Saturday, January 31, 2009

Obama signed Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act

Obama signed his first bill into law approving equal-pay legislation. Obama said that it would “send a clear message that making our economy work means making sure it works for everybody” and that “It is fitting that with the very first bill I sign — the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act — we are upholding one of this nation’s first principles: that we are all created equal and each deserve a chance to pursue our own version of happiness.” Lilly Ledbetter is a woman who complained that she had been paid less than men at the end of her career as a supervisor in a tire factory. When she was close to retirement she found out that her male colleagues were making a lot more money than she was. A jury found that the company was guilty of pay discrimination, but in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court threw out the case. Congress tried to pass a law that would overturn the decision, but while Bush was still in office, the White House opposed the bill. Ledbetter will not receive any money as a result of the legislation, but personal satisfaction is enough for her.

Polls Close in Iraq Elections Held Amid Tight Security

As the U.S. get less involved with Iraq, it starts to show signs of stability. The Iraqis get a chance to vote for the first time in four years on Saturday in one of the 7,000 polling stations available. There was almost no violence and people even brought their families to witness the second opportunity they had to vote since former president Saddam Hussein's government collapsed. The cease-fire and the surge in U.S. troops in 2007 have contributed to the security improvements. More than 14,000 candidates are running for 440 seats to lead councils that are similar to the positions of state legislatures in the U.S.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Obama Moves to Reverse Labor Policies

President Obama continues to slowly chip away at the Bush administration policies. Today, he and Vice President Biden announced plans to help out organized labor and the middle class. At a White House ceremony, President Obama signed three executive orders that he claimed would “reverse many of the policies towards organized labor that we’ve seen these last eight years, policies with which I’ve sharply disagreed.” Vice President also attacked Bush and Cheney (coincidentally on Cheney's 68th birthday) when he announced to labor officials in the audience, "Welcome back to the White House."

Obama's executive orders would require federal contractors to offer jobs to current workers when contracts change, and would make it harder for federal contractors to discourage union activities. Also, Biden announced that the first meeting of a task force that would "bring together those Cabinet members who have the greatest impact on the well-being of the middle class" would be on February 27 in Philadelphia. This task force will examine various issues, such as health care and college opportunities, and will aim at "restoring the balance in the workplace." The task force will be led by Jared Bernstein, a liberal economist writing on the impact of Obama's stimulus plan. And according to Biden, the first meeting will focus on "green jobs, those jobs that pay well, can’t be outsourced and will help us move toward a cleaner, more self-sufficient energy future.”

President Obama claims that there is no need for conflict between workers and employers, and that American business and industry can be "lean and mean", and competitive in the global marketplace. Vice President Biden claims that by helping out the middle class, the administration can help out the poor; and "by the way, the wealthy do better as well. Everyone does better."

Florida Speaker Steps Down

Speaker of the Florida House of Representatives, Ray Sansom (Republican), stepped down from his position, claiming he could not carry out his duties while being investigated for corruption. On the same day he was sworn in as speaker, he had taken a $110,000-a-year part-time job as vice president for development and planning with Northwest Florida State College. The Leon County grand jury voted on Monday to investigate Sansom's ties to the college after a series of articles in The St. Petersburg Times that reported on how Sansom steered millions to the college. Other news reports talked of how Sansom pushed for legislation that raised the college from its community college status and how he won millions for construction projects for the college. Sansom had also suddenly resigned from his college job this month. Sansom's stepping down followed the resignation of the speaker of the Massachusetts House, Salvatore F. DiMasi (Democrat). DiMasi's former campaign treasurer and accountant was accused of making illegal campaign contributions and illegal lobbying. Sansom's stepping down also occurred a day after Blagojevich was impeached. Clearly, a lot of corruption is floating around; but then again, politics has never always been a clean game.

Republicans Choose First Black Party Chairman

The Republican National Committee chose Michael Steele, former lieutenant governor of Maryland to be the chairman. The election took six ballots before he could get the 85 votes needed to win. He won with 91 votes out of 165, defeating Katon Dawson, the South Carolina Republican chairman. During the election Dawson faced many concerns such as reinforce the notion that Republicans are becoming a Southern regional party and to help ease these concerns he stopped going to his all white country club. One of the things Steele had going for him was that he was one of the two non-members of the committee running. Steele stated that "it’s time for something completely different and we’re going to bring it to them. We’re going to bring this party to every corner, to every boardroom, to every neighborhood, to every community. And we’re going to say to friend and foe alike, ‘we want you to be a part of us, we want you to be with us and for those of you who are going to obstruct, get ready to be knocked over.’ " Ken Blackwell, another African American running for the position pulled out of the race after the fourth ballot with only 15 votes. “Obviously, the winds of change are blowing at the R.N.C.,” Mike Duncan said. The election showed the party's desire for a clean break from the former President who withdrew after the third ballot. He got 41 votes on the third ballot which was 11 votes short of the 52 he got on the first ballot. Chip Saltsman of Tennessee also run, but he distributed a CD with a song called “Barack the Magic Negro” which caused concern. He dropped out on the eve of the contest after apparently failing to qualify for the ballot.

U.S. Economy: GDP Shrinks at Fastest Pace Since 1982

The U.S. economy shrank 5.1% in the fourth quarter. To make things worse companies such as from Starbucks and Pep Boys- Manny, Moe & Jack have announced job cuts. Obama used these events to push his stimulus package forward claiming that "this is a continuing disaster for America’s working families.” Consumer spending dropped from 3.5% after having already dropped 3.8% earlier. Many believe that Obama's stimulus plan could help the economy. “Without the stimulus plan, the economy would be flat to declining in the second half of the year,” said Meyer, vice chairman of Macroeconomic Advisers LLC in Washington.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Blagojevich's Last Day

Rod R. Blagojevich made the most of his last day as governor, such as using the state-owned jet, having drivers drive him home, and all the other extra benefits he got for being governor. Throughout the day, he was still fuming about the unfairness of his impeachment trial, but knew what the outcome was going to be. He ended up leaving the Capitol in Springfield through "a secret basement corridor full of grunting, clanking pipes, bare walls and puddles.

There were certain moments in the day where Blagojevich reflected on his political life, talking about his guilt towards his family. He called his political life a "personal Greek tragedy", saying how he saw his circumstances, but still loved his job. He claims that his biggest error was the friends he chose.

Senate Passes Health Bill for Children

On a vote of 66-32, the Senate passed a bill that would provide health insurance to more than 4 million uniinsured children. During his term, President George W. Bush twice vetoed similar bills. But President Obama was more than willing to sign this bill. Democrats fully supported this bill, declaring that their first priorities are women and children; in addition, Obama had just signed a bill that makes it easier for women to challenge pay discrimination at work. The bill would increase tobacco taxes to balance the increased spending, which is roughly more than $32 million over four and a half years. However Republicans criticize the bill, seeing it as a threat to replace private health insurance with government programs. They also fear that bill will cover children from higher-income families. Senator Jon Kyl (Republican-Arizona) complained about a provision that could cover children with family incomes three times over the poverty level ($66, 150 for a family of four). But no matter how hard the Republicans tried to propose amendments, the Democrats rejected them.

One of the most important parts of the bill was letting states use federal money to provide health insurance to children and pregnant women who are legal immigrants. Currently, legal immigrants are barred from Medicaid and the State Children's Health Insurance program for five years after they enter the United States.

Obama criticizes wall street bonuses

Obama called the bankers “shameful” for giving themselves $18.4 billion in bonuses. Financial executives have received the same level of bonuses as they had in 2004, when the economy was a lot better. Obama has said, “That is the height of irresponsibility. It is shameful, and part of what we’re going to need is for folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint and show some discipline and show some sense of responsibility. The American people understand that we’ve got a big hole that we’ve got to dig ourselves out of, but they don’t like the idea that people are digging a bigger hole even as they’re being asked to fill it up. . . there will be time for them to make profits and there will be time for them to make bonuses. Now is not that time.” This response came the day after the president met privately with business leaders. One of the business leaders was the chairman of the board of Citigroup, which received taxpayer money last year. They wanted to buy a $50 million business jet, but the administration was able to urge them to cancel that. I think Obama has the right to be angry at the businesses for spending so much money and being so irresponsible with the money that they got. This is not the time to buy a $50 million business jet. Businesses should be spending taxpayer's money more responsibly.

