Statement by the President on Aung San Suu Kyi’s conviction and sentencing
The conviction and sentencing of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi today on charges related to an uninvited intrusion into her home violate universal principles of human rights, run counter to Burma’s commitments under the ASEAN charter, and demonstrate continued disregard for UN Security Council statements. I join the international community in calling for Aung San Suu Kyi’s immediate unconditional release.
Today’s unjust decision reminds us of the thousands of other political prisoners in Burma who, like Aung San Suu Kyi, have been denied their liberty because of their pursuit of a government that respects the will, rights, and aspirations of all Burmese citizens. They, too, should be freed. Suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. I call on the Burmese regime to heed the views of its own people and the international community and to work towards genuine national reconciliation.
I am also concerned by the sentencing of American citizen John Yettaw to seven years in prison, a punishment out of proportion with his actions.
STATEMENT FROM THE VICE PRESIDENT ON THE PASSING OF EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER
Jill and I are deeply saddened by the news of Eunice Kennedy Shriver’s passing. Eunice was one of those rare individuals whose energy and spirit were contagious. She inspired everyone around her to be better, to see beyond themselves, and to experience joy in life through service.
Not long after her brother John became President in 1961, Eunice convinced him and their siblings to reveal a closely guarded family secret: that their sister Rosemary had an intellectual disability. I will never forget the groundbreaking and personal story she wrote about Rosemary for The Saturday Evening Post, in which Eunice brought to light the hidden lives, and the amazing untapped potential, of people with intellectual disabilities.
But that was only the beginning. Starting in her own backyard in Maryland, she opened summer camps all over the country so that young people with intellectual disabilities could engage in sports, make friends, and demonstrate to themselves and others what they were capable of — if only given the chance. And in 1968, at the first Special Olympics World Summer Games in Chicago, what was to become a global movement was born. Today, thanks to Eunice and countless other dedicated individuals she inspired, Special Olympics serves over 3 million athletes with intellectual disabilities in every corner of the globe.
Even that was not enough for Eunice. Special Olympics — her creation — today provides not only sports opportunities for people with intellectual disabilities, but also supports families, provides health screenings and services, educates and engages youth around acceptance and tolerance, and leads a cutting-edge research agenda aimed at improving the well-being of this population.
And yet that is only part of the extraordinary legacy Eunice leaves us. There is also her marriage of 56 years to Sarge — the love of her life and her life’s partner in their work to engage young people in service. That work spread across the globe, but it started in the Shriver home. Eunice and Sarge infused a deep commitment to service in their children — Bobby, Maria, Tim, Mark, and Anthony — each of whom continues her fight to give voice and power to the poor, disenfranchised, and forgotten segments of society around the world.
Our hearts are heavy but full of gratitude for these lasting gifts. Our thoughts and prayers are with her children, their father, and the entire Shriver and Kennedy families.
STATEMENT FROM THE PRESIDENT ON THE PASSING OF EUNICE KENNEDY SHRIVER
Michelle and I were deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver. Eunice was many things to many people: a mother who inspired her children to serve others; a wife who supported her husband Sargent in the Peace Corps and in politics; and a sister to her siblings, including brothers John, Robert, and Edward. But above all, she will be remembered as the founder of the Special Olympics, as a champion for people with intellectual disabilities, and as an extraordinary woman who, as much as anyone, taught our nation – and our world – that no physical or mental barrier can restrain the power of the human spirit. Her leadership greatly enriched the lives of Special Olympians throughout the world, who have experienced the pride and joy of competition and achievement thanks to her vision. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sargent; their children Robert, Maria, Timothy, Mark, and Anthony; and the entire Kennedy family.
Breaking News: Michael Jackson Toxicology Results In! Los Angeles Police Department Puts Temporary Lid On Coroner Findings Pending Further Investigation!
The Los Angeles Coroner’s Office have completed its investigation into how and why Michael Jackson went into a sudden cardiac arrest and subsequently died on June 25. But those findings have been sealed until homicide detectives wrap up their own investigation into the death of Michael Jackson. Sources close to the case say that homicide detectives are still interviewing a number of doctors and persons of interest that Jackson allegedly kept inside his private circle.
