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The case that could topple Obamacare

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© Jonathan Ernst/Reuters
A little-known challenge wending through the system may represent detractors’ last best hope of quashing the law
Obamacare may have its problems, including more bugs than you can find in the cornfields of Nebraska, but its legal worries were meant to end after the Supreme Court upheld the individual mandate, the heart of the Affordable Care Act.

Now, as the technologists charged with making healthcare.gov work report progress, lawyers are re-entering the fray. A little-heard of challenge currently making its way through the court system may represent opponents' last best hope of, as they are fond of saying, driving a stake through the heart of the law.

It all started in 2011, when Jonathan H. Adler, a conservative law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, shot an email to his friend Michael Cannon, a health policy expert at the libertarian Cato Institute in Washington, D.C. Adler thought he had spotted an error in Obamacare that could unravel a significant portion of the law.

At issue are the federal subsidies for individuals buying insurance in their state's health care exchanges. The law stipulates that those subsidies should be allotted for plans purchased "through an Exchange established by the State under Section 1311" (italics added), a reference to the section of the law that establishes state-run exchanges.

Bomb

Fightin' Words! U.S. Army seeks removal of Lee, 'Stonewall' Jackson honors

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Confederate Gen. Thomas Jonathan 'Stonewall' Jackson (L) and Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee
The U.S. Army War College, which molds future field generals, has begun discussing whether it should remove its portraits of Confederate generals - including those of Robert E. Lee and Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson.

Nestled in rural Pennsylvania on the 500-acre Carlisle Barracks, the war college is conducting an inventory of all its paintings and photographs with an eye for rehanging them in historical themes to tell a particular Army story.

During the inventory, an unidentified official - not the commandant, Maj. Gen. Anthony A. Cucolo III - asked the administration why the college honors two generals who fought against the United States, college spokeswoman Carol Kerr said.

"I do know at least one person has questioned why we would honor individuals who were enemies of the United States Army," Ms. Kerr said. "There will be a dialogue when we develop the idea of what do we want the hallway to represent."

She said one faculty member took down the portraits of Lee and Jackson and put them on the floor as part of the inventory process. That gave rise to rumors that the paintings had been removed.

Sheriff

Cop in trouble for alleged anti-Obama rant on Facebook

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© RAUL ARBOLEDA/AFP/Getty Images
The Westchester County village of Pleasantville has placed a police officer on administrative leave, after he was allegedly caught making a racist rant - reportedly about President Barack Obama - on Facebook.

In a statement, Pleasantville police Chief Richard D. Love reported that the officer had been placed on leave and relieved of his duties following the alleged rant, which was posted using an alias.

"Such statements are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated," Love said.

Love said the department has launched an investigation that could result in disciplinary proceedings against the officer and ultimately his dismissal from the force.

Heart - Black

Blind man who survived getting hit by subway must give up dog that saved his life

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© JOHN MINCHILLO/AP
Cecil Williams pets his guide dog Orlando in his hospital bed after he fainted and fell onto the subway tracks Tuesday in at the 125th St. station in New York.
Cecil Williams, 60, and his black Labrador retriever, Orlando, 11, fell onto the tracks from the A train platform at 125th St. - the faithful guide dog trying valiantly to save its master, who escaped with minor injuries. Now, unable to afford to care for Orlando, Williams says he must put him up for adoption.

It was the miracle under 125th St.

A blind man and his loyal service dog fell from a subway platform in Harlem Tuesday morning and together ducked beneath an arriving train without a second to spare - suffering little more than a laceration between them.

Orlando, a black Lab, stood by Cecil Williams in the railbed after the 60-year-old Brooklynite fainted and tumbled off of a northbound A train platform at the 125th St. station.

Williams was dazed. The train was quickly rounding the corner into the station and transit flagman Larmont Smith was screaming for him to lie down in the trough between the rails.

X

Boycott Reddit: Site bans truth about Global Warming!

West Antarctic Ice Sheet
© unknown
A content editor on Reddit's science forum wrote Monday that the site has banned climate-change skeptics, and asks why more news outlets haven't done the same.

