Is there really voter fraud? reported that the Tea Party’s crusade against voter fraud by way of suppression and intimidation was flipped on its head earlier this week as election officials in six Florida counties launched an investigation into potentially hundreds of cases of suspected voter fraud by a GOP consulting firm that was paid almost $3 million by the RNC to register Republican voters in swing states. 

Even if this allegation turns out not to be not true, it shows that we have to be more suspicious of the numerous laws enacted by the RNC as well as be more careful about voting manipulation from whatever side it might come.

The United States is one of the countries who is sending election monitors to other countries, and it would be very embarrassing if the United States would be subject to voter-fraud itself.

President Obama: The Democrats' Ronald Reagan

This is an inspiring essay written by  Andrew Sullivan, who describes himself as a political conservative, on  September 24, 2012 and is now published in the October 1, 2012 issue of The Newsweek. I was very much surprised to find such a pro Obama article written by a political conservative in such a conservative Magazine of writers like Nail Ferguson. However, you should read it yourself and make up your own mind.

  With his first term behind him, Obama is poised to be as significant a president as Reagan—tackling the deficit, spearheading immigration reform, and jolting the GOP back to sanity.

As the fall has turned crisper, a second term for Barack Obama has gotten likelier. This may, of course, change: the debates, the Middle East, the unemployment numbers could still blow up the race. At this point in 2004, one recalls, George W. Bush was about to see a near eight-point lead shrivel to a one-state nail-biter by Election Day. But one thing that has so far, in my view, been underestimated is the potential impact of a solid Obama win, and perhaps a Democratic retention of the Senate and some progress in the House. This is now a perfectly plausible outcome. It would also be a transformational moment in modern American politics.

If Obama wins, to put it bluntly, he will become the Democrats’ Reagan. The narrative writes itself. He will emerge as an iconic figure who struggled through a recession and a terrorized world, reshaping the economy within it, passing universal health care, strafing the ranks of al -Qaeda, presiding over a civil-rights revolution, and then enjoying the fruits of the recovery.

 To be sure, the Obama recovery isn’t likely to have the same oomph as the one associated with Reagan—who benefited from a once-in-a-century cut of top income tax rates (from 70 percent to, at first, 50 percent, and then to 28 percent) as well as a huge jump in defense spending at a time when the national debt was much, much less of a burden. But Obama’s potential for Reagan status (maybe minus the airport-naming) is real. Yes, Bill Clinton won two terms and is a brilliant pol bar none, as he showed in Charlotte in the best speech of both conventions. But the crisis Obama faced on his first day—like the one Reagan faced—was far deeper than anything Clinton confronted, and the future upside therefore is much greater. And unlike Clinton’s constant triangulating improvisation, Obama has been playing a long, strategic game from the very start—a long game that will only truly pay off if he gets eight full years to see it through. That game is not only changing America. It may also bring his opposition, the GOP, back to the center, just as Reagan indelibly moved the Democrats away from the far left.

Looking back, of course, the comparison between Obama and Reagan seems -absurd—even blasphemous. There is, to begin with, the scope of Reagan’s reelection, winning 49 states in 1984—-something Obama, in a much more polarized time, cannot hope to replicate. More fundamental is the mythology of Reagan as an unfaltering ideological conservative who galvanized the right and demoralized the left. But the reality of Reagan, especially in his first term, was very different. He was, in office, a center-right pragmatist who struggled badly in his first term, reversed himself on tax cuts several times, was uneasily reliant on Southern Democrats, -invaded Lebanon, lost 265 U.S. servicemembers, and then fled, and ran for reelection with a misery index of unemployment and inflation at 11.5 percent. (Obama is running for a second term with a misery index of 9.8 percent.) Reagan also got major flak from his right wing, as Obama has from his left. A classic excerpt in early 1983 from The Miami Herald: “Conservatives may not back President Reagan for reelection in 1984 unless he reverses what they consider ‘almost a stampede to the left’ in the White House.” Reagan’s Republicans lost 26 seats in 1982, down 13 percent from their previous numbers.

 That same year, Reagan’s approval ratings sank to 35 -percent—several points lower in his first term than Obama’s ever reached. If you compare Gallup’s polls of presidential approval, you also see something interesting: Obama’s first-term -approval—its peaks and valleys—resembles Reagan’s more than any other recent president; it’s just that Obama’s lows have been higher and his highs lower. Reagan struggled. By his reelection in 1984, he’d been buoyed by a rebirth of economic growth and -lower -inflation—but it was in his second term that he became the icon he remains today.

It was the continuation of economic growth, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the tax and immigration reforms of 1986 that put Reagan in the top tier of transformational presidents. And the change has been as permanent as any can be in politics. Tax rates in the U.S.—even if Obama’s plans to increase the top rate go into effect—remain in the Reagan range. Clinton himself validated the new low-tax era. Obama cut taxes still further in the stimulus (with no House Republican support). Reagan’s immigration reform, meanwhile, changed the ethnic and electoral makeup of America for generations. Reagan’s fuller legacy came with the crumbling of the Soviet empire in Eastern and Central Europe under his successor, George H. W. Bush. Of course, Reagan didn’t singlehandedly achieve all these things. But he was their enabler.

Obama’s first term looks very similar—two big initial wins, the stimulus and universal health care, that became a liability in the midterm election. Obama’s mid-term crash was worse than Reagan’s, and his opposition far less accommodating. Reagan won 48 Democratic House and 37 Democratic Senate votes for his first signature policy, the tax cuts; Obama got zero and three Republican votes, respectively, for a stimulus in the worst recession since the 1930s. Those are the fruits of polarization. Nonetheless, the administration has soldiered on since 2010, and the tally of achievements is formidable: the near-obliteration of al Qaeda, democratic revolutions in the Arab world that George Bush could only have dreamed of, the re-regulation of Wall Street after the 2008 crash, stimulus investments in infrastructure and clean energy, powerful new fuel-emission standards along with a record level of independence from foreign oil, and, most critically, health-care reform. Now look at what Obama’s second term could do for all of these achievements. It would mean, first of all, that universal health care in America—government subsidies to people so they can afford to purchase private insurance and a ban on denying coverage to people with preexisting conditions—becomes irreversible. Yes, many details of the law would benefit from reform, experimentation, and fixes—especially if Republicans help to make them. But it’s still the biggest change in American health care since the passage of Medicare in 1965.

An Obama victory would also resolve the three-decade-long battle between taxes and spending initiated by Reagan and intensified by the orgy of spending under George W. Bush and the collapse of revenue during the Great Recession. By Dec. 31 of this year, a deal must be struck or the crudest form of government cuts—sequestration of defense and entitlements—will unfold alongside the sunsetting of the Bush tax cuts. Obama’s previous position had been to favor a roughly 2.5 to 1 spending-cut to tax-hike formula, along with a return to Clinton-era rates on the very wealthy. He’s also open to tax reform as a way to raise revenue while minimizing rate increases, as his own Simpson-Bowles commission recommended (after being torpedoed by Paul Ryan). So far, the GOP has refused even a 10 to 1 deal with no revenue increases at all. If Obama wins the election handily, it will be very hard for the GOP to offer the same intransigence on revenue and allow both defense to be cut so crudely and tax increases to go up on everyone automatically. Republicans will have to deal—especially if the chief strategist for their obstruction, Paul Ryan, loses a national election.

Or maybe they won’t. It’s always possible that the Republicans will not change; that even if they lose seats this November, the remaining members will be even more intransigent, and from safer seats. But it’s more likely, it seems to me, that a second big loss to a man they have derided as a nobody will concentrate minds. And the threat to the Pentagon could galvanize them. Again, Obama’s long game was designed for this climactic moment. When it became clear last summer that a grand bargain was impossible, Obama cut a deal that would put the Pentagon, the Bush tax era, and popular entitlements simultaneously on the chopping block after the election, a combo, understandably dubbed Taxmageddon, that could very well tip the U.S. economy back into recession. Romney now says he regrets the deal. He is right to. It gives a reelected Obama maximal leverage in a period when a critical decision really has to be made. If the GOP refuses to budge, they lose two of their most treasured policies: big defense spending and Bush’s tax legacy. And they could be blamed for the resulting economic damage. In some ways, Obama’s second term could be fiscally defined by the last two months of his first.

