What’s Up: October 8, 2012?

To read the entire article click on the title or Story Continued. Enjoy as the world turns.

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· Romney gets post-debate bounce in Fla., Ohio, Va. – Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s widely-acknowledged victory in Wednesday’s presidential debate has helped him to draw even or slightly ahead in several key swing states, according to polls released Friday.

A poll by We Ask America found Mr. Romney leading President Obama by 3 percentage points in Florida and Virginia and by 1 point in Ohio, after polls have consistently shown the president leading over the past month.

The firm conducted a previous poll two weeks ago that showed Mr. Obama with 3-point leads in Florida and Virginia.

A poll released Friday by Rasmussen Reports also shows the president clinging to a 1-point lead in Ohio, but that Mr. Romney has overtaken him by 1 point in Virginia.

Rasmussen’s previous polls in the state were conducted in mid-September and showed the president leading by a percentage point in Ohio and Virginia. Story Continued:

· Upon Further Review: Mitt Romney May Have Cheated To Win The Debate – Over the past day the game tape of the debate has been reviewed. While Mitt Romney still enjoys the afterglow of the debate, the lies and half-truths he told are being dissected.

From tax policy to hiring teachers, from cracking down on Wall Street (and Sesame Street) to coverage for the uninsured, from Medicare to shipping jobs overseas the fact checkers have been very busy correcting the record and pointing out falsehoods.

Even Team Romney had to correct the candidate on health care immediately after the debate.

As I predicted earlier this week, Romney had an October Surprise planned for the President – new policy ideas. But I had no idea that Romney would just lie about everything he had said over the past year and a half.

As the President said, Mitt Romney’s bright new idea is: Never Mind!

But there was a moment in the debate that will be discussed in the days ahead that everyone missed until yesterday.

A review of the debate tape reveals that, apparently, Mitt Romney needed a cheat sheet to keep the lies straight. Story Continued:

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· JESSE JACKSON, WRIGHT ‘ARRANGED’ OBAMA MARRIAGE – Chicago sources claim president was part of dark subculture. As a young single woman, Michelle Robinson was a fixture in the home of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson, who along with Rev. Jeremiah Wright “arranged” her marriage to Barack Obama, according to sources in Chicago who know the couple.

“If you want to understand Michelle Obama, you’ve got to go back to Jesse Jackson,” a woman called “Robyn” for this article told WND.

Robyn, who spent several years working for Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, explained to a WND investigator in Chicago that Michelle Obama “just about grew up in Jesse Jackson’s home.”

“Jesse should have charged her rent and board for the amount of time she spent in his home instead of her own,” she said.

Jackson’s daughter, Santita, is still one of Michelle’s best friends. Santita and Jesse Jr. call her “sis,” short for “sister.”

Santita Jackson said in an interview just before Obama took office in 2008 that she has known Michelle Obama since they car-pooled together as high school classmates. Santita was maid of honor at Michelle and Barack Obama’s wedding, and she is the godmother to the Obama’s older daughter, Malia.

Robyn also pointed out Jesse Jackson Jr., a Democratic Party member of the U.S. House from Illinois, served as the national co-chairman of Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

“It all relates back to Trinity and to the Jesse Jackson orbit of blacks here in Chicago who gave Obama legitimacy and helped him establish his identity as a black man,” Robyn explained.

“The political left wanted to push a black to the presidency, and the key operatives in the Democratic Party decided long ago it wouldn’t be Jesse Jackson (Sr.). Then Jesse wanted it to be his son, but Jesse Jr. has serious drug and mental problems that the world knows about now. These were also known about in the past, and Jesse Jr. was never going to be the black president. So, the political left then chose Obama.” Story Continued:

· Was Obama rattled by developing donor scandal story? – President Obama’s reelection campaign, rattled by his Wednesday night debate performance, could be in for even worse news. According to knowledgeable sources, a national magazine and a national web site are preparing a blockbuster donor scandal story.

Sources told Secrets that the Obama campaign has been trying to block the story. But a key source said it plans to publish the story Friday or, more likely, Monday.

