Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Thousands heed call of ‘Souls to the Polls’ in Miami, statewide

African-American religious and community leaders in Miami joined in a statewide ‘Souls to the Polls’ effort to turn out their followers to vote in this year’s tight presidential race.

Read more here: 28, 2012-Seth Sklarey with the painters union shows up early in support of Pres. Obama. On the only Sunday that Florida polls opened for early voting, faith leaders from 44 congregations in six cities led their congregations to early voting locations in a massive “Souls to the Polls” effort to mobilize faith voters. C.W. Griffin / Miami Herald Staff

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OCT. 28, 2012--Mother Carolyn Smith aides Mother Louise White of 93rd Street Community Missionary Baptist Church as the walk together to cast their votes at the Joseph Caleb Center in Liberty City. They where among the many early voters that came out to vote following church services. On the only Sunday that Florida polls opened for early voting, faith leaders from 44 congregations in six cities led their congregations to early voting locations in a massive “Souls to the Polls” effort to mobilize faith voters. C.W. Griffin / Miami Herald Staff

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Oct. 28, 2012--Latasha Knight of Faith Community Baptist Church boards the bus to go to the polls. On the only Sunday that Florida polls opened for early voting, faith leaders from 44 congregations in six cities led their congregations to early voting locations in a massive “Souls to the Polls” effort to mobilize faith voters. C.W. Griffin / Miami Herald Staff

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Oct. 28, 2012-Betty James carries her poster as she prepares to vote early in support of Pres. Obama. On the only Sunday that Florida polls opened for early voting, faith leaders from 44 congregations in six cities led their congregations to early voting locations in a massive “Souls to the Polls” effort to mobilize faith voters. C.W. Griffin / Miami Herald Staff

Posted on Monday, 10.29.12

At Sunday noon services at the Faith Community Baptist Church in North Miami, youth preacher Richard P. Dunn III praised the boys’ football team and talked about God’s help in turning a cruel world into a happy one.

And he added a political dimension to his spiritual message. “We live in a world where some people don’t care about the 99 percent, but only about the 1 percent,” Dunn said, as the congregation of about 100 raised their hands and shouted “Amen!” and “Yes!” His father, the Rev. Richard P. Dunn II, finished by telling them, “God bless you — let’s go to the polls!”

The scene at Faith Baptist was replicated at over a dozen churches around Miami-Dade on Sunday, as African-American religious and community leaders joined in a “Souls to the Polls” effort to turn out their followers to vote.

Sunday has traditionally been a crucial voting day for African Americans. Polls this year show blacks overwhelmingly support President Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney. Black voters swamped Florida’s early polls in 2008, with one-third of them voting on the Sunday before Election Day.

The massive turnout helped Obama carry Florida and the country. But the Florida’s GOP-controlled Legislature cut the number of early voting days this year from 14 to eight — and eliminated the Sunday before Election Day.
“I think it was designed to frustrate and confuse people and suppress the number of votes,” said the elder Dunn, First Baptist’s pastor and a well-known community leader, of the cutbacks. “We gotta stop that momentum.”

Whether Sunday’s effort will make up for the loss of early-voting days remains to be seen. The campaign was organized by PICO United Florida, part of a 17-state network of faith-based community organizing groups. The Florida chapter, which includes 60 congregations around the state, also put together voter drives in Pensacola, Tampa, Orlando, Kissimmee and Gainesville on Sunday.

The Miami effort stretched from Liberty City to the New Generation Baptist Church in Opa-locka, where the Rev. Al Sharpton was helping local leaders rally a caravan of cars to go to the polls in North Miami.

PICO organizers had said buses would bring hundreds of churchgoers to the Joseph Caleb Center in Liberty City. But only dozens boarded the bus at Faith Community, clutching containers of food prepared by church volunteers, while others stowed umbrellas and folding chairs.

Faith Community member Claytosha Owens-Fields said she and her husband would drop their five children at their grandmother’s house before heading to the Caleb Center to cast their ballots.

“I want to be sure that believers are counted,” said Fields. “I want my kids to know I’m standing up for what counts.” She was not discouraged by having fewer days to vote. “I can get upset, or I can just come out and do what I want to do,” she said. “For me what’s important is to get the opportunity to be able to vote.”

Tedd and Brenda Johnson came on their own from church to vote at the Caleb Center. Lifelong Democrats, the Johnsons are ardent Obama supporters, voting for him in 2008 and on Sunday.

“Everyone should take advantage of the right and privilege of voting,” said Tedd Johnson, who said he and his wife spent about 20 minutes in line before voting.

Turnout Sunday seemed lighter than the massive numbers that came out for the first day of early voting on Saturday, when a record-breaking 22,625 people waited up to 5 ½ hours to vote in Miami-Dade. Wait times were shorter on Sunday, from no time at all at the Stephen P. Clark Government Center in downtown Miami to as long as three hours at the West Kendall Regional Library, according to the Miami-Dade Elections website.
There was a lively crowd at the Caleb Center, where a truck blasted R&B music for a line of people that stretched into the parking lot, waiting up to an hour and a half to vote. Others streamed in from buses to the center’s auditorium, where religious and political leaders rallied a crowd of about 200 people.

