Details of Michelle Obama’s Relationship With Toni McCall Townes-Whitley

Tight since college; still tight after Obama took office.

Michelle  Obama - Toni McCall Townes-Whitley

DAILY BRIEFING – SUMMARY

·        BIG BRO - White House spokesman Jay Carney would not confirm a Wall Street Journal report Monday that President Obama didn’t learn until this summer the National Security Agency had been tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone for years.

 

·        THREAT - As terrorism increasingly becomes a tactic of warfare, the number of attacks and fatalities soared to a record high in 2012, according to a new report obtained exclusively by CNN.

 

·        KNEW ALL ALONG - President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that after the Affordable Care Act became law, people who liked their health insurance would be able to keep it. But millions of Americans are getting or are about to get cancellation letters for their health insurance under Obamacare, say experts, and the Obama administration has known that for at least three years.

 

·        BUDDY SYSTEM - Michelle Obama’s relationship with Princeton classmate Toni McCall Townes-Whitley, whose company earned the no-bid contract to design the disastrous Healthcare.Gov Obamacare website, continued after the Obamas moved into the White House.

 

·        DELAYED - With website woes ongoing, the Obama administration Monday granted a six-week extension until March 31 for Americans to sign up for coverage next year and avoid new tax penalties under the president’s health care overhaul law.

 

·        CHANGE - The Republican National Committee says it is changing its entire approach to campaigns, electing to focus on building the party’s grassroots on a constant basis rather than stockpiling money for TV ads in the months before an election.

 

DOMESTIC POLICY

ECONOMIC NEWS

·        FAILURE TO LAUNCH - Four years into the economic recovery, more than one-third of Millennials—young adults ages 18 to 31—are living in their parents’ homes, according to a recent Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.

o   More than 16% of millennials currently live in their childhood bedrooms because of financial strains, and nearly 12% have had to do so in the past, according to the report by PayScale Inc. and Millennial Branding, a consulting firm.

o   Meanwhile, the latest Rasmussen Consumer Index, which measures consumer confidence on a daily basis, found that only 17 percent rate U.S. economy good or excellent, but 43 percent rate it as poor.

 

·        SNOOZE - A government worker is 38 percent more likely to be absent from work for personal reasons or illnesses than a private-sector worker, and government workers miss 50 percent more of their usual work hours as a result of such absences than do private sector workers do, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

IN THE DISTRICT

·        BIG BRO - White House spokesman Jay Carney would not confirm a Wall Street Journal report Monday that President Obama didn’t learn until this summer the National Security Agency had been tapping German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone for years.

o   But a senior administration official on Monday rejected Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Diane Feinstein’s claim that the U.S. has halted intelligence collection against its allies.

o   In a statement released earlier Monday, the California Democrat said that the White House “has informed me that collection on our allies will not continue.” But the administration official called that statement “not accurate.”

o   Ms. Feinstein, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, said in a statement that she regards it as “a big problem that President Obama wasn’t aware that Ms. Merkel’s communications had been a focus of the NSA surveillance since 2002.

o   Meanwhile, the United States could lose access to an important law enforcement tool used to track terrorist money flows, German officials said Monday, as Europe weighed a response to allegations that the Americans spied on their closest European allies.

 

·        ACTUALLY, WE WERE LISTENING - The U.S. Justice Department for the first time has notified a criminal defendant that evidence being used against him came from a warrantless wiretap, a move that is expected to set up a Supreme Court test of whether such eavesdropping is constitutional.

o   But in June, the New York Times reports Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli, Jr. discovered that Justice’s National Security Division had actually not been notifying criminal defendants when evidence used against them was derived from warrantless snooping early in the investigative chain. This set off a months-long internal policy debate over whether or not Justice should be doing what they told the Supreme Court they were already doing.

o   It’s obviously problematic that Justice misled the Supreme Court about how the agency was handling the law in practice. But the implications of that practice are even more troubling. Patrick Toomey, the American Civil Liberties Union attorney who represented plaintiffs in Amnesty International case, said in a statement to the Times “by withholding notice, the government has avoided judicial review of its dragnet warrantless wiretapping program for five years.”

 

·        THREAT - As terrorism increasingly becomes a tactic of warfare, the number of attacks and fatalities soared to a record high in 2012, according to a new report obtained exclusively by CNN.

o   Meanwhile, the Department of Homeland Security is quietly considering lifting a long-standing ban on Libyans coming to the U.S. for training in the aviation and nuclear fields, according to an internal document, raising red flags for lawmakers who say Libya is still a security threat.

 

·        BENGHAZI - On Sunday evening, CBS News’ 60 Minutes featured an investigative report on the Benghazi attacks by Lara Logan. Logan’s reporting confirmed that the Obama administration had been warned, months in advance, about inadequate security at the U.S. facility in Benghazi, and that it knew the story about a YouTube video was untrue. It was a reversal for CBS News, which played a key role in the Benghazi cover-up in 2012.

o   Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said Monday he would block confirmation of every presidential nomination until U.S. personnel who witnessed the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi were made available to congressional investigators.

o   Suspects linked to the Benghazi terror attack have not been placed on the State Department’s “Rewards for Justice” program, and following further questioning of State Department Press Secretary on the issue, it does not look like the suspects will be added to the list any time soon.