According to the sources, a taxpayer watchdog group conducted a nine-month investigation into presidential and congressional fundraising and has uncovered thousands of cases of credit card solicitations and donations to Obama and Capitol Hill, allegedly from unsecure accounts, and many from overseas. That might be a violation of federal election laws.

The Obama campaign has received hundreds of millions in small dollar donations, many via credit card donations through their website. On Thursday, the campaign announced a record September donor haul of $150 million.

At the end of the 2008 presidential campaign, the Obama-Biden effort was hit with a similar scandal. At the time, the Washington Post reported that the Obama campaign let donors use “largely untraceable prepaid credit cards that could potentially be used to evade limits on how much an individual is legally allowed to give or to mask a contributor’s identity.” Story Continued:

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· September Jobs Report: First Impressions – Payrolls grew by 114,000 last month and the unemployment rate ticked down significantly to 7.8 percent, according to today’s jobs report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the lowest unemployment rate since January of 2009. Moreover, unlike last month’s report, September’s decline in the unemployment rate was due to more job seekers finding work, not giving up and leaving the labor market.

Both July and August’s jobs numbers were revised up significantly such that in the third quarter of the year, payrolls grew by 146,000 per month on average, a notable acceleration over the second quarter’s growth pace of only 67,000 jobs per month.*

All told, this report and the revisions paint a considerably better labor market picture than the last few reports. We’re not yet out of the labor market woods, and I’d like to see us moving more quickly, but we’re on the right path.

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Source: BLS Payroll Survey

Labor force participation continues to be an important linchpin in the current job market. It’s been depressed by weak demand in recent years, as well as natural demographic pressures (retirees leaving the job market — though this is the lesser factor in its recent decline). In August, the unemployment rate fell from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent based not on unemployed persons landing jobs, but on workers leaving the job market.

Last month, the reverse occurred as large employment gains in the household survey helped push the unemployment rate below 8 percent, even as the labor force grew and the participation rate edged up slightly. However, the monthly numbers from the household survey are highly volatile and the large employment jump should be somewhat discounted. It’s mostly catch-up from previous months of stagnant job growth in the HH survey.

Is the threat of the fiscal cliff at work in these numbers?

An interesting and timely question is whether the large fiscal contraction otherwise known as the fiscal cliff is depressing hiring.

Here we have some helpful analysis by Goldman Sachs researchers to help sort this out. They’ve divided industries into those that are more and less exposed to movements in government spending. For example, aerospace and defense contractors (70 percent of their sales are to the federal government) and health care (60 percent) are two obvious sectors where this matters (though since the large health care entitlements are largely spared from the automatic cuts, this sector is less vulnerable).

They then make a scatter chart of recent employment growth (not including today’s numbers) against these government sales shares. As you see, there’s a slight negative slope, but it’s far from significant (the low value of R-sq shows these two variables are not correlated). If those industries more dependent on government spending were hiring less in expectation of the cliff, that slope would be a lot more negative. So not much evidence, at least by this metric, that the fiscal cliff is depressing hiring.

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· No More Excuses – It’s time to stop making excuses for Barack Obama. With so much at stake in this election, his performance at the debate on Wednesday night was indefensible.

Ever since he was elected, there have been reasons offered, either publicly or privately, for why Obama has been unable to fully engage some of the nation’s most important challenges. Despite the rampant increase in poverty in the worst downturn since the Depression, Obama supporters whispered that he couldn’t do more for the poor and couldn’t speak out more forcefully on their behalf because that would not be politically advantageous. So nearly all of his economic initiatives had to be couched in language that referred to the middle class, even though the poor were being hurt far worse. LBJ could launch a war on poverty but not Barack Obama.

Black Americans have been disproportionately clobbered by the Great Recession and its aftermath, losing both income and wealth at staggering rates. Much of the black community is enduring a full-blown economic depression. But Obama and his advisers have been unwilling to address this catastrophe openly and forcefully out of fear that the president would be perceived as too black by prejudiced white voters, thus losing their support.

There is always some excuse, some reason for not bringing all of the president’s energy and resources to the fight.

