First Lady Michelle Obama Announces White House Dance Series Beginning With Tribute To Judith Jamison
FIRST LADY MICHELLE OBAMA ANNOUNCES WHITE HOUSE DANCE SERIES BEGINNING WITH TRIBUTE TO JUDITH JAMISON
First Lady’s September 7th White House Event Will Celebrate Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater Artistic Director, Judith Jamison
On September 7th, First Lady Michelle Obama will invite world renowned dance companies to perform at the Administration’s first event celebrating dance. The White House Dance Series: A Tribute to Judith Jamison will honor Jamison for her outstanding career as an American dancer, choreographer, and Artistic Director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for the past 20 years. The event, featuring American dance from ballet, modern and contemporary dance, hip hop and Broadway will be held in the White House’s East Room at 5:00 PM and will be pooled press. The early evening event will feature performers from the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Billy from Billy Elliot the Musical, The Washington Ballet, Super Cr3w, and New York City Ballet. It will be directed by Damian Woetzel, former principal dancer at the New York City Ballet and member of the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities.
In continuing the Administration’s focus on supporting the arts and arts education, a dance workshop will be held in the White House East Room on September 7th at 3:00 PM. Dance companies will lead a segment of the workshop focusing on their genre. Students from the Alvin Ailey School, Ballet Hispanico, Cab Calloway School of the Arts (CCSA), Dance Theatre of Harlem, Interlochen Center for the Arts, The Washington School of Ballet, the National Dance Institute’s New York, Colorado and New Mexico affiliates, the Chicago Multicultural Dance Center and the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts will participate in this 90 minute workshop and then attend the early evening performance as guests. The start of this event will be open press. Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org, indicate if you have a White House Hard Pass or send your vitals by Friday, September 3rd at 10:00 AM.
Judith Jamison has been artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for two decades. One of the most renowned figures in modern dance, she was Mr. Ailey’s muse for whom he created the tour-de-force solo Cry and other enduring roles. As a highly regarded choreographer, Ms. Jamison has created works for many different companies. She is also an author, whose autobiography was edited by Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis. Ms. Jamison is the recipient of a primetime Emmy Award, the Kennedy Center Honors, and the National Medal of Arts, and she was named in TIME’s 2009 list of the world’s 100 most influential people.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
AT TOWN HALL WITH YOUNG AFRICAN LEADERS
2:07 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. Thank you. (Applause.) Thank you, everybody, please have a seat. Have a seat.
Well, good afternoon, everybody.
AUDIENCE: Good afternoon.
THE PRESIDENT: Welcome to the White House, and welcome to the United States of America. And that includes even our friends from Ghana, who beat us in the World Cup. (Laughter.) Where are you? Over there? That’s all right. It was close. We’ll see you in 2014. (Laughter.)
It’s my great privilege to welcome all of you to this Young African Leaders Forum. You’ve joined us from nearly 50 countries. You reflect the extraordinary history and diversity of the continent. You’ve already distinguished yourselves as leaders —- in civil society and development and business and faith communities —- and you’ve got an extraordinary future before you.
In fact, you represent the Africa that so often is overlooked — the great progress that many Africans have achieved and the unlimited potential that you’ve got going forward into the 21st century.
Now, I called this forum for a simple reason. As I said when I was in Accra last year, I don’t see Africa as a world apart; I see Africa as a fundamental part of our interconnected world. Whether it’s creating jobs in a global economy, or delivering education and health care, combating climate change, standing up to violent extremists who offer nothing but destruction, or promoting successful models of democracy and development —- for all this we have to have a strong, self-reliant and prosperous Africa. So the world needs your talents and your creativity. We need young Africans who are standing up and making things happen not only in their own countries but around the world.
And the United States wants to be your partner. So I’m pleased that you’ve already heard from Secretary of State Clinton, and that we’re joined today by leaders from across my administration who are working to deepen that partnership every day.
I can’t imagine a more fitting time for this gathering. This year, people in 17 nations across Sub-Saharan Africa are proudly celebrating 50 years of independence. And by any measure, 1960 was an extraordinary year. From Senegal to Gabon, from Madagascar to Nigeria, Africans rejoiced in the streets —- as foreign flags were lowered and their own were hoisted up. So in 12 remarkable months, nearly one-third of the continent achieved independence —- a burst of self-determination that came to be celebrated as “The Year of Africa” — at long last, these Africans were free to chart their own course and to shape their own destiny.
Now, 1960, of course, was significant for another reason. Here in the United States of America it was the year that a candidate for president first proposed an idea for young people in our own country to devote a year or two abroad in service to the world. And that candidate was John F. Kennedy, and that idea would become the Peace Corps — one of our great partnerships with the world, including with Africa.
Now, the great task of building a nation is never done. Here in America, more than two centuries since our independence, we’re still working to perfect our union. Across Africa today, there’s no denying the daily hardships that are faced by so many — the struggle to feed their children, to find work, to survive another day. And too often, that’s the Africa that the world sees.
But today, you represent a different vision, a vision of Africa on the move — an Africa that’s ending old conflicts, as in Liberia, where President Sirleaf told me, today’s children have “not known a gun and not had to run”; an Africa that’s modernizing and creating opportunities — agribusiness in Tanzania, prosperity in Botswana, political progress in Ghana and Guinea; an Africa that’s pursuing a broadband revolution that could transform the daily lives of future generations.
So it’s an Africa that can do great things, such as hosting the world’s largest sporting event. So we congratulate our South African friends. And while it may have been two European teams in the final match, it’s been pointed out that it was really Africa that won the World Cup.
So once again, Africa finds itself at a moment of extraordinary promise. And as I said last year, while today’s challenges may lack some of the drama of 20th century liberation struggles, they ultimately may be even more meaningful, for it will be up to you, young people full of talent and imagination, to build the Africa for the next 50 years.
Africa’s future belongs to entrepreneurs like the small business owner from Djibouti who began selling ice cream and now runs his own accounting practice and advises other entrepreneurs — that’s Miguil Hasan-Farah. Is Miguil here? There he is right there. Don’t be shy. There you go. (Applause.)
As you work to create jobs and opportunity, America will work with you, promoting the trade and investment on which growth depends. That’s why we’re proud to be hosting the AGOA Forum this week to expand trade between our countries. And today I’ll also be meeting with trade, commerce, and agriculture ministers from across Sub-Saharan Africa. It’s also why our historic Food Security Initiative isn’t simply about delivering food; it’s about sharing new technologies to increase African productivity and self-sufficiency.
Now, no one should have to pay a bribe to get a job or to get government to provide basic services. So as part of our development strategy, we’re emphasizing transparency, accountability, and a strong civil society — the kind of reform that can help unleash transformational change. So Africa’s future also belongs to those who take charge of that kind of transparency and are serious about anti-corruption measures.
Africa’s future belongs to those who take charge of their health, like the HIV/AIDS counselor from Malawi who helps others by bravely sharing her own experience of being HIV-positive — that’s Tamara Banda. Where is Tamara? There she is right there. Thank you, Tamara. (Applause.) So our Global Health Initiative is not merely treating diseases; it’s strengthening prevention and Africa’s public health systems. And I want to be very clear. We’ve continued to increase funds to fight HIV/AIDS to record levels, and we’ll continue to do what it takes to save lives and invest in healthier futures.
Africa’s future also belongs to societies that protects the rights of all its people, especially its women, like the journalist in Ivory Coast who has championed the rights of Muslim women and girls —- Aminata Kane-Kone. Where is Aminata? There she is right there. (Applause.) To you and to people across Africa, know that the United States of America will stand with you as you seek justice and progress and human rights and dignity of all people.
So the bottom line is this: Africa’s future belongs to its young people, including a woman who inspires young people across Botswana with her popular radio show, called, “The Real Enchilada” —- and that’s Tumie Ramsden. Where’s Tumie? Right here — “The Real Enchilada.” (Applause.)
As all of you go to — as all of you pursue your dreams —- as you go to school, you find a job, you make your voices heard, you mobilize people —- America wants to support your aspirations. So we’re going to keep helping empower African youth —- supporting education, increasing educational exchanges like the one that brought my father from Kenya in the days when Kenyans were throwing off colonial rule and reaching for a new future. And we’re helping to strengthen grassroots networks of young people who believe — as they’re saying in Kenya today -— “Yes, Youth Can!” “Yes, Youth Can!” (Laughter and applause.)
Now, this is a forum, so we’ve devoted some time where I can answer some questions. I don’t want to do all the talking. I want to hear from you about your goals and how we can partner more effectively to help you reach them. And we want this to be the beginning of a new partnership and create networks that will promote opportunities for years to come.
But I do want to leave you with this. You are the heirs of the independence generation that we celebrate this year. Because of their sacrifice, you were born in independent African states. And just as the achievements of the last 50 years inspire you, the work you do today will inspire future generations.
So — I understand, Tumie, you like to Tweet. (Laughter.) And she shared words that have motivated so many — this is what Tumie said: “If your actions inspire others to dream more, to learn more, to do more and become more, then you are a leader.”
So each of you are here today because you are a leader. You’ve inspired other young people in your home countries; you’ve inspired us here in the United States. The future is what you make it. And so if you keep dreaming and keep working and keep learning and don’t give up, then I’m confident that your countries and the entire continent and the entire world will be better for it.
So thank you very much, everybody. (Applause.)
All right, with that, I’m going to take questions. Now, here are the rules — (laughter.) People, everybody who has a question, they can raise their hand. In order to be fair, I’m going to call girl, boy, girl, boy. We’re going to alternate. And try to keep your question relatively short; I’ll try to keep my answer relatively short, so I can answer as many questions as possible, because we have a limited amount of time. Okay?
