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Obamas hit Hawaii for year-end vacation
Barack Obama and family landed in Honolulu late Friday to kick off a two-week Hawaiian vacation, what the U.S. president earlier described as a chance for "sleep and sun" after a bruising year in Washington. Obama, with wife Michelle and daughters Malia and Sasha, along with Marian Robinson, Mrs. Obama's mother, emerged from Air Force One in casual garb after a 9 1/2 hour flight. The Obamas were welcomed by dignitaries including Admiral Samuel Locklear, Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, and Governor of Hawaii Neil Abercrombie. The first couple briefly greeted service members waiting at Hickam Air Force Base for their arrival shortly before midnight local time.
Sat, 21 Dec 2013 07:18:09 -0500
From crime to cigarettes, Bloomberg leaves his mark on New York
By Ellen Wulfhorst NEW YORK (Reuters) - Love him or hate him, one thing is for sure: New Yorkers will not forget outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg anytime soon. As the independent billionaire politician bids farewell to City Hall by touting his accomplishments during 12 years in office, academics, urban planning experts and political pundits say the mark he made on New York is indelible and strong. While Bloomberg's final term was marred by a failed attempt to outlaw large sugary drinks and the furor over stop-and-frisk policing, he stands as one of the most successful mayors in New York history, they contend. "This will go down as, without question, one of the most influential and successful mayoralties in the history of the city," said David Birdsell, dean of the School of Public Affairs at the City University of New York's Baruch College.
Sat, 21 Dec 2013 07:02:48 -0500
Analysis: How the White House is rebranding Obamacare for 'young invincibles'
By Caren Bohan WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Last summer, White House officials planning a nationwide push to urge young adults to enroll in new health insurance plans had a big problem: Polls showed that many young, healthy people who could be key to the success of the Affordable Care Act knew little about it or its October 1 rollout. Stars such as pop singer Lady Gaga - a Twitter icon with nearly 41 million followers - singer John Legend (5 million followers) and actress Olivia Wilde (1.2 million followers) tweeted messages urging their fans to "get covered" by the program known as Obamacare. The tweets faded quickly, though, when it became clear that the launch of the Obamacare website designed to enroll millions of Americans was a disaster that threatened the viability of President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement. Now, with the HealthCare.gov website functioning better and enrollment deadlines for 2014 looming, the White House and its allies are making an urgent new pitch to "young invincibles" who may question whether they need health coverage.
Sat, 21 Dec 2013 01:04:47 -0500
India transfers diplomat to U.N. in bid to defuse row with U.S.
By Sanjeev Miglani NEW DELHI (Reuters) - India said on Saturday that it had transferred the diplomat at the center of a row with the United States to its U.N. delegation, a move that it hopes will give her protection from prosecution for visa fraud and underpaying a maid. Whether the accreditation of Devyani Khobragade as a member of India's U.N. mission leads to a way out of the dispute could depend on the U.S. State Department approving her transfer. Asoke Mukherji, India's ambassador to the United Nations, said he had written to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon informing him of the 39-year-old diplomat's transfer. The world's two largest democracies have been at loggerheads for the past week, amid mounting outrage in India over the arrest of Khobragade, who was strip-searched and handcuffed while in custody.
Sat, 21 Dec 2013 11:53:32 -0500
Obama looking for "sleep and sun" after challenging year
By Steve Holland WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama declined to engage in a bout of political soul-searching on Friday and said that despite a botched health care rollout and stalled legislative initiatives, his year had not been all that bad. He acknowledged setbacks but declined to dwell on them at a year-end news conference in the White House briefing room hours before escaping Washington for two weeks of what he described as "sleep and sun" in Hawaii. As his top priorities, he mentioned getting Congress to extend unemployment benefits for people out-of-work and raising the minimum wage. Beyond that, his wish list included avoiding a debt ceiling fracas with Congress in the spring when the nation's borrowing limit must be raised.
Fri, 20 Dec 2013 18:50:58 -0500
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