Pastor Carl Johnson of the 93rd Street Baptist Church, who had helped lead several Liberty City churches on a march to the Caleb Center, invoked the civil rights movement and the sacrifices of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Medgar Evers. “There is a spirit of apathy nowadays because people forgot!” Johnson said to shouts of “Hallelujah!” “Dr. King laid down on a balcony so that we should have the right to vote!” he said.
Others compared the early-voting cutbacks, as well as this year’s controversial Republican effort to tighten voter identification requirements in Florida, with the civil and voting rights battles of the 1950s and ’60s.
“I saw the civil rights movement as a child. I remember those marches,” said Vanessa Byers, 55.

A leader of a Miami chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority, started by African-American women in 1908, Byers was helping lead an attention-getting phalanx of 50 women from AKA. They gathered outside the Caleb Center in black suits, white gloves and pearls, pink corsages and pink tape over their mouths, holding signs that read “No vote — no voice.”
“We’re getting the message out to people who don’t know the importance of voting no matter what,” Byers said. “But I think this cutting back just mobilizes people to say, ‘We’re gonna vote in spite of this.’ ”

CLARIFICATION: An earlier version of this story should have noted that more than 20 Miami area churches, pastors and community groups worked with PICO Florida on Sunday's "Souls to the Polls" get out the vote drive.
Nicole Best, a visiting journalist with the Caribbean Media Corp. contributed to this report.

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By David Perera

Weather and climate change aren't synonymous. Nonetheless, as I await heavy rains and gusting winds from Hurricane Sandy to knock out my subdivision's power in the coming days, it seems like a fine moment to comment that weather has been acting up lately.
This past summer, more than half the country was in drought--some of that in areas the previous summer that were flooded by the Missouri River. 2011 was also a record year for wildfires.
Arctic sea ice was also at a record low this past September, and the inevitability of an ice-free summer Arctic in the coming decades already has led the private sector to gear up for resource exploitation in that previously inaccessible area.
In short, weather recently looks more unpredictable, and more extreme. Such are the hallmarks of climate change--which is, of course, the underlying story of our weather.
That climate change is occurring, and is human caused, isn't a matter of scientific debate. Unfortunately, it somehow has become a matter of political debate, the underlying story there being a climate of paranoia, willful ignorance and denial. Which is unfortunate, because global warming is becoming the most significant homeland security issue of our time, terrorism ultimately proving to be a controllable threat of diminishing importance.
Scientists from 13 departments and agencies in a 2009 report (.pdf) note that climate change will have the effect of limiting access to scarce resources and increasing incidents of damaging weather events, creating direct consequences for the U.S. economy and security.

Climate Impacts Report

The densely populated coasts of the Northeast "face substantial increases in the extent and frequency of storm surge, coastal flooding, erosion, property damage, and loss of wetlands," it notes. The Southeast faces the problem of hurricanes of increasingly destructive potential while the Midwest had already by 2009 experienced two record-breaking floods between then and 1994. Warming in the Southwest outpaces rises in the global average in some areas, threatening the water supply that is the lifeblood of that arid area. Water supply in the Northwest, too, is under threat by climate change.
American society will be deeply challenged by climate change, and the time to prepare for it is clearly at hand; it is a homeland security imperative. Those who would turn the discussion away from the best ways to mitigate it back to the false debate over its existence do a disservice to this country. I'll be thinking about them during the darkness of the coming days; as a nation in the coming decades, we'll no doubt have plenty of like opportunities to ponder how climate-change deniers prevented a robust response to global warming. - Dave

