April 16, 2014

British teachers fear Ipads may be hurting kids' learning

Telegraph, UK - Rising numbers of infants lack the motor skills needed to play with building blocks because of an “addiction” to tablet computers and smartphones, according to teachers.

Many children aged just three or four can “swipe a screen” but have little or no dexterity in their fingers after spending hours glued to iPads, it was claimed.

Members of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers also warned how some older children were unable to complete traditional pen and paper exams because their memory had been eroded by overexposure to screen-based technology.

How the war on drugs aids the drug trade

Thanks to the war on drugs, the illegal drug trade has boomed, according to some estimates, to the size of the legal pharmaceutical industry. Consider this item from the Miami Herald: "Wearing protective gloves and masks, members of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Legare carried 127 bales of cocaine — with a street value of about $350 million — off the ship and into a waiting trailer Tuesday."

Remember, this is just one ship. 

Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2014/04/15/4060916/coast-guard-unloads-110-million.html#storylink=cpy

Bush was tougher on Wall Street criminals than Obama

TPM
AMY GOODMAN - Who was tougher on corporate America, President Obama or President Bush?

MATT TAIBBI: Oh, Bush, hands down. And this is an important point to make, because if you go back to the early 2000s, think about all these high-profile cases: Adelphia, Enron, Tyco, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen. All of these companies were swept up by the Bush Justice Department. And what’s interesting about this is that you can see a progression. If you go back to the savings and loan crisis in the late '80s, which was an enormous fraud problem, but it paled in comparison to the subprime mortgage crisis, we put about 800 people in jail during—in the aftermath of that crisis. You fast-forward 10 or 15 years to the accounting scandals, like Enron and Adelphia and Tyco, we went after the heads of some of those companies. It wasn't as vigorous as the S&L prosecutions, but we at least did it. At least George Bush recognized the symbolic importance of showing ordinary Americans that justice is blind, right?

Fast-forward again to the next big crisis, and how many people have we got—have we actually put in jail? Zero. And this was a crisis that was much huger in scope than the S&L crisis or the accounting crisis. I mean, it wiped out 40 percent of the world’s wealth, and nobody went to jail, so that we’re now in a place where we don’t even recognize the importance of keeping up appearances when it comes to making things look equal.

Former news media CBS hires former acting CIA director as "senior security correspondent"


Even CNN hasn't sold out journalism this badly. . .

Danny Weil, RINF - CBS News has hired former acting director of the CIA, Mike Morell, as their senior security correspondent.  Morell has been a frequent guest on CBS’ Face the Nation, where he has disseminated   CIA propaganda and misleading information, raising questions about CBS’ journalistic integrity.  Morell also works for Beacon Global Strategies, a DC consulting firm which peddles its government connections to defense contractors, raising even more questions about his role at CBS.

On December 23, 2013, Morell appeared on Face the Nation, where he promoted the government’s campaign to prosecute Edward Snowden.  On this day Morell stated:
“He violated the trust put in him by the United States government. He has committed a crime, in my view. You know a whistleblower doesn’t run. A whistleblower does not disclose information that has nothing to do with what he says his cause is which is the privacy and civil liberties of Americans....
Morell also made the following statement, which is now known to be false, thanks to Snowden’s disclosures:
“The NSA is not spying on Americans. I think that is a perception that some have out there. It is not– it is not– it is not focused on any single American. It is not reading the content of your phone calls or my phone calls or anybody else’s phone calls. It is focused on this metadata for one purpose only, and that is to make sure that foreign terrorists aren’t in contact with anybody in the United States.
On April 14, 2014 McClatchy News reported on the still secret Senate report on the CIA’s use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”. McClatchy reported that the CIA systematically mislead Congress, lied to the Justice Department and that the legal foundation for the CIA’s activities were doubtful.  According to McClatchy, some of the report’s findings include:
The CIA used interrogation methods that weren’t approved by the Justice Department or CIA headquarters. The agency impeded effective White House oversight and decision-making regarding the program. The CIA actively evaded or impeded congressional oversight of the program.  The agency hindered oversight of the program by its own Inspector General’s Office”

The findings of misconduct reported by McClatchy occurred during Michael Morell’s tenure at the CIA, raising questions about the appropriateness of his role as CBS’ senior security analyst.

