Archives for FUBAR

Companies reap big profits from Medicare

Private health insurance companies that offer alternative Medicare coverage funnel billions of dollars toward company profits and marketing efforts rather than to patient care, U.S. Democrats said in a report released on Wednesday.

A number of insurers, including Humana Inc and UnitedHealth Group Inc, offer such plans known as Medicare Advantage as an alternative to traditional fee-for-service Medicare coverage for the elderly and disabled.
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Petraeus predicts more turmoil, violence in Afghanistan

Violence in Afghanistan will likely climb in the short-term, along with internal government turmoil, U.S. General David Petraeus told Congress on Wednesday, urging lawmakers to reserve judgment for a full year on President Barack Obama's new war strategy.

Petraeus, who as head of U.S. Central Command is in charge of drawing down forces in Iraq and overseeing a new surge of 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, said he expected increased fighting in Afghanistan in the spring and the summer.

He also said the Afghan government's expected moves to combat corruption likely would result in "greater turmoil within the government as malign actors are identified and replaced."

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Report shows many White House security lapses

Secret Service Director Mark SullivanThe uninvited couple that sneaked into an exclusive state dinner at the White House joins a lengthy list of similar security lapses, according to a 2003 Secret Service report revealed Monday in the Washington Post.

The Secret Service -- the branch in charge of the president's security -- have mistakenly seen at least 91 breaches of their checkpoints since 1980, said the daily, adding that the report was used to train agents.

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Osama slips in and out of Afghanistan at will

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden may periodically slip back into Afghanistan from his remote hideout in neighboring Pakistan, a senior White House official says, adding a new twist to the mystery of the elusive terrorist's whereabouts.

President Barack Obama's national security adviser, James Jones, said bin Laden, believed hiding mainly in a rugged area of western Pakistan, may be spending some time in Afghanistan, where he was based while plotting the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.

But Obama's Pentagon chief, Robert Gates, said the U.S. has lacked good intelligence on bin Laden for a long time — "I think it has been years" — and did not confirm that he'd slipped into Afghanistan.
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Obama: A warmonger with a peace prize

He's the Nobel Peace Prize winner who just ordered 30,000 more troops to war. He's the laureate who says he doesn't deserve the award. He's not quite 11 months on the job and already in the company of Mother Teresa and the Dalai Lama.

This is President Barack Obama's Nobel moment, an immense honor shadowed by awkward timing.

When Obama leaves for Oslo, Norway, on Wednesday to be lauded for his style of international diplomacy, he goes knowing that the American people are more concerned about something else: peace of mind.

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Open government? What open government?

It's hardly the image of transparency the Obama administration wants to project: A workshop on government openness is closed to the public.

The event Monday for federal employees is a fitting symbol of President Barack Obama's uneven record so far on the Freedom of Information Act, a big part of keeping his campaign promise to make his administration the most transparent ever. As Obama's first year in office ends, the government's actions when the public and press seek information are not yet matching up with the president's words.
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‘Redneck Rap’ stirs controversy

A Kansas lawmaker says he's sorry if he offended anyone by criticizing President Barack Obama while wearing a cap that calls opossum "the other dark meat."

Rep. Bill Otto said during a meeting with the NAACP on Saturday that he had "absolutely no thought of anything racial" in his online video, "RedNeck Rap."

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Salahis: Bad checks and unpaid bills

The Virginia couple at the center of last week's White House security breach is now accused of bouncing a nearly $24,000 check for liquor purchased in Maryland.

The Montgomery County government, which conducts all the wholesale liquor sales on its territory, filed a lawsuit Thursday against Michaele and Tareq Salahi, the couple who got into a state dinner last week without an invitation. The Salahis purchased wine and beer for America's Polo Cup World Championship, a charity polo event they held in the county in May.

According to documents filed in Montgomery County District Court, the couple returned more than $10,000 worth of merchandise, but they still owe more than $13,000 from the bounced check.

A spokesman for Dewey & LeBoeuf, a law firm that represents the couple, declined to comment on the claim.
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Lies, damn lies and health care reform

When Republican Sen. Tom Coburn warned seniors, "you're going to die sooner" if Democrats pass health care legislation, it stood out as an memorable, unprovable moment in an opening-week debate over President Barack Obama's top domestic initiative.

But not the only one.

Across hours of rhetoric, poll-tested charges and countercharges proliferated. Partial truths vied with inflated claims.

Senatorial speech leaned to the earthy.

"It is 2,074 pages long. It is enough to make you barf," Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah said of the bill that rested — unsullied — on his desk.

And the discourse approached the level of a schoolyard standoff.


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Obama, Congress look for ways to boost jobs

President Barack Obama's options for spurring job growth may be limited by out-of-control budget deficits, but he is warming to moves by his congressional allies for a jobs-boosting bill.

Taking his defense of the economy on the road, the president scheduled appearances Friday in Pennsylvania to showcase innovative businesses following Thursday's White House jobs forum. That event combined cheerleading and brainstorming as Obama exhorted more than 100 CEOs, academics, small business and union leaders and local officials to focus on new ways to get businesses hiring again.

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