Sources within the Jackson compound claim that the family have hired an independent investigator to track down leads concerning several events that took place the night before and the day of Michael Jackson’s death. Jackson biographer Ian Halperin alleges that on June 24th, the night before he died, Michael “got into a shouting match about finances. That was when Michael said he was calling off the tour. He (Michael) said some advisers didn’t care about his welfare. He demanded an aide call his father. He said his father was the only person who could clean up this mess.”
Halperin says that Michael allegedly “begged to see his father but was told that they couldn’t get hold of him. If Joe Jackson had seen him that night, I believe Michael would still be alive.”
Well, that account parallels Joe Jackson’s interview on Larry King. Jackson told Larry King that he tried on various ocassions to get in touch with his son and he couldn’t. Joe Jackson said that he was even turned away at the gate fo Michael’s residence. There is so much more to the Michael Jackson story than we all know and the coroner’s report is not the icing on the cake, yet just one more puzzle piece waiting to be complete the whole picture.
Liza Minnelli said on the day of Michael’s death that the toxicology report would be an eye-opener into the life that he lived behind closed doors. She alluded to the fact that we would never look at him the same after hearing the results. She was right. However, if Michael Jackson was the tormented, lonely musical icon that he was and sought relief from the constant pain he was in through prescription drugs and became an addict as millions of Americans find themselves each year, then his story belongs to ALL of us.
Joe Jackson may be many things, but in his grief, truth rings out crystal clear. Something foul happened on June 25, 2009.
Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Saturday, August 8th, 2009
On Friday, we received better news than we expected about the state of our economy. We learned that we lost 247,000 jobs in July – some 200,000 fewer jobs lost than in June, and far fewer than the nearly 700,000 a month we were losing at the beginning of the year. Of course, this is little comfort to anyone who saw their job disappear in July, and to the millions of Americans who are looking for work. And I will not rest until anyone who’s looking for work can find a job.
Still, this month’s jobs numbers are a sign that we’ve begun to put the brakes on this recession and that the worst may be behind us. But we must do more than rescue our economy from this immediate crisis; we must rebuild it stronger than before. We must lay a new foundation for future growth and prosperity, and a key pillar of a new foundation is health insurance reform – reform that we are now closer to achieving than ever before.
There are still details to be hammered out. There are still differences to be reconciled. But we are moving toward a broad consensus on reform. Four committees in Congress have produced legislation – an unprecedented level of agreement on a difficult and complex challenge. In addition to the ongoing work in Congress, providers have agreed to bring down costs. Drug companies have agreed to make prescription drugs more affordable for seniors. The AARP supports reform because of the better care it will offer seniors. And the American Nurses Association and the American Medical Association, which represent the millions of nurses and doctors who know our health care system best, all support reform, as well.
As we draw close to finalizing – and passing – real health insurance reform, the defenders of the status quo and political point-scorers in Washington are growing fiercer in their opposition. In recent days and weeks, some have been using misleading information to defeat what they know is the best chance of reform we have ever had. That is why it is important, especially now, as Senators and Representatives head home and meet with their constituents, for you, the American people, to have all the facts.
So, let me explain what reform will mean for you. And let me start by dispelling the outlandish rumors that reform will promote euthanasia, cut Medicaid, or bring about a government takeover of health care. That’s simply not true. This isn’t about putting government in charge of your health insurance; it’s about putting you in charge of your health insurance. Under the reforms we seek, if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.
And while reform is obviously essential for the 46 million Americans who don’t have health insurance, it will also provide more stability and security to the hundreds of millions who do. Right now, we have a system that works well for the insurance industry, but that doesn’t always work well for you. What we need, and what we will have when we pass health insurance reform, are consumer protections to make sure that those who have insurance are treated fairly and that insurance companies are held accountable.
We will require insurance companies to cover routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms, colonoscopies, or eye and foot exams for diabetics, so we can avoid chronic illnesses that cost too many lives and too much money.