On jobs, the biggest crisis facing the country, the excuse for not having done more has been Republican obstructionism. There is no doubt the Republicans have tried to thwart the president every which way from sundown. But Obama never fought back in kind. He never found his inner Harry Truman, never took his case forcefully to the people. He kept trying to accommodate the other side long after it was clear that no accommodation was possible.

In the face of the worst economic calamity since the 1930s, the United States needed a mammoth job-creation and economic revitalization program, a New Deal for the 21st century. But that would have required presidential leadership capable of challenging the formidable opposition mounted by the very folks who caused the crisis in the first place. Instead we got a woefully insufficient stimulus program and a failed effort at some kind of grand bargain between the president and the retrograde Republicans in Congress. That grand bargain would have imposed austerity measures that would have further crushed the poor and the black and the middle class.

On Wednesday night nearly 60 million television viewers got to witness this chronic unwillingness of Barack Obama to fight. He did not hammer Mitt Romney for his ugly, all-too-revealing comments that demeaned nearly half the population as slackers and ne-er-do-wells. He did not go after Romney’s terrible job-creation record as governor of Massachusetts. He did not assail Romney for his callous contention on 60 Minutes that people who don’t have health insurance actually do get care — in the nation’s emergency rooms. “If someone has a heart attack, they don’t sit in their apartment and die,” said Romney. “We pick them up in an ambulance and take them to the hospital and give them care.” Story Continued:

· Simon Schama on How Obama Threw It All Away in the Denver Debate – As the whoppers tumbled from his smiling lips, Pinocchio Romney’s nose grew so long that it was practically poking out the eye of his mournful opponent. But even had it struck raw cornea, the president would have politely removed the intruding proboscis to say, “Governor Romney, I probably agree that the nation could do with a good eye watering, though we disagree on the manner in which it would be administered,” or some such snappy retort.

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President Obama looks over to a group of supporters after walking off stage at a campaign event Thursday at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / AP Photo)

Quick! Somebody call the Rejoinder-Implant Service before it’s too late! Which it already may be. Especially if Obama sticks with the prep team who did such a tiptop job in Denver. Maybe next time they’ll tell him: “It’s TV, Mr. President. They don’t actually turn off the camera pointing at you when you’re not speaking, so all in all, best not to be caught constantly chin down, nose in your notes. How about paying attention to what the other guy is saying, looking his way even? That way you get to think of a response.”

It’s hard to see how there can be a comeback. God knows there weren’t any on offer from the presidential side even when Romney had the brass to claim that he and his party weren’t actually proposing tax cuts for upper-income Americans! How about a reply playing on memories of a certain embarrassing video: “Well, Governor, if you’ll pardon the expression, that’s RICH coming from you!”

To be fair to Obama, he did make an effort to contest some of the more outlandish suggestions, like that somehow he alone had been responsible for deficit bloat rather than the calamitous policy of his predecessor and other Republicans. And he asked Romney to specify the closed loopholes and terminated deductions that are supposed to make good the revenue lost from tax cuts. But he did so in a tone of weary exasperation, letting Romney slither around the question rather than treading on his tail until he came up with answers like “mortgage deductions,” as in “end of.” Instead of the Clintonian chuckle of disbelief we got the sour grimace of silent reproof. Story Continued:

· Man Tells Obama: Business ‘Terrible Since You Got Here’ – An Ohio man at the market told President Obama that business has been “Terrible since you got here,” according to the White House pool report. Via the pool report:

Potus stopped to meet people waiting for him, where he did the requisite hand-shaking, high-fiving and the rare baby-holding before going on to chat with proprietors at Turczyk’s Meats and the adjoining Larry Vilstein’s, Christopher Bakery and Edward Badbuster & Son. He then asked the proprietor at Rolston Poultry how business was going. “Terrible since you got here,” the man said. Pool could not get close enough to the Rolston Poultry man to get his name or political affiliation. Potus didn’t appear amused by the sentiment.

The president visited Cleveland’s West Side Market this afternoon.

