Blog Posts by Olivier Knox, Yahoo News

  • Lawmaker: ‘Very little’ Obama work so far to rewrite ‘war on terrorism’ law

    Will the law that justified the invasion of Afghanistan outlive the U.S. combat mission there? One prominent lawmaker worries that it will.

    President Obama’s drive to rewrite America’s main “war on terrorism” legislation has stalled, a victim of national security staffers’ heavy focus on NSA spying and the charged partisan climate of a mid-term election year.

    That’s the diagnosis from Rep. Adam Schiff (D.-Calif.), a leading voice in his party for changing the legislation conceived to authorize the war in Afghanistan but also used to justify everything from drone strikes in Yemen to an unprecedented expansion of government spying.

    “I don’t see any real movement in the administration on this. And apart from some discussions during various hearings I don’t see much congressional appetite on it either,” Schiff told Yahoo News in a telephone interview on Thursday.

    Asked how much progress he’s seen from the administration on rewriting the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF)

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  • Hollande first French president since 1958 not to address Congress on state visit

    French President Francois Hollande will be the first French president since 1958 not to address a joint session of Congress during a state visit to Washington, French media are reporting. Hollande, who has seized headlines around the world with the soap opera-style mayhem in his personal life, will get a visit to Thomas Jefferson's Monticello and, of course, a lavish state dinner at the White House.

    So are House Republicans snubbing Hollande?

    Republican House Speaker John Boehner's office denies that the French leader's very public romantic troubles (or his Socialist Party credentials) played a role.

    "The Speaker values America's strong relationship with our oldest ally, but the schedule made an address
    impossible during this visit," spokesman Michael Steel told Yahoo News.

    Hollande's predecessor, the proudly pro-American Nicolas Sarkozy, made an official visit to Washington in late 2007 (a few weeks after his very troubled marriage ended in divorce). Sarkozy addressed Congress.

    And

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  • The White House Obamacare playbook for vulnerable Democrats in 2014

    It’s mid-October, 2014. On TV, a woman from your state looks directly at the camera as she tells the story of how Obamacare helped her get health insurance just before a devastating accident, or helped her kids with a chronic but common illness like asthma. She thanks her Democratic senator for voting for the Affordable Care Act. She doesn’t mention President Obama by name (he’s not popular here). In closing, she takes Republicans to task for their repeated efforts to repeal the law.

    That could be the script for political ads by vulnerable Democrats like Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana or Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska this year if they take a page from the (unofficial) White House playbook for fighting back on Obamacare.

    Everyone knows that the GOP plans to hang the unpopular law around the necks of Democrats – especially senators from red states elected (or reelected) in 2008, when Obama himself swept into office. They’ll be tying them to canceled policies and feature employers who blame

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  • Billie Jean King won’t attend Sochi games opening

    Tennis champion says she needs to attend to her ailing mother

    Openly gay former tennis superstar Billie Jean King won’t be delivering a symbolic message to Russian President Vladimir Putin when the Olympic Games open in Sochi. Her mother is seriously ill.

    “With my mother in failing health, I will not be able to join the U.S. Presidential Delegation at this week’s opening ceremonies of the Sochi Olympics,” King said in a statement provided to Yahoo News. “It is important for me to be with my mother and my brother at this difficult time. I want to thank President Obama for including me in this historic mission and I look forward to supporting our athletes as they compete in Sochi.”

    At the White House, spokesman Shin Inouye said Obama “extends his thoughts and prayers to Ms. King and her family in this difficult time."

    Instead, ice hockey silver medal-winner Caitlin Cahow will attend the Feb. 7 opening ceremony. Cahow, who is openly gay, had originally been named to the delegation at the closing ceremony. (Cahow recently shared her views on lesbian,

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  • New Obamacare push features mom jeans, 'MOM' tattoo

    (Healthcare.gov)

    Does Obamacare’s success depend on these mom jeans?

    No. But a new social media-driven push to get young Americans to enroll in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act may turn out to be critical to the law’s success. And it once again places mothers at the heart of the government’s ACA enrollment and outreach efforts.

    The Obama administration has already courted young women — there was that whole “your cats and dogs can talk and want you to sign up for Obamacare” Internet video — and just last month tried to get mothers to convince their adult children to enroll, reaching out to the moms with a staid TV ad campaign.

