Friday, January 10, 2014

POP GOES 2014 21,712

*  Special thanks to "Google Images", "" "The Washington Post",
"", "" and "The Denver Post".

by Felicity Blaze Noodleman
Los Angeles, CA

With all the New Year’s celebration now behind us; with our resolutions made and predictions generally laid out 2014 begins in earnest.  That warm fuzzy feeling of good cheer has now passed and we must now set about our toils and labor to make this year better than the last!  
The year has roared in like a lion putting most of the country in the deep freeze making headlines with all the snow and low temperatures making a huge inconvenience for so many. This weather system is being called a "Polar Vortex" bringing cold temperatures to the far south even in Florida!

A tourist catches snowflakes on her tongue during snow fall in Times Square, Midtown, New York January 2, 2014. A major snowstorm producing blizzard-like conditions hammered the northeastern United States on Friday, causing more than 1,000 U.S. flight delays and cancellations, paralyzing road travel, and closing schools and government offices. (REUTERS/Darren Ornitz)

Just think; all of those extra snow days off so soon after the holidays!  All that snow must be wonderful for making bigger, better snow men and snow forts for those spirited snow ball fights!  Great for all those winter activities.  We won’t tell you how nice the weather has been in sunny Southern California.  Our problem is that we are in the middle of a drought with no end in sight.   Now that we’ve almost ruined your day let’s look at some things to look forward to in the New Year.

2014 is the begging of the much anticipated and publicized “Obama Care” or the “Affordable Health care Act”.  The much publicized government mandated health insurance program is receiving a cold reception as the “Washington Post” reports.  Who saw that coming?

"The Washington Post"

Great News For Obamacare: Americans Are Bored With It

By Sarah Kliff
January 8 at 12:20 pm

Sarah Kliff covers health policy, focusing on Medicare, Medicaid and the health reform law. She tries to fit in some reproductive health and education policy coverage, too, alongside an occasional hockey reference. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, Politico, and the BBC. She is on Twitter and Facebook.

At some not-too-distant point in the past, somewhere between the ball dropping in Times Square and a polar vortex blowing through the Midwest, America got bored with Obamacare. You can see it happening in this Google graph, which shows interest in the shiny new health-care law tapering off week by week as the law became less shiny and less new. Reporter interest has dwindled, too. Here is a graph showing all the mentions of, Affordable Care Act and Obamacare. Enrollment in the insurance plans mandated by the new law and interest in the new law appear to have an inverse relationship.

"This is the most deadly week I can remember," said Bob Blendon, a Harvard professor whose work focuses on the intersection between health policy and politics.
"There does seem to be a little respite in the Obamacare wars," Kaiser Family Foundation president Drew Altman wrote in an e-mail.

Which feels a bit weird when you think about the fact that right now -- and for the first time -- Americans are testing out the law we've spent four years, two Supreme Court cases and one presidential election fighting about (not to mention a 17-day government shutdown).  The law that has divided the country since it was passed in 2010 has its very first wave of sign-ups! So why isn't that garnering more attention?

Those who have watched other insurance expansions come and go offer two theories. One is that the coverage people signed up for is, by and large, working. And it's a whole lot less exciting to write about things that work as they're supposed to than things going haywire, as was the case with's initial rollout. This is the more optimistic theory of Obamacare boredom: The law is working, thus leaving us reporters with few screw-ups to write about.

"I could be cynical and suggest that with the web site mostly fixed it’s because the press and especially cable news has less to get whipped up about (if it bleeds it leads is not just a local TV news phenomenon)," Altman wrote.

"Maybe it’s a good sign," said Jack Hoadley, a professor at Georgetown University who has written extensively on the rollout of Medicare Part D. "We are a week in, about three or four business days, or even more for pharmacies, which is the first place you'd expect to see problems."

Another possibility is that the problems just haven't cropped up quite yet. Another difference between this health law and the prescription drug program is volume. Hoadley estimates there were at least 10 million seniors signed up for Part D when it started; with the Affordable Care Act, there are about 6 million. And Americans tend to fill prescriptions more than they go to the doctor (nearly 4 billion prescriptions were filled in 2012), meaning there was more space for interaction with the health-care system early on.  

"This is the quiet they had in World War II before Poland was invaded," Blendon said. "Everyone is saying not much is happening, and then three months later things will emerge."

Blendon, Hoadley and Altman all expect another crop of stories about the health-care law to turn up at some point soon. They need what Blendon describes as a "focusing event": some particular moment, like the launch of open enrollment on Oct. 1 or the Dec. 23 deadline for purchasing coverage.

