i need to talk to obama about this in our next meeting

washingtonpost.com
THIS IS NOT A TEST: Federal agents conduct immigration enforcement raids in at least six states
The raids mark the first largescale immigration action since President Trump’s Jan. 26 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.
By https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sandhya-Somashekhar/424900341023463

U.S. immigration authorities arrested hundreds of undocumented immigrants in at least a half-dozen states this week in a series of raids that marked the first large-scale enforcement of President Trump’s Jan. 26 order to crack down on the estimated 11 million immigrants living here illegally.

The raids, which officials said targeted known criminals, also netted some immigrants who did not have criminal records, an apparent departure from similar enforcement waves during the Obama administration that aimed to just corral and deport those who had committed crimes.

Trump has pledged to deport up to 3 million undocumented immigrants with criminal records. Last month he also made a change to the Obama administration’s policy of prioritizing deportation for convicted criminals, substantially broadening the scope of who the Department of Homeland Security can target to include those with minor offenses or no convictions at all.

Immigration officials confirmed that agents this week raided homes and workplaces in Atlanta, Chicago, New York, the Los Angeles area, North Carolina and South Carolina, netting hundreds of people. But Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), said they were part of “routine” immigration enforcement actions. ICE dislikes the term “raids,” and prefers to say authorities are conducting “targeted enforcement actions.”

Immigration activists said the crackdown went beyond the six states DHS identified, and said they had also documented ICE raids of unusual intensity during the past two days in Florida, Kansas, Texas and Northern Virginia.

That undocumented immigrants with no criminal records were arrested and could potentially be deported sent a shock through immigrant communities nationwide amid concerns that the U.S. government could start going after law-abiding people.

“This is clearly the first wave of attacks under the Trump administration, and we know this isn’t going to be the only one,” Cristina Jimenez, executive director of United We Dream, an immigrant youth organization, said Friday during a conference call with immigration advocates.

ICE agents in the Los Angeles area Thursday swept a number of individuals into custody over the course of an hour, seizing them from their homes and on their way to work in daytime operations, activists said.

David Marin, ICE’s field director in the Los Angeles area, said in a conference call with reporters Friday that 75 percent of the approximately 160 people detained in the operation this week had felony convictions; the rest had misdemeanors or were in the United States illegally. Officials said Friday night that 37 of those detained in Los Angeles has been deported to Mexico.

“Dangerous criminals who should be deported are being released into our communities,” Marin said.

A video that circulated on social media Friday appeared to show ICE agents detaining people in an Austin shopping center parking lot. Immigration advocates also reported roadway checkpoints, where ICE appeared to be targeting immigrants for random ID checks, in North Carolina and in Austin. ICE officials denied that authorities used checkpoints during the operations.

[The ‘sanctuary city’ on the front line of the fight over Trump’s immigration policy]

“I’m getting lots of reports from my constituents about seeing ICE on the streets. Teachers in my district have contacted me — certain students didn’t come to school today because they’re afraid,” said Greg Casar, an Austin city council member. “I talked to a constituent, a single mother, who had her door knocked on this morning by ICE.”

Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-Tex.) said he confirmed with ICE’s San Antonio office that the agency “has launched a targeted operation in South and Central Texas as part of Operation Cross Check.”

“I am asking ICE to clarify whether these individuals are in fact dangerous, violent threats to our communities, and not people who are here peacefully raising families and contributing to our state,” Castro said in a statement Friday night.

Hiba Ghalib, an immigration lawyer in Atlanta, said the ICE detentions were causing “mass confusion” in the immigrant community. She said she had heard reports of ICE agents going door-to-door in one largely Hispanic neighborhood, asking people to present their papers.

“People are panicking,” Ghalib said. “People are really, really scared.”

Immigration officials acknowledged that authorities had cast a wider net than they would have last year, as the result of Trump’s executive order.

The Trump administration is facing a series of legal challenges to that order, and on Thursday lost a court battle over a separate executive order to temporarily ban entry into the United States by citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, as well as by refugees. The administration said Friday that it is considering raising the case to the Supreme Court.

Some activists in Austin and Los Angeles suggested that the raids might be retaliation for those cities’ “sanctuary city” policies. A government aide familiar with the raids said it is possible that the predominantly daytime operations — a departure from the Obama administration’s night raids — meant to “send a message to the community that the Trump deportation force is in effect.”

Frank Sharry, executive director of America’s Voice, a pro-immigrant advocacy group, said that the wave of detentions harks back to the George W. Bush administration, when workplace raids to sweep up all undocumented workers were common.

The Obama administration conducted a spate of raids and also pursued a more aggressive deportation policy than any previous president, sending more than 400,000 people back to their birth countries at the height of his deportations in 2012. The public outcry over the lengthy detentions and deportations of women, children and people with minor offenses led Obama in his second term to prioritize convicted criminals for deportation.

A DHS official confirmed that while immigration agents were targeting criminals, given the broader range defined by Trump’s executive order they also were sweeping up non-criminals in the vicinity who were found to be lacking documentation. It was unclear how many of the people detained would have been excluded under Obama’s policy.

Federal immigration officials, as well as activists, said that the majority of those detained were adult men, and that no children were taken into custody.

“Big cities tend to have a lot of illegal immigrants,” said one immigration official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to speak publicly due to the sensitive nature of the operation. “They’re going to a target-rich environment.”

Immigrant rights groups said that they were planning protests in response to the raids, including one Friday evening in Federal Plaza in New York City and a vigil in Los Angeles.

“We cannot understate the level of panic and terror that is running through many immigrant communities,” said Walter Barrientos of Make the Road New York in New York City, who spoke on a conference call with immigration advocates.

“We’re trying to make sure that families who have been impacted are getting legal services as quickly as possible. We’re trying to do some legal triage,” said Bob Libal, the executive director of Grassroots Leadership, which provides assistance and advocacy work to immigrants in Austin. “It’s chaotic,” he said. The organization’s hotline, he said, had been overwhelmed with calls.

Jeanette Vizguerra, 35, a Mexican house cleaner whose permit to stay in the country expired this week, said Friday during the conference call that she was newly apprehensive about her scheduled meeting with ICE next week.

Fearing deportation, Vizguerra, a Denver mother of four — including three who are U.S. citizens — said through an interpreter that she had called on activists and supporters to accompany her to the meeting.

“I know I need to mobilize my community, but I know my freedom is at risk here,” Vizguerra said.

EXCLUSIVE || Rising Star Harry Styles’ Interstellar Secret Relationship Revealed

The galaxy-trotting star on Graham Norton on Friday April 21st promoting his stellar single Sign of the Times

The 1D star has attracted a lot of rumours over the last seven years, with some more grounded in reality than others (looking at you, sheep placenta facials), and in a bid to honour his goal to be “more honest” with his solo record, Harry Styles (23) decided to have a sit down with us here at the AAS and come clean about one of his biggest rumours: Hobama.

Here’s an look at the exclusive interview.

The original revelation of Hobama to the world

Rumours of the two men’s relationship began swirling in 2014 after an article stating that Barack Obama (55) was hiding a “gay lifestyle” came out in the National Examiner and they haven’t died out since. With Styles’ recent confirmation of their relationship on Graham Norton, those rumours have now proven to be based in reality after all.

“It’s real,” Styles confesses, “Barack and I are together. Have been for a long time now. There were a lot of things keeping us from sharing the truth. He was the president of the United States, I’m an alien in a boy band. But we’re ready now. We don’t want there to be any secrets anymore.”

Styles mingling with local LA Earthlings

Styles explains, “We, uh, actually met at Area 51. My saucer had just crash-landed in the desert. I was coming back from a quick weekend trip to my home planet and I misjudged how much fuel my craft had left. Re-entering the atmosphere is always a little hard on the saucer. Makes it difficult for my family to come visit.

But it’s like it happened yesterday, I think is how that saying goes. The stars were so bright, and you could see what you humans call the Milky Way galaxy in the sky. Barack and his secret agents had come out to investigate the landing sight, and when he stepped out of his Range Rover and his eyes met mine, well. We both knew. Barack likes to say that when the headlights of the vehicle shone in my face time stopped, and he knew his life would never be the same. The rest is history. Proper romantic, if I do say so myself.”

Styles’ beau Obama throwing one of Styles’ favourite touristic activities to do on Earth: attend yacht parties

“We had to keep it quiet, you know?” Styles says, “He had to lead the United States. Can you imagine if it got out that he was in love with an alien he met on highly secretive government property? Disaster. I don’t even want to think about the kind of conversations global leaders would have at world conferences. Never mind what congress would have to say about it.”

He continues, “It was hard, sometimes. We both travelled a lot for work, so we didn’t get to spend as much time together as we wanted to. I mean, I still travel a lot, but now that Barack doesn’t have to run a country anymore we get to see each other more often. I still haven’t had a chance to take him home to meet the rest of the family on my home planet, though.” 

A young Styles discussing his wishes to marry somebody from another planet

“The boys have always been really great about it though, ever since they heard about mine and Barack’s love for each other,” Styles adds. “Actually,” he amends, “Niall was jealous for a while. Did you know he has a statue of Barack? Bit strange, that. But he got past it and now they’re great friends.”

We reached out to former Vice President Joe Biden (74) for commentary on his feelings about Hobama, and he responded:

“It’s great. I’m very happy for Barack. They didn’t want to say anything at first, but eventually they realized that ol’ Joe would be the first person to defend their love to the world. And I will. If anybody has anything nasty to say about these two I’d like them to come see me. Has anybody said anything nasty? Do I need to take down some names?”

Styles on his home planet, Keewee

With the two men coming from different planets, certain cultural differences for the couple to work through would be expected, but Styles assures us that the two haven’t ever had any problems of the sort, and that their relationship is based on love and mutual respect, like any healthy relationship.

“We wouldn’t have lasted this long if we didn’t share the understanding that we do. And there’s a lot of understanding that needs to happen between the two of us for our relationship to work!” Styles explains.

The 1D star, who is proud of his heritage, talks about it openly. “My home planet and culture really has had a huge impact on who I am today and the art I create. In fact, the cover art for my single, Sign of the Times, is a picture of me back home on Keewee. I love sharing my Keeweesian heritage with Earthlings, and especially Barack. He’s always eager to learn and experience more. The song is actually about us being able to get off Earth so I can show Barack Keewee. I hope we get to make the trip some day. I think he’d really like it.”

Styles showing solidarity for his fellow extraterrestrials by wearing the intergalactic brand Gucci

Styles’ brand of choice, Gucci, is Keeweesian, and the star does what he can to support the local business.

