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The White House Blog: Barack Visits “Between Two Ferns.” The #GeeksGetCovered. 20 Reasons To Get Covered. Twenty Days Left to Enroll.


 

By Jueseppi B.

0000000000000000whblog

 

 

Watch President Obama on “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis

 

Megan Slack
Megan Slack

March 11, 2014
12:19 PM EDT

 

President Barack Obama participates in an interview with Zach Galifianakis for "Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis"President Barack Obama participates in an interview with Zach Galifianakis for “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis,” in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, Feb. 24, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

 

President Obama sat down between two ferns to talk health care, Bradley Cooper, and basketball with Zach Galifianakis. Watch it here now – all your friends have probably seen it already, don’t be “that guy” who hasn’t.

 

twoferns

 

 

#GeeksGetCovered

 

Todd Park
Todd Park

March 11, 2014
12:17 PM EDT

 

America is full of geeks—and that’s a really good thing. Geeks are a critical driver of America’s innovation ecosystem, from the entrepreneurs launching startups in Silicon Valley to the scientists experimenting in university research labs to the whiz kids building gadgets in their parents’ garages.

 

Geeks Get Covered: A Message From Geeks at the White House

 

Uploaded on Mar 11, 2014

Geeks at the Office of Science and Technology Policy share their reasons why their fellow geeks should get covered.

 

 

The Obama Administration cares deeply about innovation, and about helping to make sure that geeks across the country, those coming up with new discoveries and exciting inventions—and creating jobs along the way—have the freedom and security to keep innovating.

 

That’s why today we are launching #GeeksGetCovered, an effort focused on raising awareness, sharing stories, and encouraging healthcare enrollment among geeks, innovators, and entrepreneurs.

 

Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of Americans finally have the security that comes from quality, affordable health coverage.  And, millions more have better, more reliable coverage than ever before.  The Affordable Care Act also means that this year, geeks, entrepreneurs, researchers, and others can now make the decision to innovate and pursue their dreams without fear of losing coverage or worrying that a preexisting condition or new illness will bankrupt their families.

 

As the President said last year, “If you’ve got a great idea for your own business but you’ve never tried it because your spouse had a preexisting condition and you didn’t want to lose your employer-based coverage, you’ve got the ability now to get your own coverage.  That’s security.  That’s freedom.”

 

Today, there is strong evidence that when affordable healthcare isn’t exclusively tied to employment, in more instances people choose to start their own companies. For example:

 

  • recent study estimates that because high-quality health insurance coverage will no longer be tied exclusively to one’s employer, the number of self-employed Americans could increase by up to 1.5 million in 2014.
  • Another study indicates that the Affordable Care Act has already boosted entrepreneurship rates by providing young innovators coverage that helps them chase their dreams.
  • Another study shows that Americans are more likely to start a business at age 65 than at age 64, after they have the security of healthcare through Medicare.

 

And what’s true for entrepreneurs launching the next company is just as true for PhD students or part-time researchers working to expand the frontiers of human knowledge.  These scientists researching a cure for the deadliest diseases or creating game-changing technologies have more options today than ever before to access affordable, quality health insurance in the new insurance marketplaces.

 

So to all the geeks out there:  we’d love to hear from you on social media about what affordable coverage means to you as a geek using #GeeksGetCovered.  View the video from geeks at the White House to fellow geeks across America and check out Healthcare.gov today!

 

 

Twenty Reasons to Get Covered, Twenty Days Left to Enroll

 

clock

 

As of today, there are just 20 days left to enroll in health care coverage at healthcare.gov before open enrollment ends on March 31.

 

If don’t already have health insurance, head over to healthcare.gov to get covered now. You can compare your options based on price, benefits, quality and other features, and enroll in a plan that fits your needs and your budget.

 

WIth just one application, you can also find out whether you qualify for tax credits to help pay for insurance or other free or low-cost coverage options.

 

ends

 

 

To mark the 20 final days of open enrollment, here are 20 reasons to get covered. Check them out, then head over to healthcare.gov.

 

20 reasons to get covered:

  1. Six in ten uninsured Americans can get coverage for less than $100 a month.
  2. Preventive services like well-woman visits, cancer screenings, flu shots and more cost you nothing out of pocket.
  3. Health insurers are prohibited from charging women more than men for the exact same coverage.
  4. It’s illegal for insurance companies to charge more or deny coverage due to a pre-existing condition.
  5. Birth control for women is covered with no out-of-pocket costs or co-pays.
  6. Insurance companies can’t cancel your coverage when you get sick.
  7. All plans must cover essential health benefits including outpatient care, hospital visits, prescriptions, and more.
  8. Because accidents happen, and no one is invincible.
  9. There’s a new way to shop for plans, compare benefits and apply for coverage all online on healthcare.gov.
  10. You may qualify for lower cost coverage or tax credits to help pay for care depending on your income or family size.
  11. Mental health and substance abuse disorder services including counseling and psychotherapy must be covered at parity with medical benefits.
  12. If you’re a parent, your kids can stay covered on your plan until they turn 26.
  13. Insurance companies can no longer put a lifetime cap on the essential health benefits they’ll cover if you get sick.
  14. Insurance companies can no longer impose yearly limits on coverage for essential health benefits.
  15. Insurance companies must spend at least 80 percent of your premium dollar on health care — or you get a rebate.
  16. No one deserves to go broke just because they get sick.
  17. Insurance companies can’t cancel your coverage because you make a mistake on your application.
  18. Insurance companies must publicly justify their actions if they want to raise your premiums by 10 percent or more.
  19. Because you only live once.
  20. You can apply for coverage online at healthcare.gov. on the phone by calling 1-800-318-2596, in person (find local help here) or by mail (download the application to mail in here) — the whole process takes most people about 15 to 20 minutes.

