- Created on 22 October 2012
(CNN) -- President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney meet Monday night in the last of their three debates, this one focused on foreign policy.
Unlike last week's contentious town hall-style debate in which the candidates ambled around the stage and parried with each other, Obama and Romney will be seated at a table with moderator Bob Schieffer, who told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram what he hopes comes out of the debate:
"People are watching to judge character. I don't think it matters what the questions are about -- what matters is how candidates answer. Do they seem in control? ... I'm just there to help the viewers get a better understanding of who these people are."
Here are five things to watch tonight:
1. How much does Romney know about Libya?
Romney will undoubtedly raise a lot questions about Obama's handling of the terror attack in Libya, but there's a good chance he already has some answers.
Don't forget: Romney has been receiving briefings from the U.S. intelligence community since September 17, as is customary for a presidential challenger in the final stages of a campaign.
His first briefing came a week after the breach of the Benghazi mission left four Americans dead. His second briefing took place at the CIA, on September 27.
Was Romney briefed on the Benghazi attack? Did he specifically request a briefing about Libya? And crucially, has Romney seen any intelligence suggesting a different version of events than the one outlined by the president?
Citing the sensitivity of such things, the Romney campaign declined to comment.
"We don't discuss his intelligence briefings, sorry," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in an e-mail.
It's a safe bet Romney won't discuss them tonight either.
So it's impossible to know whether Romney's understanding of the Libya attack squares with what White House officials have said publicly in the wake of the incident.
But with pre-debate chatter focusing on Romney's relative lack of knowledge in the foreign policy arena, it's worth remembering that Romney is actually more informed on these issues than he lets on.
2. Drones put Obama at odds with his liberal base
Obama was described in a recent Frontline documentary as "the first Nobel Peace Prize winner with a kill list."
Hawkish Republicans warned in 2008 that the man who built his campaign on ending the war in Iraq, closing the prison camp at Guantanamo Bay and strengthening civil liberties in the face of Bush-era surveillance procedures would usher in a new era of American weakness abroad.
Instead, the president has fiercely pursued al Qaeda terrorists abroad, with the killing of Osama bin Laden gleaming as the crown jewel of his national security resume.
The administration's emphasis on CIA-operated predator drone attacks against terrorists in Pakistan has aggravated liberals who say the strikes cause civilian casualties and are carried out under a dubious legal framework. Obama has authorized six times more than the number green-lighted by George W. Bush, according to author and CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen.
The administration has been reluctant to discuss drone strikes, but top intelligence officials have defended the actions as legal, meticulously plotted and designed to avoid innocent casualties.
Voters probably won't go to the polls with visions of unmanned aircraft hovering above the Pakistan wilderness in their heads, but like Obama's embrace of natural gas drilling in the previous debate, it's a reminder that the president has strayed from the liberal base that helped elect him in the first place.
How he handles questions about the secret air war against al Qaeda -- if those questions arise -- are sure to be carefully scrutinized by Democratic activists he needs to turn out on Election Day.
3. The other stuff
Conventional wisdom suggests that a debate about foreign policy would work in Obama's favor.
He is, after all, the guy who got bin Laden. And for most of the year, polls have shown Obama leading Romney on the question of which candidate is more trusted on foreign policy and national security matters.
Indeed, the image of Obama turning to Romney and scolding him for trying to politicize the Benghazi attack stands out as one of the president's strongest moments from the last debate.
But as perceptions harden in the final two weeks of the campaign, it's clear the president would rather talk about women's issues and Romney's "sketchy" tax plan in an effort to recover some breathing room in Ohio, Virginia and a handful of other states where polls show the race tightening.
It won't be easy to bring up abortion or contraception on a night devoted to Chinese currency manipulation, troop drawdowns in Afghanistan and "red lines" for Israel and Iran -- but you can be sure the president will try.
Certainly the same dynamic holds true for Romney, who would probably rather talk about taxes, the federal debt and Obama's lack of a vision for a second term -- a new-ish argument from his campaign that appears to be getting some traction.
