Rep. C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger, D-Md., the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee; House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., vice-chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif. AP Photo
These are my links for July 23rd through July 24th:
Democratic Sen. Feinstein suggests some leaked info came from the White House– The Democratic leader of the Senate Intelligence Committee said Monday that the White House appears to be responsible for some leaks of classified information.”I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein told a World Affairs Council forum.The California lawmaker said she was certain that President Barack Obama, who receives a daily intelligence briefing, isn’t disclosing secret information, but she was uncertain about others at the White House. “I don’t believe for a moment that he goes out and talks about it,” she said.Republicans have criticized the disclosures, arguing that members of the Obama administration were intentionally leaking classified material to enhance the president’s reputation in an election year. Attorney General Eric Holder has appointed two attorneys to lead the investigation into who leaked information about U.S. involvement in cyberattacks on Iran and about an al-Qaida plot to place an explosive device aboard a U.S.-bound airliner.That hasn’t satisfied some Republicans who have pressed for a special prosecutor.
Feinstein: Someone at White House is behind recent intel leaks– Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Monday that someone at the White House was responsible for the recent leaks of classified information.“I think the White House has to understand that some of this is coming from their ranks,” Feinstein said in an address at the World Affairs Council, The Associated Press first reported.Feinstein said she was certain that President Obama had not disclosed any of the classified intelligence, but believed others in the administration were responsible.
Obama’s Bain attack isn’t working – President Obama may have spent $38.2 million on television ads attacking Mitt Romney’s tenure at Bain Capital in June, but according to a new Gallup poll, the campaign isn’t working. USA Today reports that by a more than 2-1 margin, 63%-29%, those surveyed say Romney’s background in business, including his tenure at the private equity firm Bain Capital, “would cause him to make good decisions, not bad ones, in dealing with the nation’s economic problems over the next four years.” Comparing pre-Bain attack numbers to post-Bain attack numbers, USA Today reports that back in February, 53 percent of Americans said Romney “had the personality and leadership qualities a president should have.” Now 54 percent do.
Presidential busts: The worst of all: Barack Obama (2009-?)– He took office at a time when the U.S. economy was on its worst slide in 75 years, but pushed policies using borrowed money that were more meant to preserve government jobs than broadly help the private sector where the great majority of Americans work, ensuring the jobs crisis continued.He railed against the heavy spending and big deficits of his predecessor, but blithely backed budgets that had triple the deficits ever seen in American history.He promised a smart, sweeping overhaul of the U.S. health care system, but ended up giving us a Byzantine mess promoted to the public with myths: that offering subsidized care to tens of millions of people would save money; that people would keep their own doctors; that access to care wouldn’t change; and that rationing would never happen.
What Still Shocks Me About ObamaCare | RealClearPolitics– Amid the huge response — both triumphant and agonized — to the Supreme Court’s preservation of Obamacare, I was surprised at how little attention was being paid to that law’s core purpose: to strongly control health care costs where government funding is involved, as it increasingly will be.What still shocks me about this law is the government’s interference with the doctor-patient relationship. Many government bureaucracies will not pay for doctor-prescribed treatments costing more than a predetermined figure. And none of these bureaucracies’ members will have actually seen the individual patient.
Exercise Adds Almost 4 Years to Life Span– Regular physical activity adds about four years to life expectancy, and endurance exercise during leisure time seems to be better at extending life than physical activity done as work, according to a new research review published in the Journal of Aging Research. German researchers gathered well-designed studies on one of the most basic, but important, questions in health: Does physical activity increase life expectancy? In reviewing the results of the studies, they found the answer was an unequivocal yes. Among the studies, there was a wide range of extra years found for active versus nonactive people, from less than half a year in one study to close to seven years in another. When the results of the studies were combined, the researchers wrote,”The median increase of life expectancy of men and women in the eight studies presenting data on both sexes amounted to 3.7 years each.”