Other exchanges from the report:

Potus stopped first at Michelle’s Bakery, where he chatted with the two ladies manning the counter. They discussed business, the outlet’s cheese Danish and butternut bread. Potus asked about the challenges in running a small business, and one of the ladies said she makes all of the goods at home and transports them to the market. Potus seemed enamored by the shop’s name. “It is no coincidence that I’m stopping at Michelle’s bakery,” Potus said. “I just want to point that out. And she spells it the right way, with two Ls. That’s the correct way. How are you? Good to see you. So Michelle, when did you get started with this?” Potus ordered one piece pumpkin cheesecake ($2.95), one Danish butternut loaf ($6.95) and one loaf of zucchini bread ($6.95). He insisted on taking a photograph in front of the sign that read “Michelle’s Bakery.” Story Continued:

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· Romney leads Obama by two percent in national poll, two thirds of which was conducted after debate – There’s no debate about it — Mitt’s bouncing high.

After what many saw as a landslide victory during the first presidential debate last Wednesday, Mitt Romney led President Obama by two percent in a national poll released today, winning support from 49 percent of voters nationwide, compared to Obama’s 47 percent.

Going into the debate, Obama led by two points, according to Rasmussen’s daily presidential tracking poll.

About two-thirds of the polling was conducted after Wednesday night’s debate in Denver. About two percent of voters said they were undecided and another two percent said they preferred someone else, according to the pollster.

The boost marks the first time since mid-September that the former Massachusetts Governor has pulled ahead of Obama in the neck-and-neck race. Story Continued:

· Gas prices set a record in California – California’s average gasoline price set a record Saturday of $4.614 for a gallon of regular, up 12.8 cents overnight – but anyone who filled up in the last few days probably isn’t surprised.

clip_image011Gasoline prices skyrocketed after the Exxon Mobil refinery in Torrance was knocked offline Monday by a power outage. Other lingering refinery and pipeline problems also contributed to the soaring costs at the pump.

Several service stations are charging more than $5 a gallon for regular gasoline. Some have stopped selling gas because they don’t want to pay the high wholesale price, which reached a record Thursday but eased somewhat on Friday.

Why are gas prices so high?

Saturday’s record, as measured by AAA’s daily fuel price survey, replaces the old record of $4.610 set in 2008. If it’s any comfort, and it probably isn’t, that’s only a nominal record because when adjusted for inflation, the old record equals $4.93 in 2012 dollars.

Analysts say prices might begin leveling off next week as fuel traders digest the news that the Exxon refinery returned to service on Friday. But other refinery difficulties and maintenance could keep California’s prices significantly above those in other parts of the nation.

Around the state, Los Angeles drivers were paying an average $4.661, Orange County’s average was $4.650 and San Francisco was at $4.689. Story Continued:

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· Revolt of the SpooksIntelligence officials angered by Obama administration cover up of intelligence on Iranian, al Qaeda surge in Egypt and Libya

Weeks before the presidential election, President Barack Obama’s administration faces mounting opposition from within the ranks of U.S. intelligence agencies over what career officers say is a “cover up” of intelligence information about terrorism in North Africa.

Intelligence held back from senior officials and the public includes numerous classified reports revealing clear Iranian support for jihadists throughout the tumultuous North Africa and Middle East region, as well as notably widespread al Qaeda penetration into Egypt and Libya in the months before the deadly Sept. 11 terrorist attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

“The Iranian strategy is two-fold: upping the ante for the Obama administration’s economic sanctions against Iran and perceived cyber operations against Iran’s nuclear weapons program by conducting terror attacks on soft U.S. targets and cyber attacks against U.S. financial interests,” said one official, speaking confidentially.

The Iranian effort also seeks to take the international community’s spotlight off Iran’s support for its Syrian ally.

Two House Republicans, Reps. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.) and Jason Chaffetz (R., Utah), stated in a letter sent this week to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that officials “with direct knowledge of events in Libya” revealed that the Benghazi attack was part of a string of terror attacks and not a spontaneous uprising against an anti-Muslim video produced in the U.S. The lawmakers have scheduled congressional hearings for Oct. 10.

Susan Phalen, spokeswoman for the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R., Mich.), said the panel is “reviewing all relevant intelligence and the actions of the [intelligence community], as would be expected of the oversight committee.”