 

Get Covered: A Special Message from the President

 

Published on Feb 21, 2014

President Obama has a message for millions of Americans who now have access to new or improved affordable health insurance: Go to http://www.HealthCare

 

 

 

 

President Obama Speaks to the Latino Community on Why it is Important to #GetCovered

 

Published on Feb 13, 2014

As part of our ongoing efforts to educate Latinos about the benefits and protections under the Affordable Care Act and encourage them to sign up for health coverage, President Obama recorded a video message for the Latino community. Check out the message and hear the President talk about the tools available to help you and your “amigos, familia and vecinos” #GetCovered

 

 

 

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Still Need Health Insurance? Join a Live Chat with Valerie Jarrett & Cosmo for Latinas

 

Erin Lindsay
Erin Lindsay

March 10, 2014
12:35 PM EDT

 

On Wednesday, March 12 at 3 p.m. ET, Senior Advisor to the President Valerie Jarrett will join the editors of Cosmopolitan & Cosmo for Latinas for a live chat on Google+ to discuss everything you need to know about the Affordable Care Act and how you can get insured before the March 31 open enrollment deadline.

 

As one of the most disproportionately uninsured populations, Latinos are a key group to educate about the health care law.  One in four uninsured individuals who are eligible for the Marketplace nationwide are Latino and eight in 10 uninsured Latinos could get a break on costs in the Health Insurance Marketplace

 

Cosmo for Latinas Editor-in-Chief Michelle Herrera Mulligan and Cosmopolitan Deputy Editor Sara Austin will be asking YOUR questions submitted on Google+ and Twitter using the hashtag #WHCosmoChat.

 

Here are the details:

 

Can’t wait to get covered? Visit Healthcare.gov now, the open enrollment period ends on March 31st. To help spread the word, visit WH.gov/GetCovered.

For more updates on the Affordable Care Act and other issues impacting the Latino community follow @LaCasaBlanca on Twitter or visit the La Casa Blanca Facebook page.

 

 

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BridgeGate: Governor Of New Jersey, Chris Christie, Is Finally In Deep Doo-Doo.


 

By Jueseppi B.

Expect-Christie1

 

 

Bridgegate: Messages tie Chris Christie aide to George Washington Bridge lane closures

 

By ANGELA DELLI SANTI Associated Press

 

TRENTON, N.J. – January 8, 2014 (WPVI) – A political dirty-tricks investigation of Gov. Chris Christie’s inner circle broke wide open Wednesday with the release of emails and text messages that suggest one of his top aides engineered traffic jams in a New Jersey town last September to punish its mayor.

 

An “outraged and deeply saddened” Christie responded by saying he was misled by his aide, and he denied involvement in the apparent act of political payback.

 

The messages were obtained by Action News, The Associated Press, and other news organizations Wednesday amid a statehouse investigation into the whether the lane closings that led to the tie-ups were retribution against the mayor of Fort Lee for not endorsing Christie for re-election last fall.

 

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly wrote in August in a message to David Wildstein, a top Christie appointee on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

 

“Got it,” Wildstein replied. A few weeks later, Wildstein closed two of three lanes connecting Fort Lee to the heavily traveled George Washington Bridge, which runs between New Jersey and New York City.

 

The messages do not directly implicate Christie in the shutdown. But they contradict his assertions that the closings were not punitive and that his staff was not involved.

 

Democrats seized on the material as more evidence that the potential Republican candidate for president in 2016 is a bully.

 

The messages “indicate what we’ve come to expect from Gov. Christie – when people oppose him, he exacts retribution. When people question him, he belittles and snidely jokes. And when anyone dares to look into his administration, he bullies and attacks,” Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz said.

 

In a statement issued late Wednesday, Christie said: “I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.”

 

“People will be held responsible for their actions,” he added, but gave no details.

 

Kelly had no immediate comment.

 

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich called it “appalling” that the traffic jams appear to have been deliberately created.

 

“When it’s man-made and when it was done with venom and when it was done intentionally, it is, in my mind, the prime example of political pettiness,” he said. He said the gridlock put people in danger by holding up emergency vehicles, and he added that those responsible should resign.

 

While Sokolich is a Democrat, Christie sought bipartisan support during his re-election campaign to bolster his image as a pragmatic leader willing to work with his political opponents.

 

Democratic state Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who has been leading the investigation, said the material in the documents is “shocking” and “outrageous” and calls into question the honesty of the governor and his staff.

 

The tie-ups occurred between Sept. 9 and Sept. 13. Port Authority officials later said the closings were part of a traffic study. But no study has been produced.

 

As the controversy heated up over the past few weeks, Wildstein resigned, as did Port Authority deputy executive director Bill Baroni, another Christie appointee. Wildstein, a childhood friend of the governor, is scheduled to testify on Thursday before a state Assembly committee but is fighting the subpoena.

 

One of the released texts came from Sokolich, who pleaded on the morning of Sept. 10: “The bigger problem is getting kids to school. Help please. It’s maddening.”

 

Within minutes of Sokolich’s plea, an unidentified person commented in a text message: “Is it wrong that I am smiling?” Someone joked in another text that the youngsters referred to by Sokolich “are the children of Buono voters” – a reference to Christie’s Democratic opponent for governor, state Sen. Barbara Buono.

 

Also among the correspondence, some of which was blacked out, is an email from Wildstein to Kelly on Sept. 7, two days before the lane closings. He said he would call her “to let you know how Fort Lee goes.”

 

Most of the emails were sent using private accounts rather than government ones, which would be subject to open records laws and therefore public.

