Archives for News

No expedited review of FOIA request for bin Laden photos

The Defense Department is refusing to do a speedy review of a Freedom of Information Act request for graphic photos of Osama bin Laden’s corpse, setting the stage for a protracted battle over access to the images. In a letter to The Associated Press, the department said the AP did not demonstrate an urgent or compelling need for the photos or show that the information has a particular value that would be lost if not provided in an expedited manner. As a result, it is not clear when or if the photos will be provided. The AP received the letter
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Outlook for Social Security, Medicare worsens

The bad economy is worsening the already-shaky finances of Medicare and Social Security, draining the trust funds supporting them faster than expected and intensifying the need for Congress to shore up the massive benefit programs, the government said Friday. Both Medicare and Social Security are being hit by a double whammy: the long-anticipated wave of retiring baby boomers and weaker-than-expected tax receipts, according to the annual report by the trustees who oversee the programs. The Medicare hospital insurance fund for seniors is now projected to run out of money in 2024, five years earlier than last year’s estimate. The Social
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Obama announces plans to speed up U.S. oil production

Facing continued public unhappiness over gas prices, President Barack Obama is directing his administration to ramp up U.S. oil production by extending existing leases in the Gulf of Mexico and off Alaska’s coast and holding more frequent lease sales in a federal petroleum reserve in Alaska. Obama said Saturday that the measures “make good sense” and will help reduce U.S. consumption of imported oil in the long term. But he acknowledged anew that they won’t help to immediately bring down gasoline prices topping $4 a gallon in many parts of the country. His announcement followed passage in the Republican-controlled House
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Congress shies away from Social Security changes

Congress, already nervous about voter backlash from Senior Citizens, is backing away from changes to Social Security but the serious long-term financial problems that threatens the system remains. An annual report from Social Security trustees will highlight those problems when it is released Friday. The report will show Medicare in worse shape than Social Security because of rising health care costs. But both programs face insolvency unless Congress acts, the report will say. The trustees reported last year Medicare trust funds will run out by 2029 and Social Security will be flat broke by 2037. Projections won’t improve after another
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Ron Paul readies another fringe run for President

The “Dr. No” of American politics — two-time Presidential loser Ron Paul — wants his third strike at national office, planning to announce yet another doomed run for the White House Friday. Polls show the 75-year-old Texas Congressman doesn’t stand a chance of winning the GOP Presidential nomination but that won’t stop him from running again, energizing his rapid legion of followers or muddying up a Republican field of candidates that is already overrun with long-shot fringe candidates. “He’s an authentic nut,” says Democratic consultant Jeff Crosby, a native of Paul’s coastal Texas Congressional district, tells The Associated Press.  “He
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Ethics Committee sends Ensign case to Justice Department

Former Sen. John Ensign of Nevada broke federal law, made false statements to the Federal Election Commission and obstructed a Senate Ethics Committee’s investigation into his conduct, the panel said Thursday in a scathing report that sent the matter to the Justice Department for possible prosecution. The former Republican lawmaker “created a web of deceit that entangled and compromised numerous people,” the committee said, adding that it had assembled enough evidence to warrant possible expulsion had Ensign not resigned. Ensign quit May 3, one day before he was to have testified under oath about an affair with the wife of
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Senators slam defiant big oil bosses

Oil executives defended the billions of dollars they get in tax breaks on Capitol Hill, only to be chastised by senators, who said their huge profits put them out of touch with consumers facing high gas prices. Democratic lawmakers slammed executives on Thursday over their refusal to give up tax breaks after their companies earned $35 billion during the first quarter of this year as gasoline prices rose to $4 a gallon. “I think you’re out of touch — deeply, profoundly out of touch and deeply and profoundly committed to sharing nothing,” Senator Jay Rockefeller told executives from Exxon Mobil,
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Romney tries to defend hyprocrisy on health care reform

Republican Mitt Romney on Thursday played down the healthcare reforms he crafted as Massachusetts governor as he sought the support of conservatives for his party’s 2012 presidential nomination. The similarities between Romney’s healthcare plan and that of Democratic President Barack Obama, derisively dubbed “Romneycare and Obamacare” by conservatives, are seen as the biggest challenge to Romney in his expected presidential bid. “Our plan was a state solution to a state problem,” Romney said in a speech at the University of Michigan’s Cardiovascular Center in Ann Arbor. “While his (Obama’s) plan is a power grab by the federal government to put
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Newt Gingrich: Too old and too out-of-touch to be President?

When Newt Gingrich last held political office “Seinfeld” was a top-rated TV show. The Spice Girls ruled the pop charts. And pagers — not iPhones — were the must-have tech device. Now, as the 67-year-old former U.S. House speaker enters the race for president, he faces the challenge of drawing on his rich resume of experience while rebranding himself for a restless Republican Party that seems hungry for a fresh face to take on the youthful and hip President Barack Obama. “It’s the crux of his campaign,” former Gingrich aide Rich Galen says. “Can he escape being a symbol of
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Americans more optimistic about economy

Americans are growing more optimistic about the U.S. economy, a sentiment that is benefiting President Barack Obama despite public disenchantment with his handling of rising gasoline prices and swollen government budget deficits. An Associated Press-GfK poll shows that more than 2 out of 5 people believe the U.S. economy will get better, while a third think it will stay the same and nearly a fourth think it will get worse, a rebound from last month’s more pessimistic attitude. And, for the first time since the 100-day mark of his presidency, slightly more than half approve of Obama’s stewardship of the
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