Posts Tagged ‘election’

Hurricane Sandy to Play Important Role in Presidential Election?

Written by buzz. Posted in Politics

Written By Jessica Nichols

Hurricane Sandy has been declared the highest costing and the largest hurricane on record. Scientists cite global warming and its effects to the recent spike in ‘super storms,’ which then begs the question of how Sandy is going to effect the upcoming presidential election.

Whether one is a democrat, republican or a third party supporter, a natural disaster transcends party lines. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which experts are saying was so severe partially due to global warming, how the candidates respond to these very real issues may be a decisive point in the minds of voters.

After breaking ground in the United States on October 29, Sandy has become the second-most costly hurricane in US recorded history, racking up an estimated $50 billion in economic losses, and is second only to Hurricane Katrina. Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment at the University of Minnesota, recently tweeted this in regards to the strength and severity of Sandy, “Would this kind of storm happen without climate change? Yes. Fueled by many factors. Is storm stronger because of climate change? Yes.”

Global warming is not necessarily the most widely accepted notion, however, especially outside of the scientific community. There are still many political and religious figures that do not believe in climate change as well as our role in it, and responsibility that humans have on this planet.

President Obama supports Donna Vanzant, the owner of the North Point Marina, which was damaged in the hurricane, during a tour through Brigantine, NJ this October 31, 2012

But how can global warming alter weather patterns or the severity of storms? Scientists look to indicators like sea level to determine this. This past summer heralded a large loss on the level of sea ice. Climate Central had this to say, “The loss of sea ice opens large expanses of open water, which then absorbs more of the incoming solar radiation and adds heat and moisture to the atmosphere, thereby helping to alter weather patterns.”

Romney has been unclear on the subject at best, citing an unclear scientific stance as the source for his measured view on the topic. He told donors at the Consol Energy Center, “My view is that we don’t know what’s causing climate change on this planet. And the idea of spending trillions and trillions of dollars to try to reduce CO2 emissions is not the right course for us.”

Obama, on the other hand, may be taking a much more active role in the wake of Sandy. While Obama has never before had a problem mentioning global warming, he has of yet has not brought to the table the seriousness of the issue at hand, though he did say in a speech in Charlottesville, Va. last week, “Denying climate change doesn’t make it stop.”

As coverage of Sandy spreads and the clean-up effort is put into place, the pressure is on for this presidential election. Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are on the ropes to ensure that they are sending their message to the public, assuring them that they, too, take this issue very seriously.

Proposition 37 in California Hanging in the Balance as the Election Draws Near

Written by buzz. Posted in Politics

Written By Jessica Nichols

As this election draws near, both sides of every debate are revving their engines and gearing towards the final battle. Proposition 37, which requires labeling on genetically modified foods, is despite having a strong lead earlier in the race, is finding its footing as opponents to the bill fight back.

In a poll from California Business Roundtable and Pepperdine University’s School of Public Policy done four weeks ago, the labeling initiative was supported by more than two-thirds of Californians who said they would vote for it November 6. However, in their latest poll from Tuesday, October 29, results showed the support for the initiative to have fallen to only 39 percent, with the opposition nearing 51 percent of the vote.

The opposition is largely funded by biotechnology company, Monsanto, DuPont, and PepsiCo Inc, managing to sway public opinion with a $46 million campaign against genetically modified organism, popularly referred to as GMO, labeling, making Proposition 37 one of the most well-funded ballot measures fights.

Opponents to the initiative claim that it is “poorly written,” and will result in costly effects to farmers and consumers, adding $400 to their monthly grocery costs. These ads also point at “special interest exemptions” toward restaurants and animals that consume GMO feed.

Those in support of the initiative say that consumers have the right to know what is going in the food that they eat, and say that claims to higher expenses to consumers, farmers, and businesses have no founding.

Many of the processed foods that we see stocking the shelves at grocery stores use GMOs—corn and soybeans being some of the top most used. These genetically modified foods are crossed with the DNA of other species to resist insects and pesticides.

Each side claims insufficient evidence and shotty science on the part of the other with the intent to mislead voters. And without sufficient government testing on the long-term effects of GMOs, the voter is left to the mercy of both sides and their campaign talking points.

Currently, the United States does not require labeling on GM foods so long as they are “substantially equivalent” to their non-GM counterparts. The US also does not require pre-market safety testing of these foods. Supporters of the initiative cry that we just do not know what these foods could do to people health-wise, especially after long-term use in our daily diets.

DuPont and Monsanto, the lead in contributions at $8 million contributed, lead the industry in their genetically modified seed businesss.

As the clock counts down to the election, it seems that opponents may have surpassed those in favor of the proposition. However, only time will tell if voters will support or opposed this polarized and controversial topic.

