Obamacare Reaches 6 Million Days Before Open-Enrollment Deadline

Over 6 million Americans have signed up for Obamacare since October 1st, when the enrollment period started. President Obama announced these numbers Thursday in an effort to make one final PR push for the health reform program.

After a botched rollout, the 6 million number is huge for the Obama Administration, and proves that Obamacare does work. The President obviously wants to finish out the enrollment period, and put his energy behind more initiatives, such as immigration reform, income inequality, and new foreign policy concerns.

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The 6 million number will not be the final number, as many are signing up just in time to make the March 31st deadline. For example, the HealthCare.gov website had 1.5 million visits and more than 430,000 calls on Wednesday. Expect a number closer to 6.5 million or even the initial goal of the Administration of 7 million enrollees.

The people likely signing up last minute are probably more likely to be young people, who currently make up 25% of sign-ups. I foresee this number rising to about 30%, which is about enough to offset the higher costs of insurance for older, sicker Americans.

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These numbers coming in show that this is the healthcare reform that works, not a free-for-all nor single payer/socialized healthcare. Almost 15% of the uninsured population now have insurance thanks to Obamacare. Premiums are actually low in cost. For example, a typical 40 year old in Cleveland can expect to pay $177 for a bronze plan.

Obamacare is working, evident by all of these statistics. The political pundits will make their comments, but Obamacare is helping people. The health care reform is literally saving lives, and saving Americans their hard-earned money. No one should go bankrupt, or die, due to a lack of options in regard to health issues. Not in America. Never again.

Get Covered Now!

Credit For All Visual Media Goes To The White House.

 

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Girl On The Golden Coin Is A Fast-Paced and Highly Visual Novel Of Frances Stuart and Her Times

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I must admit, I truly was getting tired at the many novels trying to capture this era, the Glorious Revolution times, but failing to capture the essence of the period. Girl On The Golden Coin by Marci Jefferson, however, rekindled an interest of mine in this period.

Girl On The Golden Coin follows Frances Stuart, a distant relative of the famed royal Stuarts. The novel begins with Frances, exiled and in a bad state in France after the Glorious Revolution, surviving only because of her royal blood. When Charles II is restored to the throne, the Stuarts become favored again, and Frances moves to the Fontainebleau Palace, where she catches the eye of Louis XIV, the Sun King. Frances has to balance the secrets she is entrusted to protect and keep loyalty after Louis becomes furious when Frances refuses him, so she is sent to England to seduce and learn secrets for Louis from Charles II.

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One Of The Coins Featuring Frances As Britannia. Credit Here.

Utilizing her beauty, she postures herself inside Whitehall Palace, keeping secrets and securing alliances. Considered the most beautiful woman in England, she is more than a pretty face, and uses her wit to inspire King Charles with her love to greatness. They end up truly falling in love, he having her pose as the great Britannia on Britain’s coins. As loyalties are blurred, Frances finds where her love and trust truly lie, and because of this is set free.

Girl On The Golden Coin is a well-written book, hands down. I am huge on visual detail in books, so the beautiful descriptions of clothing, palaces, and even everyday life from Frances’ eyes was as immaculate as her beauty. The intrigue inside the court was also well represented, with cunning characters and plots galore. Finally, I felt that Frances Stuart was done justice by this novel, leaving behind the misconception of her simply being a pretty face. It is important to right wrongs to protect our great historical leaders’ legacies, and Girl On The Golden Coin does this with fervor and magnificence.

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Me With Mrs. Marci Jefferson at a book tour event in Cincinnati.

NOTE: I, along with my mom Erin Al-Mehairi, were lucky enough to meet Mrs. Marci Jefferson in Cincinnati on March 22nd. I was able to speak to her, along with other authors (I will be reviewing their books soon) and I believe a friendship was formed. I was grateful for her encouragement and care, and is a wonderful person.

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Marci Jefferson~ Author

Years after graduating from Virginia Commonwealth University, immersing herself in a Quality Assurance nursing career, and then having children, Marci realized she’d neglected her passion for history and writing. She began traveling, writing along the way, delving into various bits of history that caught her fancy. The plot for GIRL ON THE GOLDEN COIN evolved slowly after a trip to London, where she first learned about the Stuart royals. Marci is a member of the Historical Novel Society. She resides in the Midwest with her husband, making hair-bows for their daughter, trying not to step on their son’s Legos, and teaching a tiny Pacific Parrotlet to talk.

