“The 113th (Congress) hasn’t passed the bills every Congress does like a highway bill, or a defense bill, or a farm bill, or a budget. But what do we need a budget for? Clearly not for highways, defense or food! Besides, Congress did pass a bill insuring that people can fish near dams on the Cumberland River, AND (House Republicans) also passed deep cuts in food stamps for the poor. Which is good solid governing, because the poor don’t need food stamps anymore now that they can fish near dams on the Cumberland River.”
– STEPHEN COLBERT, on what is now officially the least productive Congress — only 55 bills passed this year, with only a week left in their session — in American history, on The Colbert Report
Evening News Wrap Wednesday 4 December 2013.
- ANGUISH AND FEAR: Recordings of 911 calls to the Newtown, Connecticut police department during the Sandy Hook school massacre are released after AP and other news outlets file freedom of information requests. NRA probably listens to recordings and shrugs. (NY Times)
- ASSASSINATION: Hezbollah commander Hassan al-Laqis is gunned down outside his Beirut home; Israel denies involvement. (USA Today)
- "STRUCTURES AND PASTURELAND": An Arizona state agency is blamed for putting those interests over the safety of firefighters, 19 of whom perished battling a massive wildfire earlier this year; the fine is all of $559,000. (NY Times / LA Times)
- FIVE BILLION: That’s the number of cell phone records the National Security Administration collects overseas each motherfucking day. (WashPo)
- A truck carrying radioactive cobalt-60 was found soon after it was stolen in Mexico, its cargo container opened but with the material intact; unfortunately for the idiot(s) who opened it, they could die soon. (CNN / AP)
- BANKS A LOT: The feds will announce new mortgage fraud cases against banks in early 2014. (Reuters)
- Weeks after House Republicans move to cut billions of dollars in SNAP benefits, an analysis shows that the GOP is more likely to represent districts with high levels of participation in the food stamp program than do House Democrats. Republicans shrug. (Time)
- Meanwhile, President Obama calls on Americans to confront income inequality, the “defining challenge of our time.” Republicans shrug again. (Al Jazeera)
- Three former Ukrainian presidents back protesters angry at their government’s decision not to align with the European Union. (BBC)
- A year after going online-only, Newsweek is back in print. (Guardian)
- Pittsburgh Steelers coach acts like a dickhead on the field during a game, gets fined $100,000 and could cost his team a first round draft pick. (NY Daily News)
- KICKER: Scientists announce the oldest human DNA ever recovered — 400,000 years old — and show an “unexpected link” between Neanderthals in what is now Spain and another ancient predecessor of modern humans, the Denisovans from faraway Siberia. Apparently also discovered: the first-ever long-distance relationship. (NBC News)
(Scientific rendering of the Sima de los Huesos people, who lived 400,000 years ago in what is now Spain, by Javier Trueba / Madrid Scientific Films via NBC News)
Evening News Wrap Monday 2 December 2013.
- DERAILMENT: The Metro-North commuter train that derailed on Sunday was going at 82 miles per hour entering a 30 MPH zone — and preliminary data shows the train’s engineer only applied brakes six seconds before the crash. Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board caution that it’s still unclear whether the cause was faulty equipment — or human error. (NY Times)
- Meanwhile, it turns out the NTSB was already investigating Metro-North over its recent safety record before the accident. (USA Today)
- Here’s a look at the four victims that died. (NY Times)
- New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg gets flak for continuing to golf while the disaster —and its aftermath — unfolded. (NY Daily News)
- E-TAXMAN COMETH: The Supreme Court declines to hear case in which online retailers challenge states’ rights to collect taxes on their sales. (WashPo)
- I wonder what the tax rate will be when one of Amazon’s delivery drones lands on a customer. (USA Today)
- Following in the footsteps of NFL alumni, ex-NHL players sue the league over concussions and head injuries — and face backlash from other players. Um, because those guys are totally invincible and will never get hurt, ever? Man, I hate that macho shit. (LA Times)
- Egypt’s draft constitution assigns expanded powers to the military — namely, the ability to name the country’s defense minister — and a referendum could be held within the next 30 days. (AP)
- The search for bodies at a Glasgow pub ends; death toll is at nine as investigation continues into what caused a police chopper crash this weekend. (Sky News)
- REPUBS SAY THE DARNDEST THINGS: The GOP tweets that racism is over while Rush Limbaugh calls Pope Francis a Marxist. (CNN)
- President Obama announces the HIV Cure Initiative and pledges $5 billion toward the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. (NPR)
- Vice president Biden begins a weeklong trip to Asia as the U.S. calls on regional bully China to call off their so-called “air defense notification zone.” (Time / Guardian)
- And finally… FACE, VALUED: A twisted piece of steel, recovered from the World Trade Center site after the attacks of September 11, 2001, appears to show a face. The steel girder has been dubbed the “Angel of 9/11” and is housed at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum. (NBC News)
(Photos: Mary Altaffer / AP via NBC News)
(Florida Congressman Trey Radel and) rising Tea Party star was caught in a coke bust. Apparently he forgot the part of the Tea Party story where you dump the product in the harbor before the cops show up.
Personally, I hated to lose a Congressman who was so fiscally conservative that I’m sure he snorted his blow through a one dollar bill. And so committed to family values, folks, that he actually voted to drug test people who received food stamps. He’s not a hypocrite, because he doesn’t get food stamps from the government.
Just his paycheck.”
– STEPHEN COLBERT, The Colbert Report
"Speaker of the House John Boehner criticized President Obama’s attempt to repair the Affordable Care Act, saying ‘There’s no way to fix this." And statements like that are why he’s known as the Eeyore of Congress."
“To slavery, yes. And that’s not a racist thing to do, by the way.”
SARAH PALIN, during an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper in which Tapper asked her if she compared Obamacare to slavery.
Jesus H. Christ’s own mouthpiece.
Kathleen Sebelius, the Health and Human Services secretary, took a lot of grief this morning from Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee who were outraged that some people’s individual insurance policies had been “cancelled” because of health care reform.
Some of the rants bordered on the comical. Cory Gardner, Republican of Colorado, brandished his “cancellation” letter and demanded that Ms. Sebelius nullify the health law for all residents of his congressional district.
Most lawmakers mentioned President Obama’s unfortunate blanket statement that all Americans would be allowed to keep their insurance policies if they liked them. He failed to make an exception for inadequate policies that don’t meet the new minimum standards.
But in between lashings, Ms. Sebelius managed to make an important point. Yes, some people will be forced to upgrade their policies, she said. But that’s preferable to the status quo before the passage of the Affordable Care Act, when insurers could cancel policies on a whim.
“The individual market in Kansas and anywhere in the country has never had consumer protections,” she testified at the hearing. “People are on their own. They could be locked out, priced out, dumped out. And that happened each and every day. So this will finally provide the kind of protections that we all enjoy in our health care plans.”
A true cancellation is when someone gets a letter saying that she’s losing her insurance and cannot renew. That was common practice in the individual market for people with expensive conditions. Under the new law, no one will ever get a letter like that again. They cannot be turned down for insurance.
The so-called cancellation letters waved around at yesterday’s hearing were simply notices that policies would have to be upgraded or changed. Some of those old policies were so full of holes that they didn’t include hospitalization, or maternity care, or coverage of other serious conditions.”
The New York Times, "The Uproar Over Insurance ‘Cancellation’ Letters."
Oops. Republicans got got again.