The Essence of Politics

Monday, December 29, 2008

My Perspective: Life

Sometimes in life, we go through so much that it’s hard for us to even grasp it all because we are always on the go. However when one reflects on their life, it is easy to put it into perspective. I’ve seen just how far I have come and I have seen my life, up close and person, love it or hate, I have transformed into someone that in the end, I am pleased with and proud of. I obviously have been doing something right in my life because when I think about all those I have left behind or the Lord has taken from this earth, I must have been doing something right to avoid all the pitfalls of those I grew up with.

There are so many times when it could have been me in that casket but it wasn’t. I have seen up close and in person just how thankful and blessed I am. So many good people have been taken from us by senseless violent acts and it’s hard for us as people to really grasp all of this but the reality is that, the only way to really grasp it, is for us to understand that the Lord has a higher purpose for us. We can’t allow all those good people’s deaths be in vain. There is a reason why the Lord has spared us and it might be hard to understand it immediately but we can’t allow those good people’s deaths be in vain. We have to carry them with us and think about them as we go forward in life.

My life used to be empty but now it is full because after reflecting on all that I have been through, I have seen just how far I have come and how the Lord has helped me through so much. It is easy for us to think that if we don’t accomplish a dream or goal than we have failed or that the devil is conquering our life but we never think that maybe this is not what the Lord wanted us to have. The Lord has a purpose for all of us and when we think about our own individual lives, I guarantee you that there’s so much good for us to be proud of.

There’s so much more for us to be thankful for, to be blessed for, and to be proud of. Just take a look at your life and really think, where you could be if it wasn’t for the Lord. The Lord guided you this far and will guide you even farther if you just believe. It’s so easy for us to criticize and accept defeat but it is so hard for us to accept the possibility that even in defeat, we can find victory. Even in victory we can defeat. Looking at winning as winning and losing as losing, you are bound to always miss the silver lining between the two because even when you win, you might have lost. Especially if you aren’t celebrating that victory with someone you know should be there with you but isn’t because of some pity argument you all had.

Life is not about winning or losing but it is about love, helping others, and happiness for everyone. It’s easy to give up on some much but it is more difficult to pursue that dream or goal despite the failures that may arise and the obstacles that arose. It takes a lot of patience, determination, and perseverance to pursue one’s dreams and goals despite the mounting doubters and perhaps the hardships of setbacks that take place.

Life isn’t easy but if it was then why would we live it and have so many days, months and perhaps year to change our course of history. Time is not guaranteed to any of us but with each second of every minute and every minute of every hour as well as every hour of every day, we need to make sure we are striving toward changing our place in history.

Life is a gift and the greatest gift that we have. Life is love and happiness because we learn to love by living and we learn to be happy by learning to love life for all the things that it offers us on the days we are granted to see another day in this world.

Therefore, take life for what it is and what it has granted us but never ever take life for granted because there is no guarantee that we will tomorrow so live today as if it is your last. Try not to have regrets and if you do, let them be known now rather than carrying them for days, months and years. Tomorrow isn’t promised so let go of the past, rejoice in the present and hope for a brighter future.

That’s why my life is what it is. That’s why I am thankful for the moments that take my breath away and for the people who have helped me experience those moments that take my breath away.

Enjoy life: rejoice in it, thrive in it, be blessed in it, and most of all do all you can to make this a world a better place while you are here.

12/24/08 President-elect Obama's Weekly Address


In the final weekly address of 2008, President-elect Barack Obama calls for the season of giving to also be a season of common purpose and shared citizenship.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Where is OUR Talented Tenth?--By: Akindele Akinyemi

Obama Picks for his Cabinet:

Arne Duncan Secretary of Education (B.A.- Harvard)
Hillary Clinton Secretary of State (J.D - Yale)
Eric Holder Attorney General (J.D - Columbia)
Tom Daschle Secretary of Human and Health (J.D - South Dakota University)
Shaun Donovan Secretary of HUD (MPA - Harvard)
Eric Shenseki Secretary of Veteran Affairs (West Point)
Tom Vilsack Secretary of Agriculture (J.D - University of Iowa)
Melody Barnes Director of Domestic Policy Council (J.D.- University of Michigan)

Timothy Geithner Secretary of Treasury (M.A. John Hopkins University)
Bill Richardson Secretary of Commerce (M.A - Tufts University)
Christina Romer Council of Ecnomic Advisors Ph.D - MIT)
Lawrence Summers Director, National Economic Council (Ph.D- Harvard)
Paul Volcker Director, Economic Recovery Advisory Board (M.A. - Harvard)
Peter Orszag Director, OMB (Ph.D - London School of Economics)

Steven Chu Secretary of Energy (Ph.D - University of California)
Ken Salazar Secretary of the Interior (J.D. - University of Michigan)
Lisa Jackson Administrator of the EPA (M.A - Princeton)
Nancy Sutley Council of Environmental Quality (M.A.- Harvard)
Carol Browner Asst. to the President for Climate Change (J.D - University of Florida)

Robert Gates Secretary of Defense (Ph.D - Georgetown)
Janet Napolitano Secretary of Homeland Security (J.D. - University of Virginia)
James Jones National Security Advisor (B.A - Georgetown)
Susan Rice Ambassador to the United Nations (D.Phil - Oxford)

Valerie Jarrett Assistant to the President (J.D. University of Michigan)
Pete Rouse Senior Advisor (London School of Economics)

These picks are heavyweights. This is who Obama has surrounded himself with. Call it what you want but if urban conservatives want to play the game then we better surround ourselves with heavyweights as well. This is not longer about the regular norm. It's about crafting policies that makes sense. Social issues are good if they are conencted with policy reform.

Urban Conservatives must get busy with putting together policies such as educational reform, family policies, emerging urban markets,trade and development, international exports, health care, mental health, HIV/AIDS, embrace Africa as an emerging market, building a strogner urban infrastructure,transporation, agriculture and energy policies.

This is where we are going in 2009 and beyond. Where are our special interest groups that are dealing with these policies I mentioned above? Our lobbysts? Our scholars under 45 years old? How do we tackle re-educating our students in higher education when 90% of the professors in any given university is liberal? Our story is never told in either K-12 or higher education. Who fault is that?

Even Booker T.Washignton stressed education for those conservatives who like to make excuses about why they are not in school. Remember, Washington founded Tuskegee University which was originally a teacher college for Blacks. Washington graduated from Hampton University, which he earned his way on his own.

In 2009 we can no longer make excuses about this. Either play the game or perish.

Join the Discussion: Service


Paul Schmitz from the Transition's Innovation and Civil Society Team responds to the thousands of comments we received about national service. Learn more at http://www.change.gov/service

President-elect Obama names key regulatory appointments


The President-elect introduced his picks to lead the SEC and the CFTC at a press conference December 18, 2008 in Chicago.

12/20/08 President-elect Obama's Weekly Address


On December 20, 2008 President-elect Obama introduced the team of men and women who will head up the nation's major scientific departments.

President-elect Obama Introduces Labor Heads


On December 19 in Chicago, the President-elect announced his picks for four labor related positions.

Innovation, not union-bashing, is road out of automakers' troubles--By Harold Ford Jr. -


THE TENNESSEAN
December 21, 2008
By Harold Ford Jr.

Intel's "strategic objective is tackling big problems and turning them into big businesses," said former Intel Chairman Andy Grove, as he urged the company's current leadership to begin manufacturing advanced batteries for plug-in cars.

Grove believes the future of the U.S. auto industry is in electric cars, and that America's battery production is limited. Thus, Grove contends, Intel should diversify its business by manufacturing advanced batteries for electric cars. Such a venture would create new jobs and increase Intel's profitability. In short, Grove believes Intel should innovate its way to future success.

The Intel model — past and future — is a good one for Detroit and Washington to follow. I watched and listened closely to the auto-bailout debate in Washington earlier this month, and the outcome revealed the stunning lack of creativity and innovation in saving the American automobile industry. Senate Republicans, led by the "Southern resistance" of Sens. Bob Corker, Mitch McConnell and Richard Shelby, implored that bloated and outdated labor agreements between unions and management were the cause of the industry's problems. They argued that, simply by undoing these labor agreements, the car companies could be put back on the path toward profitability again.

The Republican effort to put labor unions out of the car business may serve their political agenda, but it's narrow-minded and certainly no substitute for a long-term growth and innovation strategy to rehabilitate American carmakers. What is missing from the Corker-McConnell-Shelby argument is an equal zeal for incentivizing and rewarding innovation in Detroit.

American carmakers, aided by shortsighted allies in the White House and Congress, over the past two decades have repeatedly resisted making smaller and more fuel-efficient cars, while their Japanese and Korean counterparts manufactured and sold these cars to more and more Americans.

Senate GOP exacerbated market
In addition, the Corker-McConnell-Shelby effort in the Senate caused the auto bailout to fail, adding more stress to an already depressed U.S. job market, with the end result being that thousands of Tennesseans could lose their jobs right after the new year. Tennesseans should be relieved that President Bush defied Corker, McConnell and Shelby to keep the carmakers alive. This is the only way that middle-class Americans will hold on to their jobs while President-elect Barack Obama and the new Congress draft a serious auto restructuring plan.

The new plan will create an auto czar with the authority to rework labor and legacy cost agreements, bring in new management at GM and Chrysler, compel big and continued investments in new battery and hydrogen fuel technologies, and enact a set of tax credits to encourage Americans to buy these newly designed cars. It is true that Detroit's failures must be corrected for them to thrive going forward. But, Washington owes Detroit a more creative option than to destroy the labor unions or allow the carmakers to file Chapter 11.

A collapse of the American automobile industry could also cause great economic upheaval around the world. American carmakers have been very successful in selling cars in Russia, China, India and Brazil. They dominate many of these markets. Any disruption of the American auto industry could cause hundreds of thousands of jobs to be lost in these emerging countries, fueling a worse global recession.

The U.S. car industry's birth was predicated on vision, energy, hard work and innovation. Detroit's success over the decades has created millions of jobs around the country and contributed greatly to our national security. We are too great a country to permit this great industry to become a memory.

The 21st century will rise or fall on the innovation that America and the world can bring to the global marketplace. If the American automobile industry follows the lead of Bill Gates of Microsoft, Steve Jobs of Apple, Fred Smith of FedEx, and, yes, Andy Grove of Intel, it will once again retain its leadership in the manufacturing of cars.

So, Washington and Detroit, get to work. There's not a moment to lose.
Harold Ford Jr. is chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council.

