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The Obama Administration: January 1-16, 2011

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This article is the 48th in a continuing series chronicling the unfolding history of the Obama Administration. The writer's opinions are not offered, leaving the readers to arrive at their own conclusions.

"For the truth is none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack.  None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped these shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind.  Yes, we have to examine all the facts behind this tragedy.  We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence.  We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future.  (Applause.)  But what we cannot do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on each other.  (Applause.)  That we cannot do.  (Applause.)  That we cannot do."__Barack Obama, President of the United States of America, at the memorial service for the victims of the January 8, 2011 shooting in Tucson, Arizona, January 12, 2011

Day677/Jan1st/Saturday: In his Weekly Address, the President resolved to do all he could to get the economy growing and create jobs, and encouraged Republicans to embrace their new responsibility to govern. Transcript Video

The President, in a released statement, condemned the ""separate and outrageous terrorist bombing attacks in Egypt and Nigeria. The attack on a church in Alexandria, Egypt caused 21 reported deaths and dozens of injured from both the Christian and Muslim communities. The perpetrators of this attack were clearly targeting Christian worshipers, and have no respect for human life and dignity."

New Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provisions went into effect:

1) requiring insurers spend at least 80 percent of premiums to pay insurance claims or for programs that improve customers' health.

2) requiring 85 percent of premiums to be reserved for insurance claims or for programs that improve customers' health for policies sold to large groups instead of small companies and individuals, leaving the remaining 15 or 20 percent for health insurance company salaries, marketing and overhead, or toward profit.

3) prescription-drug discounts for seniors in Medicare 's "donut hole" that amounts to   a 50 percent discount on the price of brand-name prescription drugs

4) free screenings for cancer and other diseases for seniors.

5) free preventive services for all screenings given an A or B rating by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force for most Medicare beneficiaries, including mammograms, colorectal cancer screening, bone mass measurement and nutritional counseling.

6) one free "wellness visit" per year under Medicare for patients who want a checkup.

7) creation of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to foster innovation in reducing healthcare costs,   caring for patients, and processing their payments and claims. Source

Day678/Jan2nd/Sunday: T he President signed into law: H.R. 847, the "James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act," which established the World Trade Center Health Program and extended and expanded eligibility for compensation under the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund of 2001. Source Statement Release of the President

Day679/Jan3rd/Monday: The President completed his final day of vacation in Hawaii.

Jacob J. Lew, Director of the White House's Office of Management and Budget, directed in a memo that government agencies that deal with classified information ensure that they are in compliance with secrecy rules brought in after WikiLeaks's release of classified material. Lew urged agencies to develop an "insider threat program" to monitor employees for "behavioral changes" that alert he or she may be leaking classified documents or be willing to do so, hire psychiatrists and sociologists to measure the "despondence or grumpiness" of federal employees, use polygraph machines, and monitor computer activities for signs of "high occurrences of foreign travel". Source

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Retired, Robert Arend was president of an AFSCME local from 1997-2007.
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