"About a year ago, we moderators became increasingly stringent with deniers," Reddit content editor Nathan Allen wrote in grist. "When a potentially controversial submission was posted, a warning would be issued stating the rules for comments (most importantly that your comment isn't a conspiracy theory) and advising that further violations of the rules could result in the commenter being banned from the forum."

Allen explains that climate change became an ironically heated topic among commenters on Reddit's science forum, /r/science, which he described as "a window into the Ivory Tower" for "non-scientists" to connect with experts like himself.

Stock Down

Facebook, earning more than $1 billion in revenue, won't pay any taxes on its income this year - will get refund from taxpayers - and other gov waste...

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© AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite
While the Senate debates the bipartisan budget plan, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., a longtime deficit hawk, outlines his annual “Wastebook,” which points a critical finger at billions of dollars in questionable government spending, Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013, during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Facebook, the hot technology company that is earning more than $1 billion in revenue, won't pay any taxes on its income this year and instead probably will get a major refund from federal taxpayers, according to Sen. Tom Coburn's annual roundup of wasteful spending.

Among the nearly $30 billion of unnecessary spending that the Oklahoma Republican identified in this year's "Wastebook" were taxpayer dollars going to buy human urine, to purchase crystal goblets at the State Department, and to pay $18,000 apiece to "pillownauts" - people whom NASA recruited to lie on a bed for two straight months.

The book was released Tuesday morning, minutes before Mr. Coburn and fellow senators took a key test vote on a budget agreement that will boost spending in 2014, going back on a 2011 deal that was supposed to limit discretionary spending to less than $1 trillion.

People 2

Number of American atheists doubled since 2007, but more still believe in witches or UFOs

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© Shutterstock
About one-fourth of Americans say they're not religious at all, a figure that has nearly doubled in six years, but that is still fewer than the number of people who believe in witches and alien spacecraft.

A new Harris Poll found that 74 percent of U.S. adults believe in God, but that percentage has dropped from 82 percent who claimed religious faith in previous polls conducted over the past eight years.

Absolute certainty in God's existence dropped to 54 percent, nine percentage points fewer than in 2003, and just 19 percent of those polled described themselves as very religious.

Four in 10 respondents said they were somewhat religious, down from 49 percent in 2007, while 23 percent of Americans claimed no religious faith at all, up from 12 percent in 2007.

Belief in Darwin's theory of evolution rose from 42 percent to 47 percent over that same period - more than those who believe in ghosts (42 percent), creationism and UFOs (36 percent), astrology (29 percent), witches (26 percent) and reincarnation (24 percent).

Wine n Glass

Ethan Couch, 'Affluenza' teen, facing 5 lawsuits

ethan crouch

Ethan Crouch
Ethan Couch's troubles aren't over yet.

On Dec. 10, the Texas 16-year-old was sentenced to a decade of probation after killing four people while driving drunk. During his trial, a psychologist called by the defense testified that Couch suffers from "affluenza," meaning that on the night of the crash he did not understand the consequences of his actions because of his privileged upbringing. Prosecutors had sought a maximum sentence of 20 years.

Couch is facing five lawsuits brought by families of the crash victims. The suits also target Couch's father, Fred Couch, as well as Fred's company, Cleburne Metal Works, which owned the pickup Couch was driving during the fatal wreck.

Comment:
So now a 'privileged upbringing' constitutes a legitimate courtroom defense? Ethan Crouch is facing 5 lawsuits, but why isn't he facing significant jail time? 4 people are dead because of his 'failure to understand' how to safely operate a motor vehicle or the illegality and inherent dangers involved in driving while drunk - important lessons he apparently failed to learn during his 'privileged upbringing'.


Che Guevara

Is a new revolution quietly brewing in France?

Today I am beginning a series of articles about what I believe is the extremely deep crisis taking place in Europe and about the potential of this crisis to result in some cataclysmic events. I will begin by taking a look at what has been going on in France, probably the country in Europe I know best, and also one which I think has be biggest potential to generate an explosion with far reaching consequences.

