Daily Archives: September 29, 2008

McCain, Obama: We are running out of time

by Momar Visaya/AJPress
NEW YORK CITY — Presidential hopefuls John McCain and Barack Obama set aside politics Thursday and talked about pressing issues such as climate change, poverty, health and education at the Fourth Clinton Global Initiative Thursday, Sept. 25.

There was, however, one major problem that they united to discuss in greater detail: the country’s burgeoning financial crisis.

With an extreme sense of urgency, Sen, John McCain told attendees that America’s fi nancial woes are getting deeper and that time is running out.

“The times are too serious to put our campaign on hold, or to ignore the full range of issues that the next president will face. I do not believe that the plan on the table will pass as it currently stands, and obviously we are running out of time,” McCain said, adding that he was set to go to Washington to meet with President George W. Bush and congressional leaders.

McCain opened the plenary session for the initiative’s annual meeting. Initially, the plenary was supposed to tackle integrated solutions on the global problems of water, food and energy but the focus shifted a bit because of the current fi nancial crisis.

“The world is having various problems but here in America, we have a crisis of our own that began in the fi nancial center of this city, not too far away from where we are today,” McCain said.

Sen. Barack Obama closed the plenary with a speech he delivered via satellite. He echoed McCain’s call for the immediate fi nding of solutions to solve this deepening problem.

“You are meeting at a time of great turmoil for the American economy. We are now confronted with a fi nancial crisis as serious as any we have faced since the Great Depression. Action must be taken to restore confi dence in our economy,” Obama said.

“It’s outrageous that we fi nd ourselves in a position where taxpayers must bear the burden for the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street and Washington. But we also know that a failure to act would have grave consequences for the jobs, and savings, and retirement of the American people,” he added.

Obama also called for the creation of an independent and bipartisan board “to provide oversight and accountability for how and where this money is spent at every step of the way” and it was imperative for both the Republicans and Democrats to come up with bipartisan efforts.

“Now is the time to come together, Democrats and Republicans, in the spirit of cooperation on behalf of the American people,” he said..

Obama also pushed for the ordinary citizens, the taxpayers, whom he said need to be treated as investors. “Americans must not pay a single dime to reward the same Wall Street CEOs whose greed and irresponsibility got us into this mess,” he added.

Obama likewise outlined his four commitments should he win in November. He said, he would seek to end all malaria deaths by 2015 and promised to seek an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. He also hopes to increase foreign aid to cut extreme poverty in half worldwide by 2015 and to establish a $2-billion global education fund to erase primary education gap in the developing world.

“Our dependence on oil and gas funds terror and tyranny; it has forced families to pay their wages at the pump; and it puts the future of our planet in peril. This is a security threat, an economic albatross, and a moral challenge of our time. The time to debate whether climate change is manmade has past—it’s time, fi nally, for America to lead,” Obama said.

McCain, accompanied by his wife Cindy and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, thanked Clinton for inviting them to attend the meeting.

“This man’s drive, and determination, and compassion for those in need are still a force for good in the world, and I am proud to call him a friend,” McCain said.

Clinton said that he was grateful to both presidential candidates for finding time to address the initiative’s participants.

He shared that Sen. Obama contacted both him and his wife for advice on the current crisis, “He didn’t just call me and Hillary and ask us what we thought. He had a conference call with the primary members of my economic team and we talked about what a mess we are in,” he said.

According to Clinton, Obama added, “Just tell me what you think it ought to do and do not waste any breath talking about what is – or is not – politically salable. Let’s fi gure out what the right thing to do is and then we’ll fi gure out how to sell it.”

After two days of policy and politics, the Clinton Global Initiative wrapped up Friday.

CGI is now in its fourth year and draws world leaders, celebrities, activists and scholars for three days of discussions about pressing global problems. It coincides with the General Assembly meeting taking place on the other side of town at the United Nations.  (www.asianjournal.com)


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On high speed: Bullet train awaits its future

by Malou Liwanag-Aguilar/AJPress

The 220-mph train can take you from SF and LA—if voters approve it

The nearly 800-mile system of bullet trains that can whisk commuters between San Francisco and Los Angeles will still have to be decided by Californians on November 4 via Proposition 1A. This proposition will authorize the sale of $9.9 billion in state bonds to help pay and start the construction for a 465-mile high-speed rail line linking Anaheim, Los Angeles, Fresno and San Francisco.

Prop. 1A includes $9 billion for high-speed rail and $950 million for conventional commuter and intercity rail. For the main line between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the cost would be $32 billion, and an additional $10 billion would be needed to complete the network by adding extensions to San Diego, Sacramento and Riverside County.

This network would send the electrics zipping between Northern and Southern California in just about 2 ½ hours, according to the state High Speed Rail Authority in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. The cost would be about $55, one way.

The ups and downs

Although a number of transportation, environmental and business groups support Prop. 1A because the see the high-speed rail as a faster, greener, less costly and less-complicated way to travel up and down the state, taxpayer groups and the California Chamber of Commerce are against it.

Those who are opposed to the proposition say that the state’s poor economy and seemingly endless budget defi cits can discourage voters from agreeing to take on more debts. The total cost of repaying the bonds over 30 years would amount to $19.4 billion, requiring an annual repayment of $647 billion, according to the state legislative analyst. This, they say, is going to be a signifi cant drain on the state’s general fund.

However, supporters of the high-speed rail say that the system would reduce pollution and the number of people fl ying between the Bay Area and Southern California. With gas prices soaring and reducing greenhouse gases, the project might be able to convince voters to agree on Prop. 1A.

Taking the present to the future

The bullet train project has been on the drawing board for 14 years. In 1994, a commission was formed recommending the construction of a high-speed train system to link the state’s biggest cities.

In 1996, a passed legislation created the nine-member board California High-Speed Rail Authority to oversee the planning for the trains. The bond measure was approved by lawmakers in 2002, with a planned statewide vote in 2004 and later in 2006, but was postponed twice with the concern that California had other pressing infrastructure needs.

Resembling the letter “Y” with a long tail, the 800-mile system would have its initial line start in San Francisco, along the Caltrain right-of-way, with stops in Millbrae, Palo Alto, San Jose and Gilroy. It would travel across the Pacheco Pass to the San Joaquin Valley, with stops in Fresno and Bakersfi eld. The train then would continue to head to Palmdale, with stops in Sylmar and Burbank before reaching Los Angeles and possibly Anaheim and San Diego. There are plans for extensions to Irvine, to San Diego through Riverside County and Sacramento.

A high-speed rail is defined as passenger rail running at a top speed of 125 mph (200 kilometers per hour) or higher. Commuters in countries in Asia and Europe have been depending on high-speed rail systems Japan’s Tokaida Shinkansen is the world’s fi rst high-speed train, which offi cially opened in 1964. (With reports from AP)


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