If a grand bargain eludes both sides, there’s still a fallback for Obama: a 1986-style tax reform along bipartisan lines. Obama wants it; Ryan wants it. There will be differences in emphasis, of course—and, for what it’s worth, I favor as radical an overhaul as possible, not simply to make the tax code understandable to everyone, but also to push back against the countless locust lobbyists who get paid a fortune to rig it. Tax reform would also provide a way to raise revenue without raising rates, helping both parties and the economy. Obama would be wise to aim for it—just as Reagan did.

Then there’s immigration reform, an obvious priority for the Democrats and Obama. If the president is reelected it will, in part, be because he’s won a huge majority among the fastest-growing part of the electorate: Latinos. If enough Republicans realize that their future as a party rests on reaching out to that constituency, then there’s a chance real reform could get through the Congress. Under Obama, deportations of illegal aliens are double what they were under his predecessor; and the number of border agents is at a record high. Both give him conservative credibility on the issue, if only the right would acknowledge it. There is a deal to be made here—one that Karl Rove and Jeb Bush would support—and the same one George W. Bush attempted to make. A reelected and recapitalized Obama could seal it—and become a Latino icon overnight.

In foreign policy, where presidents often focus in their second terms, Obama has much less of a security challenge than Reagan did, facing down a global nuclear power with the ability to wipe out the U.S. entirely if it wanted to. Obama’s primary concern is containing the nuclear ambitions of a country (Iran) lacking a single nuclear bomb and with a Supreme Leader who has publicly asserted that detonating one would be a great sin. Obama has imposed crippling sanctions on Iran that are biting the regime hard, severely restricting its ability to sell oil on the world markets. The country’s currency has collapsed and inflation is soaring. Their main regional ally, Syria, is in civil war. We have seen that the regime has threadbare legitimacy with many Iranians, especially among the huge youth generation.

To date, Obama’s response has been like Reagan’s: provide unprecedented military defense systems for Israel, deploy our best technology against Iran, inflict crippling sanctions, and yet stay prepared, as Reagan did, to deal with the first signs of sanity from Tehran. Could Obama find an Iranian Gorbachev? Unlikely. But no one expected the Soviet Union to collapse as Reagan went into his second campaign either, and it had not experienced a mass revolt in his first term, as Iran did in Obama’s. And yet by isolation, patience, allied unity, and then compromise, the unthinkable happened. I cannot say I am optimistic—but who saw the fall of the Berlin Wall in October 1984?

What I’m describing here is a potential, not a prediction. But imagine a two-term presidency that prevented a second Great Depression, killed bin Laden, decimated al Qaeda, reformed immigration, ended the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, got a bipartisan deal on taxes and spending, and maybe—just maybe—presided over the democratic revolutions in the Arab world with the skill that the first President Bush showed as new democracies were emerging in Eastern Europe. Much of the groundwork for this has already been laid: health-care reform and Wall Street regulation just need time to be implemented fully. The Arab revolutions are in early formative stages. The economic growth that will only accelerate if Taxmageddon is averted will redound to Obama’s popularity the way it did with Reagan. The potential for a huge payoff if Obama is reelected—from the debt to Iran to jihadism to -immigration—is enormous.

The main stumbling block remains the current Republican Party. If the GOP responds to a defeat by lurching even further to the right, Obama will likely fail to match Reagan’s achievements. He needs to persuade a sufficient number of Republicans in the House and Senate that their refusal to compromise on tax revenue at all is partly why they lost, that opposing immigration reform could doom them forever, and that tax reform can be a common and popular bipartisan cause. The GOP has purged so many of its moderates that this may be difficult. But already, as they sense the way the political winds are blowing, some Republican candidates have discovered that a promise to compromise is helping them in their campaigns. When Richard Mourdock, the Tea Party favorite who knocked off Richard Lugar in a primary, says he will “work with anyone” once he is elected, you know the tides may be shifting.

 Even Tea Party Senate leader, Jim DeMint, has said that if Obama wins, the GOP will have to give some ground on taxes: “We’re not going to save our defense unless we go along with the president’s wishes to raise taxes.” We cannot know what will happen, but there must remain somewhere in the GOP a residual instinct to prefer playing a part in a solution to intensifying the problem for partisan gain—especially with a president they cannot defeat again. But this last gasp of civic responsibility will most likely revive only if the current GOP loses decisively this November. Defeat is the only thing fanatics understand. And defeat is something the remaining Republican moderates can build on. If you are a Republican who wants to see your party return to the center, reelecting Obama is the single most effective thing you can do. Look what Reagan’s success did to the Democrats: it gave us the centrist Bill Clinton. A future centrist Republican president is out there somewhere—but electing Romney-Ryan would strand him or her further out in the wilderness.

I could be dreaming, I know. No doubt, my hope will be mocked as another dewy-eyed, liberal big-media fantasy. But I wore a Reagan ’80 button in high school for the same reason I wore an Obama T-shirt in ’08—not because their politics were the same, but because they were both right about the different challenges each faced, and both dreamed bigger than their rivals in times of real crisis.

The hope many Obama supporters felt four years ago was not a phony hope. We didn’t expect miracles, but a long, brutal grind against the forces and interests that brought the U.S. to its 2009 economic and moral nadir. I’ve watched this president face those forces and interests with cunning and pragmatism, but also platinum-strength persistence. Obama never promised a mistake-free presidency, or a left-liberal presidency, or an easy path ahead. He always insisted that he could not do for Americans what Americans needed to do for themselves. In his dark and sober Inaugural Address he warned 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 in a first term, he ended the Iraq War on schedule, headed off a second Great Depression, presided over much more robust private-sector job growth in his recovery than George W. Bush did in his, saved the American automobile industry, ended torture, and saw his own party embrace full marriage equality and integrate gays into the military. If those liberals who voted for him in 2008 think this is somehow a failure or a betrayal, in the context of the massive crisis he inherited, then they could not have been serious about real change in the first place. But some of us were—and still are. We understood that real change meets real resistance. In fact, you only know it’s real when the resistance is so strong. And the proper response to that resistance is not to fire the president who made this Reagan-like first-term progress in a far worse economic and fiscal climate, but to redouble on the Obama promise, to insist that America’s profound problems can only be addressed by a compromising president making bipartisan deals. And which ticket is likelier to compromise with the other party: Obama–Biden or Romney–Ryan? The question answers itself.

Just as Reagan became an icon only in his second term, Obama needs four more years to entrench and build upon the large, unfinished strides in his first term. That’s why, if you backed Obama in 2008, as a liberal wanting change, as an independent wanting pragmatic solution-seeking, or as a conservative hoping to drag the GOP back from Palin-style insanity, it makes no sense to bail on him now. Because this is when the payoff of the long game really kicks in, when stronger economic growth will put a wind at the president’s back, when a bipartisan deal on debt could lift business confidence and accelerate recovery, when universal health-care reform becomes irreversible and health-care spending is slowed, when the last soldier leaves Afghanistan, when millions of illegal immigrants can come out of the shadows and help build the next economy, and when the spiraling emotions of religious warfare can be calmed, managed, and handled, rather than intensified, polarized, and spread more widely.

This was always Obama’s promise. He has not betrayed it. And we—yes, we—-deserve a chance to fulfill it.


How far are Republicans willing to go?

How far are Republicans willing to go to get elected in November? Isn't this kind of Rhetoric shameful for Americans as a nation? What should people around the world think about U.S. politicians who are willing to do or say anything to make the opponent look unfit?

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Gingrich said on Fox News that President Obama “happens to be a partial, part-time president. He really is a lot like the substitute referees in the sense that he’s not a real president. He doesn’t do anything that presidents do; he doesn’t worry about any of the things the presidents do. He is a false President. He is a guy who doesn’t do a President Job.” 