“I wish it didn’t cost so much, but it isn’t cheap to send materials all the way to Earth from Keewee, you know? I just want Earthlings to love Keewee and Keeweesian culture as much as I do, but I understand it’s not easy. I do what I can. It’s a beautiful planet and the Keeweeans are a beautiful people. Considering Barack knows one of us personally, I think he would agree with me. Or, at least I hope he would!” Styles jokes. 

Obama and Styles at a recent photo shoot to showcase their relationship

What’s next for the couple? Styles isn’t sure, but he isn’t worried.

“We’re just taking it one day at a time. I’m doing my solo stuff, Barack is enjoying his well-earned time off. Maybe we’ll be able to take that trip to Keewee sooner than we think. Until then, we’re just going to enjoy finally being able to share our love with the world.”

We here at the AAS are certainly ecstatic for the couple, and wish them all the best. Don’t forget to check back here again with us for all the future Hobama exclusives!

(in light of Harry’s #confirmation of Hobama on Graham Norton, here’s another article! as usual, all the thanks to the lovely wonderful people in the AAS. these don’t exist without you guys and your help! it’s y’all’s brainstorming and ideas that help to get these things off the ground. credits to any of y’all whose ideas are in the article, and special thanks to Harry for making my Hobama dreams come true. love you guys forever, and i hope y’all enjoy! 😘❤️)

anonymous asked:

Those Bernie Bros are going to cost Democrats the midterms and then the Election in 2020.

Imo midterms are different from national elections, so I don’t think they will have the same impact in 2017-2018 like they did in 2016. Barring some unusual events, I think democrats staying home like we often do during midterms is still why we would lose in 2018, and 2020 is too far for me to be concerned about right now (& tbh no energy for it after we JUST got through 2016).

I’m also in the belief that the Bros are fast losing credibility and popularity, esp with the rise of Indivisible groups. As I mentioned before in my state, their group is not exactly taking off and the Indivisible groups and other progressive grassroots are thriving. And not all bernie supporters are Bros, a good number of Bernie supporters are working together with obama-Hillary supporters in indivisible groups. Case in point, I was in an indivisible meeting when the news of who won dnc Chair broke, it was clear some were happy and some were disappointed by who won, but that literally lasted 10 seconds and we moved on discussing our agenda.

That said, let’s just take a look at what happened in Delaware yesterday, the election that really mattered. Stephanie Hansen did not just win but won by a huge margin. She won coz democrats turned out. Joe biden campaigned for her. Daily Kos raised lots of money for her campaign, so did flippable and Indivisible groups, who did not just donate but also volunteered to gotv.

Our Revolution or Bernie did not endorse Hansen, didn’t raise money for her campaign, & basically did nothing to help her win. They were solely focused on Keith Ellison, who imo didn’t win the dnc race coz of their actions. Intercept and The Young Turks were just wanking about democrats and did nothing to help get democrats elected. As someone else put it, their goal is not progressivism, it’s destructive nihilism.

I don’t want to underestimate them, coz we’ve seen what they did in 2016, but let’s also not overestimate them coz post-elections, they’ve been more bark than bite, and I think we learned to not be intimidated by them or think that we can appease them by always giving in to them.

I do however think they can make an impact in our ability to take back the senate with their let’s primary everyone but Bernie mindset right now. Coz if their candidate loses in the primaries, they will inevitably act up and cry establishment. in 2018 it will be great to sweep all races, but if people are talking about impeachment then we need the House, and if we’re talking about stopping GOP congress and trump policies being passed and implemented in our states, then we need to win more governorships and state legislatures. Realistically, if we can just stop GOP from gaining more seats so they won’t have 60 votes or the 54 (?) to call for a constitutional convention, I’d take that if it means we get control of the house and local governments. If we want to win in 2020 and future elections winning state and local governments this year and next year is crucial.

It’s good to be home. My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks. Whether we’ve seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant outposts – are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going. Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.


I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss. This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged,
and come together to demand it.


After eight years as your President, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea – our bold experiment in self-government.


It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.


It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.


This is the great gift our Founders gave us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination – and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good.


For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.


So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.


Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.


If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history…if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11…if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens – you might have said our sights were set a little too high.


But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change. You answered people’s hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.


In ten days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected president to the next. I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.


We have what we need to do so. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth. Our youth and drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention mean that the future should be ours.


But that potential will be realized only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of the our people. Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.


That’s what I want to focus on tonight – the state of our democracy.


Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.


There have been moments throughout our history that threatened to rupture that solidarity. The beginning of this century has been one of those times. A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but our democracy as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids, and create good jobs, and protect our homeland.


In other words, it will determine our future.


Our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity. Today, the economy is growing again; wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are rising again; poverty is falling again. The wealthy are paying a fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records. The unemployment rate is near a ten-year low. The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower.


Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in fifty years. And if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system – that covers as many people at less cost – I will publicly support it.


That, after all, is why we serve – to make people’s lives better, not worse.


But for all the real progress we’ve made, we know it’s not enough. Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles. While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind – the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and health care worker who struggle to pay the bills – convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful – a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.


There are no quick fixes to this long-term trend. I agree that our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dislocation won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete.


And so we must forge a new social compact – to guarantee all our kids the education they need; to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from the new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their success possible. We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.


There’s a second threat to our democracy – one as old as our nation itself. After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were ten, or twenty, or thirty years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum.


But we’re not where we need to be. All of us have more work to do. After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children – because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce. And our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.


Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination – in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system. That’s what our Constitution and highest ideals require. But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view…until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”


For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face – the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American, and also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change.


For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ‘60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; that when they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment our Founders promised.


For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, Italians, and Poles. America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; they embraced this nation’s creed, and it was strengthened.


So regardless of the station we occupy; we have to try harder; to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.


None of this is easy. For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.


This trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.


Isn’t that part of what makes politics so dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations?


How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It’s not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it’s self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.


Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change; they’ll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.


Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; it betrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders.


It’s that spirit, born of the Enlightenment, that made us an economic powerhouse – the spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral; the spirit that that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket.


It’s that spirit – a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, and build a post-World War II order with other democracies, an order based not just on military power or national affiliations but on principles – the rule of law, human rights, freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and an independent press.


That order is now being challenged – first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat to their power. The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile. It represents the fear of change; the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.


Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform, and the intelligence officers, law enforcement, and diplomats who support them, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years; and although Boston and Orlando remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We’ve taken out tens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden. The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe. To all who serve, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief.


But protecting our way of life requires more than our military. Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are. That’s why, for the past eight years, I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firm legal footing. That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, and reform our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans. That’s why we cannot withdraw from global fights – to expand democracy, and human rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights – no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.


So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight. Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world – unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.


Which brings me to my final point – our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions.


When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.


And all of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings.


Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.


In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken…to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;” that we should preserve it with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.


We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.


It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.


Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed.


Mine sure has been. Over the course of these eight years, I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I’ve mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in Charleston church. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and our wounded warriors walk again.
I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us of our obligations to care for refugees, to work in peace, and above all to look out for each other.


That faith I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change – that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. I hope yours has, too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home were there with us in 2004, in 2008, in 2012 – and maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off.


You’re not the only ones. Michelle – for the past twenty-five years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud.


Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad.


To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: you were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best. Not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother. We love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our life.


To my remarkable staff: For eight years – and for some of you, a whole lot more – I’ve drawn from your energy, and tried to reflect back what you displayed every day: heart, and character, and idealism. I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, and start incredible new journeys of your own. Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. The only thing that makes me prouder than all the good we’ve done is the thought of all the remarkable things you’ll achieve from here.


And to all of you out there – every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town and kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change – you are the best supporters and organizers anyone could hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because yes, you changed the world.


That’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans – especially so many young people out there – to believe you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves. This generation coming up – unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic –
I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.


My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain. For now, whether you’re young or young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President – the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.


I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.


I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every


American whose story is not yet written:


Yes We Can.


Yes We Did.


Yes We Can.


Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

—  President Barack Obama, Farewell Address, January 10, 2017
Pitch Perfect 2 Review

 Let me just start by saying that I am a HUGE fan of Pitch Perfect. It was my fave movie that I saw in theatres in 2012. I actually went to see it in theatres twice on the same weekend. So yeah my expectations for the second movie were pretty high and I have to say that the movie lived up to my expectations. Spoilers under the cut and lots of gifs, none of them are mine.

Keep reading

An Open Letter To Millennials: The Blindness Of The Media Will Break Your Heart

I clicked on this article looking to find some possible information on why Bernie Sanders is a sham. Why I should temper my expectations. Why, maybe, I might be over investing myself in some fever dream. I’m open to that. I pride myself on being an informed voter, open to hearing and seeing all points of view. Instead what I found was straw man attacks against some misguided supporters of Sanders (which there’s no denying exist) and a clear misunderstanding of what draws me and a good percentage of my peers to Sanders’ campaign.

Labeling Sanders as a “shrill, fairly dull, wonkish 74-year-old white-haired Jewish socialist from Vermont with a grating Brooklyn accent” shows me that the author of this piece does not see him the way that we do. In fact, “fairly dull” was such a far miss in my eyes that it was hard to not let that negate every word in this opinion piece.

The next part of this article that made me ask “what is this guy TALKING about?” was this:

“Sanders is that loud curmudgeonly uncle that you hope doesn’t corner you on Passover to ask why you’re dating a non-Jew, don’t have children yet or chose art over medicine.”

I’m wondering how this man feels “cornered” by Sanders. Sanders SUPPORTERS, yes, very possibly (probably) have cornered people at any given time and expressed their enthusiasm and disbelief that you do not share their ideals- but, in my perception, Sanders himself has merely been stating his beliefs about what he wants this country to look like and created an invitation for others to join him. 

To me, he’s always explained his difference in ideals between him and other candidates as just that- differences in ideals. And as someone who has been cornered by a Jewish relative on Passover and had my personal life dug into, I can tell you- it’s a very different feeling.

And finally, the last paragraph of this article makes bold claims (without any references to Bernie Sanders history as a politician) that he will cave and move his stances and let his supporters down as, in the author’s opinion, Barack Obama and countless other candidates have done before.

My response to that is simple: Obama was an establishment candidate. And while he accomplished a GREAT amount for progressives, some do see him as falling short on what they felt promised. And in these areas, we need to look to where he got his money from. Because as great (or awful, if you see it that way) as he’s been, he was still beholden to a political system manipulated by large dollar amounts from corporate interest groups. 

