News December 23

Senator Sanders

Iran Sanctions The fate of Iran sanctions legislation will depend heavily on whether Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid decides to bring the bill to a floor vote in January. In the event there is a vote, the question becomes how many Democrats will stand by the White House and oppose additional sanctions at this time. Most if not all Republicans would likely vote for new sanctions. A Congressional Quarterly tally found 31 Democratic caucus members publicly uncommitted. “It’s worth some study,” Sen. Bernard Sanders said. LINK

White House ’16 A national group of left-leaning progressives says its members strongly support a bid for the White House recently floated by Sen. Sanders. In a poll being released this morning, a group called RootsAction.org found that 81 percent of 19,131 of its members responding to an on-li ne poll said “yes” when asked the question, “Do you want Senator Bernie Sanders to run for president in 2016?” Another 10 percent of the respondents said they weren’t sure and 9 percent answered “No,” according to the Burlington Free Press. LINK 

White House ’16 “Sanders on my program on Friday said that he would consider running for president to push the field to the left … I would love to see Bernie Sanders run,” Thom Hartmann told an audience at a union hall in Minneapolis. Hartmann’s remarks were broadcast Sunday on C-SPAN’s Book TV.  VIDEO

White House ’16 “The most consistently progressive of our big-name pols, Sanders’ integrity makes him something we sorely need: a systematic political thinker,” Patrick Walker wrote for OpEdNews. LINK

Democrats and Wall Street “With a few brave exceptions, notably Vermont's feisty socialist Sen. Bernard Sanders and incorrigibles such as Ralph Nader, there have been too-few voices willing to challenge the growing corporatization of the Democratic Party and the ongoing concentration of power in ever-fewer hands,” Joel Kotkin wrote in a column for the Orange County Register. LINK

World

Punk Band Members Freed in Russia Two women from a punk group serving two-year prison terms for staging a protest performance against President Vladimir V. Putin in Moscow’s main cathedral were released on Monday under a new amnesty law. The case of Maria Alyokhina, who was set free from a prison in the western city of Nizhny Novgorod on Monday morning, and her co-defendant, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, who was released later in the day in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, had drawn international condemnation of Russia’s human rights record, The New York Times reported. LINK

National

Monday Deadline for Health Care Signup Monday marks the last day to sign up through the federal and state health exchanges to have insurance coverage beginning Jan. 1. And while government officials said the federal site, HealthCare.gov, can handle a last-minute rush of consumers, there's still fear that the word may not be getting out to the people who most need to enroll, USA Today reported. LINK

Long History of Failed Projects by Health Website Designer  CGI Federal, the company responsible for building the problem-plagued website for the Affordable Care Act, won the job despite a history of numerous executives mishandling at least 20 other government ­information technology projects more than a decade ago, The Washington Post reported. LINK

U.S. Still Stuck in Last Century The spectacular failure of the HealthCare.gov website has renewed calls for changes in how the government hires and manages private technology companies that bungled other government projects, like a $1 billion Air Force supply management system that had to be scrapped and a $170 million project that the FBI abandoned, The New York Times reported. LINK

U.S. Uniforms Made Overseas One of the world’s biggest clothing buyers, the United States government spends more than $1.5 billion a year at factories overseas, acquiring everything from the royal blue shirts worn by airport security workers to the olive button-downs required for forest rangers and the camouflage pants sold to troops on military bases. Labor Department officials say that federal agencies have a “zero tolerance” policy on using overseas plants that break local laws, but American government suppliers in countries including Bangladesh, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Mexico, Pakistan and Vietnam show a pattern of legal violations and harsh working conditions, according to The New York Times. LINK

Vermont

Leahy to Hold Hearing on NSA Spying Sen. Patrick Leahy plans take on NSA privacy abuses early next year. Leahy's Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing on Jan. 14 on the results of a presidential task force's report on NSA spying. Leahy, speaking Sunday on NBC's Meet the Press, said the issue goes well beyond the revelations leaked by Edward Snowden, WCAX-TV reported. LINK

Jobs in Vermont Vermont’s employers created 2,200 jobs in November, bringing the state to a 12-month high in employment, according to a new report by the state Department of Labor. With jobless numbers down from 4.5 percent to 4.4 percent in November and employment on the rise, Matthew Barewicz, the state’s chief of economic and labor market information, said Vermont is on the road to recovery from the 2008 nationwide recession, Vermont Public Radio reported. LINK

Ice Storm Nearly 15,000 Vermonter households and businesses remain without power as utility crews battle damage from an ice storm that downed tree limbs and power lines. Green Mountain Power reports nearly 5,700 outages — most in the Winooski area. Vermont Electric Cooperative is reporting over 9,000 outages, with the greatest concentration occurring in Berkshire, Derby, Fairfax, Glover and Montgomery. Utilities staff say some outages are expected to linger into Christmas and beyond, The Associated Press reported. LINK