Top Romney surrogate Sununu, appearing on Fox earlier that night, said Obama is "absolutely lazy and detached from his job." 

Not to mention the doctored pictures on the Republican website.  The might be funny but also shows the Republican hate for President Obama and some racial undertone.  

Shouldn't we (Americans) be more humble? Haven't we looked arrogant for too long. We have to live in this world and not just in the U.S.A. Americans used to be admired and well liked around the world until there was J.W. Bush and Dick  Cheney. And now we hear the same kind of tough rhetoric from Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan again. They want to take us back to the good old days of war and world domination.

Apologizing for the behaviors and mistakes of  J.W. Bush and Dick  Cheney era is a sign of strength not weakness Mr. Mitt Romney!


President Obama Speaks to the United Nations General Assembly (Video/Transcript)

Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers
New York, New York
12:34 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  (Applause.)  Thank you.  Appreciate it.  Please, please, everybody have a seat.

Well, good afternoon, everybody.  And, President Clinton, thank you for your very kind introduction.  Although I have to admit, I really did like the speech a few weeks ago a little bit better.  (Laughter.)  Afterwards, somebody tweeted that somebody needs to make him "Secretary of Explaining Things."  (Laughter.) Although they didn’t use the word, "things."  (Laughter.)

President Clinton, you are a tireless, passionate advocate on behalf of what's best in our country.  You have helped to improve and save the lives of millions of people around the world.  I am grateful for your friendship and your extraordinary leadership.  And I think I speak for the entire country when we say that you continue to be a great treasure for all of us.  (Applause.)

As always, I also have to thank President Clinton for being so understanding with the record-breaking number of countries visited by our Secretary of State.  (Laughter and applause.)  As we’ve seen again in recent days, Hillary Clinton is a leader of grace and grit -- and I believe she will go down as one of the finest Secretaries of State in American history.  So we are grateful to her.  (Applause.)

To the dedicated CGI staff and every organization that's made commitments and touched the lives of hundreds of millions of people, thank you for being an example of what we need more of in the world, especially in Washington -- working together to actually solve problems.
And that’s why I’m here.  As Bill mentioned, I’ve come to CGI every year that I’ve been President, and I’ve talked with you about how we need to sustain the economic recovery, how we need to create more jobs.  I’ve talked about the importance of development -- from global health to our fight against HIV/AIDS to the growth that lifts nations to prosperity.  We've talked about development and how it has to include women and girls -- because by every benchmark, nations that educate their women and girls end up being more successful.  (Applause.)

And today, I want to discuss an issue that relates to each of these challenges.  It ought to concern every person, because it is a debasement of our common humanity.  It ought to concern every community, because it tears at our social fabric.  It ought to concern every business, because it distorts markets.  It ought to concern every nation, because it endangers public health and fuels violence and organized crime.  I’m talking about the injustice, the outrage, of human trafficking, which must be called by its true name -- modern slavery.  (Applause.)

Now, I do not use that word, "slavery" lightly.  It evokes obviously one of the most painful chapters in our nation’s history.  But around the world, there’s no denying the awful reality.  When a man, desperate for work, finds himself in a factory or on a fishing boat or in a field, working, toiling, for little or no pay, and beaten if he tries to escape -- that is slavery.  When a woman is locked in a sweatshop, or trapped in a home as a domestic servant, alone and abused and incapable of leaving -- that’s slavery.
When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed -- that’s slavery.  When a little girl is sold by her impoverished family -- girls my daughters’ age -- runs away from home, or is lured by the false promises of a better life, and then imprisoned in a brothel and tortured if she resists -- that’s slavery.  It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world.  (Applause.)

Now, as a nation, we’ve long rejected such cruelty.  Just a few days ago, we marked the 150th anniversary of a document that I have hanging in the Oval Office -- the Emancipation Proclamation.  With the advance of Union forces, it brought a new day -- that "all persons held as slaves" would thenceforth be forever free.  We wrote that promise into our Constitution.  We spent decades struggling to make it real.  We joined with other nations, in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, so that "slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms."
A global movement was sparked, with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act -- signed by President Clinton and carried on by President Bush.

And here at CGI, you’ve made impressive commitments in this fight.  We are especially honored to be joined today by advocates who dedicate their lives -- and, at times, risk their lives -- to liberate victims and help them recover.  This includes men and women of faith, who, like the great abolitionists before them, are truly doing the Lord’s work -- evangelicals, the Catholic Church, International Justice Mission and World Relief, even individual congregations, like Passion City Church in Atlanta, and so many young people of faith who've decided that their conscience compels them to act in the face of injustice.  Groups like these are answering the Bible’s call -- to "seek justice" and "rescue the oppressed."  Some of them join us today, and we are grateful for your leadership.

Now, as President, I’ve made it clear that the United States will continue to be a leader in this global movement.  We’ve got a comprehensive strategy.  We’re shining a spotlight on the dark corners where it persists.  Under Hillary’s leadership, we’re doing more than ever -- with our annual trafficking report, with new outreach and partnerships -- to give countries incentives to meet their responsibilities and calling them out when they don’t.

I recently renewed sanctions on some of the worst abusers, including North Korea and Eritrea.  We’re partnering with groups that help women and children escape from the grip of their abusers.  We’re helping other countries step up their own efforts.  And we’re seeing results.  More nations have passed and more are enforcing modern anti-trafficking laws.

Last week I was proud to welcome to the Oval Office not only a great champion of democracy but a fierce advocate against the use of forced labor and child soldiers -- Aung San Suu Kyi.  (Applause.)  And as part of our engagement, we’ll encourage Burma to keep taking steps to reform -- because nations must speak with one voice:  Our people and our children are not for sale.

But for all the progress that we’ve made, the bitter truth is that trafficking also goes on right here, in the United States.  It’s the migrant worker unable to pay off the debt to his trafficker.  The man, lured here with the promise of a job, his documents then taken, and forced to work endless hours in a kitchen.  The teenage girl, beaten, forced to walk the streets.  This should not be happening in the United States of America.

As President, I directed my administration to step up our efforts -- and we have.  For the first time, at Hillary’s direction, our annual trafficking report now includes the United States, because we can’t ask other nations to do what we are not doing ourselves.  (Applause.)  We’ve expanded our interagency task force to include more federal partners, including the FBI.  The intelligence community is devoting more resources to identifying trafficking networks.  We’ve strengthened protections so that foreign-born workers know their rights.

And most of all, we’re going after the traffickers.  New anti-trafficking teams are dismantling their networks.  Last year, we charged a record number of these predators with human trafficking.  We’re putting them where they belong -- behind bars.  (Applause.)

But with more than 20 million victims of human trafficking around the world -- think about that, more than 20 million -- they’ve got a lot more to do.  And that’s why, earlier this year, I directed my administration to increase our efforts.  And today, I can announce a series of additional steps that we’re going to take.

First, we’re going to do more to spot it and stop it.  We’ll prepare a new assessment of human trafficking in the United States so we better understand the scope and scale of the problem.  We’ll strengthen training, so investigators and law enforcement are even better equipped to take action -- and treat victims as victims, not as criminals.  (Applause.)  We’re going to work with Amtrak, and bus and truck inspectors, so that they’re on the lookout.  We’ll help teachers and educators spot the signs as well, and better serve those who are vulnerable, especially our young people.

Second, we’re turning the tables on the traffickers.  Just as they are now using technology and the Internet to exploit their victims, we’re going to harness technology to stop them.  We’re encouraging tech companies and advocates and law enforcement -- and we’re also challenging college students -- to develop tools that our young people can use to stay safe online and on their smart phones.

Third, we’ll do even more to help victims recover and rebuild their lives.  We’ll develop a new action plan to improve coordination across the federal government.  We’re increasing access to services to help survivors become self-sufficient.  We’re working to simplify visa procedures for "T" visas so that innocent victims from other countries can stay here as they help us prosecute their traffickers.