We will stop insurance companies from denying coverage because of a person’s medical history. I will never forget watching my own mother, as she fought cancer in her final days, worrying about whether her insurer would claim her illness was a preexisting condition. I have met so many Americans who worry about the same thing. That’s why, under these reforms, insurance companies will no longer be able to deny coverage because of a previous illness or injury. And insurance companies will no longer be allowed to drop or water down coverage for someone who has become seriously ill. Your health insurance ought to be there for you when it counts – and reform will make sure it is.
With reform, insurance companies will also have to limit how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses. And we will stop insurance companies from placing arbitrary caps on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime because no one in America should go broke because of illness.
In the end, the debate about health insurance reform boils down to a choice between two approaches. The first is almost guaranteed to double health costs over the next decade, make millions more Americans uninsured, leave those with insurance vulnerable to arbitrary denials of coverage, and bankrupt state and federal governments. That’s the status quo. That’s the health care system we have right now.
So, we can either continue this approach, or we can choose another one – one that will protect people against unfair insurance practices; provide quality, affordable insurance to every American; and bring down rising costs that are swamping families, businesses, and our budgets. That’s the health care system we can bring about with reform.
There are those who are focused on the so-called politics of health care; who are trying to exploit differences or concerns for political gain. That’s to be expected. That’s Washington. But let’s never forget that this isn’t about politics. This is about people’s lives. This is about people’s businesses. This is about America’s future. That’s what is at stake. That’s why health insurance reform is so important. And that’s why we must get this done – and why we will get this done – by the end of this year.
North American Leaders’ Declaration on H1N1
Building on the strong record of our trilateral cooperation during the spring of this year, we will remain vigilant and pledge to continue our close collaboration in addressing the H1N1 pandemic. We agree to work together to ensure that we have effective strategies, grounded in the best available science.
Our governments have worked closely together since the very beginning of this outbreak to protect the health of our citizens. During the onset of the H1N1 outbreak, we worked to implement science and evidence-based measures in our countries and on our borders. These measures were geared to provide an appropriate public health response. Movement across our shared borders is essential to the economic health of our countries. We recognize that highly restrictive measures such as general border closures would be unlikely to prevent the spread of this virus and could aggravate the economic and social consequences of an influenza pandemic.
We continue to study the severity and progression of the virus both here and in other parts of the world to help inform future public health decisions, including the use of vaccine, antiviral, and non-pharmaceutical interventions. Through regular communications; exchange of scientific knowledge, expert personnel, and clinical data; and shared access to laboratory facilities, we have been working to promote the health of the people of our three nations.
In anticipation of a possible fall wave of flu due to the 2009 H1N1 virus, we will look to enhance our exchange of information, ensure common understanding on the effectiveness of public health measures, and share expertise through technical assistance and capacity building. We will continue to do everything we can to ensure that our people have timely and accurate information, and that our citizens are as prepared as they can be. In this regard, we will focus our attention on mitigating the effects of the outbreak in our communities. We encourage all families in North America to learn more about the simple steps they can take to prevent the spread of the flu, including frequent hand washing with soap and water, coughing into your sleeve, and staying home when sick to help prevent illness and the spread of the virus to others.
We know that cooperation and communication between nations, governments, citizens, and domestic and international organizations are the most effective ways to ensure that we are all protected. The strong collaboration between our countries allowed us to have a more secure North America region. We are proud that our countries have collaborated so effectively to this point, and we are firmly committed to continuing to work together in the months ahead. We will continue to work collaboratively with the World Health Organization and the Pan American Health Organization and support their leadership in facilitating international and regional collaboration in addressing this global issue.
JOINT STATEMENT BY NORTH AMERICAN LEADERS
Guadalajara, August 2009
We, the leaders of North America, have come together in Guadalajara to promote the global competitiveness of our region, foster the well-being of our citizens, and make our countries more secure. We build our collaboration on the understanding that our deepening ties are a source of strength and that challenges and opportunities in one North American country can and do affect us all. North American cooperation is rooted in shared values, complementary strengths, and the dynamism of our peoples. We are confident that working together we can help our societies thrive in the challenging, competitive, and promising century ahead.