But there is some potential for Romney here. He has a longstanding friendship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Hi, Florida!) dating back to their days as young business consultants in Boston.
And his campaign clearly sees opportunity in the Libya situation. If Romney's internal polling didn't show the Libya mess chipping away at Obama's edge on the commander-in-chief question, he would have stopped talking about a long time ago.
Obama avoided answering a question about security failings at the Benghazi mission in the previous debate. He will almost certainly have to on Monday.
4. The art of the pivot
But even in a debate focusing on foreign policy, the two presidential candidates will find moments to try to swing the discussion to issue No. 1 with American voters -- the economy.
Obama and Romney are good at pivoting when answering debate questions. Last week, the president used a question from a college student concerned about finding a job in the work force when he graduates to tout the rescue of the domestic auto giants. And Romney pivoted a number of times to criticize Obama over his record in the White House these past four years.
We'll be looking to see how much both men master the pivot at Monday night's final face-off.
The rise of China came up at last week's town hall showdown, and both candidates quickly brought the conversation back to jobs.
"I think they will pivot to the economy when they can. The most obvious places to do that are China's holding of American debt and Washington's trade showdowns with Beijing," says CNN Chief Political Correspondent Candy Crowley, who moderated last week's debate.
The format will also allow both men to pivot.
There will be six 15-minute segments. Each segment will start with a question followed by two-minute answers from each candidate. Schieffer can then use the balance of time in each segment to continue discussion of the topic. That's a lot more time to continue the conversation than at last week's debate, giving Obama and Romney plenty of time to shift the conversation.
But while there will be easy pivots to the economy, "don't underestimate the pull of safety and security in the minds of American voters," added Crowley, host of CNN's "State of the Union."
"There is no issue closer to home and hearth than the safety and security of your family. That is the most basic question the federal government has to answer."
5. Will there be fireworks?
Last week's debate was extremely combative. It seemed at times that the two candidates came close to clashing physically.
But neither man will have the ability to move this time around, seated with moderator Schieffer at a small table. So will it be a more civil discussion at this final face-off?
"The combination of the candidates seated at a table very close together and the extended discussion phase will really enable an opportunity for the candidates to have a deep discussion on the six topics, and we think it will be a great opportunity for exchange between the candidates," said Peter Eyre, a senior adviser to the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Translation: Things could get testy but don't count on the kind of clashes we saw last week.
There was plenty of heated rhetoric at the vice presidential debate, where Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, Romney's running mate, also sat around a table.
"You saw some flashes from Ryan, but really the fireworks were from the vice president. That's Biden being Biden. But Obama's not Biden," Crowley said.
And the subject matter may also temper the discussion a bit.
"I don't think it will be as frequently combative as the last debate because what people want from their commander in chief is clear-eyed determination," Crowley added. "The subject matter along with the optics of sitting around a table in a kind of chummier situation lends itself to fewer fireworks than we saw at previous debate."
- Created on 15 October 2012
So you found a lump — now what? Though all breast lumps need to be evaluated by a trained medical professional, the majority turn out to be noncancerous, especially in younger women.
First, don't panic...
80 to 85 percent of breast lumps are benign, meaning they are noncancerous, especially in women younger than age 40. Not only that, but if you're at an age where you've been having regular mammograms, and if those mammograms have been negative, odds are even better that your palpable (capable of being felt) lump is not cancer.
But how do you know? How do you differentiate between a lump that is breast cancer and one that is benign? What causes benign breast lumps? And do they go away on their own?
Breast Lumps Distinctions
Your breasts are made up of fat, nerves, blood vessels, fibrous connective tissue, and glandular tissue, as well as an intricate milk-producing system of lobules (where the milk is made) and ducts (the thin tubes that carry milk to the nipple). This anatomy in and of itself creates a lumpy, uneven terrain.
A breast lump, however, distinguishes itself from this background of "normal" irregularities: A breast lump can be solid and unmovable like a dried bean, or soft and fluid-filled, rolling between your fingers like a grape. It can be smaller than a pea or several inches across, although this larger size is rare.
