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Hillary Clinton and Chris Christie Headline Clinton Global Initiative America Conference

June 12, 2013 Leave a comment

Clinton Global Initiative America is an event taking place June 13-14 in Chicago, Illinois. The Clinton Global Initiative is a foundation that convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s challenges. Annual meetings have brought together heads of state, Nobel Prize winners, and the world’s leading CEO’s and philanthropists. CGI was founded in 2005 by Bill Clinton and advisor Doug BandCGI

The CGI America conference will focus on solutions to promote economic recovery and  how to create jobs. Classified as a “working meeting,” business, foundation, NGO and government leaders will be on hand to collaborate and present ideas.

Headlining the event will be Hillary Clinton and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Secretary Clinton will be participating at CGI America for the first time, and will give featured remarks along with Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and J.B. Pritzker, Managing Partner of The Prtizker Group. Moderated by President Clinton, participants will also include:

Eva Longoria, Founder, The Eva Longoria Foundation

Sara Martinez Tucker, Chief Executive Officer, National Math + Science Initiative

Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder, President and CEO, Chobani, Inc.

Laysha Ward, President, Community Relations, Target Corporation

The focus of the group will be “American Dreams, American Realities: Achieving Economic and Social Mobility.”

Governor Christie will take the stage in the final session of the conference on Friday with President Clinton. They will participate in the plenary session “Cooperation and Collaboration: A Conversation on Leadership.”

Other notable participants at CGI America include, Jacob J. Lew, US Treasury Secretary, Chelsea Clinton, Clinton Foundation board member, and Bill Simon, President and CEO of Walmart US and Walmart Stores, Inc.

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Senate Confirms Chuck Hagel Nomination

February 26, 2013 Leave a comment

Chuck Hagel was confirmed as Defense Secretary on Tuesday after a strong opposition from Senate Republicans. Despite being a Republican himself, Hagel had to face a possible filibuster in the process of his confirmation, which came with a 58-41 vote, the smallest margin for a defense secretary since 1947.

52 Democrats, two independents and just four Republicans voted to confirm Hagel, with 41 Republicans opposing him. The Senate had voted earlier in the afternoon 71-27 to end the debate of the nomination. Hagel, a former Republican senator from Nebraska was nominated by President Obama to the post. Obama released the following statement:

“I will be counting on Chuck’s judgment and counsel as we end the war in Afghanistan, bring our troops home, stay ready to meet the threats of our time and keep our military the finest fighting force in the world.”

Hagel will be sworn in tomorrow morning and face spending cuts as they are set to automatically kick in on March 1. In a statement, Hagel said,  “I will work closely with Congress to ensure that we maintain the strongest military in the world and continue to protect this great nation.”

Republicans opposed the nomination in part because of Hagel’s opposition to the troop surge in Iraq. There were also concerns about comments Hagel had made that put into question is commitment to Israel and suggestions were made that he received money from North Korea.

Politics Put Aside in Hurricane Sandy Response

November 1, 2012 Leave a comment

In the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, leaders at all levels of government are putting politics aside to form the best disaster response possible for the regions effected by Sandy. President Obama, in what was just a week from election day, joined a conference call with utility executives to express the fact that turning power back on for the millions without it was a top priority  Energy Secretary Stephen Chu and FEMA administrator Craig Fugate had also joined the call in an effort to find out what assistant FEMA could provide in assisting the companies in getting the power turned back on.

8 million homes across 18 states had lost power the AP reported.

The White House said, “The President also commended the dangerous and exhausting work being undertaken by the lineman and utility workers on the front lines in the field, repairing downed power lines and conducting other important tasks.”

The following day, President Obama flew to New Jersey to meet with Republican Governor Chris Christie and other state and local officials. Press Secretary Jay Carney told the media, “It is entirely appropriate for the president to visit New Jersey …and to view first hand the damage inflicted by Sandy. This is not a time for politics.”

President Barack Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie talk with local residents at the Brigantine Beach Community Center in Brigantine, N.J.

Upon meeting with Governor Christie, he and President Obama toured damaged areas on the Jersey Shore and Long Beach Island in a helicopter. Following the tour, they spoke at a shelter, offering one another praise.

President Obama said, “I want to just let you know that your governor is working overtime to make sure that as soon as possible everybody can get back to normal. Christie returned praise adding, “I want to thank the president for coming here today. It’s really important to have the president of the United States acknowledge all the suffering that’s going on here in New Jersey and I appreciate it very much. We’re going to work together to make sure we get ourselves through this crisis and get everything back to normal. Thank you for coming, sir.”