 

The Democratic National Committee seized on the disclosures, releasing a web video that details Christie’s prior assurances that neither he nor his staff had anything to do with the lane closings.

 

“I’ve made it to very clear to everybody on my senior staff that if anyone had any knowledge about this that they needed to come forward to me and tell me about it, and they’ve all assured me that they don’t,” Christie said in mid-December.

 

Wasserman-Schultz said the new material proves that “the governor’s office ordered lane closures that were intended to make first responders experience delays, kids sit gridlocked on the first day of school, and commuters hit logjams, to punish the Democratic mayor who didn’t endorse Chris Christie’s re-election bid.”

 

Sokolich said that because of the traffic backup, emergency calls that average a two- or four-minute response time took up to 16 minutes.

 

“To me it’s appalling and I got to tell you, somebody owes a lot of people a lot of apologies,” he said. “Somebody ought to contact families waiting two, three, four times the response times when their loved ones had chest pains. Someone has to apologize to the thousands of families who couldn’t get their kids to the first day of school on time.”

 

Fort Lee Councilwoman Ila Kasofsky said she knows of one woman who couldn’t get over the bridge to be with her husband, who was undergoing a stem cell transplant, and another who couldn’t get to New York to be with her son as he went through kidney dialysis.

 

Also, she said, the heavy traffic delayed the search for a missing child, who was later found.

 

“I think this is 10 times worse than Watergate. Because this affected so many more lives and their health and safety,” she said.

 

Full statement from Governor Chris Christie:

“What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions.”

 

___

 

Associated Press writers Katie Zezima in Newark, N.J., and Steve Peoples in Washington contributed.

 

Thank you Associated Press.

 

S.E. Cupp: If Chris Christie Is Involved in ‘Bridge-Gate,’ He Should ‘Resign Now’

 

Published on Jan 8, 2014

Appearing on Wednesday’s The Lead with Jake Tapper, CNN host S.E. Cupp offered some surprising advice to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Cupp said that, if it does turn out that Christie was personally involved in the decision to exact revenge against a political foe by ordering lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, he should “resign now.”

Tapper began by noting that Christie’s statement does not accept responsibility for the incident but instead blames staffers who “misled” him.

“I hope that’s true,” Cupp replied. “I hope that he wasn’t involved.”

 

 

 

article-christie-0108

 

You realize when a politician removes their Twitter account…..some big doings are coming down. 

Bridget Kelly (BridgetAnneK) on Twitter has been deleted.

 

bridget-kelly christie_kelly_portauthority_2014_wm

 

Leaked emails from Chris Christie staffer Bridget Anne Kelly reveal that the New Jersey governor’s office had a hand in shutting down traffic on the George Washington Bridge. Kelly’s emails were the source of the leak, but how much do we know about the woman who inadvertently revealed the scandal?

 

Who Is Bridget Anne Kelly? Chris Christie Aide Who Revealed His Hand In George Washington Bridge Traffic Meltdown

 

By 

 

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“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly wrote to Port Authority official David Wildstein on Aug. 13, 2013, The Record reports. About a month later, two of Fort Lee’s lanes on the George Washington Bridge into New York City were closed, causing huge traffic backups for the next week. At the time, it was rumored that Christie’s administration sabotaged the bridge’s traffic flow after Democratic Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich refused to support Christie’s re-election. Kelly’s email all but confirms the rumors.

 

Christie said Wednesday afternoon he is “outraged” by the documents.

 

“What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge,” read a statement from the governor. “One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions.”

 

The staff member in question has maintained a rather low profile in social media, and deleted her Twitter account immediately after the scandal broke.

 

According to the Star-Ledger, Kelly joined Christie’s staff in 2010 as director of legislative relations, managing the Christie administration’s relationship with the New Jersey Legislature. Since then, she has been promoted to Christie’s deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs, for which she is paid $114,000 annually.

 

The Star-Ledger also reported that Kelly received a political science degree from Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md. Kelly reportedly began her career in government working as a legislative aide for Assemblyman David C. Russo. In 2002, she was promoted to Russo’s chief of staff. In the past, Kelly has served on several municipal government boards and on the parent faculty board at her children’s school.

 

A Google cache of Kelly’s now-deleted Twitter account reveals few personal details about the Christie staffer, except that she routinely interacted with officemates and friends, and enjoyed posting photos of her children on Twitter. No results for Kelly turned up on Facebook or LinkedIn, indicating that Kelly either never maintained profiles there or that she deleted them around the same time she deleted her Twitter account.

 

Eric Brown is an IBTimes political reporter who eats far too much pizza. He is a graduate of Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, and currently resides in Brooklyn. Thank you Eric Brown.

 

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From NJ.com :

 

National Democrats out with new ‘Bridgegate’ video slapping Chris Christie in advance of hearing

 

Today, the Democratic National Committee has released as new video calling Gov. Chris Christie’s answers on the controversy, which erupted in September when two of three dedicated local lanes at the George Washington Bridge were diverted for use by highway traffic snarling traffic in the borough of Fort Lee for nearly a week, “incomplete.”

 

 

 

The video begins with high school pictures of both Christie and former Director of Interstate Capital Projects David Wildstein, who resigned over the scandal, on a blackboard around the caption “Tomorrow, Christie’s appointee (and high school buddy) will testify on the George Washington Bridge scandal.”

 

The video then riffs on a school quiz, asking if Wildstein can answer questions on “history” – “Why were the lanes on the bridge closed,” – geography – “Where is the traffic study we’ve heard about” – and “math” – “121 days + 2 resignations = 0 answers.”

 

This is the third video from the DNC on the issue, which has gained national headlines as it has played out. Christie’s status as the early front-runner in the 2016 presidential race has placed a target on his back as both state and national Democrats hope to tie him to the controversy.