For the Olympics, Twitter and NBC Form Partnership– As athletes parade into London’s Olympic Stadium this Friday, Twitter Inc.’s Olympic hopes will play out in a spartan office in Boulder, Colo.There, a handful of people will spend 20 hours a day to help corral millions of Twitter messages from Olympic athletes, their families, fans and NBC television personalities into a single page on Twitter.com.Twitter’s Olympics hub, part of a partnership between the San Francisco company and Comcast Corp.’s CMCSA -2.52% NBCUniversal that will be announced as early as Monday, is one of the first times Twitter will serve as an official narrator for a live event. NBC will tout the website with on-air promotions and links to athlete interviews or video clips.With the partnership, Twitter hopes to use the Olympics as a launch pad into a more sustainable business. Twitter, which allows people to post 140-character messages called tweets, has built up more than 140 million monthly users and has become a go-to resource for people to find news or to gab about “American Idol.”But executives want the six-year-old service to find a larger audience, especially amid doubts about Twitter’s ability to become a serious money maker.
Obama Campaign’s Spending Rate Worries Some Democrats– The Obama campaign has been spending heavily on payroll, television ads and polling for months, hoping to tarnish Republican challenger Mitt Romney in the eyes of voters at an early stage of the general-election showdown.But some Democrats worry that the overhead built by the Obama camp over the past 15 months will prove impossible to sustain. Unless fundraising picks up, the Obama campaign may enter the season’s final stretch confronting hard choices: paring salaries, scaling back advertising or pulling out of swing states in a bid to control costs, these Democrats say.
Minnesota Poll: Obama’s Lead Cut in Half Since Last Poll– In the election for President of the United States, three months till voting begins, Barack Obama captures the North Star State’s 10 electoral votes, defeating Mitt Romney 46 percent to 40 percent, according to a SurveyUSA poll for KSTP-TV in Minneapolis / St. Paul.Romney and Obama are effectively even among male voters. All of Obama’s advantage comes from female voters, where Obama leads by 14 points. Romney edges Obama among Minnesota’s Independents, but not by enough to offset Obama’s 2:1 advantage among Minnesota’s moderates. Romney leads in Northeastern Minnesota, but Obama leads in the rest of the state.Voters are divided over whether job creation or health care is the most important issue facing Minnesotans. Importantly: those who say health care is most important split evenly between Obama and Romney. Those who say job creation is most important split evenly between Obama and Romney. Neither candidate has an advantage on these issues in Minnesota.Romney voters are divided on which Republican Romney should pick as his running mate. 36% name former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty. 29% name Florida’s U.S. Senator Marco Rubio.
Newt Gingrich will officially end his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and formally express his support for Mitt Romney next week, two sources close to Gingrich tell CNN.
While details are still being worked out, Gingrich is likely to hold his final campaign event Tuesday in Washington, DC where he will make the announcement surrounded by his family and supporters.
It is not surprising that Gingrich is suspending his campaign for the White House as he has all but acknowledged it is winding down and Romney is the presumptive GOP nominee.
“When he says he is transitioning, what he means is that he is trying to determine as a citizen how he will pro-actively help Mitt Romney become president and the Republican Party win back the Senate and help (House Speaker) John Boehner keep his majority in the House,” said one of the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
It appears that Gingrich’s focus will be much broader than the presidential campaign, as the former speaker, who made his name and career in the House, plans to be actively involved in helping the GOP take back control of both sides of Capitol Hill.
The Arizona Faceoff – The Administration Tries to Nullify a State Immigration Statute – The Supreme Court hears oral arguments Wednesday in that other major case that has the political class on edge—Arizona’s immigration law. As with health care’s individual mandate, the Obama Administration is again making claims about the scope of federal power that upset the Constitution’s federalist structure—in this case, to unilaterally nullify state laws that the President happens to oppose.The Justice Department sued Arizona for its 2010 law that requires police to enforce federal immigration statutes. Justice charged that Republican Governor Jan Brewer violated the Supremacy Clause that says federal laws pre-empt state laws. And ordinarily the Administration lawyers would have a point, since the Constitution expressly tells Congress to “establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization,” and the courts have long interpreted that to mean that Congress has plenary power over immigration policy.