Categories: Current Events, Politics

Elizabeth Warren’s Senate Run

October 11, 2011 Leave a comment
One of the biggest surprises of the Republican victories in the tumultuous 2010 mid-term elections was the election of Republican Scott Brown to the Massachusetts senate seat. Riding a wave of Tea Party support and Republican momentum, Brown out campaigned and out maneuvered a weak Democratic candidate, Martha Coakly, who thought that due to Massachusetts’ historically liberal leanings the senate seat was all but hers. She was mistaken of course and Brown won the senate seat shocking much of the nation.

However, now Scott Brown has a new challenger and holding on to that senate seat as an incumbent might prove to be a bit more difficult than winning it was back in 2010. Elizabeth Warren has recently thrown her hat into the ring for Kennedy’s long held senate seat and is proving a formidable challenger. Warren, a Harvard professor and long time consumer advocate who is mostly known for helping create the Consumer Protection Bureau and then being passed over by Obama to head it, has devoted much of her professional life researching working against large financial special interest groups. In addition to her scholarly work, she was appointed by senator Reid to the TARP oversight committee in 2008 and testified before congress on numerous occasions on financial issues. It was her tenacity and success in this arena that most likely lead Obama to pass her over in hopes that a more moderate head of the newly created Consumer Protection Bureau would be less controversial to newly elected conservative house members, who vowed to block her nomination.

While early predictions either favored Brown or put Brown and Warren neck and neck, a few missteps by Brown and the rising tide of anti-financial sector sentiments have begun to swing the tide slightly in Warren’s favor. Recently, Brown invoked angry sentiments when he made unflattering quips about Warren’s physical appearance when questioned about his nude photo spread in Playgirl. If Brown continues such missteps, and if public opinion against big moneyed interests continue to rise, then Warren, who is seen among many as a stalwart defender of the middle-class consumer against big money, could easily ride that wave to a Democratic victory in 2012.

In fact, it appears that public opinion is beginning so slowly turn. The New York Times reported on October 10, 2011 that Warren is out fundraising Brown and far out fundraising her democratic primary candidates, two of who have withdrawn from the race, and that favorable opinions of her amongst likely voters are growing. Current polls have Warren and Brown tied in the Massachusetts senate race. Not a bad performance for someone who just entered the race a month ago.

Politics Heating Up – Justice Department Scorching

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment
Politics is heating up across America, and one place the heat is getting absolutely scorching is within the Justice Department. Internal Justice Department documents obtained by media outlets on October 3, 2011 reveal that Attorney General Eric Holder was sent briefings on the controversial ATF gun-running program known as Fast and Furiousin July, 2010, directly contradicting Mr. Holder’s statement to Congress.

On May 3, 2011 Holder stated in a Judiciary Committee hearing “I’m not sure of the exact date, but I probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.”Of course, the Justice Department now claims that the released memos were discussing a “different case started before Eric Holder became Attorney General”, and Mr. Holder claims to have “misunderstood” the question from the Committee back in May.Operation “Fast and Furious” was a covert ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) program where firearms were legally purchased by straw buyers in the U.S. and then smuggled into Mexico to be sold to drug cartels. Letting the guns “walk” was the term used for allowing the straw purchases to be sent south. The operation remained secret until last December when Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was murdered during a drug interdiction operation. Two guns were recovered from the scene that proved to be part of the Fast and Furious straw purchases, and the operation was publically revealed by ATF whistleblower, John Dodson.

The ostensible purpose of the operation was to track the weapons in order to combat the drug cartels, but many political rivals of the Administration see the operation as cynical ploy to push a domestic gun control agenda, and point to numerous instances of left wing commentary before the Fast and Furious story broke that claimed a connection between lax U.S. gun laws and gun violence in Mexico. Others on the opposite side of the spectrum claim that these operations were the work of “rogue” elements within the ATF and that the gun running operations originated under the auspices of the Bush Administration.

What is clear is that William Newell, the ATF special agent in charge of the Phoenix area where most of the straw purchases occurred, has admitted in sworn testimony that “the DHS, IRS, DEA, ATF, ICE and the Obama Justice Department were all involved” in the Fast and Furious operation. President Obama says he knew nothing about Fast and Furious, even though $10 million in stimulus funds were set aside for the operation in February of 2009 and he referred to “gun tracing” and “gun enforcement policies” in a joint press conference with Mexican President Felipe Calderon in April 2009.

The media’s reluctance to report on this story lends credence to the claim that the media is largely compliant and partisan, but as more facts come to light that illuminate trails leading high up into the Justice Department, the media can no longer ignore the story, and Operation Fast and Furious may become the singular issue of the 2012 Election.

On the Contrary… my dear Watson! Or is it?

February 18, 2011 Leave a comment

Much of the country tuned in to Jeopardy this week and were surprised to find a twist in the game. Two of the game’s biggest winner’s, each earning six figure’s in cash prizes throughout their appearances on the show, were back in the spotlight competing head-to-head. To challenge the top two contestants in Jeopardy history, a third competitor, Watson, was brought to the stage to upend them. The unexpected twist – Watson is an IBM supercomputer with the ability to search through massive amounts of data at unprecedented speeds. In a test of human vs. artificial intelligence, IBM had sent a robot to do the dirty work that countless other human competitors failed to do so many times previously.