 

Both Wildstein and former Deputy Executive Director Bill Baroni – the highest ranking New Jersey representative at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, have resigned over the issue, but Democrats have signaled they are unwilling to let it go until all questions have been answered.

 

For his part, Christie has dismissed the flap as much ado about nothing, joking with reporters that he placed the cones to divert traffic and telling a reporter from the Wall Street Journal the paper would owe both Baroni and Wildstein apologies when all was said and done.

 

Wildstein is scheduled to testify tomorrow after handing over more than 900 pages of documents in answer to a subpoena from the Assembly Transportation Committee.  Committee chairman John Wisniewski hinted to reporters this week that the impetus for the lane closures, which Baroni explained was done in order to study traffic, came from outside the agency.

 

A spokesman for the governor did not return an email seeking comment on the video.

 

Thank you NJ.com 

 

Fort Lee Mayor Responds to Chris Christie’s Bridge-Gate

 

 

 

Rachel Maddow: Chris Christie ‘Rotten And vindictive’ Political Payback Scandal Deepens

 

 

Published on Dec 16, 2013

Not only did a high school friend of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) lack both a resume and a job description for work at the center of a political mystery, MSNBC host Rachel Maddow said on Monday, but the man has become a nuisance for people reporting on his suspected activities.

 

“Something rotten and vindictive and petty has been going on in New Jersey,” Maddow said.

 

Maddow explained that David Wildstein, who resigned on Dec. 6 after being revealed as the person who ordered the suspicious closing of two lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September 2013, was paid more than $150,000 a year to serve as Christie’s “director of interstate capital projects” at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, a position that had no job description attached.

 

The New Jersey Star-Ledger reported that no resume for Wildstein was turned over by the Port Authority in response to a Freedom of Information request filed by the newspaper for state employees in Wildstein’s salary range.

 

“A man with no resume, hired to do a six-figure job that has no job description,” Maddow said. “So who knows why Chris Christie hired him or what Chris Christie hired him to do.”

 

Speculation has mounted that Wildstein’s order was a rebuke to the Mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, Mark Sokolich (D) after Sokolich refused to endorse Christie during his recent re-election campaign. The move strangled traffic in Fort Lee for nearly a week.

 

“Governor Christie has been insistent from the begining that the idea that this was political retribution is just a ludicrous idea,” Maddow said. “I mean, can you imagine, someone in the Chris Christie administration being so petty just over politics? Can you imagine that kind of a petty, vindictive, nasty little abuse of power? Can you imagine it? It’s getting easier to imagine now.”

 

bridge

 

 

 

The Lane Closures Delayed EMS Response to 4 Calls in Fort Lee

North Jersey.com has obtained a letter sent by EMS coordinator Paul Favia to Mayor Mark Sokolich on September 10, 2013, noting four instances in which emergency medical services were delayed due to the lane closures. In two instances, response time doubled, including the case of a 91-year-old woman who lay unconscious for seven minutes, before paramedics were able to reach her ambulance.

 

Heavy traffic prevented the paramedics from treating the woman on the scene, and she ultimately died of cardiac arrest after reaching the hospital. Considering the woman’s age, its seems doubtful that three and a half minutes would have meant the difference between life and death in this instance, but it may have. Regardless, the case illustrates the grave consequences Kelly’s alleged conspiracy could have wrought.

 

‘Bridge-Gate’: CBS News Digs Into Scandal ‘National Democrats’ Think Might Sink Christie

 

 

On Wednesday morning, the Bergen Record reported on private e-mails sent between Christie deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly and David Wildstein, a Christie appointee at the Port Authority, that make quite clear that Kelly ordered the closure of some of the lanes to the George Washington Bridge as an attempt to make life more difficult for Mark Sokolich, the Democratic mayor of Fort Lee, N.J. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly wrote to Wildstein in an e-mail just weeks before the closures began.

 

As the Record’s Shawn Boburg writes:

The documents obtained by The Record raise serious doubts about months of claims by the Christie administration that the September closures of local access lanes to the George Washington Bridge were part of a traffic study initiated solely by the Port Authority. Instead, they show that one of the governor’s top aides was deeply involved in the decision to choke off the borough’s access to the bridge, and they provide the strongest indication yet that it was part of a politically-motivated vendetta — a notion that Christie has publicly denied.

 

The e-mails add to the burgeoning controversy that has already led two Christie picks — including Wildstein — at the Port Authority to step aside.  They also raise all sorts of questions in our minds — some that Christie will have to answer, others that we just don’t get. Here are three:

 

1. How can Christie hang on to the idea the Fort Lee traffic wasn’t politically motivated? Amid the resignations, Christie has steadfastly stood by the idea that while these officials made poor judgments, there was nothing political about it. (He said the resignation of Bill Baroni, deputy director of the Port Authority, had been long coming and had nothing to do with the bridge controversy.) While the e-mails between Kelly and Wildstein don’t make clear why the mayor of Fort Lee is being targeted, they do make crystal clear that the traffic study was simply a guise for a bit of old-school bare-knuckled politics. (Democrats have alleged that the closures were payback because the mayor refused to endorse Christie for reelection last November.)  What does Christie say now?

 

2. Can he keep this from making it all the way to him? Prior to these e-mails, the story was — in the Christie retelling — a case of Port Authority officials acting badly. Well, now, one of his top aides is caught red-handed delivering a bit of political payback. Even if Christie jettisons Kelly — and it’s hard to see how he can avoid doing so after today’s stories — that won’t end it. This thing just got a lot closer to Christie than is comfortable for someone who is looking very seriously at running for president in three years.

