ALEC provides a forum for state legislators and private sector members to collaborate on model bills—draft legislation that members can customize for communities and introduce for debate in their own state legislatures. Approximately 200 such bills become law each year. ALEC has produced model bills on issues such as reducing corporate regulation and taxation, tightening voter identification rules, and promoting gun rights. ALEC also serves as a networking tool among state legislators, allowing them to research conservative policies implemented in other states.
Since 2011, ALEC’s political activities has received considerable scrutiny by both the media and liberal groups. The New York Times reported that special interests have “effectively turn[ed] ALEC’s lawmaker members into stealth lobbyists, providing them with talking points, signaling how they should vote and collaborating on bills affecting hundreds of issues like school vouchers and tobacco taxes.”Bloomberg Businessweek stated, “Part of ALEC’s mission is to present industry-backed legislation as grass-roots work.”The Guardian described ALEC as “a dating agency for Republican state legislators and big corporations, bringing them together to frame rightwing legislative agendas in the form of ‘model bills’.” Several liberal groups, including Common Cause, have challenged its tax-exempt status.
With all four teams ranked, according to ESPN’s Soccer Power Index, in the top 24 in the world (Germany is 4th, Portugal 16th, the U.S. 17th, and Ghana 24th), this isn’t quite the Group of Death, since the absurdly-drawn Group B, which features Spain (3), Chile (5), and the Netherlands (9) (along with No. 53 Australia), and Group D’s meshing of Uruguay (9), England (10), and Italy (13) are both tougher at the top. But it won’t be easy.
On top of that, because of its position in the draw, the U.S. has to travel to Manaus, a city in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, for the second game of the tournament against Portugal on June 22. American coach Jurgen Klinsmann this week said that Manaus was theone place he wanted to avoid, given that it is in a separate time zone from the rest of the tournament sites, boasts a muggy, tropical climate that could wear down players, and also requires longer travel than any other site.
The 32-nation tournament will take place at 12 venues across Brazil from June 12 to July 13.
The 32 teams will be placed into eight groups for the first rounds of the tournament. The top two teams from each group will then advance to the playoffs.
Spain won the last World Cup, held in South Africa, in 2010.
The World Cup is watched by more people than any other sporting event on the planet, with an estimated 3.2 billion people, or about 46% of the world’s population, watching at least part of the coverage from South Africa in 2010.
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Biden is on a swing through Asia this week amid heightened tensions following China’s announcement last week of a new air defense zone over long-disputed waters between that country and Japan.
The pivot to Asia was a central foreign policy theme of Obama’s first term, underscoring a need many policymakers saw for the United States to shift its diplomatic, security and economic attentions from the traditional focus on Europe and the Middle East to the rising powers in the Pacific — most notably, China. [EXCERPT]
Put down your cup of coffee, I’ve got something that’s really going to shock you. This week Rush Limbaugh race-baited. He sought to inflame white fear and hatred of non-whites. Unbelievable, I know. But it’s true. Unfortunately for Rush, the story he presented to his listeners turned out not to be (he fell for a satirical, Onion-style piece posted on a blog, and had to admit on the air that he’d been duped). This kind of race-baiting — whether relying on blatant falsehoods, deceptively presented facts or gross misinterpretations of reality — is something Limbaugh has done countless times throughout his career. More broadly, it is a tactic that the white economic elite, starting with the colonial-era slaveocracy, has employed going back to the time before we had even become a country.
During an appearance at The Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C, a key center of power for the conservative movement, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory portrayed himself as a business-minded policy wonk, earnestly extolling the benefits of infrastructure development and government-efficiency measures. He might as well have been describing someone else.
For the last year, McCrory has engineered a hard-right shift in North Carolina that has crippled millions in his state. His 2012 election gave Republicans control of all three branches of the state’s government for the first time since Reconstruction and they took advantage of it. In 2013 alone, North Carolina has said no to expanding Medicaid under Obamacare, approved a tax plan that redistributes wealth from poor to rich, cut education by half a billion dollars, instituted perhaps the toughest voting restrictions in the country, weakened campaign-finance laws, and passed its own version of Texas’ controversial abortion measure.
How the president’s Irish “cousin” is making shrewd use of the First Family.
By Ben Schreckinger
There was little surprise when, shortly after President Obama’s chopper touched down in a patch of emerald grass in Moneygall, Ireland, in 2011, he was whisked inside the local watering hole and soon seen hoisting a pint and mugging for snapshots. It was a photo op, to be sure—one that played well with any of the 40 million Irish-Americans who saw pictures of the president’s visit to their ancestral homeland—but few people would have figured that it was the young Irishman at Obama’s side, Henry Healy, a then-26-year-old former accountant, who would go on to make deft political use of the moment. Fewer still who saw the pictures would have guessed they were looking at two old relatives catching up over a Guinness.
Healy, whose bright smile and ginger hair gives him a rather stereotypically Irish appearance, is a distant relative of Obama’s—who is more often described as America’s first African-American president, not its 12th one with Irish heritage. But both are accurate: Four years before that Obama visit to Ireland, Healy’s paternal uncle used parish records to trace then-Sen. Obama’s great-great-great grandfather to their village of Moneygall, population 310. Healy is one of several distant Obama relations still living in the hamlet, halfway between Dublin and Limerick, and when Obama upset Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Iowa caucuses, television cameras showed up, and the family put Healy forward as spokesman to explain how happy they were for their long lost cousin. “Speaking in public wouldn’t be something I’d be afraid of,” says Healy, who—as seems to be the village habit—often makes statements by speaking in the conditional. On an island where American politics looms large, Healy was an overnight celebrity.
On Tuesday, the court accepted two cases centered on the issue of business owners’ religious expression.
It’s another test for the embattled health care law, which is already struggling under the weight of a botched website and a political backlash after millions of Americans saw their current insurance plans cancelled for 2014.