5 Ways to Jumpstart Cancer Prevention – Know most cancers are preventable. Cancer isn’t all genetics or bad luck. Research confirms more than half of cancer in the U.S. is preventable. The top preventable causes of cancer are lifestyle choices: smoking, obesity, diet, and lack of physical activity (PDF). In 2011, there were 572,000 deaths from cancer. That’s at least 286,000 people that could be alive today had they modified just one of those risk factors. We as a society need to make changes in the way we live and shift our thinking about cancer prevention and wellness.
PokerStars Reaches Agreement to Buy Full Tilt, Settle with DOJ – PokerStars has reached a settlement with the US Department of Justice, pokerfuse can reveal. Part of the deal involves the purchase of Full Tilt Poker and full repayment of all players.The specifics of the deal are not yet known, and no statement has yet come from any parties involved.
Rumors that PokerStars has reached a deal with the DOJ to purchase Full Tilt Poker began swirling early Tuesday morning on poker forum 2+2. Sources have corroborated the story with Pokerfuse that a deal has indeed been reached but could not confirm any specific details.
Alex Dreyfus, CEO of Chili Gaming, stated on twitter that PokerStars has paid $750m to acquire Full Tilt and settle its outstanding legal issues with the DOJ. A reported $330m of that price will go to repay Full Tilt account holders with the remainder believed to be in settlement of outstanding charges against PokerStars.
How a British Marathoner’s Death Inspired Over $825,000 in Online Donations – The death of a British runner during Sunday’s London Marathon has inspired over $825,000 in online donations for Samaritans, the charity she was was supporting.Claire Squires, 30, a hairdresser from Leicestershire, England, was just one mile away from the finish line when she collapsed. Squires was pronounced dead on the scene, and investigations into the cause of her death are expected in the coming days.
Squires’ death has sparked an outpouring of donations to her JustGiving page, which states, “I’m running the london (sic) marathon for Samaritans because they continuously support others.” As of writing, more than 45,000 individual donations have accumulated, and the number continues to grow.
Samaritans is the world’s oldest and largest suicide prevention network. According to the Daily Telegraph, Squires’ brother died from an overdose in 2001 at the age of 25. Her mother has also volunteered for the charity for more than 20 years.
The Long Stall – California’s jobs engine broke down well before the financial crisis. – Everybody knows that California’s economy has struggled mightily since the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession. The state’s current unemployment rate, 12.1 percent, is a full 3 percentage points above the national rate. Liberal pundits and politicians tend to blame this dismal performance entirely on the Great Recession; as Jerry Brown put it while campaigning (successfully) for governor last year, “I’ve seen recessions. They come, they go. California always comes back.”But a study commissioned by City Journal using the National Establishment Time Series database, which has tracked job creation and migration from 1992 through 2008 (so far) in a way that government statistics can’t, reveals the disturbing truth. California’s economy during the second half of that period—2000 through 2008—was far less vibrant and diverse than it had been during the first. Well before the crisis struck, then, the Golden State was setting itself up for a big fall.
California’s population growth is slowing dramatically, study finds – California’s population will grow much more slowly in the next few decades — and that is good news for the state’s still-struggling economy, according to new population projections by USC.The report by USC researchers John Pitkin and Dowell Myers says that through 2050, at least, the state’s population growth will not reach the boom rates of recent decades, especially the 1980s. But California’s population, now about 37 million, will still grow at “manageable” rate for years to come, Myers said.
The report, the third in a series of population projections by the Population Dynamics Research Group in USC’s public policy school, says the slowdown is mainly the result of a dramatic drop in immigration to the state, part of a nationwide trend.
The report expects the California population to grow at less than 10% for each of the next several decades. By comparison, the population surged 26% — more than 6 million people — in the 1980s, a decade the researchers now say was an anomaly. The growth rate was 14% in the 1990s and 10% in the decade just ended.
A US Border vehicle drives along the US and Mexico border fence in Naco, Arizona, Photo: Reuters
These are my links for April 23rd through April 24th:
For first time since Depression, more Mexicans leave U.S. than enter – A four-decade tidal wave of Mexican immigration to the United States has receded, causing a historic shift in migration patterns as more Mexicans appear to be leaving the United States for Mexico than the other way around, according to a report from the Pew Hispanic Center.