Illinois Senate Kicks Blagojevich Out of Office

Governor Rod Blagojevich was finally impeached and banned from holding political office in the state again. His position will be given to his estranged lieutenant governor, Pat Quinn. Blagojevich was arrested last month for a number of crimes, one of which was an attempt to auction off President Obama's former U.S Senate seat. He was also charged with pressuring people for campaign money. Tapes were found proving this and Blagojevich told the Senate that "all of us in politics do in order to run campaigns and win elections." Blagojevich did not show up for his trial all week, (he spent the time instead talking with the media) but he did return in time to make a speech in which he claimed that "You haven't proved a crime, and you can't because it didn't happen. How can you throw a governor out of office with insufficient and incomplete evidence?" The Senators responded by calling him a "dishonest," "devious," "corrupt," and a "hypocrite." Personally I am not sad to see him go.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Gore talks to Senate about the climate

Al Gore urged lawmakers to act quickly on Obama’s stimulus package. This package contains billions of dollars in alternative energy investments. He told the Senate Foreign Relations Commitee that this new spending proposed by Obama will begin to quickly reduce pollutants blamed for global warming. The plan will invest in energy efficiency, renewables, a unified national energy smart grid and the move to clean cars. Gore says, “These crucial investments will create millions of new jobs and hasten our economic recovery, while strengthening our national security and beginning to solve the climate crisis.” Gore was challenged by some Republican members of the committee. They wanted him to "endorse nuclear power as a clean alternative to coal and to endorse returning to the public all revenues from a carbon reduction regime." I think it's great that Obama is taking action to help the environment with these investments. Hopefully these investments will lead to a positive change in the environment.

Salmonella Was Found at Peanut Plant Before

100 products have been recalled including cookies and crackers and it's not joke. More than 500 people in 43 states, 100 in which are children under 5 are sick and eight are died after eating products made from peanut butter. The peanut butter was from a plant called Peanut Corporation of America in Blakely, Ga. The plant knowingly sent out peanut butter that had mold growing on its ceiling and walls. Tests on the product showed it has salmonella. The plant took no steps to clean up after tests showed the contamination and continued to store pallets of peanut butter next to supplies of peanuts. Federal regulations state that raw and finished materials should be stored separately. Along with the salmonella contamination, dirty surfaces, grease residue and dirt buildup were found throughout the plant. It seems that with all of our regulations on food supply there are still products slipping through the cracks.

Relief for States and the Jobless on Health Insurance

The stimulus package doesn't just call for increased spending and tax cuts, it will also help the poor, the uninsured, and the unemployed. The House Democrats would create a temporary new entitlement that allows workers getting unemployment checks to qualify for Medicaid. Spouses and children would also receive benefits, regardless of how much money the family has. Also, the stimulus package will provide a subsidy for laid-off workers to keep the health insurance they had from their former employers. Overall, the bill would give $127 billion over the next two and a half years to individuals and states for health care. Republicans criticize this amount, calling it "a back door to universal health coverage". The stimulus bill prohibits states from enforcing a means test, as well as provides much needed relief for Medicaid programs since state revenues are decreasing while the number of Medicaid recipients is increasing. As for the laid-off workers, the bill stipulates that the federal government will pay for 65% of the premiums of the laid-off workers for a year. However, Republicans fear that people with a family income of over $1 million will take advantage of this option, and wanted to deny these subsidies to people with annual incomes of more that $100,000 or assets of more than $1 million. But Democrats ignored the Republicans' arguments. Do you think giving money to health care like this and using these methods will help us more or hurt us more?

Blagojevich Asks to Speak at His Impeachment Trial

After refusing to attend his impeachment trial for three days, Governor Rod R. Blagojevich has asked to speak to the Illinois State Senate tomorrow before they start their deliberations on whether to remove him from office. He will not testify or be cross-examined. He will only speak to address the Senate to respond to the prosecution's closing argument. I feel that Blagojevich is being really ridiculous. All this time, he has declared his impeachment trial unfair; yet all of a sudden, he wants to attend the trial to speak to the Senate. Also, he isn't willing to be questioned, yet was more than happy to answer any questions that the media had during his numerous interviews earlier this week. I feel like he's not handling this situation in a very professional manner, and that he's not taking this seriously.

However, another interesting fact from the impeachment trial is that the prosecution only called six of its thirteen scheduled witnesses. The prosecution claimed that they didn't want repetitive testimonies, yet some of the senators are a little unsettled by this. Getting rid of half of the witnesses speeds up the trial, but also withholds information that may be important in a trial as massive as this; therefore making the trial look politically motivated. How do you guys think eliminating half the witnesses will affect the trial?

Obama wins House passage of economic stimulus

Obama passed his $825billion economic stimulus package by a 244-188 vote in the House. All Republicans and 11 Democrats refused to support the bill. The Republicans believe that the bill spends too much money with not enough tax cuts. Obama commented that "we can't do is drag our feet or allow the same partisan differences to get in our way. We must move swiftly and boldly to put Americans back to work, and that is exactly what this plan begins to do." Meanwhile a similar bill is expected to pass in the Senate and both House and Senate will have to work on the bill to resolve the differences. Even though the second bill also has Republicans worried, both sides have agreed to talk to each other.

Post office wants to cut a delivery day

The postmaster general told Congress that the post office could be forced to cut a delivery day because of massive deficits. The post office is asking lawmakers to lift the requirement that they deliver mail six days a week. They have looked at skipping a day when the mail flow would be light, such as Tuesday. The post office was $2.8 billion in the red last year and could experience a net loss of $6 billion or more this fiscal year. "It is possible that the cost of six-day delivery may simply prove to be unaffordable...I reluctantly request that Congress remove the annual appropriation bill rider, first added in 1983, that requires the Postal Service to deliver mail six days each week," said Potter, the postmaster general. A study made by the Postal Service study estimates that they could save $3.5 billion by cutting a day. Potter also has asked Congress to ease the requirement that it makes advance payments into a fund for future health benefits for retirees. I would not mind if the post office went from a six-day to five-day delivery if it was on a day when mail flow is light. Do you think Congress should let them cut a delivery day?

Advance on Stem Cells

The next medical advancement made on stem cells will take place soon as parapalegics will be injected with new stem cells that could heal tissue damage.
After Bush left office, Geron Cooporation of Menlo park won approval to treat patients with stem cell research for the first time. If Obama sticks to his pledges on stem cells, this research and maybe even cures will continue.
Scientists are hoping that the cells drawn from approved embryotic cells will be injected into humans and hopefully stimulate the growth of new cells that will replace damaged tissue, muscles, and nerves.
With the debate about stem cells, how long will this research actually take place?

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lawmakers Hear Blagojevich Tapes

Today, for the first time, some of Illinois governor, Rod. R. Blagojevich's, phone calls were played aloud during his impeachment trial. The phone calls focused on legislation that would send casino revenues to the horse racing industry. This legislation was part of Blagojevich's plans to raise campaign funds from horse racing interests, who would then in turn benefit from the bill that Blagojevich would sign. Not only that, but Blagojevich has a separate corruption case by federal prosecutors in Chicago going on along with his impeachment trial.

Yet, even with his impeachment trial happening, he spent Monday and today on every television show possible proclaiming his innocence and condemning politics and his impeachment unfair. He claims this because the impeachment process bars him from calling in witnesses that he wants to bring in. It just seems a bit ridiculous that instead of focusing on the impeachment trial, as he should be doing, he is on almost every television talk show blaming others for his predicament when there is clear evidence that he is guilty to various degrees. I feel that, as a politician, Governor (not that he will be for long) Blagojevich should be handling this whole impeachment trial more professionally. And as to Blagojevich's complaints, I agree with Illinois State Representative Jack D. Franks that "an impeachment process is not a criminal trial,...It’s not a civil trial. It’s a question of whether he can continue to lead or not.”

here's the link to a video of his interview with the Associated Press:

Afghanistan 'top priority' for US

Under the Obama administration the U.S. foreign policy has changed. It has become less about nation-building and more about keeping out al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Our primary goal is to prevent Afghanistan from being used as a base for terrorists and extremists to attack the United States and our allies. And whatever else we need to do flows from that objective," Robert Gates told lawmakers. Obama is going to focus more on Afghanistan and Pakistan than Iraq to fight the war on terror. I don't know how his plan will work out, but considering Bush's plan hasn't worked maybe changing the focus will help.

