Author Archives: kstreet607

About kstreet607

Politics! Politics! I love politics! Unapologetic Barack Obama enthusiast.

Seen on the Internet – 4-18-2014

Found on Facebook

 

I thought this comment about the graphic was worth sharing:

Noam Chomsky is basically correct. When executives make 14,000 an hour (CEOs) compared with their employees who make 14,000 per year, then our society has basically become an oligarchy, and a revolutionary mind-set is needed to return this country to a democratic path. And that will involve making major changes in Congress as well, the members of who who are basically in the hands of the robber-barons.

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10 things you need to know today: April 18, 2014

Tensions remain high in Ukraine, despite Thursday's deal. 

Tensions remain high in Ukraine, despite Thursday’s deal. (AP Photo)

The Week

Russia and Ukraine strike a deal, an avalanche kills 12 on Mount Everest, and more

1. Russia agrees to deal on easing tensions in Ukraine
Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and the European Union struck a deal Thursday calling for pro-Russia separatists to surrender local government buildings they seized in eastern Ukraine. The agreement also spells out steps to defuse tensions. President Obama said the deal was promising but if it fizzles the U.S. still could impose more sanctions on Russia. Russian President Vladimir Putin declined to rule out sending troops if violence escalates. [The New York Times]

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2. Mount Everest avalanche kills at least 12
An avalanche killed at least 12 Nepalese Sherpa guides on Mount Everest early Friday. It was the deadliest disaster ever on the world’s highest mountain. Three other guides are still missing. The guides had set out early to fix ropes for other climbers below Camp 2. Hundreds of climbers, along with their guides and support crews, are gathered at the base camp to attempt to reach the 29,035-foot summit when weather permits next month. [The Associated Press]

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3. ObamaCare enrollments topped 8 million by Tuesday’s deadline
More than eight million people signed up for ObamaCare health plans by Tuesday’s enrollment deadline, President Obama announced Thursday. The tally exceeded the estimate administration officials made last summer by one million, despite terrible glitches when the health law’s online insurance exchanges launched last fall. The number of young people signing up fell short of White House hopes. Still, Obama said, “this thing is working.” [CNBC]

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4. South Korea ferry slips underwater as death toll climbs
The death toll from the South Korea ferry disaster reached 28 on Friday. Hopes for saving the 270 still missing dimmed as the ship became completely submerged in frigid Yellow Sea waters. Despite strong currents, two divers managed to enter the hull to search for trapped survivors. Anarrest warrant was issued for Captain Lee Joon Suk, and a vice principal who accompanied high school students on board hanged himself after being rescued. [CNNABC News]

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5. Texas seizes jailed polygamist Warren Jeffs’ ranch
Texas authorities have seized the secluded ranch of imprisoned polygamist Warren Jeffs, leader of the Utah-based Fundamentalist LDS Church. Only eight adults were still living at the compound. The FBI and police raided the Yearning for Zion Ranch in April 2008 to investigate allegations that underage girls there were being forced into polygamist marriages. Jeffs was convicted in 2011 of sexually assaulting two child brides. He is serving a life sentence. [The Associated Press]

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6. Scientists discover the most Earth-like planet ever seen
Researchers have discovered the first Earth-sized planet in another solar system’s habitable zone, meaning it is at the right distance from its star to allow it to hold liquid water and support life. The rocky planet, which has been named Kepler 186f, is 500 light years away. The find, made with the now defunct Kepler telescope, marked a leap forward in the hunt for life on another planet. “This is a historic discovery,” one astronomer said. [Popular Mechanics]

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7. Gunmen kill dozens at U.N. base in South Sudan
Armed youths, pretending to be peaceful protesters, attacked a United Nations compound in South Sudan on Thursday, killing at least 20 civilians and wounding dozens more. Nearly 5,000 civiliansand U.N. personnel are being sheltered at the base in the war-ravaged town of Bor. The roughly 350 attackers reportedly broke the gate. “They came in and started shooting indiscriminately,” said Toby Lanzer, U.N. assistant secretary general in South Sudan. [BBC NewsReuters]

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8. Suspect arrested in Kansas City highway shootings
Kansas City police have arrested a man suspected in a series of apparently random freeway shootings that has left nine people injured since last month. Nobody has been killed, but the attacks have frightened motorists in and around the city, with many telling journalists they have altered their driving habits to stay safe. A neighbor said the suspect, who was not immediately charged, kept odd, late hours: “The dude was like a ghost.” [The Kansas City Star]