THIS is where Bernie is different. No Super-Pacs. No substantial donations from corporate interest groups. This candidate isn’t beholden to anyone but the promises he’s making to his supporters. I haven’t seen this in my lifetime, and my peer group is realizing this very thing. THAT is why millenials are supporting Bernie in huge numbers. 

And sure, he might “break our heart” by not meeting our seemingly astronomical expectations. But we’re willing to bet that it wont be because of deception or back room promises made to giant corporations. 

And that’s something worth voting for.

I am angry

Last night when they called Virginia too close to call, I knew then. I knew it wasn’t going to be good. Virginia was supposed to be a shoe-in state. 

I walked downstairs into my room and on the way there I collapsed on the ground and started crying. And I couldn’t stop. And I felt sick to my stomach. 

Twice stress made me throw up. It was too much. This was a nightmare. This couldn’t be real. This couldn’t be happening. 

I went to bed early with the hope that I would wake up with good news. Obviously, that didn’t happen. I just started shaking. I didn’t know what to even think anymore. My client who was supposed to meet with me today e-mailed me and told me she was in shock and maybe we should work from home to mourn. I was extremely grateful for that.

So I spent the morning calling friends and texting people and asking how they were doing. I took my anti-anxiety pills. I called my doctor to get an emergency refill which they granted almost instantly. 

I asked my mom about 2000. What did it feel like? She said it felt awful, but not on this level. This was worse. But that California was safe because we have a strong state government. In a small way, it made me feel better, at least about everyone in my immediate circle.

But she also told me that she didn’t lie down. And I remember going to protests with her. I remember volunteering with her for elections. I remember her donating when she could. I remember all of that.

So now what? Where does that leave us?

I remember 2006. Finally, after years, people were finally sick of the Republicans. It was the midterm elections. The Democrats took control. I remember my mom crying with joy. We had some power back. And it helped when in 2008 we elected President Barack Obama. 

In 2018 we have another mid-term election coming up. Historically, people don’t show up to them. That’s how we lost control in 2010. My Republican grandmother once told my mother that, “When it’s raining on election day we know we’ll win.” She wasn’t talking about the Presidential election. She was talking about local and state elections. She was talking about the midterms. 

You want to do something? I need you to shout from the rooftops that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Every day. I need you to remind everyone that, were it not for the electoral college (which is a shit system), Hillary Clinton would be our President-elect right now. And I need you to remind the Republicans in Congress of that. The majority of Americans do not agree with our president elect, and we can prove it. We do not want the things he wants to pass. And if you don’t listen to us? Well…Senate and House seats don’t rely on electorates, they rely on the people, and we will fire them.

And it’ll be tough. People are upset. People are angry. And the Republicans have spent years gerrymandering districts to make them as red as possible. But we need to fight. Because, if only Millennials were allowed to vote, Hillary would have won over 500 electoral votes. This is our generation. This is our world. We need to take it back. And we don’t have four years, we only have two.

Take today to do what you need to do. Turn off everything. Read a book. Listen to music. But tomorrow? Tomorrow the real fight starts. And we can’t lose our anger. We can’t lose the momentum. We need to fight. For the next 727 days, we keep fighting. And we don’t stop. 

BARRACK OBAMA'S SAYS FAREWELL IN STYLE

The text of President Barack Obama’s farewell speech Tuesday night in Chicago, as prepared for delivery.
___
It’s good to be home. My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks. Whether we’ve seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people – in living rooms and schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant outposts – are what have kept me honest, kept me inspired, and kept me going. Every day, I learned from you. You made me a better President, and you made me a better man.
I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. It was in neighborhoods not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills. It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss. This is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.
After eight years as your President, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea – our bold experiment in self-government.
It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.
This is the great gift our Founders gave us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, toil, and imagination – and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a greater good.
For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom. It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande, pushed women to reach for the ballot, powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan – and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.
So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional. Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.
Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard, contentious and sometimes bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.
If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history . if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, and take out the mastermind of 9/11 . if I had told you that we would win marriage equality, and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens – you might have said our sights were set a little too high.
But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change. You answered people’s hopes, and because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.
In ten days, the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy: the peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected president to the next. I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me. Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face.
We have what we need to do so. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on Earth. Our youth and drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention mean that the future should be ours.
But that potential will be realized only if our democracy works. Only if our politics reflects the decency of the people. Only if all of us, regardless of our party affiliation or particular interest, help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.
That’s what I want to focus on tonight – the state of our democracy.
Understand, democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders quarreled and compromised, and expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity – the idea that for all our outward differences, we are all in this together; that we rise or fall as one.
There have been moments throughout our history that threatened to rupture that solidarity. The beginning of this century has been one of those times. A shrinking world, growing inequality; demographic change and the specter of terrorism – these forces haven’t just tested our security and prosperity, but our democracy as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids, and create good jobs, and protect our homeland.
In other words, it will determine our future.
Our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity. Today, the economy is growing again; wages, incomes, home values, and retirement accounts are rising again; poverty is falling again. The wealthy are paying a fairer share of taxes even as the stock market shatters records. The unemployment rate is near a ten-year low. The uninsured rate has never, ever been lower. Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in fifty years. And if anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system – that covers as many people at less cost – I will publicly support it.
That, after all, is why we serve – to make people’s lives better, not worse.
But for all the real progress we’ve made, we know it’s not enough. Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic principles. While the top one percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many families, in inner cities and rural counties, have been left behind – the laid-off factory worker; the waitress and health care worker who struggle to pay the bills – convinced that the game is fixed against them, that their government only serves the interests of the powerful – a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.
There are no quick fixes to this long-term trend. I agree that our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dislocation won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes many good, middle-class jobs obsolete.
And so we must forge a new social compact – to guarantee all our kids the education they need; to give workers the power to unionize for better wages; to update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now and make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and individuals who reap the most from the new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their success possible. We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.
There’s a second threat to our democracy – one as old as our nation itself. After my election, there was talk of a post-racial America. Such a vision, however well-intended, was never realistic. For race remains a potent and often divisive force in our society. I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were ten, or twenty, or thirty years ago – you can see it not just in statistics, but in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum.
But we’re not where we need to be. All of us have more work to do. After all, if every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and undeserving minorities, then workers of all shades will be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves. If we decline to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we diminish the prospects of our own children – because those brown kids will represent a larger share of America’s workforce. And our economy doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game. Last year, incomes rose for all races, all age groups, for men and for women.
Going forward, we must uphold laws against discrimination – in hiring, in housing, in education and the criminal justice system. That’s what our Constitution and highest ideals require. But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. If our democracy is to work in this increasingly diverse nation, each one of us must try to heed the advice of one of the great characters in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view.until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”
For blacks and other minorities, it means tying our own struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face – the refugee, the immigrant, the rural poor, the transgender American, and also the middle-aged white man who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but who’s seen his world upended by economic, cultural, and technological change.
For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ’60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; that when they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment our Founders promised.
For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, Italians, and Poles. America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; they embraced this nation’s creed, and it was strengthened.
So regardless of the station we occupy; we have to try harder; to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.
None of this is easy. For too many of us, it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods or college campuses or places of worship or our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. The rise of naked partisanship, increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste – all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable. And increasingly, we become so secure in our bubbles that we accept only information, whether true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that’s out there.
This trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Politics is a battle of ideas; in the course of a healthy debate, we’ll prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts; without a willingness to admit new information, and concede that your opponent is making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, we’ll keep talking past each other, making common ground and compromise impossible.
Isn’t that part of what makes politics so dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on preschool for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations? How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It’s not just dishonest, this selective sorting of the facts; it’s self-defeating. Because as my mother used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.
Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years, we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, doubled our renewable energy, and led the world to an agreement that has the promise to save this planet. But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change; they’ll be busy dealing with its effects: environmental disasters, economic disruptions, and waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary.
Now, we can and should argue about the best approach to the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations; it betrays the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our Founders.
It’s that spirit, born of the Enlightenment, that made us an economic powerhouse – the spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral; the spirit that that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket.
It’s that spirit – a faith in reason, and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, and build a post-World War II order with other democracies, an order based not just on military power or national affiliations but on principles – the rule of law, human rights, freedoms of religion, speech, assembly, and an independent press.
That order is now being challenged – first by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam; more recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who see free markets, open democracies, and civil society itself as a threat to their power. The peril each poses to our democracy is more far-reaching than a car bomb or a missile. It represents the fear of change; the fear of people who look or speak or pray differently; a contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable; an intolerance of dissent and free thought; a belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.
Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform, and the intelligence officers, law enforcement, and diplomats who support them, no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years; and although Boston and Orlando remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We’ve taken out tens of thousands of terrorists – including Osama bin Laden. The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders, and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed, and no one who threatens America will ever be safe. To all who serve, it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your Commander-in-Chief.
But protecting our way of life requires more than our military. Democracy can buckle when we give in to fear. So just as we, as citizens, must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are. That’s why, for the past eight years, I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firm legal footing. That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, and reform our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties. That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans. That’s why we cannot withdraw from global fights – to expand democracy, and human rights, women’s rights, and LGBT rights – no matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.
So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight. Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world – unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.
Which brings me to my final point – our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted. All of us, regardless of party, should throw ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions. When voting rates are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should make it easier, not harder, to vote. When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.
And all of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power swings.
Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power – with our participation, and the choices we make. Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.
In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken.to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth;” that we should preserve it with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.
We weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character are turned off from public service; so coarse with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are not just misguided, but somehow malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others; when we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt, and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.
It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy; to embrace the joyous task we’ve been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours. Because for all our outward differences, we all share the same proud title: Citizen.
Ultimately, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when your own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try to talk with one in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself. Show up. Dive in. Persevere. Sometimes you’ll win. Sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir of goodness in others can be a risk, and there will be times when the process disappoints you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been a part of this work, to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America – and in Americans – will be confirmed.
Mine sure has been. Over the course of these eight years, I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I’ve mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in Charleston church. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch, and our wounded warriors walk again. I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us of our obligations to care for refugees, to work in peace, and above all to look out for each other.
That faith I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change – that faith has been rewarded in ways I couldn’t possibly have imagined. I hope yours has, too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home were there with us in 2004, in 2008, in 2012 – and maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off.
You’re not the only ones. Michelle – for the past twenty-five years, you’ve been not only my wife and mother of my children, but my best friend. You took on a role you didn’t ask for and made it your own with grace and grit and style and good humor. You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody. And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model. You’ve made me proud. You’ve made the country proud.
Malia and Sasha, under the strangest of circumstances, you have become two amazing young women, smart and beautiful, but more importantly, kind and thoughtful and full of passion. You wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I’ve done in my life, I’m most proud to be your dad.
To Joe Biden, the scrappy kid from Scranton who became Delaware’s favorite son: you were the first choice I made as a nominee, and the best. Not just because you have been a great Vice President, but because in the bargain, I gained a brother. We love you and Jill like family, and your friendship has been one of the great joys of our life.
To my remarkable staff: For eight years – and for some of you, a whole lot more – I’ve drawn from your energy, and tried to reflect back what you displayed every day: heart, and character, and idealism. I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, and start incredible new journeys of your own. Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. The only thing that makes me prouder than all the good we’ve done is the thought of all the remarkable things you’ll achieve from here.
And to all of you out there – every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town and kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change – you are the best supporters and organizers anyone could hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because yes, you changed the world.
That’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than I was when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans – especially so many young people out there – to believe you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves. This generation coming up – unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic – I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, just, inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, something not to fear but to embrace, and you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result that the future is in good hands.
My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my days that remain. For now, whether you’re young or young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your President – the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.
I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change – but in yours.
I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:
Yes We Can.
Yes We Did.
Yes We Can.
Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America.

