Sunday, December 29, 2013

The LuLac Edition #2574, December 29th, 2013



5. IRAN AND THE BOMB..Fears of Iran getting a nuclear bomb was a highlight of worldwide news in 2013. Iran agreed to a slowdown but is being watched warily by the United States and other nations.
4. SYRIA... The conflict in Syria continued with reports that the dictator there was gassing his own people. The United States did not enter into the conflict and took a cautious approach to this powder keg. Peace talks have begun but even as they get underway, there is violence that does not bode well for any solution.
3. THE DEATH OF NELSON MANDELA…South African President Nelson Mandela died in December of 2013. His passing was noted by world leaders and his courage, dignity and strength were universally lauded. 
2. THE EXILE OF EDWARD SNOWDEN... The American who released NSA secrets took off for Iceland but was detained in Russia where he stayed in an airport terminal until Russia agreed to keep him. As recent as last week, Vladimir Putin said Snowden was honorable but had not met him yet and did not have the pleasure of working with him.
1. THE RESIGNATION OF A POPE AND THE ELECTION OF A NEW ONE.... In mid February, the Vatican announced that Pope Benedict XVIth decided to step down. On Feb. 28th he left the scene and a few weeks later Argentina’s Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the Catholic Church’s  266th Pope. His first year has been a stark contrast to his predecessor. The new Pope has been both comforting and confrontational. Francis has confronted social issues facing the church in a mild mannered but thought provoking manner. His pronouncements have sent the signal that this will not be your grandfather’s papacy. He was named Time’s Person of the Year and one gets the feeling that his opening act is just starting. Look for attitudes about the Church toward human sexuality to evolve a bit more in 2014.


5. THE NSA SCANDAL...The disclosure that average Americans cell phone records were being closely looked at for national security reasons.
4. THE TARGET STORE CREDIT CARD HACKING.......What is regarded as a full scale invasion of hundreds of thousands of credit cards during black Friday might have an effect on how people shop.
3. THE BOTCHED AFFORDABLE HEALTH CARE ROLL OUT.... On October first the signature legislation of the Obama Legacy had a very rocky start. The President had the GOP on its heels after the government shutdown but gave them an issue to beat his administration nd the Affordable Care Act over his head again.
2. SEQUESTER AND THE GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN...On Tuesday, January 1, 2013, Congress approved a bill to avoid the so called "fiscal cliff", which would have raised taxes on many Americans. However, the bill delayed the sequester. The sequester was a series of automatic cuts in federal spending, for two months until March 1st. Congress and the President were unable to come up with compromise legislation to avert the sequester; so dequestration went into effect March 1st. The important thing to understand is that sequestration is irresponsible budgeting – instead of passing a deliberated budget with the input of the American people, Congress is making indiscriminate cuts to federal spending. Lawmakers from both parties agree it's terrible policy, and yet they can't agree to repeal the cuts.
In the autumn of the year, the Republican party decided it would be a good thing to shut down the government because of their disdain for the Affordable Health Care Act as well as the fact that Congress failed to enact legislation appropriating funds for fiscal year 2014, or a continuing resolution for the interim authorization of appropriations for fiscal year 2014. Regular government operations resumed October 17 after an interim appropriations bill was signed into law. Most people agreed that the shutdown was bad for the American people and the Republican party. By December, House Speaker John Boehner actually took a stand against the Tea Party Republicans and endorsed the Budget deal crafted by Representative Paul Ryan and senator Patty Murray. This action by Boehner averted a government crisis but also set the stage for a bloody divisive year in GOP primaries in the off year election. It can also put Boehner’s leadership role in slight jeopardy as the new year begins.
1. THE BOSTON BOMBING.....During the Boston Marathon on April 15, 2013, two pressure cooker bombs exploded at 2:49 pm EDT, killing 3 people and injuring an estimated 264 others. The bombs exploded about 210 yards near the finish line. The suspects were identified later that day as two Chechen brothers Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev. The FBI released the images, and the suspects went on the run allegedly killed an MIT police officer, carjacked an SUV, and initiated an exchange of gunfire with the police in Watertown, Massachusetts. During the firefight, an MBTA police officer was injured but survived with severe blood loss. Tamerlan Tsarnaev was shot by police and then run over by his brother Dzhokhar and died. Dzhokhar was injured but escaped. (Wikipedia). A manhunt ensued and on April 19th the young brother was found hiding in a boat and captured. Those injured in the incident are still recovering from their injuries. This cowardly attack in Boston and the way the city came back from it made this the number one national news story in America in 2013.


5. FORMER GOVERNORS DIE……Two former Governor one a Democrat, another a Republican, both having served generations ago died this year. In May former Democratic Governor George Leader passed away at the age of 96 and Former Governor Bill Scranton died in August at the age of 95. Both men were lauded for the progressive and bipartisan attitude for governing.
4. LEGISLATIVE STALL……The Republican controlled State Legislature had many moments of inertia and failed to act on Governor Tom Corbett’s agenda until passing a Transportation bill toward the end of the year. Corbett’s dream of liquor privatization was stalled.
3. THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT AND THE COMMONWEALTH..The faulty enrollment plan for the Affordable Care Act got off to a rocky start. Not many Pennsylvania residents signed up initially and Insurers were having trouble accessing subsidy information on their on line stores. By the end of the year things moved a tad better but according to Insurers more efficiency on the website would be an easier sell to those young healthy people who need to enroll to make this thing viable.
2. CORBETT SAYS YES TO MEDICAID..Tom Corbett became the 10th Republican governor to back the expansion of Medicaid, the joint federal-state health program for the poor. Utilizing the Affordable Care Act, Corbett added a set of reforms that would extend health coverage to more residents of the state. But Corbett wanted Pennsylvanians to use private health insurance plans and insisted on new requirements for all Medicaid enrollees, like having them pay monthly premiums and demonstrate they are searching for jobs. So far the plan is waiting for approval.
2. JUDGE SENTENCED.....A former Supreme Court Justice Jane Orie was sentenced to three years of house arrest after her conviction for illegal political campaigning. Orie Melvin was also fined $55,000 and was ordered to have her picture taken and sent to every sitting Judge in the Commonwealth with an apology.
1. TOM CORBETT’S FUTURE...The most talked about political story this year was Governor Tom Corbett’s reelection chances. It seems like the Governor has alienated liberals on the Democratic side, moderates in his own party as well as his key Conservative base. The Governor has not been warm and fuzzy and had a hard act to follow after the bombastic Ed Rendell. With low poll numbers the conventional political wisdom is that Corbett will be in deep political trouble in 2014. Undaunted, the Governor shook up his staff and announced for reelection the day after the 2013 General Elections. Now the speculation will be whether or not he will succeed in winning another term in this key off year election.


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