North America’s coordinated response to the initial outbreak of the H1N1 flu virus has proven to be a global example of cooperation. We set an example of a joint, responsible, and transparent response, enabling other regions to react quickly to protect their populations. Through planning and foresight, we were quickly able to put effective health measures in place. We will remain vigilant and commit ourselves to continued and deepened cooperation. We will work together to learn from recent experiences and prepare North America for the upcoming influenza season, including building up our public health capacities and facilitating efficient information sharing among our countries.
Promoting recovery from the current global economic crisis is a priority for each of us. By working together, we will accelerate recovery and job creation, and build a strong base for long-term prosperity. We look forward to the coming G20 Summit in Pittsburgh and will join efforts to ensure that the G20 continues to advance effective global responses to the crisis, including working to strengthen international financial institutions that are vital to assisting countries to restore economic vibrancy. The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) plays a crucial role in mitigating the effects of the crisis in the Americas, particularly for the most vulnerable citizens of our Hemisphere. We support an accelerated review of the IDB to ensure it has sufficient short-term lending capacity.
Our integrated economies are an engine of growth. We are investing in border infrastructure, including advanced technology, to create truly modern borders to facilitate trade and the smooth operation of supply chains, while protecting our security. Building on these investments, we will work together to strengthen the resilience of our critical infrastructure, which transcends borders and sustains the well-being of our communities and economies. We will cooperate in the protection of intellectual property rights to facilitate the development of innovative economies. We commend the progress achieved on reducing unnecessary regulatory differences and have instructed our respective Ministers to continue this work by building on the previous efforts, developing focused priorities and a specific timeline.
North American trade is a vital component of our economic well-being and we pledge to abide by our international responsibilities and avoid protectionist measures. We reiterate our commitment to reinvigorate our trading relationship and to ensure that the benefits of our economic relationship are widely shared and sustainable. We will seek to promote respect for labour rights and protection of the environment with a continuing dialogue to address the functioning of the Labor and Environmental side agreements. This dialogue must result in mutually agreeable and cooperative activities with the aim to enhance the well-being and prosperity of our citizens and the economic recovery of our countries.
We recognize climate change as one of the most daunting and pressing challenges of our time and a solution requires ambitious and coordinated efforts by all nations. Building on our respective national efforts, we will show leadership by working swiftly and responsibly to combat climate change as a region and to achieve a successful outcome at the 15th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. We also recognize that the competitiveness of our region and our sustainable growth requires a greater reliance on clean energy technologies and secure and reliable energy supplies across North America. Today, in agreeing to the “North American Leaders’ Declaration on Climate Change and Clean Energy”, we reaffirm our political commitment to work collaboratively to combat climate change.
Transnational criminal networks threaten all three of our countries. To dismantle them and to make our populations more secure, we will continue to deepen cooperation built upon the principles of shared responsibility, the strengthening of national institutions, and respect for our respective national legal frameworks. Canada and the United States recognize the commitment and the sacrifices of the Mexican people and Government as they confront the cartels threatening society, and we pledge to them our continued support. Our three governments recognize that we cannot limit our efforts to North America alone, and we have agreed to instruct our respective Ministers to strive for greater cooperation and coordination as we work to promote security and institutional development with our neighbors in Central America and the Caribbean.
We are deeply committed to helping strengthen democratic institutions and the rule of law throughout the Americas. We support a leading role for the Organization of American States (OAS) as we work together to strengthen implementation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. We have thoroughly discussed the coup in Honduras and reaffirm our support for the San José Accord and the ongoing OAS effort to seek a peaceful resolution of the political crisis – a resolution which restores democratic governance and the rule of law and respects the rights of all Hondurans.
We recognize and embrace citizen participation as an integral part of our work together in North America. We welcome the contributions of businesses, both large and small, and those of civil society groups, non-governmental organizations, academics, experts, and others. We have asked our Ministers to engage in such consultations as they work to realize the goals we have set for ourselves here in Guadalajara.
President Calderón and President Obama welcome Prime Minister Harper’s offer to host the next North American Leaders´ Summit in 2010. We will continue to work through this North American Leaders’ Summit process, in an inclusive and transparent manner, for the common benefit of the people of Mexico, Canada, and the United States.