 

3. Who puts these sort of things in e-mails/texts? Kelly and Wildstein quite clearly thought that their private e-mail accounts couldn’t be subpoenaed and that texts, too, were off limits. Otherwise, why would you write “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” which sounds like a line out of the “Godfather”?  The assumption of privacy in this day and age is a fallacy, and people who work at such high levels for someone as high-profile as Christie should know better.

 

As recently as early December, Christie was joking about the closures; “I worked the cones,” he told reporters. “Unbeknownst to anyone, I was working the cones.”

 

Bill Baroni, Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, talks to reporters in the hallway following his testimony before the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee at the Statehouse. The committee called the hearing inviting all of the top executives of the Port Authority to appear, in order to ask them questions concerning the suspicious abrupt local access lane closures of the George Washington Bridge in September. Baroni was the only executive from the Port Authority to appear. Also shown at right is Philip Kwon, attorney for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Trenton NJ 11/25/13 (Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)

Bill Baroni, Deputy Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, talks to reporters in the hallway following his testimony before the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee at the Statehouse. The committee called the hearing inviting all of the top executives of the Port Authority to appear, in order to ask them questions concerning the suspicious abrupt local access lane closures of the George Washington Bridge in September. Baroni was the only executive from the Port Authority to appear. Also shown at right is Philip Kwon, attorney for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. Trenton NJ 11/25/13 (Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)

 

 

From Christopher Baxter/The Star-Ledger 

 

Timeline of Port Authority’s George Washington Bridge controversy

 

The controversy over the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge in September ramped up today with the revelation that a top aide to Gov. Chris Christie was involved in the decision.

 

Here’s a timeline of how the scandal has unfolded:

 

Aug. 13: A deputy chief of staff to Christie, Bridget Anne Kelly, e-mails David Wildstein, the governor’s appointee to the Port Authority, saying, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Wildstein responds, “Got it.”

 

Sept. 6: Wildstein, the Port Authority’s director of interstate capital projects, orders the bridge’s general manager to carry out the closures.

 

Sept. 9: The Port Authority closes two of three local access lanes from Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge, the nation’s busiest crossing, bringing traffic to a halt and turning borough streets into a parking lot.

 

Sept. 12: Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich writes to Christie appointee Bill Baroni, the deputy executive director of the Port Authority, and expresses the belief that the closures were “punitive” and asks they be lifted. Some suspect they were put in place because Sokolich, a Democrat, did not endorse Christie for re-election.

 

Sept. 13: Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye, an appointee of Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, directs bridge managers to lift the closures, saying they violated agency policy and jeopardized public safety as well as the agency’s “credibility.”

 

Sept. 16: The Port Authority claims the closures were due to a traffic safety study.

 

Oct. 2: Assemblyman John Wisniewski (D-Middlesex), chairman of the Assembly Transportation, Public Works and Independent Authorities Committee, says he will convene a hearing to determine who ordered the lane closures and if they were politically motivated.

 

Oct. 16: The Port Authority announces it will undertake an internal review to determine why the lanes were closed and whether proper procedures were followed.

 

Nov. 5: Christie is re-elected governor in a landslide victory over Democratic challenger Barbara Buono, a state senator from Middlesex County.

 

Nov. 13: The Port Authority remains mum on the lane closures despite mounting criticism and a barrage of questions from reporters at its board meeting in Jersey City. Sen. Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen) files a public records request seeking information and documents related to the lane closings.

 

Nov. 20: With the threat of subpoenas, Wisniewski requests that top Port Authority officials including Baroni, Foye and Wildstein testify before the transportation panel about the closures.

 

Nov. 25: At a hearing held by the Assembly transportation committee, Baroni says the closures were ordered by his direct subordinate, Wildstein, as part of a traffic study and acknowledges making a mistake by not notifying Foye, police or the public.

 

Nov. 27: Wisniewski subpoenas Foye to testify before the Assembly committee, and Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex) writes a letter to Port Authority Inspector General Robert Van Etten requesting an investigation into the lane closures.

 

Dec. 2: Christie brushes aside speculation that the bridge closures were politically motivated, joking at a new conference, “I worked the cones. Unbeknownst to anyone, I was working the cones.” The governor said he had nothing to do with situation.

 

Dec. 6: Wildstein announces his resignation, saying that the controversy over the lane closures has “become a distraction, and I’m going to move on.”

 

Dec. 9: Foye testifies before the transportation committee that he was unaware of any traffic safety study being conducted on the bridge in September, despite the testimony of Baroni two weeks earlier. After the hearing, Wisniewski calls for Baroni’s resignation.

 

Dec 10: The Port Authority’s inspector general launches an investigation.

 

Dec. 11: A Democratic group connected to Hillary Clinton attacks Gov. Chris Christie over the Port Authority’s closure of lanes leading to the nation’s busiest bridge.

 

Dec. 12: Wisniewski issues seven more subpoenas as his investigation into the closures widens. The requests seek documents and communications from Port Authority officials to determine what they knew about the traffic-snarling lane closures.

 

Dec. 13: Christie announces the resignation of Baroni and appoints his trusted staffer, Deborah Gramiccioni, to the post. The governor says the change was planned regardless of the controversy, and reiterates he had nothing to do with the lane closures.

 

Dec. 17: U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller, chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, asks the federal transportation secretary to investigate and determine what oversight the government has over the Port Authority.

 

Dec. 18: Baroni and Wildstein hire prominent lawyers and request more time to respond to Wisniewski’s subpoenas. The assemblyman grants to the two men an extension until Dec. 23, but subpoenas for five other officials still due Dec. 19.