MORE

Solar power in the dark?

Todd Woody, Atlantic - Scientists at MIT and Harvard University have devised a way to store solar energy in molecules that can then be tapped to heat homes, water or used for cooking.

The best part: The molecules can store the heat forever and be endlessly re-used while emitting absolutely no greenhouse gases. Scientists remain a way’s off in building this perpetual heat machine but they have succeeded in the laboratory at demonstrating the viability of the phenomenon called photoswitching.

“Some molecules, known as photoswitches, can assume either of two different shapes, as if they had a hinge in the middle,” MIT researchers said in statement about the paper published in the journal Nature Chemistry. “Exposing them to sunlight causes them to absorb energy and jump from one configuration to the other, which is then stable for long periods of time.”

To liberate that energy all you have to do is expose the molecules to a small amount of light, heat or electricity and when they switch back to the other shape the emit heat. “In effect, they behave as rechargeable thermal batteries: taking in energy from the sun, storing it indefinitely, and then releasing it on demand,” the scientists said.

MORE

Pocket paradigms

Part of my love of the craft of journalism has been the simple joy of possessing the license to go wherever curiosity leads, to consider no place in the planet alien to my inquiry, to use words as a child uses little plastic blocks. Part of it has been the pleasure of deliberately learning more about something than any reasonable person would want to know. - Sam Smith

Word

Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order. If there is any fixed star in our constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. - Justice Robert Jackson

April 15, 2014

Furthermore. . .


Nine of the ten cities where people feel least safe walking at night are in the south or in California

25 greenest cities

Global nonviolent action database

Today in history

Today in history

1912 -- Titanic sinks at 2:20am. Harry Elkins Widener goes down clutching his 1598 edition of Bacon's Essays. Most Americans these days think it is just a movie. 


1967
-- US: First mass burning of draft cards as 400,000 march in New York City & 80,000 in San Francisco opposing the Vietnam War.

Daily Bleed

Morning Line: Of hate crimes and traitors

Sam Smith - The recent killings in Kansas City has revived talk of hate crimes. The problem with having a category of hate crimes is that there is no constitutional prohibition against hating, rotten as it may be. In fact, the right to be wrong is one of the most basic concepts behind our constitution. If you do something illegal, you are to be caught and punished, but for the act, not the evil thoughts behind it. What's next? Anti-war crimes in which additional penalties are added to offenses by protestors?

By blending a clearly illegal act with a constitutional right, we have opened the door to a plethora of crime penalties based on formerly constitutionally permitted acts and beliefs. And the sad fact is that no one seems to be even arguing about it, even despite the complete absence of any evidence that hate crimes reduce the number of hate encouraged offenses.

The motivation behind such laws - like those centered on the ever expanding definition of terrorism - is actually more political not judicial. It gives a comfortable tag for politicians and the media to use to make it look as though they're doing something. In fact, viral hate in this land seems to have increased since these laws were passed. It would make more sense to do something about the problem.

But we live in a time when name calling is - for both liberals and conservatives - a convenient alternative to constructive action. Consider the latest issue of Vanity Fair with the headline "Edward Snowden: Patriot or Traitor?" Since he gave considerable space to Snowden's story, should we be asking the same question of Vanity Fair's editor Graydon Carter?




Studies: America is an oligarchy, not a democracy

Gawker - A new study by researchers from Princeton and Northwestern Universities finds that America's government policies reflect the wishes of the rich and of powerful interest groups, rather than the wishes of the majority of citizens.

The researchers examined close to 1,800 U.S. policy changes in the years between 1981 and 2002; then, they compared those policy changes with the expressed preferences of the median American, at the 50th percentile of income; with affluent Americans, at the 90th percentile of income; and with the position of powerful interest and lobbying groups.

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence... 

