Hiya folks-Happy Thursday. You've heard about the DC gridlock over health care and today a chance to see it on your TV set. That story and the other news follows……
WHITE HOUSE HEALTH CARE SUMMIT-The revolution may not be televised but today’s White House Health Care Summit was. For nearly seven hours, President Obama chaired a bi-partisan meeting with Congressional members. For those hoping for a partisan donnybrook, sorry to disappoint. Jake Tapper relayed a comment from a GOP congressman towards the end of the summit during his WORLD NEWS open. The congressman had never seen “so many members of the House and Senate behave so long so well before so many television cameras.” Civility aside, was there anything accomplished? Tapper notes there “was a free-flowing discussion where there were several attempts to find common ground…but there were few areas of agreement on how to tackle those momentous problems-more than 40 million uninsured, health care costs rising at almost twice the rate of inflation.” Democrats and their behemoth 2400 page Senate bill is a non-starter for Republicans, who reiterated their call for a clean start…Tapper reports “Republicans once more proposed a more modest, incremental approach including health insurance reforms and changing the medical malpractice laws.” Tapper continues: “But overall there remained a basic divide, one side thinking the government needs to protect consumers, the other side arguing that more spending and more government is not the solution.” So no deal…Diane Sawyer asked George Stephanopoulos about what’s next…Stephanopoulos: “everyone goes back to their corners, Diane. First, for the President and the House Democrats, they have to figure out, ‘are there any republican votes out there?’. The answer to that is almost certainly no. Now, what the Democrats might do is still take some of the Republican ideas that the President talked about and include them in his bill. But then go back, especially to House Democrats, and see if they can get those 217 votes they need to pass the bill. Right now, they are short.” Timing too is critical. Stephanopoulos adds that “the president wants it done quickly the whole thing. House and Senate Democrats want it done by mid to late March, before the president goes to Asia. If they can't get it done by then, they don't want to spend the whole rest of the year on health care, they'll put it aside.” As for a “winners/losers assessment”, Stephanopoulos saw positives for both sides- “I think the President reinforced his bipartisanship, showed that he was reaching out. I think Republicans were willing to show they had real ideas, there are just differences about how to achieve reform in this country.”
MONSTER WINTER STORM: A massive, slow-moving storm system continues to drench the Northeast with a wintry mix of heavy snow and rain. This is the fourth major winter storm to hit the region, but there’s something distinctive about this one – Sam Champion reports: “In the 30 years of storm records, [the National Weather Service has] not seen a storm that looked like this…the path of this storm is so unusual: it goes inland, then makes a loop, then comes offshore again, staying in the same area for what could be one or two day, pushing winter weather with it.” Ron Claiborne provides a wrap of the storm’s effect around the region: “In upstate New York and New England, the storm piled up more snow on top of the foot that fell just a day and a half ago. More than 100,000 homes are still without power. Philadelphia got more snow on top of the record 73 inches they’ve already had. And in eastern Pennsylvania – almost emblematic of this hard cruel winter – a snow plow lay defeated by the snow.” The heavy, wet nature of the snow has been deadly in New York; the weight of the snow snapped trees in Central Park, killing one man this afternoon. And it’s only the beginning – Accuweather reports the worst of the storm will occur tonight into Friday. Winds are forecast to whip up to 50 mph and between 1 to 2 inches of snow will fall every hour in central New York and northeastern Pennsylvania. Flood watches are in effect along the mid-Atlantic coastline, where forecasters say inland and coastal flooding is possible during the overnight hours.
Matt Hosford reports at least 800 flights are cancelled for Friday (thanks to Marisa Bramwell for this entry)
MARJA-We’ve talked about the deliberate nature of the Marja offensive by Afghans and US Marines, thanks to IEDs and pockets of fierce resistance. But today all that work paid off.Miguel Marquez, filing for WORLD NEWS, sets the scene: “Hundreds of Afghans and US Marines gathered in the center of Marja today, to fly the nation’s flag here for the first time in more than 2 years-a powerful symbol that major fighting here is done.” And major fighting is no understatement…Marquez tells us “at the height of the offensive, Marines clocked 36 simultaneous firefights across the battle space” but “in the last three days, not a single one.” Which doesn’t mean the challenge is over-Marquez: “Now comes the hard part…defeating remnants of the Taliban, many believed to have blended into the population here…providing competent homegrown security” as well as installing local government officials that residents can trust. Marquez also notes “they have big plans to repair the local economy…half a billion dollars ready to go to build schools, hospitals, roads and markets.” “The hope,” Marquez noted in his WORLD NEWS close, “this city will prove to be the place where the war starts to end.”