This coming year, my Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships will make the fight against human trafficking a focus of its work.  (Applause.)  They’re doing great work.  And I’m also proud to announce a new partnership with Humanity United, which is a leader in anti-trafficking -- a multi-million dollar challenge to local communities to find new ways to care for trafficking victims.  And I want to thank Johns Hopkins University, which will be focusing on how to best care for child victims.  (Applause.)

Now, finally, as one of the largest purchasers of goods and services in the world, the United States government will lead by example.  We’ve already taken steps to make sure our contractors do not engage in forced labor.  And today we’re going to go  further.  I’ve signed a new executive order that raises the bar. It’s specific about the prohibitions.  It does more to protect workers.  It ensures stronger compliance.   In short, we’re making clear that American tax dollars must never, ever be used to support the trafficking of human beings.  We will have zero tolerance.  We mean what we say.  We will enforce it.  (Applause.)

Of course, no government, no nation, can meet this challenge alone.  Everybody has a responsibility.  Every nation can take action.  Modern anti-trafficking laws must be passed and enforced and justice systems must be strengthened.  Victims must be cared for.  So here in the United States, Congress should renew the Trafficking Victims Protection Act.  Whether you are a conservative or a liberal, Democrat or Republican, this is a no-brainer.  This is something we should all agree on.  We need to get that done.

And more broadly, as nations, let’s recommit to addressing the underlying forces that push so many into bondage in the first place.  With development and economic growth that creates legitimate jobs, there’s less likelihood of indentured servitude around the globe.  A sense of justice that says no child should ever be exploited, that has to be burned into the cultures of every country.  A commitment to equality -- as in the Equal Futures Partnership that we launched with other nations yesterday so societies empower our sisters and our daughters just as much as our brothers and sons.  (Applause.)

And every business can take action.  All the business leaders who are here and our global economy companies have a responsibility to make sure that their supply chains, stretching into the far corners of the globe, are free of forced labor.  (Applause.)  The good news is more and more responsible companies are holding themselves to higher standards.  And today, I want to salute the new commitments that are being made.  That includes the new Global Business Coalition Against Trafficking -- companies that are sending a message:  Human trafficking is not a business model, it is a crime, and we are going to stop it.  We’re proud of them.  (Applause.)

Every faith community can take action as well, by educating their congregations, by joining in coalitions that are bound by a love of God and a concern for the oppressed.  And like that Good Samaritan on the road to Jericho, we can’t just pass by, indifferent.  We’ve got to be moved by compassion.  We’ve got to bind up the wounds.  Let’s come together around a simple truth -- that we are our brother’s keepers and we are our sister’s keepers.

And finally, every citizen can take action:  by learning more; by going to the website that we helped create --; by speaking up and insisting that the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the products we buy are made free of forced labor; by standing up against the degradation and abuse of women.

That’s how real change happens -- from the bottom up.  And if you doubt that, ask Marie Godet Niyonyota, from the Congo.  Think about Marie’s story.  She was kidnapped by rebels, turned into a slave.  She was abused -- physically and sexually.  They got her pregnant five times.  In one awful battle, her children were killed -- all five of them.  Miraculously, she survived and escaped.  And with care and support, she began to heal.  And she learned to read and write and sew, and today Marie is back home, working toward a new future.

Or ask Ima Matul.  She grew up in Indonesia, and at 17 was given the opportunity to work as a nanny here in the United States.  But when she arrived, it turned out to be a nightmare.  Cooking, cleaning -- 18-hour days, seven days a week.  One beating was so bad it sent her to the emergency room.  And finally, she escaped.  And with the help from a group that cared, today Ima has a stable job.  She’s an advocate -- she’s even testified before Congress.

Or ask Sheila White, who grew up in the Bronx.  Fleeing an abusive home, she fell in with a guy who said he’d protect her.  Instead, he sold her -- just 15 years old -- 15 -- to men who raped her and beat her, and burned her with irons.  And finally, after years -- with the help of a non-profit led by other survivors -- she found the courage to break free and get the services she needed.  Sheila earned her GED.  Today she is a powerful, fierce advocate who helped to pass a new anti-trafficking law right here in New York.  (Applause.)

These women endured unspeakable horror.  But in their unbreakable will, in their courage, in their resilience, they remind us that this cycle can be broken; victims can become not only survivors, they can become leaders and advocates, and bring about change.

And I just met Ima and Sheila and several of their fellow advocates, and I have to tell you they are an incredible inspiration.  They are here -- they’ve chosen to tell their stories.  I want them to stand and be recognized because they are inspiring all of us.  Please -- Sheila, Ima.  (Applause.)

To Ima and Sheila, and each of you -- in the darkest hours of your lives, you may have felt utterly alone, and it seemed like nobody cared.  And the important thing for us to understand is there are millions around the world who are feeling that same way at this very moment.
Right now, there is a man on a boat, casting the net with his bleeding hands, knowing he deserves a better life, a life of dignity, but doesn’t know if anybody is paying attention.  Right now, there’s a woman, hunched over a sewing machine, glancing beyond the bars on the window, knowing if just given the chance, she might some day sell her own wares, but she doesn’t think anybody is paying attention.  Right now, there’s a young boy, in a brick factory, covered in dust, hauling his heavy load under a blazing sun, thinking if he could just go to school, he might know a different future, but he doesn’t think anybody is paying attention.  Right now, there is a girl, somewhere trapped in a brothel, crying herself to sleep again, and maybe daring to imagine that some day, just maybe, she might be treated not like a piece of property, but as a human being.

And so our message today, to them, is -- to the millions around the world -- we see you.  We hear you.  We insist on your dignity.  And we share your belief that if just given the chance, you will forge a life equal to your talents and worthy of your dreams.  (Applause.)

Our fight against human trafficking is one of the great human rights causes of our time, and the United States will continue to lead it -- in partnership with you.  The change we seek will not come easy, but we can draw strength from the movements of the past.  For we know that every life saved -- in the words of that great Proclamation -- is "an act of justice," worthy of "the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God."

That’s what we believe.  That’s what we're fighting for.  And I'm so proud to be in partnership with CGI to make this happen.

Thank you very much, everybody.  God bless you.  God bless America.  (Applause.)


The flipflop of Mitt Romney

Mitt's emergency contradiction
 Does he remember what he said, or was he coerced into changing his mind?
What do we have to expect if he  really gets elected?
Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Romney responded:
"Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance ... if someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and — and die. We pick them up in an ambulance, and take them to the hospital and give them care. And different states have different ways of providing for that care."


Hayes: This is what plutocracy looks like (Video/Transcrip)

I think this videos is worth watching. Chris Hayes talks about the thinks I think are not only wrong with America right now but also the world.  He call it the capitalist paradise! A paradise for the wealthiest who are able to pay $50,000 a dinner plate, as much as a median household annual income in the U.S.

 by Chris Hayes
on msnbc
The video of Mitt Romney talking to donors that Mother Jones posted last week is an incredible artifact from an entire culture and civilization that exists in our midst, but which we hardly ever get to see: the world of the high-end donor. And, whoo boy it is not pretty. The first thing that jumps out is that a lot of the questions are really inane.

 In fact, I almost feel sorry for Mitt Romney having to sit there and politely smile and nod as donors pick through their salad and tell him that what he really needs to do to win is "take the gloves off" or "show your face more on tv"—something he's been doing more or less non-stop.

 The folks in the room all but advise Romney to simply tour around the country reading passages of Ayn Rand novels out loud at his campaign rallies and hectoring the idiotic masses to bow before their obvious superior. Romney, who is many things, but not a total fool, gently explains that that probably is not the best way to go about attempting to win over the Obama voters he needs to be elected. Almost none of the advice Romney gets during the tape is very good, some of it's terrible.