The study found that the positions of powerful interest groups are "not substantially correlated with the preferences of average citizens," meaning that to the extent that special interests groups have political power, they are driving our government's decision making process away from the interests of the average American. Our current system of a competing thicket of special interest groups all fighting for influence is not equal to a true representation of the wishes of the citizenry.

This is a point the Review has been making with its listing of polls in which Americans, as opposed to most of their leaders, favor progressive policy. Here's our current rundown:
Civil liberties and justice


Corporations


Drugs


Ecology


Economy


Education

Foreign affairs

Gays


Healthcare


Immigration

  • 54-63 percent - crossing party and religious lines favors legislation to create a pathway to citizenship for immigrants living in the United States

NSA


Politics


Social Security

  • 87% of Americans want Social Security spending increased or held steady
  • Oppose cutting SS annual increase
War

  • Believe it's OK to cut defense spending
  • Say Libya action wasn't right
Washington

  • 81% disapprove of the job that Congress is doing
Women

  • 60% of voters said they are more likely to support a candidate who supports fair pay for women, a higher minimum wage, paid family and medical leave and paid sick days.

Some ideas we don't even talk about

Alternet - Venezuela has increased its maternity leave to 6.5 months. In addition, Venezuela pays full-time mothers a pension. This 2012 labor law also outlawed outsourcing, and made it difficult to fire people.

Brazil is another Latin American country that has perks for workers. Along with Lithuania, Brazil offers the most paid vacation days in the world: 41. Thirty of those are at the worker’s choosing, and the other 11 are public holidays.

Last March, the Brazilian legislature passed a law giving domestic workers the same rights as other workers, including overtime after eight hours on the job or 44 hours per week.

Finland: Subsidized childcare and 40 days off. Here’s yet another European country where workers are treated quite well. Finnish laborers get 30 days off per year, in addition to 10 holidays. A measly .04 percent of workers in Finland labor for more than 50 hours a week on average. And those who have worked at the same company for more than a decade get at least 40 days off. The country also treats working parents well. All parents with small children are legally guaranteed access to subsidized childcare.

Colleges and universities in serious financial trouble

Zero Hedge - Soaring student debt, competition from online programs and poor job prospects for graduates are shrinking the applicant pools for many universities and, as Bloomberg reports, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities warns "there will clearly be some institutions that won’t make it...through these difficult steps." Rather stunningly, Moody’s found that expenses are outpacing revenue at 60 percent of the schools it tracks even as many try to slash their way to balanced budgets," and concluded "what we’re concerned about is the death spiral... this continuing downward momentum for some institutions." As Harvard professor Clayton Christensen has warned, as many as half of the more than 4,000 universities and colleges in the U.S. may fail in the next 15 years, and is "not sure a lot of these institutions have the cushion to experiment with how to stay afloat."

MORE COLLEGE NEWS

Stats: America's prisons

Policy Mic

The United States has 5% of the world's population, but 25% of the world's prisoners.

The total incarcerated population in the U.S. is 2.4 million — a 500% increase over the past 30 years.

One in 28 American children has a parent behind bars. 

Currently, 65 million Americans have a criminal record.

There are more people behind bars today for a drug offense than there were in 1980 for all offenses combined.

A first-time drug offense carries a sentence of 5-10 years. In other developed countries, that sentence would be six months of jail time, if any at all.

The vast majority of those arrested with a drug offense are not charged with serious offenses. For example, in 2005, 4 out of 5 drug arrests were for possession, not sales. 

In the 1990s, marijuana possession accounted for nearly 80% of the spike in arrests.

Three out of four young black men in Washington, D.C., can expect to serve time behind bars. This is despite the fact that people of all races use and sell drugs at the same rate.

African-Americans comprised 12% of regular drug users, but almost 40% of those arrested for drug offenses.

A public defender will routinely have a caseload of more than 100 clients at a time.


Pocket paradigms

Journalism has never been the art of the ideal. Its basic problem is that it attempts to perpetrate the truth, relying for financial support advertisers who have little interest in the pursuit of this goal. It's a bit like a priest being supported by the proceeds of a whorehouse. .- Sam Smith

Word

The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there's free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate. -- Noam Chomsky

April 14, 2014

Furthermore. . .

