“It’s hard to prepare for the worst storm in the world. But at the same time one of the issues now is there isn’t a way to access these places that are severely hit. The roads are not there.” Economist Trinh Nguyen, regarding Typhoon Haiyen’s on-land arrival in the Philippines on November 8, 2013
WEEK OF NOVEMBER 11, 2013
Nation: One more year for healthcare. President Obama announced an administrative policy change Thursday that would allow Americans to keep their existing healthcare for one additional year. Obama also apologized, saying that he “fumbled,” and that the problems were “on him.” Since the fix now leaves the decision up to the insurance companies, though, some have already said that they won’t go along. “I understand that many people are upset by the notices they have recently received from their health plans and they may not need the new benefits today,” said Washington state insurance commissioner Mike Kreidler. “But I have serious concerns about how President Obama’s proposal would be implemented and more significantly, its potential impact on the overall stability of our health insurance market.” He said they would be “staying the course.”
World: Devastation in the Philippines. Last Friday, a monster typhoon (named Haiyan) slammed into the eastern seaboard and quickly barreled across its central islands, packing winds of 145 mph that gusted to 170 mph with storm surges of 20 feet. Death tolls are ongoing, and the devastation has now turned to recovery efforts. Six days after the powerful storm an estimated 11 million people have been affected, more than half a million remain homeless and the estimated death toll has topped 2,300. The threat of looters is strong as the country grips with how to survive. CBS News’ Seth Doane, who was on the ground in the hard-hit city of Tacloban, said “This is a place of so many questions. As we drive through town, people ask us, ‘When will I have water? When will I have power or food?’” Here’s how you can help.
Politics: The Obama administration is asking congress to hold off. The Obama administration pled its case to congress this week, asking that lawmakers hold off on passing new Iran sanctions for just a few more weeks while negotiations continue to move forward. Although no agreement was reached in Geneva, the two sides came close, and agreed to continue the conversation next week. Meanwhile, Iran did manage to sign an agreement with the IAEA, the international watchdog responsible for overseeing its nuclear program. And the group reported this week that under Iran’s new President, the country’s nuclear progress has slowed. “Let’s test how willing they are to actually resolve this diplomatically and peacefully,” Obama told reporters on Thursday. “We will have lost nothing if at the end of the day it turns out that they are not prepared to provide the international community the hard proof and assurances necessary for us to know that they’re not pursuing a nuclear weapon.”
Business: Yellen says job growth is a key priority. Fed Vice Chair, and Chair nominee, Janet Yellen appeared before the Senate banking committee Thursday to discuss the current state of the economy. Yellen told lawmakers that the economy has gained ground, but still needs the support of the Fed, since unemployment remains high. She made it clear that the Fed plans to press forward with its current stimulus until officials feel that the economy is strong enough to sustain job growth. “I consider it imperative that we do what we can to promote a very strong recovery,” Yellen said. Investors watched the hearing closely for insight into Yellen’s future leadership, and apparently they liked what they heard. Stocks rose as she testified, with the Dow Jones and S&P 500 both closing at fresh record highs. A vote on her nomination could come as early as next week.
Health: New heart guidelines. New recommendations were released on Tuesday that advocate a dramatic shift in the way doctors assess and treat cardiovascular risk. Introduced is a new formula intended to help physicians calculate the chances of heart attacks and stroke in patients, which may mean that twice as many of us will be eligible for cholesterol-lowering drugs. “It’s really about your global risk,” said Donald Lloyd-Jones, chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University and one of 20 experts on the committee that wrote the new guidelines. “There were a number of people at substantial risk who, under the old paradigm, were not being captured.”
Women’s Affairs: Amy Robach sets an example. Good Morning America correspondent Amy Robach revealed to viewers on Monday that she was diagnosed with breast cancer after receiving an on-air mammogram at the request of her producers and colleague Robin Roberts, herself a cancer survivor. She will undergo a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery on November 14. Amy wrote in an online post, “The doctors told me bluntly: “That mammogram just saved your life.” I can only hope my story will do the same and inspire every woman who hears it to get a mammogram, to take a self exam. No excuses. It is the difference between life and death.” We applaud Amy for sharing her story.