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Richard Kirsch, national campaign manager for Health Care for America Now, issued today the following statement on the health care summit:

We appreciate President Obama's attempt to reach out to Republicans one more time, but today's bipartisan summit proved the GOP is committed to little else than repeating the same stale talking points.

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Fox News' Shep Smith tore into the bipartisan health care summit this afternoon, calling the whole idea "poppycock," since neither side will concede.

He interrupted Sen. John Thune (R-SD) during an interview to tell him he was lying about premiums.

"I know your talking points. I know the other side's talking points. But can't we say, 'Look, we gotta do something in this country. This is going to bankrupt us.' And you people up there who are supposed to be representing us are making it perfectly clear you're gonna sit in your corners with your own talking points and we're gonna lose," Smith said. "We're gonna get nothing."

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February 25, 2010: A Ugandan lawmaker introduced a bill in parliament last year to impose life imprisonment on gays and lesbians -- and the death penalty for HIV-positive, sexually active gays, or in cases of same-sex rape. The bill quickly drew international disapproval for its severity. Despite pressure from Uganda's President to "soften" the bill, the proposal's author, David Bahati, has stood by his measure, saying, "the process of legislating a law to protect our children against homosexuality and defending our family values must go on." Anti-gay protests erupted across Uganda in mid February to show support for the bill.

Above: Ugandan protesters take aim at two of the key players on this issue in America.

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Pastor Martin Ssempa at a press conference in Kampala on February 16th.

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Anti-gay protesters flood the streets of Jinja, an industrial city 43 miles east of Kampala.

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Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa speaks to the crowd.

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Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO, issued the following statement on the health care reform summit:

Today President Obama brought Democrats and Republicans together to work on a final health care proposal. It has been 13 months since we began debating health care, and the process has been painstaking and tough. But comprehensive reform is now more urgent than ever--you need look no further than the unconscionable price increases being pushed onto consumers from insurance companies, such as the 39 percent increase recently levied by Anthem Blue Cross in California.

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President Obama challenged Republicans to do some "soul searching" on whether they will support the Democratic health care plan, using the final moments of his health care summit to ask them to put up or shut up. If they don't want to cooperate, the two parties can battle it out at the polls this November, the president said.

Obama's statement and Democratic reactions after the summit were the clearest signal yet that the majority party is charging ahead and abandoning attempts at bipartisanship.

Interest groups closely watching the summit said as much, and Republicans confirmed they won't be voting for any Democratic plan that doesn't start with a blank sheet of paper.

The attendees at the summit read statements about the need for reform and complained about process, but came to no agreement and spoke little about the substance of the bill up for consideration on Capitol Hill. The seven-hour marathon refereed by Obama gives Democrats political cover to press ahead and finish this up.

"We are going to move forward, the ball is in everybody's court," Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters after the summit.

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It could become an iconic moment in a six-hour health care summit that was at times a sleepy affair: President Obama debating Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY)--a medical doctor--on whether guaranteeing catastrophic coverage is a sufficient answer to the country's health care woes.

"Would you be satisfied if every member of Congress just had catastrophic care--you think we'd be better health care purchasers?" Obama asked Barrasso. "I mean, is that a change you think we should make?"

"I think actually we would," Barrasso responded. "We'd really focus on it. We'd have more, as you say, skin in the game. And especially if they had a savings account--a health savings account--they could put their money into that, and they'd be spending the money out of that."

Obama's retort left Barrasso speechless:

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The new Daily Kos/Research 2000 poll of Illinois gives Democrats the initial lead in the race for President Obama's former Senate seat, though the undecided figure remains high.

The numbers: Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias 43%, Republican Congressman Mark Kirk 36%, with a ±4% margin of error. A month ago, before the party primaries, Giannoulias led Kirby by 38%-30% in the potential match-up.

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn, who just barely survived his own primary, also leads both Republican candidates who are still in contention for the too-close-to-call GOP primary that was held three weeks ago. Quinn leads state Sen. Bill Brady by 47%-32%, and leads state Sen. Kirk Dillard by 46%-35%.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA)--the Republicans point man on health care reform in the Senate--has flirted with the idea that requiring people to purchase health insurance is unconstitutional. But he fully joined the "Tenther" fringe at today's health care summit.

"The high cost of this bill comes from a non-constitutional mandate," Grassley said in an exchange with President Obama.

It wasn't too long ago that Grassley not only supported the mandate, but also claimed there was bipartisan agreement on the issue.

That time has clearly passed--moments later Grassley got back up from House Minority Leader John Boehner.

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Things are getting bad for New York Gov. David Paterson -- and his state police superintendent -- as more revelations surface in the wake of the big Times story today.

The latest: Paterson's deputy secretary for public safety, Denise O'Donnell, has resigned and is accusing the state police superintendent of lying lied to her about police involvement in the domestic violence case of Paterson aide David Johnson.

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It's one thing for a political party to send out a fund-raising mailer designed to look like an official Census Bureau document, in the apparent hope of bamboozling some confused recipients into opening it. After all, who among us hasn't done that at some point?

But it takes some chutzpah to double down on the tactic, even after the Census Bureau itself, as well as members of Congress from your own party, have complained about it -- and to do it in the same year that the actual Census is being conducted.

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