Daily News Roundup: BlackBerries, Barack and Bombs

In technology news, the new BlackBerry Storm smartphone has a New York Times reviewer calling it the “BlackBerry Dud.” Unlike its predecessors, the BlackBerry Pearl and Bold, the Storm model doesn’t appear to live up to the BlackBerry tradition. According to the review, the new touchscreen (designed to compete with the iPhone) doesn’t respond well to touch. And its lauded email capabilities have been compromised on the new Storm. Hey BlackBerry makers, Research in Motion (R.I.M.) maybe you should have listened to the old adage: if it’s not broken don’t fix it….(Note: Blackberries still outsell iPhone).

With the U.S. economic problems looming, President-Elect Barack Obama named Paul Volcker, the former Federal Reserve Chairman to head his Economic Recovery Advisory Committee. Obama chose Volcker for his independent and fresh thinking. “At this defining moment for our nation, the old ways of thinking and acting just won’t do,” Obama said at a news conference in Chicago reported Bloomberg. This economic board will look for new ways to revive the U.S. economy.

In other President-elect cabinet news, sources tell CNN that Defense Secretary Robert Gates will keep his job for at least the first year of Obama’s administration. These sources also report “Obama is interested in some continuity at the Pentagon because he is entering office while dealing with two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the international financial crisis.” Other analysts claim the new president-elect is demonstrating his commitment to bipartisanship.

And if we haven’t noticed, the President-elect is making his cabinet picks fairly quickly. Obama is once again making presidential history with choosing his picks faster than most of the other presidents. Many political insiders are surprised because of the President-elect’s extensive candidate questionnaire and background check. Yet Obama appears committed to acting quickly to ensure a quick transition that will strengthen the economy and preserve jobs, which are on the minds of most Americans.

And if following up on his earlier threat to Obama, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said al Qaeda has sent a “plausible but unsubstantiated” report to Federal authorities that may have mentioned attacking transit systems in or around New York City. The DHS and FBI said Tuesday that the attacks would be waged with suicide bombers or explosives on trains and subways. Although the agencies don’t have details at this moment, they issued the warning because of a potential attack during the holiday season.




President-Elect Obama May Have To Lose His Crackberry Addiction

President-elect Barack Obama is hip and technology savvy. In fact, many political analysts contend that his use of technology and email during his presidential campaign contributed significantly to his win in the age of Web 2.0. Yet according to a recent New York Times article, as president, Obama may be forced to lose his favorite campaign device: his BlackBerry.

Because of the Presidential Records Act, Obama’s BlackBerry (a hacker liability) poses a national security risk. It also allows the president’s location to be trackable via GPS and cell networks. And the law makes all of his correspondence available for the public to review should they be subpoenaed by Congress. There is no “work only” clause either; his personal emails to his daughters, wife and friends would be combed through as well.

Unlike his self-proclaimed technophobic contender from the general election, Obama will definitely feel the loss. Like most of us (including this author), Obama’s BlackBerry has become a part of his life. For him, the device may have been one of his few escapes to the real world and a much needed lifeline to his friends and family.

“Given how important it is for him to get unfiltered information from as many sources as possible, I can imagine he will miss that freedom,” said Linda Douglass, a senior adviser who traveled with the campaign to the NYT.

In the transition days ahead, our president-elect may have to wean himself off his BlackBerry like he did cigarettes. The former may be harder than the latter.

Note: also posted on Pop + Politics




CB’s Green Report: America Recycles on Nov. 15th & Other Green News


Don’t forget to recycle and buy recycled products. Saturday, Nov. 15 is America Recycles Day created by the National Recycling Coalition. The “Recycling” holiday (as I like to call it) is designed to promote the social, environmental and economic benefits of recycling. The National Recycling Coalition is seeking to encourage more people to join the recycling movement to create a better environment. Some of the ways people can get involved by (1) recycling, (2) taking a national pledge and encouraging others to do so, (3) finding out about local events, and (4) learning more about recycling and caring for the environment. Surely, we can all do our part on Saturday and the rest of the days of the year.