Putting Partisanship Aside for the Economy

This afternoon, President Obama held a meeting with Congressional Republicans to discuss his stimulus plan, which is scheduled to be considered on Wednesday in the House. The meeting was behind closed doors and lasted two hours. In the meeting, Obama addressed any major questions Republicans had, as well as tried to attract some more Republican votes for his plan. He also gave more detail about how his stimulus plan was put together, and listened to and welcomed the thoughts and ideas the Republicans had. Obama is willing to consider the ideas from the Republicans and is willing to change his plan if he feels those ideas are better. On Monday, Obama urged the Democrats to strike a part of the bill that will provide $200 million for family planning for low-income people. Overall, the fact that our Democratic President sat down with our all of our Congressional Republicans was a big step for the future relationship between the White House and Congress. According to officials from both sides, the meeting was "the beginning of a dialogue between Congressional Republicans and the White House that did not exist even when George W. Bush was in the Oval Office". Such a meeting fosters hope for a good relationship between the White House and Congress, which hopefully will help our nation through these hard times.

LA man upset over job kills wife, 5 kids, himself

The economic situation is turning for the worst. In Wilmington a couple decided to kill themselves and their children after losing their hospital jobs. Ervin Lupoe wrote "why leave the children to a stranger?" in a fax sent to KABC-TV. The police were called in as soon as the fax was received and the police arrived minutes after the shooting. They found Ana Lupoe's body along with twin her 2-year-old boys in the downstairs bathroom while the 8-year-old girl,and the twin 5-year-old girls were found in the upstairs bedroom with Lupoe. The gun was lying beside his body. I know the economic situation is only getting worse, but there has to be better solutions than suicide.

Dolls Resembling Obama Daughters

Ty Inc., the company that makes Beanie Babies, made two dolls named Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia. A spokeswoman for the company claims that “there’s nothing on the girls that refers to the Obama girls" and that “It would not be fair to say they are exact replications of these girls.” The company says this despite the fact that the two dolls, Sweet Sasha and Marvelous Malia, are slender brown skinned and brown eyed dolls that look like the 7 and 10 year old daughters who have just moved into the White House. In a statement that Michelle Obama's press secretary made, she said “We feel it is inappropriate to use young, private citizens for marketing purposes.” I can understand why Michelle Obama would not like how they have made dolls resembling her daughters. This just shows how much Sasha and Malia have been exposed to the public during the election process. I think the company should just admit that these dolls are made to be Sasha and Malia, since the dolls have the same names and resemble them. It can't be a coincidence. Do you think the company should be allowed to make dolls that resemble the Obama daughters and do you think it's appropriate?


Palin continues to be a player on the national political stage. Gov. Sarah Palin unveiled a website for her new political action committee, SarahPac. It's a group that will “make it possible for Gov. Palin to continue to be a strong voice for energy independence and reform." Donations will “allow Gov. Palin to help and find creative solutions for America’s most pressing problems.” In the “Who is behind SarahPac” section, it says that the committee’s “supporters are Republicans, Democrats, Independents and those unaffiliated with any political party.” The list of supporters are not posted yet on the website. Since it's a PAC, it will support candidates for office. Do you think Palin created this PAC for funding so she could be a possible contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012? I can't picture Palin being our future president.

Can global warming ever be reversed?

Those who are familiar with global warming may be familiar with this: Over the long haul, the warming will melt the polar icecaps more than previously had been estimated, raising ocean levels substantially, and And changes in rainfall patterns will bring droughts comparable to those that caused the 1930s Dust Bowl to the American Southwest, southern Europe, northern Africa and western Australia. But can it change?
Susan Solomon, a researcher at NOAA, said in a statement that absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans and release of heat from the oceans - the one process acting to cool the Earth and the other to warm it - will "work against each other to keep temperatures almost constant for more than 1,000 years."
Carbon dioxide is absorbed into the ocean very slowly because it takes longer for surface water to be replaced with deeper level waters to absorb more gas.
Even if other greehouse gases were to be eliminated carbon dioxide would still make up half of the polution.
Heat absorbed by the ocean is released very slowly, contributing to global warming even if the concentration of greenhouse gases should decline. This is a discovery of a wake up call where people should be acting even quicker to stop this global pollution. Time is running out and soon the earth would be too.

Housing Horror?

Home values in Novemeber have plummeted 18.2% in 20-city housing index while the 10-city housing dropped 19.1% making this the biggest drop in a 21 year history. Though values arent supposed to hit rock bottom until 2014, this will make a very difficult transition for ages such as 18-19 when we are ready to perchace a house when finally living on our own. Obama is making tax incentives to floor the housing market but is really providing less money for the bank to send loans and ultimately causing a chaotic cycle. House buyers sell wisely and take what you can get!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Obama Working Towards Peace in the Middle East

Today, Obama had his first formal interview since becoming president with the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya Network. In the interview, he addressed the on-going conflict in the Middle East and how he plans to approach the situation. Throughout the interview, he stayed generally neutral and used a considerate tone. He stated that he wanted to show Muslims that "America is not your enemy", but also said that Israel will always be a major American ally and that their security is "paramount". However, the most important thing that I felt Obama said was that the U.S. needs to listen first, which is what he told his envoy, George Mitchell, to do when he travels to the Middle East. Listening first will allow us to understand both sides of the conflict. And by understanding both sides, it is easier to reach an agreement. Hopefully, Obama's philosophy of listening rather than dictating will help progress towards compromise and peace in the Middle East.

More Americans Joining Military as Jobs Dwindle

Although there was a lot more violence in Iraq last year, it was also the first year all active-duty and reserve forces met or exceeded their recruitment goals. And the trend seems to be accelerating.
This is interesting, yet not surprising. As the economy gets worse and unemployment falls, the steady paycheck, benefits and training offered by the military is very appealing. However, the economy alone is not accountable; the recent decline in violence in Iraq has also been a factor. In addition, the G. I. Bill will significantly expand education benefits (service members who spend at least three years on active duty can attend any public college at government expense or apply the payment toward tuition at a private university.) Recruiters now have a much less stressful job (although usually they must talk to 150 people before finding one person who meets military qualifications and is interested). Now, they can even start being more selective in their recruitments.

Senate passes bill to delay digital TV switch

The new transition date has been moved from February 17 to June 12 in order to give consumers more time to prepare. The Senate felt that consumers are not technically ready for the congressionally-mandated transition. There are 20 million people, mainly poor or elderly, that lawmakers believe are not yet ready for the switch. The extra time also gives people who have expired coupons to get new ones. There are 2.5 million people waiting for the new coupons since the government has run out of them this month.

Obama orders push to cleaner, more efficient cars

Obama directed the Environmental Protection Agency to review whether or not California and other states should be allowed to impose tougher auto emission standards on carmakers to fight greenhouse gases. The new standards will affect cars sold in 2011. He also hopes this will limit America's dependency on foreign oil. However, Obama's plan to try to help the environment has gotten the auto industry worried. The carmakers are concern with the costly regulations these new standards will cause when car sales are already low. Car sales dropped 18% last year. Those like House Republican leader John Boehner believe that "the effect of this policy will be to destroy American jobs at the very time government leaders should be working together to protect and create them." Obama responded by saying that "our goal is not to further burden an already struggling industry. It is to help America's automakers prepare for the future."