Meanwhile. . .

Trade workers unions and coops: the story so far

Sears is dying

People participating in the food stamp program outnumbered the women who worked full-time, year-round in the United States in 2012, according to data from the Department of Agriculture and the Census Bureau.

In the Mad Men era college tuition averaged $478, but a computer cost $4.6 million

News 4 U

Parental involvement in school work is overrated

New treatment for hepititus C cured 90% of patients in 12 weeks

More News 4 U

Today in history

 
 

1935 - A windstorm moves from the Dakotas into the southern plains, lifting powdery soil into a 1,000-foot-high cloud — a blizzard of black dust an muddy rain hundreds of miles wide. This year the winds rook an estiamted 850 million tons of topsoil and within fiveyears, the Dust Bowl states had lost one third of their population.

1930 -- Police arrest over 100 Chicano farm workers for their union activities in Imperial Valley, California. Eight will be convicted of so-called "criminal syndicalism." By 1933, California farm laborers see a five-year wage cut from 35 cents to 14 cents an hour.

Daily Bleed

One reason Comcast is getting away with seizing our airwaves

The phrase anti-trust is disappearing from our discourse

Use of the phrase anti-trust in books 1800 to present

Rare senator who's not afraid to challenge the Comcast disaster

The Hill - Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said that Comcast's plans to purchase Time Warner Cable would harm competition and raise prices in cable television and broadband internet.

Franken, one of Capitol Hill's most vocal opponents of the merger, did not mince words in describing his opposition to CNN's Brian Stelter.

"This is the No. 1 cable TV company buying the No. 2. And this is the No. 1 Internet broadband company buying the No. 3."

The Minnesota Democrat made news last week as one of the only lawmakers to slam Comcast at a congressional hearing.

The cable giant is mounting an enormous lobbying push in favor of the merger on Capitol Hill.

Executive Vice President David Cohen, a major Democratic donor, told senators that the deal will improve the quality and reliability of Comcast services. He also promised that the corporate marriage will not raise prices on consumers.

"I can make you and the members of this committee one absolute commitment, which is that there is nothing in this transaction that will cause anybody’s cable bills to go up," Cohen said.

Franken replied that Comcast benefits from the loosening of rules that govern money in politics.

He also argued the merger will give Comcast too much power over how to package television content.

The major media companies are "afraid of retaliation" from Comcast and not speaking up against the plan, Franken said.

"They think they are committing business suicide by, you know, that they'll be retaliated against, and that shows you what's wrong here," he said.


Alternet -You might not be able to get decent cable service or a good Wi-Fi signal but when it comes to Congress, Comcast is quite the attentive suitor. As Politico reported last month, including those up for reelection this year, “… money from Comcast’s political action committee has flowed to all but three members of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Checks have landed in the campaign coffers of Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Mike Lee (R-UT), who oversee the chamber’s antitrust panel.
Meanwhile, the cable giant has donated in some way to 32 of the 39 members of the House Judiciary Committee, which is planning a hearing of its own. And Comcast has canvassed the two congressional panels that chiefly regulate cable, broadband and other telecom issues, donating to practically every lawmaker there — including Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).
Its money was donated before the proposed big deal with Time Warner, but it's “proactive giving,” as Sunlight’s executive director Ellen Miller calls it, “so that when a corporation needs access in a time of trouble, investigation or oversight, they have already built the quote-unquote relationships they need to soften or make their arguments to a sympathetic audience… It’s a long-term investment they make.”

Hil Clin acted as Boeing marketer while Secretary of State

Washington Post - On a trip to Moscow early in her tenure as secretary of state, Hillary Rodham Clinton played the role of international saleswoman, pressing Russian government officials to sign a multibillion-dollar deal to buy dozens of aircraft from Boeing.

A month later, Clinton was in China, where she jubilantly announced that the aerospace giant would be writing a generous check to help resuscitate floundering U.S. efforts to host a pavilion at the upcoming World’s Fair.