How Damning is the Change at

By Rebecca Burns
Friday Oct 26, 2012 9:43 am

Earlier this week, my colleague Lindsay Beyerstein wrote about the changing course of the online petition site On Monday, the Huffington Post's Ryan Grimm broke the story that the site was planning to change its advertising policy and stop vetting the partners it worked with—without telling users. That the site's social action platform will now be open to corporations and right-wing groups led Jeff Bryant to lament that the group has decided to “side with Goliaths” over the Davids that it has traditionally empowered. But has really "sold out the progressive movement?"
In a retort on the Huffington Post yesterday, founder Ben Rattray claims that the shift is the logical extension of the site's philosophy, which emphasizes giving people tools rather than espousing any particular political ideology:
Many inspiring organizations have a stated set of policy objectives, and pursue those with incredible passion and commitment.'s strategy is simply different: we aim to empower people everywhere to create the change they want to see. And to do that, we can't be advocates with a policy agenda ourselves.
I actually agree with this—although not the part where Rattray claims that the change wasn't ever a secret, even though it's been reported that the employee who leaked the documents has now been fired—in the sense that the site's core mission doesn't strike me as having ever been especially progressive.
First, a confession: My current personal antipathy toward stems largely from a petty annoyance with the media persona of Rattray himself. In a dating profile in the New York Times' June feature on “high-worth, high-tech bachelors” we learn that the comely crusader started out in investment banking before he “decided to make a difference instead of making a fortune.” According to important works of investigative journalism, Rattray subsequently became the subject of many fawning women, including the one who wrote this cringeworthy tweet concerning his existence “at the beautiful intersection of stubble and activism.” If you'd like to learn more about how this young, white man is very handsome, very good with money, but nonetheless using his powers to overcome caste discrimination in India one online signature at a time, you can do so here, here or here.
Griping aside, let's be clear about what has been for some time: a for-profit site that makes money by mining your e-mail address and selling it to its partners. If you are like me, this is how you ended up on the mailing list of "education reformer" Michelle Rhee, who reportedly gleaned two million e-mail addresses of users before the site ended its controversial partnership with her group. is a “Class B” corporation, a relatively new status granted to companies that make a profit but also provide a social benefit. There's nothing especially egregious about thisthe law mostly protects "benefit corporations" from certain kinds of shareholder lawsuits—but a June Wall Street Journal article notes that other sites that have a similar business model reveal this more openly by using a dot-com web address. The piece quotes Clay Johnson, social media fundraiser and author of The Information Diet, on the problem with's obfuscation:
I have huge problems with because they are a lead-generation business disguised as a social-change organization for whoever is willing to pay them for the email addresses. It's dangerous to monetize 'change' because there's an economic incentive to sensationalize.
Key among such sensationalization is the stories the site tells about its victories. The organization does have a skilled team of organizers who step in when a petition is doing well. (Netroots Nation's Raven Brooks complains that this is the case because the company poaches talent from other progressive groups, and charges that although's he's assembled a crack team, Rattray has always been out first and foremost to replicate the success of sites like Living Social). But to get off the ground in the first place, most campaigns need to be backed by strong movements—and that fact is what has always gotten short shrift in the site's claims about change.
When 14 year-old Julia Bluhm's petition resulted in a promise from Seventeen magazine to ban photo retouching of its models this July, In These Times staff writer Sady Doyle noted that the focus on Bluhm, to the exclusion of the feminist group she and many other girls were working with, sent the wrong message to other young activists looking to make change:
The ... tendency to sentimentalize and simplify activism—and, particularly, its tendency to pick out lone heroes or heroines, normal people granted exceptional powers to fight evil—is an alarming one. A responsible account of social change should not, generally speaking, have the same plot as the first Spider-Man movie. And not only because this sort of thinking is trite, or lazy: Because it misrepresents the basic principles by which activism works.
It's not that progressives shouldn't believe in the “power of individuals to make change” that's principled non-partisanship lauds--but they should be more concerned with the power of collective action, and with restoring confidence in this power in the face of an alienating and individualizing political culture. But unlike petition sites that associate openly with those pesky ideological goals, and the organizing power that comes with them, boasts with little qualification that its petitions themselves are the driving force behind expanded healthcare for military families and gender justice organizing in South Africa. Let's take that theory of change with a grain of salt.

Sandy uncovers suspected old bomb at Guantánamo ferry landing

The U.S. Navy shut down a portion of the Guantánamo Navy base and sent for a bomb disposal team from Florida on Tuesday because Hurricane Sandy churned up what looked like a 500-pound bomb.


Waves crash hard at Ferry Landing at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on  Oct. 25, 2012 after Hurricane Sandy swept through the island. No injuries to base personnel were reported but the storm churned up a suspicious object that may be a 500-pound bomb.
Waves crash hard at Ferry Landing at the U.S. Navy base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on Oct. 25, 2012 after Hurricane Sandy swept through the island. No injuries to base personnel were reported but the storm churned up a suspicious object that may be a 500-pound bomb.
Posted on Tuesday, 10.30.12

The U.S. military shut down a ferry landing at the Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and sent for a bomb disposal team from Florida on Tuesday after Hurricane Sandy churned up a suspicious object in the bay that might be a live, 500-pound bomb.
The object was discovered at 10 a.m. Tuesday, said Jose Ruiz, spokesman at the Pentagon Southern Command in Miami. “We don’t know conclusively what type of bomb it was and whether it was live or inert.”
Base officials evacuated the area around the bomb and dispatched a Navy plane to Mayport, Fla., to fetch the special bomb disposal crew, known as an Explosive Ordnance Disposal team. The experts were due at the base Tuesday night to determine if it was a live bomb.
“If it is,” Ruiz said, “they’ll neutralize it and then they’ll dispose of it.”
Guantánamo disclosed the discovery of “an object that appears to be unexploded ordnance” in a news release advising the 6,000 or so residents on the remote base in southeast Cuba of suspension of regular ferry service from the base’s Windward side across the bay.
Instead, a smaller boat was ferrying residents from a dock near the Officer’s Club, on Windward, to the Leeward side.
Base workers were still cleaning up the damage from last week’s Category 2 hurricane, notably debris and broken glass around the Pentagon’s crude Camp Justice compound that was built for the Sept. 11 and USS Cole capital murder tribunals.
The storm tore up tents and tarps around the Expeditionary Legal Complex. But it was still not known Tuesday if any water seeped inside and did damage to the state-of-the-art courtroom that beams proceedings to special viewing sites on U.S. soil.
Guantánamo’s recreational beaches were still closed Tuesday. Movies were once again being screened for troops, however, at the base’s open-air theater — ParaNorman and Frankenweenie, respectively, on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.


Hurricane Sandy damages war-court compound, cancels hearings for week


    Accused USS Cole bomber complains of Guantánamo guard mistreatment

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    Hurricane Sandy’s message

     OUR OPINION: Time to reconsider need for a national windstorm program

    The epic storm known as Hurricane Sandy should become Exhibit A in a renewed push to create a national windstorm insurance program. This monster storm should convince lawmakers — and the next president — once and for all of the crucial need to put this issue near the top of the national agenda.