But she noted: “At this point in time it does not appear that there was an intelligence failure.”

Intelligence officials pointed to the statement issued Sept. 28 by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) that raised additional concern about the administration’s apparent mishandling of intelligence. The ODNI statement said that “in the immediate aftermath, there was information that led us to assess that the attack began spontaneously following protests earlier that day at our embassy in Cairo.”

Officials say the ODNI’s false information was either knowingly disseminated or was directed to be put out by senior policy officials for political reasons, since the statement was contradicted by numerous intelligence reports at the time of the attack indicating it was al Qaeda-related terrorism.

Among the obvious signs of terrorism was the arms used by the attackers, who were equipped with rocket-propelled grenades and assault rifles. Story Continued:

· Romney leads in 1st post-debate poll in Colorado – Mitt Romney leads President Barack Obama in a Colorado opinion survey conducted after Wednesday’s presidential debate at the University of Denver.

The poll by Florida research firm Gravis Marketing of likely Colorado voters, conducted Oct. 3-4, shows Republican Romney favored by 49.4 percent and Democrat Obama by 45.9 percent, a difference of 3.5 percentage points.

It’s a reversal of the result of Gravis’ latest pre-debate poll of Coloradans, conducted Sept. 25, that showed a 4.7-point advantage for Obama.

Obama and Romney debated at DU on Oct. 3, but Gravis said it conducted its most recent survey after the debate.

Most pundits have said the felt Romney prevailed over Obama in the faceoff, their first of three scheduled debates.

Among those surveyed by Gravis who said they were “very likely” to vote for one candidate or the other, the gap was narrower: 43.2 percent for Romney, 41.2 percent for Obama.

Interestingly, the post-debate poll showed an increase of undecided voters from Gravis’ pre-debate survey: 4.8 percent in the Oct. 3-4 survey, up from 4.3 percent in the Sept. 25 poll.

The survey of 1,438 Colorado voters — 1,285 of whom responded to the question about their choice for president — has an estimated margin of error of 2.8 percent. It was released late Friday.

Obama has been ahead in most previous polls of Colorado voters. Story Continued:

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Here’s a sneak preview of next week’s cover, “One on One,” by Barry Blitt. “This image seemed like a proper response to the first Presidential debate,” says Blitt, “but I’m not sure I realized how hard it is to caricature furniture.”

· Big Super PAC Donor on Obama: ‘Looks Like He Took My Million and Spent it All on Weed’Bill Maher, a major donor to Barack Obama’s super PAC, blasted the president’s debate performance on his HBO show last night:

“I’m sorry, he sucked,” said Maher last night. “He looked tired. He had trouble getting his answers out, looks like he took my million and spent it all on weed!”

Maher has given a million dollars to support President Obama’s super PAC. Story Continued and to see the video:

· Taliban mock US as Afghan war enters 12th year – America’s longest war entered its 12th year Sunday, with the anniversary marked by a Taliban statement claiming that NATO forces are “fleeing Afghanistan” in “humiliation and disgrace”.

The US led the invasion on October 7, 2001 to topple the Taliban government for harbouring Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

The Taliban were quickly routed, but launched an insurgency that grew in strength over the years until NATO had some 130,000 troops from 50 countries defending the Western-backed government of President Hamid Karzai.

The troops have now begun pulling out and all foreign combat forces will be gone by the end of 2014 according to a withdrawal schedule agreed by the US and NATO.

“With the help of Allah, the valiant Afghans under the Jihadi leadership of Islamic Emirate defeated the military might and numerous strategies of America and NATO alliance,” the Taliban said in a statement Sunday.

“And now after eleven years of unceasing terror, tyranny, crimes and savagery, they are fleeing Afghanistan with such humiliation and disgrace that they are struggling to provide an explanation”.

A total of 3,199 NATO soldiers have been killed in the war, more than 2,000 of them Americans. Most deaths occurred in the past five years as Taliban attacks escalated, according to icasualties.com.

This year, official statistics showed that deaths in the Afghan security forces are running five times higher than those for NATO, as the Afghans take on increasing responsibilities before the Western withdrawal.