Blagojevich claims he's innocent

The Illinois Senate has convened Blagojevich's impeachment trial to decide if he will be removed from office. He is charged for trying to sell Obama's senate seat. Blagojevich refuses to take part in the trial. He says that the rules are so biased that he can't present a defense. Today he has made several TV appearances to proclaim his innocence. In an interview on Good Morning America with Diane Sawyer, Blagojevich says that he is not given the chance to have "due process to bring witnesses and to defend himself." He also says, "I did nothing wrong. And if I did something wrong, I would have resigned." And during the conversation he also mentions, "Whatever happened to the presumption of innocence?" Sawyer read specific quotes from the taped conversations of Blagojevich : "I've got this thing and it's bleeping golden and I'm just not giving it up for bleeping nothing. I'm not going to do it and can always use it. I can parachute me in there...Therefore, I can drive a hard bargain. If I don't get what I want and I'm not satisfied with it, then I'll take the Senate seat myself. It's a bleeping valuable thing. You just don't give it away for nothing." Blagojevich claims that taped conversations are snippets of conversation taken out of context. I don't see how his taped conversation could be taken out of context. It sounds like he's trying to sell the seat for money. Even if Blagojevich did bring in witnesses, I don't think it would help him because people are probably already convinced that he did it. I think his reputation would be ruined even if he is not removed from office.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Freshmen Fiasco

So those of you who are sick of hearing about politics I decided to post something that would all be related to us right now. As you all know it is incredibly hard to get into the UC system. Well it only gets worse:
Regents voted to limit enrollment next fall to help cope with an ongoing budget crisis plaguing both UC and the state. The regents, meeting through a teleconference, also agreed to freeze salaries of 285 top administrators and senior managers. UC already has about 11,000 students for whom it gets no state funding - creating a $122 million shortfall. Cutting freshmen admissions would save $20 million. curtailed enrollment meant that about 150 black students might not get in, he noted that community college transfers next fall would increase by 500 systemwide - to a total of 13,223 - producing a better racial, ethnic and class mix. There will be 2,300 fewer freshmen this year enrolled in the UC schools in fall 2009. one third of these students in the UC system are going to be made up of community college transfers. It looks like we all will have to be working as hard as ever senior year to make the cuts. It seems like they are encouraging students to go the community college route anyway which may not only save money for the school but for students' families as well. A wise desicion?

Prop 8 REDO

Proposition 8 became the biggest controversial proposition of them all and has finally made it to the supreme court. The court hearing will be set for a date at the beginning of march in San Francisco. Propostion 8 declares that marriage is only valid between a man and a woman but protesters argue that it violates their rights in the constitution to marry the partner of ones choice and discriminates agains sexual orientation.
Opponents vote that the propostion is not valid because:
1. It eliminated "inalienable rights," those protected by the Declaration of Rights in the opening clause of the state Constitution, without a compelling reason.

2. It violated the constitutional separation of powers by stripping the courts of their authority to protect a minority group from discrimination.

Proposition supporters argue:
1. Restoring traditional marriage, and giving the right to domestic partners

The court has also heard from 63 organizations and individuals with an array of written arguments on legal, social and religious issues related to the case, about two-thirds of them opposing Prop. 8. The fight continues for equality in all sexual orientations and hopefully prop. 8 supporters will win their battle.

obama and obortions

President Obama struck down a rule Friday that prohibits U.S. money from funding international family-planning clinics that promote abortion or provide counseling or referrals about abortion services. the policy says any organization receiving us family-planning funds from the us Agency for International Development cannot offer abortions or abortion counseling. He defended his action, saying, "It is my conviction that taxpayer funds should not be used to pay for abortion or actively promote abortion."The group Population Action International praised Obama's move, saying in a statement that it will "save women's lives around the world.""Family planning should not be a political issue it's about basic health care and well-being for women and children," the group said."Women's health has been severely impacted by the cutoff of assistance. President Obama's actions will help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, abortions and women dying from high-risk pregnancies because they don't have access to family planning." How do you guys feel about Obamas prohibition of the funding of abortions threw tax payer dollers. I have a concrete question to this issue how will prohibiting tax payer dollers help to reduce unintended pregnencies? can some one help me understand because this seems like an anti obortion policy.

Biden is Obama's Confidant

This past week, we have heard all about Obama's actions in office. But how is our vice president, Joe Biden, doing? On CBS' "Face the Nation", Biden said he sees his job differently from the way that Dick Cheney operated in the Bush White House. He sees his role as vice president as a confidant, not the deputy president. He hopes to help the Obama shape policy and wants to be the "last person in the room for every key decision that Obama makes". When Obama asked Biden to be his running mate, Biden said he didnt want to be on the ticket unless he was being hired for his judgment, and so far, that is how it has worked. We'll see how influential Biden's judgment will turn out to be. Hopefully, these two can maintain a close relationship for the next few years.

Guantanimo bay

Should the US use torture to gain information that could iltimately save thousends of lives. I believe in using torture on captured convicted criminals. i believe in ruining one life but saving many. i would like for some one to convince me otherwise. Obama is planning the fates of aproximately 245 terrorist suspects. A senior administration official said. The executive order Obama signed Thursday orders the prison closed within one year, and a Cabinet-level panel named to review each case separately will have to spend its initial weeks and perhaps months scouring the corners of the federal government in search of relevant material.

Guantanimo bay

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Top Chefs Push Obama to Improve Food Policy

Former president George W. Bush rarely visited restaurants and didn't talk about what he ate. Obama, on the other hand, loves to dine out and enjoys tasting all sorts of foods. He is the president, and everything he says or does is influential. Even his dining habits can affect policy, food policy, that is. Rick Bayless, chef of restaurant Topolobampo, hopes that Obama will "recognize that we need to do what we can in our country to encourage real food for everyone". Although this is not as important as other things, foreign policy or the economy, for example, nutrition IS a huge issue in our country. Obesity is high, and most food is "over-processed, over subsidized and grown with no regard to the environment", which makes it "harder for small farms to make a profit selling more natural, nutritious food". Americans will hopefully also expand their horizons when it comes to what they eat. Even those who can not afford to eat at fancy restaurants (where food is locally grown, environmentally friendly, and nutritious), are encouraged to grow their own vegetables and pay attention to where their food comes from. Barber believes good food needs more publicity, and he hopes Obama and his wife will advertise what they are eating and what they are feeding their children, 10-year-old Malia and 7-year-old Sasha. "A few small gestures from the president and first lady Michelle Obma could accomplish what many of the chefs have been working toward for years."

Friday, January 23, 2009

Job Crisis

As we all know this recession has brought us nothing but hard times and stress. If you didnt know it before massive job loss and house slumping has topped off the year 2008. California lost a total of 78,200 jobs due to the slow economy and decreased payrolls for employees. Just as everyone thinks a new president will due us justice in the economy, 1.7 million people were looking for jobs last month and continues to increase by the thousands each month. 785,200 were laid of while about 125,000 chose to leave their jobs. Particularly in construction, a 10.8 percent jobloss occured followed by abut 92,600 job cuts. Will 2009 bring hope or will this slumping economy just continue to regress untill we completely hit rock bottom?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

The ball and entertainers

Obamas ball was just briliant in my opinion. I feel the nead to admit that he and his wife probably dance better than most couples not to mention presidentian couples. on a side note i would like to ask the class whose whife would do better on dancing with the stars Obamas wife or McCain's. the performance at the balls were amazing also Obama had performances by Stevie Wonder, Sting, Mariah Carey, Aicia Keys, Queen Latifah, Jay Z and Beyonce. other guest stars included Denzel washington Leonardo Decaprio, and Jamie Fox. I thought that it was humerous that American idle had more viewers.

the beast

the beast is the most secure presidential limo of all time. it has five inch thick plates in the doors and windows that are equally as thick. the beast is actually safer than some tanks. this car accelerates from zero to sixty in a liesurly fifteen seconds, and has a top speed of just over sixty miles per hour. it may not be able to flee the seen danger but it is impermiable to anything. this car straight out of a James bond movie also has shotguns, and teargass launchers in the doors. the craziest thing about it is that it also has vails of obamas verry own blood inside. the beast is a car made by GM. some of the other less cool modifications are the smaller windows for added safety, and the compleately soundproof interior. when obama is in the back seet of that bad boy he is basicly in the back seat of an inpenatrable cacoon.