Worst Company EVER: Biotech Giant Monsanto is Under Attack, Obama and the FDA are Under the Gun

Written by buzz. Posted in Organic

 

CREDO Action - Dump Michael Taylor

Via CREDO Action website

By Allison Hibbs

Monsanto, the multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation long reviled by organic farmers, environmentalists and conscientious foodies worldwide, has drawn more than the usual amount of rancor in recent months. While assailants are hoping the media blitzkrieg will prove as damaging to the company as they claim that its bioengineering and genetic modification practices are to the planet, that hope may prove optimistic in light of its cozy relationship with the United States federal government. Efforts to diminish that relationship have led to the recent circulation of more than one petition calling for the dismissal of FDA Food Safety Czar, Michael Taylor, a former top Monsanto executive.

One reason for the recent outrage is a perceived “crusade” by the FDA against small raw milk dairy farmers, many of whom are Amish, even as they overlook repeated violations by larger, industrial producers. CREDO, a publication of Working Assets, began a campaign in late January to educate and motivate consumers to sign a pledge beseeching President Obama to expel Taylor from the administration.

"While factory farm operators are getting away with serious food safety violations, raw milk dairy farmers and distributors across the country have been subjected to armed raids and hauled away in handcuffs."

CREDO Action

CREDO believes that the FDA’s efforts would be better spent enforcing food safety regulations at the largest industrial producers, where it claims that “antibiotic resistance has run amuck,” rather than focusing so much of the administration’s efforts on sting operations to arrest small dairy farmers.

"Incredibly, Michael Taylor and FDA inspectors have not arrested or fined the Iowa agribusinessman -- Jack DeCoster -- who was wholly responsible for the more than 500 million eggs that were recalled in 2010 salmonella-tainted egg recall. 3Though this industrial agribusinessman endangered the health of millions, Michael Taylor thinks Amish farmers producing fresh milk are more deserving targets of his FDA enforcement raids with guns drawn."

CREDO Action

 

The petition had garnered 151,160 signatures as of SuperBowl Sunday, 75 percent of its 200,000 goal.

SignOn.org Petition: Tell Obama to Cease FDA Ties to Monsanto

Another petition circulating on Twitter and Facebook had reached a total of 220,000 signatures by game time, far surpassing its original goal of 75,000. Written and circulated by Frederick Ravid, this petition includes a longer letter to the president, expressing opposition to the his administration’s appointment of Taylor three years ago.

“Taylor is the same person who as a high-ranking official at the FDA in the 1990s promoted allowing genetically modified organisms into the U.S. food supply without undergoing a single test to determine their safety or risks,” reads the letter. “This is a travesty.” Pointing out that Taylor was in charge of policy regarding the widely-opposed bovine growth hormone and that he fought against the requirement for disclosures on milk from cows that had been treated with the hormone, Ravid goes on to decry Monsanto as a company directly threatening the health and well-being of US citizens.

Reinforcing these concerns are WikiLeaks documents that surfaced last year implicating the Bush administration in questionable tactics used against countries in Europe to impel them to purchase Monsanto GMO products that they were resisting. Other documents imply that the US government considered putting pressure on the Pope to come out in favor of GMO foods. If any such actions were taken, they have proven largely unsuccessful and Monsanto has been repeatedly thwarted in France, Germany and the UK.

 

Additionally, lawsuits have been brought against the biotech giant by India and Canada for biopiracy and biocontamination, respectively; and a group of 270,000 American organic farmers are also suing the company for biocontamination. Ironically, the move is intended to protect these farmers against possible patent-infringement lawsuits brought by Monsanto over GMO seeds that have migrated to – and compromised – their lands.

For all of these reasons (and more), Monsanto has been voted Worst Company of 2011 by Natural Society, and the public seems increasingly to agree. As the acrimony grows, it is beginning to look like the corporation’s PR department has some serious damage control to do if it hopes to retain any influence over government activity.  It is, after all, an election year and Obama may not have the luxury of ignoring so many voters crying “Why, O, why?”

We the Tweeple: Twitter and the 2012 Presidential Election

Written by buzz. Posted in Social Media

Written by: Allison Hibbs

“I really think 2012 is going to be the Twitter election.”

That’s what Dick Costolo, CEO of the social media giant, told attendees at a tech conference in California in late January; although the same words might have been uttered by any avid Twitter user who has followed political conversations on the website during the onslaught of GOP debates or the recent State of the Union address leading up to the 2012 Presidential election. Commentary, discussion, fact-checking and ideological rants have flooded the site during these events, involving participants in an interactive political conversation reminiscent of a no-holds-barred town hall brawl.