7

24/2/2016: King Abdullah II, accompanied by Crown Prince Hussein, held a summit meeting with US President Barack Obama at the White House over the global efforts to fight terrorism, the latest developments in the Syrian crisis and Mideast peace.

The meeting also addressed ways to “entrench the strategic partnership between Jordan and the US, in light of the pivotal role Jordan is playing in the region”, according to a Royal Court statement.

At a joint press conference following the talks, the two leaders stressed their keenness to maintain coordination and consultation as they deal with the challenges that face the region and the world and ways to enhance bilateral ties.

In addition to Syria and the anti-terror fight, the King said the talks also tackled means to revive the Mideast peace process to bring “hope to the Israelis and Palestinians… These are obviously challenging times, but hope is something that we have to bring to both sides,” His Majesty said in his statement. The King reaffirmed the importance of having the Palestinian cause as first and foremost, describing it as the region’s central issue.

The US has upped its support for Jordan, with the Congress approving an increase of yearly aid from $1 billion to $1.275 billion. The aid is aimed at bolstering the Kingdom’s economy, safeguarding its borders, combating terrorism and alleviating the pressures brought on by regional crises.

Obama has also signed the 2015 US-Jordan defence cooperation law, which enhances military cooperation, gives Jordan the same level as US allies within NATO and facilitates measures related to military assistance to the Kingdom. (Source: Jordan Times)

Following is the full transcript of the press statement by His Majesty King Abdullah and US President Barack Obama in Washington on Wednesday:

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anonymous asked:

I'm sorry but your post is just irresponsible and incorrect. The superdelegates do not vote until the convention and can be convinced one way or the other. Bernie Sanders has NOT lost and anyone who says that he lost is LYING. Also you can ALWAYS write in Bernie Sanders for president.

This ask came in about a week ago, and I’ve been sitting on it for a little bit. Emotions are running high right now, and I think this discussion could be helped with some perspective and as even a gaze as possible.

It’s been a little over a week since the California Primary, and while the fact that California does all of its elections on paper has ensured that many ballots still remain uncounted, it seems unlikely that Sanders will gain enough ground in that process to make up more than a few percentage points. According to Alameda County Registrar of Voters Tim Dupuis, Sanders has only gained about a percentage point between last Tuesday and this past Monday - not a representative sample, necessarily, but also not an unusual one. The individual counties of California count their own ballots, and they have a month to do so and to report their findings to the state. So it’ll be a while before we have an actual 100% definitive, set-in-stone answer.

Some Sanders supporters see the length of this process, the number of remaining uncounted ballots, the early declaration of victory by the Clinton camp after her victory in New Jersey, and the previous night’s announcement from the AP that Clinton had won enough superdelegates to clinch the nomination as evidence of a broad conspiracy of voter suppression. This, I assume, is the core of your argument calling my and others’ talk of a Clinton victory “incorrect and irresponsible,” a characterization that I obviously disagree with.

But broadly speaking, Clinton’s victory in California is unsurprising, if for no other reason than because it follows the trend of Clinton outperforming Sanders in states where the selection process is a primary, rather than a caucus. Sanders does extremely well when turnout depends on a small number of passionate supporters who are willing to devote several hours of their evening to a caucus, but primary elections tend to bring out moderates. This is one of the reasons why Sanders creamed the competition in states like Washington and Colorado (where, full disclosure, I caucused for Sanders myself), but had a tougher time in states like Maryland, Virginia, Ohio, and Florida.

Caucusgoers in Iowa cast their votes.

To your other points: First, you are absolutely right that the superdelegates don’t vote until the Democratic Convention next month, and until they do vote, they’re basically free agents - they can do, and say, whatever they want. In 2008, some prominent superdelegate defections in the middle of the primary helped Barack Obama clinch the race over Clinton. But it seems very unlikely to me that the superdelegates would go against the popular will of the Democratic primary voters, a majority of whom voted for Clinton, in order to elect Sanders. Sanders’ primary argument is that he is better-suited to defeat Donald Trump in November, which is an argument that becomes less and less credible as the polling gap between Trump and Clinton continues to widen.

Sanders can still affect the outcome of this race in some fairly significant ways. He has a big bloc of voters, many of whom are perfectly willing to vote for Clinton in the fall, but some who will require some cajoling. Withholding - or threatening to withhold - a proper endorsement might give Sanders some leverage to flex his muscles on the Democratic party platform, which will be decided at the convention in July. The platform is basically the official stance on what the Democrats will be focusing on and fighting for during election season and beyond, and if Clinton Democrats want to retain the support of Sanders Democrats, they would be wise to move their platform to the left. On the other hand, Trump’s alienation of independents and liberal Republicans might give the Democrats the idea that they could broaden their demographics in a more conservative direction to pick up those folks. We’ll have to see what happens next month.

President Obama accepts the Democratic nomination for President at a subdued affair in 2012.

Now, to your last point: Let’s talk about write-ins.

A write-in candidate is a candidate whose name does not officially appear on the ballot in a particular state, but who the voters are allowed to “write in” on their ballot. There are a number of reasons that a candidate might need to be a write-in candidate: For example, the filing deadline to get on the ballot for a particular state may have already passed. They also may not meet the individual state requirements to get on the ballot as an independent candidate - many states require that independents collect signatures via a petition to be allowed on the ballot.

Now, as with almost everything in our system, each state has different rules about write-in Presidential candidates.

  • Eight states: Vermont, Wyoming, Oregon, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Iowa, Delaware, and Alabama do not require that write-in candidates register with the state ahead of the election. All write-in votes are counted, regardless of who they’re for.
  • Seven states: Nevada, South Dakota, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Hawaii do not allow write-in candidates at all. If you live in one of those seven states, you have to vote for one of the names on the ballot, or nobody.
  • The other thirty-five states require that write-in candidates register with the state ahead of the election. In some cases, this can require a petition process; in others, you need only gather the signatures of the people who have agreed to represent you in the Electoral College if you win. The names of the valid write-in candidates are typically posted on a sheet at each polling place. Votes for write-in candidates that have not registered ahead of the election will not be counted!

So, before you write in Sanders, make sure that he’s a valid candidate! If you live in one of the eight states where all write-ins are allowed, vote to your heart’s content. But if not, make sure that Sanders has registered as a valid write-in candidate before you vote! You don’t want your ballot to be invalidated.

With the seven states that don’t allow write-in candidates removed from the electoral map - it is, after all, impossible for a write-in candidate to win them - there are still almost 500 electoral votes up for grabs. While it is absolutely possible for a write-in candidate to win the Electoral College, the odds that Sanders could mount a significant general election challenge are pretty low - it’s hard to imagine a scenario in which someone loses a primary election, then goes on to win a general election.

But hey - it’s been a very, very strange year so far, hasn’t it?

3

Plugged Magazine: English Translation

His melancholic look and his Game of Thrones black crow feathers costume made him famous to the world: however in September Kit Harington put aside his medieval warrior’s display to approach new things more realistic, a spy that fight against terrorism in Spooks, the Greater Good (MI5 in French) a an idealistic man in love in Testament of Youth. Exclusive interview.

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8

A Day in the Life                                                  

From luxury to politics to technology, Bloomberg is known for capturing compelling images of the day’s top stories. For Bloomberg photographer Andrew Harrer, that means working in one of the most high profile and exclusive places in America — the White House.

In Depth recently spent a day with Andrew as he worked in the White House photographer pool, trailing President Obama and shooting a concert by Katy Perry.

Here are some photos from Andrew’s day.

8 a.m.: Arrive at the Bloomberg office in Washington, D.C., and review the White House “Daily Guidance” report, double checking pool call time and the day’s events. I usually bring extra camera gear with me – probably more than I need – because you never know what you’ll need. For example, President Obama could make an unannounced speech and I’d need a remote camera set up to get a unique angle.

8:30 a.m.: Before I head to the White House, I spend some time planning photo coverage for next week and checking on credentials for next week’s three-day US-Africa Leaders Summit. I also alert the New York photo desk the rundown of the day’s events at the White House so they know what to expect from me.

9:15 a.m.: Double check that I have all the camera gear needed for the day and walk over to the White House with my backpack and rolling camera bag.

9:30 a.m.: Arrive on location, show my pass and talk to the guards on duty as I walk through. They usually ask me about what kind of camera to buy or which lens should be their next purchase.

9:45 a.m.: Unload all my camera gear and laptop onto my pool seat in the “Still Country” area of the press area. Talk to the other photographers from agencies that staff the White House pool every day.

11:21 a.m.: First pool event: President Obama meets with members of Congress on foreign policy. Ushered in by two press handlers into the Cabinet Room. Managed to shoot 53 frames in the 1 minute and 3 seconds we had in the room.

11:30 a.m.: Quickly edit and caption the photos from the Cabinet Room. Not much to choose from since Obama’s speech was so quick and we had limited time in the room. Manage to get seven photos from the shoot, which I send on to the Bloomberg photo desk.

12 noon: Lunch break. It’s a working lunch for me, as I’m continuing to plan for the US-Africa Leaders Summit next week.