 

Dec. 19: Wisniewski announces he has received documents subpoenaed from five Port Authority officials. Christie again dismisses questions about the bridge scandal as nothing more than political gamesmanship. Weinberg and Wisniewski introduce a resolution in state Legislature calling on Congress to do a top-to-bottom review of the authority.

 

Dec. 20 Sokolich, the Fort Lee mayor, refutes Christie’s assertion that no one called to complain about the traffic tie-ups caused by the lane closures. He says local officials reached out to the Port Authority multiple times for help.

 

Dec. 23: Baroni and Wildstein submit documentation requested by Wisniewski.

 

Dec. 26: Weinberg says the Port Authority has delayed its response to her request for more information about the closures made through a Freedom of Information Act request.

 

Dec. 29: Port Authority e-mails show the traffic jams caused by the lane closures delayed emergency responders.

 

Dec. 31: Wisniewski issues another subpoena ordering Wildstein to testify before the Assembly transportation committee Jan. 9.

 

Today: Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, was aware of a plan to shut down the lanes and knew the closures would snarl traffic on Fort Lee streets, remarking in an e-mail, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Wisniewski says Christie has lost all credibility on the scandal, calls it a coverup and pledges to seek answers from Kelly and others. Christie says in a statement he was misled by a member of his staff, had no knowledge of the closure and calls the actions unacceptable. He promises to hold people responsible, but gives no details about who or how.

 

Thank you Christopher Baxter/The Star-Ledger.

 

 

Why the Christie scandal is a major challenge for Republicans

 

 

Jon Stewart NAILS IT on NJ Gov. Chris Christie Bridgegate Scandal

 

Published on Jan 8, 2014

Being from New Jersey, Jon obviously has a personal attachment to this issue. Check him out at his best in this video.

 

 

Politics is a dirty game. Thats all I got to say about that. (In My Forest Gump Voice)

 

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What Does Barack Hussein Obama Watch On TV During His Down Time?


 

By Jueseppi B.

infobama

 

 

“Game of Thrones”

“Boardwalk Empire”

“Breaking Bad”

“House of Cards”

“Homeland”

“Downton Abbey”

“Mad Men”

“The Wire”

 

Screen-Shot-2013-12-31-at-8.45.49-PM-640x399

 

From The  New York Times & Mr. 

 

Obama’s TV Picks: Anything Edgy, With Hints of Reality

 

It is true that Mr. Obama has his own TV distractions that do not involve serious subjects. He is a rabid sports fan, and friends and colleagues say he enjoys ESPN’s “SportsCenter.” He also once told TV Guide that he and his family watch ABC’s “Modern Family” and NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” — two comedy shows that could never be accused of being deep, dark or edgy.

But Mr. Obama once admitted to People magazine that he is “a little darker” in his TV habits than the rest of his family.

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WASHINGTON — War, terrorism, economic struggle, mass shootings — such is life in the Oval Office for President Obama.

 

Yet in his few quiet moments, this president seeks not to escape to the delicious back-stabbing of the “Real Housewives” or the frivolity of the singing teenagers on “Glee.” By his own accounts, Mr. Obama is drawn in his spare time to shows like HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and “Boardwalk Empire,” the kind of heavy, darkly rendered television that echoes the sadness and strife that make up so much of his workday.

These days, when Mr. Obama retreats to the White House residence after a long day on the other end of the colonnade, he is working his way through the DVD box set of AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” the award-winning TV drama about a drug-dealing high school teacher. The show just ended after five seasons, but the president is way behind and frequently reminds those around him not to give anything away.

Friends say Mr. Obama is also keenly awaiting the new season of the Netflix show “House of Cards,” which starkly depicts a dysfunctional Washington — a theme that must seem all too familiar. At a meeting of technology executives last week, Mr. Obama jokingly lamented his own inability to maneuver the halls of Congress in the way of Kevin Spacey’s character, Frank Underwood.

“I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient,” Mr. Obama was overheard saying to Reed Hastings, the Netflix C.E.O., who invited the president to do a cameo on the show. Mr. Obama joked of the sleazy, congressman-murderer Mr. Underwood, “This guy’s getting a lot of stuff done.”

It may be a fool’s errand to psychoanalyze anyone — let alone a sitting president — based only on the books he reads or the music he listens to, or the television shows he watches.

Since leaving office, Bill Clinton has said he liked “24,” Fox’s terrorism cliffhanger, and — you guessed it — ABC’s “Scandal,” a political thriller set in Washington. Ronald Reagan, a former actor, once offered to appear on his favorite show, the sitcom “Family Ties.” (His offer was rejected.) Franklin Roosevelt was said to like Mickey Mouse cartoons in an era long before cable made TV edgy. George W. Bush was said to not be a particular fan of television, but made exceptions for A&E’s “Biography” and a variety of sports programs.

But for Mr. Obama, “Breaking Bad” and “House of Cards” are hardly the exceptions to what has become a clear pattern. Mr. Obama is also a devotee of Showtime’s “Homeland,” which offers an eerily familiar mirror to the president’s own foreign policy adventures: terrorism, Iranian nuclear negotiations, drone strikes, and an intelligence agency struggling for legitimacy with Congress and the American people.

And the list of heavies continues. Mr. Obama has told people he is a big fan of “Game of Thrones,” a brutal imagining of the wars in medieval Europe. He has raved about “Boardwalk Empire” and ITV’s “Downton Abbey,” two period dramas that document the angst and difficulties that people faced during those times. And he has worked his way through the DVDs of AMC’s smoldering “Mad Men” series, telling friends that the character of Peggy Olson has given him insight into what it must have been like for his strong-willed grandmother in a world dominated by men.