The Next Assassin’s Creed Games Coming 2014!

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A Still From The Video For AC Unity Leaked By Ubisoft. Credit Here.

I am not a gamer really by any means, but I have a soft spot for Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed series. Since I first played AC2, I have loved the premise of the games and they have captivated me with their open-world gameplay.

The AC series takes place in the past, with the reason for each locale and time period decided by what is going on in the present. So far, the series has gone to Crusade-era Holy Land, Renaissance Italy, Borgia Rome, Ottoman Istanbul, the American Revolution, and the when pirates plagued the Caribbean. My favorite game is AC3, the American Revolution set one.

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Credit Here.

The information for the next games leaked and tells us that 2 games are coming in 2014. One, which has been confirmed by Ubisoft, is called Assassin’s Creed Unity. Taking place in the French Revolution-era, the protagonist is a new character, Arno, and it includes the famous turmoil, guillotines, and style of the French in this era.

The other game, titled Assassin’s Creed: Comet, has not been officially confirmed by Ubisoft, but has hinted it will this Friday (March 28th). The character in this is Eseosa, Adewale’s (from AC4) grandson. Now, this is the part that excites me: the press release leaking this information reads, ““Assassin’s Creed Comet tells the story of Eseosa, grandson of Adéwalé from Assassin’s Creed Freedom Cry, who needs to seek the advice and guidance of Connor. Eseosa is an intelligent young man with a naive personality” I love Connor, his story and heritage (half-British, half-Mohawk native). I was hoping that he would make a comeback, and he is! Master Assassin Connor Kenway.

For more information on these leaks, go to TIME‘s article on it.

Can’t wait for Holiday 2014.

A Well-Thoughtout Book On President Obama, His Rise, and His Destiny

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Whom God Has Blessed, Let No Man Curse by Jermel Shim is a rare book on Obama. Many have written about him, the 2008 and 2012 elections, his administration, etc., but Shim’s has the courage to talk about his destiny to not only lead America but change it, and the people who try and fail to bring him down.

Barack Obama’s rise to the Presidency is one that would never have been possible in any other nation on Earth. He is the most honest, hard-working, hope filled leader we have ever had, and Whom God Has Blessed highlights upon this. The book begins by discussing his path to his destiny, then how his opponents try to push him over the racial cliff, then how the rest of his second term will go, and finally the lessons we can learn from Obama. I agree with Whom God Has Blessed about how Obama has endured the most criticism of any President, not based on policy but on race.

I found this book based on faith, both Christianity and Buddhism, and that Obama is a blessed man in these regards. For more strictly informational readers, this book’s ideological standpoints are solid, with Shim’s vast knowledge of politics obvious. The work and research, the thinking, that Mr. Shim put into Whom God Has Blessed shines through in each line. His arguments, moderately based, makes him a perfect spokesperson for the cause of racial equality in America.

Barack Obama offers lessons on life and leadership that no political figure has since Lincoln. Shim’s argument is that we need to follow these lessons to follow our own destinies, and to end the racial, and economic, divide that plagues America. It is not only enough that minorities can eat at a restaurant, they need to be able to pay for the food. It is not even definite that the poor are able to vote, due to Voter-ID having the possibility of taking the right away from 23 million Americans.

Whom God Has Blessed, Let No Man Curse is an informative, well researched book on Barack Obama’s rise and destiny to the Presidency, and the lessons he offers to all of us. Shim’s courageous book makes him a new voice in the fight for racial and economic equality in our generation, and I look forward to future books coming from him.

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Jermel Shim~ Author

Jermel Shim is a retired mechanical engineer who has launched a new career as an author. Writing is not a new experience for Jermel. In his professional engineering career, he authored many technical documents. In his new career as an author, he has faced the challenge of switching from a technical writer to a nonfiction writer.