1:40 p.m.: Second pool event: President Obama delivers remarks and signs an Executive Order entitled “Fair Pay and Safe Workplace.” After a delay Obama arrives and begins to speak. Surrounded by Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, employers, workers and fair pay advocates, Obama signs the executive order. Again, quickly edit, caption and file the photos to the New York photo desk.

3 p.m.: Pool gathers at the “Palm Room” doors for the third event of the day, which is President Obama traveling to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to introduce newly sworn-in HUD Secretary Julian Castro. The motorcade consisting of our two pool vans, SUVs, an ambulance, police cars and President Obama’s limo “The Beast” weave as fast as possible through the streets of D.C. When we arrive, the pool photographers jump out of the vans and get in place on the back risers. Unfortunately, our spot in the back of the room is too far to capture any good photos. Photographers have to scramble to find chairs so we can see over the television cameras in the center of the room. Screaming and cheering HUD employees greet President Obama and Castro. Eventually the photographers are allowed to shoot photos from the side of the stage, making for better photos and photos that we can use for stories of Obama down the line.

4 p.m.: Motorcade makes its way back to the White House. Uneventful.

4:10 p.m.: Dinner lid is called until 6:40 p.m., meaning if you are part of the pool you are free to leave with no expected events during this time. I stay at the White House and eat a Kind bar.

5:30 p.m.: Wait for the press handler so the photographers can pre-set ladders for the evening event: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are hosting a Special Olympics event in the East Room.

7 p.m.: Pool gathers for the 7:25 Special Olympics event. We walk up the stairs through the North Portico of the White House. The U.S. Marine Band is playing for guests as we rush past to get to our pre-set spots. The East Room is dimly lit and set up with candles and flowers. Guests enter after a cocktail reception. The room hushes as the last guest enters and all eyes are on singer Katy Perry. President Obama and Michelle enter the room greeting the guests. After a speech by President Obama, during which he introduces several Special Olympians, he sits down at a table with America Online Co-Founder Steve Case and former NBA player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

8:09 p.m.: Pool is ushered out of the East Room, and I again rush to the press area to quickly edit, caption and send photos.

9:00 p.m.: Final event of the night. We are all assuming Katy Perry will be tonight’s entertainment for the concert commemorating the Special Olympics. After a long wait, and an Instagram post later, guests enter the State Dining Room. Timothy Shriver, chairman of the Special Olympics, introduces the seven Special Olympians on stage and thanks President Obama for “bringing change to America.” As President Obama and Michelle settle into the front row, Katy Perry enters in a blue sequined dress. Perry performs “Roar” for the crowd.

10:15 p.m.: Pool is led out of the room as the concert continues.

10:45 p.m.: While editing, someone walks through the press rooms informing the stragglers that we must leave immediately. Hastily pack up all my camera gear and laptop. No time to get through the entire take of concert photos.

11 p.m.: Catch a taxi for a quick ride to my apartment.

11:30 p.m.: Eat dinner at home while I finish editing and captioning photos from the Katy Perry performance. Send out all of the photos from the concert, 11 in all, and I’m finished for the day.

Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

© 2014 Bloomberg Finance LP

Adelina Sotnikova (THE NEW QUEEN) & 'SOME' K-POP Fanatics

I am really shocked to see so much ignorance in ’SOME’ fans of K-POP, who without knowing anything about figure skating, have come together to sign an on-line petition to snatch the gold medal to the ’NEW QUEEN’ of figure skating, Adelina Sotnikova and give it to Kim Yuna, who for the simple fact of being Korean, has all the support of the K-POP fandom as she was an idol star.

DISCLAIMER: Not all K-POP fans are ignorant and obsessive, there are many fans of this genre that deserve all my respect, but honestly there are ‘others’ who don’t deserve any consideration. Such people don’t make use of their brains (if they have one), they aren’t objective, realistic and far less analytical. This group of people go through life as if they were sheep, following everything it’s tagged as ’K-POP’. They think their life depends on it and that there’s nothing better than South Korea and their K-POP stars. Their reason to live is to 'support’ every Korean in the World, no matter if they are artists or not, their goal is to make them more popular than Budha, Jesus Christ, The Beatles, Barack Obama or Nelson Mandela. Their mission is to let them to know that they have 'MILLIONS’ of 'INTERNATIONAL FANS’ and that they’re dying for them.

K-POP is popular but not as much as you think. Lets to think Korean artists have 1,000,000 of fans in every country (I’m exaggerating), well… that cipher is nothing compared to the whole population on Earth, so don’t exaggerate by saying unreal things like: “K-POP rules the World”, “K-POP artists are better than American and British ones”, “Korean girls are more beautiful than European and occidental people”, etc. You aren’t the WHOLE WORLD, you are PART OF THE WORLD and fortunately, you are a minority.

REPEAT: I’m talking about all those 'FANATICS’ of K-POP and not about the real 'FANS’ of this genre.

This 'ABERRANT’ side (part) of the K-POP fandom is who have started to invade social networks with a stupid on-line petition to make the International Olympic Committee (IOC) gives to Kim Yuna the gold medal that our NEW QUEEN OF FIGURE SKATING: ADELINA SOTNIKOVA won by skating ’technically’ better than the EX-QUEEN, Kim Yuna.

If you don’t know anything about this sport, stop of comment about figure skating. That’s why there are ’EXPERTS’ on TV Sport channels. They’re in charge to analyze their routines, techniques, etc. That’s why there are ’JUDGES’ in the ice rink. They’re in charge to apply the rules of this sport.

Note that this sport is a ’SPORT OF APPRECIATION’. In skating there is no referees and no TV replays to rate each of the skaters’ routines.

FACTS:

* Sotnikova’s program had seven triple jumps, which was one more than Kim.
* She had a carefully constructed program with seven triples, five of which were in combo. Kim had six triples, three of them were in combo. Therefore, Sotnikova had a higher score and increased the margin of error, which she took advantage of by doing a lower (small) jump after an exchange.

Here a quote:

It’s debatable, but not outrageous” (Chris Case from 'USA Today’)

*****

You can argue all you want, but at least investigate before discussing and questioning the jury’s decision.

Adelina Sotnikova has only 17 years old! She has to improve a lot but that does not mean it has no talent as a figure skater.

You may like or not the judges’ decision or the way how she skates, but that doesn’t give you the right to want to dethrone her as the new queen of figure skating.

Let’s face it, people! Kim Yuna is very good skater, she won the gold medal in Vancouver, and two world championships but she isn’t as great as Katarina Witt from Germany and Michelle Kwan from USA.

Some fans started to called her ’QUEEN’ because this English adjective sounded similar to her surname ’KIM’, and since she is Korean, all the K-POP fandom and Korean citizens began to call her like that. Later she demonstrated to be a good skater and for a while she took that adjective as hers. Is true that she’s amazing but not enough to be called ’THE FIGURE SKATING QUEEN’ forever.

Kim Yuna has said she will retire from skating rinks and will not participate in the next 'World Championships’ so she has ceased to be the queen and all of you know it.

Stop being childish, fanatic and disrespectful insisting with this.

With the retirement of Kim Yuna, the new queen of figure skating, Adelina Sotnikova will not have to deal with obsessive fanatics of a skater who now wants to be a K-POP star (according to some Korean sources).

Evgeni Plushenko said he may try to compete in 2018 Olympics….

I’m going to say this and don’t bother to make me change my mind: I think Kim Yuna is really mediocre because being so young, she is going to retire from skating. Look at Evgeni Plushenko, he is old (for skating), he has had a lot of injuries, some surgeries, and despite that, he still wants to compete. He really loves what he does and that’s why I admire him so much. I have a lot of things to say about her and his horrible attitude at this Olympics but I’m sure if I say what I think and what I’ve hear about her, all those K-POP fanatics will come to start a stupid battle among figure skating fans (as they always do when they don’t accept criticism or comments from other fandoms) and we don’t need ’sick people’ invading our peaceful space.

… that means thet Evgeni Plushenko isn’t retiring. We have a King (Evgeni Plushenko from Russia), a Queen (Adelina Sotnikova from Russia) and a Prince (Yuzuru Hanyu from Japan), Kim Yuna is retiring so the new Princess is Carolina Kostner from Italy.

ALTHOUGH YOU DON’T LIKE IT!!

True fans of K-POP shouldn’t feel attacked by my comments since I didn’t talk about you but this group of 'fanatics’ who ruin the whole fandom of Korean music. You know them, you know who they are.

About Yuzuru Hanyu and Kim Yuna: If you can’t find any video of them on Korean TV is because as we know, ’SOME’ Koreans hate Japan and avoid to talk about Japanese artists or athletes (Maybe I’m wrong but knowing the past of both countries sounds logical. They hate Japan but love to be there selling their albums).

I’m not saying all Koreans are the same.

Yuzuru said he liked Yuna’s jumps and that he was happy when he meet her as well as another figure skaters, but I’ve not read anywhere that Kim Yuna has said something about him, Adelina Sotnikova, etc. Even in the rehearsal for the Gala Exhibition in Sochi, she looked really upset and she barely talked to the rest of the skaters. I don’t like her attitude. I wanna think she was tired, but all of them were tired and despite that, they smiled and talked to each other. And don’t say she was smiling at Yuzuru in some pictures, because it’s pretty obvious that she wasn’t comfortable being with him, Asada Mao, and the rest of Japanese team (not to mention she didn’t talked to Adelina Sotnikova or Julia Lipnitskaya).

I would like Koreans were more humble and treat Japanese people as they treat them when they’re in Japan. Korean press recorded the same rehearsal and cut the part of Kim Yuna (their superstar) and Yuzuru Hanyu (the gold medalist). Really weird, don’t you think?.

Well, that’s all for now.

President Obama’s Farewell Address (Don’t Go!) (Full Text)

My fellow Americans, Michelle and I have been so touched by all the well-wishes that we’ve received over the past few weeks. But tonight it’s my turn to say thanks.

Whether we have seen eye-to-eye or rarely agreed at all, my conversations with you, the American people — in living rooms and in schools; at farms and on factory floors; at diners and on distant military outposts — those conversations are what have kept me honest, and kept me inspired, and kept me going. And every day, I have learned from you. You made me a better president, and you made me a better man.

So I first came to Chicago when I was in my early twenties, and I was still trying to figure out who I was; still searching for a purpose to my life. And it was a neighborhood not far from here where I began working with church groups in the shadows of closed steel mills.

It was on these streets where I witnessed the power of faith, and the quiet dignity of working people in the face of struggle and loss.

Now this is where I learned that change only happens when ordinary people get involved, and they get engaged, and they come together to demand it.

