Jul. 15, 2012: (Another) Obamacare Repeal Vote

Another week, another round of political scrapping. With the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare in the books, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives began a new push to strike down the law, voting 244-185 to repeal it on Wednesday. Five Democrats crossed the aisle to support the right-wing bill which would overturn Obamacare, marking the 33rd time that Republicans have tried to eliminate or at least limit President Barack Obama’s most noteworthy achievement.

Most analysts call the House’s actions symbolic at best, as the Democrat-controlled Senate is unlikely to follow suit. But it does place pressure on Democrats, particularly if you believe the widespread claim that the majority of Americans would like to see Obamacare repealed. On the other hand, the margin between Obamacare supporters and detractors appears to be slim at most, and some see an effectively even split between the two groups. Worse yet for presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney: a recent poll indicates that 56% of Americans want Obamacare opponents to “move on” and focus on other national problems. Continued fighting over the act may give Obama the chance to blame national problems on Republicans squabbling and ignoring other key issues — although that says nothing of the stunning notion that 83% of the country’s doctors might quit over Obamacare.

Regardless of the circumstances, we can almost certainly expect the Obamacare issue to stay the course until November. The Senate will kill further repeal efforts, Obama will tout it as a victory and blast Republicans for being confrontational, Romney will hope that voters remember their earlier disdain with the law for another four months so that he can use Obamacare as a rallying cry for his election, and the voters will ultimately decide whether Obama retains his position and the bill remains, or whether Romney will have the chance to tear it to shreds as the 45th president.

Let’s shift our attention back to the still-developing Jerry Sandusky story for a bit. On Thursday, former FBI Director Louis Freeh presented a 267-page report slamming Penn State University and its top officials, including now-deceased coaching legend Joe Paterno, for concealing what they knew of assistant football coach Sandusky’s child molestation and making “a decision to protect Sandusky to avoid damaging the image of the school and its powerful football program.” The report, which represents the culmination of an eight-month investigation, further tarnishes Paterno’s 61-year career with the school, where he consistently preached “success with honor.” According to Freeh’s report, the university allowed Sandusky to remain in his position of trust despite having numerous opportunities to remove him, and officials across administrative levels took part in actively hid the abuse allegations from the police and the public. In Freeh’s words, they “put their own interests ahead of protecting children from a known child predator.

Paterno’s family members, for their part, criticized the report as a smear campaign against the late coach, saying that E-mails were specifically selected to make him look as bad as possible and that other key pieces of evidence are being withheld in order to strategically leak information. Few seem to be listening, however, even among faithful Penn State supporters.

Maybe some baseball news can brighten our day. If your favorite team is marching toward the postseason, then Tuesday night’s All-Star Game may hold a great deal of importance, as the National League’s 8-0 drubbing of the American League will give the NL champion home field advantage in the World Series. Curiously, most of the damage came off star pitcher Justin Verlander, whose fastball hit 101 mph on the radar gun but nonetheless served as a feast for the opposition. Yes, there was some unnecessary drama from the New York Yankees’ Robinson Cano, who promised to select Kansas City’s Billy Butler for the home run derby in the Royals’ ballpark and later reneged, was roundly booed throughout his performance, and drew applause when he failed to clear the outfield wall even once. (Afterward, the scared Cano tried to avoid the red-carpet parade through Kansas City, and only agreed when teammate Derek Jeter was assigned next to him.) And sure, watching country singer Luke Bryan spend much of the national anthem checking lyrical cheat sheets written on his hands was kind of sad. But that doesn’t change the beauty of seeing Chipper Jones, who spent nearly two decades in the game and stands as one of its great icons, beat out an infield single in his only at-bat. The 40-year-old legend will retire at the end of this season, leaving behind a three-year winning streak that the National League hopes to extend in his absence next year.

Remember Digg? You know, the social media site that allowed users to vote for the most important or interesting news stories, boosting the top vote-getters into the forefront of the public eye? A few years back, Digg was widely seen as the leader among “social news” sites, valued at $175 million, so it was unsurprising to see its backers pump $45 million of their own funds into the site in order to boost its standing. But its creators complicated matters by trying to change the way that readers voted stories up or down, allowing competitors like Slashdot and Reddit to gain an advantage. After many years of trying to regain the ground they lost, Digg’s owners finally sold the site for a paltry $500,000, a colossal loss for a site that took in millions just a few years ago.

Yahoo!, which once dominated search engine and internet browsing traffic but which lost most of its edge to Google and Facebook in recent years, is hardly facing problems on Digg’s scale. It still has troubles of its own, though. Case in point: on Wednesday, a group of hackers calling themselves “D33D Co.” posted a data file with 453,492 usernames and passwords, which they claimed were from Yahoo! user accounts. An independent analysis later confirmed that a substantial proportion of the accounts were actually for other sites like Gmail, Hotmail, and AOL, but the majority were indeed cracked Yahoo! accounts. It’s just the latest in a long round of hard times for Yahoo!, and it’s particularly bad timing for interim CEO Ross Levinsohn, who is already facing shareholder pressure to enact a quick solution if he is placed at the company’s head on a more permanent basis.