Born in Jamaica, Jermel was educated at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, where he graduated in 1979 with a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. Following his graduation, he moved to the US, where he began an engineering career spanning 29 years with two major engineering companies – Gilbert Commonwealth in Reading, Pennsylvania and Dominion Resources, Inc., in Richmond, Virginia. He has voted in all Presidential elections since becoming a citizen in 1988.

“Frozen” Is A Disney Masterpiece Belonging At The Top Of The Animated Classics List

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Theatrical Poster. Credit Here.

“Frozen” is a 2013 Disney Animated Studios film, the newest release. It tells the story of royal sisters Elsa and Anna; Elsa, a forcibly reserved girl with a curse, and Anna, a fearless leader who is joyful and lovable. As very young girls, they were close, but a tragic turn involving Elsa’s curse forces her to shut herself away to prevent anyone getting hurt.

When Elsa is crowned Queen of her kingdom, the castle opens its gates for one day. A rare occurrence, Elsa is scared of what her curse (ice) will do, but Anna views it as a chance to see her sister again. Throughout that day, love at first sight occurs, and then Elsa ends up showing her curse to the people and leaves kingdom, with her powers making it eternal winter.

Anna, the accidental cause of Elsa’s meltdown, goes after her to end the winter. Elsa begins to realize that she needs to, as the popular song from the movie says, “Let It Go,” and tries to put the “past in the past.” Anna encounters companions, Elsa tries to control her curse, and the plot rises to an epic ending of true love between sisters, how a curse could be used as a gift, and goodness at heart.

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Elsa. Credit Here.

I feel that “Frozen” is the greatest Disney movie ever made. I have seen a lot of Disney films since I was little, and I say this with the upmost certainty.

One of the many who were tired of all the romantic love saving the day, “Frozen” (like The Lion King) focuses on family ties. The love between two sisters is what carries this movie and is the basis for the plot.

The visuals in “Frozen” were remarkable. The ice was utilized to create beautiful snowflakes and crystals in purples, blues, and greens. The movie also created beautiful characters, and allowed for greater action and ice formations.

“Frozen” is a masterpiece from Disney. A movie with a new plot, it compares greatly to “The Lion King” and “Tangled”, with family ties and wonderful animation. “Frozen” is a movie for the ages, and will be considered one of the greatest animated movies in motion picture history and has quickly become a classic.

Visit The Frozen Website!

An Interview With Author/Scientist J.M. Sidorova, Involving Ice, Science, and Love Of Writing

I reviewed J.M. Sidorova’s novel, The Age Of Ice, previously. Now, I have an interview I conducted with the author. 

Welcome, J.M. to Seize The Moment! It is great to have you here. How are you?

Hi Nassem, thanks for having me here at Seize the Moment.

1. The Age Of Ice is your debut novel, and is very well written. When did you begin to write?

Thank you for your praise.  I began to write at the age seven or so. (It is not uncommon for a future writer to manifest some kind of a “writing affliction” at an early age.) As for when I began to write well — that is an open question. Maybe almost forty years later?

2. Your book is from first-person. How did you get in the head of Prince Alexander Velitzyn?

I did not get in his head, he got in mine. But seriously? Hard to say. I’ve put a little bit of my father into him, a little bit of myself. A lot of what preoccupies his mind is hindsight. I love hindsight!  Also, I do believe that one can use relatively small and ordinary personal experiences as a seed to build (with some research on the subject, of course) something extraordinary and dramatic. It’s like growing salt crystals – you need something for it to nucleate on. As an example: what writer has been in a spaceship crash? No one. But some had been in a car crash. And others had crashed on a bicycle. In a sense, you can use your bicycle crash experience as a seed to create your spaceship crash narrative.

 3.   I understand that you are a science research professor at the University of Washington. On the ice part of The Age Of Ice, did your extensive knowledge of this subject influence your book? 

I would not call myself an expert on ice. I know the basics of the physics of water, the kind of a background knowledge that is so integral to what we do in the lab, that we don’t even notice that we use it. The same thing may have happened with the book — some of the references to ice are just paraphrased basic scientific facts. One thing I know is that water is such a marvelous substance that if I could I would have put a lot more about it into the book.  For instance our (University of Washington’s) own Professor Gerald Pollack  just published a book (http://faculty.washington.edu/ghp/new-book/)  about a new, fourth state of water (in addition to solid, liquid, and gas) that actually may be very relevant to the way water behaves inside cells of living organisms.  How awesome is that?