Al Gore as Obama’s Climate Czar? Hmmm.. Although it would be a great job if President-elect Obama and his team actually created one (rumor is they are toying around with the idea), Former Vice President Al Gore said he isn’t interested. That’s surprising considering all of his work on global warming such as The Inconvenient Truth movie and the Nobel Peace prize. And who doesn’t think he would be the perfect person to fill that position?

Will it be the power of positive thinking? President-elect Barack Obama has called for the review of the Bush administration’s executive orders, but has not decided to reverse the ones related to stem cell research or environmental issues like offshore oil drilling. However, U.S. conservation groups on Thursday already see victory for reversals on Bush Administration decisions that they say did a lot of damage to the nation’s environmental protections in the past eight years.

Obama’s environmental efforts as president may be slow. Despite President-elect’s statement that he will move quickly to address global warming, the chairman of the Senate Energy Committee predicted Wednesday no Congressional action on a climate change bill until 2010. “Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said that while every effort should be made to cap greenhouse gases, the economic crisis, the transition to a new administration and the complexity of setting up a nationwide market for carbon pollution permits preclude acting in 2009.”

Score: Navy 1, Whales & Environment 0. Well, no one is exactly keeping score but the Supreme Court definitely sided with the U.S. Navy in its case against the National Resources Defense Council (check out Navy v. Whales post for more info). The environmental group had successfully gotten the California Supreme Court to place judicial restrictions on submarine training exercises off the coast of Southern California because of potential harm to marine animals like whales and dolphins. According to the environmentalists, the submarines give off harmful sonar waves that could change marine animals breeding and migration patterns or cause them physical trauma. The possible lesson learned here is potential animal harm doesn’t quite measure up to possible human harm through jeopardizing national security.

Does smog kill? Yes. According to a recent study, Southern California and San Joaquin Valley’s air causes more deaths than all of the fatal car crashes in the last year. Whoa! And the study shows the region could save more than “$28 billion annually in health care costs, school absences, missed work and lost income potential from premature deaths.” California State University – Fullerton researchers were trying to figure out the potential economic benefits of reducing air pollution to federal standard levels. California needs to clean up its act, I mean air, literally!




CB’s Daily Newsbreak: Marriage, Money & More…

Gay marriage scored a victory Wednesday in Connecticut. A Superior Court judge issued its final ruling to uphold the earlier 4 to 3 Connecticut State Supreme Court ruling that said same-sex couples have the right to wed. This recent news stands in sharp contrast to California’s Prop. 8 referendum that banned same-sex unions in that state.

Where in the world is Osama bin Laden? That is exactly what President-elect Barack Obama wants to know according to his national security advisers. Obama plans to renew the United States’ commitment to finding the al Qaeda leader. During the Oct. 7 presidential debate, Obama said, “We will kill bin Laden. We will crush al Qaeda. That has to be our biggest national security priority.”

And Obama appears to be sticking to his principles and promisesPresident-elect Barack Obama will not allow lobbyists to help pay for any costs related to his transition to power said his transition team yesterday. As he promised to keep big-time money interests and lobbyists out of his campaign, Obama remains firm that lobbyists will not foot his transition and inauguration bills.

Mo’ money, mo’ money, mo’ money for more finance companies? U.S. Treasury Secretary Paulson is seeking to include non-bank financial institutions, such as credit card, car loan and student loan companies into the government’s $700 billion bailout. Paulson said Wednesday that he wants to help American households and businesses have access to various credit and borrowing options. Apparently, there is still $350 billion that is uncommitted after putting the first half into direct capital investments into banks.

And for troubled homeowners, the verdict is still out on government help. The House Committee on Financial Services is looking at what the banking industry can do to help distressed homeowners. Chairman of the committee, Rep. Barney Frank, told CNN “not all borrowers should necessarily be rescued.” Some banks like Citigroup and IndyMac have taken matters into their own hands and launched homeowner programs. Yet “Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s Economy.com, estimates that 1.6 million Americans will lose their homes this year through foreclosure or distressed sale, and that another 1.9 million families will lose their homes in 2009.”

On the tech front…. Hoping for a boost in e-mail users, Google adds video and audio chatting to Gmail‘s service called Google Talk. Although video and audio chatting aren’t new technologies, Google’s the first major email provider to add the new technology directly to its email system. Google wants to gain the lead on Yahoo and Microsoft, which still have more users.