It looks to be the first reversal in the trend since the Depression, and experts say that a declining Mexican birthrate and other factors may make it permanent.
Net Migration from Mexico Falls to Zero—and Perhaps Less | – The largest wave of immigration in history from a single country to the United States has come to a standstill. After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants—more than half of whom came illegally—the net migration flow from Mexico to the United States has stopped—and may have reversed, according to a new analysis by the Pew Hispanic Center of multiple government data sets from both countries.
The standstill appears to be the result of many factors, including the weakened U.S. job and housing construction markets, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers associated with illegal border crossings, the long-term decline in Mexico’s birth rates and changing economic conditions in Mexico.
The report is based on the Center’s analysis of data from five different Mexican government sources and four U.S. government sources. The Mexican data come from the Mexican Decennial Censuses (Censos de Población y Vivienda), the Mexican Population Counts (Conteos de Población y Vivienda), the National Survey of Demographic Dynamics (Encuesta Nacional de la Dinámica Demográfica or ENADID), the National Survey of Occupation and Employment (Encuesta Nacional de Ocupación y Empleo or ENOE), and the Survey on Migration at the Northern Border of Mexico (Encuesta sobre Migración en la Frontera Norte de México or EMIF-Norte). The U.S. data come from the 2010 Census, the American Community Survey, the Current Population Survey and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
California’s Demographic Revolution by Heather Mac Donald – California is in the middle of a far-reaching demographic shift: Hispanics, who already constitute a majority of the state’s schoolchildren, will be a majority of its workforce and of its population in a few decades. This is an even more momentous development than it seems. Unless Hispanics’ upward mobility improves, the state risks becoming more polarized economically and more reliant on a large government safety net. And as California goes, so goes the nation, whose own Hispanic population shift is just a generation or two behind.
The scale and speed of the Golden State’s ethnic transformation are unprecedented. In the 1960s, Los Angeles was the most Anglo-Saxon of the nation’s ten largest cities; today, Latinos make up nearly half of the county’s residents and one-third of its voting-age population. A full 55 percent of Los Angeles County’s child population has immigrant parents. California’s schools have the nation’s largest concentration of “English learners,” students from homes where a language other than English is regularly spoken. From 2000 to 2010, the state’s Hispanic population grew 28 percent, to reach 37.6 percent of all residents, almost equal to the shrinking white population’s 40 percent. Nearly half of all California births today are Hispanic. The signs of the change are everywhere—from the commercial strips throughout the state catering to Spanish-speaking customers, to the flea markets and illegal vendors in such areas as MacArthur Park in Los Angeles, to the growing reach of the Spanish-language media.
A 2005 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York of 75,744 minority subprime loan borrowers found the largest percentage was Hispanic (15,647 loans or 20.7 percent). This study found no evidence of adverse pricing of subprime loans by race or ethnicity and minority borrowers paid lower rates.
A 2008 study by the U.S. Federal Reserve in Washington, D.C. found Southern California was the hot spot for the most subprime loans in all of the United States in 2005. And out of the top 10 cities with the most subprime loans, six were in California (percent of Hispanic population in parentheses): Riverside (45 percent), Bakersfield (45.5 percent), Stockton (37.6 percent), Modesto (35.5 percent), Fresno (50.3 percent) and Visalia (46.0 percent). Where Hispanics got into trouble had more to do with home equity loans than primary home purchase loans.
Hispanics were hit hardest with foreclosures after the Housing Bubble popped.
If the Housing Bubble demonstrated anything, it is that Hispanics suffered not from too little, but too much, upward mobility by government-induced home ownership policies.