Educational Tax Credits Is Needed in 2009 by Akindele Akinyemi

It's time for the State Constitution to be amended to allow educational tax credits for low-wealth families. The reason? Michigan is in deep financial trouble, and government estimates keep get ting worse.

The economic slowdown is prompting many families who can no longer afford both taxes and private school tuition to move their children into public schools.

The accelerating closure of private schools in urban areas will only add to the pressure. Public schools will suddenly need to spend more -- even as tax revenues drop. With this kind of budget problem, lawmakers need to take a look at an important benefit of programs that make it easier for families to choose private schools: School choice means huge savings for state and local governments.

What is needed right now is a broad-based, moderate-size education tax credit that would help families stay in private schools and save their children from burdening taxpayers with the public schools' price tag. The credit would also help others make the switch to the private sector, easing the burden on taxpayers even more.

Education tax credits reduce the amount a taxpayer owes the government for each dollar he spends on his child's education or on scholarships for children who need them. That money comes straight off a person's tax liability, so it's a dollar-for-dollar benefit: You can send it to the government or use it on the kind of education you want to support. Tax credits for donations to scholarship organizations help support school choice for lower-income families, while personal-use credits help middle-class families send their children to good schools.

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy have a link here (http://www.mackinac.org/article.aspx?ID=3273) on tax credits.

In the next legislative session here in Michigan there should be a bi-partisan effort to push this through. Democratic and GOP leaders in both State House and Senate must follow New Jersey's lead and propose a donation tax credit plan for Michigan. Businesses would get tax credits for donations to scholarship organizations that provide school choice for lower-income families. New Jersey's economic study supporting the Urban Enterprise Zone Jobs Scholarship Act concludes that this tax credit for children in eight underperforming districts would save $72 million over the length of the five-year pilot. Also, a recent fiscal analysis of Cato's model tax credit legislation shows that New Jersey could save $5 billion to $10 billion over 10 years with that larger program based on the savings found for New York and Illinois.

Think about what this can do for residents and the economy here in Michigan.

Many Democratic lawmakers have embraced education tax credits across the nation as a way to offset the persistent educational disadvantage facing low-income children. Seven years ago in the State of Florida's donation tax credit program became law. Only one Democratic legislator voted for it. In 2008, a third of statehouse Democrats, half the black caucus and the entire Hispanic caucus voted to expand the program.

The momentum is still building. A government fully controlled by Democrats in Iowa -- governor and both legislative houses -- expanded the tax credit dollar cap by 50 percent in 2007. Just this year, Georgia passed a $50 million program with no family income cap on student eligibility.

As you can see educational choice is just not about charter schools. It's a choice to save children through other means such as tax credits. But we first must amend our State's constitution to make this a reality.


When I am elected as the first Nigerian-American Republican in the United States I want you to remember that I have never intended to harm or hurt you. I just simply love you.

Break Up Detroit Public Schools by Akindele Akinyemi

There are many that want to attempt to save the free falling Detroit Public Schools. So here is how our community can save what's left of the school system.

Break it up.

Let's face it, the Detroit Public Schools must break up their school district similar to what we see in Warren, Michigan.

If you look here at this link (http://www.misd.net/directory/) you can clearly see how the Warren, Michigan has five school districts inside one.

1. Warren Consolidated
2. Warren Woods
3. Center Line
4. Van Dyke
5. Fitzgerald

The same can be found in St. Clair Shores, Michigan.

1. Lakeshore
2. Lakeview
3. Southlake

What I am proposing is not the old Area system of the late 70s and 80s. I am actually proposing actual smaller school districts broken down into 5-6 school districts that can be held accountable.

This is also different from the proposal that Gov. Jennifer Granholm recommended to the State Legislature in terms of smaller high schools. Again, I am speaking of a master solution to the woes in Detroit Public Schools. That is breaking down the entire district into 5 smaller school districts.

30 years of research shows that four factors consistently affect student achievement—smaller school size (300-500 students); smaller class size, especially at high schools; challenging curriculum; and more highly qualified teachers. The communities with the largest schools and school districts have the worst achievement, affective, and social outcomes.

There was strong, consistent negative correlation between district size and student achievement in low income populations. The higher the level of poverty in a community served by a school, the more damage larger schools and school districts inflict on student achievement.

In terms of school district size, the research is more sparse compared to the literature regarding school size, but again there is no universal consensus on what constitutes a large school district or a small school district. Florence Webb, in a 1971 Education Research Service study of 26 reports completed between 1939 and 1969, stated that the most common recommendation for district size was 10,000 students. In another study, it is suggested that the optimal district enrollment is approximately 6,000 students. Another report shows how researchers and practitioners should promote an appropriate curriculum, extra-curricular activities, and a safe and nurturing environment. Therefore, a school district should enroll at least 260 but no more than 2,925 students.

What is evidenced by the literature is that small school districts and small schools have many advantages over larger school districts and schools.
The research that has been conducted in the past decade has had a focus on the relationship between the size of a school or district and student achievement. Much research has also been conducted on the impact of poverty in relation to the size of schools and districts.

Research dictates how smaller school districts produces higher grades and test scores, and improved attendance and lower dropout rates DPS's large school district hurts attendance and dampens enthusiasm for involvement in school activities. Also, large schools have lower grade averages and standardized-test scores coupled with higher dropout rates and more problems with violence, security and drug abuse. Behavior problems are so much greater in larger DPS schools that any possible virtue of larger size is canceled out by the difficulties of maintaining an orderly learning environment. Students in communities with smaller districts and smaller schools have higher SAT and ACT scores.

If the Detroit Public Schools are serious about repopulating the district as well as reinvesting in deteriorating school facilities they should not be so eager to increase school size in most instances, if higher student achievement, especially in poorer communities, is a goal.

Some of the disadvantages to think about if we are serious about looking at breaking up the Detroit Public School District is to small school districts are more likely to have a building with a feature in less than adequate condition and that lower budgets and decreased access to quality teachers often means fewer educational resources and fewer specialized courses and services.

In summary, it should be emphasized that disputes on breaking a larger school district into smaller school districts may be costly diversions from the more important issues of disadvantage and equal opportunity, especially as they relate to school performance. School district reorganization should not be founded only on opportunities to reduce costs, and the financial savings should never be the sole reason to break down school districts. Size does not guarantee success, as "good schools come in all sizes."

There is little or no agreement on optimal school size; "one size does not fit all." Detroit Public Schools should carefully consider a multitude of options for the struggling district due to their size. The impact on student achievement and the community well-being should be extensively examined, as many researchers have insinuated combining two small failing districts will only result in one larger failing district unless the proper measures are taken into account. Smaller districts in Detroit will help bring the problems and opportunities back to the local level. This freedom will spur innovation, flexibility, and commitment by both parents and teachers. Only then will true accountability, educational quality, and efficiency be within our reach.

When I am elected as the first Nigerian-American Republican in the United States I want you to remember that I have never intended to harm or hurt you. I just simply love you.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Officials: Obama to select Rep. Solis, Ron Kirk--By NEDRA PICKLER and LIZ SIDOTI, Associated Press Writers


Nearing completion of his Cabinet, Barack Obama has selected California Rep. Hilda Solis as his labor secretary and former Dallas mayor Ron Kirk as U.S. trade representative, officials said Thursday.

The president-elect planned to formally announce the Solis and Kirk selections soon, perhaps as early as Friday, along with that of Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois for transportation secretary.

On Thursday, Obama named three veteran regulators to help clean up financial debacles. Amid a year-old recession that's still deepening, Obama blamed much of the nation's economic troubles on government regulators who "dropped the ball," and he called for a return to ethics and tough enforcement.

The officials who disclosed the Solis and Kirk selections spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss selections that had not yet been announced.
Solis, a Democratic congresswoman who is the daughter of Mexican and Nicaraguan immigrants, has focused on immigration and environment issues while in the House. Kirk, a partner in the Dallas office of the Houston-based powerhouse law and lobbying firm Vinson & Elkins, was the first black to be elected Dallas mayor.

Obama is trying to get most of his major appointments out of the way before heading to Hawaii for a holiday vacation, and has held a news conference each day this week to unveil top positions. He has yet to announce senior intelligence positions, and numerous sub-Cabinet posts remain unfilled.

Standing before reporters on Thursday, Obama named Securities and Exchange Commission veteran Mary Schapiro as chairwoman of that agency, former Treasury official Gary Gensler to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and law professor Daniel Tarullo to fill an empty Federal Reserve seat. All three will need to be confirmed by the Senate next year.

In making the announcements, Obama pointed to Wall Street money manager Bernard Madoff, under investigation in an alleged $50 billion fraud, and said the scandal underscored the need for tougher regulators. The scandal "has reminded us yet again of how badly reform is needed," he said.

The president-elect said his new team will help put in place new rules that will help "crack down on the culture of greed and scheming."

"There needs to be a shift in ethics on Wall Street," he said.

As Obama spoke in Chicago, the White House said it is considering "orderly" bankruptcy as a way of dealing with the desperately ailing U.S. auto industry. President George W. Bush, asked about an auto rescue plan during an appearance before a private group, said he hadn't decided what he would do but also spoke of the idea of bankruptcies organized by the federal government as a possible way to go.

Obama did not immediately comment on the idea.

But he wouldn't weigh in on whether he would support a decision by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to tap the second $350 billion installment of the $700 billion financial bailout program. Major auto companies are pleading for emergency aid, which could come from that pot.

"I think it's important that the Treasury, the Fed and all of us do whatever's required to make sure that our financial system is stable and secure," Obama said. But he added: "We cannot afford a collapse of our financial system. Main Street can't afford it." He said he would evaluate any Paulson signals about what is necessary.

More broadly, Obama blamed regulators for the financial debacle, saying that they, along with congressional committees, "have been asleep at the switch."

Americans, as they watch their investments tank, are frustrated that "there's not a lot of adult supervision out there," Obama added.

Schapiro, who would be Obama's top Wall Street regulator and investor protector, said that investor trust "is the lifeblood of financial markets." She called for tough enforcement action by incoming regulators.

If confirmed by the Senate:
--Schapiro, who served as an SEC commissioner in Republican and Democratic administrations and is currently the head of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, would take over an agency that faces growing criticism for its failure to protect investors and detect trouble brewing on Wall Street.

As the scandal involving Madoff continues to stun the financial world, revelations have surfaced that staff at the SEC repeatedly failed over the course of a decade to fully investigate credible allegations against him. SEC Chairman Christopher Cox on Tuesday ordered the agency's inspector general to investigate what went wrong.