Caramel Bella’s: The Green Report

The dangers of global warming strike the penguins. According to a recent World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report, if the earth’s climate increases by only two degrees Celsius (or 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) half to three-quarters of Antarctic penguin colonies could be wiped out or severely harmed. Sadly, a United Nation report predicts the climate change will occur by the end of the century if greenhouse gases aren’t decreased. Poor, poor penguins.

Could greener fuels cause world hunger? A United Nations food agency is asking the same question in its call for a review of biofuel (cleaner, plant-based fuel) subsidies and policies. The examination will look at biofuel’s role in higher food prices and hunger in poor countries. With the biofuel subsidies in place, many farmers plant more crops for fuel than food because it brings in more dough.

Speaking of dough, green technology is where it’s at. Venture capital is pouring into the clean tech industry that focuses on alternative energy, pollution reduction, recycling and conservation. Biotechies and biopharma workers are headed over to the green side. According to VentureSource, venture funding in clean technologies increased from $216 million in 2002 to $2.5 billion last year.

Financial crisis threatens climate change. A lack of credit and limited capital may result in fewer developed countries investing in green initiatives to help poorer countries upgrade to clean energy technology. In an AP interview, Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the U.N. climate secretariat summed it up best when he said, “You can’t pick an empty pocket.”

(more…)




CB Thoughts on the First Presidential Debate: Obama Wins on Foreign Policy, Economy & National Security

According to most national polls and surveys, Democratic presidential nominee Obama is the assumptive winner of Friday’s 2008 presidential debate, the first in the series of three. The Republican nominee John McCain and Obama debated foreign policy, national security and spent half the time discussing the current economic crisis.

This debate clarified three keys issues for Americans to consider in this presidential selection process.

First, the discussion revealed that McCain’s policy and thinking is rooted in the past. And Obama’s orientation is towards the future. McCain wanted the American viewers to remember his record on national security, and foreign policy and service. The problem is that Americans already know his record because that’s what his two decades in the Senate reflect. And his Vietnam P.O.W. experience is undisputed. However, what McCain seemed to forget is that Americans want to know what he is going to do for them in the future. Obama was smart to spend most of his two minutes detailing the components of his economic plan and simultaneously overcame criticisms of him being too vague or gives lofty speeches.

Obama: What I do is I close corporate loopholes, stop providing tax cuts to corporations that are shipping jobs overseas so that we’re giving tax breaks to companies that are investing here in the United States. I make sure that we have a health care system that allows for everyone to have basic coverage.

(more…)




Reality TV Star, Omarosa, talks presidential politics with the Caramel Bella

She’s no Sarah Palin, but in the reality television world Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth can also be described as tough, dogged and a fearsome competitor. I recently had the opportunity to catch up with Omarosa, who first appeared on Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice” show. Some of you may remember her from season one, in which many viewers felt she stabbed fellow African-American competitor, Kwame Jackson, in the back during the final round. Omarosa, who has appeared on two seasons of “The Apprentice,” VH1’s “Surreal Life” and on “I Love New York” was very clear with me about the three most important issues to consider in this presidential election. Let’s listen to her dish.

Interview: Brooke-Sidney Gavins
Multimedia Producer: Sharifa Johka
Video editing: Brooke-Sidney Gavins




Caramel Bella @ DNC: Can Obama & the Dems beat the GOP on National Security?

Joe Klein of TIME Magazine at Truman National Security Event (DNC)

Today’s theme at the DNC is “Securing America’s Future,” a topic made more urgent by the Iraq war and the simmering Russian-Georgian conflict.

Like me, I am sure you are wondering what national security will look like if Barack Obama is elected president. And I wonder how the democrats will face the challenge that Obama is losing to McCain on the issues of national security.

The CNN and Opinion Research Corporation poll released today “indicates that the American public considers presumed Republican presidential nominee John McCain better than Obama on terrorism and Iraq, and voters consider McCain a stronger leader who would have better judgment in an international crisis.”