Clinton did not point out that, to secure the donation, the State Department had set aside ethics guidelines that first prohibited solicitations of Boeing and then later permitted only a $1 million gift from the company. Boeing had been included on a list of firms to be avoided because of its frequent reliance on the government for help negotiating overseas business and concern that a donation could be seen as an attempt to curry favor with U.S. officials.

The November 2009 episode was an indicator of a mutually beneficial relationship between one of the world’s major corporations and a potential future president. Clinton functioned as a powerful ally for Boeing’s business interests at home and abroad, while Boeing has invested resources in causes beneficial to Clinton’s public and political image.

Federal judge rules Ohio gay marriage ban unconstitutional

Buzz Feed - U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Black  ruled that Ohio’s ban on recognizing the out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples is unconstitutional — a move he announced in court earlier this month that he would be taking.

“The record before the Court … is staggeringly devoid of any legitimate justification for the State’s ongoing arbitrary discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and, therefore, Ohio’s marriage recognition bans are facially unconstitutional and unenforceable under any circumstances,” the judge wrote.

Black earlier, in another case that Ohio officials appealed to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled that the marriage recognition laws in the state were unconstitutional — but the case was limited to the treatment of death certificates.

This ruling, which related directly to treatment of birth certificates, applies to all purposes for which same-sex couples married out of state might seek recognition in Ohio.

Where to put bike lanes

538 - Bike lanes don’t cause a lot more congestion if you put them on the right streets. If you cut down the size of streets that are already near capacity, you’ll create severe congestion. But if you start with roads that are well under capacity, you’ll only increase the congestion a little bit. And it may not even be noticeable. Slimming down these roads that are too “fat” is known as a road diet — and yes, that is the technical term.

NSA knew about Heartbleed problem for more than two years but hid it from US citizens


 Yahoo - The National Security Agency had been aware of the recently discovered Heartbleed vulnerability for more than two years and did nothing to inform consumers, according to a new report from Bloomberg News. Citing anonymous sources, Bloomberg claimed that the NSA exploited Heartbleed — a flaw in common Internet encryption that left passwords and other vital information visible to and obtainable by hackers — to collect intelligence on web surfers.

Bloomberg cited “two people familiar with the matter”; the NSA declined to comment through a spokesperson. Many on Twitter expressed outrage at the report, arguing that the NSA’s silence left Internet users vulnerable to cyber-attacks, despite the agency’s mandate to keep Americans safe.

Why Democrats don't get more votes

Jim DeMint, Washington Times - A secret administration memo has surfaced revealing plans for the federal government to seize more than 10 million acres from Montana to New Mexico, halting job-creating activities like ranching, forestry, mining and energy development. Worse, this land grab! would dry up tax revenue that’s essential for funding schools, firehouses and community centers.

President Obama could enact the plans in this memo with just the stroke of a pen, without any input from the communities affected by it.

The 21-page document, marked “Internal Draft-NOT FOR RELEASE,” names 14 different lands Mr. Obama could completely close for development by unilaterally designating them as “monuments” under the 1906 Antiquities Act.

Where women stand in state politics

Note:The most revealing statistic is the last paragraph

Representation 2020 -  New Hampshire ranks highest in our 2013 Parity Index with a score of  47.4, very close to parity. New Hampshire is the first state in the nation to send an all-female delegation to Congress. Additionally, its current governor is a woman, one third of its state legislators are women, and the mayor of the state's second largest city, Nashua, is a woman. New Hampshire was also the first  state in the nation to have a majority-female state legislative chamber.

Virginia ranks last: Virginia received the lowest parity index score in the nation: 4.5. Virginia has never  elected a woman governor or U.S. senator and has ranked among the bottom 15 for its percentage of  state legislative seats held by women for the last 35 years.

According to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers  University, the state that currently ranks highest for its percentage of state legislators who are women is  Colorado, at 41%. Ranked lowest is Louisiana, at 11.8%.