--Gensler, a former Treasury official in the Clinton administration, would lead the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is an independent agency created by Congress to regulate trading in the commodity futures and option markets.

--Tarullo, a Georgetown law professor who also worked for President Bill Clinton, would fill an open seat on the Federal Reserve board in Washington.

All the present Fed board members, including chairman Ben Bernanke, were picked by Bush. Tarullo would fill one of two vacant seats on the seven-member board. A third seat also will become available.

_____
Liz Sidoti reported from Washington. Associated Press Writer Jesse Holland in Washington contributed to this report.

___
On the Net:
Obama transition:
http://www.change.gov

Saudis, Blackwater among Clinton foundation donors--By Beth Fouhy And Sharon Theimer, Associat


Former President Bill Clinton laid out a list of big-ticket donors to his foundation Thursday that is heavy with foreign governments and business interests sure to have a stake in the policies that Hillary Rodham Clinton carries out as secretary of state.

Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments gave at least $46 million, while corporate donors included the Blackwater security firm that protects U.S. diplomats in Iraq.

The contributions went to the William J. Clinton Foundation, a nonprofit created by the former president to finance his library in Little Rock, Ark., and charitable efforts to reduce poverty and treat AIDS. President-elect Barack Obama made Hillary Clinton's nomination as secretary of state contingent on her husband revealing the foundation's contributors, to avoid questions about potential conflicts of interest.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia gave $10 million to $25 million to the foundation, and other government donors included Norway, Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei, Oman, Italy and Jamaica. The Dutch national lottery gave $5 million to $10 million.

The Blackwater Training Center donated $10,001 to $25,000. The State Department will have to decide next year whether to renew Blackwater Worldwide's contract to protect U.S. diplomats in Iraq. Five Blackwater guards have been indicted by a U.S. grand jury on manslaughter and weapons charges stemming from a September 2007 firefight in Baghdad's Nisoor Square in which 17 Iraqis died.

The foundation disclosed the names of its 205,000 donors on a Web site Thursday, ending a decade of resistance to identifying the sources of its money. While the list is loaded with international business leaders and billionaires, some 12,000 donors gave $10 or less.
Clinton agreed to release the information after concerns emerged that his extensive international fundraising and business deals could conflict with America's interests if his wife became the nation's top diplomat. The foundation has insisted for years that it was under no legal obligation to identify its contributors, contending that many expected confidentiality when they donated.

The list also underscores ties between the Clintons and India, a connection that could complicate diplomatic perceptions of whether Hillary Clinton can be a neutral broker between India and neighboring Pakistan in a region where Obama will face an early test of his foreign policy leadership.

The former president did not release specific totals for each donor, providing only ranges of giving. Nor did he identify individual contributors' occupations or countries of residence.
Donors gave Clinton's foundation at least $492 million from its inception in 1997 through last year, according to the most recent figures available.

After negotiations with Obama's transition team, Clinton promised to reveal the contributors, submit future foundation activities and paid speeches to an ethics review, step away from the day-to-day operation of his annual charitable conference and inform the State Department about new sources of income and speeches.

Representatives of the foundation, including CEO Bruce Lindsay and attorney Cheryl Mills, and aides to Hillary Clinton met privately Wednesday with staff of incoming Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry of Massachusetts and ranking Republican Dick Lugar of Indiana to discuss the foundation's activities and review a memorandum of understanding drawn up by the Clinton and Obama teams.

The Foreign Relations Committee will hold hearings and vote on Hillary Clinton's nomination before sending it to the full Senate. Shortly after Obama tapped Clinton, Lugar said he would support her, though he said there would still be "legitimate questions" raised about the former president's extensive international involvement.

"I don't know how, given all of our ethics standards now, anyone quite measures up to this — who has such cosmic ties," Lugar said.

Some of the donors have extensive ties to Indian interests that could prove troubling to Pakistan. Tensions between the two nuclear nations are high since last month's deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai.

Amar Singh, a donor in the $1 million to $5 million category, is an Indian politician who played host to Bill Clinton on a visit to India in 2005 and met Hillary Clinton in New York in September to discuss an India-U.S. civil nuclear agreement.

Also in that giving category was Suzlon Energy Ltd. of Amsterdam, a leading supplier of wind turbines. Its chairman is Tulsi R. Tanti, one of India's wealthiest executives. Tanti announced plans at Clinton's Global Initiative meeting earlier this year for a $5 billion project to develop environmentally friendly power generation in India and China.

Two other Indian interests gave between $500,000 and $1 million each:
--The Confederation of Indian Industry, an industrial trade association.

--Dave Katragadda, an Indian capital manager with holdings in media and entertainment, technology, health care and financial services.
Other foreign governments also contributed heavily to the foundation.

--AUSAID, the Australian government's overseas aid program, and COPRESIDA-Secretariado Tecnico, a Dominican Republic government agency formed to fight AIDS, each gave $10 million to $25 million.

--Norway gave $5 million to $10 million.

--Kuwait, Qatar, Brunei and Oman gave $1 million to $5 million each.

--The government of Jamaica and Italy's Ministry for Environment and Territory each gave $50,000 to $100,000.

--The biggest donations — more than $25 million each — came from two donors.

They are the Children's Investment Fund Foundation, a London-based philanthropic organization founded by hedge fund manager Chris Hohn and his wife Jamie Cooper-Hohn and dedicated to helping children, primarily in Africa and India; and UNITAID, an international drug purchasing organization formed by Brazil, France, Chile, Norway and Britain to help provide care for HIV-AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis patients in countries with high disease rates.

The foundation's donor list includes numerous overseas business interests.
--Saudi businessman Nasser Al-Rashid gave $1 million to $5 million.

--Friends of Saudi Arabia and the Dubai Foundation each gave $1 million to $5 million, as did the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office.

--The Swedish Postcode Lottery gave $500,000 to $1 million.

--China Overseas Real Estate Development and the U.S. Islamic World Conference each gave $250,000 to $500,000.

--The No. 4 person on the Forbes billionaire list, Lakshmi Mittal, the chief executive of international steel company ArcelorMittal, gave $1 million to $5 million. Mittal is a member of the Foreign Investment Council in Kazakhstan, Goldman Sachs' board of directors and the World Economic Forum's International Business Council, according to the biography on his corporate Web site.

Among other $1 million to $5 million donors:
--Harold Snyder, director for Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, the largest drug company in Israel. His son, Jay T. Snyder, serves on the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, which oversees State Department activities, and served as a senior U.S. adviser to the United Nations, where he worked on international trade and poverty. Jay Snyder donated between $100,000 and $250,000 to the foundation.

--No. 97 on the Forbes billionaire list, Ethiopian-Saudi business tycoon Sheikh Mohammed H. Al-Amoudi.

--Issam Fares, a former deputy prime minister of Lebanon.

--Mala Gaonkar Haarman, a partner and managing director at the private investment partnership Lone Pine Capital.

--Lukas Lundin, chairman of oil, gas and mining businesses including Tanganyika Oil Company Ltd., an international oil and gas exploration and production company with interests in Syria, and Vostok Nafta Investment Ltd., an investment company that focuses on Russia and other former Soviet republics.

--Victor Pinchuk, son-in-law of the former president of Ukraine. Clinton spoke in 2007 at an annual meeting of Yalta European Strategy, a group Pinchuk founded to promote Ukraine joining the European Union.

The top ranks of Clinton's donor list include lots of longtime Democratic givers, including some notable for their staunch support of Israel.

--TV producer Haim Saban and his family foundation, who donated between $5 million and $10 million, splits his time between homes in Israel and California. "I'm a one-issue guy and my issue is Israel," he told The New York Times in 2004.

--Slim-Fast diet foods tycoon S. Daniel Abraham, a donor of between $1 million and $5 million, has been a board member of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which promotes Israel's interests before the U.S. government.

--The American Jewish Committee and the United Nations Foundation donated $100,000 to $250,000.

Clinton thanked his donors in a statement for being "steadfast partners in our work to impact the lives of so many around the world in measurable and meaningful ways."

According to the memorandum negotiated by the foundation and top Obama advisers, Bill Clinton agreed to publish the names of all past and future contributors to his foundation during Hillary Clinton's tenure as secretary of state.

The former president also agreed to step away from direct involvement in the Clinton Global Initiative, an annual charitable conference where businesses and many foreign governments pledge donations to help ameliorate AIDS, poverty and other social ills. He will continue serving as CGI's founding chairman but will not solicit money or sponsorships. The CGI will cease accepting foreign contributions and will not host events outside the United States.

Clinton started raising money for his library before leaving the White House. Over the years, the Clintons repeatedly refused to identify all the foundation donors, and continued to do so during Hillary Clinton's 2007-08 presidential campaign.

Names surfaced nonetheless. Several news organizations unearthed foreign-government donors, and in 2001, Bill Clinton gave a list of 150 top foundation donors to a House committee investigating his pardon of fugitive businessman Marc Rich, whose ex-wife, Denise Rich, gave the library foundation at least $450,000.

___
On the Net:
Clinton Foundation contributors:
http://www.clintonfoundation.org/contributors

___
Beth Fouhy reported from New York. Associated Press writers Ted Bridis, Jim Drinkard and David Pace in Washington contributed to this story.

Obama chooses 3 more to take on financial reforms--By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer


Nearing completion of his Cabinet, Barack Obama plans to choose California Rep. Hilda Solis as his labor secretary, a labor official said Thursday as the president-elect named three veteran regulators to help clean up financial debacles.

Obama blamed much of the nation's economic troubles on government regulators who "dropped the ball," and he called for a return to ethics and tough enforcement.

Obama planned to announce Solis' selection on Friday, along with that of Republican Rep. Ray LaHood of Illinois for transportation secretary. The incoming chief executive is trying to get most of his major appointments out of the way before heading to Hawaii for a holiday vacation, and has held a news conference each day this week to unveil top positions.

He has yet to announce senior intelligence positions or his choice to head the Office of U.S. Trade Representative. And, numerous sub-Cabinet posts remain unfilled.

Solis, a Democratic congresswoman who is the daughter of Mexican and Nicaraguan immigrants, has focused on immigration and environment issues while in the House. The official who disclosed Obama's decision spoke on condition of anonymity because an announcement has not been made yet.

Standing before reporters on Thursday, Obama named Securities and Exchange Commission veteran Mary Schapiro as chairwoman of that agency, former Treasury official Gary Gensler to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, and law professor Daniel Tarullo to fill an empty Federal Reserve seat. All three will need to be confirmed by the Senate next year.