 That's not novel, of course, everyone who watches politics closely thinks they have the secret insight that will win the election. Unlike the millions of other political junkies and backseat drivers, this small coterie of folks, by sole virtue of their wealth, gets to impose their invaluable insights on the actual candidate. It would be like the head coach of the Giants, Tom Coughlin, having to spend most of the week between games meeting with the opinionated fans who call into sports talk radio with their theories about how the Giants should be blitzing on every down, or lining up two quarterbacks under center.

This is the power of money not just in politics, but in society more broadly: the power to make people listen to your ideas no matter how dumb or uninformed. The other thing that stood out to me was just how under siege, persecuted, and victimized these extremely wealthy people appear to feel.

Keep in mind we're talking about a fundraiser that cost $50,000 a plate. Fifty thousand dollars also happens to be the median household income in the U.S. So the kind of wealth you need to have to be in the room with Romney is the kind of wealth that means you can just pony up as much money as many Americans make in a year to listen to Mitt Romney trash talk the very people who make in a year the same amount you just ponied up for dinner.

And what you hear from them is the same kind of whining that was the central theme of the Republican Convention: we're away from our families five days a week. I'm away from my four girls five days a week and my wife. Which made me think of this from Reservoir Dogs:
Steve Buscemi: You know what this is? It's the world's smallest violin playing just for the waitresses.
Except, you know, instead of waitresses insert busy plutocrats. Because these same plutocrats are enjoying possibly their best run ever since the financial crisis, nay since, perhaps, the roaring twenties! The Dow is way up, corporate profits are near record highs, taxes are near record lows, wages are stagnating, unions are fighting for survival and 8% unemployment means that employers have a constant ready supply of excess labor, which keeps wages and demands down. More or less a capitalist paradise.

The Koch brothers, to choose just one example, have seen their own net worth nearly DOUBLE, from $32 billion to $62 billion under the tyrannical, socialist, re-distributive regime of Barack Hussein Obama.

And yet despite the fact that Obama has managed a recovery that has been exceptionally good to them, Wall Street is incensed that anyone would call them fat cats or sign new financial regulation. In almost every way conceivable they inhabit an alternate universe. And everyone's pretty frank about that.

For instance, they ask him several questions about foreign policy, and Romney complains that voters in general don't care about foreign policy, so he doesn't get to talk about it that much on the campaign trail. This is probably because middle class voters are so concerned about economic security it crowds out nearly everything else.

But that's the point. Extremely wealthy people are not a very good representation of the voting population at large. They have very different politics, positions and priorities than the mass of voters. This cashes out in a very concrete way that profoundly affects our politics.

Political Scientists Benjamin Page, Larry Bartels and Jason Seawright have been studying the divergence between public opinion in general and the opinions of the wealthiest 1% and found that—surprise—they diverge on most issues. For instance, on this statement: "The federal government should spend whatever is necessary to ensure that all children have really good public schools they can go to"... 87% of the general public agrees, while only 35% of the wealthy do. "Our government should redistribute wealth by heavy taxes on the rich." 52% of the general public agrees, only 17% of the wealthy do. "Favor cuts in spending on domestic programs like Medicare, education, and highways in order to cut federal budget deficits." 27% of the general public does, while 58% of the wealthy do.

And this gets us to what I've become convinced is the most pernicious effect of big money on our politics. It's not that lots of money can buy elections, though sometimes that's true. It's not that campaign contributions function as a quid pro quo, chits to be cashed in when legislation is being considered, though that's also often true. It's that every single person running for high office in America is forced to spend the vast majority of their time around one group of people and one group only: wealthy people. That's who they talk to, and listen to all day long, day in and day out, every day for months and years and decades. It's an incredibly warping effect.
Imagine a world in which every minimum wage worker in America is given a golden ticket, like the ones in Willie Wonka's Chocolate Factory. And imagine a law that required TV stations to only take those golden tickets as payment for campaign advertising time. A world in which candidates would have to spend all the time they now spend with the folks on that video with the people who work at drive-throughs and clean bathrooms. And imagine the kinds of questions they would get, the stories and jokes they would hear. Many hours a day, day in and day out. The world that the candidate would be forced to inhabit. Imagine what our politics would look like as a result. Maybe things would be radically different, maybe they'd be more similar to the status quo than I'd like to admit. But one thing is for sure.

Mitt Romney sure as hell wouldn't get up in front of a room of home healthcare workers, people who are, in many states, making minimum wage or just a little more to change bed pans and clean up blood and vomit—and tell the people in front of him that they're a bunch of indolent, shiftless moochers who won't take responsibility for their lives because they don't pay income taxes. I don't think even Mitt Romney is that politically inept.


President Barack Obama Weekly Address September 22, 2012 (Video/Transcript)

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
September 22, 2012
Hi, everybody. Last week, without much fanfare, Members of the House of Representatives banged a gavel, turned out the lights, and rushed home, declaring their work finished for now.
If that frustrates you, it should – because their work isn’t finished.

See, when they skipped town, Members of Congress left a whole bunch of proposals sitting on the table – actions that would create jobs, boost our economy, and strengthen middle-class security. These ideas have been around for months. The American people want to see them passed. But apparently, some Members of Congress are more worried about their jobs and their paychecks this campaign season than they are about yours.

Right now, if Congress had done the right thing, we could be on our way to having a veterans’ jobs corps that helps returning heroes find work as cops and firefighters in communities all across the country. These men and women have made incredible sacrifices for our country. They shouldn’t have to worry about finding a job when they get home. But last week, Republicans in Congress voted it down. And then they left.

Right now, if Congress had gotten its act together, we would have a farm bill to help farmers and ranchers respond to natural disasters like the drought we had this summer. And we’d have made necessary reforms to give our rural communities some long-term certainty. But so far, Republicans in Congress have dragged their feet. And now they’re gone.

Right now, if Congress had acted, thousands of responsible homeowners could be saving an extra $3,000 a year on their mortgages by refinancing at historically low rates. But instead, Republicans in Congress decided that working families could wait. And now they’ll have to wait a little longer.

And finally, if Congress had listened to you, they could have given 98% of Americans and 97% of small business owners a guarantee that your taxes won’t go up next year by a single dime. This is something we all agree on. It should have gotten done a long time ago. But Republicans in Congress have refused to budge. They’re holding tax cuts for 98% of Americans hostage until we pass tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. And now middle-class families and small business owners are left wondering what their tax bill will look like next year.

All of these ideas would strengthen our economy and help the middle class right now. All of them are supported by Democrats, Republicans and Independents. There’s no reason to wait.
That’s why, after going home and listening to their constituents for a few weeks, Members of Congress should come back in November and do this work. They should do the right thing for veterans and farmers; for responsible homeowners and small businesses; for Americans everywhere who are just trying to get ahead.

And if you agree with me, I need your help. Tell your Members of Congress you can’t afford to wait any longer. If you get an answering machine, leave a message. If you see them campaigning back home, tell them in person. Because there’s been enough talk. It’s time for action. That’s what you deserve, and that’s what it’s going to take to move this country forward.

Thanks, and have a great weekend.


Mitt Romney Releases 2011 Returns Taxes Still a Hot Topic on PBS

Romney Reveals He Paid 14% Rate in ’11 Tax Return

Mitt Romney responded to months of political pressure on Friday by making public his most recent tax return and limited information from previous years, asserting that he had paid a double-digit federal income tax rate for more than two decades.