The US and NATO say Afghan forces will be capable of taking over the fight against the Taliban after 2014, but many analysts predict a bloody new multi-factional civil war. Story Continued:

· Robert Gibbs: Mitt Romney’s Budget Math Is ‘Absolutely Crazy’ (VIDEO) – Former White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Sunday lit into Mitt Romney’s recent debate performance, calling the Republican presidential nominee’s claims “fundamentally dishonest” and “absolutely crazy.”

“The underpinnings and foundations of that performance were fundamentally dishonest,” Gibbs said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “He walked away from the central tenet of his economic theory by saying he had no idea what the president was talking about. Ten minutes after the debate, even his own staff is walking back his answers on health care and preexisting conditions.”

During the debate on Wednesday, Romney insisted that there is no tax break for corporations sending jobs offshore. In fact, there are several tax perks associated with offshoring. Moving costs can be explicitly deducted from a company’s tax bill, and corporations do not have to pay tax on revenues earned overseas in tax havens until they bring the money back to the United States — giving businesses an incentive to move work abroad and keep money offshore.

Romney’s own campaign adviser, Eric Fehrnstrom, also quickly walked back Romney’s debate claims that the former Massachusetts governor’s health care proposal will guarantee affordable insurance for people with pre-existing conditions.

President Barack Obama, in a performance that was widely panned, failed to correct Romney on the distortions he presented during the debate. The Obama campaign has been doing damage control in the days since, belatedly challenging Romney’s assertions and highlighting lies he told.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), a top Obama surrogate, blasted Romney’s tax and budget proposal during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.”

“We saw Big Bird meet the big lie,” O’Malley said, noting that Romney has voiced his support for expensive tax rate deductions, while refusing to specify loopholes and other tax breaks that he would end to pay for the new perks. “There are costs to those tax cuts … Governor Romney has not said what his secret plan is for paying for these $5 trillion in tax cuts. Just like he will not talk about where his tax returns have been or how much money he has offshore.” Story Continued and to watch the video:

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· Saving More Lives Than Ever – by Hillary Clinton – When I became Secretary of State, I asked our diplomats and development experts: “How can we do better?” I could see our strengths, including tens of thousands of public servants who get up every day thinking about how to advance America’s interests and promote our values around the world. At the same time, I could also see areas where we could be stronger partners, and where we could do more to get the most out of every hour of effort and dollar of funding. I saw it in our diplomacy, in our development efforts — and in our global health work.

America had been leading the global health fight for decades. In my husband’s administration, we began to make HIV treatment drugs more affordable, stepped up the fight against AIDS in India and Africa, and expanded investments in scientific research. Under President Bush’s leadership, we made historic commitments — on AIDS and malaria in particular — that were saving millions of lives.

The American people rightly take great pride in all these investments. Even during the worst economic downturn in a generation, the Obama administration has been committed to maintaining and expanding them. But we recognized that to sustain the impact of our work, we needed to change the way we did business.

For example, while our agencies were providing tremendous leadership in isolation, they could still do more to collaborate effectively. Teams in PEPFAR (the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief) would work with a country to develop a plan for fighting HIV/AIDS; then, our malaria team would work separately with the same country to develop a malaria plan. Often we weren’t doing enough to coordinate our efforts with other donors or our partner countries either. And we weren’t building sustainable systems to eventually allow our partner countries to manage more of their own health needs.

The result? We were unintentionally putting a ceiling on the number of lives we could save. Not only could we become more effective and efficient, we had to. And we needed to shift from global health aid to global health investments — using our funding as a catalyst to spark self-sustaining progress.

We started by defining a set of seven principles for our work under the Global Health Initiative. Among them, we emphasized country ownership — the end state where a nation’s efforts are led, implemented, and eventually paid for by its government, communities, civil society and private sector. We elevated the role of women across all our programs, because the evidence shows that healthy women lead to healthy families and societies. And we emphasized strengthening health systems to build sustainability and to ensure that programs were working more efficiently together.