According to the Center for  American Women and Politics at Rutgers University, 55.8% of female state legislators were Democratic  and 44.2% were Republican in 1981. Today, 63.6% of female state legislators are Democratic and 35.6%  are Republican.    




Time to restore childhood

Bad Ass Teachers Association - Everywhere we look, self-titled "School Reformers" are driving every ounce of joy and spontaneity out of the childhood years

They are evaluating teachers as early as Pre K and Kindergarten on whether their pedagogy contribute to their charges "college and career readiness."

They are putting so much emphasis on testing in rating schools and teachers that recess is disappearing in schools all over the country

 The are introducing rubrics for rating teachers that result in any sign of idleness or contemplation on the part of their students will result in negative ratings

They are forcing students as young as the 3rd grade to sit through tests that are 3 times more time consuming than the MCATS and LSATS

They are putting so much emphasis on testing and spending so much money on tests and assessments that art, music, plays, talent shows, field days and school trips are disappearing from many of our schools

As a result

Children all over the country are starting to hate school and dread going to class

Large numbers of children suffer from such acute test anxiety that they have to get medical attention.

Health problems are multiplying because many children no longer have the opportunity to get adequate exercise and because they are under constant stress

It is time for Parents, Teachers and Students to Fight Back To Help do this, we are creating a "Committee to Restore Childhood" that will fight for the following.

No standardized testing at all before 3rd Grade

No unnecessary tests

A maximum of 90 minutes total for all tests

No use of recess or physical education for testing or test prep

No rating of schools or teachers on the basis of test scores

Restoration of art, music, school trips, field days, plays and talent shows to our schools.

Word: Charter schools

Margaret Kimberly, Black Agenda Report - Charter schools are a scam inflicted on black and Latino children and are meant to turn education into just another profit center. These schools take public money without being accountable to the public and they are funded by organizations like the Walton Family Foundation of WalMart fame and hedge fund chieftains. There is no data which proves that they provide superior education. They don’t have to accept children with special needs and often expel children who are struggling academically because they may bring down the all important test scores they use to justify their access to public dollars.

Teachers at charter schools are akin to fast food workers. They are the least experienced and have a high rate of turnover, all of which happens by design. The hedge fund honchos and the Walton Family Foundation want to get rid of the teaching profession and make educators as insecure in their work lives as everyone else in the country.

Pocket paradigms

The greatest power of the mass media is the power to ignore. The worst thing about this power is that you may not even know it's being used..- Sam Smith

Word: Death

The idea is to die young as late as possible - Ashley Montague

Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something. - - last words of Pancho Villa

If I shouldn't be alive
When the robins come,
Give the one in red cravat

A memorial crumb.
If I couldn't thank you,
Being just asleep,
You will know I 'm trying
With my granite lip! - Emily Dickinson

After the first death there is no other -- Dylan Thomas after an air raid.

Donations may be sent to the John Silber campaign or Humanitarian Aid to the Contras or play your favorite lottery number. -- Death notice in Boston Globe for former Cambridge City Councilmember Daniel J. Murphy, 1990

Many men die at twenty-five and aren't buried until they are seventy-five -- Benjamin Franklin

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas

Sacred to the memory of my husband John Barnes who died January 3, 1803 His comely young widow, aged 23, has many qualifications of a good wife, and yearns to be comforted. - Vermont gravestone
No dark colors and no crying - Funeral instructions from New Orleans jazz musician Lionel Batiste

Obamacare: The good, the bad and the confusing


We have never seen a major federal bill with so many conflicting and uncertain parts as Obamacare. Some are clearly good, some clearly bad and some still totally unclear  – the result of legislation by technocrats, lawyers, data drones and health insurance lobbyists rather than by smart politicians. Here are some of the elements of Obamacare, sorted by virtue or lack thereof. We will update this from time to time.
 