The case of Lennox, the pug-nosed dog from Northern Ireland, reached an even more baffling and heartbreaking end on Wednesday. The seven-year-old Lennox has been the focus of a two-year legal fight between his owners and Belfast’s city council ever since being seized in 2010. Wardens said he was a “pit bull-type dog,” and Northern Ireland’s laws prohibit pit bull ownership due to the perceived risk they pose. Its owners argued that Lennox was not dangerous, but more importantly, that he wasn’t even a pit bull. The city council, though, would have none of it, citing an expert who called Lennox “one of the most unpredictable and dangerous dogs he had come across.” They also noted that several wardens were forced to leave their homes after receiving death threats and having gasoline poured across their property. Ultimately, a senior appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling that called for Lennox to be put down, and he was euthanized on Wednesday for no crime beyond looking like a pit bull. As his owners said in a Tuesday Facebook post,

We would like to take this opportunity to thank you all again for your messages of support. We are sorry to say at the present time Belfast city council seem to be intent on killing our boy. Despite previous assurances otherwise, we have been denied the opportunity to say goodbye. We have also been told that we cannot collect his body and bring Len home. We have been informed however that we will receive “some” ashes in the mail.

Rest in peace, Lennox.

Naturally, outrage about Lennox’s untimely death has exploded online. See for yourself.

Idiocy is hardly limited to the other side of the Atlantic, though. In a story much closer to home, Aaron Stefanski of Fort Wayne, Indiana pleaded guilty to child neglect and drunk driving charges on Monday. Stefanski was arrested last May after he drove three blocks with four children strapped to the hood of his car. And if that wasn’t enough car-related craziness for you, consider the tale of Linda Chase. The Jackson, Michigan resident had lived with Charles Zigler for the past ten years, until he died around Christmas 2010. The two often watched NASCAR races together, and Chase said that Zigler, who would have been 67 or 68 at the time, “was the only guy who was ever nice to me.” Sad, to be sure. But Chase decided it would be a great idea to just keep moving forward as if nothing had happened, so she kept the deceased Zigler in his chair and continued to watch races with him for the next 18 months. According to her, she kept him dressed and cleaned, so he did not stink. But Zigler’s family members, with whom he was not close, were less than pleased when they tried to contact him and found that he had been dead for well over a year. Worse yet, Chase had cashed some of his social security checks after his death and acknowledged that “I’m probably going to prison.” Probably, Ms. Chase. Probably.

In more sporting news, the University of Lindenwood-Belleville, a small NAIA school located in Belleville, Illinois, recently revealed its new football field, and it puts the notorious all-blue field of Boise State and the all-red field at Eastern Washington to shame. Just take a look, and shield your eyes.

This is a football field. Supposedly.

And, to finish with the sporting theme, the London 2012 Olympics continue facing their own troubles, like the public outrage over Heineken’s selection as the official beer and the laughable extinguishing of the Olympic torch during a whitewater rafting leg of its 70-day journey. (Sending the Olympic torch through whitewater rapids? Seriously, who planned that?) Many members of the U.S. team have battled a great deal of hardship on the path to London, from families split due to training needs to incomes well below the poverty line. And London residents are also having to contend with security forces’ need to house surface-to-air missiles on top of their homes. A group of citizens whose apartment roof was selected as one such site sought an injunction against the missile placement, claiming that the missile’s placement was an “unprecedented siting of a military base or missile site in peace time on English soil” that increased their own risk of being attacked, but a high court judge ruled that their complaint was unarguable since national security concerns took precedence.

The Olympics just got serious.

Yeah, the judge was right. Why would anyone object to having this as their new lawn ornament? How unreasonable!

Other articles of interest:
Romney to NAACP: Economy is ‘worse for African-Americans in almost every way’
Romney booed by black voters for ‘Obamacare’ jab
Syria Ambassador to Iraq Says He’s ‘Joining the Revolution’
Italy shipwreck captain shifts blame for disaster
South Africa: Nearly Complete Skeleton of Human Ancestor Found
What the ‘Rock Star’ Discovery of the Higgs Boson Means for Science
The Hubble Telescope Finds A Fifth Moon Around Pluto
First evidence of ‘dark galaxies’ discovered
Alzheimer’s hampered by gene mutation
Abuse-Proof Prescription Painkillers May Spur Heroin Habit
Overworked Eyes: Will Your Computer Make You Go Blind?
From Google, the Toughest Challenger to the iPad
San Diego fireworks fail: loud, up close and in HD (VIDEO)
Judge throws out Lance Armstrong’s publicity-seeking lawsuit
Extreme Parenting on TV? Time Magazine Breastfeeding Cover Inspires New Reality Show
How Katie Holmes outwitted Tom Cruise: the roundup

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