I’m going to start with this young lady, right here. And please introduce yourself and tell me where you’re from also
Q Okay. Thank you very much. I will express myself in French, if that is –
THE PRESIDENT: That’s fine. Somebody will translate for me? Yes? Go ahead. Just make sure that you stop after each sentence, because otherwise she will forget what you had to say.
Q Thank you very much. (Speaks in French and is translated.) Mr. President, hello. And hello, everybody. I’m Fatima Sungo (phonetic) of Mali. I do have a question for you and I look forward to getting your answer. But before I do so, I’d like to begin by telling you, Mr. President, how truly honored and privileged we feel to be with you today, and how privileged we are to express the voices of African youth, of African young leaders, and of course fully appreciate your recognizing us and giving us the opportunity to be here, and also recognizing our own responsibility to take your voice back home.
I’d like to say that I’m convinced this is an important watershed moment, this is the beginning of important change, the wonderful initiative you had to call us all here. I wonder when did you see that particular light? When did you imagine that bringing us here would be such a good idea? I’m wondering what your thought process was, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, one of the things that happens when you’re President is that other people have good ideas and then you take credit for them. (Laughter.) So I want to make sure that I don’t take credit for my ideas — for these ideas — because the truth is my staff works so hard in trying to find new ways that we can communicate not just to the heads of state, but also at the grassroots.
And the reason, I think, is because when you think about Africa, Africa is the youngest continent. Many of the countries that you represent, half of the people are under 30. And oftentimes if all you’re doing is talking to old people like me, then you’re not reaching the people who are going to be providing the energy, the new initiatives, the new ideas. And so we thought that it would be very important for us to have an opportunity to bring the next generation of leaders together.
That’s point number one. Point number two — and I’m going to be blunt occasionally during this forum, so I hope you don’t mind — sometimes the older leaders get into old habits, and those old habits are hard to break. And so part of what we wanted to do was to communicate directly to people who may not assume that the old ways of doing business are the ways that Africa has to do business.
So in some of your countries, freedom of the press is still restricted. There’s no reason why that has to be the case. There’s nothing inevitable about that. And young people are more prone to ask questions, why shouldn’t we have a free press? In some of your countries, the problem of corruption is chronic. And so people who have been doing business in your country for 20, 30 years, they’ll just throw up their hands and they’ll say, ah, that’s the way it is.
But Robert Kennedy had a wonderful saying, where he said, some people see things and ask why, and others see things that need changing and ask, why not. And so I think that your generation is poised to ask those questions, “Why not?” Why shouldn’t Africa be self-sustaining agriculturally? There’s enough arable land that if we restructure how agriculture and markets work in Africa, not only could most countries in Africa feed themselves, but they could export those crops to help feed the world. Why not?
New infrastructure — it used to be that you had to have telephone lines and very capital intensive in order to communicate. Now we have the Internet and broadband and cell phones, so you — the entire continent may be able to leapfrog some other places that were more highly developed and actually reach into the future of communications in ways that we can’t even imagine yet. Why not?
So that’s the purpose of this. I also want to make sure that all of you are having an opportunity to meet each other, because you can reinforce each other as you are struggling and fighting in your own countries for a better future. You will now have a network of people that help to reinforce what it is that you’re trying to do. And you know that sometimes change makes you feel lonely. Now you’ve got a group of people who can help reinforce what you’re doing.
Okay. It’s a gentleman’s turn. This is why there are leaders, everybody has something to say. But you don’t have to snap. No, no, no. It’s a guy’s turn — this gentleman right here.
Q Mr. President, my name is Bai Best (phonetic) from Liberia. The late Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller was the first black — the first black psychiatrist in America and probably in the world. In my country in Liberia, where there are a lot of great people who make landmark accomplishments both in their nation and in the world, many of them are not recognized for their accomplishments. Today, Dr. Fuller’s name is etched where there is a medical — there is a psychiatric center named in his honor at a place in Boston. There are many other young African and young Liberian talented people who have great ideas and who want to come back home and contribute to their countries, to the development of their peoples. But many times, their efforts — their patriotic efforts — are stifled by corrupt or sometimes jealous officials in government and in other sectors. It’s an age-old problem. Many times, they want to seek — that basically leads them to seek greener pastures and better appreciation abroad instead of coming back home. What are your thoughts on this?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, this is a problem that’s not unique to Africa. Given different stages of development around the world, one of the problems that poorer countries often have is that the best educated and the most talented have opportunities elsewhere. And so there’s what’s called the “brain drain” — people saying, I can make 10 times as much money if I’m a doctor in London as I can if I’m a doctor back home.
And so this is a historic problem. Here is the interesting moment that we’re in, though — if you look at where the greatest opportunities are, they’re actually now in emerging markets. There are countries in Africa that are growing 7, 8, 9 percent a year. So if you’re an entrepreneur now with an idea, you may be able to grow faster and achieve more back home that you could here.
Now, it entails greater risk, so it may be safer to emigrate. But it may be that you can actually achieve more, more quickly back home. And so the question is for young leaders like yourselves, where do you want to have the most impact? And you’re probably going to have more impact at home whether you’re a businessman or woman, or you are a doctor or you are an attorney, or you are an organizer. That’s probably going to be the place where you can make the biggest change.
Now, you’re absolutely right, though, that the conditions back home have to be right where you can achieve these things. So if you want to go back home and start a business, and it turns out that you have to pay too many bribes to just get the business started, at some point you may just give up.
And that’s why one of the things that we’re trying to do — working with my team — when we emphasize development, good governance is at the center of development. It’s not separate. Sometimes people think, well, that’s a political issue and then there’s an economic issue. No. If you have a situation where you can’t start a business or people don’t want to invest because there’s not a clear sense of rule of law, that is going to stifle development.
If farmers have so many middlemen to get their crops to market that they’re making pennies when ultimately their crops are being sold for $10, over time that stifles agricultural development in a country. So what we want to do is make sure that in our interactions with your governments, we are constantly emphasizing this issue of good governance because I have confidence that you’ll be able to figure out what changes need to be made in your country.
I’ve always said the destiny of Africa is going to be determined by Africans. It’s not going to be determined by me. It’s not going to be determined by people outside of the continent. It’s going to be determined by you. All we can do is make sure that your voices are heard and you’re able to rise up and take hold of these opportunities. If you do that, I think that there are going to be a lot of people who — even if they’re educated abroad — want to come home to make their mark.
All right. Let’s see, I’m going to call on this young lady right here.
Q (Speaks in Portuguese and is translated.) Good afternoon, everyone. And thank you, Mr. President, for this opportunity.
THE PRESIDENT: That sounds like Portuguese. (Laughter.)
Q It is, indeed, from Mozambique, sir.
THE PRESIDENT: Great.
Q Knowing, Mr. President, that, of course, America is a reference point for democracy in the world, and that you, sir, are, indeed a protagonist in that context today, I would love to hear from you, sir, what you would recommend to the young people in Africa and to civil society, in particular, in terms of following principles of nonviolence and good governance and democratic principles in our country. Because, of course, our reality is very often quite starkly different. There are 80 percent abstentionism often in elections, and elections that, indeed, lack transparency. And all too often lead, alas, to social conflict. Thank you.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me say, first of all, that if you are — just as I said that you can’t separate politics from economics, you can’t separate conflict from development. So the constant conflict, often ethnically-based conflict, that has taken place in Africa is a profound detriment to development and it’s self-reinforcing.
If you have conflict and violence, that scares off investors. That makes it more difficult for business people to create opportunities, which means that young people then don’t have work, which means that they are more prone to be recruited in violent conflicts. And you can get a vicious cycle.
So I am a profound believer in not looking at violence as a solution to problems. And I think the moral and ethical power that comes with nonviolence when properly mobilized is profound.
Number two, I think the most important thing that maybe young people here can do is to promote the values of openness, transparency, honest debate, civil disagreements within your own groups and your own organizations, because that forms good habits. If you are part of an organization — and I’m going to speak to the men here, in particular — if you are part of an organization where you profess democracy but women don’t have an equal voice in your organization, then you’re a hypocrite, right? And that is something that — (applause.) And that is something that we have to be honest about. Oftentimes, women are not getting the same voice in African countries, despite the fact that they are carrying more than their fair share of burdens.
So within your own organizations, within your own networks, modeling good democratic practices, listening to people who you disagree with respectfully, making sure that everybody gets a seat at the table — all those things I think are very important.
Because part of what I’m going to — what I’m hoping for is that some of you will end up being leaders of your country some day. And if you think about it, back in the 1960s, when all these — your grandparents, great-grandparents were obtaining independence, fighting for independence, the first leaders, they all said they were for democracy. And then what ends up happening is you’ve been in power for a while and you say, well, I must be such a good ruler that it is for the benefit of the people that I need to stay here. And so then you start changing the laws, or you start intimidating and jailing opponents. And pretty soon, young people just like yourself — full of hope and promise — end up becoming exactly what they fought against.
So one of the things that I think everybody here has to really internalize is the notion that — I think it was Gandhi who once said you have to be the change that you seek. You have to be the change that you seek. And one of the wonderful things about the United States is that in my position as President there oftentimes where I get frustrated, I think I know more than some of my critics. And yet, we have institutionalized the notion that those critics have every right to criticize me, no matter how unreasonable I think they may be. And I have to stand before the people for an election, and I’m limited to two terms — it doesn’t matter how good a job I do. And that’s good, because what that means is that we’ve got to — we’ve instituted a culture where the institutions of democracy are more important than any one individual.