After eight years as your president, I still believe that. And it’s not just my belief. It’s the beating heart of our American idea — our bold experiment in self-government.

It’s the conviction that we are all created equal, endowed by our creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It’s the insistence that these rights, while self-evident, have never been self-executing; that We, the People, through the instrument of our democracy, can form a more perfect union.

What a radical idea, the great gift that our Founders gave to us. The freedom to chase our individual dreams through our sweat, and toil, and imagination — and the imperative to strive together as well, to achieve a common good, a greater good.

For 240 years, our nation’s call to citizenship has given work and purpose to each new generation. It’s what led patriots to choose republic over tyranny, pioneers to trek west, slaves to brave that makeshift railroad to freedom.

It’s what pulled immigrants and refugees across oceans and the Rio Grande. It’s what pushed women to reach for the ballot. It’s what powered workers to organize. It’s why GIs gave their lives at Omaha Beach and Iwo Jima; Iraq and Afghanistan — and why men and women from Selma to Stonewall were prepared to give theirs as well.So that’s what we mean when we say America is exceptional.

Not that our nation has been flawless from the start, but that we have shown the capacity to change, and make life better for those who follow.

Yes, our progress has been uneven. The work of democracy has always been hard. It has been contentious. Sometimes it has been bloody. For every two steps forward, it often feels we take one step back. But the long sweep of America has been defined by forward motion, a constant widening of our founding creed to embrace all, and not just some.

If I had told you eight years ago that America would reverse a great recession, reboot our auto industry, and unleash the longest stretch of job creation in our history — if I had told you that we would open up a new chapter with the Cuban people, shut down Iran’s nuclear weapons program without firing a shot, take out the mastermind of 9-11 — if I had told you that we would win marriage equality and secure the right to health insurance for another 20 million of our fellow citizens — if I had told you all that, you might have said our sights were set a little too high.

But that’s what we did. That’s what you did. You were the change. The answer to people’s hopes and, because of you, by almost every measure, America is a better, stronger place than it was when we started.

In 10 days the world will witness a hallmark of our democracy. No, no, no, no, no. The peaceful transfer of power from one freely-elected President to the next. I committed to President-Elect Trump that my administration would ensure the smoothest possible transition, just as President Bush did for me.

Because it’s up to all of us to make sure our government can help us meet the many challenges we still face. We have what we need to do so. We have everything we need to meet those challenges. After all, we remain the wealthiest, most powerful, and most respected nation on earth.

Our youth, our drive, our diversity and openness, our boundless capacity for risk and reinvention means that the future should be ours. But that potential will only be realized if our democracy works. Only if our politics better reflects the decency of our people. Only if all of us, regardless of party affiliation or particular interests help restore the sense of common purpose that we so badly need right now.

And that’s what I want to focus on tonight, the state of our democracy. Understand democracy does not require uniformity. Our founders argued, they quarreled, and eventually they compromised. They expected us to do the same. But they knew that democracy does require a basic sense of solidarity. The idea that, for all our outward differences, we’re all in this together, that we rise or fall as one.

There have been moments throughout our history that threatened that solidarity. And the beginning of this century has been one of those times. A shrinking world, growing inequality, demographic change, and the specter of terrorism. These forces haven’t just tested our security and our prosperity, but are testing our democracy as well. And how we meet these challenges to our democracy will determine our ability to educate our kids and create good jobs and protect our homeland.

In other words, it will determine our future. To begin with, our democracy won’t work without a sense that everyone has economic opportunity.

And the good news is that today the economy is growing again. Wages, incomes, home values and retirement accounts are all rising again. Poverty is falling again.

And the good news is that today the economy is growing again. Wages, incomes, home values and retirement accounts are all rising again. Poverty is falling again.

Health care costs are rising at the slowest rate in 50 years. And I’ve said, and I mean it, anyone can put together a plan that is demonstrably better than the improvements we’ve made to our health care system, that covers as many people at less cost, I will publicly support it.

Because that, after all, is why we serve. Not to score points or take credit. But to make people’s lives better.

But, for all the real progress that we’ve made, we know it’s not enough. Our economy doesn’t work as well or grow as fast when a few prosper at the expense of a growing middle class, and ladders for folks who want to get into the middle class.

That’s the economic argument. But stark inequality is also corrosive to our democratic idea. While the top 1 percent has amassed a bigger share of wealth and income, too many of our families in inner cities and in rural counties have been left behind.

The laid off factory worker, the waitress or health care worker who’s just barely getting by and struggling to pay the bills. Convinced that the game is fixed against them. That their government only serves the interest of the powerful. That’s a recipe for more cynicism and polarization in our politics.

Now there’re no quick fixes to this long-term trend. I agree, our trade should be fair and not just free. But the next wave of economic dislocations won’t come from overseas. It will come from the relentless pace of automation that makes a lot of good middle class jobs obsolete.

And so we’re going to have to forge a new social compact to guarantee all our kids the education they need.

To give workers the power…… to unionize for better wages. To update the social safety net to reflect the way we live now. And make more reforms to the tax code so corporations and the individuals who reap the most from this new economy don’t avoid their obligations to the country that’s made their very success possible.

We can argue about how to best achieve these goals. But we can’t be complacent about the goals themselves. For if we don’t create opportunity for all people, the disaffection and division that has stalled our progress will only sharpen in years to come.

There’s a second threat to our democracy. And this one is as old as our nation itself.

After my election there was talk of a post-racial America. And such a vision, however well intended, was never realistic. Race remains a potent…… and often divisive force in our society.

Now I’ve lived long enough to know that race relations are better than they were 10 or 20 or 30 years ago, no matter what some folks say.

You can see it not just in statistics. You see it in the attitudes of young Americans across the political spectrum. But we’re not where we need to be. And all of us have more work to do.

If every economic issue is framed as a struggle between a hardworking white middle class and an undeserving minority, then workers of all shades are going to be left fighting for scraps while the wealthy withdraw further into their private enclaves.

If we’re unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we will diminish the prospects of our own children — because those brown kids will represent a larger and larger share of America’s workforce.

If we’re unwilling to invest in the children of immigrants, just because they don’t look like us, we will diminish the prospects of our own children — because those brown kids will represent a larger and larger share of America’s workforce.

That is what our Constitution and highest ideals require.

But laws alone won’t be enough. Hearts must change. It won’t change overnight. Social attitudes oftentimes take generations to change. But if our democracy is to work the way it should in this increasingly diverse nation, then each one of us need to try to heed the advice of a great character in American fiction, Atticus Finch, who said “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view, until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

For blacks and other minority groups, that means tying our own very real struggles for justice to the challenges that a lot of people in this country face. Not only the refugee or the immigrant or the rural poor or the transgender American, but also the middle-aged white guy who from the outside may seem like he’s got all the advantages, but has seen his world upended by economic, and cultural, and technological change.

We have to pay attention and listen.

For white Americans, it means acknowledging that the effects of slavery and Jim Crow didn’t suddenly vanish in the ’60s; that when minority groups voice discontent, they’re not just engaging in reverse racism or practicing political correctness; when they wage peaceful protest, they’re not demanding special treatment, but the equal treatment that our founders promised.

For native-born Americans, it means reminding ourselves that the stereotypes about immigrants today were said, almost word for word, about the Irish, and Italians, and Poles, who it was said were going to destroy the fundamental character of America. And as it turned out, America wasn’t weakened by the presence of these newcomers; these newcomers embraced this nation’s creed, and this nation was strengthened.

So regardless of the station we occupy; we all have to try harder; we all have to start with the premise that each of our fellow citizens loves this country just as much as we do; that they value hard work and family just like we do; that their children are just as curious and hopeful and worthy of love as our own.

And that’s not easy to do. For too many of us it’s become safer to retreat into our own bubbles, whether in our neighborhoods, or on college campuses, or places of worship, or especially our social media feeds, surrounded by people who look like us and share the same political outlook and never challenge our assumptions. In the rise of naked partisanship and increasing economic and regional stratification, the splintering of our media into a channel for every taste, all this makes this great sorting seem natural, even inevitable.

And increasingly we become so secure in our bubbles that we start accepting only information, whether it’s true or not, that fits our opinions, instead of basing our opinions on the evidence that is out there.

And this trend represents a third threat to our democracy. Look, politics is a battle of ideas. That’s how our democracy was designed. In the course of a healthy debate, we prioritize different goals, and the different means of reaching them. But without some common baseline of facts, without a willingness to admit new information and concede that your opponent might be making a fair point, and that science and reason matter, then we’re going to keep talking past each other.

And we’ll make common ground and compromise impossible. And isn’t that part of what so often makes politics dispiriting? How can elected officials rage about deficits when we propose to spend money on pre-school for kids, but not when we’re cutting taxes for corporations?

How do we excuse ethical lapses in our own party, but pounce when the other party does the same thing? It’s not just dishonest, it’s selective sorting of the facts. It’s self-defeating because, as my mom used to tell me, reality has a way of catching up with you.

Take the challenge of climate change. In just eight years we’ve halved our dependence on foreign oil, we’ve doubled our renewable energy, we’ve led the world to an agreement that (at) the promise to save this planet.

But without bolder action, our children won’t have time to debate the existence of climate change. They’ll be busy dealing with its effects. More environmental disasters, more economic disruptions, waves of climate refugees seeking sanctuary. Now we can and should argue about the best approach to solve the problem. But to simply deny the problem not only betrays future generations, it betrays the essential spirit of this country, the essential spirit of innovation and practical problem-solving that guided our founders.

It is that spirit — it is that spirit born of the enlightenment that made us an economic powerhouse. The spirit that took flight at Kitty Hawk and Cape Canaveral, the spirit that cures disease and put a computer in every pocket, it’s that spirit. A faith in reason and enterprise, and the primacy of right over might, that allowed us to resist the lure of fascism and tyranny during the Great Depression, that allowed us to build a post-World War II order with other democracies.

An order based not just on military power or national affiliations, but built on principles, the rule of law, human rights, freedom of religion and speech and assembly and an independent press.

That order is now being challenged. First by violent fanatics who claim to speak for Islam. More recently by autocrats in foreign capitals who seek free markets in open democracies and civil society itself as a threat to their power.

The peril each poses to our democracy is more far reaching than a car bomb or a missile. They represent the fear of change. The fear of people who look or speak or pray differently. A contempt for the rule of law that holds leaders accountable. An intolerance of dissent and free thought. A belief that the sword or the gun or the bomb or the propaganda machine is the ultimate arbiter of what’s true and what’s right.