One could look at France's economic and financial situation (catastrophic) or at the many social problems plaguing an already very frustrated population, but I want to focus on one specific aspect of the current French crisis: the complete alienation of the majority of the people from the ruling elites which I will illustrate by one very telling example: the growing hysteria of the French elites about a brilliant philosopher - Alain Soral - and one stand-up comedian - Dieudonne M'bala M'bala.

I have already written about these two remarkable people (here, here and here) and I urge you to read these past articles to get a better picture of what is taking place now. For those who are really not willing to read a few background pages, I will begin by the following mini-introduction.

Dieudonne M'bala M'bala is a French-Cameroonian comedian which was by far the most popular comic in France until he made one short sketch about a religious Israeli Settler on French TV. The sketch was not particularly funny, but it really enraged the French equivalent of the US AIPAC - called CRIF in France - which began a systematic campaign to smear, ban and silence "Dieudo" as he is known in France. Dieudo refused to roll over and
Dieudonné M'Bala M'Bala and Alain Soral, Egalité & Réconciliation
© Inconnu
Dieudonne M'Bala M'Bala and Alain Soral
retaliated by making fun of those persecuting him which made him the darling of many of those who hated the financial elites running France since 1969. Now completely banned from any public media, Dieudo is still the most popular comic in France.

Alain Soral is a French author and philosopher whose political career included a membership in the French Communist Party and the National Front. He is credited with developing the concept of "gauche du travail - droite des valeurs" (literally "left of labor - right of values") which can be summarized as the simultaneous advocacy of socialist/social ideas and measures in economic and social issues combined with conservative moral, ethical and religious values in ideological, ethical and cultural issues. He is the founder of an extremely interesting movement called "Egalite et Reconciliation" which aims at reconciling native French people (called "Francais de souche" or "root French") with those French people who recently immigrated to France (called "Francais de branche" or "branch French") and to make them co-exist in complete equality. Because of his numerous "politically incorrect" ideas and very overt statements, Soral is absolutely hated and feared by the French ruling class. Even though Soral has also been completely banned from any public media, He remains immensely popular with the general public and his books are all best-sellers.

Eye 1

Disgustingly Outrageous!!: Machine guns pointed at disabled people at UK meeting with politician

For the past few months we at Disabled People Against Cuts have been receiving emails daily from disabled people and disabled parents with children who are being left without any food or any money for heating. They have had their benefits sanctioned and all money taken away from them for a period of between 2 weeks and 3 months. Disabled people who have never committed any crimes in their lives are being forced into shoplifting simply to be able to eat themselves or to feed their children.

The reasons they are being sanctioned are pathetic, looking for too many jobs, being late to sign on because they were at an interview for a job, having to help a pregnant partner before coming out and being 5 minutes late. Imagine being left utterly destitute in this way by a gang of uncaring, heartless millionaire politicians who think being starved will 'encourage' you to find one of the non-existent jobs. It is hard to believe that in a country which is still one of the richest in the world people are being deliberately and callously left to starve and freeze.

Surely democracy, if it exists, depends on government of the people by consensus rather than by the use of force or fear which is tyranny. Yet this week's appearances by government ministers in front of the DWP select committee only highlights that no such consensus exists in the UK today.

And what of our own minister for disabled people - Mike Penning aka Machine Gun Mike and that DWP henchman Iain Duncan Smith. When the mere thought of being in the same room as a small group of disabled people exercising their democratic right to attend a select committee hearing drives DWP ministers to resort to mass protection by police guards heavily armed with machine guns pointed towards disabled spectators while they waited in the corridor to go into the rooms and after they came out of the meeting I think it is fair for all citizens to ask just what has this government become. Certainly they really cannot be viewed as democratic or legitimate in any way. Neither can they use the excuse that such 'vulnerable' people as us are in any way a threat to them - or are we? We are large in numbers and most of us are allowed to vote in elections.