In making the announcements, Obama pointed to Wall Street money manager Bernard Madoff, under investigation in an alleged $50 billion fraud, and said the scandal underscored the need for tougher regulators. The scandal "has reminded us yet again of how badly reform is needed," he said.

The president-elect said his new team will help put in place new rules that will help "crack down on the culture of greed and scheming."

"There needs to be a shift in ethics on Wall Street," he said.

As Obama spoke in Chicago, the White House said it is considering "orderly" bankruptcy as a way of dealing with the desperately ailing U.S. auto industry. President George W. Bush, asked about an auto rescue plan during an appearance before a private group, said he hadn't decided what he would do but also spoke of the idea of bankruptcies organized by the federal government as a possible way to go.

Obama did not immediately comment on the idea.
But he wouldn't weigh in on whether he would support a decision by Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to tap the second $350 billion installment of the $700 billion financial bailout program. Major auto companies are pleading for emergency aid, which could come from that pot.

"I think it's important that the Treasury, the Fed and all of us do whatever's required to make sure that our financial system is stable and secure," Obama said. But he added: "We cannot afford a collapse of our financial system. Main Street can't afford it." He said he would evaluate any Paulson signals about what is necessary.

More broadly, Obama blamed regulators for the financial debacle, saying that they, along with congressional committees, "have been asleep at the switch."

Americans, as they watch their investments tank, are frustrated that "there's not a lot of adult supervision out there," Obama added.

Schapiro, who would be Obama's top Wall Street regulator and investor protector, said that investor trust "is the lifeblood of financial markets." She called for tough enforcement action by incoming regulators.

If confirmed by the Senate:

--Schapiro, who served as an SEC commissioner in Republican and Democratic administrations and is currently the head of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, would take over an agency that faces growing criticism for its failure to protect investors and detect trouble brewing on Wall Street.

The SEC stands at what could be one of the most difficult times in its history, buffeted by criticism for failing to detect signs that major Wall Street banks were in trouble before the financial crisis erupted and for lax oversight and enforcement in other areas.

As the scandal involving Madoff continues to stun the financial world, revelations have surfaced that staff at the SEC repeatedly failed over the course of a decade to fully investigate credible allegations against him. SEC Chairman Christopher Cox on Tuesday ordered the agency's inspector general to investigate what went wrong.

--Gensler, a former Treasury official in the Clinton administration, would lead the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, which is an independent agency created by Congress to regulate trading in the commodity futures and option markets.

--Tarullo, a Georgetown law professor who also worked for President Bill Clinton, would fill an open seat on the Federal Reserve board in Washington.

His selection would allow Obama to begin to put his imprint on the Federal Reserve. All the present board members, including chairman Ben Bernanke, were hand picked by Bush. Tarullo would fill one of two vacant seats on the seven-member board. A third seat also will become available.

As a member of the Fed board, Tarullo would have an important voice in deciding policy to help jolt the economy back to life.

___
On the Net:
Obama transition:
http://www.change.gov

Obama defends choice of evangelical pastor


President-elect Barack Obama on Thursday defended his choice of a popular evangelical minister to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, rejecting criticism that it slights gays.

The selection of Pastor Rick Warren brought objections from gay rights advocates, who strongly supported Obama during the election campaign. The advocates are angry over Warren's backing of a California ballot initiative banning gay marriage. That measure was approved by voters last month.

But Obama told reporters in Chicago that America needs to "come together," even when there's disagreement on social issues. "That dialogue is part of what my campaign is all about," he said.
Obama also said he's known to be a "fierce advocate for equality" for gays and lesbians, and will remain so.

Warren, a best-selling author and leader of a Southern California megachurch, is one of a new breed of evangelicals who stress the need for action on social issues such as reducing poverty and protecting the environment, alongside traditional theological themes.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation's largest gay rights organization, said Warren's opposition to gay marriage is a sign of intolerance.

"We feel a deep level of disrespect when one of the architects and promoters of an anti-gay agenda is given the prominence and the pulpit of your historic nomination," the group said in a letter to Obama, asking him to reconsider.

Obama's selection of Warren is seen as a signal to religious conservatives that the president-elect will listen to their views. During the campaign, Warren interviewed Obama and Republican John McCain in a widely watched television program that focused on religious concerns.

Gay rights advocates say they are troubled that Obama would give Warren such a visible role at his swearing-in. "By inviting Rick Warren to your inauguration, you have tarnished the view that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender Americans have a place at your table," the letter said.

Obama, however, pointed out that a couple of years ago, he was invited to speak at Warren's church, despite their disagreements on a number of issues.


The president-elect said a "wide range of viewpoints" will be presented during the inaugural ceremonies.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Presdient-elect Obama announces Secretaries of Interior and Agriculture


The President-elect announced his nominees for Secretary of Agriculture and Secretary of the Interior at a press conference December 17, 2008 in Chicago.

President-elect Obama Announces Environment and Energy Team


On December 16 in Chicago, President-elect Obama held a press conference to announce key members of his energy and environment team.

Chicago School Chief Nominated for Cabinet


President-elect Obama announced Arne Duncan as his nominee for education secretary at an elementary school in Chicago.

OPEC cuts record 2.2 million barrels a day--By George Jahn, Associated Press Writer

OPEC on Wednesday agreed to slash 2.2 million barrels from its daily production — its single largest cut ever — while bloc outsiders Russia and Azerbaijan announced their own cutbacks of hundreds of thousands of barrels from the market.

"I hope we surprised you," OPEC President Chekib Khelil said when asked whether the size of the cut would shock moribund oil markets into an upward trend. "If you're not surprised we need to so something about it."

And yet markets weren't impressed.

Crude oil sank to $40.20 after the announcement, a level not seen since the summer of 2004 and a clear sign investors are more worried that the world is heading for a long and painful recession in which energy use will continue to erode.

In just five months, crude has given up all of the price gains made over the past four years.
Making matters worse for OPEC, Moscow distanced itself from direct ties with the 13-nation producers' group, further dampening OPEC hopes of coordinated production cuts that might put a floor under crude prices.

OPEC said oil ministers of the 11 nations under the group's quota system agreed to take 4.2 million barrels a day off the market, but that includes two previous announced cuts that totaled 2 million barrels.

That leaves the new output reduction announced Wednesday at 2.2 million barrels, effective Jan. 1.

Still, even the record cut was unable to counterbalance consumers' concerns about the dismal world economy.

In the U.S., the world's largest crude consumer, the Federal Reserve's decision to slash its target interest rate to nearly zero buoyed global stock markets Tuesday and early Wednesday.

But the news on the U.S. economy is expected to get worse before it gets better. Businesses, which have already cut nearly 2 million jobs since January, keep laying off workers in the face of slumping demand.

The government reported Tuesday before the Fed rate announcement that home builders slashed production in November by 18.9 percent, the biggest drop in nearly a quarter century. That pushed activity down to a record low annual rate of 625,000 units as the woes in the property market, where the current economic troubles began, showed no signs of abating
Focusing on the shrinking oil market, OPEC noted in its statement that "crude volumes entering the market remain well in excess of actual demand."

"Moreover, the impact of the grave global economic downturn has led to a destruction of demand, resulting in unprecedented downward pressure being exerted on prices," it said.

The group said "if unchecked, prices could fall to levels which would place in jeopardy the investments required to guarantee adequate energy supplies in the medium to long term."

In addition to signaling that a major cut was in the offing in the days leading up to the Oran conference, OPEC ministers had expressed hope that Russia — the No. 2 producer after Saudi Arabia — would join in a significant cutback that would bolster prices.

Such support would be significant. Non-OPEC members Mexico, Norway and Russia last slashed production in the late 1990s, at a time oil was selling for about $10 a barrel.

But although Russian Deputy Premier Igor Sechin and Azeri Energy Minister Natik Aliev announced cutbacks of a total of more than 600,000 barrels a day, their commitments appeared largely symbolic.

The Russians indicated their reductions had already been implemented in November, while Azerbaijan's output had already been reduced by about a third due to production problems earlier this year.

Among those hoping for Moscow's support was oil powerhouse Saudi Arabia.

"We also hope that other producers who are not in OPEC will chip in for the purpose of bringing stability to the market," said Saudi oil minister Ali Naimi said, in a nod to Russia.

Sechin, in comments to The Associated Press, said "Russian oil companies have already made a decision to cut deliveries to the market ... approximately equivalent to 350,000 barrels per day." But he specified that his country's cuts had already been enacted ahead of the OPEC meeting.

Sechin did hold out the possibility of further reductions, saying Russia was ready to pare another 320,000 barrels a day "if we see the continuation of the current level of prices on the world oil markets."

But with Russian production falling, due in part to lagging investment, it was unclear whether some of the cuts enacted or proposed were simply a way of packaging Moscow's inability to keep up present output levels. Even before Sechin's comments, Russian output — now close to 10 million barrels a day — was expected to decline by 1 percent this year and by around 2 percent in 2009.

That — and the fact that Russia was announcing reductions already enacted — diminished the significance of its move.

Sechin's vague comments on further cooperation with OPEC — he mentioned plans for possible "permanent observer status" without specifying what that meant — also signaled Moscow's reluctance to trade its traditional independence for closer ties with the 13-nation producers' group.

Sechin did not rule out full membership eventually, but said, "We are not rushing." A member of the Russian delegation who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to comment was blunter, saying his country had no interest in joining OPEC.

OPEC President Khelil sought to cast a positive light on the Russian moves, suggesting that while Russia might rethink membership it was a sovereign country that can "cut maybe more strongly or less strongly — or maybe (do) nothing."

"We cannot tell them, you know, what to cut, and how to cut, and when to cut. They have to make their own decision."

But the Russians "are probably going to change their minds in the future and become full members," he said.

Azerbaijan's Aliev said his country "will support the OPEC cuts," slashing up to 300,000 barrels a day from the country's output. That would be more than a third of total production for the country on the oil-rich Caspian Sea.

Still, Azerbaijan's proposed cuts may be involuntary. After an accident on the main BP pumping platform in October, oil industry analysts say the country's output has dropped to around 500,000 barrels a day — the level Aliev was proposing at Oran.

____
Associated Press writers Angela Charlton, Alfred de Montesquiou and Adam Schreck in Oran contributed to this report.

Minn. panel rules on more disputed Senate votes

The Canvassing Board in Minnesota's U.S. Senate recount is off to a fast start in its second day of awarding challenged ballots to the candidates.

The board got off to a halting start Tuesday, but in less than an hour Wednesday it dispatched almost 50 ballots

As of late Tuesday, incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman was 264 votes ahead of Democratic rival Al Franken.