Mr. Romney’s return for 2011 showed that he paid an effective federal income tax rate of 14 percent last year, or a little more than $1.9 million on adjusted gross income of about $13.7 million.
A letter from his accountants said his tax rate from 1990 through 2009 had never fallen below 13.66 percent but did not disclose the amount of tax paid. Mr. Romney’s 2010 return, which he made public in January, showed that he paid a rate of 13.9 percent.
Mr. Romney’s tax return for last year showed just how sensitive a political matter his wealth and tax rate has become. In a bit of reverse financial engineering, he and his wife, Ann, gave up $1.75 million worth of charitable deductions, raising his tax payments significantly.
Had he claimed all the deductions to which he was entitled in 2011, his effective rate could have dipped to near 10 percent, contradicting his past assurances that he had never paid below 13 percent.
But forgoing the full deductions available to him put him at odds with his own past assertions that he had never paid more taxes than he owed and his statement that if he had done so, “I don’t think I’d be qualified to become president,” as he put it to ABC News in July.
Mr. Romney had pledged to disclose his 2011 return before Election Day, and his campaign said it was filed Friday with the Internal Revenue Service. His aides appear to have judged that any political harm from releasing the new documents — made public on Friday afternoon — would best be timed for the end of a week that had been among the most difficult of his campaign.
While the release of some figures for the previous two decades went beyond what Mr. Romney had signaled he would be willing to disclose, it remained impossible to get a complete picture of his tax liabilities from those years without his returns. Democrats quickly pounced on Mr. Romney’s decision to release only average figures for his 1990-2009 returns, leaving many details of his finances and tax planning unclear.
In a statement, Stephanie Cutter, the deputy campaign manager for President Obama, said that Mr. Romney “continues to fail” the test of full disclosure by releasing only a summary of his earlier returns. Harry Reid, the Senate majority leader, who had accused Mr. Romney of having paid no taxes for a decade, did not repeat his claim on Friday — but did not back down either.
“When will the American people see the returns he filed before he was running for president?” Mr. Reid said in a statement. “Governor Romney is showing us what he does when the public is looking. The true test of his character would be to show what he did when everyone was not looking at his taxes.”
The Romney campaign took questions about the new documents only over e-mail, and a memo from his lawyer, R. Bradford Malt, left unanswered questions that have swirled about Mr. Romney’s overseas income, foreign tax credits and use of sophisticated corporate structures abroad to minimize his tax burdens at home.
A campaign spokeswoman did not respond to questions about which years Mr. Romney or the family trusts had filed separate forms with the Internal Revenue Service disclosing their foreign income. Disclosing those forms would reveal whether Mr. Romney had over the years declared all of his foreign income to the I.R.S. in a timely manner.
The summary of his returns for the years before 2010 said that the Romneys had owed both federal and state taxes in each year between 1990 and 2009 and had paid an average effective federal income tax rate of 20 percent of their adjusted gross income.
But accounting experts cautioned that without seeing the returns themselves it was impossible to gauge Mr. Romney’s actual tax burden. The campaign declined to disclose the minimum dollar amount of Mr. Romney’s federal income tax obligations during those two decades.
Citizens for Tax Justice, a liberal-leaning research group, said Friday that by including in the average the years 1992 through 1997, Mr. Romney’s accountants skewed his average rate upward because investment income — the overwhelming source of Mr. Romney’s wealth — was taxed at nearly double the current rate of 15 percent. In addition, the family appeared to defer some tax deductions into future years, a move that would give Mr. Romney further options — all of them legal — to adjust his effective federal tax rate. 

In an amended return also released Friday, Representative Paul D. Ryan, Mr. Romney’s running mate, disclosed that he and his wife had initially failed to report $61,122 in income from 2011. He said the failure was inadvertent. The change raised their total income to $323,416 and increased their taxes by $19,917 to $64,674, or 20 percent of adjusted gross income. 

They owed a penalty of $59 for the original underpayment. The Ryans explained that they had overlooked their income from the Prudence Little Living Trust. Mrs. Little, who died in 2010, was Mrs. Ryan’s mother.
Some elements of Mr. Romney’s finances became more opaque in 2011. Taxable wages for household employees, which reached $20,603 for four people in 2010, were not included on the 2011 return. Instead, the family made those payments through a payroll company that filed its own return. 

Mr. Malt, who manages the family’s trusts, also disposed of politically sensitive investments while Mr. Romney campaigned for president. The 2011 tax returns his campaign released Friday showed that Mr. Romney’s family trusts had invested in shares of a Chinese-owned state oil company and sold those investments last summer, as Mr. Romney’s anti-Chinese comments heated up on the campaign trail. 

Mr. Romney’s trusts also hedged against the dollar. Mr. Malt invested in a derivative that would profit if the dollar fell against a group of foreign currencies. He also put some of the family’s money in derivative securities linked to the Japanese stock market and to an index that includes stocks in every major country except the United States. 

In 2009 and 2010, the W. Mitt Romney blind trust invested $77,262 in shares of Cnooc Limited, the Chinese state-owned oil company, and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. On Aug. 10, 2011, as Mr. Romney was emerging as a harsh critic of China, the shares were sold, producing a profit of $8,138 as the trust made money on the oil company and lost money on the bank. 

Mr. Romney’s campaign has repeatedly criticized Mr. Obama for failing to take a tough line against Chinese trade practices. After Mr. Obama this week announced new trade actions against China, Mr. Romney took credit for forcing his hand. 

The Romney family trusts invested around the world. They owned shares in Credit Suisse, the Swiss bank; FLSmidth, a Danish machinery company; ArcelorMittal, a steel company based in Luxembourg with operations around the world; and Komatsu, a Japanese machinery company. All those investments were sold on Aug. 10, 2011 — the day before a Republican primary debate in Iowa. 

Mr. Romney’s income in 2011 would put him among those Americans who will most likely pay far higher Medicare taxes next year, thanks to Mr. Obama’s health care law, which Mr. Romney has vowed to repeal. 

Tristram Stuart: The global food waste scandal (Video/Transcrit)

The job of uncovering the global food waste scandal started for me when I was 15 years old. I bought some pigs. I was living in Sussex. And I started to feed them in the most traditional and environmentally friendly way. I went to my school kitchen, and I said, "Give me the scraps that my school friends have turned their noses up at." I went to the local baker and took their stale bread. I went to the local greengrocer, and I went to a farmer who was throwing away potatoes because they were the wrong shape or size for supermarkets. This was great. My pigs turned that food waste into delicious pork. I sold that pork to my school friends' parents, and I made a good pocket money addition to my teenage allowance.

But I noticed that most of the food that I was giving my pigs was in fact fit for human consumption, and that I was only scratching the surface, and that right the way up the food supply chain, in supermarkets, greengrocers, bakers, in our homes, in factories and farms, we were hemorrhaging out food. Supermarkets didn't even want to talk to me about how much food they were wasting. I'd been round the back. I'd seen bins full of food being locked and then trucked off to landfill sites, and I thought, surely there is something more sensible to do with food than waste it.

One morning, when I was feeding my pigs, I noticed a particularly tasty-looking sun-dried tomato loaf that used to crop up from time to time. I grabbed hold of it, sat down, and ate my breakfast with my pigs. (Laughter) That was the first act of what I later learned to call freeganism, really an exhibition of the injustice of food waste, and the provision of the solution to food waste, which is simply to sit down and eat food, rather than throwing it away. That became, as it were, a way of confronting large businesses in the business of wasting food, and exposing, most importantly, to the public, that when we're talking about food being thrown away, we're not talking about rotten stuff, we're not talking about stuff that's beyond the pale. We're talking about good, fresh food that is being wasted on a colossal scale.

Eventually, I set about writing my book, really to demonstrate the extent of this problem on a global scale. What this shows is a nation-by-nation breakdown of the likely level of food waste in each country in the world. Unfortunately, empirical data, good, hard stats, don't exist, and therefore to prove my point, I first of all had to find some proxy way of uncovering how much food was being wasted. So I took the food supply of every single country and I compared it to what was actually likely to be being consumed in each country. That's based on diet intake surveys, it's based on levels of obesity, it's based on a range of factors that gives you an approximate guess as to how much food is actually going into people's mouths. That black line in the middle of that table is the likely level of consumption with an allowance for certain levels of inevitable waste. There will always be waste. I'm not that unrealistic that I think we can live in a waste-free world. But that black line shows what a food supply should be in a country if they allow for a good, stable, secure, nutritional diet for every person in that country. Any dot above that line, and you'll quickly notice that that includes most countries in the world, represents unnecessary surplus, and is likely to reflect levels of waste in each country.