    Why does a national windstorm insurance program make sense? Let us count the ways:
    • As Sandy makes clear, this is most assuredly not a localized problem. The storm is threatening all or parts of 10 states where 50 million Americans live. And, by the way, it’s the second storm to hit the area in as many years, while Florida has escaped major hurricanes during the same period.
    • State programs don’t work very well.
    Sure, having a state-financed insurer of last resort (Citizens), is better than not having one at all, but all such programs are riddled with problems. In Florida, years go by without a major storm hitting the state, and yet premiums keep rising, consistently. Under the policies crafted by our Legislature, parts of Florida have become the most expensive places in the world to insure a home. Regulators have approved rates as high as $13,000 a year on a $150,000 home in Monroe County. Meanwhile — it’s enough to make us cry — the average annual premium for the federally-run national flood insurance program in 2010 was about $570.

    But — and here’s the point — other states have the same problems all across the Gulf Coast. At the moment, the Texas Windstorm Insurance Assn., the counterpart of Citizens, is trying to figure out how to make rates “more equitable” because no one’s happy with the state’s system. They’re talking about “overhauling” the program because they don’t have enough of a geographic spread (in Texas!) or enough revenue to cover liabilities and potential losses. Gosh, where have we heard this before?
    • The current system represents a double standard. When the storm finally passes, millions will be able to turn to the national flood insurance program for help in the recovery.
    Meanwhile, victims of the windstorm will be left to fend for themselves or deal with private insurance companies. If history is any guide, the storm could become justification for huge rate increases by private insurance companies down the line.
    • The federal government is the right venue. Governors love to talk about states’ rights, and some of them are quick to criticize the federal government. But when the wolf’s at the door in the form of a natural disaster, they’re quick to run to Uncle Sam for help. President Obama responded appropriately this week to beleaguered governors, vowing to cut red tape to make sure assistance reaches those who need it as quickly as possible.
    We have to note with appreciation that even our own Gov. Rick Scott, no fan of big government, said back in late June, just before the start of the hurricane season, that maybe it’s time to consider whether a national windstorm program makes sense.

    Wow. If Rick Scott can see that — no matter how well crafted or well intentioned — state programs aren’t up to the task, there just may be hope that Congress can see the light, as well.

    The notion that the market can handle these big disasters without ruining the budgets of affected families represents the triumph of ideology over experience. Hurricane Sandy should offer proof to all but the most obtuse that it’s time to adopt a national program.

    Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Vol. XXXIX

    By Steve Benen
    Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:50 PM EDT 530

    Getty Images

    President Obama and his campaign team have been increasingly assertive of late in accusing Mitt Romney of dishonesty, but the president is still cautious in how he makes the charge.

    In this week's debate, for example, Obama was willing to go so far as to say, "Not true, governor," when the president heard something obviously false. The problem, of course, is that the Republican challenger strayed from the truth with unfortunate frequency -- leading Obama to repeat the words "not true" a half-dozen times.

    I suspect the president was probably annoyed, both with Romney's dishonesty and with the challenge of coming up with alternative ways to let the audience know the Republican was repeating falsehoods. I know the feeling -- this is, after all, the 39th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity.

    1. At a speech in Chesapeake, Virginia, Romney boasted, "If I become president ... we finally get America on track to a balanced budget."

    No we don't. Romney's plan slashes tax rates (which makes the deficit worse, not better), increases defense and entitlement spending (which makes the deficit worse, not better), and every independent analysis reaches the same conclusion: Romney's numbers don't add up.

    2. In the same speech, Romney said Obama only filed "one" action "against China."

    That's not even close to being true.

    3. In this week's town-hall debate, Romney claimed, "I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing. We're also going to have our loan program so that people are able to afford school."

    We know this isn't true, because he vowed to do the exact opposite in March. What's more, Romney also endorsed Paul Ryan's budget plan, which cuts Pell Grants.

    4. Romney also argued, "We have fewer people working today than we had when the president took office."

    No matter when we start the clock, there's a net jobs increase under Obama, both overall and in the private sector.

    5. Romney added, "If the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent when he took office. It's 7.8 percent now. But if you calculated that unemployment rate taking back the people who dropped out of the workforce, it would be 10.7 percent."

    That's ridiculously untrue.

    6. Romney also said, "I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years and rising take-home pay."

    This claim was definitely proven false this week. Repeating it only adds insult to injury.

    7. On the rescue of the auto industry, Romney said in reference to the president, "[H]e keeps saying, 'You wanted to take Detroit bankrupt.' Well, the president took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did.... That was precisely what I recommend and ultimately what happened."

    Romney can take credit for Obama's policy, or he can condemn Obama's policy, but to do both is obviously dishonest (and more than a little ridiculous).

    8. Romney argued, "As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production is down 9 percent."

    Nice try, but no.

    9. Romney added, "Coal production is not up."

    Yes it is.

    10. Romney added, "Coal jobs are not up."

    Yes they are.

    11. Romney also told the president, "In the last four years, you cut permits and licenses on federal land and federal waters in half."

    That's not quite right.

    12. Romney went on to say, "[T]he proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you're paying at the pump. If you're paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then the strategy is working. But you're paying more."

    Oh, please.

    13. Romney also argued, "I don't have a policy of, of stopping wind jobs in Iowa."

    Actually, he does, much to the chagrin of his own Republican allies in Iowa.

    14. On taxes, Romney said, "The top 5 percent of taxpayers will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax the nation collects. So that'll stay the same."

    With rhetoric like this, Romney is playing a deeply deceptive game, and playing voters for fools.

