Blog Posts by Liz Goodwin

  • Sandy Hook report: Shooter’s mom wanted to buy him gun for Christmas

    The mother of mass killer Adam Lanza wrote her son a check to buy a pistol as a Christmas present in the days leading up to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, according to an official report out Monday.

    Nancy Lanza — who was killed by her 20-year-old son last December before he killed six women and 20 children at the Connecticut elementary school — told friends a month before the shooting that she was concerned about her son. He had not left the house for three months, and he communicated with her only via email, she said. She was not allowed to enter his room.

    But despite what seemed like mental health warning signs, the police found a check in the Lanza home for a CZ 83 pistol, which Nancy Lanza intended to give to her son over the holidays, according to a report released by a Connecticut state's attorney. The check’s date section read “Christmas Day.”

    “The mother wanted to buy the shooter a CZ 83 pistol for Christmas and had prepared a check for that purchase to give the

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  • Will people who filled out Obamacare applications actually enroll?

    October’s dismal Obamacare enrollment numbers were tempered by a bright spot for the White House: 1 million Americans who took the trouble to fill out an application on the tech-plagued site but have not yet picked a plan.

    A paltry, far-under-target 106,000 people nationwide actually selected a private insurance plan by putting it into their online shopping carts last month. But the Obama administration stressed that 975,000 other Americans who filled out applications online would soon join their ranks. The White House needs 7 million enrolled by the end of March.

    “There's no question that if the website were working as it's supposed to, that number would be much higher of people who've actually enrolled,” Obama said at a press conference last week.

    The president argued that the number of people who filled out fairly lengthy applications shows there is “a real demand for quality, affordable health insurance.”

    But it’s far from clear that the hundreds of thousands of people who went through

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  • Duncan apologizes for ‘white suburban moms’ Common Core controversy

    Education Secretary Arne Duncan was forced to apologize on Monday for an impolitic comment he made over the Common Core, a sweeping effort to standardize national education that’s angered a diverse coalition of parents nationwide.

    The bipartisan effort to create national learning goals for all schools has sparked a growing backlash among parents, some of whom kept their children from attending school on Monday in protest of what they see as federal interference in their kids’ curricula.

    On Friday, Duncan stoked outrage by suggesting “white suburban moms” don’t like the new standards because they force them to realize their kids aren’t as smart as they thought. He made the comment while speaking to a group of state superintendents, acknowledging the backlash to Common Core.

    “It’s fascinating to me that some of the pushback is coming from, sort of, white suburban moms who — all of a sudden — their child isn’t as brilliant as they thought they were and their school isn’t quite as good as

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  • Will states accept Obama’s insurance exchange fix?

    Will states play along with President Barack Obama and his new plan to allow people who like their health insurance plans to stay on them an additional year?

    The proposed fix, which Obama announced Thursday under intense pressure from his own party, was meant to address criticisms that he had lied to the American people when he said “if you like your plan, you can keep it” while campaigning for the health care overhaul. Between 7 million and 12 million people were set to receive cancellation notices because their plans don't meet the minimum standard of coverage required under the new law.

    The uproar forced Obama to backpedal. He’ll now allow health insurance companies to continue to offer plans that do not meet his law’s standards for an additional year, to give people more time to transition to the new federal marketplace.

    But Obama’s fix does not actually guarantee that millions of people will be able to keep their plans. Insurance is regulated at the state level, and state officials

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  • What Obama’s health care announcement means

    On Thursday, President Barack Obama announced that health insurance companies are no longer required to kick people off their coverage if it doesn't meet Obamacare’s new standards. The president is offering a one-year “grandfather” extension for the plans.

    The announcement, made under intense pressure from his own party, was made to address criticisms that the president had broken his promise to the American people that “if you like your plan, you can keep it” under his 2010 health care reform law. Between 7 million and 12 million Americans were to be sent cancellation notices for 2014 because their plans did not meet the minimum coverage requirements set up under the law.

    The people who received cancellation notices were expected to go to the federal insurance marketplace and buy coverage there. But the website,, has been plagued with difficulties, and some of those covered would owe more in premiums in the marketplace than they did on their older, canceled plans. (The

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  • Police turn routine traffic stops into cavity searches

    Timothy Young had just turned into a gas station in Lordsburg, N.M., at 10 p.m. and was about to fill up his pickup truck when several police cars pulled up behind him. The officers from the Hidalgo County Sheriff’s Office accused him of failing to use his turn signal, and asked him whether he was using or carrying drugs.