The board hopes to finish by Friday, but it still has more than 1,000 challenges to consider unless the campaigns pull back a lot more.

The Senate recount also comes before the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday. Coleman wants the high court to stop counties and the canvassing board from including improperly rejected absentee ballots in the recount tally.

Obama team backs Emanuel in Blagojevich probe--By Steve Holland

A top adviser to President-elect Barack Obama on Wednesday expressed support for chief of staff Rahm Emanuel whose talks with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's office about filling Obama's Senate seat have come into question.

Blagojevich has been charged with corruptly plotting to sell Obama's Senate seat and the presidential transition team has been working to distance Obama and his inner circle from the scandal-tarred governor.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported on Wednesday that Emanuel had privately urged Blagojevich's administration to appoint Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett to the Senate seat that Obama vacated when he was elected president November 4.

Emanuel, a Democratic member of the House of Representatives from Illinois chosen by Obama to be his White House chief of staff, had asked the appointment to be made by a certain deadline, the newspaper said.

Obama senior adviser David Axelrod strongly backed Emanuel on MSNBC a day after Obama refused to answer a question about the case at a news conference because the U.S. attorney has the case under investigation.

"I've known Rahm ... for a very long time. I've worked with him closely. He is someone who I think has enormous integrity and unparalleled skill. And I think we're lucky to have him," Axelrod said. "I have no concerns about Rahm. He is an enormous asset to us and will be an enormous asset to the country, as he has been in the Congress."

The scandal has been an unwelcome distraction for Obama as he focuses on plans to rebuild the U.S. economy when he takes power on January 20.

Last week Obama said his office would release details within days about the contacts between his team and Blagojevich's office. But on Monday he said he would delay the release until next week at the request of the federal prosecutors.

He said he had no contact with Blagojevich about the Senate seat and any discussions his team had were not inappropriate.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Obama said it was a "little bit frustrating" that he was unable to release the information now but he was abiding by the request of the U.S. attorney's office.

"There has been a lot of speculation in the press that I would love to correct immediately," Obama said.

Discussing the Senate seat would not be illegal. But it in unclear whether Emanuel or Jarrett, who removed herself from consideration for the Senate seat, knew Blagojevich was seeking a financial reward from whomever was picked.

Axelrod said Obama's report would clear up the doubts.

"It will corroborate what the president-elect has said, which is that he never spoke with the governor or any of his aides about this and that. There were no inappropriate discussions between members of his staff and the governor's office in this manner. And that, I think, will be very clear," he said.

(Editing by David Wiessler and Alan Elsner)

AG recuses himself from Madoff fraud probe--By PETE YOST, Associated Press Writer

Congress will investigate the alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme run by Wall Street money manager Bernard L. Madoff, a leading House lawmaker said Wednesday. Separately, the U.S. attorney general took himself out of any involvement because his son is representing an officer at Madoff's investment firm.

The Madoff scandal has further weakened already-battered investor confidence in securities markets and has raised more troubling questions about the effectiveness of the regulatory system," said Democratic Rep. Paul Kanjorski, chairman of the House Financial Services subcommittee on capital markets.

Kanjorski said he'll convene a congressional inquiry early next month to examine the alleged Madoff fraud and to determine why the Securities and Exchange Commission and other regulators "failed to detect these substantial evasions."

The planned congressional inquiry follows a stunning rebuke that SEC Chairman Christopher Cox leveled against his agency's career regulators, blaming them for a decade-long failure to investigate Madoff and for failing to detect one of the largest Ponzi schemes ever.

At the Justice Department, a spokesman said that Attorney General Michael Mukasey had recused himself from the investigation into Madoff. Mukasey's son, Marc Mukasey, is representing Frank DiPascali, a top financial officer at Madoff's investment firm.

In New York, the judge in the Madoff fraud case has set new conditions for his bail, including a curfew and ankle-monitoring bracelet for the disgraced investor.

Madoff (MAY-doff) remains free on bail, with his wife and brother serving as co-signers for his bail package. A hearing had been scheduled for Wednesday in which Madoff was required to find two additional co-signers to vouch for him.

But with the scandal swirling around Madoff, he was unable to find co-signers. So the judge modified the bail package, and gave lawyers until next Monday to come up with additional paperwork.

DiPascali was the Madoff employee who had the most day-to-day contact with his investors. Several described him as being the man they got on the phone when they had questions about the firm's investment strategy, or wanted to add or subtract money from their accounts.

Authorities have not said publicly whether DiPascali is suspected of any wrongdoing.

"We are trying to learn the facts like everybody else," Marc Mukasey said in a phone interview with The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Cox ordered an internal investigation of what went wrong and offered a scathing critique of the conduct of his staff attorneys. He said they never bothered to seek a formal commission-approved investigation that would have forced Madoff to surrender vital information under subpoena. Instead, the staff relied on information voluntarily produced by Madoff and his firm.

Credible and specific allegations regarding Madoff's financial wrongdoing going back to at least 1999 were repeatedly brought to the attention of SEC staff, said Cox.

A former SEC attorney, Eric Swanson, married Madoff's niece, Shana, last year, The Wall Street Journal reported. The SEC's compliance office issued a statement Wednesday saying that Swanson was part of a team that looked into Madoff's securities brokerage operation in 1999 and 2004. The SEC cited its "strict rules" prohibiting employees from participating in cases involving firms where they have a personal interest.

The SEC's inspector general, David Kotz, said Wednesday that as one part of his investigation, he intends to examine the relationship between Madoff's niece and Swanson.

"There are a lot of different issues" as outlined in Cox's statement, Kotz said. "We obviously will move as soon as possible."

Shock waves from the Madoff affair have radiated around the globe as a growing number of prestigious charitable foundations, big international banks and individual investors acknowledge falling victim to an unprecedented fraud.

"I am gravely concerned by the apparent multiple failures over at least a decade to thoroughly investigate these allegations or at any point to seek formal authority to pursue them," Cox said in a written statement.

The SEC chairman said that Madoff kept several sets of books and false documents, and provided false information involving his investment advisory activities to investors and to regulators.

Separately, Stephen Harbeck, chief executive of the Securities Investor Protection Corporation, said one set of Madoff's books kept track of the losses at his investment advisory arm, while the other is what investors were shown.

SIPC, created by Congress and funded by the securities industry, can give customers up to $500,000 if it is determined their money was stolen. SIPC has about $1.6 billion to make payouts, which means that amount could quickly be depleted in the Madoff case where losses could reach $50 billion. That figure comes from the SEC's court complaint, which quotes Madoff admitting to losses in that amount to two senior employees of his firm before his arrest last Thursday.

Cox's harsh assessment may have the effect of shifting questions away from the politically appointed five-member commission and placing blame squarely — if not solely — on the agency's staff for failing to aggressively pursue a massive fraud.

Cox's statement is sure to foster new criticism of the SEC, an agency increasingly seen in Congress and elsewhere as incapable of carrying out its basic mission: to ensure a basic level of honesty on Wall Street.

Cox spelled out the taint produced by the previous failure to aggressively pursue Madoff: The SEC commission chairman ordered removal from the Madoff criminal investigation of any SEC staff members who have had contact with the prominent Wall Street figure or his family.

Cox's strong statement came as at least two senators signaled they have lost patience with the SEC.

"They were asleep at the switch," Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, said of the SEC's failure to uncover Madoff's alleged fraud.

As Grassley had urged, Cox ordered the SEC's inspector general to conduct the internal probe of his agency's inaction.

Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., said the problems go much deeper.

The Madoff affair "illustrates the lack of credible enforcement over several years by the SEC," said Reed, who chairs the Senate banking panel that oversees the agency. He criticized the SEC's "lack of a strong commitment to be vigilant."

Shortly before Cox denounced his own staff, a widely respected former SEC chief accountant, Lynn Turner, aired his own skepticism. "I can't comprehend how a well-run investigation would have missed a fraud of this magnitude," Turner said.

The Madoff scandal is just the latest instance in which SEC regulators have overlooked clear warning signs of possible fraud.

An earlier review by the SEC inspector general determined that the agency's monitoring of the five biggest Wall Street firms, which included Bear Stearns, was lacking.

In regard to the congressional inquiry, Kanjorski's plan to look into the Madoff scandal could be politically problematic for Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., who received at least $2,250 in campaign donations from Madoff lobbyists between 2005 and 2008. Frank chairs the House Financial Services Committee, of which Kanjorski is a member.

___
Associated Press Writer David B. Caruso contributed to this report from New York

Judge orders ankle bracelet, curfew for Madoff

The judge in the Bernard Madoff fraud case has set new conditions for his bail, including a curfew and ankle-monitoring bracelet for the disgraced investor.

Madoff (MAY-doff) remains free on bail, with his wife and brother serving as co-signers for his bail package. A hearing had been scheduled for Wednesday in which Madoff was required to find two additional co-signers to vouch for him.

But with the scandal swirling around Madoff, he was unable to find co-signers. So the judge modified the bail package, and gave lawyers until next Monday to come up with additional paperwork.

He has already surrendered his passport, and now will be required to be at his Manhattan apartment from 7 p.m to 9 a.m.

Madoff was arrested on charges that he carried out what prosecutors say he called a $50 billion Ponzi scheme that has left people in ruin around the globe

Kennedy says publicly she wants Senate seat


Caroline Kennedy said publicly for the first time Wednesday that she wants to be New York's next senator as she launched a tour of upstate cities to meet with politicians and power brokers
The daughter of President John F. Kennedy met with Syracuse Mayor Matt Driscoll and others as she began her campaign to be appointed to the seat held by Hillary Rodham Clinton, if Clinton is confirmed as President-elect Barack Obama's secretary of state.

"I just wanted to say, as some of you may have heard, I would be honored to be considered for the position of U.S. senator," Kennedy said. "I wanted to come upstate to meet Mayor Driscoll and others to tell them about my experience and also learn how Washington can help upstate New York."

Kennedy noted that a number of elected officials who also have been named as possible Clinton successors.

"There are lot of good candidates the governor is considering and he's laid out a process and I'm proud to be in that process," she said.

Gov. David Paterson will decide who gets the job. The new senator will have to run in 2010 to fill the last two years of Clinton's term and then run for a full term in 2012.

Kennedy, whose uncle, the late Robert F. Kennedy, once held the seat, took no questions.
Her upstate outreach is similar to Clinton's "listening tour" in 1999 and 2000 when she first ran for the Senate.