Meanwhile, what typically differentiates a benign breast lump from a cancerous breast lump is movement. A fluid-filled lump that rolls between the fingers is less likely to be cancer than a lump that is hard and rooted to the breast.
This is not to say all benign lumps move and all cancerous lumps don't. While this is a good rule of thumb, the only way to know for sure is through the wisdom of your doctor and specialized medical tests, such as an ultrasound, a mammogram, or a fine needle aspiration, in which your doctor uses a tiny needle to extract a bit of the lump for a biopsy, or laboratory examination.
Another rule of thumb has to do with pain. Breast cancer does not usually present pain, but benign conditions often do, although there are exceptions to this as well.
Not all benign breast lumps will require additional testing, by the way. If you find what appears to be a fluid-filled cyst during your menstrual period, your doctor may want to check your breast again at the end of your period to see if the cyst has disappeared. If the cyst goes away, you and your doctor will know your lump was indeed benign and related to the hormonal fluctuations associated with menstruation.
A Variety of Benign Breast Lumps and Conditions
Most benign breast lumps and conditions are directly related to your menstrual cycle — to fluctuations in your hormones and to the fluid buildup that comes with your monthly period. Other benign breast lumps and conditions may be related to plugged milk ducts, infections, and even breast injuries. Here are some of the most common benign breast conditions:
* Fibrocystic changes. A general lumpiness that can be described as "ropy" or "granular," these lumps are the most commonly seen benign breast condition, affecting at least half of all women. Symptoms of fibrocystic change include tender, fibrous, rubbery tissue; a thickening of tissue; or a round, fluid-filled cyst. These changes, related to hormone fluctuation, may increase as you approach middle age and then disappear with menopause. Sometimes, your doctor will recommend limiting salt and caffeine in your diet to ease fluid buildup. You may also be prescribed hormones, in the form of birth control pills, to help ease particularly troublesome symptoms. Your doctor may also recommend a needle or surgical biopsy to make sure your breast condition is related to fibrocystic change and not cancer.
* Cysts. Related to fibrocsystic changes, these are round or oval sacs, measuring one inch to two inches across. They are tender to the touch and filled with fluid. They may come and go with your menstrual period, becoming larger and more tender at the beginning of your period and disappearing at the end. Your doctor may order an ultrasound or a fine needle aspiration to make sure it's a cyst and not something else. In very rare cases, when a cyst is particularly large or painful, your doctor may use a needle to withdraw and reduce the fluid inside it. Cysts generally affect women between the ages of 35 and 50.
* Fibroadenoma. Occurring in young girls and women in their teens and 20s, fibroadenomas are more common in those who use use birth control pills before age 20. This benign tumor ranges in size from microscopic to several inches across. It is movable under the skin, round and hard like a marble, and may be diagnosed by aspiration or removal of the lump. If the fibroadenoma shrinks or doesn't grow over time, and your doctor is sure of the diagnosis, he or she may decide to simply leave it alone.
* Fat necrosis. This occurs when fatty breast tissue is damaged by injury to the breast, resulting in the formation of round, firm lumps. It is more common in women with large breasts, particularly in women who are obese. Your doctor will most likely watch the lump through several menstrual cycles and may decide to remove it surgically. Sometimes the necrosis will produce what is called an oily cyst, which your doctor will drain with a needle.
* Nipple discharge. Sometimes women experience nipple discharge with or without a breast lump. The color of nipple discharge related to benign fibrocystic changes can vary from yellow to green. A clear to milky discharge may mean a hormonal malfunction. Green-black discharge could be related to duct ectasia, a narrowing or blockage of the duct. It can even be bloody in appearance, which can, in fact, mean cancer. More than likely though, a red discharge means injury, infection, or a benign tumor. Your doctor may study the fluid under a microscope to determine its origin, particularly if there is also a mass or lump in your breast.
* Mastitis. An infection of the milk duct, this can create a lumpy, red, and warm breast, accompanied by fever. It occurs most commonly in women who are breastfeeding, but can occur in non-breastfeeding women as well. Treatment involves warm compresses and antibiotics.