"It has to involve people, their great successes in what they got or if they have a real problem," he said. "There will be focusing events, like when premiums start coming out next October, that will probably capture a huge amount of attention."

Right now though, there's not much to focus on. There are some people getting coverage and a subset of those people testing it out. And a trip to a doctor's office doesn't seem to hit the threshold for for front-page news.

And, ultimately, this is what success looks like for Obamacare, if and when that happens. There will be no ticker-tape parades, front-page stories or skyrocketing poll numbers. It will be people using insurance and the press focusing on other things.

KLIFF NOTES: Top health policy reads from around the Web.
If you can't go to Cedars-Sinai anymore, is that Obamacare's fault? "The assumption that giving up access to hospitals like Cedars means giving up quality care is a powerful one. And it taps into deeply held anxieties about class and status. But while we might think we know what’s good for us medically, the relationship between hospital prestige and hospital quality is a lot weaker than it may seem. Health insurance is changing for some Americans because of Obamacare, but the changes are not the catastrophe many of them think." Jonathan Cohn in the New Republic

A new report finds flaws in digitizing health records. "Although the federal government is spending more than $22 billion to encourage hospitals and doctors to adopt electronic health records, it has failed to put safeguards in place to prevent the technology from being used for inflating costs and overbilling, according to a new report by a federal oversight agency." Reed Abelson and Julie Creswell in the New York Times.

 Get ready for a side of Obamacare ads with your Olympic curling. "The Obama administration is planning an Olympic-size ad blitz to push health coverage during the winter games next month. HHS confirmed Tuesday that it has bought advertising time in markets with high rates of uninsured people to air during the Winter Olympics, which run Feb. 7-23." Kyle Cheney and James Hohmann in Politico.

"The Washington Post"

As always, the President will meet with both houses of Congress for his “State of the Union Address” on January 28.  This year the President will try to convince Congress and the nation to continue with his programs and leadership even though he is now the most unpopular president ever.  We’re really looking forward to this as it should sound somewhat like “the dog ate my homework” in 2013.


President Obama's State of The Union Address Set For Jan. 28, 2014

Associated Press

December 13, 2013

There is now a date set for President Barack Obama's next State of the Union Address. On Friday, Dec. 13, 2013 Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, R-OH formally invited the President to give his address, which will be delivered on Jan. 28, 2014 at 9 p.m EST to both Congress and the nation, as it is the President's most watched speech of the year.
The formal invitation is an annual tradition, where it is required for the Speaker of the House to invite the President to speak to the Joint Session of Congress in the House's chamber.

Speaker Boehner's invitation this year read; "In the coming year, Americans expect Washington to focus on their priorities and to look for common ground in addressing the challenges facing our country. In that spirit, we welcome an opportunity to hear your ideas, particularly for putting Americans back to work. It's my honor to invite you to speak before a Joint Session of Congress on Tuesday, January 28, 2014."

At the Daily Press Briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney confirmed that President Obama has accepted Boehner's invitation.

The President's address will most probably focus a large part on economic equality and mobility. It is a new focus for the remainder of his Presidency that Obama unveiled in a speech delivered on Wednesday, Dec. 4. The President stated economic inequality is the "defining challenge of our time," and "a fundamental threat to the American Dream." The speech is a follow up to the President's Dec. 2011 speech on the economy delivered in Osawatomie, Kansas. At the time a White House aide divulged that the speech includes themes and elements that will be present in the President Obama's upcoming State of the Union address in January.

The President took on a different angle to the economy and to the middle class and jobs challenges Americans face, by focusing on the growing problem of economic inequality, and lack of mobility in the United States. Obama emphasized; "This is the defining challenge of our time: making sure our economy works for every working American. That's why I ran for president. It was the center of last year's campaign. It drives everything I do in this office."

In that speech Obama outlined policy solutions that would help; education; higher education with easy access to student aid and universal preschools, manufacturing jobs, higher minimum wage, initiatives to revamp urban and rural communities, break the stigma of "long term unemployment," and ensuring the future of social security. The President will probably reiterate those solutions in his State of the Union Address.

This year's address is especially important because it is a midterm election year, and for President Obama who is perpetually in campaign mode he will be trying to sell his agenda for the upcoming year and working towards helping the Democrats recapture control of the House of Representatives, and help Senate Democrats maintain control of the Senate.

The President needs both Houses of Congress to be in Democratic control in order to pass the remainder of the agenda, including a sweeping immigration reform bill. If the House stays in Republican hands, the same stand still on legislation and Obama's agenda will remain, and maybe be enforced by an election victory guaranteeing that President Obama will be a lame duck for the last two years of his Presidency. And with the new Senate rules on filibuster it would devastating for the President if the Republicans capture the Senate possibly paving the way for a repeal of his unpopular health care law, known as Obamacare.