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9. Former first daughter Chelsea Clinton announces pregnancy
Chelsea Clinton announced Thursday that she and her husband, Marc Mezvinsky, are expecting their first child. “I just hope that I will be as good a mom to my child and hopefully children as my mom was to me,” said Clinton, 34, with her mother, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, by her side. The baby is due in the fall. The surprise announcement comes as Hillary Clinton weighs a second run for the presidency in 2016. [The Washington Post]

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10. Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies
Colombian novelist Gabriel Garcia Marquez, master of the magical realism genre and winner of the 1982 Nobel Prize for Literature, died Thursday at his home in Mexico City. He was 87. His novelOne Hundred Years of Solitude was considered one of the great books of the 20th century. It helped establish Garcia Marquez as one of the rare writers, along with such icons as Dickens and Hemingway, who was embraced by critics and the public alike. [The New York Times]

 

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Top GOP Presidential Contender’s Political Experience Consists Of Insulting Obama

Current anti-Obama insults might still be viable for some GOP Presidential contenders in many of the red states and gerrymandered districts…

Liberaland

Dr. Ben Carson may be a very talented neurosurgeon. He’s likely saved lives. But he is a conservative hero with no political experience who is being boosted as a 2016 candidate for one reason only: He insulted President Obama at a most inappropriate occasion, during the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast.

A group encouraging retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson to run for president raised $2.4 million in the first three months of this year, more than the group backing Hillary Clinton or those affiliated with Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and other potential candidates, according to filings with the Federal Election Commission.

Carson, 62, has emerged as a prominent African-American conservative commentator. He appears regularly on Fox News and writes a weekly column for the conservative Washington Times newspaper.

Carson’s spokesman says he is not interested in running for president and he is not affiliated with the National Draft Ben Carson for President Committee.

The money is a sign that conservative voters are looking beyond the usual political suspects for a presidential candidate, the head of the Ben Carson committee said.

It’s actually a sign that conservatives are desperate.

 

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Supreme Court Will Likely Rule On NSA Programs, Antonin Scalia And Ruth Bader Ginsburg Suggest

The Huffington Post

Two members of the U.S. Supreme Court indicated on Thursday night that the court will ultimately have to decide the legality of National Security Agency surveillance activities.

The two justices, Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, made the comments during a public event at the National Press Club in Washington. They were responding to questions posed by journalist Marvin Kalb about whether the court would take up cases arising from the recent disclosures about NSA surveillance, most notably by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.

The justices did not discuss specific NSA programs. There are various lawsuits pending around the country challenging the government’s widespread collection of telephone records. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ruled in December that the program was probably unlawful, while a judge in New York held later that month that it was not. Both cases are now on appeal.

Scalia, a leading conservative justice, said the court was not the best body to decide major national security issues because of its lack of expertise. But he indicated that the court would likely decide the issue of whether widespread gathering of telecommunications data violates the Fourth Amendment, which bars unlawful searches and seizures.

“The institution that will decide that is the institution least qualified to decide it,” Scalia said. The legal question is about “balancing the emergency against the intrusion” on the individual, he said.

Nine justices serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Ginsburg, one of the court’s liberal members, said the justices would have little choice but to decide the matter should it come before them.

“We can’t run away and say, ‘Well, we don’t know much about that subject so we won’t decide it,’” she said. 

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The one sentence from President Obama’s press conference that Democrats should pay attention to

The Washington Post – Chris Cillizza

President Obama delivered a statement in the White House press briefing room touting the signup successes of the Affordable Care Act. He also took four questions from reporters — running the gamut from the situation in Ukraine to the ACA to the possibility of immigration reform. But, for Democrats running for office this November, there was one line in particular worth paying close attention to.

President Barack Obama speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 17, 2014. The president spoke about health care overhaul and the situation in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Barack Obama speaks in the briefing room of the White House in Washington, Thursday, April 17, 2014. The president spoke about health care overhaul and the situation in Ukraine. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Asked by Politico’s Edward Isaac-Dovere whether he would advise Democrats to campaign on Obamacare this fall, the president, eventually, said this: “I think Democrats should forcefully defend and be proud of the fact….we’re helping because of something we did.”  He added that Republicans would have to defend their continued efforts to repeal the law and then quickly pivoted back to talking about the economy, which, he insisted, was the No. 1 priority for most Americans.

Parse those statements and you get this:

1. Democrats shouldn’t run from Obamacare because there is a positive story to tell (and, left unsaid, because they can’t run away from it anyway).