Good

Insurers can’t discriminate because of preexisting conditions

Extends Medicaid to those with incomes up to 138% of federal poverty level

Makes price discrimination against women more difficult

Covers preventive measures for women such as contraception. Also covered are vistis concerning breastfeeding, domestic violence, gestational diabetes, HIV screening and counseling, sexual diseases and wellness visits

Reduces costs of those making less than 400% of the federal poverty level

As of 2015, requires health insurance from large employers

Small businesses can get tax credits for up to 50% of medical insurance costs

Obamacare eliminates the doughnut hole in Medicare drug plans, where there is a gap in coverage between roughly $3000 and $4700 which had to be paid for entirely by the patient.

The bill prevents excessive premiums for pre-existing conditions or because of age.

Children can get insurance under their parents’ policies up to the age of 26.

Bad

Those who lack health insurance are liable to an annual fine. Many of these are people who didn’t buy health insurance because they couldn’t afford it

Many states have opted out of the planned Medicaid expansion

Increased requirements for coverage of sick employees will raise overall rates

Bill addresses coverage but not realistic cost limitations

Many companies used Obamacare to dump their existing plans

Those who did not sign up by March 31, 2014 are unable to get insurance through exchanges

There is no public option.

According to The Hill, health industry officials say Obamacare-related premiums will double in some parts of the country, countering claims made by the administration.

An analysis by The New York Times shows the cost of premiums for people who just miss qualifying for subsidies varies widely across the country and rises rapidly for people in their 50s and 60s. In some places, prices can quickly approach 20 percent of a person's income. 

A number of states wasted large amounts of money building their own health exchanges.
The Christian Science Monitor reported that about 30 percent of small franchises and 12 percent of other small businesses say they are cutting work hours – or swapping full-time for part-time workers – because of the law..

Economic Policy Journal reported in 2013 that since March 2010, when President Barack Obama signed the act, the administration had published 109 final regulations adding up to to 10,516 pages in the Federal Register.

Forbes reported in 2013 that representatives of three of the nation’s largest unions had fired off a letter to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, warning that Obamacare would “shatter not only our hard-earned health benefits, but destroy the foundation of the 40 hour work week that is the backbone of the American middle class.”

Unknown or uncertain

Uncertainty of how much insurance companies will raise prices. Some of the predictions are scary.  

What will be the effect of businesses changing the nature of their employment to ease the cost of Obamacare?

Obamacare will create an uncertain burden and confusion on small business owners.

We still have no clear picture of the economic effects of the individual mandates. In a recession even a 5-10% increase in personal costs can be major.

Some hospitals are limiting the number of insurance plans they will accept. The effects of this are unclear.  According to Huffington Post, “about 70 percent of Obamacare plans offer fewer hospitals and doctors than employer-sponsored group plans or pre-ACA individual market plans, according to a study by consulting firm McKinsey & Company released in December.”

Morning Line



President

Clinton has a a double digit lead against all likely GOP candidates with the exception of Romney whom she leads by 9. She leads her closest Democratic opponent, Elizabeth Warren, by 54 points.

The big sleeper in her campaign is that once she is nominated it is likely that the GOP will launch an full attack on her past including such things as seamy business transactions, several business partners who ended up in prison and questions about her honesty. Despite the willingness  of Democrats and the media to ignore these issues, she is – for such  reasons – still a risky candidate.

On the Republican side, If Romney enters the race he would take the GOP nomination. The rest of the candidates are within a statistical tie of each other with the exception of four losers: Rubio, Jindall, Santorum and Walker.

It is possible for the GOP to pick up 19 electoral votes based on the current moving averages of polls, but in 2012 Obama won by 126 electoral votes.

Senate

The Progressive Review's moving average shows that Republicans stand to pick up 2 new Senate seats and could pick up 6 more. Democrats could pick up one more Senate seat. Thus the current Democratic 10 seat margin (including 2 independents) could easily be flipped to a Republican majority. Based on current trends, the GOP stands a good chance to win the Senate

House

There are no signs that Democrats will pick up the House at this point. Latest generic polls show only a 1-2 percent advantage for either side.  

Governors

Democrats have picked up one seat this cycle and lead comfortably in 1 more. GOP stands to pick up 2. Close races favor a shift to the Dems in 5 states and to the GOP in 2.