And, now, it’s not as if we’re perfect. Obviously, we’ve got all kinds of problems as well. But what it does mean is that the peaceful transfer of power and the notion that people always have a voice — our trust in that democratic process is one that has to be embraced in all your countries as well.
Okay? All right, it’s a gentleman’s turn. Let me try to get this side of the table here. This gentleman right here. I’m not going to get everybody, so I apologize in advance.
Q Thank you very much, Mr. President. I’m from Malawi. Mr. President, HIV/AIDS is greatly affecting development in Africa. And if this continues, I’m afraid I think Africa has no future. And I think the young people like us must bring change. And we really need a strong HIV prevention program. But, again, access to treatment must be there.
I attended the recent World AIDS Conference in Vienna, and the critics were saying that the worst — the U.S. government is not supporting enough HIV/AIDS work in Africa through the PEPFAR and the Global Fund. But, again, on the other side, other HIV/AIDS activists are saying that Africa on its own has not mobilized enough resources to fight the HIV/AIDS pandemic and they are largely depending on the West.
I think the challenge for us as African young leaders is to make sure that this comes to an end and we really need to reduce the transmission. I don’t know — from your perspective, what can we do to make sure that this comes to a stop? Otherwise, it’s greatly affecting development in Africa.
THE PRESIDENT: Good. Well, let me start by just talking about the United States and what we’re doing. I had some disagreements with my predecessor, but one of the outstanding things that President Bush did was to initiate the PEPFAR program. It’s a huge investment in battling HIV/AIDS both with respect to prevention and also with respect to treatment. Billions of dollars were committed. We have built off of that.
So when you hear critics — what the critics are saying is that although I’ve increased the funding of the PEPFAR program, they would like to see it increased even more, which I’m sympathetic to, given the fact that the need is so great. But understand I’ve increased it; I haven’t decreased it — at a time when the United States is suffering from the worst economic — just coming out of the worst economic recession that we’ve seen since the 1930s. Nevertheless, because of our commitment to this issue, we’ve actually increased funding.
Now, we have couched it in a broader initiative we call the Global Health Initiative. Because even as we’re battling HIV/AIDS, we want to make sure that we are thinking not only in terms of treatment, but also in terms of prevention and preventing transmission.
We’re never going to have enough money to simply treat people who are constantly getting infected. We’ve got to have a mechanism to stop the transmission rate. And so one of the things we’re trying to do is to build greater public health infrastructure, find what prevention programs are working, how can we institutionalize them, make them culturally specific — because not every program is going to be appropriate for every country.
I will say that in Africa, in particular, one thing we do know is that empowering women is going to be critical to reducing the transmission rate. We do know that. Because so often women, not having any control over sexual practices and their own body, end up having extremely high transmission rates.
So the bottom line is we’re going to focus on prevention, building a public health infrastructure. We’re still going to be funding, at very high levels, antiviral drugs. But keep in mind, we will never have enough money — it will be endless, an endless effort if the transmission rates stay high and we’re just trying to treat people after their sick.
It’s the classic story of a group of people come upon all these bodies in a stream. And everybody jumps in and starts pulling bodies out, but one wise person goes downstream to see what’s exactly happening that’s causing all these people to drown or fall in the water. And that’s I think what we have to do, is go downstream to see how can we reduce these transmission rates overall.
And obviously — when I visited Kenya, for example — just in terms of education — Michelle and I, we both got tested near the village where my father was born. We got publicly tested so that we would know what our status was. That was just one example of the kinds of educational mechanisms that we can use that hopefully can make some difference.
All right? Okay, it’s a woman’s turn. Okay, this one right here.
Q Thank you, very much, Mr. President. And greetings from Ghana. We are looking forward fervently to 2014 – (laughter) — for a repeat. And I recollect that I was hosting a radio program the day of the match. And we have a football pundit in Ghana — he doesn’t speak English quite well, but very passionate. And so I was interviewing him about what the psyche of our boys should be ahead of the match. And he said to me, “This is not war, it is football. If it were to be war, then maybe we should be afraid because the might of America is more than us.” (Laughter.) This is football. They should go out there and be the best that they could be. And they did.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, they did an excellent job. They were a great team.
Q Mr. President, my question now is that I hear a lot of young African leaders wonder how committed America would be to a partnership. I hear those who are cynical about the notion of partnership. They ask — and always they ask, partnership? What kind of fair partnership can exist between a strong and a weak nation?
And so as we prepare ourselves for the future, we ask the same question of America: How committed is your country to ensuring that the difficult decisions that young people have to make about trade, about agriculture, about support, are made — to the extent that they may not be in the interest of America? Because they tell me also that America will protect its interest over and above all else. Is America committed to ensuring a partnership that might not necessarily be beneficial to America, but truly beneficial to the sovereign interest of the countries that we represent?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, let me say this. All countries look out for their interests. So — and I’m the President of the United States, so my job is to look out for the people of the United States. That’s my job, right? (Applause.)
Now, I actually think, though, that the interests of the United States and the interests of the continent of Africa greatly overlap. We have a huge interest in seeing development throughout Africa — because we are a more mature economy, Africa is a young and growing economy, and if you can buy more iPods and buy more products and buy more services and buy more tractors from us, that we can sell to a fast-growing continent, that creates jobs here in the United States of America.
We have a huge interest in your public health systems because if we’re reducing greatly HIV/AIDS transmissions in Africa, then that will have a positive effect on HIV rates internationally, because of the transmigration of diseases back and forth in an international world. And not to mention, if I’m not spending all this money on PEPFAR, that’s money I can spend somewhere else. So I’m going to be incentivized to see Africa do well. That’s in our interest.
And the truth of the matter is, is that whereas with some regions of the world, we do have some genuine conflicts of interest — let’s say on trade, for example — the truth is that the United States, we don’t have huge conflicts when it comes to trade because, frankly, the trade between the United States and Africa is so small, so modest, that very few U.S. companies, U.S. commercial interests are impacted.
That’s why AGOA, our trade arrangement with Africa — we can eliminate tariffs and subsidies and allow all sorts of goods to come in partly because you are not our primary competition.
Now, I don’t want to pretend that there aren’t ever going to be conflicts. There will be. There’s going to be difference in world views. There are going to be some agricultural products where there are certain interests in the United States or there are certain interests in Europe that want to prevent those from coming in, even though, in the aggregate, it would not have a huge impact on the U.S. economy. And so there are going to be occasional areas of tension. But overall, the reason you should have confidence that we want a partnership is because your success will enhance our position rather than reduce it.
Also Africa has some of our most loyal friends. Every survey that’s taken, when you ask what continent generally has the most positive views about America, it turns out Africa generally has a positive view of America and positive experiences. So I think that you should feel confident even if I’m not President that the American people genuinely want to see Africa succeed.
What the American people don’t want is to feel like their efforts at helping are wasted. So if at a time of great constraint, we are coming up with aid, those aid dollars need to go to countries that are actually using them effectively. And if they’re not using them effectively, then they should go to countries that are.
And one of the things that I’ve said to my development team is I want us to have high standards in terms of performance and evaluation when we have these partnerships — because a partnership is a two-way street. It means that, on the one hand, we’re accountable to you and that we have to listen to you and make sure that any plans that we have, have developed indigenously. On the other hand, it also means you’re accountable. So you can’t just say, give me this, give me that, and then if it turns out that it’s not working well, that’s not your problem. Right? It has to be a two-way street.
Okay, looks like this side has not gotten a question here. So how about this gentleman right here.
Q Thank you, Mr. President — I’m from Zimbabwe. Currently our government is in a transition between the former ruling party Zanu PF and the Movement for Democratic Change. And within this same context, Zimbabwe is currently under restrictive measures, especially for those who are party in line with Robert Mugabe under the ZIDERA Act. How has been the success of ZIDERA — the formation of the inclusive government? Because in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe is still using the rhetoric of sanctions, racist, property rights abuse, human rights abuse, in violation to the rule of law. How has been the success of that towards the implementation — the success or the growth of young people?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, you probably have a better answer than me. So you should be sharing with our team what you think would make the most sense. I’ll be honest with you — I’m heartbroken when I see what’s happened in Zimbabwe. I think Mugabe is an example of a leader who came in as a liberation fighter and — I’m just going to be very blunt — I do not see him serving his people well. And the abuses, the human rights abuses, the violence that’s been perpetrated against opposition leaders I think is terrible.
Now, Changerai has tried to work — despite the fact that he himself has been beaten and imprisoned, he has now tried to work to see if there is a gradual transition that might take place. But so far, the results have not been what we had hoped.
And this always poses a difficult question for U.S. foreign policy because, on the one hand, we don’t want to punish the people for the abuses of a leader; on the other hand, we have very little leverage other than saying, if there are just systematic abuses by a government, we are not going to deal with them commercially, we’re not going to deal with them politically, in ways that we would with countries that are observing basic human rights principles.
And so there have been discussions when I’ve traveled with leaders in the Southern African region about whether or not sanctions against Zimbabwe are or are not counterproductive. I will tell you I would love nothing more than to be able to open up greater diplomatic relationships and economic and commercial relationships with Zimbabwe. But in order to do so, we’ve got to see some signal that it will not simply entrench the same past abuses but rather will move us in a new direction that actually helps the people.