Nassem Comment: I am interested in reading that book! Water is fascinating, both how it got here to Earth and the forms it takes.

 4.   While we are on the science topic, could you tell us a bit about what scientific field you study in?

One way to describe it is this: imagine, every cell of a human body has a total of six feet of DNA cut into forty six pieces (yes, it’s not a typo, six feet), and packed into a volume that is about one ten-thousandth of that in diameter. When a cell divides into two, it needs first to accurately copy all six feet of its DNA. Cells accomplish this goal in under eight hours using thousands of “copy machines” that are each about one millionth of a foot long. I study how cells manage to do it and not mess things up, even under challenging conditions.

Nassem Comment: That is an amazing fact, the 6 feet of DNA fact. It makes you look at life itself differently.

5. How much of real science fact is Alexander’s immortality based off of? Does it have something to do with heat particles and the temperature?

 Oh, I wish it was based in real science. Short of that, let’s take some real science and run wild with it. I am going to continue on with my crystals analogy. Bear with me. Ice is water crystals, right? Proteins can also form crystals. Normally though, proteins in living organisms are not supposed to form indestructible crystallized aggregates. But certain altered proteins inside cells can fold in a wrong way and form an indestructible crystal. This crystal is now a seed around which more of the protein aggregates. The crystal grows.  What you get in an upshot is mad cow disease, and indestructible seeds of crystallization are called prions. For all intents and purposes prion crystals are infectious, transmissible, and they multiply by recruiting more building blocks to themselves from the organisms they infected.  Now apply all of this back to ice crystals and imagine that ice has “infected” our character at conception and is now in every cell of his body; it has co-crystallized with proteins inside his cells and takes part in every process. Longevity just may be a side effect of that.

 6. Prince Alexander was conceived and developed his…unique…trait in the real-life Palace Of Ice, constructed by Empress Anna Ioannovna. How did you first come upon knowledge about this palace, and was it the main inspiration for The Age Of Ice?

One Of The Awesome Maps On The Endpapers of The Age Of Ice.

 That’s an easy answer: I read about the Ice Palace in a New Yorker article by Elif Batuman, and yes, it was indeed the straight-on, direct, kick-starting inspiration for the novel.

Nassem Comment: I was sent a copy of said article with the review copy of The Age Of Ice. It truly was very interesting to read, and I would encourage any readers to read the article before the book.

7. As Alexander is on his journey to discover who he really is, he travels to many different places, among them Paris, the Middle East, and Siberia. Which of the many places were your favorite to research and write about?

 Each one was my absolute favorite when I worked on it. A sort of serial favoritism on my part.  Looking back, I now have unique associations with each place, personal experiences that they are attached to. I have seen readers and critics call the Siberian chapter extremely dark, and I am very glad to see that because that is exactly how I wanted it.  So I guess that makes it a favorite in terms of having accomplished the goal.

8. What authors have influenced you the most in your writing?

 The list is long, and it could be said it contains everybody I happened to read at an impressionable age between — I don’t know — sixteen and twenty two. Those were not so much influences as impacts, style and story all packed together in a punch. To give just a few examples off the list — Sasha Sokolov, Julio Cortazar, Jorge Luis Borges, Stanislav Lem, Thomas Mann, Salman Rushdie; but really, I can go on and on.      

9. Where does your greatest support come from? What hobbies do you enjoy?

 Professionally, I am lucky to be part of a great writer and reader community here in Seattle, which also includes folks involved with Clarion West workshop for speculative fiction writers (of which I am a graduate). My family definitely should be awarded Best Supporting Family Member titles. As for hobbies… who has the time? Very occasionally, we do the outdoor sports typical for Seattle — things involving mountains or large bodies of water — and the rest of the time we recover from injuries and muscle soreness incurred due to performing those outdoor sports.

 Thank you so much, J.M. You have honored me, allowing me to interview you. As I stated in my review of The Age Of Ice, the book is one of my favorites I have ever read, due to the rich text and blending of history and science. Thank you.