2. Democrats should make sure to focus voters’ attention on Republican efforts to repeal the law and ask questions about whether the GOP has its priorities mixed up.

3. The economy is the real issue and the one on which the midterms will be won or lost by Democrats.

Now, it’s not clear how many candidates will follow Obama’s strategic advice on handling the ACA — particularly given that so many of the seats up in the Senate (Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina etc.) are in conservative leaning states where many likely voters probably don’t agree with the president’s assertion that “We can agree it’s well past time to move on as a country.”

But, make no mistake: This is President Obama laying out a strategic blueprint as to how he thinks Democrats can run and win in an electoral environment that, at least at the moment, doesn’t look great for them.

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House GOP Leaders Take Up The Banner Of Obamacare Trutherism

China-currency-boehner

AP Photo / J. Scott Applewhite

Anything to cast aspersion on the POTUS’ signature achievement.  Looks like a simple case of ACA envy to me…

TPM DC

“After two delays by the Administration, on March 31st Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges ended open enrollment with a purported 7.1 million signed up,” McCarthy’s release begins. “President Obama declared that ‘the debate over repealing this law is over. The Affordable Care Act is here to stay.’ But this is hardly the end of the story.”

McCarthy’s office then outlined five data points it wanted to know about, alleging that the Obama administration “has refused to provide key information that would shed light on the true number of enrollees.” Those are:

  • How many effectuated enrollment (signed up and paid a premium)
  • How many paid their first month’s premium but not their second or third
  • How many were previously uninsured
  • How many young and healthy signed up (affecting rates)
  • How many received a subsidy (raising concerns about fraud)

At least two of those have been explicitly explained in the enrollment reports released by the Obama administration — and updated data will presumably be included in the March report expected Thursday.The February enrollment report included information on the last two: the demographics of enrollees and data on how many were eligible for financial assistance. First, 25 percent of the 4.2 million people who had enrolled through February were ages 18 to 34, the crucial “young and healthy” group. Second, 83 percent of those who signed up for a plan were eligible for financial help.

On the premium question, the administration has insisted that, because people pay insurance companies directly, only insurers have that information. Outside estimates have put the number at 80 to 90 percent of enrollees have paid. As for how many enrollees were previously uninsured, HealthCare.gov and most of the state websites didn’t collect that particular data point. Independent estimates put the number at one-third or so, although it seems that the uninsured comprised a bigger share of the late enrollment surge. They were also covered via Medicaid, which isn’t included in the 7 million number.

The question about whether people paid their second and third premiums appears new, and it’s unclear why that has now become a concern for the GOP.

Some of these questions are not wholly without basis. The demographics of Obamacare enrollees are important for the law’s long-term fiscal sustainability. People do need to pay their premiums for their coverage to take effect. One of the law’s stated goals was covering the uninsured.

But the framing of the House GOP’s release — “Debunking Obamacare’s 7 million Enrollees ‘Success’ Story”, insinuating that “the true number of enrollees” isn’t known — makes clear that its goal is to undermine the law’s unexpected patch of good news since open enrollment ended.

TPM raised these issues with McCarthy’s office, which still asserted that the administration “cannot let the American public know how many were previously uninsured, how many actually signed up for coverage they need, and how many weren’t kicked off of coverage they previously enjoyed.”

“Just because they gave us some data two months ago does not mean they gave us any clear and final data on enrollment when the President trumpeted the law as a success in the Rose Garden on live television,” Mike Long, a McCarthy spokesman, said in an email. “To proclaim ‘Mission Accomplished’ based solely on the number of clicks, without regard of knowing how those 7.1 million were affected, makes light of the seriousness that is health coverage of Americans.”

“House Republican leadership and various Committees have requested this information through hearings and by passing legislation. We’ve been stonewalled each time.”

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Blake Farenthold Introduces Bill To Withhold Eric Holder’s Paycheck

UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 04:  Rep. Blake Farenthold, R-Texas., speaks at a news conference with other House republican freshmen to call on the Senate to take up action on the budget passed in the House in April and also house passed bills that they say will spur job growth and reduce the deficit.

The Huffington Post

In a targeted swipe against Attorney General Eric Holder, Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Texas) announced legislation Tuesday that would prohibit federal employees found in contempt of Congress from receiving government paychecks.

Holder was held in contempt by House Republicans in 2012 for his non-compliance in releasing documents related to the Fast and Furious program, a botched federal gun-walking operation. Holder is the first sitting cabinet member in U.S. history to be found in contempt.