Because of the extraordinary courage of our men and women in uniform. Because of our intelligence officers and law enforcement and diplomats who support our troops…

… no foreign terrorist organization has successfully planned and executed an attack on our homeland these past eight years.

And although…

… Boston and Orlando and San Bernardino and Fort Hood remind us of how dangerous radicalization can be, our law enforcement agencies are more effective and vigilant than ever. We have taken out tens of thousands of terrorists, including Bin Laden.

The global coalition we’re leading against ISIL has taken out their leaders and taken away about half their territory. ISIL will be destroyed. And no one who threatens America will ever be safe.

And all who serve or have served — it has been the honor of my lifetime to be your commander-in-chief.

And we all owe you a deep debt of gratitude.

But, protecting our way of life, that’s not just the job of our military. Democracy can buckle when it gives into fear. So just as we as citizens must remain vigilant against external aggression, we must guard against a weakening of the values that make us who we are.

And that’s why for the past eight years I’ve worked to put the fight against terrorism on a firmer legal footing. That’s why we’ve ended torture, worked to close Gitmo, reformed our laws governing surveillance to protect privacy and civil liberties.

That’s why I reject discrimination against Muslim Americans…

… who are just as patriotic as we are.

That’s why…

That’s why we cannot withdraw…

That’s why we cannot withdraw from big global fights to expand democracy and human rights and women’s rights and LGBT rights.

No matter how imperfect our efforts, no matter how expedient ignoring such values may seem, that’s part of defending America. For the fight against extremism and intolerance and sectarianism and chauvinism are of a piece with the fight against authoritarianism and nationalist aggression. If the scope of freedom and respect for the rule of law shrinks around the world, the likelihood of war within and between nations increases, and our own freedoms will eventually be threatened.

So let’s be vigilant, but not afraid. ISIL will try to kill innocent people. But they cannot defeat America unless we betray our Constitution and our principles in the fight.

Rivals like Russia or China cannot match our influence around the world — unless we give up what we stand for, and turn ourselves into just another big country that bullies smaller neighbors.

Which brings me to my final point — our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.

All of us, regardless of party, should be throwing ourselves into the task of rebuilding our democratic institutions.

When voting rates in America are some of the lowest among advanced democracies, we should be making it easier, not harder, to vote.

When trust in our institutions is low, we should reduce the corrosive influence of money in our politics, and insist on the principles of transparency and ethics in public service. When Congress is dysfunctional, we should draw our districts to encourage politicians to cater to common sense and not rigid extremes.

But remember, none of this happens on its own. All of this depends on our participation; on each of us accepting the responsibility of citizenship, regardless of which way the pendulum of power happens to be swinging.

Our Constitution is a remarkable, beautiful gift. But it’s really just a piece of parchment. It has no power on its own. We, the people, give it power. We, the people, give it meaning — with our participation, and with the choices that we make and the alliances that we forge.

Whether or not we stand up for our freedoms. Whether or not we respect and enforce the rule of law, that’s up to us. America is no fragile thing. But the gains of our long journey to freedom are not assured.

In his own farewell address, George Washington wrote that self-government is the underpinning of our safety, prosperity, and liberty, but “from different causes and from different quarters much pains will be taken… to weaken in your minds the conviction of this truth.”

And so we have to preserve this truth with “jealous anxiety;” that we should reject “the first dawning of every attempt to alienate any portion of our country from the rest or to enfeeble the sacred ties” that make us one.

America, we weaken those ties when we allow our political dialogue to become so corrosive that people of good character aren’t even willing to enter into public service. So course with rancor that Americans with whom we disagree are seen, not just as misguided, but as malevolent. We weaken those ties when we define some of us as more American than others.

When we write off the whole system as inevitably corrupt. And when we sit back and blame the leaders we elect without examining our own role in electing them.

It falls to each of us to be those anxious, jealous guardians of our democracy. Embrace the joyous task we have been given to continually try to improve this great nation of ours because, for all our outward differences, we in fact all share the same proud type, the most important office in a democracy, citizen.

Citizen. So, you see, that’s what our democracy demands. It needs you. Not just when there’s an election, not just when you own narrow interest is at stake, but over the full span of a lifetime. If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the Internet, try talking with one of them in real life.

If something needs fixing, then lace up your shoes and do some organizing.

If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clip board, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.

Show up, dive in, stay at it. Sometimes you’ll win, sometimes you’ll lose. Presuming a reservoir in goodness, that can be a risk. And there will be times when the process will disappoint you. But for those of us fortunate enough to have been part of this one and to see it up close, let me tell you, it can energize and inspire. And more often than not, your faith in America and in Americans will be confirmed. Mine sure has been.

Over the course of these eight years, I’ve seen the hopeful faces of young graduates and our newest military officers. I have mourned with grieving families searching for answers, and found grace in a Charleston church. I’ve seen our scientists help a paralyzed man regain his sense of touch. I’ve seen Wounded Warriors who at points were given up for dead walk again.

I’ve seen our doctors and volunteers rebuild after earthquakes and stop pandemics in their tracks. I’ve seen the youngest of children remind us through their actions and through their generosity of our obligations to care for refugees or work for peace and, above all, to look out for each other. So that faith that I placed all those years ago, not far from here, in the power of ordinary Americans to bring about change, that faith has been rewarded in ways I could not have possibly imagined.

And I hope your faith has too. Some of you here tonight or watching at home, you were there with us in 2004 and 2008, 2012.

Maybe you still can’t believe we pulled this whole thing off.

Let me tell you, you’re not the only ones.

Michelle…

Michelle LaVaughn Robinson of the South Side…

… for the past 25 years you have not only been my wife and mother of my children, you have been my best friend.

You took on a role you didn’t ask for. And you made it your own with grace and with grit and with style, and good humor.

You made the White House a place that belongs to everybody.

And a new generation sets its sights higher because it has you as a role model.

You have made me proud, and you have made the country proud.

Malia and Sasha…

… under the strangest of circumstances you have become two amazing young women.

You are smart and you are beautiful. But more importantly, you are kind and you are thoughtful and you are full of passion.

And…… you wore the burden of years in the spotlight so easily. Of all that I have done in my life, I am most proud to be your dad.

To Joe Biden…
… the scrappy kid from Scranton…

… who became Delaware’s favorite son. You were the first decision I made as a nominee, and it was the best.

Not just because you have been a great vice president, but because in the bargain I gained a brother. And we love you and Jill like family. And your friendship has been one of the great joys of our lives.

To my remarkable staff, for eight years, and for some of you a whole lot more, I have drawn from your energy. And every day I try to reflect back what you displayed. Heart and character. And idealism. I’ve watched you grow up, get married, have kids, start incredible new journeys of your own.

Even when times got tough and frustrating, you never let Washington get the better of you. You guarded against cynicism. And the only thing that makes me prouder than all the good that we’ve done is the thought of all the amazing things that you are going to achieve from here.

And to all of you out there — every organizer who moved to an unfamiliar town, every kind family who welcomed them in, every volunteer who knocked on doors, every young person who cast a ballot for the first time, every American who lived and breathed the hard work of change — you are the best supporters and organizers anybody could ever hope for, and I will forever be grateful. Because you did change the world.

You did.

And that’s why I leave this stage tonight even more optimistic about this country than when we started. Because I know our work has not only helped so many Americans; it has inspired so many Americans — especially so many young people out there — to believe that you can make a difference; to hitch your wagon to something bigger than yourselves.

Let me tell you, this generation coming up — unselfish, altruistic, creative, patriotic — I’ve seen you in every corner of the country. You believe in a fair, and just, and inclusive America; you know that constant change has been America’s hallmark, that it’s not something to fear but something to embrace, you are willing to carry this hard work of democracy forward. You’ll soon outnumber any of us, and I believe as a result the future is in good hands.

My fellow Americans, it has been the honor of my life to serve you. I won’t stop; in fact, I will be right there with you, as a citizen, for all my remaining days. But for now, whether you are young or whether you’re young at heart, I do have one final ask of you as your president — the same thing I asked when you took a chance on me eight years ago.

I am asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about change — but in yours.

I am asking you to hold fast to that faith written into our founding documents; that idea whispered by slaves and abolitionists; that spirit sung by immigrants and homesteaders and those who marched for justice; that creed reaffirmed by those who planted flags from foreign battlefields to the surface of the moon; a creed at the core of every American whose story is not yet written:

Yes, we can.

Yes, we did.

Yes, we can.

Thank you. God bless you. And may God continue to bless the United States of America. Thank you.


Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel Will Step Down, Once Successor Is Confirmed

(NPR.org is experiencing hiccups. Here’s our story about Chuck Hagel resigning as secretary of defense.)

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, the highest-profile Republican on President Obama’s Cabinet, will step down, once his successor is confirmed by the Senate.

Calling Hagel an “exemplary defense secretary,” Obama made the announcement in the State Dining Room of the White House on Monday.

Hagel, a two-term Republican senator, came to the post in February of 2013, the first enlisted combat veteran to lead the Department of Defense.

The New York Times, which first reported the story, says Obama made the decision Friday after several meetings. The Times adds:

“The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestration.

"But now ‘the next couple of years will demand a different kind of focus,’ one administration official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. He insisted that Mr. Hagel was not fired, saying that he initiated discussions about his future two weeks ago with the president, and that the two men mutually agreed that it was time for him to leave.”

The news comes just as American troops are completing their combat role in Afghanistan and just as the administration announced a new war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

Back in October, there were reports from CNN and the New York Times that described a memo written by Hagel in which he criticized the Obama administration’s policy toward Syria.

Citing an unnamed senior U.S. official, CNN reported that Hagel told National Security Adviser Susan Rice that “we need to have a sharper view of what to do about the Assad regime.”

Publicly, Hagel seemed in lockstep with the Obama administration. During congressional testimony earlier this month, Hagel said the administration’s strategy against the Islamic State was making progress.

But he was sober about the mission to equip and train Syrian rebels.

“We know the opposition will continue to face intense pressure in a multifront battle space, and we are considering options for how U.S. and coalition forces can further support these forces once they are trained and equipped," Hagel said. "Our strategy in Syria will demand time, patience and perseverance to deliver results. We cannot accomplish our objectives in Syria all at once.”

Update at 11:25 a.m. ET. An 'Exemplary Defense Secretary’:

Announcing Hagel’s resignation at the White House’s State Dining Room, President Obama said he was an “exemplary defense secretary.”

Obama said Hagel had deftly guided the military through a tough budgetary time and the drawdown in Afghanistan. Hagel, Obama said, also positioned the military to effectively deal with new threats like the one posed by the Islamic State.