And Zimbabwe is a classic example of a country that should be the breadbasket for an entire region. It’s a spectacular country. Now, it had to undergo a transition from white minority rule that was very painful and very difficult. But they have chosen a path that’s different than the path that South Africa chose.
South Africa has its problems, but from what everybody could see during the World Cup, the potential for moving that country forward as a multiracial, African democracy that can succeed on the world stage, that’s a model that so far at least Zimbabwe has not followed. And that’s where I’d like to see it go. All right?
How much more time do I have, guys? Last question? I’m sorry — last question. Last question. No, it’s a young lady’s turn. This one right here.
Q Good afternoon, Mr. President, your excellencies. I am from Somalia. I came all the way here with one question, and that is, living in conflict in a country that has confused the whole world, and being part of the diaspora that went back to risk our lives in order to make Somalia a better place, especially with what we’re going through right now — how much support do we expect from the U.S.? And not support just in terms of financially or aid, but support as an ear, as a friend, as somebody who hears and listens to those of us who are putting our lives and our families at risk to defend humanity.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think you will have enormous support from the people of the United States when it comes to trying to create a structure and framework in Somalia that works for the Somali people.
Now, the history of Somalia over the last 20 years has been equally heartbreaking, if not more so. You have not had a effective, functioning government that can provide basic services. It’s been rife with conflict. And now the entire region is threatened because of radical extremists who have taken root in Somalia, taking advantage of what they perceive to be a failing state, to use that as a base to launch attacks, most recently in Uganda.
And obviously the United States expresses its deepest condolences to the lives that were lost in Kampala — at the very moment of the World Cup. And it offered two contrasting visions. You have this wonderful, joyous celebration in South Africa at the same time as you have a terrorist explosion in Kampala.
So we desperately want Somalia to succeed. And this is another example of where our interests intersect. If you have extremist organizations taking root in Somalia, ultimately that can threaten the United States as well as Uganda, as well as Kenya, as well as the entire region.
So right now you’ve got a transitional government that is making some efforts. I don’t think anybody expects Somalia anytime in the next few years to suddenly be transformed into a model democracy. Whatever governance structures take place in Somalia have to be aware of the tribal and traditional structures and clan structures that exist within Somalia. But certainly what we can do is create a situation where people — young people are not carrying around rifles, shooting each other on the streets. And we want to be a partner with Somalia in that effort, and we will continue to do so.
And some of it is financial, some of it is developmental, some of it is being able to help basic infrastructure. In some cases, we may try to find a portion of the country that is relatively stable and start work there to create a model that the rest of the country can then look at and say, this is a different path than the one that we’re taking right now.
But in the end, I think that this metaphor of the success of the World Cup and the bombing shows that each of you are going to be confronted with two paths. There’s going to be a path that takes us into a direction of more conflict, more bloodshed, less economic development, continued poverty even as the rest of the world races ahead — or there’s a vision in which people come together for the betterment and development of their own country.
And for all the great promise that’s been fulfilled over the last 50 years, I want you to understand — because I think it’s important for us to be honest with ourselves — Africa has also missed huge opportunities for too long. And I’ll just give you one example.
When my father traveled to the United States and got his degree in the early ’60s, the GDP of Kenya was actually on partner, maybe actually higher than the GDP of South Korea. Think about that. All right? So when I was born, Kenya per capita might have been wealthier than South Korea. Now it’s not even close. Well, that’s 50 years that was lost in terms of opportunities. When it comes to natural resources, when it comes to the talent and potential of the people, there’s no reason why Kenya shouldn’t have been on that same trajectory.
And so 50 years from now, when you look back you want to make sure that the continent hasn’t missed those opportunities as well. We want to make sure of that as well. And the United States wants to listen to you and work with you. And so when you go back and you talk to your friends and you say, what was the main message the President had — we are rooting for your success, and we want to work with you to achieve that success, but ultimately success is going to be in your hands. And being a partner means that we can be there by your side, but we can’t do it for you.
Okay, thank you very much, everybody. Thank you. (Applause.)
President Obama Signs Executive Order Promoting Excellence, Innovation and Sustainability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities
President Obama Signs Executive Order Promoting Excellence, Innovation and Sustainability at Historically Black Colleges and Universities
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Obama signed an executive order, which can be viewed here, renewing the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the White House East Room. This event demonstrates the President’s strong appreciation for the historic role these institutions have played in educating our citizens and the Administration’s commitment to assisting HBCUs with accomplishing their mission.
Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have made historic and ongoing contributions to the general welfare and prosperity of our country. Established by visionary leaders, America’s HBCUs have, for over 150 years, produced many of the Nation’s leaders in business, government, academia, and the military and have provided generations of American men and women with hope and educational opportunity.
The Nation’s 105 HBCUs are located in 20 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, and serve more than 300,000 undergraduate and graduate students. These institutions continue to be important engines of economic growth and community service, and they are proven ladders of intergenerational advancement for men and women of all ethnic, racial, and economic backgrounds, especially African-Americans.
Among its provisions the Executive Order:
· Establishes the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities to be housed in the Department of Education. Headed by Dr. John Wilson, the Initiative will lead the Obama Administration’s work to partner with federal departments, agencies and offices, as well as other public and private partners to focus on five key tasks: strengthening the capacity of HBCUs to participate in Federal programs; fostering private-sector initiatives and public-private partnerships that would include promoting specific areas and centers of academic research and programmatic excellence; improving the availability, dissemination, and quality of information concerning HBCUs to inform public policy and practice; sharing administrative and programmatic practices within the HBCU community for the benefit of all; and exploring new ways of improving the relationship between the Federal Government and HBCUs.
· Establishes a President’s Board of Advisors on HBCUs that will advise the Obama Administration on matters pertaining to strengthening the educational capacity of these institutions.
Apart from the Executive Order, President Obama has demonstrated his commitment to strengthening educational opportunities at HBCUs through his FY 11 Budget which includes:
· $98 million in new money for HBCUs at the Department of Education. This includes a 5% or $13 million increase for the Strengthening HBCUs program and support for the $85 million in mandatory funding for HBCUs in the pending Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act.
· $20.5 million for the HBCU Capital Financing program, to provide HBCUs with access to financing for the repair, renovation, and construction or acquisition of educational facilities, instructional equipment, research instrumentation, and physical infrastructure. This funding will support $279 million in new loans in 2011, more than $100 million more than in 2010.
· $64.5 million for the Strengthening Historically Black Graduate Institution program, a $3.1 million or 5% increase.
· $103 million for a comprehensive science and technology workforce program at the National Science Foundation designed to engage undergraduates at Historically Black, Tribal, and Hispanic-serving colleges and universities by realigning and building on existing programs. The President’s budget request would increase funding for these activities by over 14%.
· An increase in the Pell Grant maximum award to $5,710 in 2011 – an increase of $160 over the 2010 level – and a provision to increase that rate faster than inflation in future years. In 2011, students attending HBCUs will receive about $900 million in Pell Grants, an increase of nearly $400 million since the Administration took office.
Students attending HBCUs will also benefit from provisions included in the President’s higher education package, the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA), currently pending before Congress and reflected in the President’s FY 11 Budget. SAFRA deepens the President’s commitment to Pell, includes an expansion of low-interest Perkins Loans and further simplifies federal financial aid forms. SAFRA would also provide increased support for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) including HBCUs and helps MSIs through programs such as the American Graduation Initiative that lends new support for community colleges, and the Access and Completion Fund, which would make grants to states, institutions of higher education, and other organizations to support innovative strategies to increase the number of students entering and completing college.
President Obama is working to provide students a complete and competitive education from cradle to career by ensuring that students, families and communities have the resources and opportunities needed to improve educational outcomes. Today, we set a course to work with HBCUs to achieve this goal.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON FINANCIAL REFORM
Diplomatic Reception Room
11:34 A.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. I just had a very productive meeting with two members of my Economic Recovery Advisory Board: Paul Volcker, who’s the former chair of the Federal Reserve Board; and Bill Donaldson, previously the head of the SEC. And I deeply appreciate the counsel of these two leaders and the board that they’ve offered as we have dealt with a broad array of very difficult economic challenges.
Over the past two years, more than seven million Americans have lost their jobs in the deepest recession our country has known in generations. Rarely does a day go by that I don’t hear from folks who are hurting. And every day, we are working to put our economy back on track and put America back to work. But even as we dig our way out of this deep hole, it’s important that we not lose sight of what led us into this mess in the first place.
This economic crisis began as a financial crisis, when banks and financial institutions took huge, reckless risks in pursuit of quick profits and massive bonuses. When the dust settled, and this binge of irresponsibility was over, several of the world’s oldest and largest financial institutions had collapsed, or were on the verge of doing so. Markets plummeted, credit dried up, and jobs were vanishing by the hundreds of thousands each month. We were on the precipice of a second Great Depression.
To avoid this calamity, the American people — who were already struggling in their own right — were forced to rescue financial firms facing crises largely of their own creation. And that rescue, undertaken by the previous administration, was deeply offensive but it was a necessary thing to do, and it succeeded in stabilizing the financial system and helping to avert that depression.
Since that time, over the past year, my administration has recovered most of what the federal government provided to banks. And last week, I proposed a fee to be paid by the largest financial firms in order to recover every last dime. But that’s not all we have to do. We have to enact common-sense reforms that will protect American taxpayers -– and the American economy -– from future crises as well.
For while the financial system is far stronger today than it was one year ago, it’s still operating under the same rules that led to its near collapse. These are rules that allowed firms to act contrary to the interests of customers; to conceal their exposure to debt through complex financial dealings; to benefit from taxpayer-insured deposits while making speculative investments; and to take on risks so vast that they posed threats to the entire system.