Obama issues executive order to Guantanamo Bay and end harsh interrogations of its prisoners

Today, President Obama issued an executive order to halt the torture of suspects, close down the Guantanamo detention center, ban secret CIA prisons overseas and fight terrorism "in a manner that is consistent with our values and our ideals." According to the order, Guantanamo will be closed within a year.
I think this is a good idea. It is wrong to keep men without charges. Some horrible things have been done to the men in the Guantanamo prison camp. There are accounts of torturing and abusing the prisoners to get info from them. Some have even been waterboarded, a technique that creates the sensation of drowning.
Interestingly, 48% of Americans want Guantanamo to remain open. There are questions that remain unanswered. Where will these men go? Will they return home with even more resentment and kill even more Americans? Yes, closing Guantanamo will restore moral authority, but will it strengthen national security? These policy changes will jeopardize U.S. ability to get intelligence about terrorist plans or to prevent attacks. Obama, however, is certain that the nation's security is strengthened — not weakened — when the U.S. adheres to "core standards of conduct", saying "We don't torture".
So far, it seems Obama has been focusing alot on foreign policy.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama Takes Presidential Oath Again

We all know what happened yesterday with the oath. Just to be sure, President Barack Obama decided to take the oath again. Chief Justice John Roberts delivered the oath to Obama, this time without the worldwide crowd. It took place in the White House Map Room in front of a small group of reporters. This time, it was done without any problems. Although Obama has still been president since noon on Inauguration Day, it was done just as "an abundance of caution", says White House councel, Greg Craig. This was a rare do-ever; only two other previous presidents have repeated the oath (for the same reasons): Calvin Coolidge and Chester A. Arthur.

Obama's First Day;_ylt=AhM3yWQEP6rlbQj44gKsy28Gw_IE

In his inauguration speech, President Obama promised he would get to work quickly, and that's just what he did. Last night, Obama danced with Michelle Obama past midnight. Still, he was ready to work early this morning. Obama and his wife began their day at a prayer service that is traditional for the first business day of a new administration. Upon entering the Oval Office, he found a good luck note left there by George W. Bush, as has been the tradition. Then, he quickly began his efforts to revive the economy, starting with breaking with many of Bush's policies. Here are some of the few issues that were on Obama's agenda today:

Obama's schedule for the day included separate sessions on the economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

- He summoned top military officials to the White House to chart a new course in Iraq and began to engage in Middle East diplomacy.

- He issued new ethics rules for his administration and hosted a reception at the presidential mansion for 200 inauguration volunteers and guests selected by an Internet lottery

- Aides circulated a draft of an executive order that would close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, within a year and halt all war crimes trials in the meantime. Obama will supposedly be signing this on Thursday.

- The Senate confirmed Hilary Rodham Clinton as secretary of state after a one-day delay forced by Republicans (94-2)
So far, seven Cabinet members have been confirmed as well as the top two officials at the Office of Management and Budget

- Lobbyists will be subject to stricter limits than under any administration in history.. the restrictions include a ban on gifts by lobbyists to anyone serving in the administration

- He also imposed a pay freeze for about 100 White House aides who earn $100,000 or more

Obama has a lot on his shoulders and he knows that the task ahead is not an easy one. For a president, busy days like this one are simply the norm. As we learned in class, the best time to propose new ideas and bills is at the beginning of the term, during his honeymoon period, when his relationship with Congress, the public, and the media is good. Obama is already working hard, but when will his honeymoon period wear off?

Was that inaprobriate?

Rush limbaugh stated that he hoped that obama would fail. his exact quote was actually "I hope he fails." Everyone in the media says that this was an extreamily inopropriate comment, which it may be espesially in light of this memorabal event. I personaly think that this was more of a partison comment rather than a racially aimed comment. Limbaugh stated that he does not see anything wrong with this statement, he just doesnt want for the liberals to succeed, ecause he thinks that they are the problem with America.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hudson plane crash, US air waves gives passengers 5000 dollers

Shortly after the crash into the hudson river the airline admitted that it could be months before the passengers would see their luggage. protocall required for all of the luggage to be weighed then dried for eight weeks, then weighed again. Airline executive Kerry Hester stated that she was "trully sorry for the inconvenience." the airline executies also stated that not all luggage would be returned due to complications. US airways is also refunding the tickets for each passenger. This story should pay less attention to the details and the aftermath of the accident, and focus more on the fact that this particular airline had an amazingly skilled pilot, that was able to crash into a river in such a way were there were absolutely no casualties. in my humble opinion i believe that this was the best possible thing that could have happened to those people. they were in a life or death situation, and they all came aut alive. from this moment on everything that those people will experiance will be exponentially better because of the fact that life will have a new meaning to them, it seams as though they will not take anything forgranted for a while.

Obama becomes President

Obama's inauguration was one of the biggest-- and certainly most-anticipated -- events in the country's history. It turned out to be a great success. More than 1 million people squeezed into the National Mall.
There was a slip up with the oath, but it is understandable that President Obama and Chief Justice John Roberts were nervous.
Obama's speech has been described as "somber", yet it was also hopeful. He thanked Bush for his service to the nation. He also acknowledged the nation's economic situation, but assured the crowd he would quickly get to work:
"Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America: They will be met."
"The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act".
Although he delivered his speech gracefully and powerfully, and I think people expected more.
In addition, several members of Obama's Cabinet were confirmed in the Senate. Hillary Clinton, however, was not one of them. A senator from Texas has been blocking her confirmation. Not to worry, her confirmation will only be delayed a day or two.
The festivities also included prayer (Rev. Joseph E. Lowery, the civil rights leader who worked alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered the benediction), musical performances (including Aretha Franklin, who sang "My Country Tis of Thee"), and the parade.
The weather was freezing, however, and I was much happier watching it on screen.
Tune in tonight to watch Obama go from one Inauguration ball to another.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Most Expensive Inauguration Ever

Obama's inauguaration could cost up to $160 million- the most expensive inauguration in our country's history.
President Bush spent $42.3 million in 2005, and Clinton spent $33 million dollars in 1993.

Why so much?
The surge in spending is partly because of the Obama's decision to open the entire Mall to the public (an estimated 1.5 million to 2 million!)
These costs include security, emergency medical services, transport (about 10,000 charters buses will arrive in Washington with roughly 500,000 riders alone), video and audio access to the ceremony and $700,000 to the Smithsonian Institution for extended museum hours as well as many other things.
I think that it is the security costs associated with the massive event that is driving up the price tag. Obama will need much more security than many of the other Presidents.

Where does this money come from?
Some funding will come from Obama's own fund-raising efforts and from private contributors.
Many of the costs, however, are bourne by the taxpayers, which means that we are paying for this inauguration!
The article says that "The federal government has budgeted $49 million for this year’s inauguration, more than triple what taxpayers spent at Bush’s first inauguration in 2001". Regarding the state of our economy at this point, is this extravagance really excusable?

Inauguration Schedule

Tomorrow is the day we've been waiting for... inauguration day! The gates to the ceremony open at 8 a.m. EST, and the festivities will start at 10 a.m. (so 7 a.m. for us) on the West Front of the Capitol. For those who aren't informed about what those festivities will include, here is the schedule for tomorrow's inauguration:

• Musical selections of The United States Marine Band, followed by the San Francisco Boys Chorus and the San Francisco Girls Chorus.
• Sen. Dianne Feinstein provides call to order and welcoming remarks.
• Invocation by the Rev. Rick Warren.
• Musical selection of Aretha Franklin.
• Biden will be sworn into office by Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens.
• Musical selection of John Williams, composer/arranger with Itzhak Perlman, (violin), Yo-Yo Ma (cello), Gabriela Montero (piano) and Anthony McGill (clarinet).
• Obama will take the Oath of Office, using President Lincoln's Inaugural Bible, administered by Chief Justice John Roberts. Scheduled around noon.
• Obama gives the inaugural address.
• Poem by Elizabeth Alexander.
• Benediction by Rev. Joseph E. Lowery.
• The National Anthem by The United States Navy Band "Sea Chanters."
After Obama gives inaugural address, he will escort outgoing President George W. Bush to a departure ceremony before attending a luncheon in the Capitol's Statuary Hall.
The 56th Inaugural Parade will then make its way down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House.

Later that day, there will be 10 official inaugural balls as well as some unofficial balls.

The day promises to be eventful and exciting, as well as very symbolic for our nation.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

bush is making excuses.

Okay I don't know if it is just me, but Bush is making a whole lot of excuses. He is blaming his pour term in office because of all the crisis that happened. He says that, "I have followed my conscience and done what I thought was right. You may not agree with some tough decisions I have made. But I hope you can agree that I was willing to make the tough decisions." Which was one of the major things that he said during his farewell address. I know that a lot of his choices were hard ones, but there had to be better decisions then the ones that he made. All of the Crisis and panic probably forced him to act as quickly as possible.