    15. Romney added, "Middle-income people are going to get a tax break."

    There's ample reason to believe the exact opposite.
    16. Romney also argued, "A recent study has shown that people in the middle class will see $4,000 a year higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration."

    It takes some policy acrobatics to get to this claim, and it's still not true.

    17. Romney said, "We can get this economy going again. My five-point plan does it."

    No, it doesn't.
    18. Asked about the hard-to-believe numbers in his economic plan, Romney insisted, "Well, of course they add up."
    No sane person agrees.
    19. In reference to the budget deficit, Romney said of Obama, "he's doubled it."

    Romney is still having trouble with the definition of "double." The deficit on Obama's first day was $1.3 trillion. Last year, it was also $1.3 trillion. This year, it's $1.08 trillion. When he says the president "doubled" the deficit, as he has many times, Romney's lying.

    20. Romney boasted, "I ran the Olympics and balanced the budget."
    In context, Romney made it sound as if he balanced the Olympics' books through skill. In reality, he balanced his budget at the Olympics thanks to a taxpayer bailout.

    21. In the next breath, Romney said, "I ran the state of Massachusetts as a governor, to the extent any governor does, and balanced the budget all four years."
    Actually, in Massachusetts, Romney left his successor with a deficit.

    22. Romney went on to say, "If the president were re-elected, we'd go to almost $20 trillion of national debt. This puts us on a road to Greece."

    For those who have even a passing familiarity with the Greek crisis, this is painfully untrue.
    23. In an unfortunate moment, Romney claimed, "I had the chance to pull together a Cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men. And I went to my staff, and I said, how come all the people for these jobs are all men? They said, well, these are the people that have the qualifications. And I said, well, gosh, can't we find some women that are also qualified? And so we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet."

    He's lying,

    24. Romney argued, "In the last four years, women have lost 580,000 jobs. That's the net of what's happened in the last four years. We're still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 3 1/2 million women more now in poverty than four years ago."

    This is absurdly untrue.

    25. Romney said, "I don't believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care or not."

    I wish this were true. It's not.

    26. Romney said, "President Bush and I are different people, and these are different times. And that's why my five-point plan is so different than what he would have done."

    Romney's promises are almost word-for-word the same as what Bush promised 12 years ago.

    27. Romney argued, "Our party has been focused on big business too long. I came through small business."

    To call Bain Capital a small business is to strip the phrase of any plausible meaning.

    28. Romney also said, "[O]ne of the things I find most troubling [about the Affordable Care Act] is that when you go out and talk to small businesses and ask them what they think about it, they tell you it keeps them from hiring more people."

    There is literally no evidence to support this claim in any way. Indeed, a big chunk of the Affordable Care Act goes to give small businesses a tax break.

    29. Romney argued, in reference to Obama, "He said that by now we'd have unemployment at 5.4 percent."

    That's a favorite GOP talking point, but it's simply wrong.

    30. Romney added, "The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country."

    It's troubling how detached from reality this is.

    31. Romney said, "The only reason the unemployment rate seems a little lower today is because of all the people that have dropped out of the workforce."

    I wish he wouldn't say nonsense like this.
    32. Romney added that Obama "just hasn't been able to cut the deficit."
    Sometimes I wonder what planet Romney's on.

    33. Romney also said, "Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust."

    That might be persuasive if the blind trust were actually blind.
    34. On immigration, Romney argued, "I did not say that the Arizona law was a model for the nation."
    There's some nuance here, but he really did call the Arizona law "a model" for the nation.

    35. Romney said in reference to the attack in Benghazi, "the president the day after that happened flies to Las Vegas for a political fundraiser."
    There was no Obama fundraiser in Las Vegas on Sept. 12.

    36. Romney added, "Consider the distance between ourselves and Israel, where the president said that he was going to put daylight between us and Israel."

    Obama didn't say that.

    37. Romney went on to say, "The president's policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour."

    How is it possible the whole "apology" lie hasn't gone away yet?

    38. Romney added, "It took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror."


    39. Romney argued, "[I]n my state, the pro-gun folks and the anti-gun folks came together and put together a piece of legislation."
    That's not what happened.

    40. Romney said, "I care about 100 percent of the American people."

    I seem to recall watching a video in which Romney said it's not his "job" to "worry about" 47 percent of the population.
    41. On gun control, Romney said, "We of course don't want to have automatic weapons, and that's already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons."
    Automatic weapons are not already illegal in this country.
    42. Romney added, "Regulations have quadrupled. The rate of regulations quadrupled under this president."
    That's a new one. It's also absurd -- all one has to do is count.

    43. Romney said, "Canada's tax rate on companies is now 15 percent. Ours is 35 percent. So if you're starting a business, where would you rather start it? We have to be competitive if we're going to create more jobs here."
    This is wildly misleading, since the actual income tax paid by corporations "is one of the lowest in the world."

    44. At a campaign event in Richmond, Virginia, Romney asked, "Why was it, with 23 million Americans struggling to find a job, why was it [the president] focused his first three years on Obamacare, which makes it harder to create jobs?"

    When Obama took office, the very first thing he focused on was jobs, approving an economic plan that ended the recession.

    45. At the same event, Romney said, "There's been a study done recently that shows that with all the spending he's planning and of all the interest on the debt that's associated with all that spending that he's going to have to raise taxes on middle-income Americans again."