In a two day event designed to showcase the advances in IBM technology, IBM hoped to display just how smart Watson was by attempting to defeat the “smartest of the smartest” while the whole world watched it all go down. True to their word, IBM delivered an incredibly smart computer that dominated the game in nearly every aspect. Or did it?

Watson managed to chime in on almost every clue, delivering near perfect success. It certainly demonstrated just how much data Watson had access to, how complex the algorithms must have been to sort through it all, and how fast it was able to process it all by returning correct answers at the bat of an eye. However, there were a variety of questions that Watson remained silent on and a few answers that he gave that were completely illogical (i.e. Toronto, for an answer – a final jeopardy answer no less – as a response to a clue that specifically asked for a U.S. city).

It seemed as though Watson was more adept at returning correct responses for clues that had specific dates, times, names, and/or places within the answer than he was at delivering responses for the questions that IBM had led us all to believe he was capable of – the clues that were complex and required analytical thinking. Furthermore, Watson would reveal a variety of options that he thought could be the correct response and show the percentage of how confident he was in that answer. In some cases, he would reveal the correct response associated with the least amount of confidence in its truth. Regardless of answering he demonstrated that sometimes his inability to come up with the correct response was not due to the lack of information available to him, but that he was unable to determine which information was the most relevant and which was not. In other words, the answer was out there for him to retrieve it, he was just unable to fully comprehend the question and decipher the information it came across to associate and return the correct response.

One of the most significant aspects of the game that stood out to anyone “hoping” for a human to beat Watson, was that Ken tried buzzing in on almost every answer that Watson did. Unfortunately Watson almost always beat him to it. In terms of fairness, I think the final scores were not reflective of how much “smarter” Watson was than the two human competitors. Without reaction time factored in, I believe the margin between the final scores would’ve been a lot less. For Ken to determine the right answer and react fast enough to push the button before Watson would mean his reaction time would have to be faster than the speed at which Watson can send an electronic signal which triggers the buzzer. It would be interesting to know what that time lapse was and if the game had gotten to the point where the two human competitors had to buzz in immediately on every clue as soon as they were allowed (regardless of whether or not they already knew the correct response) just to stand a chance at buzzing in before Watson

As a last concern, the arbitrary “wagering” that Watson made during daily double attempts and in final jeopardy rounds was off-putting. If IBM can design a supercomputer that is capable of sorting through million’s of pages of content in a split second and determining an answer based upon a complex set of algorithms wouldn’t you think that they could develop an algorithm that didn’t just wager “arbitrary” amounts of money somewhere in the range of zero dollars and whatever total Watson had at the moment? Perhaps a simple addition to the algorithm which allowed him to compare the current cash totals of his opponents and wager an amount to keep him within a couple thousand dollars in the event that he got the answer wrong? Instead, with a lead of several thousand dollars over his opponents and no possibility of losing the lead going into final jeopardy on day 1, we got a wager of a couple hundred dollars. The selling point of the robot was his ability to analyze information as it would be disseminated to a human yet IBM didn’t allow Watson to be proactive in his wagering strategy, basing his decision on his answer accuracy or the scores of his opponents.

Watson the supercomputer? On the contrary my fellow readers! Watson was merely fast at sorting through data and buzzing in. Although, all skepticism aside, I am impressed with his ability to do just that and can see a very practical use for him in the real world with the example that IBM gave us… perhaps in the medical industry looking up any and all symptoms associated with a patient and sorting through previous cases documented online and giving suggestions for treatment. There is just no doubt in my mind that I want a human doctor making the final decision.

Haiti – Consistency Amidst Disarray

January 5, 2011 1 comment

Haitian citizens are in a heated and violent debate related to the presidential election.  The first round of voting was controversial with no clear outcome decided.  Protests followed which were violent but also awakening as accounts of fraud were made public.  Originally, the first round votes were supposed to be announced three weeks ago on the 20th of December.  Since a decision has not been made, the runoff vote scheduled for Jan 16th will also have to be pushed back.  It’ll likely be at least a month after the original results are finally tallied before a second round of votes can be held.  The Organization of American States is handling the review of results from the first round.  The political chaos is just one of many issues that continue to weigh on Haitian citizens.  Recurring problems still remain from the earthquakes and the more recent Cholera outbreaks.  The death toll continues to rise but despite all that some citizens amazingly maintain relatively positive spirits – finding comfort in the “consistency” of all of the political debates throughout a nation of disarray.  The overwhelming sentiment for many Haitians is that the matter is in God’s hands, their only true incorruptible leader, keeping their faith that things will be okay.