I don't know I guess I really just don't like Bush.

80% of poll says the debt is ruining economy...what?!

so what do the other 20% think ?? Obviously its all the bad mortgages, our EXTREME debt, and big companies failing ( b/c of debt ) that our economy is failing.

Any thoughts on what else could be causing the failing economy?? Don't saw ohhh the US is spending too much on the war. <--- that IS debt.

Very interesting. haha for once Democrat, Republicans& independents almost agree!!

" A FOX News poll released Thursday shows large majorities of Democrats (78 percent), Republicans (82 percent) and independents (80 percent) think debt is ruining the economy. "

what is with all these weird dads...

A Californian dad in cali's central coast sold his 14 year old daughter for food and beer.  He sold her for $16,000 dollars. How can parents do this?? Apparently in their culture it is still okay to sell daughters, they are from the Trique community and most of the community only speaks Trique.  So much for liberal California wonder Prop 8 got passed...haha. Issue here is..cultural practice or just..plain old messed up dad and scary 18 year old " boyfriend" ...

" Dad Sells Teen Daughter for Cash & Beer "

jan 14, 2009 

Police in Greenfield, California arrested a man on Sunday for planning to sell his 14-year-old daughter’s hand in marriage to her boyfriend for $16,000, 160 cases of beer, 100 cases of soda, 50 cases of Gatorade, two cases of wine, and six cases of meat. Marcelino de Jesus Martinez, 36, was taken into custody after calling the police to report that his daughter’s 18-year-old boyfriend had not lived up to the deal. The would-be groom has been arrested on charges of statutory rape. The father first reported his daughter as a runaway in December after the girl traveled to Mexico with the intended groom, which prompted a police investigation with some unexpected cultural twists.

Police say the family are part of the Trique tribe from Mexico where arranged marriages are still the norm. Reports say that the money would have been used as a dowry and for the wedding celebration. By California law, however, the age of consent is 18, or 16 with parental approval."

Obama...STILL campaigning.

Obama is still working hard to get to the American public. Obama will continue to reach out using politics. 

" Even before he takes office next week, Obama has made clear that he will continue some of the most controversial practices of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, who routinely used political tools while in the White House to promote both their policy agendas and electoral fortunes."

So the question is... how much influence will the political operation have within the White House? thoughts??

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Obama's ratings in final days of being president elect

According to the news reported by White House correspondent, Chuck Todd, Obama is practically loved the majority of the United States. Obama's policy is very much agreed with, but some people like Obama even though they disagree with his politics. Obama's ratings coming into his presidency is higher than both the Bush's ratings at their inauguration several years ago. Polls also show that the majority of the people agree with the bailout plan, but 74% still believe that the recession will continue on for one year or more.

So what do you think? Do you agree with Obama on his policies and politics? Do you think that the bailout plan is good and will the recession cease within a year?

Bush's new estate

So after Bush finishes his final term and is "evicted" from his White House commode, he will move back to his native Texas. He recently bought a new house in Preston Hollow's, a street in Dallas, Texas.

The street however, will soon have a very tight security. The Secret Service will be posted around the street 24/7 and gates will be installed around the perimeter of the street to insure the safety of the ex-president. Although the gates will be funded by Bush himself, the Service is not.

Pictures of his new place:

Personally, I'd feel honored to have a president living on my street, regardless of how bad/good he was in office. Luckily, none of his rich neighbors had any problems with him making the street a fortress.

update!! mrs. officer weeeohwee...lady cop...okay just kidding..

So apparently the Bart officer that shot Oscar Grant had committed crimes before...aka harming other African Americans. Anyway. the updated status of the case is that the Ex-Bart officer IS arrested on a murder warrant. How horrible...crimes like this, so close to home. Just shows you that we aren't as 'liberal' as we think we are. San Francisco Bay sad.
(got that link from Sarah..thanks!)

"Intense Diplomacy"

United how effective are they exactly? Rwanda. The Cold War. Darfur. ???
Anyway supposedly Mr. Ban, that is Ban Ki-moon the secretary general, is meeting with regional leaders to have a very important meeting.
Egypt and its own leaders are also trying to work out the ceasefire and the Hamas have been talked to by Egyptian and Arab leaders.

I don't know...I always feel more at peace when I know that the United Nation is involved with any big conflict because in my mind they represent...well peace...shelter and comfort.
But now that I reflect on it and scenes from Hotel Rwanda come to mind I feel that they don't do much. That might be a lil far fetched...they DO help a lot, but you all know what I mean.

SO! Do you guys think the UN will have significant impact on the unrest involving the Gaza Strip?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

so...why did he shoot?!

So recently, I have been hearing more and more about the Bart shooting in Oakland. I saw clips of it and heard radio shows talk about this but i never really knew why
there was so much hoopla about this incident. Yes, yes I was aware that supposedly it was an "innocent" shooting and that the victim was coldheartedly murdered!
What I was most interested in were the protests of Oscar Grant's death. I saw on the news clips of mobs of African Americans bashing in windows of cars, throwing trash cans
at local Mcdonalds, etc.

I decided to do some researching about why these people were so outrageously hurt and so agressive about this unfortunate death.

Here is some background information on the Bart shooting:
- Oscar Grant and a group of males were rounded up for being engaged in a fight in the wee hours of New Years
- 3 officers hold on Oscar while he has struggling
- While 2 officers are holding him down, one officer takes out a gun and fatally wounds Oscar.

What I do understand:
-Why would a cop ever shoot someone for being in a fight?! Especially since its New Years...common sense...hello? Ever heard of alcohol and what it does to people?
-Oscar Grant did seem to cooperate
-Oscar Grant was shot after he raised both hands and gave up his fight.

What i don't understand:
-Why all of this is based on the whole "A White officer killed a Black man"
-I am sure there are deaths of White men by Black officers...
-Where do all these protestors come from?! Don't they have jobs to go to...they seem to be protesting 24/7!!
-Why are they being so rowdy..this is a death we are talking about! You don't see protestors trashing windows and damaging public property when someone dies and unfortunate death.
-Does this mean that the Bay Area is still filled with racial disputes that we are ignorant too and how does this relate to Obama being the first African American president??

Any thoughts?I feel that all of this is blown way out of proportion and that Oscar Grant show be honored in peace and any protests should be logical and peaceful.
I don't understand why people think that trashing stores and damaging property will make themselves heard or make change happen. Nonviolence y'all..thats the way.

Obama's plans for the 700 Billion dollars.

Obama it seems is starting his term a little early. On Monday Obama asked the current president to inform congress that he wants to use the remaining economic stimulus package in his plan. Since the 700 billion dollar bail out was not something that alot of people wanted, for some of the democratic senators.

Obama's plans include

  • Use "our full arsenal of tools" to get credit flowing to consumers and businesses;
  • Reform the oversight of the TARP program and other responses to financial crisis;
  • Use "smart, aggressive policies" to reduce foreclosures;
  • Toughen conditions for recipients of bailout money; and
  • Try to attract private capital and speed the end of bailout plans.

For the most part it is alot of common sense, but with some of his own party not for it it might be hard for Obama to get this passed. Unless Republicans agree with this but I am not sure about thier opinion on this idea.

Monday, January 12, 2009

comic betcha!

Okay this is a less serious post. The Golden Globes were broadcasted last night and in one of the interviews with the many celebrities happened to be the famous and amazing TINA FEY! She was asked if she ever felt bad for making fun of Sarah Palin and she humorously
answered something along the lines of... " No I Don't feel bad at all " " I thought it was very fun and exciting " " It was a great opportunity"

oh Tina...

btw. her show 30 Rock won 3 awards..I think..hahah.

they're at it again....

As John's earlier post states...the war over the Gaza Strip is increasingly getting more devastating and more serious. Headlines in news stories and on websites tell us that everyday more innocent victims are being killed, many of them children. 

Obviously this "war" over the "holy land" has been going on for centuries and has never really been settled. After all the so called "seize fire" is no longer in use. 

To me I feel that religion is the cause for many and most wars( referring to the blog before ). Also I feel that because of so much blood has been shed over this "holy land" that it....isn't so holy anymore.