    The "study" in question is a joke.
    46. Romney argued, "Obamacare is going to cost you an extra $2,500 a year."
    He appears to have made this up out of whole cloth. Romney sometimes blames rising health care costs in recent years on the Affordable Care Act, but to say the law will in the future cost consumers an extra $2,500 a year is new -- and baseless.

    47. Romney went on to say, "If the president were to get re-elected, he will cut Medicare by $716 billion."

    Are we really still having this bogus argument?

    48. Romney added, "[T]he president has a budget that cuts our military by hundreds of billions of dollars, and then this sequester idea that came from the White House, that cuts it hundreds of billions more."

    Romney appears to be referring to cuts, which have not yet kicked in, and which were crafted, not by the White House, but by Romney's own party. They were also endorsed and supported by his own running mate.
    49. Romney said, "Seventy-five percent of small businesses surveyed by the Chamber of Commerce said that because of Obamacare, they're less likely to hire people."

    The claim is a misleading joke -- the Chamber, a pro-Republican lobbying institution heavily invested in helping Romney, put up an unscientific online survey. Treating this as a legitimate poll of businesses is fundamentally dishonest.

    Smuggling of Brazilians, other migrants growing in South Florida

    Records show that an increasing number of Brazilians are being smuggled into South Florida through a route that first takes them through Paris, London and the Bahamas.

    Migrant smuggling

    Posted on Monday, 10.29.12
    A Brazilian couple was arraigned in federal court in Miami recently, charged with attempting to smuggle undocumented immigrants aboard boats from the Bahamas.

    The arraignment Oct. 15 of Fabio Rodrigues Froes and Juliana Rosa Tome Froes, before Magistrate Judge Chris McAliley, where they pleaded not guilty, came less than a month after they were arrested in South Florida in a federal case that has led to the exposure of a little-known dimension to the issue of migrant smuggling.

    Court records show that federal investigators from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) believe that the couple was part of a sophisticated and vast smuggling network that brought relatively well-off undocumented Brazilians to South Florida via a convoluted underground system that included flights from Brazil to France, then England and finally the Bahamas where the migrants boarded boats for the final leg of the journey to South Florida. The smuggling trips date back to at least 2009.
    While Cuban and Haitian migrant smuggling networks receive the bulk of public attention in South Florida, smugglers who bring undocumented immigrants from other countries are also active but generally keep under the public radar. Besides Cubans and Haitians, Coast Guard vessels also have interdicted immigrants of many other nationalities on boats headed for South Florida, including Chinese, Dominicans, Mexicans and Ecuadorans in recent years.

    “While the primary [migrant smuggling] threat comes from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, the People’s Republic of China, and Cuba, the Coast Guard has interdicted migrants of various nationalities throughout the world,” according to a statement posted on the Coast Guard’s Miami district website.

    In another example of what may be an increase in the smuggling of undocumented migrants of various nationalities on boats, a Customs and Border Protection vessel interdicted on Oct. 8 a boat carrying a Romania, three Brazilians, two Jamaicans and seven Haitians. The Romanian, Gabriel Florica, said he was the captain of the vessel that had been stopped off Palm Beach County. He told investigators he had paid $2,000 to a person identified only as Leroy and then traveled from Britain to the Bahamas, where he boarded his boat.

    According to Coast Guard figures, during fiscal year 2012 that ended Sept. 20, the largest numbers of interdicted undocumented migrants were 1,275 Cubans, 977 Haitians and 456 Dominicans. There were also 79 Mexicans stopped at sea and 138 others of various nationalities.

    Court records in the Froes case show that the alleged Brazilian smuggling network was uncovered because of a routine stop of a suspicious boat at Hillsboro Inlet near Pompano Beach in Broward County two years ago.
    Attorneys for the Brazilian suspects declined comment or could not be reached for comment.

    On July 18, 2010, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission vessel patrolling Hillsboro Inlet in the Intracoastal Waterway encountered the boat Got Crabs.

    The FFWC officer, Michael Naujoks, boarded the vessel, which carried four people. One of them, under questioning, presented a Brazilian identification card that identified him as Wellington Dos Santos Silva.

    After Dos Santos and the others on board were interviewed by U.S. Border Patrol agents at Alsdorf Park Marina near Pompano Beach, Dos Santos admitted that he had tried to enter the United States illegally from the Bahamas. It was the first indication that Dos Santos was one among perhaps dozens of undocumented Brazilians smuggled by the alleged ring.

    At that point, the Border Patrol summoned agents from the Department of Homeland Security’s ICE to investigate the possibility of an “alien smuggling organization,” according to an ICE affidavit filed in Miami federal court.
    During the investigation, Dos Santos told ICE investigators that he paid $16,050 to a travel agency in Brazil, identified in court records as Costamares Travel, as the price to be smuggled to the United States.

    Dos Santos’ claim was the first in a series of similar admissions by other Brazilian immigrants who also told ICE investigators that they paid the same agency similar fees to be smuggled to South Florida.

    Dos Santos’ story, outlined in the ICE affidavit, describes the convoluted smuggling route the immigrants, most of them previously deported from the United States, took to reach South Florida.

    According to the ICE affidavit, Dos Santos said he was instructed to travel from Brazil to Paris, then to London and finally the Bahamas where he stayed for one month awaiting the boat ride to U.S. shores.