Then there is HBO’s “The Wire,” which Mr. Obama has repeatedly called one of the “greatest shows of all time.” The drama depicted the poverty-stricken projects in Baltimore and documented the drug war between worn-out cops and the city’s African-American residents. (The president’s favorite character: Omar Little, the stickup man who robs the drug dealers.)

David Simon, the show’s creator, said in an interview that he wonders whether Mr. Obama was drawn to the show because it dealt so directly with the issues of social and economic strife.

Read The Entire Article.

Thank you The  New York Times & Mr. .

The Netflix series “House of Cards” is set in a dysfunctional Washington.

The Netflix series “House of Cards” is set in a dysfunctional Washington, is one of President Obama’s favorites.

HBO's "Game of Thrones"

POTUS Obama is a fan of HBO’s “Game of Thrones”

AMC's "Breaking Bad," is a tale of a drug-dealing teacher.

AMC’s “Breaking Bad,” is a tale of a drug-dealing teacher, The President watches this one.

Mr. Obama has raved about HBO's Prohibition-era "Boardwalk Empire," with Steve Buscemi.

POTUS Obama has raved about HBO’s Prohibition-era “Boardwalk Empire,” with Steve Buscemi.

Another of POTUS Obama's favorite dramas.

Another of POTUS Obama’s favorite dramas.

 

Weekly Address: Time to Pass Bipartisan Legislation to Extend Emergency Unemployment Insurance

 

In this week’s address, President Obama said Congress should act to extend emergency unemployment insurance for more than one million Americans who have lost this vital economic lifeline while looking for a job.

 

 

 

4_11

 

 

President Barack Hussein Obama arrives to board Air Force One at Joint Air Force Base at Pearl Harbor-Hickam, to return to Washington, on Saturday, Jan. 4. Malia and Sasha returned with the President, the First Lady Michelle LaVaughn Obama, is staying on in Hawaii for a little longer.

 

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James La Rue Avery, Sr, Star Of ‘The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air,’ Dies At Age 68


 

By Jueseppi B.

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James La Rue Avery, Sr. (November 27, 1948 – December 31, 2013) was an American actor, best known for his portrayal of the patriarch and attorney (later judge) Philip BanksWill Smith‘s character’s uncle, in the TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. This character was ranked #34 in TV Guide‘s “50 Greatest TV Dads of All Time.” He also provided the voice of Shredder in the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles television series, as well as War Machine in the animated series Iron Man and Junkyard Dog in Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling. He also played Michael Kelso‘s commanding officer at the police academy late in the series run of the popular sitcom That ’70s Show.

 

Life and career

Avery was born in Virginia and raised in Atlantic CityNew Jersey. He served in the Vietnam War as a member of the U.S. Navy from 1968–1969, after graduating high school. Later on, he moved to San DiegoCalifornia where he began to write poetry and TV scripts. In addition to his fame insitcoms, he did voice acting for many animated series, most notably the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series (as the voice of The Shredder) and James Rhodes in the 1990s Iron Man series. He also performed in the single season production of Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys as “Gor-illa” a loveable, simple, and bi-polar gorilla.

 

He has been the primary host of Going Places, a popular travel and adventure series on PBS. He also guest starred in That ’70s Show as Officer Kennedy. In 2000, he guest starred in the “Unfriendly Skies” episode of CSI as Preston Cash, a legally-blind witness to a murder who assists the CSI team with a near-flawless verbal account of what he heard on board the flight. Avery played a Los Angeles County Medical Examiner, Dr. Crippen (who has recently appeared in a wheelchair), on the TNT series The Closer. In 2004, he guest starred on the television series That’s So Raven where he played an entrepreneur.

 

He also appeared in a 2005 episode of My Wife and Kids as Jay’s reluctant professor. He was cast in the new sitcom Sherri, starring Sherri Shepherd, playing her father.

 

Most recently, Avery wrapped production on Valediction, which could begin its film festival circuit as early as October 2011. He played the role of Edward, the husband of co-star Bonnie Bartlett. In addition, he starred in a 2012 role on the TV series Grey’s Anatomy, playing a distraught spouse to his brain-dead partner who was a patient.

 

Death

On December 31, 2013, Avery died from complications following open heart surgery in a Los Angeles hospital.

 

(CNN) – Actor James Avery, who played the beloved Uncle Phil on the hit 1990s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air,” died Tuesday, his publicist confirmed. He was 68.

 

The cause of death was complications from open-heart surgery, said his manager, Toni Benson.

 

His “Fresh Prince” co-star Alfonso Ribeiro tweeted news of Avery’s passing.

 

“I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away,” Riberio tweeted. “He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly.

 

A classically trained actor and poet, Avery grew up in Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he was raised by a single mother. He served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and first appeared onscreen as a dancer in an uncredited role in the 1980 film “The Blues Brothers.”

 

According to IMDb, after he served in the military, Avery moved to San Diego, California, where he began writing TV scripts and poetry for PBS. Before joining the military, he once said, he had dreams of being like Richard Wright and living in Paris. But life took a different turn.

 

“I knew I loved the arts,” Avery said in an interview for the show “Unscripted.” “I knew I wanted to be a writer, but the theater was something I had been involved in before.”

 

Avery appeared in multiple TV shows and movies, including “CSI,” “That ’70s Show,” “The Closer” and several appearances as a judge on “L.A. Law.”

 

Indeed, with his deep, mellifluous voice, he frequently played judges, professors and doctors — Uncle Phil began as a lawyer and eventually became a judge — and was much in demand as a voice actor. His voice roles included Shredder in the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” series and James “Rhodey” Rhodes in the 1990s animated series version of “Iron Man.”

 

He most recently appeared in Zach Braff’s new film, “Wish I Was Here,” which will premiere at the Sundance Film Festival later this month.

