Sunday, March 2, 2014

Holder's call to let ex-felons vote divides Senate Democrats

The Hill ^ | March 1, 2014 | Alexander Bolton
Attorney General Eric Holder’s call to restore voting rights to felons after they’ve served their time in prison has split Senate Democrats.  Liberal Democrats who are not facing tough re-elections this year say it’s the right thing to do, but vulnerable incumbents are steering clear of the proposal.  Holder has become increasingly outspoken recently. This week he declared that state attorneys general are not obligated to defend laws that are discriminatory. Political experts say barring ex-felons from voting impacts African Americans disproportionately.
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Forget What the Pundits Tell You, Coastal Cities are Old News - it’s the Sunbelt that’s Booming!

The Daily Beast ^ | March 1 , 2014 | Joel Kotkin
While traditional big cities are struggling, the Sunbelt cities like Houston and Phoenix are booming. If trends continue, the Sunbelt will keep growing as the coasts decline. Since 2010, according to an American Community Survey by demographer Wendell Cox, over one million people have moved to the Sunbelt mostly from the Northeast and Midwest. Any guesses for the states that have gained the most domestic migrants since 2010? The Sunbelt dominates the top three: Texas, Florida and Arizona. And who’s losing the most people? Generally the states dearest to the current ruling class: New York, Illinois, California and New Jersey. Some assert this reflects the loss of poorer, working class folks to areas while the “smart” types continue to move to the big cities of Northeast and California. Yet, according to American Community Survey Data for 2007 to 2011, the biggest gainers of college graduates, according to Cox, have been Texas, Arizona and Floria; the biggest losers are in the Northeast (New York), the Midwest (Illinois and Michigan) Combined with basics like lower housing costs and taxes, it’s a common optimism about the future that really underlies the resurgence now occurring from Phoenix to Tampa. The long-term shifts in American power and influence that have been underway since the 1950s have not been halted by the housing bust. Disdained by urban aesthetes, hated by much of the punditry, and largely ignored except for their failings in the media, the Sunbelt seems likely to enjoy the last laugh when it comes to shaping the American future.
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Student Loans Are Ruining Your Life. Now They’re Ruining the Economy: Over One Trillion in Debt!

TIME ^ | 02/27/2014 | By Sam Frizell
Chris Rong did everything right. A 23-year-old dentistry student in New York, Chris excelled at one of the country’s top high schools, breezed through college, and is now studying dentistry at one of the best dental schools in the nation. But it may be a long time before he sees any rewards. He’s moved back home with his parents in Bayside, Queens—an hour-and-a-half commute each way to class at the New York University’s College of Dentistry—and by the time he graduates in 2016, he’ll face $400,000 in student loans. “If the money weren’t a problem I would live on my own,” says Rong. “My debt is hanging over my mind. I’m taking that all on myself.” Rong isn’t alone. Across the country, students are taking on increasingly large amounts of debt to pay for heftier education tuitions. Figures released last week by the Federal Reserve of New York show that aggregate student loans nationwide have continued to rise. At the end of 2003, American students and graduates owed just $253 billion in aggregate debt; by the end of 2013, American students’ debt had ballooned to a total of $1.08 trillion, an increase of over 300%. In the past year alone, aggregate student debt grew 10%. By comparison, overall debt grew just 43% in the last decade and 1.6% over the past year. According to a December study by the Institute for College Access & Success, seven out of 10 students in the class of 2012 graduated with student loans, and the average amount of debt among students who owed was $29,400. There’s no clear end in sight. ”The total amount of student debt is growing basically at a constant rate,” Wilbert van der Klaauw, an economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York tells TIME.
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Administration announces Obamacare subsidies for some people who didn’t sign up for Obamacare!

The Daily Caller ^ | February 28, 2014 | Patrick Howley
The Obama administration announced Thursday that states with faulty Obamacare enrollment websites will be able to “retroactively” give taxpayer subsidies to people who signed up for private insurance plans off the Obamacare exchanges. The administration’s executive decision to make Obamacare tax credits, which count as subsidies, available to non-Obamacare customers was slammed Friday by House Energy and Commerce Health Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Joe Pitts. “It is outrageous for the Obama administration to be quietly telling states: pay subsidies now, worry about the paperwork later. The administration is blatantly ignoring the law, paying subsidies to plans outside of exchanges,” Pitts said. “Additionally, this ‘pay now, verify later’ directive could be a boon for fraudsters, raising the administration’s unaccountability to the likes we have not seen....
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Putin Knows Obama Walks Softly And Carries No Stick

Newsmax ^ | 3-1-14 | Ronn Torossian
President Barack Obama has said for the past week that "there will be costs" if Russia intervenes militarily in the Ukraine. Obama huffs and puffs, and Russian President Vladimir Putin acts. Breaking news reports that Russian parliament has in a unanimous vote granted Putin permission to use the country's military in Ukraine. Already, Russians have taken over two Ukrainian airports, and The Associated Press reported a convoy of nine Russian armored personnel carriers and a truck on a road between Sevastopol and the regional capital, Simferopol. Putin, whom Forbes named the most influential person in the world, and has shown himself repeatedly to be a brilliant tactician, holds the cards yet again. His September op-ed in The New York Times, which urged the American people to oppose a U.S. initiative for military strikes in Syria, was timed perfectly one day after Obama's prime-time televised speech. Putin positioned himself as a man of peace, and protector of their ally Syria. Russia used the Edward Snowden affair to their advantage to make the case that America was a bully, and continue to do so by leaking tapes of Ambassadors talking in Europe. Meanwhile, Snowden enjoys Russian hospitality. Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton said, "Putin at this point holds all the high cards — and all we have from the president is rhetoric."
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