With the President's sinking approval rating slowly reaching the 30 percentages and his disapproval rating reaching unprecedented heights in recent polls released this past week, mostly because of the disaster health care law, the Affordable Care Act rollout in October. Both the insurance purchasing Marketplace website, was riddled with errors and did not properly work and millions of Americans were losing their coverage with the law's new minimum requirement. The website has since been mostly repaired since meeting the Nov. 30 White House imposed deadline and in November the President allowed insurance companies to reinstate the cancelled insurance policies or let Americans who lost their insurance buy similar ones through 2014.

In the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released on Wednesday, Dec. 11, President Obama's new disapproval rating was at 54 percent, and approval rating at 43 percent; a 11 point gap the highest in this poll. However, those numbers were good in comparison to Quinnipiac University's poll released Tuesday, Dec. 10, which gave the President his highest disapproval rating and one of the lowest approval ratings at 57 percent to 38 percent, a 19 point difference.

The President will focus on themes that emphasize his strengths in his State of the Union Address. With the economy improving and unemployment rates dropping, now is a good opportunity for President Obama to stress the economy, as a means of both rebounding his fast worsening poll numbers, and help the Democrats' chances in the 2014 midterm elections.


The Russians will be hosting the winter Olympics for 2014 complete with Syrian terrorists who seem to have opened the games early.  Russian President Putin has “uninvited” these terrorists to the games in no uncertain terms since there is no competition for “suicide bombers”.  We sincerely hope violence will not spoil the 2014 winter games, the winter Olympics are so much fun.


Vladimir Putin Vows to Hunt Down Volgograd Terrorists

President promises to support victims and rebuild infrastructure, in new year message delivered from Russia's far east, Tuesday 31 December 2013 13.27 EST

Vladimir Putin makes his annual new year address to the nation in Khabarovsk.
(Photograph: Aleksey Nikolskyi/EPA)

President Vladimir Putin gave his first public response on Tuesday to the devastating bomb attacks in Volgograd and promised to hunt down the terrorists responsible "until their complete annihilation".
In his new year message, delivered from Russia's far east for the first time, Putin paid tribute to the victims of the twin attacks. Suicide bombers blew up Volgograd's train station on Sunday and a crowded commuter trolleybus on Monday morning, killing 34 people. At least 60 casualties remain in hospital.

"Dear friends, we bow our heads before the victims of these brutal attacks. We will fiercely and consistently continue the fight against terrorists until their complete annihilation," Putin said in a video address to the nation from Khabarovsk. He promised to support the Volgograd victims and rebuild destroyed infrastructure.
Putin's blunt, uncompromising rhetoric towards terrorism is nothing new. It has been a hallmark of his three stints in the Kremlin. In 1999, when a little-known prime minister, he famously pledged to "waste Chechen rebels in the outhouse".

But the attacks, just over a month before Russia hosts the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, have raised questions about whether the authorities can keep the games safe and the effectiveness of Putin's harsh counter-terrorism strategy.

Despite two bloody wars in Chechnya, Moscow is still battling a low-level insurgency by Islamist militants across its southern flank. The conflict is no longer confined to Chechnya and has spread to most of the country's simmering Muslim republics. The Volgograd attacks show that the rebels have the capacity to strike at targets deep inside European Russia.

The president's message alluded to his foreign policy successes in 2013. "Our country has become better, richer and more comfortable, and has strongly defended its interests in international affairs," he said.
Putin has succeeded in humiliating the US on several occasions, offering asylum to NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and thwarting US strikes on Syria by reaching an unexpected deal over Syria's chemical weapons programme. He outplayed the European Union over Ukraine and wrong-footed his critics by pardoning the jailed oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and two members of the protest rock group Pussy Riot.
Tight security remains in Volgograd, with the deployment of 5,200 troops as well as volunteer patrols. At least 87 people have been rounded up in a series of sweeps by the security forces.

Empty buses lumbered through the streetson Tuesday , police weighed down with body armour warily watched pedestrians near a fast food restaurant and members of Cossack units stood guard at bus stops. Volgograd was ominous and jittery, residents said.

"People are afraid it will happen again; they're trying not to go outside if they don't have to," Yulia Kuzmina, a 20-year-old student, told the Associated Press. "We get a feeling that a war has started."

The first funeral from the attacks took place on Tuesday . Dmitry Makovin, 29, a police officer, was killed while standing next to a metal detector at the entrance to Volgograd station. His superiors hailed him as a hero for preventing the suicide bomber from entering inside the building.