Boston Qualifying Rate Drops by a Third – Some interesting data-crunching from Ray Charbonneau, who blogs at Y42K?: If you compare the 2011 and 2012 fields of some major marathons, you’ll find the Boston qualifying rate on average has dropped by about a third. Charbonneau excludes the results from this year’s Houston Marathon—where qualifying rates actually went up—assuming that the Olympic Marathon Trials helped attract some higher-caliber athletes than the 2011 race. He also excludes results from this year’s exceptionally warm Boston Marathon and National Marathon in Washington, D.C., where qualifying rates dropped even more than a third. The stricter qualifying standards the B.A.A. put into place for the 2013 Boston Marathon (which went into effect last September) lowered qualifying times across all age groups by five minutes and 59 seconds. Based on Charbonneau’s results, this drop should eliminate about a third of all previous qualifiers.
Rethinking the Hispanic Vote – For Republicans, the illegal immigration litmus test, forcing conservative candidates to toe a hardline on the issue, could very well recede in the near future. A January Pew poll showed the number of Republicans considering illegal immigration as a top issue has plummeted, dropping from 69 percent in 2007 to 48 percent at the beginning of this year. The future Republican positioning on immigration could very well be closer to the policy views of Florida Sen. Marco Rubio than that of hardliners like Iowa Rep. Steve King.
The long-term political implications are equally significant. Democrats have counted Hispanics as a pivotal part of their coalition, but there’s no guarantee that as first-generation immigrants assimilate, they will remain reliable partisan voters. Indeed, a complementary Pew Hispanic Center study, released last month, showed immigrants becoming more Republican the longer they’ve been in this country — a similar narrative to other first-generation ethnic groups.
Democrats want voters this year to focus on what they have branded a war on women, but the flip side of the debate — the so-called war on religion — is not going away anytime soon.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called for two weeks of public protest in June and July against what it sees as growing government encroachment on religious freedom.
The protests are expected to include priests and nuns and thousands of Catholic parishioners. Some activists expect civil disobedience, which could lead to powerful images of priests and nuns being led away in hand restraints.
Pew: immigration from Mexico drops to net zero – Immigration from Mexico has reached a net zero, with as many Mexicans moving back to Mexico as are entering the United States, according to the Pew Research Center’s Jeffrey Passel, a highly regarded demographer who used data from both countries.
The report released Wednesday cited several possible reasons, including, “the weakened U.S. job and housing construction markets, heightened border enforcement, a rise in deportations, the growing dangers associated with illegal border crossings, the long-term decline in Mexico’s birth rates and changing economic conditions in Mexico.”
California prisons detail plan to downsize, cut costs – The California prison system on Monday unveiled an extensive plan to cut spending by billions of dollars, close a prison and return inmates being housed out of state — all while meeting court-ordered benchmarks on medical care and overcrowding.
In three years, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation is expected to be 7.5% of the state’s total budget, down from an estimated 9.4% in the upcoming fiscal year. This is largely because of realignment, the process of sending low-level offenders to local jails instead of state prisons to comply with a court order to reduce chronic overcrowding.
“California is finally getting its prison costs under control and taking the necessary steps to meet federal court mandates,” Gov. Jerry Brown said in a statement.
Some parts of the state’s plan will require consent from the Legislature, and its success also hinges in part on court approval. Although the court ordered California to reduce its inmate population to 137.5% of prison capacity, the state expects to fall slightly short, at 141% — a difference of up to 6,000 inmates — by the June 2013 deadline.
Corrections Secretary Matt Cate said the state will ask the court to raise its benchmark next year.
A measure to abolish the death penalty and replace it with a maximum sentence of life behind bars without parole has qualified for the Nov. 6 ballot, the Secretary of State confirmed today. The measure, backed by a coalition that includes the American Civil Liberties Union and some law enforcement and victims rights groups, would apply to inmates currently on death row.
Supporters say capital punishment, which voters added to the state’s books in 1978, costs California more than $100 million a year while leading to very few executions because of the time it takes to go through the appeals process.
State elections officials confirmed late Monday that an initiative to abolish capital punishment in California has qualified for the November ballot, with supporters having gathered more than enough voter signatures to call the question.
The initiative would not only repeal the death penalty but would also convert the sentences of all 724 inmates currently on Death Row to life without the possibility of parole. It would further commit $30 million a year for three years to local law enforcement efforts on unsolved murder and rape crimes.