That’s why we are seeking reforms to protect consumers; we intend to close loopholes that allowed big financial firms to trade risky financial products like credit defaults swaps and other derivatives without oversight; to identify system-wide risks that could cause a meltdown; to strengthen capital and liquidity requirements to make the system more stable; and to ensure that the failure of any large firm does not take the entire economy down with it. Never again will the American taxpayer be held hostage by a bank that is “too big to fail.”
Now, limits on the risks major financial firms can take are central to the reforms that I’ve proposed. They are central to the legislation that has passed the House under the leadership of Chairman Barney Frank, and that we’re working to pass in the Senate under the leadership of Chairman Chris Dodd. As part of these efforts, today I’m proposing two additional reforms that I believe will strengthen the financial system while preventing future crises.
First, we should no longer allow banks to stray too far from their central mission of serving their customers. In recent years, too many financial firms have put taxpayer money at risk by operating hedge funds and private equity funds and making riskier investments to reap a quick reward. And these firms have taken these risks while benefiting from special financial privileges that are reserved only for banks.
Our government provides deposit insurance and other safeguards and guarantees to firms that operate banks. We do so because a stable and reliable banking system promotes sustained growth, and because we learned how dangerous the failure of that system can be during the Great Depression.
But these privileges were not created to bestow banks operating hedge funds or private equity funds with an unfair advantage. When banks benefit from the safety net that taxpayers provide –- which includes lower-cost capital –- it is not appropriate for them to turn around and use that cheap money to trade for profit. And that is especially true when this kind of trading often puts banks in direct conflict with their customers’ interests.
The fact is, these kinds of trading operations can create enormous and costly risks, endangering the entire bank if things go wrong. We simply cannot accept a system in which hedge funds or private equity firms inside banks can place huge, risky bets that are subsidized by taxpayers and that could pose a conflict of interest. And we cannot accept a system in which shareholders make money on these operations if the bank wins but taxpayers foot the bill if the bank loses.
It’s for these reasons that I’m proposing a simple and common-sense reform, which we’re calling the “Volcker Rule” — after this tall guy behind me. Banks will no longer be allowed to own, invest, or sponsor hedge funds, private equity funds, or proprietary trading operations for their own profit, unrelated to serving their customers. If financial firms want to trade for profit, that’s something they’re free to do. Indeed, doing so –- responsibly –- is a good thing for the markets and the economy. But these firms should not be allowed to run these hedge funds and private equities funds while running a bank backed by the American people.
In addition, as part of our efforts to protect against future crises, I’m also proposing that we prevent the further consolidation of our financial system. There has long been a deposit cap in place to guard against too much risk being concentrated in a single bank. The same principle should apply to wider forms of funding employed by large financial institutions in today’s economy. The American people will not be served by a financial system that comprises just a few massive firms. That’s not good for consumers; it’s not good for the economy. And through this policy, that is an outcome we will avoid.
My message to members of Congress of both parties is that we have to get this done. And my message to leaders of the financial industry is to work with us, and not against us, on needed reforms. I welcome constructive input from folks in the financial sector. But what we’ve seen so far, in recent weeks, is an army of industry lobbyists from Wall Street descending on Capitol Hill to try and block basic and common-sense rules of the road that would protect our economy and the American people.
So if these folks want a fight, it’s a fight I’m ready to have. And my resolve is only strengthened when I see a return to old practices at some of the very firms fighting reform; and when I see soaring profits and obscene bonuses at some of the very firms claiming that they can’t lend more to small business, they can’t keep credit card rates low, they can’t pay a fee to refund taxpayers for the bailout without passing on the cost to shareholders or customers — that’s the claims they’re making. It’s exactly this kind of irresponsibility that makes clear reform is necessary.
We’ve come through a terrible crisis. The American people have paid a very high price. We simply cannot return to business as usual. That’s why we’re going to ensure that Wall Street pays back the American people for the bailout. That’s why we’re going to rein in the excess and abuse that nearly brought down our financial system. That’s why we’re going to pass these reforms into law.
Thank you very much, everybody.
President Obama Calls for New Restrictions on Size and Scope of Financial Institutions to Rein in Excesses and Protect Taxpayers
President Obama Calls for New Restrictions on Size and Scope of Financial Institutions to Rein in Excesses and Protect Taxpayers
WASHINGTON, DC- President Obama joined Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve; Bill Donaldson, former chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission; Congressman Barney Frank, House Financial Services Chairman; Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman of the Banking Committee and the President’s economic team to call for new restrictions on the size and scope of banks and other financial institutions to rein in excessive risk taking and to protect taxpayers.
The President’s proposal would strengthen the comprehensive financial reform package that is already moving through Congress.
“While the financial system is far stronger today than it was a year one year ago, it is still operating under the exact same rules that led to its near collapse,” said President Barack Obama. “My resolve to reform the system is only strengthened when I see a return to old practices at some of the very firms fighting reform; and when I see record profits at some of the very firms claiming that they cannot lend more to small business, cannot keep credit card rates low, and cannot refund taxpayers for the bailout. It is exactly this kind of irresponsibility that makes clear reform is necessary.”
The proposal would:
1. Limit the Scope-The President and his economic team will work with Congress to ensure that no bank or financial institution that contains a bank will own, invest in or sponsor a hedge fund or a private equity fund, or proprietary trading operations unrelated to serving customers for its own profit. .
2. Limit the Size- The President also announced a new proposal to limit the consolidation of our financial sector. The President’s proposal will place broader limits on the excessive growth of the market share of liabilities at the largest financial firms, to supplement existing caps on the market share of deposits.
In the coming weeks, the President will continue to work closely with Chairman Dodd and others to craft a strong, comprehensive financial reform bill that puts in place common sense rules of the road and robust safeguards for the benefit of consumers, closes loopholes, and ends the mentality of “Too Big to Fail.” Chairman Barney Frank’s financial reform legislation, which passed the House in December, laid the groundwork for this policy by authorizing regulators to restrict or prohibit large firms from engaging in excessively risky activities.
As part of the previously announced reform program, the proposals announced today will help put an end to the risky practices that contributed significantly to the financial crisis.
If you have any information, please contact the info provided. Thank you!
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Note to readers of The Washington Review:
Every year we post information regarding the history and origins of Christmas and other holidays that pertain to Christ Jesus and Christianity. It is our feverent hopes that our readers will intelligently process this information and use accordingly for their own personal benefit. The following research taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia can be readily found in any library, encyclopedia, and seminary. ~ Publisher
ORIGIN OF THE DATE OF CHRISTMAS:
Concerning the date of Christ’s birth the Gospels give no help; upon their data contradictory arguments are based. The census would have been impossible in winter: a whole population could not then be put in motion. Again, in winter it must have been; then only field labour was suspended. But Rome was not thus considerate. Authorities moreover differ as to whether shepherds could or would keep flocks exposed during the nights of the rainy season.
Zachary’s temple service
Arguments based on Zachary’s temple ministry are unreliable, though the calculations of antiquity (see above) have been revived in yet more complicated form, e.g. by Friedlieb (Leben J. Christi des Erlösers, Münster, 1887, p. 312). The twenty-four classes of Jewish priests, it is urged, served each a week in the Temple; Zachary was in the eighth class, Abia. The Temple was destroyed 9 Ab, A.D. 70; late rabbinical tradition says that class 1, Jojarib, was then serving. From these untrustworthy data, assuming that Christ was born A.U.C. 749, and that never in seventy turbulent years the weekly succession failed, it is calculated that the eighth class was serving 2-9 October, A.U.C. 748, whence Christ’s conception falls in March, and birth presumably in December. Kellner (op. cit., pp. 106, 107) shows how hopeless is the calculation of Zachary’s week from any point before or after it.
Analogy to Old Testament festivals
It seems impossible, on analogy of the relation of Passover and Pentecost to Easter and Whitsuntide, to connect the Nativity with the feast of Tabernacles, as did, e.g., Lightfoot (Horæ Hebr, et Talm., II, 32), arguing from Old Testament prophecy, e.g. Zacharias 14:16 sqq.; combining, too, the fact of Christ’s death in Nisan with Daniel’s prophecy of a three and one-half years’ ministry (9:27), he puts the birth in Tisri, i.e. September. As undesirable is it to connect 25 December with the Eastern (December) feast of Dedication (Jos. Ant. Jud., XII, vii, 6).
The well-known solar feast, however, of Natalis Invicti, celebrated on 25 December, has a strong claim on the responsibility for our December date. For the history of the solar cult, its position in the Roman Empire, and syncretism with Mithraism, see Cumont’s epoch-making “Textes et Monuments” etc., I, ii, 4, 6, p. 355. Mommsen (Corpus Inscriptionum Latinarum, 12, p. 338) has collected the evidence for the feast, which reached its climax of popularity under Aurelian in 274. Filippo del Torre in 1700 first saw its importance; it is marked, as has been said, without addition in Philocalus’ Calendar. It would be impossible here even to outline the history of solar symbolism and language as applied to God, the Messiah, and Christ in Jewish or Christian canonical, patristic, or devotional works. Hymns and Christmas offices abound in instances; the texts are well arranged by Cumont (op. cit., addit. Note C, p. 355).
The earliest rapprochement of the births of Christ and the sun is in Cyprian, “De pasch. Comp.”, xix, “O quam præclare providentia ut illo die quo natus est Sol . . . nasceretur Christus.” — “O, how wonderfully acted Providence that on that day on which that Sun was born . . . Christ should be born.”