    Now the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) — the lead agency tasked with implementing the ACA — is looking for word-of-mouth publicity with a new digital campaign it hopes will get people buzzing. If the mom jeans photo doesn’t do it, perhaps the “MOM” tattoo pic will.

    It’s not just “mother knows best.” If not enough younger, healthier people sign up

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  • Obama, Reid hold 2014 strategy session

    President Barack Obama and Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid held a closed-door strategy session at the White House on Monday to plan how to keep Republicans from seizing the Senate in November’s elections, an informed source said.

    A source familiar with the meeting said Obama and Reid were joined by Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado, who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and DSCC Executive Director Guy Cecil. The DSCC's job is to recruit, fund and elect Democrats to the Senate.

    The source, who requested anonymity to described the meeting, characterized the talks as “productive” and said the group “reviewed the landscape and 2014 races.”

    The White House had announced that Obama and Reid would meet but had not mentioned the more political elements of the discussion or that Bennet and Cecil would attend.

    The discussions kicked off a heavily political week for Obama, who will host House Democrats for a reception and round-table discussion on Tuesday

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  • Obama spokesman: Philip Seymour Hoffman ‘a remarkable talent’

    President Barack Obama’s chief spokesman said Monday that the death of gifted actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was “tragic” and that anyone who cared for “incredibly powerful” performances was a fan.

    “It's hard to imagine if you are a fan of incredibly powerful acting that you weren't a fan of Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was just a remarkable talent, in my view,” Jay Carney told reporters. “It's very sad news.”

    Carney underlined that he was speaking for himself and had not discussed the actor’s death with Obama.

    While the president has formally commented on the passing of some performers, such as Whitney Houston, it was not clear whether he would do so in this case.

  • White House calls class warfare charges ‘hyperventilation’

    The White House had a simple message on Friday for very rich Americans complaining that President Barack Obama wants to wage class warfare: Stop your “hyperventilation.”

    “Just take a look at facts,” Jason Furman, chairman of Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, told reporters at a regular newsmaker breakfast organized by the Christian Science Monitor.

    Furman had been asked about Obama’s proposals for tackling income inequality in relation to charges of class warfare, including a venture capitalist’s recent headline-grabbing contention that criticism of the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans was akin to the Nazi movement’s devastating 1938 attacks on Jewish businesses. (The financier later apologized).

    “Some is just hyperventilation around not paying attention to specific facts and data,” Furman said. “No one here is talking about 100 percent tax rates, or 70 percent tax rates.”

    Furman said Obama seeks to foster “equality of opportunity” not outcome and argued that effective tax rates

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  • Obama on Olympics: ‘Sochi is safe,’ but…


    Invoking the Boston Marathon bombing, President Barack Obama told CNN in an exclusive interview to be broadcast Friday that he can’t “discount” the possibility that a terrorist might target the Winter Olympics Games in Sochi, Russia. Obama also told the news network’s Jake Tapper that he prefers it when American authorities have “full control” over security measures.

    Tapper asked the president in an interview conducted Thursday what he would tell close friends who might be thinking of attending the competition.

    “I'd tell them that I believe that Sochi is safe and that there are always some risks in these large international gatherings,” Obama replied.

    “What I would say is is that if you want to go to the Olympics, you should go to the Olympics,” the president added. “And, you know, we're not discouraging, in any way, Americans from participating in what is just always an amazing, wonderful event.”

    Still, the president said he feels more confident about major public events inside the

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  • George W. Bush in 2014 elections: ‘Here and there,’ not everywhere

    Don’t look for former President George W. Bush to end his self-imposed exile from politics in 2014 — though he expects to make the occasional donation.

    “He’s still interested in following politics, but still quite happy to be out of it at this point,” Bush spokesman Freddy Ford told Yahoo News.

    Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Thursday tweeted an archival photo of himself standing next to Bush, and a picture of a form showing that the former president gave $5,000 to “Team Graham, Inc.”

    “Dubya” has given $12,800 thus far in the 2014 cycle, according to a database maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics. His other beneficiaries have been his own congressman, Republican Roger Williams, and Republican Rep. Tom Cotton, who’s looking to unseat Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor of Arkansas.

    “I

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