 I am glad you liked it. Thanks for interviewing me.
J.M Sidorova- Author Of The Age Of Ice
J.M. Sidorova was born in Moscow, when it was the capital of the USSR, to the family of an official of the Ministry of Foreign Trade. She attended Moscow State University and the graduate school of the Russian Academy of Sciences. She moved to Seattle, Washington, in 1990 and works as a research professor at the University Of Washington, where she studies aging and carcinogenesis.

Ukrainian Crisis: Crimea Votes To Join Russia

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Russian Flags Wave Behind A Statue Of Lenin. Credit To CNN

Today, March 16th, Crimeans took to the polls to vote on their future. In a region of 2 million people, the referendum had only 2 options, either independence or joining Russia. The status quo of staying part of Ukraine was not an option. 93% of the vote went to seceding from Ukraine and joining Russia.

Voters had to be 18 or older, and present some form of ID. Journalists report, however, that some went in with solely a passport, and some voters cast multiple votes.

The Russians are very happy with this outcome, with Crimea back under Moscow’s control. They maintain that this was a legal referendum, and that they were saving ethnic Russians in Crimea from “fascists”. President Putin calls the ousting of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych unconstitutional.

The United States and Europe effectively unanimously agree that this is illegal. The West maintains that this vote violates Ukrainian and International law. The US Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power said territorial referendums legally have to be held “across the entirety of Ukraine and not just in a sub-region like this.”

Jose Manuel Barroso (@BarrosoEU), the President of the EU Commission, tweeted “#Crimea referendum illegal and illegitimate. EU will not recognize its outcome.”

The G7 said that if Moscow does not stop trying to change Crimea’s status, “further action” would occur.

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Voting Booth In Crimea. Credit To CNN

The Western condemnation of this referendum is obvious, and widespread. Both Britain and the United States said that additional sanctions will be put in place if this vote goes through. British Foreign Minister William Hague stated that “If there is no progress on these things in the next few days then we will move to the next stage of Europe’s response to this crisis, which will involve travel bans and asset freezes on individuals in Russia.” Now that the vote has gone through, both Washington and London must work together to isolate Russia.

On Sunday’s Fareed Zakaria GPS, on CNN, the Polish Foreign Minister stood strong for the EU, saying that, “Russia is leaving us no choice. And the European Council has decided, if there is no movement on Russia’s part to correct the position, then I’m afraid we’ll have no – no choice on Monday.”

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Ballot Box In Crimea. Credit Here.

I believe that Crimea is the only chance Russia has to exert international influence. In the planned Eurasian Union, made up of Russia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, Crimea would be valuable as it would be the only warm-water port. Crimea allows for influence in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Asia. This Eurasian Union, it is the planned joining of Russia and other former Soviet satellites.

I have come to the conclusion that Russia has taken this military action in Ukraine because Ukraine will not be part of the Eurasian Union. As Vladimir Putin said, regarding the Eurasian Union, that it would build upon the “best values of the Soviet Union.” This is the reforming of the Soviet Union. Russia has said that it has taken over Crimea because Ukraine is still Russian, so, if Ukraine shows any opposition to Putin…you see what happens. If Putin cannot get Ukraine to join willingly, he will take it forcefully, starting with the most valuable land: Crimea.

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Then-Sec. Hillary Clinton With Putin in 2010. Credit Here

This is why Hillary Clinton compared this action to Hitler invading Sudetenland. “The claims by Putin that they had to go into Crimea, because they had to protect Russian minorities, is reminiscent of claims that were made back in the 1930’s.” and, “Germany, under the Nazis claimed they had to protect German minorities in Czechoslovakia … and throughout Europe.” She was supported in her statement by former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski. Two of the greatest foreign policy minds alive agree that the takeover of Crimea seems a lot like it is 1938 again.

The Eurasian Union will be the reincarnation of the Soviet Union. Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, spoke about that too. “It’s not going to be called that [USSR]. It’s going to be called customs union, it will be called the Eurasian Union and all of that, but let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.” Crimea is the start, and Sunday, March 16th will be remembered like May 14th, 1955, when the Warsaw Pact was signed. It is up to us if it leads to a Second Cold War.