 

·        KNEW ALL ALONG - In a blockbuster report on Monday, sources told NBC News that at least half to three quarters of those who buy individual insurance will have that insurance cancelled by their insurers over the next year thanks to changes mandated by Obamacare. A huge number of the people forced off their current insurance will have “sticker shock,” the sources said.

o   What’s more, President Obama knew all that even as he campaigned on the promise that if you liked your insurance, you could keep it: “the administration knew that more than 40 to 67 percent of those in the individual market would not be able to keep their plans, even if they liked them.”

o   Four sources deeply involved in the Affordable Care Act tell NBC NEWS that 50 to 75 percent of the 14 million consumers who buy their insurance individually can expect to receive a “cancellation” letter or the equivalent over the next year because their existing policies don’t meet the standards mandated by the new health care law. One expert predicts that number could reach as high as 80 percent. And all say that many of those forced to buy pricier new policies will experience “sticker shock.”

 

·        OBAMACARE - More than 7 million people will lose their healthcare coverage as a result of ObamaCare’s new standards and normal turnover in the insurance market, according to a new report from NBC News.

o   David Axelrod offered a slightly different promise about Obamacare than has the president: While that president has repeatedly said, “If you like your plan, you can keep it,” Axelrod on Monday told MSNBC that most” will be able to stick with their plan.

o   ObamaCare will dominate the agenda this week as Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and one of her chief deputies testify before Congress on the law’s troubled online enrollment system.

o   Meanwhile, Healthcare.gov users were surprised to discover over the weekend that the stock photo Image of a smiling woman was removed from the front page of the website. The smiling woman has become the face of the Obamacare website as the reports in the media have focused on the site’s technical failures for weeks.

o   The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is “mining” Facebook and Twitter to improve its social media footprint and to assess how Tweets can be used as “change-agents” for health behaviors.

o   CBS News recently reported that a 56-year-old Florida resident will see her health care costs increase by 10 times under Obamacare. Her new plan will be 10 times higher than what she’s paying now, jumping from $54 a month to $591.

o   A mere 9 percent of Americans believe that their healthcare situation has improved over the past year as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to a new study by Bankrate.com.

o   The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 52 percent of Likely U.S. Voters expect Obamacare to make the U.S. health care system worse.

 

·        BUDDY SYSTEM - Michelle Obama’s relationship with Princeton classmate Toni McCall Townes-Whitley, whose company earned the no-bid contract to design the disastrous Healthcare.Gov Obamacare website, continued after the Obamas moved into the White House.

o   Meanwhile, first Lady Michelle Obama and her Princeton classmate whose company received the no-bid government contract to build the HealthCare.gov Obamacare website were both members of a black student organization that caused a tense scene on campus by inviting a PLO leader who advocated for terrorism.

 

·        DELAYED - With website woes ongoing, the Obama administration Monday granted a six-week extension until March 31 for Americans to sign up for coverage next year and avoid new tax penalties under the president’s health care overhaul law.

 

·        CHANGE - The Republican National Committee says it is changing its entire approach to campaigns, electing to focus on building the party’s grassroots on a constant basis rather than stockpiling money for TV ads in the months before an election.

 

·        CONGRESS - A slice of corporate America thinks tea partyers have overstayed their welcome in Washington and should be shown the door in next year’s congressional elections.

o   In what could be a sign of challenges to come across the country, two U.S. House races in Michigan mark a turnabout from several years of widely heralded contests in which right-flank candidates have tried – sometimes successfully – to unseat Republican incumbents they perceive as not being conservative enough.

o   Meanwhile, the Senate Conservatives Fund is throwing its support to Tea Party-backed candidate Rob Maness (R) in Louisiana, potentially complicating Republicans’ hopes of defeating Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.).

 

·        CONGRESS - Evangelical pastors, corporate leaders, elected Republican officials and small-government activists arrive in Washington this week to lobby lawmakers to revamp U.S. immigration policies before year’s end.

 

·        CONGRESS - The Senate will take up legislation in the coming weeks that would bar discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Monday.

 

·        WHITE HOUSE - Vice President Joe Biden, the White House’s public face of and private force behind the push for new gun control laws, and his chief of staff, Bruce Reed, are no longer involved in the long-term planning between the White House and major gun violence prevention groups.

o   Meanwhile, a Gallup Poll released Friday shows that support for stricter gun laws has declined thirteen percent in the past thirteen years.

o   According to Gallup, 62 percent of American supported stricter gun laws in 2000, but that number has fallen to 49 percent.

o   This comes as a University of Kansas professor who tweeted a controversial remark about the National Rifle Association will not return to the classroom this year.

 

FEDERAL GOVERNMENT

·        WRONG WAY - New estimates show the federal government will spend nearly twice as much fighting global warming this year than on U.S. border security.

 

EDUCATION

·        PROTECTED - The St. Helens School Board in Oregon lifted a ban that had prevented teachers with concealed carry permits from carrying their guns on campus.

 

·        SOCIALIST - City council members in Philadelphia have given the go-ahead to a resolution to allow a socialist historian’s view of America, via his “A People’s History of the United States,” to be part of the public high school curriculum.

 

LOCAL ISSUES

·        SANDY SCAMS - Ever since Superstorm Sandy ripped up parts of the East Coast, residents and the government officials trying to help rebuild those hard-hit communities have faced a second wave of damage: from scammers.

o   Only $5.2 billion of the pledged $47.9 billion had been tapped by cities and states by the end of August, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

 

FOREIGN POLICY

MIDDLE EAST

·        SYRIA - The global chemical weapons watchdog says its inspectors in Syria have not been able to reach two sites because of security concerns, meaning that one of the first in a series of tight deadlines on the path toward destroying the country’s poison gas stockpile by mid-2014 has been missed.

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