“My bill will at least prevent current and future federal employees, like Attorney General Holder, from continuing to collect their taxpayer-paid salaries while held in contempt of Congress,” Farenthold said in a statement announcing the “Contempt Act.”

Farenthold refused to question Holder during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on April 8, arguing that any other member of the public who refused to comply with a Justice Department subpoena “would be in jail.”

“The American people should not be footing the bill for federal employees who stonewall Congress or rewarding government officials’ bad behavior,” Farenthold said of his legislation.

The bill, officially introduced on Thursday, would suspend officials’ pay until the “date on which a resolution revoking such contempt is adopted by the House or Senate (as the case may be).”

In November, a group of 11 hard-line House Republicans, including Farenthold, attempted to impeach Holder for not complying with their congressional subpoena for Fast and Furious documents, among other allegations.

NOTE:   This guy was on Hardball last fall…watch his exchange with Chris Matthews

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6-Year-Old Asks Putin: Would Obama Save You From Drowning?

Mediaite

Russian President and 2005 Super Bowl championVladimir Putin’s annual televised Q&A is just getting more bizarre. Shortly after a celebrity call-in from NSA leaker Edward Snowden, Putin got a question from a six-year-old: did Putin think Obama would save the Russian president from drowning?

“I don’t want to be drowning, but…” Putin said. “I don’t think I have a close personal relationship with Obama. I think Obama is a courageous and good person. For sure he would save me.”

The question came three hours and forty-nine minutes into the Q&A. If that seems long, consider that Putin’s Q&A last year lasted a record four hours and forty-eight minutes.

Watch the clip below, via RT:   ALSO note that the video looks like it’s the entire session but when you click “play” it will go to the last 5 minutes of the session.

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Snowden Calls Putin To Talk NSA…

No word from Edward Snowden regarding Putin’s invasion and takeover of Crimea or his Ukraine antics, yet he participates in a staged call-in show to embarrass the POTUS.  I don’t like the surveillance programs in this country either, but his “patriotism” for his “motherland” has diminished significantly.  Since his buddies who wrote about his story got Pulitzer Prizes in journalism, he seems to feel more empowered than ever, to pull off a stunt like this…

The Hill 

The exchange between Putin and Snowden appeared to be a piece of theater crafted by the Kremlin  and designed to embarrass the Obama administration amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine.

Edward Snowden called into a Russian state television program on Thursday and asked President Vladimir Putin about whether Moscow has surveillance programs similar to those exposed by the former government contractor.

The exchange between Putin and Snowden appeared to be a piece of theater crafted by the Kremlin  and designed to embarrass the Obama administration amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine.

“I’ve seen little public discussion of Russia’s own involvement in the policies of mass surveillance,” Snowden, a former government contractor facing espionage charges in the U.S., told Putin via video message.

“So I’d like to ask you: Does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals? And do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies, rather than subjects, under surveillance?”

In response, Putin said that bulk collection programs “cannot exist’ under Russian law.

“We don’t like a mass system of such interception,” Putin said, according to a translation from state-run broadcaster Russia Today.

“I hope we won’t do that, and we don’t have as much money as they have in the States and don’t have these technical devices that they have in the States,” he added. “Our special services, thanks God, are strictly controlled by the society and by the law and regulated by the law.”

The exchange was all the more remarkable given Snowden’s asylum in Russia, where he traveled after first fleeing the U.S. for Hong Kong.

Moscow has faced pressure from the U.S. to send Snowden back to Washington.

Snowden’s question to Putin took place a day after President Obama accused Putin of being behind uprisings in eastern Ukraine by Russian separatists. In a television interview, Obama also said Russia didn’t want a military confrontation with the U.S. because of the Pentagon’s superiority.

Snowden’s leaks about National Security Agency programs were turned into stories in the Washington Post and The Guardian that this week were awarded with the Pulitzer Prize. But the espionage charges against Snowden could put him behind bars for decades if he returns to the United States.

Snowden fled to Russia last year shortly after releasing documents showing that the NSA conducts wide surveillance efforts to track people’s phone calls and online activity, among other operations.

He has been sharply criticized for choosing Russia, where the government routinely cracks down on journalists. Opponents have claimed that Snowden is working with foreign powers or, at the least, has given secret U.S. documents to Russian spies. Supporters have denied the charge.

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10 things you need to know today: April 17, 2014

Ukrainian troops on their way to Kramatorsk, Ukraine.