In fact, the poll shows that 78 percent feel McCain can handle the responsibilities of commander-in-chief with only 58 percent who feel Obama can. McCain also led Obama on perception as a stronger leader and who would have best judgment in an international crisis by 10 percent or more spread.

So, I recently attended the “Next Administration’s National Security & Defense Priorities” event presented by the Truman National Security Project to answer these questions about Obama as the next commander-in-chief. The presentation featured Obama advisors former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig and Joe Klein of TIME magazine was the moderator.

At the outset, I was surprised to find a discussion held by progressives on national security. Many people seem to think that Republicans are the only ones concerned about defense, military capabilities, national security and foreign policy. This misconception couldn’t be farther from the truth. The Truman event showed that Democrats and Progressives across the country have been developing alternative ways to structure national security discussions, but who is listening? Is their message getting through to the voting America public?

The former Secretary of Defense William Perry began the event by stating national security involves more than the use of military force, but a cohesive and comprehensive national security agenda to develop tactical initiatives. Former Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig agreed and believes the Bush Administration went wrong in this area.

“The Iraq surge was ill-conceived because it was simply tactical without an overall national security strategy,” said Danzig.

Danzig proposed America make investments in a broad range of national security goals, not a single wartime event or military tactic.

He proposed that America consider a new paradigm on national security policy and cited three components of Obama’s national security proposal.

  1. We (U.S.) can’t do all of this ourselves. We must work with others. – The world is multilateral. We can’t handle all of the world’s problems alone.
  2. Other nations must be in the forefront. – The U.S. needs allies to take the lead.
  3. We (U.S.) must understand the huge political dimensions in the world. – Our actions don’t exist in a vacuum, so we must understand their political ramifications. We must also respect and understand the politics of other nations.

Obviously, Danzig supports Obama’s thoughts on national security but he also believes that character matters heavily in selecting our next commander-in-chief.

“A sense of trust in the candidate to be commander-in-chief is important,” said Danzig. “Obama has the quality of character required.”

Danzig said the key qualities are an evenness of temperament, an ability to listen and an awareness of the phenomena of the 21st century. All of these qualities Obama possesses said Danzig.

“I’ve seen Obama under a great amount of pressure and I’ve never seen Obama lose his temper and balance,” said Danzig. “And McCain is well known for ‘losing it.’”

Obama also talks with people that both agree and disagree with his positions, which Danzig said is key to a great commander-in-chief. “Obama’s position is that he wants people to disagree with him so he can understand their perspective.”

Danzig noted that McCain does not have these same character traits. And he said “McCain often arrives at views too quickly, digs in very deeply and this quality is very destructive.”

And although youthfulness is not a requirement for our next president, Danzig thinks it’s a good idea for our next commander-in-chief to understand the century that we are living in and modern technology.

McCain doesn’t use a blackberry. And when asked about the Internet, McCain said he is going to check out “the Google,” said Danzig. Will McCain comprehend cyber security and other more technologically advanced security threats?

After hearing an hour and a half of discussions on national security and the strengths and weakness of Obama and McCain, my biggest realization was that the Democratic Party has some serious work to do. For some reason, Americans seem to trust Republicans more in times of war and foreign policy, which is surprising in light of the Iraq war. And the democrats, Danzig, Perry and Truman policy analysts may have some great ideas, but who is really listening? Can Obama’s choice of Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as VP level the playing field?

Obama and Biden have some serious work to breakthrough misconceptions on Democrats and national security and even more work to lead the discussions. Let’s get cracking boys!




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My Maltese puppy; lazy Sunday mornings; a day at the Beach; Yoga; breakfast anytime of the day; my gurls (and you know who you are); my family (I’m a daddy’s girl); making new friends; Los Angeles & Washington, DC; ocean views; Anguilla; healthy foods that don’t taste healthy; politics; "greenie" things; meditating; natural curls and movies.

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  • profileCARAMEL BELLA: This is my place to write about my adventures and mis-adventures in this thing called life. I discuss my passions: the environment, politics, art & culture, writing as well as yoga, health and spirituality. The one thing you can expect from this blog is that it is not what you expected. Thanks for reading! To reach me email thecaramelbella at gmail.

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