As a country gets richer, it invests more and more in getting more and more surplus into its shops and restaurants, and as you can see, most European and North American countries fall between 150 and 200 percent of the nutritional requirements of their populations. So a country like America has twice as much food on its shop shelves and in its restaurants than is actually required to feed the American people.

But the thing that really struck me, when I plotted all this data, and it was a lot of numbers, was that you can see how it levels off. Countries rapidly shoot towards that 150 mark, and then they level off, and they don't really go on rising as you might expect. So I decided to unpack that data a little bit further to see if that was true or false. And that's what I came up with. If you include not just the food that ends up in shops and restaurants, but also the food that people feed to livestock, the maize, the soy, the wheat, that humans could eat but choose to fatten livestock instead to produce increasing amounts of meat and dairy products, what you find is that most rich countries have between three and four times the amount of food that their population needs to feed itself. A country like America has four times the amount of food that it needs.

When people talk about the need to increase global food production to feed those nine billion people that are expected on the planet by 2050, I always think of these graphs. The fact is, we have an enormous buffer in rich countries between ourselves and hunger. We've never had such gargantuan surpluses before. In many ways, this is a great success story of human civilization, of the agricultural surpluses that we set out to achieve 12,000 years ago. It is a success story. It has been a success story. But what we have to recognize now is that we are reaching the ecological limits that our planet can bear, and when we chop down forests, as we are every day, to grow more and more food, when we extract water from depleting water reserves, when we emit fossil fuel emissions in the quest to grow more and more food, and then we throw away so much of it, we have to think about what we can start saving.
And yesterday, I went to one of the local supermarkets that I often visit to inspect, if you like, what they're throwing away. I found quite a few packets of biscuits amongst all the fruit and vegetables and everything else that was in there. And I thought, well this could serve as a symbol for today.

So I want you to imagine that these nine biscuits that I found in the bin represent the global food supply, okay? We start out with nine. That's what's in fields around the world every single year. The first biscuit we're going to lose before we even leave the farm. That's a problem primarily associated with developing work agriculture, whether it's a lack of infrastructure, refrigeration, pasteurization, grain stores, even basic fruit crates, which means that food goes to waste before it even leaves the fields. The next three biscuits are the foods that we decide to feed to livestock, the maize, the wheat and the soya. Unfortunately, our beasts are inefficient animals, and they turn two-thirds of that into feces and heat, so we've lost those two, and we've only kept this one in meat and dairy products. Two more we're going to throw away directly into bins. This is what most of us think of when we think of food waste, what ends up in the garbage, what ends up in supermarket bins, what ends up in restaurant bins. We've lost another two, and we've left ourselves with just four biscuits to feed on. That is not a superlatively efficient use of global resources, especially when you think of the billion hungry people that exist already in the world.

Having gone through the data, I then needed to demonstrate where that food ends up. Where does it end up? We're used to seeing the stuff on our plates, but what about all the stuff that goes missing in between?

Supermarkets are an easy place to start. This is the result of my hobby, which is unofficial bin inspections. (Laughter) Strange you might think, but if we could rely on corporations to tell us what they were doing in the back of their stores, we wouldn't need to go sneaking around the back, opening up bins and having a look at what's inside. But this is what you can see more or less on every street corner in Britain, in Europe, in North America. It represents a colossal waste of food, but what I discovered whilst I was writing my book was that this very evident abundance of waste was actually the tip of the iceberg. When you start going up the supply chain, you find where the real food waste is happening on a gargantuan scale.

Can I have a show of hands if you have a loaf of sliced bread in your house? Who lives in a household where that crust -- that slice at the first and last end of each loaf -- who lives in a household where it does get eaten? Okay, most people, not everyone, but most people, and this is, I'm glad to say, what I see across the world, and yet has anyone seen a supermarket or sandwich shop anywhere in the world that serves sandwiches with crusts on it? (Laughter) I certainly haven't. So I kept on thinking, where do those crusts go? (Laughter) This is the answer, unfortunately: 13,000 slices of fresh bread coming out of this one single factory every single day, day-fresh bread. In the same year that I visited this factory, I went to Pakistan, where people in 2008 were going hungry as a result of a squeeze on global food supplies. We contribute to that squeeze by depositing food in bins here in Britain and elsewhere in the world. We take food off the market shelves that hungry people depend on.

Go one step up, and you get to farmers, who throw away sometimes a third or even more of their harvest because of cosmetic standards. This farmer, for example, has invested 16,000 pounds in growing spinach, not one leaf of which he harvested, because there was a little bit of grass growing in amongst it. Potatoes that are cosmetically imperfect, all going for pigs. Parsnips that are too small for supermarket specifications, tomatoes in Tenerife, oranges in Florida, bananas in Ecuador, where I visited last year, all being discarded. This is one day's waste from one banana plantation in Ecuador. All being discarded, perfectly edible, because they're the wrong shape or size.

If we do that to fruit and vegetables, you bet we can do it to animals too. Liver, lungs, heads, tails, kidneys, testicles, all of these things which are traditional, delicious and nutritious parts of our gastronomy go to waste. Offal consumption has halved in Britain and America in the last 30 years. As a result, this stuff gets fed to dogs at best, or is incinerated. This man, in Kashgar, Xinjiang province, in Western China, is serving up his national dish. It's called sheep's organs. It's delicious, it's nutritious, and as I learned when I went to Kashgar, it symbolizes their taboo against food waste. I was sitting in a roadside cafe. A chef came to talk to me, I finished my bowl, and halfway through the conversation, he stopped talking and he started frowning into my bowl. I thought, "My goodness, what taboo have I broken? How have I insulted my host?" He pointed at three grains of rice at the bottom of my bowl, and he said, "Clean." (Laughter) I thought, "My God, you know, I go around the world telling people to stop wasting food. This guy has thrashed me at my own game." (Laughter)

But it gave me faith. It gave me faith that we, the people, do have the power to stop this tragic waste of resources if we regard it as socially unacceptable to waste food on a colossal scale, if we make noise about it, tell corporations about it, tell governments we want to see an end to food waste, we do have the power to bring about that change.
Fish, 40 to 60 percent of European fish are discarded at sea, they don't even get landed. In our homes, we've lost touch with food. This is an experiment I did on three lettuces. Who keeps lettuces in their fridge? Most people. The one on the left was kept in a fridge for 10 days. The one in the middle, on my kitchen table. Not much difference. The one on the right I treated like cut flowers. It's a living organism, cut the slice off, stuck it in a vase of water, it was all right for another two weeks after this.

Some food waste, as I said at the beginning, will inevitably arise, so the question is, what is the best thing to do with it? I answered that question when I was 15. In fact, humans answered that question 6,000 years ago: We domesticated pigs to turn food waste back into food. And yet, in Europe, that practice has become illegal since 2001 as a result of the foot-and-mouth outbreak. It's unscientific. It's unnecessary. If you cook food for pigs, just as if you cook food for humans, it is rendered safe. It's also a massive saving of resources. At the moment, Europe depends on importing millions of tons of soy from South America, where its production contributes to global warming, to deforestation, to biodiversity loss, to feed livestock here in Europe. At the same time we throw away millions of tons of food waste which we could and should be feeding them. If we did that, and fed it to pigs, we would save that amount of carbon. If we feed our food waste which is the current government favorite way of getting rid of food waste, to anaerobic digestion, which turns food waste into gas to produce electricity, you save a paltry 448 kilograms of carbon dioxide per ton of food waste. It's much better to feed it to pigs. We knew that during the war. (Laughter)

A silver lining: It has kicked off globally, the quest to tackle food waste. Feeding the 5,000 is an event I first organized in 2009. We fed 5,000 people all on food that otherwise would have been wasted. Since then, it's happened again in London, it's happening internationally, and across the country. It's a way of organizations coming together to celebrate food, to say the best thing to do with food is to eat and enjoy it, and to stop wasting it. For the sake of the planet we live on, for the sake of our children, for the sake of all the other organisms that share our planet with us, we are a terrestrial animal, and we depend on our land for food. At the moment, we are trashing our land to grow food that no one eats. Stop wasting food. Thank you very much. (Applause) (Applause)


Don't let Romney pull a George W. Bush!