 

But his most famous role was as Phillip Banks, the stern but loving uncle to Will Smith’s character on “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” The show, co-executive produced by Quincy Jones and created by Andy Borowitz and Susan Borowitz, cast Smith — then best known as a rapper — as a Philadelphia teenager who is sent to live with his wealthy Los Angeles relatives. As Banks, a former civil-rights activist and Harvard Law-trained attorney, Avery provided a role model for Smith’s sometimes wild character.

 

Avery, too, leveled with youthful audiences, noting in “Unscripted” that he left home at 18 because “I had too good a time.”

 

In a 2007 interview with the New York Film Academy, he was forthright about his abilities.

 

“You can either be a movie star or an actor. I’m an actor,” he said. “(But) I’ve done pretty good.”

 

He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Barbara Avery, his mother, Florence Avery of Atlantic City, and a stepson, Kevin Waters.

 

People we lost in 2013

 

CNN’s Todd Leopold contributed to this story.

 

James-avery

 

 

Uncle Phil loses it

 

Uploaded on Sep 26, 2007

Uncle Phil goes psycho on Geoffrey after another sly insult from the butler.

 

 

 

Unscripted: James Avery

 

Uploaded on Jan 14, 2010

Best known as Will Smith’s “Uncle Phil” on the hit series The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the imposing James Avery is a classically trained actor who has written TV scripts and poetry, and earned an Emmy Award for production while working for PBS. Born and raised in Atlantic City, New Jersey, he served in Vietnam with the U.S. Navy. Avery made his first screen appearance in 1980 with an uncredited part in The Blues Brothers, and in the three decades since then has amassed a long list of film and TV credits that includes Hill Street Blues, L.A. Law, C.S.I. and The Closer.

 

 

 

James Avery, who played the character of Phil Banks on the hit sitcom ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air,’ died at the age of 68 on Dec. 31.

James Avery, who played the character of Phil Banks on the hit sitcom ‘Fresh Prince of Bel Air,’ died at the age of 68 on Dec. 31.

Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson Suspended By A&E Over Anti Gay & Racist Comments


 

By Jueseppi B.

phil dd1 (1)

 

 

Hat Tip/Shout Out to  Dr. Rex …. Blogging for change and her blogIt Is What It Is.

 

Not only does “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson fail to understand what it’s like to be gay, but he also thinks homosexuality is a sin comparable to bestiality.

 

In a shocking new interview with GQ’s Drew Magary, Robertson — the 67-year-old patriarch of the Duck Commander kingdom that earned his Louisiana family a fortune and a hit A&E series — opened up about “modern immorality” and the gay community.

 

“It seems like, to me, a vagina — as a man — would be more desirable than a man’s anus,” Robertson told GQ. “That’s just me. I’m just thinking: There’s more there! She’s got more to offer. I mean, come on, dudes! You know what I’m saying? But hey, sin: It’s not logical, my man. It’s just not logical.”

 

“Everything is blurred on what’s right and what’s wrong. Sin becomes fine,” he later added. “Start with homosexual behavior and just morph out from there. Bestiality, sleeping around with this woman and that woman and that woman and those men. Don’t be deceived. Neither the adulterers, the idolaters, the male prostitutes, the homosexual offenders, the greedy, the drunkards, the slanderers, the swindlers — they won’t inherit the kingdom of God. Don’t deceive yourself. It’s not right.”

 

To read the full interview, visit GQ.com.

 

Robertson was once a substance abuser, but in the 1970s he turned his life over to Jesus, according to the Christian publication, The Southeast Outlook. He has since been a devout Christian and strives to be a scholar of the Bible.

 

Robertson’s anti-gay comments did not sit well with lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) advocates. GLAAD called his comments some of “the vilest and most extreme” uttered against the LGBT community, “littered with outdated stereotypes and blatant misinformation.”

 

In a statement obtained by The Huffington Post, GLAAD spokesperson Wilson Cruz said:
Phil and his family claim to be Christian, but Phil’s lies about an entire community fly in the face of what true Christians believe. He clearly knows nothing about gay people or the majority of Louisianans — and Americans — who support legal recognition for loving and committed gay and lesbian couples.

 

Phil’s decision to push vile and extreme stereotypes is a stain on A&E and his sponsors who now need to reexamine their ties to someone with such public disdain for LGBT people and families.

 

Recently, Robertson and his family were named on Barbara Walters’ “Most Fascinating People of 2013″ list. He snubbed Walters’ interview to go duck hunting instead.

 

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UPDATE at 12:33 pm ET: A representative from A&E sent the following statement to The Huffington Post from Phil Roberston in response to the controversy:

 

“I myself am a product of the 60s; I centered my life around sex, drugs and rock and roll until I hit rock bottom and accepted Jesus as my Savior. My mission today is to go forth and tell people about why I follow Christ and also what the bible teaches, and part of that teaching is that women and men are meant to be together. However, I would never treat anyone with disrespect just because they are different from me. We are all created by the Almighty and like Him, I love all of humanity. We would all be better off if we loved God and loved each other.”

 

NOW thats what I call a down home Christian apology….

 

 

A&E said it was troubled by Robertson’s statements.

 

 

 

Then of course the ever dumbass Sarah Palin weighs in with her superior intellect…..

sarah

 

Amy Jehle mentioned:  She never disappoints, which is to say she always disappoints.

 

equal

 

 

‘Duck Dynasty’ Star Phil Robertson Suspended Indefinitely Over Homophobic & Racist Comments

 

‘Duck Dynasty’ star suspended over anti-gay remarks. Phil Robertson, a star in the A&E hit series, ‘Duck Dynasty,’ has come under fire for comments about homosexuality during a magazine interview.

 

 

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