    While in custody at the Broward Transitional Center in Pompano Beach, Dos Santos allegedly told an ICE informant that his contact at Costamares Travel was a woman named Juliana and that she was involved in smuggling Brazilians to the United States for a fee of about $6,000 per person.

    The ICE affidavit said the fees were paid to associates of Juliana in Newark, N.J., identified only as Ana or Poliana and Alexandro, Alex or Renato. The affidavit said Juliana was later identified as Juliana Rose Tome Froes, the woman arrested with her husband in September.

    “Juliana,” the affidavit said, “gave specific instructions to Dos Santos to aid in his smuggling, such as directing him to dress and act like a tourist from Brazil, to discard his Brazilian passport that had been issued from a U.S.-based Brazilian consulate and obtain one from Brazil, and she explained that his itinerary through Europe would support his tourist cover story,” the ICE affidavit said. “Dos Santos stated that Juliana arranged his air travel from Brazil to Paris, then London and the Bahamas. At each stage of the trip, Dos Santos would speak to Juliana about his status and receive instructions.”

    A prior boat interdiction on Sept. 16, 2009, had given federal officials preliminary indications of the smuggling ring.

    On that date, the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bluefin stopped a suspicious vessel traveling to South Florida about 10 miles east of Boynton Beach in Palm Beach County.

    Boarding officer Christopher Spurlock and the boarding crew of five observed six people on the boat. Three were later identified as Brazilian nationals, some previously deported from the United States. One of the Brazilians subsequently told federal investigators he had paid $8,000 to be smuggled back to South Florida, via France, Britain and the Bahamas.

    A second Brazilian undocumented immigrant, identified as Walderson Gomes Da Silva, told investigators that he had paid fees to be smuggled after meeting with Juliana and her husband Fabio, court records show. Da Silva told investigators that he had been smuggled into the United States at least three times by the ring. One of the times he was smuggled, the records say, he paid about $16,000 and also traveled to the Bahamas via Paris and London.

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    Superstorm Sandy, by the numbers

    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    NBC's Lester Holt reports from Norfolk, Va., where nearly 60 million people are on severe storm watch as Hurricane Sandy threatens more than 800 miles of the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to South Carolina.

    Updated at 8:21 p.m. ET -- Superstorm Sandy strengthened Monday as it bore down on the East Coast, shutting down public transportation and leading to the first weather-related closure of U.S. stock market in 27 years.

    Forecasters say the massive storm has the potential to be one of the most damaging ever to hit the United States. Here is a look at the figures that make up the storm. We'll be updating these numbers throughout the day.
    Number of people affected: Expected to affect between 50 million and 60 million;

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    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
    Tides are forecasted to be more than 11 feet in New York City, higher than the city has ever seen. As a result, Wall Street could be closed for several more days. NBC's Harry Smith reports.

    Number of deaths blamed on Sandy: 65 in the Caribbean.
    Size of storm: Nearly 1,000 miles wide;
    States impacted: Nine states, Washington, D.C., and a coastal county in North Carolina have declared states of emergency;
    Ground speed of storm: 28 miles per hour as of 2 p.m. ET Monday;
    Speed of winds: 90 mph. Tropical storm-force winds extended 485 miles from the center;
    Number of flights canceled: More than 10,000 flights were canceled through Tuesday, according to, and that number is expected to grow into Wednesday;
    Number of people told to evacuate: 375,000 in NYC; 50,000 in Delaware; 30,000 in Atlantic City, N.J.;

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    Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

    TODAY's Al Roker reports from Point Pleasant, N.J., where water is starting to come over the dunes as Hurricane Sandy strengthens. Due to the full moon, high tides are expected to add to the storm surge, which could rise to 11 feet.

    Number of customers without power: As of 2:59 p.m. ET, 3.1 million were without power, most of them in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
    Heaviest rainfall: Up to 12 inches in isolated regions of Mid-Atlantic states;
    Inches of snow: Up to 12 inches in some areas expected. In addition, up to three feet of snow expected in the Appalachian Mountains from West Virginia to Kentucky;
    Size of storm surge: 4 to 11 feet across much of the affected area;
    Number of NYC students affected by Monday and Tuesday's school closure: 1.1 million;
    Number of public transport riders without service Monday in NYC, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey: More than 10 million;

    Gerry Broome / AP
    After strong winds and heavy rain washed out bridges and damaged homes in multiple countries, the hurricane looks toward the northeastern U.S.
    Miles of subway track closed in New York City alone: Nearly 660;
    FEMA’s estimate for potential wind damage alone: $2.5 to $3 billion; Residential properties at risk of damage: Nearly 284,000, valued at $88 billion;
    Number of Atlantic City casinos shut down: 12.