    According to a complaint filed Friday in a federal court in New Mexico, what happened next in the October 2012 incident was nothing short of a six-hour nightmare. Young, 31, was forced to strip from the waist down in a public parking lot and then submit his body to an X-ray and anal penetration at a nearby hospital, all under the supervision of peace officers searching for contraband.

    The invasive search that Young alleges he was subjected to is not an isolated incident, his lawyers say, and is part of a larger pattern of cops, eager to make drug busts, crossing the line in order to try to uncover drugs and money at all costs.

    “They’re really pushing the envelope on

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  • Food stamp cuts hit 9 million elderly and disabled people

    Cuts to the nation’s food stamp program hit 48 million Americans this week, including more than 9 million elderly and disabled people.

    Nearly one in seven Americans uses the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which has doubled in cost since 2008 when Congress increased the benefits as part of the economic stimulus bill. Both Democrats and Republicans allowed the temporary benefits boost to expire on Nov. 1, and Republicans are pushing for far steeper cuts to the $80 billion program.

    The average monthly decrease for a one-person household is $11. That doesn’t sound like much, but the vast majority of food stamp recipients say the assistance runs out in the first three weeks of each month, leaving them to cobble together food from other sources in the final week. The cuts amount to 16 meals a month for the average family of three, according to the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Thrifty Food Plan.

    “Even though it might sound little, for some people that’s a couple of meals that

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  • From soft on crime to socialist, the attacks on de Blasio that didn’t stick

    The New York Post slammed de Blasio for his 1980s-era visit to the Soviet Union.

    Bill de Blasio has been called a Cuba-loving socialist, soft on crime, two-faced and even an irresponsible late sleeper over the past six months of his campaign to lead the nation’s largest city.

    But nothing quite stuck.

    On Tuesday, de Blasio is expected to sail to victory over Joe Lhota, his Republican rival and the former chairman of the city’s transit system, to become the next mayor of New York City. De Blasio, a former city councilman and current public advocate, emerged victorious in a crowded Democratic primary in September, brushing off accusations that his self described "progressive" views will return New York City to its graffiti-covered, crime-ridden past.

    The lines of attack against de Blasio have fallen into two major camps: that his staunch opposition to the way the city police force has used “stop and frisk” means he is soft on crime, and that his liberal beliefs are too extreme for New York. De Blasio has said on the campaign trail that income inequality has divided

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  • Appeals court swipes contraceptive mandate, likely headed to Supreme Court

    Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate illegally infringes upon the religious freedom of two Catholic grocery store owners in Ohio, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday.

    The court’s ruling means Francis and Philip Gilardi do not have to provide contraceptives in their employees’ health care plans pending the resolution of their case. The Gilardis, who own Freshway Foods and Freshway Logistics, are among at least 39 for-profit corporation owners who have sued the federal government over the 2010 health care reform law’s provision that says large employer health plans must include all FDA-approved contraceptives without co-pays.

    Judge Janice Rogers Brown wrote for the majority that the mandate put the Gilardis, both devout Catholics, in an impossible position to provide health coverage for their 400 employees. “They can either abide by the sacred tenets of their faith, pay a penalty of over $14 million, and cripple the companies they have spent a lifetime building, or they become

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  • Bloomberg Businessweek mocks Obamacare glitches

    Bloomberg Businesweek Obama glitch cover

    Bloomberg Businessweek poked fun in its new issue at the tech problems that have plagued since it opened for business Oct. 1. 

    "One year — and one epic fail — into his second term, Barack Obama needs a reboot" the cover reads, next to a photo of a half-loaded image of Obama's face. 

    The Obama administration says the website — where uninsured people in 36 states are expected to purchase coverage over the next five months or pay a fine on their taxes — will be fully functional by the end of November.

    Obama's job approval rating hit an all-time low of 42 percent in a WSJ/NBC poll this week, as October's government shutdown and glitch-filled health care exchange rollout has frustrated the public. 

    The magazine also provided some of its discarded cover ideas, below.

    potential covers

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