Despite all the controversy about the Romney speech to the rich, it’s conceivable that he may pull a George W. Bush and win the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote.

If we really want to go back to a time of Dick Cheney and George W. Bushwith a new name Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan than there is no problem. However, if we are looking for a more just, honest and less religious government, we need to press forward and give President Barack Obama a second term to finish what he has started.
 I strongly believe that we should avoid a government that is more and more controlled by cooperation and religious fanaticism.
 On the one hand Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan proclaim less Government involvement and on the other hand they want to regulate our reproduction life by taking away birth control and all abortions even in case of rape or incest.
 On the one had they proclaim fiscal responsibility while on the other hand they are giving away our tax money to those who don’t need and often even don’t want it.
 On the one hand they want to eliminate social security as we know it to cut down the deficit and on the other hand they want to spend more money on the military and a possible war with Iran.
What’s wrong with this picture?
Doesn’t anyone see these contradiction?


Mitt Romney on Obama Voters

Source:Mother Jones

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.


Are big American agribusinesses too dominant?

Source: Al Jazeera 

President Barack Obama Weekly Address September 15, 2012 (Video/Transcript)

This week in Libya, we lost four of our fellow Americans. Glen Doherty, Tyrone Woods, Sean Smith, and Chris Stevens were all killed in an outrageous attack on our diplomatic post in Benghazi.

These four Americans represented the very best of our country.

Glen and Tyrone had each served America as Navy SEALs for many years, before continuing their service providing security for our diplomats in Libya. They died as they lived their lives – defending their fellow Americans, and advancing the values that all of us hold dear.
Sean also started his service in uniform, in the Air Force. He then spent years at the State Department, on several continents, always answering his country’s call. And Ambassador Chris Stevens died a hero in two countries – here in the United States, where he inspired those of us who knew him; and in Libya, a country that he helped to save, where he ultimately laid down his life.

On Friday, I was able to tell their families how much the American people appreciated their service. Without people like them, America could not sustain the freedoms we enjoy, the security we demand, and the leadership that the entire world counts on.

As we mourn their loss, we must also send a clear and resolute message to the world: those who attack our people will find no escape from justice. We will not waver in their pursuit.  And we will never allow anyone to shake the resolve of the United States of America.

This tragic attack takes place at a time of turmoil and protest in many different countries. I have made it clear that the United States has a profound respect for people of all faiths. We stand for religious freedom. And we reject the denigration of any religion – including Islam.

Yet there is never any justification for violence. There is no religion that condones the targeting of innocent men and women. There is no excuse for attacks on our Embassies and Consulates. And so long as I am Commander-in-Chief, the United States will never tolerate efforts to harm our fellow Americans.

Right now, we are doing whatever we can to protect Americans who are serving abroad. We are in contact with governments around the globe, to strengthen our cooperation, and underscore that every nation has a responsibility to help us protect our people. We have moved forward with an effort to see that justice is done for those we lost, and we will not rest until that work is done.

Most of all, we must reaffirm that we will carry on the work of our fallen heroes.
I know the images on our televisions are disturbing. But let us never forget that for every angry mob, there are millions who yearn for the freedom, and dignity, and hope that our flag represents. That is the cause of America – the ideals that took root in our founding; the opportunity that drew so many to our shores; and the awesome progress that we have promoted all across the globe.

We are Americans. We know that our spirit cannot be broken, and the foundation of our leadership cannot be shaken. That is the legacy of the four Americans we lost – men who will live on in the hearts of those they loved, and the strength of the country they served.
So with their memory to guide us, we will carry forward the work of making our country stronger, our citizens safer, and the world a better and more hopeful place.
Thank you.


The Anti-Muhammad Video

It seems to me that this movie was made by someone who despises  Muslims and believes that the Christian faith is superior.  It looks like that some ultra religious groups are stirring up violence. This violence helps them to foster their agenda. This agenda has power at its core, power to control people, wealth and opinion. Who knows?

After watching a trailer of this movie, I understand some of the outrage in the Muslim society, though I cannot condone their behavior, either. In my opinion, it appears to be a clear insult on the Muslim faith.

Despite our freedom of expression, making such a movie attacks the freedom of other and therefore attacks freedom as a whole. We cannot allow anyone to use  religion or any other agenda as a vehicle to advance his or her power over others and at the same time limit the freedom of those who try to life a dignified life.


Vice President Biden Marks the 9/11 Anniversary

Flight 93 National Memorial
Shanksville, Pennsylvania

THE VICE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Superintendent -- Jeff, you’ve done a remarkable job here. And the thing I notice when I speak to you about is you’re invested in this place. It sort of has a -- sort of stolen a piece of your heart. And that’s why I’m confident that all that you plan will happen.

Patrick, you’re keeping the flame alive, and keeping the families together is -- from my experience, I imagine you all find solace in seeing one another. There’s nothing like being able to talk with someone who you know understands.
And it’s an honor -- it’s a genuine honor to be back here today. But like all of the families, we wish we weren’t here. We wish we didn’t have to be here. We wish we didn’t have to commemorate any of this. And it’s a bittersweet moment for the entire nation, for all of the country, but particularly for those family members gathered here today.

Last year, the nation and all of your family members that are here commemorated the 10th anniversary of the heroic acts that gave definition to what has made America such a truly exceptional place -- the individual acts of heroism of ordinary people in moments that could not have been contemplated, but yet were initiated.

I also know from my own experience that today is just as momentous a day for all of you, just as momentous a day in your life, for each of your families, as every September 11th has been, regardless of the anniversary. For no matter how many anniversaries you experience, for at least an instant, the terror of that moment returns; the lingering echo of that phone call; that sense of total disbelief that envelops you, where you feel like you’re being sucked into a black hole in the middle of your chest.

My hope for you all is that as every year passes, the depth of your pain recedes and you find comfort, as I have, genuine comfort in recalling his smile, her laugh, their touch. And I hope you’re as certain as I am that she can see what a wonderful man her son has turned out to be, grown up to be; that he knows everything that your daughter has achieved, and that he can hear, and she can hear how her mom still talks about her, the day he scored the winning touchdown, how bright and beautiful she was on that graduation day, and know that he knows what a beautiful child the daughter he never got to see has turned out to be, and how much she reminds you of him. For I know you see your wife every time you see her smile on your child’s face. You remember your daughter every time you hear laughter coming from her brother’s lips. And you remember your husband every time your son just touches your hand.
I also hope -- I also hope it continues to give you some solace knowing that this nation, all these people gathered here today, who are not family members, all your neighbors, that they’ve not forgotten. They’ve not forgotten the heroism of your husbands, wives, sons, daughters, mothers, fathers. And that what they did for this country is still etched in the minds of not only you, but millions of Americans, forever. That’s why it’s so important that this memorial be preserved and go on for our children and our grandchildren, and our great-grandchildren, and our great-great-grandchildren -- because it is what makes it so exceptional. And I think they all appreciate, as I do, more than they can tell you, the incredible bravery your family members showed on that day.

I said last year my mom used to have an expression. She’d say, Joey, bravery resides in every heart, and someday it will be summoned. It’s remarkable -- remarkable -- how it was not only summoned, but acted on.

Today we stand on this hallowed ground, a place made sacred by the heroism and sacrifice of the passengers and the crew of Flight 93. And it’s as if the flowers, as I walked here, as if the flowers were giving testament to how sacred this ground is.

My guess -- and obviously it’s only a guess; no two losses are the same. But my guess is you’re living this moment that Yeats only wrote about, when he wrote, pray I will and sing I must, but yet I weep. Pray I will, sing I must, but yet I weep.

My personal prayer for all of you is that in every succeeding year, you’re able to sing more than you weep. And may God truly bless you and bless the souls of those 40 incredible people who rest in this ground. (Applause.)