In the fourth century, Chrysostom, “del Solst. Et Æquin.” (II, p. 118, ed. 1588), says: “Sed et dominus noster nascitur mense decembris . . . VIII Kal. Ian. . . . Sed et Invicti Natalem appelant. Quis utique tam invictus nisi dominus noster? . . . Vel quod dicant Solis esse natalem, ipse est Sol iustitiæ.” — “But Our Lord, too, is born in the month of December . . . the eight before the calends of January [25 December] . . ., But they call it the ‘Birthday of the Unconquered’. Who indeed is so unconquered as Our Lord . . .? Or, if they say that it is the birthday of the Sun, He is the Sun of Justice.”
Already Tertullian (Apol., 16; cf. Ad. Nat., I, 13; Orig. c. Cels., VIII, 67, etc) had to assert that Sol was not the Christians’ God; Augustine (Tract xxxiv, in Joan. In P.L., XXXV, 1652) denounces the heretical identification of Christ with Sol.
Pope Leo I (Serm. xxxvii in nat. dom., VII, 4; xxii, II, 6 in P.L., LIV, 218 and 198) bitterly reproves solar survivals — Christians, on the very doorstep of the Apostles’ basilica, turn to adore the rising sun. Sun-worship has bequeathed features to modern popular worship in Armenia, where Christians had once temporarily and externally conformed to the cult of the material sun (Cumont, op. cit., p. 356).
Note to readers of The Washington Review:
Every year we post information regarding the history and origins of Christmas and other holidays that pertain to Christ Jesus and Christianity. It is our feverent hopes that our readers will intelligently process this information and use accordingly for their own personal benefit. The following research taken from the Catholic Encyclopedia can be readily found in any library, encyclopedia, and seminary. ~ Publisher
Origin of the word
The word for Christmas in late Old English is Cristes Maesse, the Mass of Christ, first found in 1038, and Cristes-messe, in 1131. In Dutch it is Kerstmis, in Latin Dies Natalis, whence comes the French Noël, and Italian Il natale; in German Weihnachtsfest, from the preceeding sacred vigil. The term Yule is of disputed origin. It is unconnected with any word meaning “wheel”. The name in Anglo-Saxon was geol, feast: geola, the name of a month (cf. Icelandic iol a feast in December).
Christmas was not among the earliest festivals of the Church. Irenaeus and Tertullian omit it from their lists of feasts; Origen, glancing perhaps at the discreditable imperial Natalitia, asserts (in Lev. Hom. viii in Migne, P.G., XII, 495) that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday; Arnobius (VII, 32 in P.L., V, 1264) can still ridicule the “birthdays” of the gods.
The first evidence of the feast is from Egypt. About A.D. 200, Clement of Alexandria (Stromata I.21) says that certain Egyptian theologians “over curiously” assign, not the year alone, but the day of Christ’s birth, placing it on 25 Pachon (20 May) in the twenty-eighth year of Augustus. [Ideler (Chron., II, 397, n.) thought they did this believing that the ninth month, in which Christ was born, was the ninth of their own calendar.] Others reached the date of 24 or 25 Pharmuthi (19 or 20 April). With Clement’s evidence may be mentioned the “De paschæ computus”, written in 243 and falsely ascribed to Cyprian (P.L., IV, 963 sqq.), which places Christ’s birth on 28 March, because on that day the material sun was created. But Lupi has shown (Zaccaria, Dissertazioni ecc. del p. A.M. Lupi, Faenza, 1785, p. 219) that there is no month in the year to which respectable authorities have not assigned Christ’s birth. Clement, however, also tells us that the Basilidians celebrated the Epiphany, and with it, probably, the Nativity, on 15 or 11 Tybi (10 or 6 January). At any rate this double commemoration became popular, partly because the apparition to the shepherds was considered as one manifestation of Christ’s glory, and was added to the greater manifestations celebrated on 6 January; partly because at the baptism-manifestation many codices (e.g. Codex Bezæ) wrongly give the Divine words as sou ei ho houios mou ho agapetos, ego semeron gegenneka se (Thou art my beloved Son, this day have I begotten thee) in lieu of en soi eudokesa (in thee I am well pleased), read in Luke 3:22. Abraham Ecchelensis (Labbe, II, 402) quotes the Constitutions of the Alexandrian Church for a dies Nativitatis et Epiphaniæ in Nicæan times; Epiphanius (Hær., li, ed. Dindorf, 1860, II, 483) quotes an extraordinary semi-Gnostic ceremony at Alexandria in which, on the night of 5-6 January, a cross-stamped Korê was carried in procession round a crypt, to the chant, “Today at this hour Korê gave birth to the Eternal“; John Cassian records in his “Collations” (X, 2 in P.L., XLIX, 820), written 418-427, that the Egyptian monasteries still observe the “ancient custom“; but on 29 Choiak (25 December) and 1 January, 433, Paul of Emesa preached before Cyril of Alexandria, and his sermons (see Mansi, IV, 293; appendix to Act. Conc. Eph.) show that the December celebration was then firmly established there, and calendars prove its permanence. The December feast therefore reached Egypt between 427 and 433.
Cyprus, Mesopotamia, Armenia, Asia Minor
In Cyprus, at the end of the fourth century, Epiphanius asserts against the Alogi (Hær., li, 16, 24 in P.G., XLI, 919, 931) that Christ was born on 6 January and baptized on 8 November. Ephraem Syrus (whose hymns belong to Epiphany, not to Christmas) proves that Mesopotamia still put the birth feast thirteen days after the winter solstice; i.e. 6 January; Armenia likewise ignored, and still ignores, the December festival. (Cf. Euthymius, “Pan. Dogm.”, 23 in P.G., CXXX, 1175; Niceph., “Hist. Eccl,”, XVIII, 53 in P.G., CXLVII, 440; Isaac, Catholicos of Armenia in eleventh or twelfth century, “Adv. Armenos”, I, xii, 5 in P.G., CXXII, 1193; Neale, “Holy Eastern Church“, Introd., p. 796). In Cappadocia, Gregory of Nyssa’s sermons on St. Basil (who died before 1 January, 379) and the two following, preached on St. Stephen’s feast (P.G., XLVI, 788; cf, 701, 721), prove that in 380 the 25th December was already celebrated there, unless, following Usener’s too ingenious arguments (Religionsgeschichtliche Untersuchungen, Bonn, 1889, 247-250), one were to place those sermons in 383. Also, Asterius of Amaseia (fifth century) and Amphilochius of Iconium (contemporary of Basil and Gregory) show that in their dioceses both the feasts of Epiphany and Nativity were separate (P.G., XL, 337 XXXIX, 36). <!–
In 385, Silvia of Bordeaux (or Etheria, as it seems clear she should be called) was profoundly impressed by the splendid Childhood feasts at Jerusalem. They had a definitely “Nativity” colouring; the bishop proceeded nightly to Bethlehem, returning to Jerusalem for the day celebrations. The Presentation was celebrated forty days after. But this calculation starts from 6 January, and the feast lasted during the octave of that date. (Peregr. Sylv., ed. Geyer, pp. 75 sq.) Again (p. 101) she mentions as high festivals Easter and Epiphany alone. In 385, therefore, 25 December was not observed at Jerusalem. This checks the so-called correspondence between Cyril of Jerusalem (348-386) and Pope Julius I (337-352), quoted by John of Nikiû (c. 900) to convert Armenia to 25 December (see P.L., VIII, 964 sqq.). Cyril declares that his clergy cannot, on the single feast of Birth and Baptism, make a double procession to Bethlehem and Jordan. (This later practice is here an anachronism.) He asks Julius to assign the true date of the nativity “from census documents brought by Titus to Rome“; Julius assigns 25 December. Another document (Cotelier, Patr. Apost., I, 316, ed. 1724) makes Julius write thus to Juvenal of Jerusalem (c. 425-458), adding that Gregory Nazianzen at Constantinople was being criticized for “halving” the festival. But Julius died in 352, and by 385 Cyril had made no change; indeed, Jerome, writing about 411 (in Ezech., P.L., XXV, 18), reproves Palestine for keeping Christ’s birthday (when He hid Himself) on the Manifestation feast. Cosmas Indicopleustes suggests (P.G., LXXXVIII, 197) that even in the middle of the sixth century Jerusalem was peculiar in combining the two commemorations, arguing from Luke 3:23 that Christ’s baptism day was the anniversary of His birthday. The commemoration, however, of David and James the Apostle on 25 December at Jerusalem accounts for the deferred feast. Usener, arguing from the “Laudatio S. Stephani” of Basil of Seleucia (c. 430. — P.G., LXXXV, 469), thinks that Juvenal tried at least to introduce this feast, but that Cyril’s greater name attracted that event to his own period.
In Antioch, on the feast of St. Philogonius, Chrysostom preached an important sermon. The year was almost certainly 386, though Clinton gives 387, and Usener, by a long rearrangement of the saint’s sermons, 388 (Religionsgeschichtl. Untersuch., pp. 227-240). But between February, 386, when Flavian ordained Chrysostom priest, and December is ample time for the preaching of all the sermons under discussion. (See Kellner, Heortologie, Freiburg, 1906, p. 97, n. 3). In view of a reaction to certain Jewish rites and feasts, Chrysostom tries to unite Antioch in celebrating Christ’s birth on 25 December, part of the community having already kept it on that day for at least ten years. In the West, he says, the feast was thus kept, anothen; its introduction into Antioch he had always sought, conservatives always resisted. This time he was successful; in a crowded church he defended the new custom. It was no novelty; from Thrace to Cadiz this feast was observed — rightly, since its miraculously rapid diffusion proved its genuineness. Besides, Zachary, who, as high-priest, entered the Temple on the Day of Atonement, received therefore announcement of John’s conception in September; six months later Christ was conceived, i.e. in March, and born accordingly in December.
