You need to know this. On Thursday, President Obama stood strong against House Republicans. After a meeting with Republican leadership, the president rejected the House's offer to raise the debt limit for six weeks without ending the government shutdown. According to a statement released by the White House, “The President's goal remains to ensure we pay the bills we've incurred, reopen the government, and get back to the business of growing the economy, creating jobs, and strengthening the middle class.” And, the majority of Americans want the same things. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows that, by a 22 point margin, Americans blame the Republican Party for the government shutdown. That poll also found that GOP has its lowest approval rating in history. Only 24 percent of those surveyed said they had a favorable view of the Republican Party, and just 21 percent said the same of the Tea Party. Overall, the majority of Americans want Republicans to give up their list of ransom demands, and get our government back to work. Even the GOP establishment, including everyone from moderate Republicans to the Koch brothers, have turned against the Tea Party hostage takers. Negotiations will continue between President Obama and the Republican leadership, and the Senate is already working on a plan to fund the government and raise the debt limit. One way or another, it appears that this economic standoff may soon be coming to an end.
In screwed news... Indiana's Attorney General has filed a lawsuit to keep people from getting healthcare. The suit challenges the authority of the IRS to provide subsidies for residents who sign up for Obamacare. According to Attorney General Greg Zoeller, the Affordable Care Act doesn't allow people who are using federal insurance exchanges to qualify for subsidies. And, he believes that local government employers can't be penalized for not providing health coverage. He's essentially trying to use a “states' rights” argument to undercut the new healthcare law. And, if his plan works, it could be a major blow to Obamacare's goal of providing health coverage to the uninsured. Republican lawmakers all around our nation have tried every plan imaginable to destroy, defund, and undercut the president's healthcare law, but most of their efforts have failed. Hopefully, this latest attempt to attack the president – at the expense of the uninsured – is also unsuccessful.
In the best of the rest of the news...
This year's Nobel Peace Prize goes to.... the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. That group is being acknowledged for dispatching experts to identify, secure, and destroy Syria's dangerous chemical weapons. The organization is fairly small, and operates on a tight budget, but that didn't stop them from deploying into the heart of an ongoing civil war to protect the world – and the Syrian people – from further chemical weapons attacks. OPCW's director general said, “Chemical weapons are horrible things and they must never be used, and that contributes not just to disarmament, but the to strengthening the humanity within us.” The group still has a lot of work to eliminate these dangerous weapons in Syria, and they continue to call for the United States and Russia to destroy their arsenals. Both nations committed to doing so by last year, but have yet to abolish their chemical weapons. The OPCW's director said, “It has always been our position, that quintessentially we work for peace. Not just for peace, we work to strengthen humanitarian norms.” And, they are finally being recognized for their amazing work.
In the wake of historic, deadly flooding in Colorado, one water-conservation expert says we could benefit from these extreme weather events. Rives Taylor, a member of the Houston Mayor's Water Conservation Task Force, says we must start designing our cities to withstand flooding, and collect and store flood water for future use. Mr. Taylor said he understands that after destructive flooding, it's our natural instinct to want to get rid of the water as quickly as possible. But, he says, we're essentially throwing away this valuable resource in a time of water shortages. The conservation expert said, “We need to balance our demand for water – being smart with our water – with what we do when we get rain. We need to rethink our partnership with stewardship of water.” He suggests incorporating more plants and less concrete into city planning, and design neighborhoods in a way that gives flood water a place to go. With a little preparation, and a little thought, he says that storm waters could be viewed as “good...for the landscape, which in turn, keeps our cities cool and sequesters the carbon dioxide that's likely causing the problem in the first place.”
And finally… Are you mad at your Congress person? Would you like to have a few words with your representative? Well, now one online company is suggesting ways to make it easier for you to express your frustration. Their top suggestion - “have a drink first.” That's right, the website DrunkDialCongress.org says, “Whether you are a furloughed worker, being forced to work for free, or just fed up at Capitol Hill, call and yell at a random member of Congress.” The site even offers some helpful suggestions, like rant ideas and cocktail recipes. The site's founder Scott Goodstein said that users will call congressional representatives at random, but he believes it's House Republicans “in particular [who] deserve to be screamed at.” Good work Mr. Goodstein.
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