In fact, among twitterers, trending conversations have often proven to be far more popular than the actual events themselves, a sentiment repeated often during the debates in particular – and with more than a hint of irony.

Twitter appreciation from tweeps during GOP debate on 1/26/12.

Tweets range from inane to insightful, from snarky insults to eloquently phrased questions or impassioned pleas. Anyone looking to get in on the action simply has to add the right hash-tagged phrase to his or her comment to be included in the thread. Keeping up with comments in the heat of the moment becomes nearly impossible, but one has only to go back to the thread when they have time and they can read up on what was said, follow links to related news stories, check the integrity of comments made by those on stage during the event or simply laugh at the more humorous tweets.

During the CNN Debate hosted by John King, opening comments made by Newt Gingrich blasting King for opening with a question about his personal life were widely ridiculed and reposted by active tweeters. While the audience seemed to appreciate his indignation, the twitterverse was not as kind.

1/19/12 CNN debate/ Begala tweet re: Gingrich

It is fairly common knowledge – at least among those familiar with the social medium – that the use of the Twitter platform was an advantage to the Obama camp during the 2008 election cycle: he received far more mentions than his opponent and a disproportionate number of Twitter users identified themselves as democrats. (This doesn’t take into account the number of tweets regarding Republican vice-presidential hopeful, Sarah Palin, who received a large amount of mentions – most of which were unfavorable.) But Twitter has gained significant numbers over the last four years and Republican politicians have increasingly taken to using the platform for their own messaging and organizational purposes. GOP presidential hopefuls employ staff members to follow the tweets during their appearances to find out which topics they are concerned with and which personality attributes or answers they prefer. There is, unquestionably, much to be learned from immediate feedback and they intend to take it to heart.

From the look of it, however, they’ve got a lot of catching up to do if they want to turn the advantage in their favor. During the President’s State of the Union address on Jan. 24, tweets were significantly less scathing and more topically relevant than those posted during the debates. Twitter users still seem to skew further to the left of the aisle than the general public.

Tweets re: GOP debate vs. SOTU

Nevertheless, Twitter has – if nothing else – had the effect of combating political apathy and has brought the public political debate to a whole new level. Those who are chagrined when barred from political discussion in social forums have now found an outlet through which they can share ideas, facts, emotions and hopes – in the hopes of staying informed, sharing information and influencing election outcomes, presidential or otherwise. A new era in politics has indeed arrived.

Welcome to Election 2012, the Year of Twitter.

Obama Unveils America that is Built to Last in State of the Union

Written by buzz. Posted in Politics

Obama at State of the Union Address 2012

Obama speaking at 2012 State of the Union Address

Written by: Nick Mingay

WASHINGTON – President Obama gave his State of the Union Address in Washington Tuesday in which he promised to pass legislation to help America continue its recovery, even in an election year.

At a time when the nation is enamured with the Republican Caucuses, a Newt and a Mitt, Obama had his shot to make a pitch to the American electorate and jump start his campaign for reelection. He began by focusing on the troops coming home and the end of Osama Bin Laden, his two biggest accomplishments since becoming President.

Throughout the speech, Obama emphasized the need to work together within Washington. He recognized the frustration Americans had over routine task such as the debt ceiling increase. Obama made it clear he was willing to play ball with either side of the aisle if it helped the country.

“As long as I’m President, I will work with anyone in this chamber to build on this momentum,” Obama said.

Obama also pinpointed the tax code as a major issue in 2012. His major attack was on those companies who outsource jobs to other countries. Obama said he would have those companies take a tax deduction to subsidies others bringing jobs back to American soil.

“From now on, every multinational company should have to pay a basic minimum tax,” Obama said. “And every penny should go towards lowering taxes for companies that choose to stay here and hire here in America.”

Later in the speech, Obama spoke on growing small businesses by expanded the tax relief to them. He also proposed getting rid of regulations that hinder entrepreneurs from starting their own business. These factors would allow small businesses to gain a foothold in the market and create more competition amongst established companies.

Obama also touched on how Americas reliance on foreign oil. The Keystone XL Pipeline was an obvious setback for this, but Obama laid out other avenues that could help domestic energy production.

He mentioned using hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking,  to collect natural gas as one way to help alleviate America’s crutch on foreign oil. There has been some debate about the detriment hydrofracking has on communities close to the operation because some companies have used diesel fuel in the process. Obama wanted to stop this from expanded into a bigger issue by stating that he will require those involved in hydrofracking to disclose the materials in the solution they use.

Obama finished his speech by noting again that the world will no longer have to worry about Bin Laden terrorizing a nation or about American troops in Iraq in 2012. This was the jumping off point for his reelection campaign. We can only wait to see if Obama’s charisma and political platform will carry him to another presidential election.

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