Like Clinton, Kennedy faces criticism because she's never been elected to public office. Some also worry she would favor New York City interests over the rest of the state.

Kennedy's willingness to embrace the public life of a U.S. senator surprised some after her lifetime of carefully cultivated privacy. But she told a private group in Syracuse that the idea to run didn't just pop into her head when Obama tapped Clinton.

"She said she had been thinking about this for a while, previous to this vacancy coming open," said Syracuse City Councilor Stephanie Miner, who was at the meeting. "She said she is at time in her life where holding public office is something she can do."

A Siena College poll released Wednesday found New York voters are divided over who should fill the seat and that approval ratings for 51-year-old Kennedy and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo are nearly identical.

More New Yorkers believe Paterson will choose Kennedy, by a 31-16 percent margin. Thirty-eight percent said they didn't know or refused to answer and 16 percent felt Paterson would pick someone else.

The telephone survey of 622 registered voters last week had a margin of error of about plus or minus 4 percentage points.

Time names Obama 'Person of the Year'


President-elect Barack Obama has won another contest: He's been named Time magazine's "Person of the Year" for 2008.


The magazine has named Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Gov. Sarah Palin and Chinese director Zhang Yimou as runners-up.

Last year's winner was Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Previous individual winners have included Bono, President George W. Bush and Amazon.com CEO and founder Jeff Bezos.
___
On the Net:
http://www.time.com/

Obama picks Vilsack, Salazar for Cabinet


Pushing to fill his Cabinet, President-elect Barack Obama announced Wednesday his choices of former Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack to be agriculture secretary and Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar to lead the Interior Department.

"It is time for a new kind of leadership in Washington that's committed to using our lands in a responsible way to benefit all of our families," Obama said in a news conference, his third in as many days to announce Cabinet choices.

On another subject, Obama said "it's a little bit frustrating" to not talk in detail about the investigation into charges that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich schemed to name Obama's replacement in the U.S. Senate based on who offered the best political or financial deal. Blagojevich was arrested last week by the FBI.

Neither Obama nor anyone on his team has been accused of any wrongdoing in the probe. But the president-elect has directed transition aides to detail who on his side had contact, and what kind, with Blagojevich or his staff.

"There's been a lot of speculation in the press that I would love to correct immediately," Obama said in response to a question. He said his team is "abiding by the request of the U.S. attorney" to not release the results of the internal investigation, already compiled, until next week. "It's not going to be that long," Obama said.

For the agriculture and interior departments — which oversee federal farming and lands policies — Obama said his approach will be to "serve not big agribusiness or Washington influence peddlers but family farmers and the American people."

He said this means promoting not only development but protection of environmental treasures and expanding both agriculture and new energy sources.

"I am confident we have the team we need to make the rural agenda America's agenda, to create millions of new green jobs, to free our nation from its dependence on oil and to help preserve this planet for our children," Obama said.

Transition officials say more announcements are likely this week before Obama heads to Hawaii for Christmas vacation with his family.

Vilsack is be the fourth former opponent of Obama in the campaign for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination to join his administration. Others include Vice President-elect Joe Biden, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has been tapped for secretary of state, and New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, selected to head the Commerce Department.

Vilsack announced his presidential candidacy in late 2006, positioning himself as a Washington outsider with heartland appeal, but he dropped out before the primaries because he had trouble raising money. He endorsed Clinton and campaigned actively for her in the long primary campaign against Obama. After Obama defeated Clinton, Vilsack endorsed him.

First elected governor in 1998, Vilsack, 58, carved out a reputation as a political centrist. He balanced Iowa's budget and resisted raising taxes, but was willing to spend on such priorities as education and health. He argued that pushing alternative energy sources was key to bolstering rural sections of the nation that are struggling economically.

"Tom will not only help ensure that rural America has a true partner in implementing the farm bill and pursuing agricultural research, but that Washington is looking out for everyone, from the small family farms that are feeding our communities to the large farms that are feeding the world," Obama said.

Salazar will head a department that oversees oil and gas drilling on public lands and manages the nation's parks and wildlife refuges. He is expected to try to balance protection of natural resources with use of the nation's energy potential — an approach Obama said in the announcement that he wants.

"I will do all I can to help reduce America's dependence on foreign oil," Salazar said, wearing a cowboy hat and string tie. "I look forward to working directly with President-elect Obama, as an integral part of his team, as we take the moon shot on energy independence."

Salazar co-sponsored a bill in Congress to create a new land conservation system under the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management for permanently protecting 26 million acres of national monuments, wilderness areas and wild and scenic rivers. The legislation died during the special session of Congress after the November election.

The Colorado senator opposed drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and objected to the Bush administration's efforts to lease Western lands for oil shale development. It will be up to the Obama administration whether to go ahead with leasing.

If Salazar is confirmed as interior secretary, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat, will name a replacement to serve out the final two years of his term. Before being elected to the Senate in 2004, Salazar was Colorado's attorney general. He also headed the state's Natural Resources Department from 1990-1994.

___
Associated Press writer Mike Glover in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.
___
On the Net:
Obama transition:
http://www.change.gov

Monday, December 15, 2008

‘A night from hell’: Students: Police overly aggressive during Jonesboro ‘riot.’

Students who were present during what Jonesboro police have called a riot at that city's The Grove apartment complex on election night Nov. 4 say the event was a peaceful celebration until cops arrived, and insist that accounts of rock and bottle throwing and an assault on an officer are false or overblown.

Meanwhile, an attorney for two of the eight black men arrested that night says the case could turn into a national embarrassment for Jonesboro if the city follows through with felony charges against the young men.

About 11:45 p.m. Nov. 4, after the presidential election was called in favor of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, police were dispatched to The Grove apartments in response to several calls to 911, including one in which a male caller said there were “200 black people” screaming outside, and he feared for his life.

Though the students had been told they could continue their celebrations until 12:30 a.m. by an off-duty police officer working security at the apartments, on-duty officers soon arrived and began trying to disperse the crowd. According to an incident summary from the Jonesboro Police Department, the voices of the officers on the radio soon “change to that of desperation as their requests change to ‘get us some help up here.' ”

In response, all city patrol officers were dispatched to The Grove, including K-9 and SWAT units. Soon after, according to the same report, an officer's “emergency button” was triggered, and radio calls for help went out saying that objects were being thrown. A county-wide call for assistance was sent, and officers from the Craighead County sheriff's office, State Police, and the Brookland, Bay, Bono, Lake City and Arkansas State University campus police departments converged on the apartments.

Before the incident was through, police had arrested eight young men at the scene: Clifford Crisswell, Jeffery Boyd, Seneca Hart, Kevin Jones, Jonathon Burns, Kiano Prater, Leroy Trahan and Donte Jones. Seven of the men were charged with the felony of inciting a riot, and Burns was charged with failure to disperse and disorderly conduct. Jeffery Boyd was charged with second degree battery on an officer for what police reports say was a violent attack in which he pinned Jonesboro officer Jo Carter down on the ground and punched her repeatedly in the face, resulting in a broken nose, black eye and busted lip.

The Arkansas Times has spoken to several students who were there that night — including one of those arrested — and they offer accounts that differ from those of the police. Alexandra Ingram is a senior at ASU who was in the crowd that night. She said that until police arrived, the event was just like thousands of other celebrations that night across America – in this case, a television watch party in a local apartment that spilled out in front of Building 5 when news of Obama's victory was announced.

“We were all having fun,” Ingram said. “We were all dancing, hugging, taking pictures. It was nothing of a violent attitude toward anyone. We were hugging people we didn't even know. We were just celebrating.” Ingram said that at most there were 60 to 70 people in the crowd, and that they had checked with off-duty Jonesboro police officer William Brumfield, who was working security at the apartments that night, to make sure the celebration was okay.

Photographs taken by students and aired on Jonesboro TV stations show Brumfield smiling, surrounded by the crowd at The Grove. Though Ingram said Brumfield treated the crowd cordially and respectfully, when other officers began arriving, it seemed as if the decision was taken out of Brumfield's hands. Ingram said the new officers on the scene approached the crowd very aggressively.

“It was handled in a way that it shouldn't have been,” Ingram said. “They were very forceful when they came to us. They were very demanding and using curse words and pushing. It was a night from hell.” Ingram said that she never saw Jeffery Boyd or anyone else assault an officer, and disputes the claim that the crowd threw rocks or bottles at police on the scene. “There was nothing like that happened,” she said. “There were no rocks and bottles thrown. This was at an apartment complex. It's grass out there. There's no rocks out there anywhere.”

Chelsea Adams, a senior psychology major at ASU who lives at The Grove, also said that she never saw bottles or rocks thrown at officers. She believes that politics played a large part in the events of that night. “A lot of people here [in Jonesboro] have made it clear that they were very angry that Obama won,” she said. “And I think that part of what happened to us that night was that a lot of people were mad that a black man is now president. We were there, and we were the ones they could take it out on.”

Adams said the crowd was peaceful until the large force of officers arrived, including an instance in which they complied with Officer Brumfield's request to turn off a car stereo because of resident complaints. Soon after officers arrived en masse, Adams said, cops began arresting students out of the crowd seemingly at random. Adams said she never saw Jeffery Boyd pin the female officer to the ground and repeatedly punch her, though she said she did see Boyd on the ground surrounded by up to 10 officers who were punching and kicking him. Since then, she said, she has watched a video of the event taken by one of those in the crowd, and says it shows the female officer calmly walking away as Boyd is being beaten.

“She just walks off like nothing is wrong,” Adams said. “I'm sure that if somebody pounded you in your face or pinned you down to the ground, you wouldn't be able to just jump up like nothing is wrong with you and walk off.” Jeffery Boyd refused to talk about the incident, citing the advice of his attorney.

Jonathon Burns was one of the last suspects arrested that night. A 19-year-old sophomore at ASU, Burns is listed in one officer's incident report as someone who “played a large part in the disruptive behavior of the crowd,” and who had shouted obscenities at the police. Like Adams, Burns said that officers seemed to make random arrests that night. Burns said that he and a friend were making their way to an apartment to get inside when they saw a man getting handcuffed. “His cousin came out, talking about, ‘What'd he do? What'd he do?' ” Burns said. “About five minutes later, another cop ran up and pointed at me and said, ‘He started everything. Get him too.' I'm looking around to see who he's talking to, and one of my friends said, ‘Burns, be quiet.' I looked at my chest, and there were some lasers on my shirt from their tasers, so I just put my hands behind my back.”

