Thursday, June 28, 2012

Supreme Court upholds health care law

The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 Thursday to uphold the controversial Affordable Care Act.

The decision comes on the last day of the term for the SCOTUS as they will take off for the summer. On Monday, the high court struck down key pieces of Arizona's SB 1070 immigration bill.

Chief Justice John Roberts issued the majority opinion that the individual mandate, the centerpiece of the health law, is constitutional under the taxing clause instead of the commerce clause.

Many people called the case the most significant since the 2000 Gore vs Bush ruling, which decided a presidential election. Others say it's the biggest ruling since the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education in terms of social progression.

Here are some of the highlights of the health care law.

The battle is far from over despite the ruling.

According to the NY Times, the GOP vows to repeal the health care law, which they see as an unaffordable infringement on the rights of individuals. Presidential candidate Mitt Romney says he will undo the law if elected president in November.

Passed in 2010, the ACA intended to end the United States status as the only rich country in the world with large numbers of uninsured people, by expanding to both private market and Medicaid.

The key provision, known as the individual mandate, virtually requires all citizens to buy health insurance meeting minimum federal standards or risk paying a fine if they refuse.

Secondly, the law requires states to expand Medicaid coverage for poor and nearly poor households.

Thirdly, It also offers subsidies to poorer and middle-class households, varying with incomes and to some businesses, insuring their workers.

 In addition, young Americans will be able on their parents insurance until age 26.

In all, millions of people are expected to gain insurance from the law, according to the Congressional Budget Office, a part of a march toward universal coverage, a goal that has eluded presidents such as Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Richard M. Nixon, Lyndon B. Johnson, and Bill Clinton---for generations.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Sandusky found guilty in sex abuse case

Former Penn State assistant coach Jerry Sandusky was found guilty on 45 of 48 counts of child sex  abuse as the verdict was read in front of a Pennsylvania courtroom Friday night.

Sandusky was charged with sex abuse of 10 boys last November. The alleged cover-up of the crimes sparked a firestorm at Penn State University which led to the firing of school president Graham Spanier, AD Tim Curley and the late head football Joe Paterno, who died in January.

The judge revoked his bail as charges were read and taken away in handcuffs to jail where he will be in solitary confinement.

Hundreds of people gathered in front of the courthouse cheering in favor of the verdict.

Sandusky, 68, faces a minimum of 60 years and a maximum of 442 years in prison. Jurors found the former coach guilty of 17 first-degree felonies, each having a sentence of 20 years.

He did not take the stand in his defense because of his adopted son becoming a rebuttal witness, according to his attorney Joe Amendola.

Sentencing will not take place for another three months.

The next course of action would be to go after the administrators who tried to cover-up the sex abuse and those who enabled it to continue.

The Penn State University community is a tight-knit group that treat each other as family.

 They now have a long road ahead of them as they try to polish a once impeccable image which is now tainted.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Thunder rally in second half to top Heat, take 1-0 series lead

Oklahoma City showed Miami what team basketball looked like in the NBA Finals.

Kevin Durant scored 17 of his game-high 36 points in the fourth quarter as the Thunder beat the Heat 105-94 in front of a sell-out crowd at Cheasapeake Energy Arena.

The tandem of Russell Westbrook and Durant outscored Dwyane Wade and LeBron James by themselves in the second half (41-40), with Durant drawing first blood in his matchup against the 3-time MVP. James only scored seven points in the final frame.

Westbrook played a better second half and finished with 27 points, eight rebounds and 11 assists. He is the first player since Charles Barkley in 1993 with similar numbers. James Harden was rather ineffective as he was dogged by foul trouble the entire game.

OKC turned the game around in the third quarter by going to a small lineup, spearheaded by defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha. His relentless defense relieved the burden for Durant and helped the Thunder take the lead for good.

The Heat got as close as four points late in the fourth before Durant made back to back buckets to give OKC a 10-point lead with 3:35 to go.

Durant's 36 was the most in an NBA Finals debut since 2001 when Allen Iverson scored 48 points vs the LA Lakers.

The Thunder have come a long way from its inaugural season of 23-59 in 2007-08. Now they have won the first NBA Finals game in team history and look to do the same in a couple of days.

Game 2 is Thursday.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

2012 NBA Finals: A Preview

In 2010, the young, rambunctious Oklahoma City Thunder went six games before bowing out in the first-round against the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers.

Last season they made it to the Western Conference Finals where once again came up short against Dallas, who went on to claim their first NBA title.

This season, the Thunder ran through the gauntlet of the Mavericks, Lakers and Spurs en route to their first Western Conference crown and trip to the NBA Finals. All three teams have won 10 of the last 13 NBA titles. They find themselves four wins away from their first NBA championship since moving to the Sooner State.

For most of the club, the NBA Finals is a new experience and it will be tested during the series. However, the Thunder have 5-time champion Derek Fisher, Kendrick Perkins (was on 2008 Celtics championship team) and Nazr Mohammed (won a title with San Antonio) to give words of wisdom on what it means to be in the NBA Finals.

Kevin Durant and the Thunder have an opportunity to make a statement to the rest of the league that they are here to stay.

Miami has a shot at redemption after falling to Dallas in the 2011 NBA Finals by making good on their promise via the fireworks parade when the Big 3 were announced prior to the 2010-2011 season. The Heat overcame a Chris Bosh injury in the East Semis vs Indiana and rallied from a 3-2 deficit versus Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals to claim their second consecutive Eastern Conference title.

It will be the fifth time since 1967 that the NBA scoring champion and  MVP square off in the NBA Finals.

The series will be about match-ups.

Durant vs Lebron: Heat coach Erik Spoelstra will have to make sure Lebron doesn't waste a ton of energy guarding the 3-time scoring champ. Conversely, Durant will have to make King James work for his points on defense and score at will when it matters most.

Sefolosha vs Wade: Thunder coach Scott Brooks can use the defensive-oriented guard on D. Wade or on LeBron at times. His length can cause problems for the Heat when they try to pass in the interior.

Bench production: The Thunder have a huge advantage in this matchup. They have veteran Derek Fisher, who can provide quality minutes on the floor and make clutch shots when needed. They also have one of the smartest defensive big men in Nick Collison. He can provide the Thunder with defensive help in the paint and force James and Wade to make contested shots. Conversely, Miami's bench is very inconsistent, including Mike Miller, who isn't at 100%.

The Thunder must keep James and Wade off the free-throw line and play defense without fouling. They have to make the tandem take contested jump shots.

I project the Oklahoma City Thunder will win the NBA Finals in six games over Miami.