There are 3 very broad solutions to this issue:
- State for Israel
- State for Palestine
- 2 state solution.

I know all three of those solutions are far from realistic but any thoughts on what the outcome of this war will be? Which solution do you guys feel will most likely take place?

ps. I am very aware that there is far more background information and history then just splitting it between two countries, between a minority and majority or even just splitting it. But this is just for opinions.

Republican's in Trouble?

I am not the most political person, but there are a couple of things that I understand in terms of politics. Minorities lose, fight to gain the Majority, Defend it until it is no longer possible. (Very uncivilized isn't it.)

Republicans are worried about losing their influence in the senate because their Majority is in jeopardy. The senator of Ohio is not going to run for re-election in 2010. Ohio is a swing state, so there is no way to tell if the Republicans will get another senator with the same beliefs.

This kind of fore thought is probably seen in politics as something really important, but is losing the majority needed to stop fillibusters that important, with the current issues in economics. Politician's should focus more on the people then worrying about not being able to stop old people talking.

The Bush Administration is coimg to a close... thoughts

Now that the inauguration of President elect Obama is so close, people are looking back on President George W. Bush's term in office. Most people believe that He didn't do that good of a job as president.

The first sentence in this article on the CNN website is that "President Bush admitted mistakes but defended his accomplishments in the final White House news conference of his presidency Monday." a fair representation of this article. Most people in general always look of only the bad when thinking about the person.

Bush seems to realize that the war in Iraq had it's flaws, not fully willing to call them mistakes but what person in power would willingly do that.

He mentioned his failure in social security as one of his failures as well. He went into the office when there was economic hardship (Nothing to what it is now,) so legislation on cutting taxes seems in my mind unreasonable. Though he tried.

But there is a flip side to this coin. During times of crisis such as Hurricane Katrina the Bush Administration went quickly to those effected by the crisis.

There is no doubt in my mind that President Bush was not the best President of the United States but he was not the worst in my opinion.

With the Benefit of Hindsight, what do you think about the Bush administration?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Senate advances environmental legislation

"In a rare Sunday session, the Senate advanced legislation that would set aside more than 2 million acres in nine states as wilderness. Majority Democrats assembled more than enough votes to overcome GOP stalling tactics in an early showdown for the new Congress."

This is a sign that we are heading the right direction in protecting the environment. Hopefully, the Obama administration will allot more money to protecting the environment. It's time to put the environment on top of our priority list.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

You can never keep up with technology...

The picture above shows Sony's new notebook, the Vaio P. It is one of the smallest, if not the smallest, notebooks on the planet. It is tiny but it can do what a full-blown computer can do and even better. Of course, this baby doesn't cost like those tiny laptops you see at BestBuy that cost around $300. It costs $900 and with today's economy, I don't think regular people will be willing to spend their dineros on this one.

It's really fascinating that electronic gadgets just keep getting smaller. One can never be "up-to-date" with today's technology. It's like every month, something better, faster, and smaller comes out. It gets really annoying when you hear people, especially whiny spoiled brats, go "Oh mom, I want this NOW!!! Can I have it PLEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAASSSSSEEEE!!!". They don't realize that there are other people out there who don't even know what a cellphone is because they're too poor. I mean there's nothing wrong with wanting to get something new but there should be limits.

With today's recession, I hope people learn to be content with what they have and become thrifty.

Violence close to home

It just doesn't seem to make sence what goes throught the minds of violent protests. When they think that slving any problem with violence will make matters better!? Not only now does this tactic hurt in the Middle East but now has happened closer to home-Oakland. Not that people speaking whats on their minds is wrong but when they start trying to get their anger out violently is when it all goes down hill from there. Frankly I'm just confused. I don't see how any problem can ever be solved when people start to break the laws, start burning cars, breaking windows of cars and stores near by, and all just to cause what? More pain? While I'm here thinking what good does it do? What comes out of this in the end? What point was made? How will we as a country ever grow like this? Everyday people make mistakes, but when it comes from the government we just point our fingers and try to put all the blame on them. When its the goernment that makes this country what it is, a success of our freedom, that others can only dream of what we have. Then we just abuse our rights. The government is not out to make our lives hell like what we do to them when we think something is wrong. They try ther hardest to please its people as mucg as possible-but they are only humans-like you an I.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Fighting continues in Middle East

So the Israeli government and Hammas decided to ignore the United Nations’ call for cease-fire. This just proves how weak and ineffective the United Nations is in resolving conflicts between countries. I believe this chaotic situation in Gaza will continue even if powerful countries such as the US and UK decide to intervene because both sides are just too stubborn and aggressive.
I’m really upset about the current situation in the Middle East like most of you. I recall the conversation I had with the atheist friend a long time ago about religion. He believes that religion is the cause of most conflicts in the world. Apparently, his opinion seems to be correct. Isn’t religion supposed to teach people about peace and love? People in the Middle East don’t seem to get it. I know that the conflict in the Middle East has been going on for hundreds of years. It’s surprising that they still haven’t come up with something that will create peace that lasts.
Obama’s inauguration is only a couple of weeks away from now and I’m really looking forward to seeing him take action. Hopefully, Obama will make the right decisions to help resolve this conflict.

Soil: Often Overlooked

Renowned sustainable agriculture writer Wendell Berry and plant geneticist Wes Jackson of the Land Institute recently wrote an editorial discussing the importance of soil.

Before you stop reading this in anticipation of complete boredom, consider that soil is the foundation on which our society runs and has ran for millennia. Not only do we grow all of our sustenance in soil (besides salt), but we also depend on it for wood and paper, cotton, medications (most of which are plant based or derived), and now even ethanol fuels. Soil also is the literal foundation on which we build our lives. Our roads lie on soil but so do our homes and buildings, making erosion a very serious issue. Many in this country even depend on soil for their water, pumping soil-filtered water from aquifers deep underground.

So, what's the problem? As a result of poor policy over the last half-century, we have forsaken this simple substance that lends so much to our success. The majority of soil at risk in this country lies on farmland. Because of industrial farming and agribusiness-friendly government actions that have led to a push to increase crop yield year after year, our land is getting worn out. Soil is just as much alive as any organism, only it is composed of innumerable living things. Soil, just like any plant, animal, or bacterium, can die.

Dead soil will put all for which we depend on healthy soil at risk, particularly food. For years, industry and government has had the idea that as long they had money, they could produce food. When the soil's natural fertilizers were depleted, inorganic fertilizers made from fossil fuels (mostly natural gas) arrived. When native species became pests, farmers turned to petroleum-based pesticides rather than plant the right types of crops for their regions. But this habit of replacing nature's sustainable cycles with an artificial linear model is finite. If we are concerned about the security implications of relying on the Middle East for oil, think how life will be as we depend on the world for our food, as well. As both Berry and Jackson observe, civilizations that forsake their soil are destined to collapse. The United States would be no exception.

As a post-script to this post, I am posting a link to a petition, which I encourage you to read and sign if you agree with its content. In short, it calls for President-Elect Obama to choose undersecretaries for the Dept. of Agriculture who will advocate sustainable food and land policies.

Charles Handy=Smart Guy

Charles Handy, founder of the London Business School and prolific writer and academic, gave some pointers as to how we can keep our economy stable after we have gotten out of our current rut in a recent interview. Among his suggestions (none of which are anything new, just seldom repeated to the misfortune of society):

- break up the banks: Large banks lead to large problems. In other words, we have gotten to the point where we have a handful of banks that offer each and every financial product available. Banks now are so big that they are too big to be allowed to collapse because of the havoc that would ensue (there are plenty of examples of this!). The key is to keep banks from getting that big in the first place. Investment banking and retail banking, among many other varieties, must be kept separate, as they used to be. If this doesn't happen by market force, then the government might just have to step in and do the job itself.

- live like humans are meant to live: Mr. Handy rightly points out how absorbed we have become in making money. This greed has not only led to 60-hour workweeks, loss of family time, and failure to take a real vacation, but it has also led to the mess we are now in. What else other than the lust for more profits would have led to banks, appraisers, and mortgage brokers to allow sub-sub-sub-prime mortgages to be approved? The concept of a bank is to take money from those who have it and lend it to those who don't but can use it productively. When banks lend more money than they have to people who can't use it productively (e.g. buying an overpriced house), we have depression.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Riots in Oakland

Riots break out in Oakland following the death of 22-yr-old, Oscar Grant. He died on New Year's day after getting shot by a BART police officer.