We retooled many of our programs to reflect these principles. Each of our country teams now assess how they fit within a comprehensive vision and program, based upon a health plan established by the country where we are operating. We also took several practical steps to lower costs, such as switching to generic AIDS drugs, which saved more than $380 million in 2010 alone.

And we made global health one of our diplomatic priorities — because fighting disease takes political leadership. Donors and partner countries have to make health a priority in their budgets. Their policies have to reflect a long-term commitment to improving access to care for everyone, not just a privileged few. They have to fight corruption. All of these are inherently political challenges. So I instructed our ambassadors around the world to elevate health in their discussions with presidents, prime ministers and leaders from outside government as well.

What does all this mean in practice?

Through our global health diplomacy, we’ve helped bring new partners to the table and keep old partners at the table; while we’ve committed $4 billion to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria since 2009, other donors have committed $7 billion. Story Continued:

· ‘SNL’ Spoofs Obama’s Debate Performance (VIDEO)this video is worth viewing.

· Biden Takes 6 Days Off Campaign Trail

clip_image016 Debate prep –

With just about a month until Election Day, Vice President Joe Biden is in the middle of taking nearly a week off the campaign trail. He will return to doing campaign events on Thursday, when he will debate Rep. Paul Ryan in the vice presidential debate.

On Friday, October 5, according to the White House, Biden spent the day working. In the morning, he was scheduled to attend the presidential daily briefing in the Oval Office, with President Obama. That afternoon Biden was to “meet with senior advisors,” according to the White House.

For this weekend, the White House provided the following guidance: “The Vice President will be in Wilmington, Delaware. There are no public events scheduled.”

As for the next three days, Biden will remain in Delaware. “On Monday through Wednesday, the Vice President will be in Wilmington, Delaware. There are no public events scheduled.”

Meanwhile, Thursday, October 11, is a big day for Biden. “On Thursday, the Vice President and Dr. Jill Biden will travel to Danville, Kentucky. In the evening, the Vice President will participate in the Vice Presidential Debate at Centre College. Dr. Biden will also attend. This event is open to pre-credentialed media.”

So while Biden is taking 6 days off the campaign trail at a crucial time in the presidential campaign, it’s likely that he isn’t completely off. He is said to be spending time with David Axelrod and other campaign advisers preparing for Thursday’s debate. Story Continued:

· Pressure is on Biden after Obama’s lackluster debate performance – He has been stereotyped as the Obama administration’s gaffe-prone sideshow.

But Vice President Joe Biden also is a veteran debater who was in the U.S. Senate for a quarter century and is perhaps the Democratic White House’s most passionate defender of the working class.

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Now, with his debate against Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan coming up on Thursday, Biden is under pressure to help President Barack Obama’s campaign recapture the momentum it enjoyed before Obama was outmaneuvered by Republican rival Mitt Romney last week in the first of their three debates.

That debate trimmed Obama’s lead in the polls and raised the stakes for the lone vice presidential debate, which also will be a national debut of sorts for Ryan, the Wisconsin congressman and budget specialist.

With the Romney-Ryan campaign energized, Democrats are in the surprising position of relying on Biden, a perpetual political wild card, to fire up their campaign. Democrats did get a boost in Friday’s jobs report, which showed the nation’s unemployment rate dipped below 8 percent last month for the first time since January 2009, the month Obama took office.

“This is not about changing minds. This is about changing the momentum,” Democratic strategist Chris Kofinis said. “The vice president is going to have to be very aggressive in undercutting Republican arguments. He can’t allow Ryan to control the debate the way Romney controlled his debate.”

An aggressive Romney went after Obama in their debate, offering what appeared to be new positions – misrepresentations, Democrats claimed later – on taxes, healthcare and other issues.

Obama, strangely passive, left many of Romney’s assertions unanswered. It will be up to Biden, far more comfortable than Obama in the role of aggressor, to fill in the blanks on what Democrats say are Romney’s shifting positions.

Biden could be well suited to the role.

He was a sharper performer than Obama when they debated as presidential candidates during the 2008 Democratic primaries. The former Delaware senator’s blunt-talking style makes him a particularly effective communicator with blue-collar voters. Story Continued:

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