Jimmy C. Morris, Jr. is a Little Rock attorney who is representing Burns and Clifford Crisswell. Morris said that Burns has been kicked off the ASU football team due to his arrest. “We're talking about B-plus, A-plus students, charged with felonies,” Morris said. “One of my clients, Mr. Burns, doesn't have so much as a parking ticket. Never been in trouble, but now he's charged with a felony.”

Morris finds it troubling that one moment a Jonesboro police officer was celebrating with students, and only moments later the gathering was termed a riot. While stopping short of calling the incident racially motivated, he said he believes the calls to 911 and at least some of the reactions by officers on the scene were due in part to McCain's loss in the presidential election. “The blowback or punishment is on these students for celebrating something that the greater Jonesboro area was not happy with,” he said.

Morris said that he has already had inquires about the case from reporters from national news outlets. He said that if Jonesboro pursues “this line of injustice” and prosecutes those arrested, he fears it may become a national embarrassment for Arkansas and the town. He goes so far as to invoke the name of Jena, a small Louisiana town that was engulfed in a media firestorm in 2007 after six black students were arrested for assault following an incident in which nooses were hung in a tree outside the local high school.

“I'm hoping that cooler heads prevail,” Morris said. “I'm hoping that it doesn't become a black eye for Jonesboro, but if they go down this road and prosecute these eight young men, I can see another Jena coming.”

Capt. Lynn Waterworth, spokesperson for the Jonesboro Police Department, said the department is investigating the event. So far, she said, everything that investigators have found supports what officers on the scene are saying, “but without the investigation completed, I think it's safe to say that everyone has their own version of events, and we are making sure that a thorough investigation is being conducted so we'll know one way or another.”

Waterworth said that the dispatch center received eight or nine calls from residents at The Grove that night, and the tapes of those calls differ from what those in the crowd have been telling the media in recent weeks. Asked if dispatchers took into account that some of the callers might have been disgruntled over the loss by McCain and seeking to cause problems for Obama supporters, Waterworth said police can't make that kind of judgment about a 911 call.

“If someone calls and says their cat's up a tree, [or] if someone calls and says Martians have landed in their back yard, we don't distinguish on a call for service,” she said. “If you start getting into that where you're trying to make a determination when someone calls — is this a legitimate call or not? — you run into judgments at the end of a telephone that you don't need to be making. We still have to go.”

Waterworth said she's confident the investigation will vindicate the department, which will make some who were there unhappy. “They turned this into something worse, and made a big deal out of nothing,” said Alexandra Ingram. “It's all about the way they came at us. If they had said, ‘The celebration is over, guys. You're going to have to go inside,' that would have been fine. But they jumped out on us and made this scene way bigger than it was.”

Inside the Transition: Service


The Transition's Service Team is hard at work finding new ways for people to participate in getting our country back on track. With Martin Luther King Jr. Day -- traditionally a national Day of Service -- right around the corner, we went inside the Transition so you could get to know a few members of the Service Team (officially called the Innovation and Civil Society subgroup of the Technology, Innovation and Government Reform policy working group) and see how they're approaching these issues.

Daschle nominated to head HHS, appeals to Americans for input


Tom Daschle is "known for speaking softly but acting boldly," President-elect Barack Obama said today in announcing the former Senate Majority Leader as his choice for Secretary of Health and Human Services and Director of the new White House Office on Health Reform. Learn more at Change.gov.

Join the Discussion: Economy


Thousands of you joined the discussion on the economy at change.gov. Now the Economic Policy Team's Brian Deese responds. For more information, visit http://change.gov/economy

12/13/08: President-elect Obama's Weekly Address


On December 13th, 2008 President-elect Barack Obama named Shaun Donovan as his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.

Daschle urges Americans to join grassroots reform


Tom Daschle, the Secretary-designate of Health and Human Services and former Senate Majority Leader, appeals to Americans to get involved in health care reform by hosting a Health Care Community Discussion. Learn more at change.gov.

Jay-Z - History



(Jay-Z - History)Jay-Z - History with Lyrics

LYRICS : [Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
(Lighter)
And the battle's finally won
(Gimme a lighter)
Victory (Lighters up) is finally ours
(Lighters up)
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 1: Jay-Z]
In search of victory, she keeps eluding me
If only we could be together momentarily
We can make love and make history
Why won't you visit me? until she visit me
I'll be stuck with her sister, her name is defeat
She gives me agony, so much agony
She brings me so much pain, so much misery
Like missing your last shot and falling to your knees
As the crowd screams for the other team
I practice so hard for this moment, victory don't leave
I know what this means, I'm stuck in this routine
Whole new different day, same old thing
All I got is dreams, nobody else can see
Nobody else believes, nobody else but me
Where are you victory? I need you desperately
Not just for the moment, to make history

[Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
(Lighters)
And the battle's finally won
(Lighters)
Victory is finally ours
(Yeah)
History (yeah), so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 2: Jay-Z]
So now I'm flirting with death, hustling like a G
While victory wasn't watching took chances repeatedly
As a teenage boy before acne, before I got proactiv I couldn't face she
I just threw on my hoodie and headed to the street
That's where I met success, we'd live together shortly
Now success is like lust, she's good to the touch
She's good for the moment but she's never enough
Everybody's had her, she's nothing like V
But success is all I got unfortunately
But I'm burning down the block hoppin' in and out of V
But something tells me that there's much more to see
Before I get killed because I can't get robbed
So before me success and death ménage
I gotta get lost, I gotta find V
We gotta be together to make history

[Chorus: Cee-lo]
Now that all the smoke is gone
(Lighters. Up.)
And the battle's finally won
(Lighter. Up.)
Victory is finally ours
(Lighters. Up.)
History, so long, so long
So long, so long

[Verse 3: Jay-Z]
Now victory is mine, it tastes so sweet
She's my trophy wife, you're coming with me
We'll have a baby who stutters repeatedly
We'll name him history, he'll repeat after me
He's my legacy, son of my hard work
Future of my past, he'll explain who I be
Rank me amongst the greats, either 1, 2, or 3
If I ain't number one then I failed you victory
Ain't in it for the fame that dies within weeks
Ain't in it for the money, can't take it when you leave
I wanna be remembered long after you grieve
Long after I'm gone, long after I breathe
I leave all I am in the hands of history
That's my last will and testimony
This is much more than a song, it's a baby shower
I've been waiting for this hour, history you ours


[Chorus: Cee-lo (2x)]
Now that all the smoke is gone
And the battle's finally won
Victory is finally ours
History, so long, so long
So long, so long



Man in the Mirror--By Michael Jackson

Michael Jackson - Man in the mirror

I'm gonna make a change,
for once im my life
It's gonna feel real good,
gonna make a diference
Gonna make it right...

As I, turn up the collar on
my favorite winter coat
This wind is blowing my mind
I see the kids in the streets,
with not enought to eat
Who am I to be blind?
Pretending not to see their needs

A summer disregard,a broken bottle top
And a one man soul
They follow each other on the wind ya' know
'Cause they got nowhere to go
That's why I want you to know

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
I'm asking him to change his ways
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)
(Na na na, na na na, na na, na nah)

I've been a victim of a selfish kind of love
It's time that I realize
That there are some with no home, not a nickel to loan
Could it be really me, pretending that they're not alone?

A willow deeply scarred, somebody's broken heart
And a washed-out dream
(Washed-out dream)
They follow the pattern of the wind ya' see
'Cause they got no place to be
That's why I'm starting with me
(Starting with me!)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Ooh!)
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Ooh!)
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
(If you wanna make the world a better place)
Take a look at yourself, and then make a change
(Take a look at yourself, and then make a change)

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Ooh!)
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Change his ways - ooh!)
And no message could have been any clearer
If you wanna make the world a better place
Take a look at yourself and then make that..
(Take a look at yourself and then make that..)
CHANGE!

I'm starting with the man in the mirror
(Man in the mirror - Oh yeah!)
I'm asking him to change his ways
(Better change!)
No message could have been any clearer
(If you wanna make the world a better place)


Michael Jackson - Man in the mirror

A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cook






It's been a long time coming but a change is surely going to come in America and the World! I am the Future of America and the World and that is the message that each of us must carry with us each and every day that we wake up on Earth! I am the Future! You are the Future! We are the Future of America and the World! That is way every election is important--primaries, special elections and general! So vote every year and hold our politicians accountable. Hold our political officials accountable by writing them, calling them and making sure they attend meetings that we the people have. "The Time for Change is not Now but Right Now!"

"EmPOWERment By Any Means Necessary" should be our anthem and should be our creed as we make the positive differences in America and the world that so many people beg for and hungry for year after year! A Change is Gonna Come, A Change is Gonna Come, that's what we must say as we say "God grants us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, Courge to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference" each morning before we go about the task of making a positive change in America and the world a reality.



Born In The U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen


“When will people realize that we are Americans first and foremost, not Democrats or Liberals, not Republicans or Conservatives, not Independents or moderates. We are Americans. Stop putting a political party above America and stop putting any politican above America. America succeeds because of us the people holding our government responsible no matter the political party because the main two political parties are to blame for the condition America is in."—Hodari P.T. Brown

America with its flaws and all is a country I am proud to have been born in. America is not perfect but my love for it is perfect. That’s why all Americans must realize that we are all Americans. In fact we are Americans first and foremost. We are not Democrats or Republicans. We are Americans.

We are not Muslims, Christians or Jews. We are Americans. Too many times we recognize our differences with others rather than appreciating our similarities which are, we are Americans. We are Americans first and foremost, no matter if we were born here or moved here legally. We are all Americans, here in this country to make not only our lives better but the lives of other Americans better so future Americans can enjoy the rights and freedoms that make us all Americans.

We are all Americans. We are one party united under God. We are Americans and this is the only political party that matters. We are Americans and this is our country so let’s make sure that we make America better than how we found it so future Americans can live prosperous and joyous lives. We are Americans and must not ever forget that.

America will prosper as long we make sure we are doing our part to make it prosper and that means we can’t put any political party or politician above America. Long live America forever and long live America’s service to the world. Together, America and the world will prosper for future generations to enjoy America and the world we live in.


Lift Every Voice and Sing


This video of the ' Negro National Anthem' was originally screened at the historic African-American Church Inaugural Ball in Washington, DC on January 18th, 2009. Many of the esteemed individuals featured in this video in attendance and we presented with the ' Keepers of the Flame' award for the monumental contributions to social justice.

This version of the song was performed by the Grace Baptist Church Cathedral Choir, conducted by Derrick James. The video was produced and donated by Ascender Communications, LLC (www.ascender-c.com) at the request of The Balm In Gilead, Inc.