5 police officers responded to reports of fighting at BART station. "The men continued to yell at each other after the Dublin/Pleasanton-bound train stopped, and police were in the process of separating the men when the bullet struck Grant", agency spokesman Jim Allison said. It is unclear whether the police officer fired the gun on purpose or not.

Many were outraged by his death and riots broke out right after news of his death. There's actually a video of the shooting circulating the internet (I don't want to post the video over here because I think it's inappropriate).

Rioters put signs that say "Don't shoot" on their back and some of them resort to violence to express their anger and disgust. So far 105 were arrested.

Are most police officers really racist? Some people say yes and there are others who say no. We all have different opinions. It is absurd to conclude that the police who shot Grant was racist.

What's wrong is how some rioters reacted to his death. They shouldn't have resorted to violence, MLK would have been very upset if he was stil alive. Violence will not help what they're trying to achieve.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Going Digital

The switch to Digital television is about a month away and you’re still using the old-school antenna so you can watch you’re favorite show. With today’s economic crisis, you are unwilling to spend your hard-earned money on cable. What do you do?

Well, you need to get one of those digital converter box right away and if you don’t have enough money to buy those, you need to get those tv converter box coupons which can save you about $40.

Is going digital good for us or not? It is hard to answer this question right now since we haven’t made the transition yet. Here are some Pros and Cons of going digital:

Better picture and sound quality!
More channels/programming!
More advanced wireless services

About 14 percent of U.S. households watch TV over the air exclusively.
This would make cable companies even richer.
$40-70 converter box.

It may not seem like a big deal to many of us, but there are people out there who are panicking because they can’t make the switch to digital tv. Will it be an easy transition? Only time can tell.

President-Elect Obama plans major speech and stimulus package

Mr. Obama is planning a major speech to discuss his $775 million stimulus package. Aside from some minor opposition from the fiscally conservative "Blue-Dog" Democrats, the package has wide support from Congress, economists, and the public. Despite wish lists of everyone involved, Mr. Obama has yet to discuss what this plan will include.

Some suggestions:
- research funds for alternative energy development–not only would this spur huge job growth by essentially creating a new economy, but it will also improve our environment and national security while ultimately hastening the advent of cheap and clean renewable energy

- federal clunker (car 10+ years old) trade-in program: government buys old, polluting, fuel-inefficient cars and money must be spent on hybrid or electric car/truck made by American car company. This would not only clean up our air and reduce our country's fuel consumption, but it would also give a bailout to the auto industry that is inextricably tied to its development of hybrid/electric  technologies

- increase federal grant and loan programs for college students, so that middle income families get a break, too; and make college expenses tax deductible

- increase education budget; decrease defense budget: we need lots of smart workers to dig us out of this recession. One of the reasons we're losing jobs in the U.S. is because business is going to more innovative companies abroad. We especially need funding in math and science.

- provide financial/credit counseling to low/middle income families for free: Imagine how much less of a mess we'd be in if people knew what they were getting themselves into buying a brand new home with no money down.

- provide a bailout to the arts and non-profits: The arts employ about 6 million people in the United States. Most importantly though, the arts keep our country's populous well-cultured, educated, and entertained–all of which we need during a recession more than ever. Non-profits also could use a little help. It is they who know best how to assist the hungry, jobless, homeless, and depressed, but they can't do it without funding, most of which has been lost with fewer donations.

- Don't focus on tax cuts! Tax cuts would stimulate savings instead of spending. Saved tax rebates would ultimately hurt business, which would result in lost jobs. The government would get more bang for its buck in stimulating job growth rather than spending. While jobs are long-term fixes that bring money back to business, tax rebates merely would serve as a short-term shot in the arm. Perhaps the government could take this opportunity to invest in large-scale public works and infrastructure projects, not unlike the New Deal.

The West Wing

I decided a long time ago that when I would be the blog author, I would devote one post to great clips from The West Wing. Educational and entertaining!

Josh (the guy talking most of the video) takes over for a press briefing in place of the normal press secretary.

Last but not least:

3 hour break

The three hour aid assiants is the first step towards peace in the gaza strip after 12 hours of fighting. For 3 hours Israel has promised to all aid into gaza, while many others hope for at least a full day will be pushed for. But both sides do not agree on a cease-fire that the United States, the U.K and France have proposed-was just not enough. The Arab side is pushing for a truce, which seems to make no sense to me. Just take what you can for the people who are dying. Both sides with contuine fighting in a few but for now there is quiet on the strip. Lines are long waiting to get some bread, there is no electricty-only candles, and no clean water. Today was the first time any palestinian was able to get out of their homes to get some amount of food, today was the first time there was no fear, today there was peace. Today was the first day aid was able to get in to the Gaza and help those in need, lets hope that they help those in need as much as they possible can.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Leave it to the Britons

I am quite offended that someone would have the audacity to exercise both his freedom of speech and of religion at the same time!

Wheres the Change?

What change does Obama attempt to make when most of all his cabient picks are that of the same as the last democratic president 8 years ago? He seems to be picking the same people who were there already, starting to look much like Clintons presidency. Not saying that Clinton was a bad president but Obama promised Change. Obama is changing the people that Bush chose and change will happen the fact that he is a democrat while Bush was a republican president. But will his presidency be just like Clintons? Only days left till a new change comes or a change many saw 8 years ago.

Leon Panetta a good choice

Mr. Obama has partially undone the ill-will I sent his way as a result of some of his previous nominations with his most recent nod to Leon Panetta to head the CIA. At the risk of being redundant, I encourage you to click the link to read his biography if you aren't already familiar with his background. I will dedicate this post to specifying why he is ideal for this job.

1) Mr. Panetta is an outsider. This may go both ways (experience vs. fresh ways), but Mr. Panetta is a skilled administrator. Although he may be an outsider to the intelligence community, he is certainly not a neophyte in the realm of national security and intelligence. Being the White House Chief of Staff for three years placed him in the Situation Room more often than the President. He was privy to all the briefings and military meetings the President was. Mr. Panneta is only an outsider with regard to the politics of Langley, not insight. Plus, the most successful CIA administrators in history have tended to be those picked from outside the intelligence community.

2) Mr. Panetta was one of ten investigators who served on the 9/11 Commission. This means that the CIA will actually begin to implement some of the Commission's superb recommendations.

3) Mr. Panetta is staunchly opposed to torture. Not only is this a victory for human rights but also for the American face abroad and our ability to attain intelligence. Unsurprisingly, no good intelligence comes from abusive practices (or so says Lt. Gen. John Kimmons in a 2006 hearing, among others military experts). 

4) Mr. Panetta is intelligent, and intelligence people should be in charge of intelligence, right?

Economic crisis affects everyone...even the NBA...

Last year, billions of dollars were lost and thousands of people lost their homes and jobs. The economic crisis' efffects are felt not only in the US but also in other countries, such as China and other US-dependent nations.

Although it seems like sports organizations such as the NBA, MLB and NFL are immune to the current economic crisis, they are actually very vulnerable to the economy's fluctuation; they are not "recession-proof". If you watch a basketball game on tv, you'll notice that the arenas look very empty. Game tickets and cable subscriptions are just too expensive for many fans.

>Major League Baseball's Internet division laid off about 4.5 percent of its staff.
> Many NASCAR teams have laid off employees, and a few team owners have quit.
> The LPGA Tour has 31 events scheduled for 2009, three fewer than 2008, and about $5.25 million less in prize money than the previous year.
> The PGA Tour lost one 2009 tournament when Ginn sur Mer Classic officials said the event wouldn't be held.
> Frontier Airlines recently ended its sponsorship of the Denver Nuggets, Colorado Avalanche, the Crush and Colorado Mammoth, all teams owned by Kroenke Sports.

>The NBA has eliminated about 80 jobs in its U.S. division which is about 9% of its workforce.

With the current financial crisis, it'd be smart to save whatever money you have instead of spending it on tix just to see Kobe kill the Warriors...