Now for some of the biggest news of the year, as of January 1, Colorado has implemented the legalization of Marijuana sales.  That's right; and just not for Medical Marijuana!  Grow it, sell it, smoke it and eat it!  It's all legal now  and Washington state will institute a similar law this summer.  As a whole the country is now excepting Marijuana in all it's forms and purposes from coast to coast.  Marijuana production in the US is probably the highest quality in the world due to years of high breed cross pollination and hydroponic farming.  

As a new industry, the growth potential for Cannabis is tremendous.  Farming, sales and taxation of this now legal agribusiness will be expected to reach into the billions and when it's full potential is reached - well who knows!  But as always; being under the influence of a pot high will still be governed by the same laws in place now.  The map below illustrates Marijuana's legal use in the United States.

Map of current United States cannabis laws
Light Green: State with legal medical cannabis
Olive Green: State with decriminalized cannabis possession laws
Dark Green: State with both medical and decriminalization laws
Purple: State with legalized cannabis
(Map courtesy of Wikipedia)

"The Denver Post"

Others Eye Colorado’s Pot Law for Their Legalization

PUBLISHED: JAN 10, 2014, 12:50 AM
WASHINGTON — Among the many people nationally eyeing Colorado’s implementation of recreational marijuana is an Alaskan education professor, a Portland, Ore., businessman and a bevy of state lawmakers from Delaware to Hawaii who hope the time has come for a national pot movement.
It seems that Colorado and Washington have made other states more comfortable with full pot legalization.
Alaska is likely next up, with a number of other states apt to follow later this year.
Organizers in Anchorage announced this week they have collected 45,000 signatures from across the state — a number they think will satisfy the 30,169 valid signatures required to get on the August 2014 primary ballot there. This isn’t the first attempt at legalizing pot for Alaskans, who voted down a measure on the ballot in 2004.
“The country wasn’t quite ready for the change then,” said Tim Hinterberger, a professor of medical education at the University of Alaska at Anchorage, who is leading the Alaskan movement. “We really are ready now to drop the war on marijuana hysteria. Colorado and Washington are another indicator that the time has changed.”
Oregon is trying again, too. Voters there put it on the ballot in 2012, but the measure failed.
Portland medical clinic owner Paul Stanford blames the loss on the state not having the national money that flowed to Colorado and Washington last year ahead of their 2012 elections.
Stanford, who is also director of the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp, has until July to collect signatures to make the November 2014 ballot.
“There is a shift in public perception,” Stanford said, noting that Oregon shares a state line with Washington. “Over half the population is within an hour’s drive of the Washington border. That changes the political dynamic.”
Nationally, public opinion has shifted on the issue. A CNN poll out earlier this week found 55 percent of those questioned nationally said pot should be legalized.
The changing sentiment can be attributed to generational replacement, said University of Colorado political scientist Ken Bickers.
Baby boomers, among the first generations that broadly experimented with marijuana, are becoming retirees.
Bickers also said with a few states — including Colorado — already out on the limb, it becomes less intimidating for others to follow suit.
“It’s one of the virtues of federalism,” he said. “Rather than a one-size-fits-all policy approach, let a couple of states work out the kinks. … It’s nice to try out policy measures in more localized ways rather than going national and having one giant debate.”
Beyond the looming ballot measures, the Marijuana Policy Project anticipates a handful of legislatures launching legalization campaigns this year. National polling — and politics — indicate that state legislative bodies in Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont will tackle the issue this year.
Twenty states plus the District of Columbia already have medical marijuana laws in place.
Marijuana Policy Project spokesman Mason Tvert acknowledged that Colorado and Washington’s efforts helped push public opinion. But he calls August 2013 the national tipping point. That month the Justice Department announced it would not stand in the way of full legalization in either Washington or Colorado.

The New Year promises to be filled with plenty of excitement on so many different levels, so get a good seat to watch all the fun, we will!  This is Felicity watching for “The Noodleman Group”!

The 2014 Olympic Winter Games will be the first time that the Russian Federation will have hosted the Winter Games; the Soviet Union hosted the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow. The host city Sochi has a population of 400,000 people and is situated in Krasnodar, which is the third largest region in Russia.

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* “The Noodleman Group” is pleased to announce that we are now carrying a link to the “USA Today” news site.We installed the “widget/gadget” August 20, and it will be carried as a regular feature on our site.Now you can read“Noodleman” and then check in to “USA Today” for all the up to date News, Weather, Sports and more!Just scroll all the way down to the bottom of our site and hit the “USA Today” hyperlinks.Enjoy!

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