If I Was President--Wyclef Jean




If I was President that is the people's anthem. We all have ideas of what we can do as President and through this website, we will fulfill our deam as a people!

Somethings Gotta Give--Big Boi ft Mary J Blige



Somethings Gotta Give people and it begins today for all us to make sure that something is us. We the people are sick and tired of suffering. Where is our piece of the Dream that so many people dead for so that we all could see today. This is our time people to change America and the world so that the Next Generation has a better future than the past we inherited.

This is our call to service. This isn't about one political candidate or one political figure. This is about us as people coming together to finally leave up to our potential and achieving the great feats that those before us have achieved. This is our moment to lead our nation and our world to greater heights.

Somethings gotta give people and it starts with us the people making it happen. We have to improve our education system in America. We have to rid the world of the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We have to go to the streets and lift a hand to another in order to decrease poverty in this world. We have to take a stand today and make sure that the future of America and the world is brighter than it has ever been.

Somethings Gotta Give and that is why we must "Remember Each One, Reach One and Teach One so America's future and the World's future continues to prosper."

John Legend - "If You're Out There"


If you're out there than you need to get started in helping to change America and the world. The world and America won't change until you get involved in making the changes you want to see in this world. If you're out there, than you must know that tomorrow started now and today started yesterday so you are behind in helping to the change. If you are tired of hatred, racism, poverty, war, and violence than the time to change it is now. If you want universal health care, world peace, democracy for every nation, equal rights, and happiness for all than you must get involved now to help the save world.

You must believe in the change that you want to see and you must act on making that change a reality. If you're out there than say it aloud and show the rest of America and the world that you're out here to make a real positive change in the communities we stay in. If you're out there than get involved now. I'm calling every women and men to join me as we take back our country right here, right now. If you're out there than the future started yersterday and we are already late so we have lots of work to do but I know we can do it together as one.

YES WE CAN



Yes We Can accomplish anything that we set out to do! We don't need charismatic or inspirational leaders to believe in ourselves and to take responsiblity for our own faith, we just need each other. Yes We Can build a new America and a new world if each of us would take action now to make the changes that we want to see in the world. Yes We Can control government by holding our political officials accountable for their actions by calling them out when they don't pass legislation that supports the common good of all man and by voting in every election to ensure that we have people representing the people locally, state wide, nationally and in the world.

Yes We Can be great! Yes We Can be what we want to be! Yes We Can be glorious in not only America but the world! Yes We can put action behind our worlds and change the world starting right here, right now! Yes We Can as Republicans, Democrats and Independents become one as we freely think about our fellow men and women and make decisions that will be in the best interest of all people and not one single group.

Yes We Can be the change that we want to see in the world! Yes We Can show the world that the youth are ready to lead! Yes We Can put our egos, our social economic statuses, our religions, our educational statuses and our skin color to the side for the better good of the world! Yes We Can be Greater than we have ever been and help others be Greater than they have ever be!

YES WE CAN and YES WE WILL BE VICTORIOUS IN ALL THAT WE DO! YES WE CAN, no matter what others may say, we will be glorious! YES WE WILL and YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN!

YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN! YES WE CAN is what will be sung from every mountaintop, every riverbank, every household, every school yard, every factory, every sporting event, every college campus and even every place you can imagine in the world is where YES WE CAN, will be said and heard!

YES WE CAN!

Keep On Pushing - Curtis Mayfield & the Impressions


Wake Up People! No matter who is elected to any public office, we have to “Keep On Pushing” as a people to make sure they don’t leave us in a worst state than what they inherited. We as a people have to “Keep On Pushing” to make a difference in the lives of others. We have to have an “EmPOWERment By Any Means Necessary” attitude as we continue to push our agenda that we the people deserve and want better. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change in a positive way that will benefit all Americans no matter their age, their religion or skin color. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change that will improve our education system, improve our military, improve our national security, improve our healthcare system and improve our economy. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to bring about change that will leave America’s future in a better than how we found it and that will leave the world’s future in a better state than we imagined we could live it. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to make life better for our neighborhoods, our families and even our quote on quote enemies. We have to “Keep On Pushing” to inspire, to uplift and to guide those who need help spiritually, physically and mentally. We have to “Keep On Pushing ” so that our lives, our future generation’s lives and the lives of those who came before us does not die in vein.

“Keep on Pushing”

A War For Your Soul

A War For Your Soul-regular version from Erisai Films on Vimeo.


The moment has come for us as a nation of people to finally wake up and realize that our destiny and fate in society has rests on our shoulders. We cannot allow the forces of evil and darkness to drain us out. We have to continue to overcome all odds in order to make the future of our nation better and the future of future generations of Americans better. We have to continue to pray to our Lord and we have to continue to uplift each other in prayer as well as take action against those things that are trying to destroy us. We have to stand up once and for all and be the future that we want to be. Now is our time and we shall do together by any means necessary.

This video was created to inspire young African-Americans not to fall prey to some of the problems they face in society. The use of the voice "Master of Darkness" represents evil, which is where the blame of all problems should be placed, and not on any one group of people. This video should not to be used to divide people (Black & White), there are images of heroes that are white in this video, and there are images of Black & White coming together with the words of Dr. King in the background. Some of the images from the past can be unsettling, but they are used to show all Americans how far we have come, and how far we still have to go. This film is being strategically placed in school systems, churches and youth orgs around the country, in hope of helping a lost generation of kids that we as Americans have forgotten. As fellow Americans we must continue to love each other, and take that love and spread it to the rest of the world. **THIS VIDEO IS NOT FOR SALE & I AM NOT ACCEPTING DONATIONS FOR THE FILM, I ONLY WANT THE MESSAGE TO REACH AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE WITHOUT ANY HIDDEN POLITICAL OR FINANCIAL AGENDA.
There was an error in this gadget

Sitting On the Dock of the Bay by Otis Redding



"The time for sitting is over! The time for action is now! The time for hope without action is hopeless! The time for change without a positive attitude is a change that we can't believe in! We need change that is positive of helping all people! Our time for action is now, our time for hope is now, our time for change is now and our time to believe that we can do whatever we set our minds to is not now but right now!"

STAR SPANGLED BANNER


The Star-Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming;
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?


On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on the stream;
'Tis the star-spangled banner; O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave,
From the terror of flight and the gloom of the grave;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!


O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land,
Praise the power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, for our cause it is just.
And this be our motto— "In God is our trust; "
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave.

Black President



Our Time is not now but Right Now! Our Time has finally come to change the world not now but Right Now! If you don't believe that we can change the world than watch as we do it by changing your mind into believing in us and what we can do! This is OUR TIME RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW!

FIGHT THE POWER



We got to FIGHT THE POWER! We can no longer sit on the sidelines and watch injustices take place. We can no longer sit by and allow our right to vote to become unexercised. We must FIGHT THE POWER for our past, present and future! We can no longer allow our rights to be oppressed and our voice to become drained by the powers at be. We must FIGHT THE POWER and show that we have a lot to say that needs to be heard by the mainstream media. We must FIGHT THE POWER and live up to our potential as dynamic, unbelievable and phenomenal people.


We must not believe the hype but we must become the hype. We are not Harriett Tubman, Marcus Garvey, MLK, Malcolm X, Booker T. Washington, Carter G. Woodson, W.E.B. DuBois, the Black Panther Party, SNCC, or any other activists but we are the fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, uncles, aunties, and relatives of those who came before us to pave the way for us to FIGHT THE POWER! We are not next Generation of leaders who will not be honored and praised until they die but that’s the fight we accept. We are not fighting the power for glory or fame but we are fighting the power for just causes that most men and women will not understand until years or decades later.


We are fighting for our sisters and brothers in Darfur, Georgia, Iraq, Iran, China and Mexico. We are speaking for those who are poor and have no food or water. We are fighting for those who are sick and dying. We are fighting for universal healthcare across the world and human rights for all people. We are fighting for rich and poor! We must FIGHT THE POWER no matter how hard and tough the road may be. We must FIGHT THE POWER for a better today and an even greater tomorrow!


FIGHT THE POWER!

PEOPLE GET READY


“People Get Ready” our time is coming! We have come too far to turn back now. Our train is coming and it is coming in waves. “People Get Ready”, we don’t need a ticket but we need faith and the Lord will help guide us as we take back America and the world. “People Get Ready” our moment is now and we are ready to see the change we want in America and the world. All we got to do is have faith, hope and prosperity. “People Get Ready” to face your fears. “People Get Ready” to face your demons and the challenges of yesterday because today and tomorrow we will conquer & be victorious. “People Get Ready” a change is coming and our actions will make sure that change is a real positive change that lasts forever.


“People Get Ready” because we have had enough of just talking but now is our time to show action. “People Get Ready” to take back America and the world. “People Get Ready” to take back our communities and to make our streets safer and schools better. “People Get Ready” to make all our dreams come true. “People Get Ready” to see a better present for everyone and a better future for future generations. “People Get Ready” to live up to your potential and to help others live up to their own potential. “People Get Ready” to move past hatred, bigotry, racism and sexism. “People Get Ready” to fulfill the dreams of those who came before us and those who will come after us.


“People Get Ready” as we make our actions speak louder than our words. “People Get Ready” to make words mean something again as we put action to back up our rhetoric. “People Get Ready” as we embark on a new journey that will re-write America’s history as well as the world’s history. “People Get Ready” as we make the lives of others better and the lives of future generations better. “People Get Ready” because all we need is faith, hope and action to make this world a better place. “People Get Ready” to make a difference. “People Get Ready” to fulfill the American dream. “People Get Ready" to live out the American Dream as our founding fathers wanted us to live it. “People Get Ready” because our time is now, our moment is now and our moment in time to change America & the world is not now but right now. “People Get Ready” because a change is coming!


Alicia]
(Let me tell you now)
People get ready, there's a train comin'
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels hummin'
You don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord

[Lyfe]
People get ready, for a train to Jordan
Picking up passengers coast to coast
Faith is the key, open the doors and board them
There's hope for all among those loved the most

[Alicia]
There ain't no room for the hopeless sinner
Who would hurt all man kind just to save his own (believe me now)
Have pity on those whose chances grow thinner
For there's no hiding place against the kingdoms throne

[Alicia & Lyfe]
So people get ready there's a train coming
You don't need no baggage, you just get on board
All you need is faith to hear the diesels humming,
You don't need no ticket, you just thank the lord


“PEOPLE GET READY!”

God Bless the U.S.A. by Lee Greenwood


Lee Greenwood-god bless the U.S.A