As the first enlisted combat veteran to lead the Department of Defense, Obama said, Hagel “has been no ordinary secretary of defense.”

“He sees himself in [service members] and they see themselves in him,” Obama said.

Obama praised Hagel for always “giving it to me straight.”

“We come from different parties,” Obama said. “In accepting this position, you sent a powerful message … that when it comes to national security, we are all Americans.”

Hagel talked briefly. He thanked Obama and the military and redoubled his support for the president. He said serving as defense secretary was the “greatest privilege of my life.”

“I will continue to support you, Mr. President, and the men and women who defend this country every day so unselfishly,” Hagel said.

Update at 10:23 a.m. ET. A Surprise:

“Hagel was not seen as a very forceful secretary of defense,” NPR’s Tom Bowman tellsMorning Edition. “We’re told that in Cabinet meetings he really didn’t say that much, but again this does come as a surprise that he’s leaving this early.”

Tom says Hagel disagreed with the White House because he wanted to take a harder line against the regime of Bashar Assad in Syria. But the White House was resistant to that kind of strategy.

Tom says there had been whispers that Hagel may not stay through the remainder of Obama’s second term, but this sudden announcement comes as a surprise.

–Eyder Peralta, NPR

anonymous asked:

body swap between Nico and Percy, and they try to hide it from the rest

((This is a PG-13 rating, and probably one of the most inappropriate things I will post on this blog))

There was a long period in Nico’s life when he really wanted to get into Percy Jackson’s pants. He never thought it would happen like this.

“Oh, and by the way,” Piper told them, “you can’t tell anyone or something might happen.” She quickly took off running.

“This prank war is getting out of hand.” Percy rubbed his – Nico? – head. The two had found themselves in a body switch situation. Nico bet that Piper paid off the Hecate cabin to do this.

It was weird to watch himself, and to look down and be a totally different person. “So now, I guess we just pretend to be each other?” Nico said.

“Um… how long do you think this is gonna last?” Percy asked.

“No idea, why?”

“I’ve got a date tonight.”

Keep reading

youtube

Meryl Streep gives a beautiful speech outlining what Hillary did as Secretary of State to save women’s lives around the world.

These are accomplishments Hillary never gets credit for.

I hope Meryl gives this speech for Hillary again and again and again!!

Two years ago when Tina Brown and Diane von Furstenberg first envisioned this conference, they asked me to do a play, a reading, called – the name of the play was called Seven. It was taken from transcripts, real testimony from real women activists around the world. I was the Irish one, and I had no idea that the real women would be sitting in the audience while we portrayed them. So I was doing a pretty ghastly Belfast accent. I was just – I was imitating my friend Liam Neeson, really, and I sounded like a fellow. (Laughter). It was really bad.

So I was so mortified when Tina, at the end of the play, invited the real women to come up on stage and I found myself standing next to the great Inez McCormack. [Applause.] And I felt slight next to her, because I’m an actress and she is the real deal. She has put her life on the line. Six of those seven women were with us in the theater that night. The seventh, Mukhtaran Bibi, couldn’t come because she couldn’t get out of Pakistan. You probably remember who she is. She’s the young woman who went to court because she was gang-raped by men in her village as punishment for a perceived slight to their honor by her little brother. All but one of the 14 men accused were acquitted, but Mukhtaran won the small settlement. She won $8,200, which she then used to start schools in her village. More money poured in from international donations when the men were set free. And as a result of her trial, the then president of Pakistan, General Musharraf, went on TV and said, “If you want to be a millionaire, just get yourself raped.”

But that night in the theater two years ago, the other six brave women came up on the stage. Anabella De Leon of Guatemala pointed to Hillary Clinton, who was sitting right in the front row, and said, “I met her and my life changed.” And all weekend long, women from all over the world said the same thing:

“I’m alive because she came to my village, put her arm around me, and had a photograph taken together.”

“I’m alive because she went on our local TV and talked about my work, and now they’re afraid to kill me.”

“I’m alive because she came to my country and she talked to our leaders, because I heard her speak, because I read about her.”

I’m here today because of that, because of those stories. I didn’t know about this. I never knew any of it. And I think everybody should know. This hidden history Hillary has, the story of her parallel agenda, the shadow diplomacy unheralded, uncelebrated — careful, constant work on behalf of women and girls that she has always conducted alongside everything else a First Lady, a Senator, and now Secretary of State is obliged to do.

And it deserves to be amplified. This willingness to take it, to lead a revolution – and revelation, beginning in Beijing in 1995, when she first raised her voice to say the words you’ve heard many times throughout this conference: “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights.”

When Hillary Clinton stood up in Beijing to speak that truth, her hosts were not the only ones who didn’t necessarily want to hear it. Some of her husband’s advisors also were nervous about the speech, fearful of upsetting relations with China. But she faced down the opposition at home and abroad, and her words continue to hearten women around the world and have reverberated down the decades.

She’s just been busy working, doing it, making those words “Women’s Rights are Human Rights” into something every leader in every country now knows is a linchpin of American policy. It’s just so much more than a rhetorical triumph. We’re talking about what happened in the real world, the institutional change that was a result of that stand she took.

Now we know that the higher the education and the involvement of women in a culture and economy, the more secure the nation. It’s a metric we use throughout our foreign policy, and in fact, it’s at the core of our development policy. It is a big, important shift in thinking. Horrifying practices like female genital cutting were not at the top of the agenda because they were part of the culture and we didn’t want to be accused of imposing our own cultural values.

But what Hillary Clinton has said over and over again is, “A crime is a crime, and criminal behavior cannot be tolerated.” 

Everywhere she goes, she meets with the head of state and she meets with the women leaders of grassroots organizations in each country. This goes automatically on her schedule. As you’ve seen, when she went to Burma – our first government trip there in 40 years. She met with its dictator and then she met with Aung San Suu Kyi, the woman he kept under detention for 15 years, the leader of Burma’s pro-democracy movement.

This isn’t just symbolism. It’s how you change the world. 

These are the words of Dr. Gao Yaojie of China: “I will never forget our first meeting. She said I reminded her of her mother. And she noticed my small bound feet. I didn’t need to explain too much, and she understood completely. I could tell how much she wanted to understand what I, an 80-something year old lady, went through in China – the Cultural Revolution, uncovering the largest tainted blood scandal in China, house arrest, forced family separation. I talked about it like nothing and I joked about it, but she understood me as a person, a mother, a doctor. She knew what I really went through.”

When Vera Stremkovskaya, a lawyer and human rights activist from Belarus met Hillary Clinton a few years ago, they took a photograph together. And she said to one of the Secretary’s colleagues, “I want that picture.” And the colleague said, “I will get you that picture as soon as possible.” And Stremkovskaya said, “I need that picture.” And the colleague said, “I promise you.” And Stremkovskaya said, “You don’t understand. That picture will be my bullet-proof vest.”

Never give up. Never, never, never, never, never give up. That is what Hillary Clinton embodies.

Hillary Rodham Clinton on what she did to save LGBTQ lives around the world as Secretary of State: 

“Gay rights are human rights.”

anonymous asked:

What about "if you like your plan you can keep it"? Or Jonathan Gruber's comments about the "stupidity of the American Voter"? Why should I pay into a pot that has to pay for other people? I'm all for charity but it should never be Government mandated. I could say the same thing about Social Security. It's a broken system that will never get fixed, we should reform it to include private accounts so you get out what you put in. At this rate by the time I retire I won't get social security.

Alright, so this is in reference to >THIS< post from a few days ago about healthcare in the United States.

So let’s start with the ‘if you like it, you can keep it’ thing that President Obama said. Everyone who criticized him for saying this is right, he shouldn’t have said it in the first place, instead he should have said ‘you can keep your healthcare if it fits the new standards we are putting forth for the bettering of our society.’ The reason some people cannot keep their plans is because are being scammed by the insurance companies. Look at your insurance plan as a building - there are certain regulations and codes it has to follow to be deemed fit, if it does not meet those requirements it has to be retrofitted and fixed, or destroyed… That is how the healthcare law is. It isn’t a bad thing, people should be glad their old, unfit scam of a plan is being changed.

Now, let’s talk about Gruber… I am not going to lie and say I know a lot about him because I don’t, but what has been causing an outrage lately is his statements that the healthcare law was ‘pitched’ in a way to pass the stupidity of the American voter. First of all, yes, laws have to be pitched to gain popularity, that is how it has always been. The pubic needs to be sold on an issue. And he is right - Most Americans are stupid as hell! Look at this midterms, we took the least productive and least popular congress in history, and reelected most of them, adding more of the same to the pot instead of electing people who give a damn about the future of this country. Most people don’t even show up to vote, or they vote for a candidate they know nothing about.

Next… You use public roads right? Public education? Emergency services? Medicare and Social Security? Guess what, that is the same thing as socialized/universal healthcare. The entire idea of a country is to build a strong, happy society. Those struggling get helped from those with extra and we all benefit from a better community… It isn’t charity, it is how nations work. If you don’t want your taxes to go towards bettering our country, then move to a place where they don’t give a rats ass about you and groups of people come by and raid villages every few weeks.

Lastly, Social Security is not broken completely, it is like a building after a storm, it is damaged and weathered, but it is not necessarily destroyed. The system can be upgraded and fixed but it is still a good system. It can be sustained at the current rate until 2037 and the more we upgrade, the longer it will last.

Look, I am the first person to say President Obama’s healthcare law falls short of what is needed. Even under the Affordable Care Act, I am without insurance and unable to go to a doctor, but right now, it is the best stepping stone we have. Universal healthcare is law in every other developed country and if people would stop listening to Republicans’ bullshit scaremongering and actually do some research, they would know there is no such thing as death panels and all that hyped up BS they were threatening Americans with.

It seems to me like you are one of those people who likes to throw a $1 bill at a homeless person every few months to feel like a good person, but doesn’t want to admit that you benefit from a cleaner, happier, healthier, educated, and more stable society which is exactly what America needs to be. You pay into roads that you will never drive on, why? Because somewhere down the line, a truck driver uses those roads to get your food and other items from the factory to your store. You pay for schools even if you do not have a child, why? Because when our youth are in school learning, they have a better future and can advance our country as a whole, not to mention it keeps them off the streets and out of trouble. You pay for the fire department even if you don’t need them now, why? Because they put out the fire at the electrical plant which supplies electricity to the city where you work.

‘We’re all in this together’ is a much better policy that 'you’re on your own.’