Teenagers are using salt to separate the alcohol from the sanitizer, doctors said.
“It’s essentially a shot of hard liquor,” said Cyrus Rangan, director of the toxicology bureau for the Los Angeles County public health department and a medical toxicology consultant for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. “All it takes is just a few swallows and you have a drunk teenager.”
Although there have been only a few cases, Rangan said the practice could easily become a larger problem. Bottles of hand sanitizers are inexpensive and accessible and teens can find instructions on distillation on the Internet.
Unexplained Infant Deaths Often Linked to Bed Sharing – Among infants who have died suddenly and unexpectedly, most were sharing a sleep surface with another child or adult, and only one fourth were sleeping in a crib or on their back when found, according to a new report.
Results were published in the American Journal of Public Health online April 19. The study was conducted by Patricia G. Schnitzer, PhD, from the Sinclair School of Nursing, University of Missouri, Columbia, and colleagues.
According to the researchers, more than 4000 infants without prior known illness or injury die suddenly and unexpectedly each year in the United States.
The researchers found that only about one fourth of infants were sleeping in a crib or on their back when found, but 70% were on a surface not intended for infant sleep, such as an adult bed. Of note, 64% of infants were sharing a sleep surface, and of those, nearly half were sleeping with an adult.
One study limitation, among others, is the possible lack of generalizability because the data were as drawn from only 9 states.
“Infants whose deaths were classified as suffocation or undetermined cause were significantly more likely than were infants whose deaths were classified as SIDS to be found on a surface not intended for infant sleep and to be sharing that sleep surface,” Dr. Schnitzer and colleagues note.
Big Tobacco Groups Fear Spread of Plain Packaging – The world’s top tobacco groups fear if new rules on plain packaging take hold in Australia and Britain they may spread to higher-growth and potentially more lucrative emerging markets and put a curb on their future profits growth.
Health campaigners are pushing for tobacco companies to package their cigarettes in plain packs displaying the product name in a standard typeface and with graphic health warnings as a way of discouraging youngsters from taking up smoking.
Australia aims to become the first nation in the world to force tobacco groups to sell cigarettes in these plain, brand-free packets by December this year, while Britain this week launched a three-month consultation over the issue.
Smoking Cessation Worth It Despite Dim Outcomes – Drugs and counseling to help patients stop smoking typically double the odds of success relative to solo cold-turkey attempts, but success rates still seldom exceed 20%, a researcher said here.
The bottom-line message: “Keep trying,” said Michael K. Ong, MD, PhD, of the University of California Los Angeles, in a presentation at the American College of Physicians’ annual meeting.
Existing approaches to smoking cessation will remain the best available for the foreseeable future, Ong suggested, and even though their effectiveness is modest at best, they are better than letting patients fend for themselves.
He noted that clinicians are often reluctant to assist patients with these problems. A recent CDC survey found that only about half of smokers who saw a health professional in the previous year reported being advised to quit.
An earlier survey identified a series of reasons that physicians had for not offering to help with smoking cessation, such as they’re too busy; the services are not billable; it’s a futile effort; and patients may be scared away.
AT&T wields enormous power in Sacramento – As the sun set behind Monterey Bay on a cool night last year, dozens of the state’s top lawmakers and lobbyists ambled onto the 17th fairway at Pebble Beach for a round of glow-in-the-dark golf.
With luminescent balls soaring into the sky, the annual fundraiser known as the Speaker’s Cup was in full swing.
Lawmakers, labor-union champions and lobbyists gather each year at the storied course to schmooze, show their skill on the links and rejuvenate at a 22,000-square-foot spa. The affair, which typically raises more than $1 million for California Democrats, has been sponsored for more than a decade by telecommunications giant AT&T.
At the 2010 event, AT&T’s president and the state Assembly speaker toured Pebble Beach together in a golf cart, shaking hands with every lawmaker, lobbyist and other VIP in attendance.
The Speaker’s Cup is the centerpiece of a corporate lobbying strategy so comprehensive and successful that it has rewritten the special-interest playbook in Sacramento. When it comes to state government, AT&T spends more money, in more places, than any other company.