* Other less commonly known conditions. Some medical conditions can also cause breast lumps, including hyperplasia, an overgrowth of cells in the breast ducts or lobules; adenosis, which causes enlarged lobules; intraductal papilloma, a wart-like growth of gland tissue that grows in the duct; and lipoma, which is a benign fatty tumor.
The risk for benign breast conditions increases for women who have never had children and those who have a history of irregular menstrual cycles and/or a family history of breast cancer.
If You Find a Breast Lump
All breast lumps should be evaluated by a medical professional, who will help you decide how to proceed. Most benign breast conditions are treatable, and some will even go away on their own, but it's best to let your doctor be the one to tell you that.
- Created on 08 October 2012
- Created on 09 October 2012
A Sunday fundraiser in Chicago with Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) prominently featured a sign banning audio and video recording, according to the Chicago Sun-Times' Lynn Sweet.
That warning was given despite the fact that the event was being covered by the press. According to the Chicago Tribune, Ryan's remarks were routine. "The economy is growing slower this year than it grew last year and last year it grew slower than the year before. So since the president cannot run on his record, he has to tear down Mitt Romney," Ryan said.
Romney's campaign was hurt last month after the leak of a secretly recorded video of remarks he made at a May fundraiser that was closed to the press. The video showed him saying that 47 percent of Americans were "dependent on government," saw themselves as "victims" and would support President Barack Obama no matter what.
Tickets prices ranged between $2,500 and $75,800 for the Ryan fundraiser on Sunday, held at the Hyatt Regency at O'Hare Airport. He raised $2.5 million, according to the Sun-Times.
- Created on 06 October 2012
The U.S. Census Bureau's new poverty data for the states show millions of families struggling mightily to keep their heads above water in the wake of the Great Recession. Fourteen states saw statistically significant increases in their child poverty rates, 26 states saw small increases, and nine states and the District of Columbia saw small declines in child poverty rates last year. But the morally scandalous bottom line is clear: 16.1 million children are poor in our rich nation with more than seven million living in extreme poverty, too often scared, hungry, and homeless.
Although there are more poor White than Black or Hispanic children, Black and Hispanic children suffer most. In 25 states and the District of Columbia, at least 40 percent of Black children were poor; in four states, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, and Ohio, 50 percent or more of Black children were poor. Thirty-three percent or more of Hispanic children were poor in 32 states.
In 2011, more than one in five children were poor in over half the states and the District of Columbia. In half of these states more than one in four children were poor. Children are the poorest age group in America, and the younger they are the poorer they are. More than one in four children under six were poor in 21 states and the District of Columbia during their years of greatest brain development. In 30 states and the District of Columbia, 10 percent or more of infants, toddlers, and kindergarteners lived in extreme poverty which means an annual family income of less than $11,511 for a family of four.
The 13 states and the nation's capital with child poverty rates 25 percent or higher are:
New Mexico 30.7
District of Columbia 30.3
South Carolina 27.8
West Virginia 25.8
North Carolina 25.6
These shameful child poverty levels call for urgent and persistent action. Citizens must demand that every political leader state what they will do now to invest in and protect vulnerable children from hunger, homelessness, and poor education and to prepare them to be competent future workers. It's way past time to eliminate epidemic child poverty and the child suffering, stress, homelessness, and miseducation it spawns.
A number of leading economists and researchers agree that investing in children today is the best way to prepare and create a strong America tomorrow. As Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke told participants at the Children's Defense Fund's national conference in July:
"Economically speaking, early childhood programs are a good investment with inflation-adjusted annual rates of return on the funds dedicated to these programs estimated to reach 10 percent or higher. Very few alternative investments can promise that kind of return. Notably, a portion of these economic returns accrues to the children themselves and their families, but studies show that the rest of society enjoys the majority of the benefits, reflecting the many contributions that skills and productive workers make to the economy."
Do most Americans really want our children to get poorer while the rich get richer and to allow our budget to be balanced on the backs of poor babies while millionaires and billionaires receive hundreds of billions in more huge tax cuts they do not need? If you do not, speak up and vote for a more just America for every child.