Finally, though never at Rome, on authority he knows that the census papers of the Holy Family are still there. [This appeal to Roman archives is as old as Justin Martyr (First Apology 34-35) and Tertullian (Adv. Marc., IV, 7, 19). Julius, in the Cyriline forgeries, is said to have calculated the date from Josephus, on the same unwarranted assumptions about Zachary as did Chrysostom.] Rome, therefore, has observed 25 December long enough to allow of Chrysostom speaking at least in 388 as above (P.G., XLVIII, 752, XLIX, 351).
In 379 or 380 Gregory Nazianzen made himself exarchos of the new feast, i.e. its initiator, in Constantinople, where, since the death of Valens, orthodoxy was reviving. His three Homilies (see Hom. xxxviii in P.G., XXXVI) were preached on successive days (Usener, op. cit., p. 253) in the private chapel called Anastasia. On his exile in 381, the feast disappeared.
According, however, to John of Nikiû, Honorius, when he was present on a visit, arranged with Arcadius for the observation of the feast on the Roman date. Kellner puts this visit in 395; Baumstark (Oriens Chr., 1902, 441-446), between 398 and 402. The latter relies on a letter of Jacob of Edessa quoted by George of Beeltân, asserting that Christmas was brought to Constantinople by Arcadius and Chrysostom from Italy, where, “according to the histories“, it had been kept from Apostolic times. Chrysostom’s episcopate lasted from 398 to 402; the feast would therefore have been introduced between these dates by Chrysostom bishop, as at Antioch by Chrysostom priest. But Lübeck (Hist. Jahrbuch., XXVIII, I, 1907, pp. 109-118) proves Baumstark’s evidence invalid. More important, but scarcely better accredited, is Erbes’ contention (Zeitschrift f. Kirchengesch., XXVI, 1905, 20-31) that the feast was brought in by Constantine as early as 330-35.
At Rome the earliest evidence is in the Philocalian Calendar (P.L., XIII, 675; it can be seen as a whole in J. Strzygowski, Kalenderbilder des Chron. von Jahre 354, Berlin, 1888), compiled in 354, which contains three important entries. In the civil calendar 25 December is marked “Natalis Invicti”. In the “Depositio Martyrum” a list of Roman or early and universally venerated martyrs, under 25 December is found “VIII kal. ian. natus Christus in Betleem Iudeæ”. On “VIII kal. mart.” (22 February) is also mentioned St. Peter’s Chair. In the list of consuls are four anomalous ecclesiastical entries: the birth and death days of Christ, the entry into Rome, and martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul. The significant entry is “Chr. Cæsare et Paulo sat. XIII. hoc. cons. Dns. ihs. XPC natus est VIII Kal. ian. d. ven. luna XV,” i.e. during the consulship of (Augustus) Cæsar and Paulus Our Lord Jesus Christ was born on the eighth before the calends of January (25 December), a Friday, the fourteenth day of the moon. The details clash with tradition and possibility. The epact, here XIII, is normally XI; the year is A.U.C. 754, a date first suggested two centuries later; in no year between 751 and 754 could 25 December fall on a Friday; tradition is constant in placing Christ’s birth on Wednesday. Moreover the date given for Christ’s death (duobus Geminis coss., i.e. A.D. 29) leaves Him only twenty eight, and one-quarter years of life. Apart from this, these entries in a consul list are manifest interpolations. But are not the two entries in the “Depositio Martyrum” also such? Were the day of Christ’s birth in the flesh alone there found, it might stand as heading the year of martyrs’ spiritual natales; but 22 February is there wholly out of place. Here, as in the consular fasti, popular feasts were later inserted for convenience’ sake. The civil calendar alone was not added to, as it was useless after the abandonment of pagan festivals. So, even if the “Depositio Martyrum” dates, as is probable, from 336, it is not clear that the calendar contains evidence earlier than Philocalus himself, i.e. 354, unless indeed pre-existing popular celebration must be assumed to render possible this official recognition. Were the Chalki manuscript of Hippolytus genuine, evidence for the December feast would exist as early as c. 205. The relevant passage [which exists in the Chigi manuscript Without the bracketed words and is always so quoted before George Syncellus (c. 1000)] runs:
He gar prote parousia tou kyriou hemon he ensarkos [en he gegennetai] en Bethleem, egeneto [pro okto kalandon ianouarion hemera tetradi] Basileuontos Augoustou [tessarakoston kai deuteron etos, apo de Adam] pentakischiliosto kai pentakosiosto etei epathen de triakosto trito [pro okto kalandon aprilion, hemera paraskeun, oktokaidekato etei Tiberiou Kaisaros, hypateuontos Hrouphou kai Hroubellionos. — (Comm. In Dan., iv, 23; Brotke; 19)
"For the first coming of Our Lord in the flesh [in which He has been begotten], in Bethlehem, took place [25 December, the fourth day] in the reign of Augustus [the forty-second year, and] in the year 5500 [from Adam]. And He suffered in His thirty-third year [25 March, the parasceve, in the eighteenth year of Tiberius Cæsar, during the consulate of Rufus and Rubellio].”
Interpolation is certain, and admitted by Funk, Bonwetsch, etc. The names of the consuls [which should be Fufius and Rubellius] are wrong; Christ lives thirty-three years; in the genuine Hippolytus, thirty-one; minute data are irrelevant in this discussion with Severian millenniarists; it is incredible that Hippolytus should have known these details when his contemporaries (Clement, Tertullian, etc.) are, when dealing with the matter, ignorant or silent; or should, having published them, have remained unquoted (Kellner, op. cit., p. 104, has an excursus on this passage.)
St. Ambrose (de virg., iii, 1 in P.L., XVI, 219) preserves the sermon preached by Pope Liberius I at St. Peter’s, when, on Natalis Christi, Ambrose’ sister, Marcellina, took the veil. This pope reigned from May, 352 until 366, except during his years of exile, 355-357. If Marcellina became a nun only after the canonical age of twenty-five, and if Ambrose was born only in 340, it is perhaps likelier that the event occurred after 357. Though the sermon abounds in references appropriate to the Epiphany (the marriage at Cana, the multiplication of loaves, etc.), these seem due (Kellner, op. cit., p. 109) to sequence of thought, and do not fix the sermon to 6 January, a feast unknown in Rome till much later. Usener, indeed, argues (p. 272) that Liberius preached it on that day in 353, instituting the Nativity feast in the December of the same year; but Philocalus warrants our supposing that if preceded his pontificate by some time, though Duchesne’s relegation of it to 243 (Bull. crit., 1890, 3, pp. 41 sqq.) may not commend itself to many. In the West the Council of Saragossa (380) still ignores 25 December (see can. xxi, 2). Pope Siricius, writing in 385 (P.L., XII, 1134) to Himerius in Spain, distinguishes the feasts of the Nativity and Apparition; but whether he refers to Roman or to Spanish use is not clear. Ammianus Marcellinus (XXI, ii) and Zonaras (Ann., XIII, 11) date a visit of Julian the Apostate to a church at Vienne in Gaul on Epiphany and Nativity respectively. Unless there were two visits, Vienne in A.D. 361 combined the feasts, though on what day is still doubtful. By the time of Jerome and Augustine, the December feast is established, though the latter (Epp., II, liv, 12, in P.L., XXXIII, 200) omits it from a list of first-class festivals. From the fourth century every Western calendar assigns it to 25 December. At Rome, then, the Nativity was celebrated on 25 December before 354; in the East, at Constantinople, not before 379, unless with Erbes, and against Gregory, we recognize it there in 330. Hence, almost universally has it been concluded that the new date reached the East from Rome by way of the Bosphorus during the great anti-Arian revival, and by means of the orthodox champions. De Santi (L’Orig. delle Fest. Nat., in Civiltæ Cattolica, 1907), following Erbes, argues that Rome took over the Eastern Epiphany, now with a definite Nativity colouring, and, with as increasing number of Eastern Churches, placed it on 25 December; later, both East and West divided their feast, leaving Ephiphany on 6 January, and Nativity on 25 December, respectively, and placing Christmas on 25 December and Epiphany on 6 January. The earlier hypothesis still seems preferable.
Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
A Just and Lasting Peace
Acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize
Thursday, December 10th, 2009
Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Distinguished Members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, citizens of America, and citizens of the world:
I receive this honor with deep gratitude and great humility. It is an award that speaks to our highest aspirations – that for all the cruelty and hardship of our world, we are not mere prisoners of fate. Our actions matter, and can bend history in the direction of justice.
And yet I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage. Compared to some of the giants of history who have received this prize – Schweitzer and King; Marshall and Mandela – my accomplishments are slight. And then there are the men and women around the world who have been jailed and beaten in the pursuit of justice; those who toil in humanitarian organizations to relieve suffering; the unrecognized millions whose quiet acts of courage and compassion inspire even the most hardened of cynics. I cannot argue with those who find these men and women – some known, some obscure to all but those they help – to be far more deserving of this honor than I.
But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the Commander-in-Chief of a nation in the midst of two wars. One of these wars is winding down. The other is a conflict that America did not seek; one in which we are joined by forty three other countries – including Norway – in an effort to defend ourselves and all nations from further attacks.