WINTER OLYMPICS UPDATE: American skier Julia Mancuso downplayed rumors Thursday of a feud with fellow skier Lindsey Vonn. On Wednesday, Vonn said she was "hurt" by "some negative things" Mancuso had said about her at these Olympics. She was referring to Mancuso's comments about Vonn drawing a lot of attention from the media and within the U.S. team. Today, Mancuso called Vonn "the greatest female American skier we've had." Mancuso finished eighth in the giant slalom today, an event she won four years ago in Torino. Vonn plans to ski the slalom tomorrow with a plastic brace protecting the finger she broke in yesterday’s giant slalom. American bobsledder Bill Schuffenhauer was detained and released by Canadian police after an argument with his fiancée and is expected to compete in Friday’s four-man bobsled. Americans Billy Demong and Johnny Spillane finished first and second in the Nordic combined race Thursday, a surprising victory for Team USA in an event that has been part of the Winter Olympics since 1924 but has never had an American medalist until these games. Tonight’s marquee events include the ladies’ figure skating free skate which South Korean Kim Yu-na is heavily favored to win and a women’s hockey showdown between the U.S. and Canada. Sunlen Miller reports that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Canadian Press Secretary Dimitri Soudas have bet on tonight’s hockey game. If Canada’s team wins, Gibbs will wear a Canadian jersey during his next press gaggle and if the U.S. wins, Soudas will wear a Team USA during his next briefing on March 3. The U.S. still leads the medal hunt with 30 medals and eight golds, Germany remains in second with 26 medals and eight golds and Norway rounds out the top three with 19 pieces of hardware, including 7 golds. (thanks to Whitney Lloyd for this entry)
BUSH/CHENEY MEET- Kimberly Randolph reports: “Former President George W. Bush and Former Vice President Dick Cheney met face to face for the first time since leaving office over a year ago.
Cheney welcomed GW Bush on the steps of his residence. President George W. Bush remarked on how good Cheney looked to which he replied, ‘Could be worse’. They gave a quick wave to the press and disappeared inside.
The two met at Cheney’s for over an hour in a closed meeting before former President George W. Bush departed. Neither party is commenting about what they discussed.
–CHARLES RANGEL- NY Congressman Charles Rangel spoke to reporters a short while ago in DC. He read a report by the House Ethics Committee that found he knowingly accepted Caribbean trips from a corporation in violation of House rules.
–BODY FOUND IN VANCOUVER- Canadian police earlier this evening said they have found a body they believe is missing actor
Andrew Koenig, son of former "Star Trek" star Walter Koenig, who disappeared earlier this month.
–HOUSE PASSES JOBLESS BENEFITS EXTENSION- The U.S. House of Representatives voted today to extend soon-to-expire jobless benefits for several weeks to ensure that payments will continue while lawmakers work on larger job-creating measures.
The Senate failed to pass a similar measure on Wednesday after Republican Senator Jim Bunning blocked it, but lawmakers from both parties are trying to overcome his objection.
Congress must approve the measure before Sunday to ensure that more than 1 million people do not see a disruption in the payments. (AP)
–HOLY PRICE TAG BATMAN!-Fresh on the heels of the first comic to reach the $1 million threshold (Monday’s auction sale of the first comic book featuring Superman, a 1938 edition of Action Comics No. 1), news today that the Caped Crusader has topped his superhero rival. A Dallas auction house sold Detective Comics #27, Batman’s first appearance, today for $1,075,500. The consigner made a little coin-the auction house noted the owner had bought the comic back in the late sixties for $100!