Ukrainian troops on their way to Kramatorsk, Ukraine. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

The Week

1. Separatists attack Ukraine base as Geneva crisis talks begin
Pro-Russia separatists attacked a military base in east Ukraine on Thursday as diplomats gathered in Geneva for crisis talks. Three separatists were killed in the clash, making it the deadliest yet in the 10-day uprising. Russian President Vladimir Putin said Kiev’s attempt to crush the protests by force was pushing the country into an “abyss.” The White House threatened Russia with fresh sanctions if it doesn’t defuse tensions. [Reuters]

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2. Hope fades in search survivors on sunken South Korean ferry
Hundreds of people were feared to have died aboard a ferry boat that sank within sight of land just off South Korea’s southern coast. Nine people have been confirmed dead, but the toll is expected to rise sharply as crews continue to look for the nearly 300 passengers still missing a day after the vessel tipped over in cold water. Investigators are looking into reports by survivors that the crew told people to wait for rescuers instead of escaping. [USA TodayCNN]

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3. Canadian becomes the first arrested over the Heartbleed security bug
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police arrested 19-year-old Stephen Arthuro Solis-Reyes on Wednesday and accused him of hacking the Canadian Revenue Agency’s website last Friday. Solis-Reyes is the first person arrested in connection with the Heartbleed security vulnerability in popular online encryption systems. One hacker wrote that the arrest should “draw attention to how big a deal this is.” [The Toronto Star]

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4. Judge calls strict North Dakota abortion law unconstitutional
A federal judge on Wednesday ruled that North Dakota’s “fetal heartbeat law,” which effectively banned abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy, was unconstitutional. The law was considered the nation’s most restrictive. District Court Judge Daniel Hovland wrote in his ruling that the Supreme Court “has unequivocally said no state may deprive a woman of the choice to terminate her pregnancy at a point prior to viability.” [The Associated Press]

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5. Obama unveils $600 million job-training push
President Obama announced a plan to spend $600 million on competitive grants to train Americans for jobs that will pay well, and help the nation maintain an edge in the global economy. “Not all of today’s good jobs require a four-year college degree,” Obama said Wednesday. “But I promise you, there’s not a job out there that’s going to pay a lot if you don’t have some specialized training.” [The Associated Press]

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6. Local politician speaks up for anti-Semitic-murder suspect
The mayor of a town near the home of white supremacist Frazier Glenn Cross (aka Frazier Glenn Miller), who has been charged with killing three people at Kansas City Jewish community facilities, said Wednesday that he shared some of Miller’s beliefs. “Kind of agreed with him on some things,” said Marionville, Mo., Mayor Dan Clevenger, “but I don’t like to express that too much.” Miller has been charged with murder and anti-Semitic hate crimes. [KSPR]

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7. Firetruck slams into California restaurant, injuring 15
Two firetrucks responding to an emergency collided at an intersection in a Los Angeles suburb, sending one of them crashing into a restaurant. Fifteen people, including six firefighters, were injured. Most suffered only minor injuries, but one person was sent to a hospital in critical condition. “There was a loud boom and a lot of shaking,” said Wendy Wu, a waitress. “I thought it was an earthquake.” [Fox News]

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8. Strong earnings push Alibaba’s valuation to $168 billion
Alibaba’s estimated valuation shot 9.8 percent higher this week after the Chinese e-commerce company reported record sales and earnings. Alibaba is preparing to make an initial public offering of stock later this year, and analysts polled by Bloomberg estimated its value at an average of $168 billion, up from $153 billion in February. Alibaba’s unexpectedly strong earnings lifted shares of Yahoo, which holds a 24 percent stake in the company. [BloombergThe Associated Press]

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9. Portland flushes water over possible contamination
The city of Portland, Oregon is dumping 38 million gallons of drinking water after a 19-year-old man was caught urinating in a reservoir. The 50-million-gallon reservoir was cut off following the incident, and results from tests looking for contamination are expected on Thursday. Still, the city plans to dump the reservoir and clean it. “That water goes directly into people’s homes,” David Shaff, Portland Water Bureau administrator, said. [Reuters]

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10. Biden joins the selfie bandwagon
Vice President Joe Biden opened an Instagram account on Wednesday, and promptly earned 22,000 likes for an exclusive photo. Biden posted a selfie he took, with a smiling President Obama at his side, in the back of the president’s armored limo. “Found a friend to join my first selfie on Instagram. Thanks for following and stay tuned.—VP” [The Telegraph]

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