, including engineering and accounting still lagging.

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EPA announces new limits on greenhouse gas emissions

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency announced new regulations designed to reduce CO2 emissions from power plants by 30% by the year 2030. The Clean Power Plan, expected to be enacted by 2015 is an effort to curtail power plant emissions, which account for 40% of total US emissions.

The new regulations follow on the heels of the EPA’s report, Climate Change Indicators in the United States that documents increased sea level rise, tropical storms and large wildfires.

Over at FiveThirtyEight, an analysis of approaches is summarized in their article, The Cap Matters Most in Cap-And-Trade Markets.

The federal plan is also hoped to motivate countries such as China and India to enact similar regulations. Whereas US power plant emissions have been in decline, China’s emission have risen 52% since 2005. Today’s announcement may be part of negotiations to occur at the United Nations Climate Change Conference, slated to meet in Paris in 2015.


ABC US News | ABC International News

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Michelle Obama addresses Nigerian kidnapping

Michelle Obama used a Mother’s Day video address to call attention to the kidnapping of over 250 Nigerian schoolgirls. Mrs. Obama expressed outrage over the actions of the group headed by Boko Haram,

“This unconscionable act was committed by a terrorist group determined to keep these girls from getting an education – grown men attempting to snuff out the aspirations of young girls.”

Recent reports suggest that the kidnapped girls have been split into four groups and are being held in the Sambisa forest near the border with Cameroon.

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President Obama responds to Donald Sterling controversy

At a press conference in Malaysia, President Obama was asked to address the racist comments attributed LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling. Obama responded directly about the embattled NBA owner,

“When ignorant folks want to advertise their ignorance, you don’t really have to do anything, you just let them talk. That’s what happened here,”

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As Democrats push Paycheck Fairness Act, Republicans decline

President Obama issued an executive order to prevent federal contractors from taking action against employees who discuss their salaries.  The President also used his weekly address to underscore the need for equal pay between men and women in the same professions.

In the Senate, Democrats voted on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which was defeated by the Republicans. Senate hopeful Terry Lynn Land (R) stated that she opposed the bill “that would require that businesses have to post the pay of each individual so it was public”. The problem is that the bill contains no language about posting salaries. Women, however, would be able to ask employers for salary information about male workers.

Late night comedians Jimmy Fallon (Tonight Show) and Cecily Strong (Saturday Night Live) took turns poking fun at the Republicans.

The pay equity bill is part of a broader strategy by Democrats that includes increasing the federal minimum wage and extending long-term unemployment benefits. Moreover, female voters were instrumental in helping Democrats win in the 2008 and 2012 presidential races.

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Affordable Care Act is now real for 7.1 million Americans

With the closing of the first open enrollment period of the Affordable Care Act, the President defiantly stated, “The debate over repealing this law is over”. Flanked by Joe Biden in the Rose Garden, Obama announced that 7.1 million Americans have now signed up for private health coverage.

The number is remarkable given the disastrous roll-out of the HealthCare.gov website last fall. With a concerted effort to enroll people in the final week, however, the Administration reached its goal in the most unlikely manner possible. Celebrities such as Lebron JamesZach Galifianakis, and  Ellen DeGeneres all helped the President raise awareness about open enrollment. With a flood of applicants in the final hours, however, the healthcare website once again crashed.

 

As the new system becomes reality, public attitudes have begun to shift.  A new Washington Post poll shows 49 percent of those polled support and 48 percent oppose the health-care law. This is the first time the law has been above water, ever. For months, if not years, the negative aspects of new regulations have sunk the popularity of the the ACA. Increasingly, the positive aspects of the act are becoming a tangible part of people’s lives.

Opinions are not surprisingly split along party lines, with few Republicans supporting the law (20%) and a majority of Democrats embracing it (76%). On Twitter, the split is apparent with some rejoicing,

And others are, well perhaps missing something,

 

 

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Russia exiled from G8

Russia has been suspended from the G8, ending its membership among leading industrialized nations that began in 1998. The move is a direct response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and dealings with Ukraine. The G7 released  what it calls “The Hague Declaration”, which includes the following statement:

“International law prohibits the acquisition of part or all of another state’s territory through coercion or force. To do so violates the principles upon which the international system is built. We condemn the illegal referendum held in Crimea in violation of Ukraine’s constitution. We also strongly condemn Russia’s illegal attempt to annex Crimea in contravention of international law and specific international obligations. We do not recognize either.”

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