    Live updates on Sandy

    con't page 4
    1. NYGovCuomo
      Stay out of any building if you smell gas, floodwaters remain or your home was damaged by fire & authorities have not declared it safe

    2. A photo from @TheAtlanticWire
    3. Breezy Point, New York devastated by  (Credit: Frank Franklin II, AP)
    4. FEMAregion3
      Stay alert for extended rainfall and subsequent flooding even after the hurricane or tropical storm has #Sandy

    5. twc_hurricane
      Cincinnati --> RT @heathertungate7: First snowfall of the year courtesy of #Sandy.
    6. NYGovCuomo
      If you cannot return home & have immediate housing needs. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter #Sandy

    7. NYGovCuomo
      Entrance to Hugh Carey Tunnel (formerly the Brooklyn Battery) off West Street
    8. NBCPhiladelphia
      Biggest Challenge ahead? Gov. Corbett: restoring power to all of #Pennsylvania. #Sandy
    9. GovChristie
      The Garden State Parkway is now open but over 200 other state roads remain closed. Don't drive unless you absolutely have to. #Sandy
    10. USNationalGuard
      This morning, nearly 7,500 #NationalGuard #Soldiersand #Airmen are on duty in CT, DE, MA, MD, NC, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI & VA. #Sandy

    11. lisafleisher
      Here comes the sun! View from the beach/boardwalk in#AtlanticCity #sandy #bluesky(ish)
    12. NYCMayorsOffice
      Please stay inside and stay safe. Tree limbs and downed wires are very dangerous. #Sandy

    13. twc_hurricane
      Latest satellite/radar view of the expansive Superstorm#Sandy.

    14. Superstorm #Sandy washes up tanker onto New York's Staten Island. Photo via @GMA

    15. mcharlesworth7
      Boats chopped to bits in Staten Island in Clifton area. So much damage! #SandyABC7

    16. ewrun
      Photo of the Space Shuttle bubble down on the Intrepid.#sandynyc #nbc4ny
    17. NYCMayorsOffice
      If you have water coming out of your faucet, it is safe to drink. #Sandy
    18. RedCross
      Nearly 11,000 people spent Monday night in 258@RedCross shelters across 16 states. #Sandy
    19. "The amount of flood damage is unbelievable," Conn. Gov. Dannel Malloy says on TODAY.
    20. ""I think the losses will be almost incalculable... We are going to get significant federal assistance," N.J. Gov. Chris Christie says on TODAY. "New Jersey is a tough place. We will recover from this."
    21. GovChristie
      The devastation on the Jersey Shore is some of the worst we've ever seen. #Sandy
    22. GovChristie
      I want to thank the President personally for all his assistance as w recover from the storm.
    23. Washington D.C. metro will remain closed on Tuesday morning, with word coming later in the day as to when it could reopen.
    24. wmata
      Crews are out assessing storm damage. No Tuesday AM bus/rail service, we’ll update the remainder of the service day, later today. #wmata
    25. President Obama declares a "major disaster" in parts of N.Y., clearing the way for federal funding to affected areas and individuals, the White House says.
    26. Update: Nearly 2 million people in N.Y. alone are without power.
    27. NYGovCuomo
      #NYS POWER #OUTAGE report 6am: 1,943,572 NYers wout power from #Sandy
    28. Flood waters top a levee in northern N.J., inundating three towns with 4 to 5 feet of water, WNBC reported. Thousands may need to be rescued, Bergen County police chief told CNN.
    29. Powerful images of the damage caused by the storm are coming in from as the East Coast wakes up on Tuesday morning. 

    30. amysrosenberg
      Pieces of broken Atlantic City Boardwalk in street two blocks away #sandy #phlinq

    31. Nicole_Brewer
      Some flooding has receded, but the damage is done. We'll show you the aftermath of Sandy in OCNJ on CBS3! Turn us on!
    32. Millions will wake up on Tuesday morning to widespread power outages in Pa., N.J., N.Y., and Conn., which could last for days.
    33. TWCMikeBettes
      Currently 8.9 million people without power nationwide due to #Sandy. 2.7 in New Jersey alone!
    34. NBCPhiladelphia
      PSE&G says customers who lost power should be prepared to be without for 7-10 days. Here's the latest outage numbers:
    35. breakingweather
      #Sandy Update: Approximately 1/4 of the population of New Jersey is now without electricity.
    36. Further flooding still possible during high tide in Northeast on Tuesday, National Weather Service warns. 
    37. NWSBoston
      Coastal flood advisory is now in effect for the east coast for the high tide cycles today. Expect some minor flooding. #MAwx
    38. Department of Health tells Long Beach, L.I. residents not to drink or use tap water for personal use. Boil water notice issued for Atlantic City, N.J. 
    39. NJOEM2010
      Atlantic City MUA issued a Boil Water Advisory. They recommend residents boil all water until further notice
    40. Update: More than 50 homes destroyed in 6-alarm Queens fire, N.Y. fire department says.
    41. FDNY
    42. Early Tuesday the New York Fire Department is responding to a 5-alarm fire in the flooded Zone A area of Queens, reports.

    43. nycarecs
      Breezily Point fire is now 5 Alarms - hundreds of responders #nyc #fdny #sandy
    44. Amid the devastation, the Red Cross offers thanks to first-responders, aid workers and volunteers who answered the call when Sandy struck.
    45. RedCross
      Thank you, to our workers, volunteers, and partners frm all over the country who have been responding to#Sandy.
    46. RedCross
      If you want to volunteer or help in any way, make sure to check w/an org first, ask what they need.
    47. One of the most stunning photos of the night comes from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, capturing a flood at the PATH station in Hoboken, N.J., shortly before 9:30 p.m. ET Monday night.

    48. PANYNJ
      Flood waters rush in to the Hoboken PATH station through an elevator shaft.
    49. Many in the New York area are concerned about when the subways will be able to reopen. TheMetropolitan Transportation Authority tweeted Monday night that rumors of a one-week timetable for reopening were only rumors, but did confirm that water had infiltrated subway tunnels. "The MTA cannot assess damage until Tuesday," another tweet said.