Still, we are at war, and I am responsible for the deployment of thousands of young Americans to battle in a distant land. Some will kill. Some will be killed. And so I come here with an acute sense of the cost of armed conflict – filled with difficult questions about the relationship between war and peace, and our effort to replace one with the other.
These questions are not new. War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease – the manner in which tribes and then civilizations sought power and settled their differences.
Over time, as codes of law sought to control violence within groups, so did philosophers, clerics, and statesmen seek to regulate the destructive power of war. The concept of a “just war” emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when it meets certain preconditions: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the forced used is proportional, and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence.
For most of history, this concept of just war was rarely observed. The capacity of human beings to think up new ways to kill one another proved inexhaustible, as did our capacity to exempt from mercy those who look different or pray to a different God. Wars between armies gave way to wars between nations – total wars in which the distinction between combatant and civilian became blurred. In the span of thirty years, such carnage would twice engulf this continent. And while it is hard to conceive of a cause more just than the defeat of the Third Reich and the Axis powers, World War II was a conflict in which the total number of civilians who died exceeded the number of soldiers who perished.
In the wake of such destruction, and with the advent of the nuclear age, it became clear to victor and vanquished alike that the world needed institutions to prevent another World War. And so, a quarter century after the United States Senate rejected the League of Nations – an idea for which Woodrow Wilson received this Prize – America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace: a Marshall Plan and a United Nations, mechanisms to govern the waging of war, treaties to protect human rights, prevent genocide, and restrict the most dangerous weapons.
In many ways, these efforts succeeded. Yes, terrible wars have been fought, and atrocities committed. But there has been no Third World War. The Cold War ended with jubilant crowds dismantling a wall. Commerce has stitched much of the world together. Billions have been lifted from poverty. The ideals of liberty, self-determination, equality and the rule of law have haltingly advanced. We are the heirs of the fortitude and foresight of generations past, and it is a legacy for which my own country is rightfully proud.
A decade into a new century, this old architecture is buckling under the weight of new threats. The world may no longer shudder at the prospect of war between two nuclear superpowers, but proliferation may increase the risk of catastrophe. Terrorism has long been a tactic, but modern technology allows a few small men with outsized rage to murder innocents on a horrific scale.
Moreover, wars between nations have increasingly given way to wars within nations. The resurgence of ethnic or sectarian conflicts; the growth of secessionist movements, insurgencies, and failed states; have increasingly trapped civilians in unending chaos. In today’s wars, many more civilians are killed than soldiers; the seeds of future conflict are sewn, economies are wrecked, civil societies torn asunder, refugees amassed, and children scarred.
I do not bring with me today a definitive solution to the problems of war. What I do know is that meeting these challenges will require the same vision, hard work, and persistence of those men and women who acted so boldly decades ago. And it will require us to think in new ways about the notions of just war and the imperatives of a just peace.
We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations – acting individually or in concert – will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.
I make this statement mindful of what Martin Luther King said in this same ceremony years ago – “Violence never brings permanent peace. It solves no social problem: it merely creates new and more complicated ones.” As someone who stands here as a direct consequence of Dr. King’s life’s work, I am living testimony to the moral force of non-violence. I know there is nothing weak –nothing passive – nothing naïve – in the creed and lives of Gandhi and King.
But as a head of state sworn to protect and defend my nation, I cannot be guided by their examples alone. I face the world as it is, and cannot stand idle in the face of threats to the American people. For make no mistake: evil does exist in the world. A non-violent movement could not have halted Hitler’s armies. Negotiations cannot convince al Qaeda’s leaders to lay down their arms. To say that force is sometimes necessary is not a call to cynicism – it is a recognition of history; the imperfections of man and the limits of reason.
I raise this point because in many countries there is a deep ambivalence about military action today, no matter the cause. At times, this is joined by a reflexive suspicion of America, the world’s sole military superpower.
Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions – not just treaties and declarations – that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest – because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples’ children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.
So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another – that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier’s courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause and to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such.
So part of our challenge is reconciling these two seemingly irreconcilable truths – that war is sometimes necessary, and war is at some level an expression of human feelings. Concretely, we must direct our effort to the task that President Kennedy called for long ago. “Let us focus,” he said, “on a more practical, more attainable peace, based not on a sudden revolution in human nature but on a gradual evolution in human institutions.”
What might this evolution look like? What might these practical steps be?
To begin with, I believe that all nations – strong and weak alike – must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I – like any head of state – reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards strengthens those who do, and isolates – and weakens – those who don’t.
The world rallied around America after the 9/11 attacks, and continues to support our efforts in Afghanistan, because of the horror of those senseless attacks and the recognized principle of self-defense. Likewise, the world recognized the need to confront Saddam Hussein when he invaded Kuwait – a consensus that sent a clear message to all about the cost of aggression.
Furthermore, America cannot insist that others follow the rules of the road if we refuse to follow them ourselves. For when we don’t, our action can appear arbitrary, and undercut the legitimacy of future intervention – no matter how justified.
This becomes particularly important when the purpose of military action extends beyond self defense or the defense of one nation against an aggressor. More and more, we all confront difficult questions about how to prevent the slaughter of civilians by their own government, or to stop a civil war whose violence and suffering can engulf an entire region.
I believe that force can be justified on humanitarian grounds, as it was in the Balkans, or in other places that have been scarred by war. Inaction tears at our conscience and can lead to more costly intervention later. That is why all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace.
America’s commitment to global security will never waiver. But in a world in which threats are more diffuse, and missions more complex, America cannot act alone. This is true in Afghanistan. This is true in failed states like Somalia, where terrorism and piracy is joined by famine and human suffering. And sadly, it will continue to be true in unstable regions for years to come.
The leaders and soldiers of NATO countries – and other friends and allies – demonstrate this truth through the capacity and courage they have shown in Afghanistan. But in many countries, there is a disconnect between the efforts of those who serve and the ambivalence of the broader public. I understand why war is not popular. But I also know this: the belief that peace is desirable is rarely enough to achieve it. Peace requires responsibility. Peace entails sacrifice. That is why NATO continues to be indispensable. That is why we must strengthen UN and regional peacekeeping, and not leave the task to a few countries. That is why we honor those who return home from peacekeeping and training abroad to Oslo and Rome; to Ottawa and Sydney; to Dhaka and Kigali – we honor them not as makers of war, but as wagers of peace.
Let me make one final point about the use of force. Even as we make difficult decisions about going to war, we must also think clearly about how we fight it. The Nobel Committee recognized this truth in awarding its first prize for peace to Henry Dunant – the founder of the Red Cross, and a driving force behind the Geneva Conventions.
Where force is necessary, we have a moral and strategic interest in binding ourselves to certain rules of conduct. And even as we confront a vicious adversary that abides by no rules, I believe that the United States of America must remain a standard bearer in the conduct of war. That is what makes us different from those whom we fight. That is a source of our strength. That is why I prohibited torture. That is why I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed. And that is why I have reaffirmed America’s commitment to abide by the Geneva Conventions. We lose ourselves when we compromise the very ideals that we fight to defend. And we honor those ideals by upholding them not just when it is easy, but when it is hard.
I have spoken to the questions that must weigh on our minds and our hearts as we choose to wage war. But let me turn now to our effort to avoid such tragic choices, and speak of three ways that we can build a just and lasting peace.
First, in dealing with those nations that break rules and laws, I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to change behavior – for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something. Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable. Sanctions must exact a real price. Intransigence must be met with increased pressure – and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one.
One urgent example is the effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and to seek a world without them. In the middle of the last century, nations agreed to be bound by a treaty whose bargain is clear: all will have access to peaceful nuclear power; those without nuclear weapons will forsake them; and those with nuclear weapons will work toward disarmament. I am committed to upholding this treaty. It is a centerpiece of my foreign policy. And I am working with President Medvedev to reduce America and Russia’s nuclear stockpiles.
But it is also incumbent upon all of us to insist that nations like Iran and North Korea do not game the system. Those who claim to respect international law cannot avert their eyes when those laws are flouted. Those who care for their own security cannot ignore the danger of an arms race in the Middle East or East Asia. Those who seek peace cannot stand idly by as nations arm themselves for nuclear war.
The same principle applies to those who violate international law by brutalizing their own people. When there is genocide in Darfur; systematic rape in Congo; or repression in Burma – there must be consequences. And the closer we stand together, the less likely we will be faced with the choice between armed intervention and complicity in oppression.
This brings me to a second point – the nature of the peace that we seek. For peace is not merely the absence of visible conflict. Only a just peace based upon the inherent rights and dignity of every individual can truly be lasting.
It was this insight that drove drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after the Second World War. In the wake of devastation, they recognized that if human rights are not protected, peace is a hollow promise.
And yet all too often, these words are ignored. In some countries, the failure to uphold human rights is excused by the false suggestion that these are Western principles, foreign to local cultures or stages of a nation’s development. And within America, there has long been a tension between those who describe themselves as realists or idealists – a tension that suggests a stark choice between the narrow pursuit of interests or an endless campaign to impose our values.
I reject this choice. I believe that peace is unstable where citizens are denied the right to speak freely or worship as they please; choose their own leaders or assemble without fear. Pent up grievances fester, and the suppression of tribal and religious identity can lead to violence. We also know that the opposite is true. Only when Europe became free did it finally find peace. America has never fought a war against a democracy, and our closest friends are governments that protect the rights of their citizens. No matter how callously defined, neither America’s interests – nor the world’s –are served by the denial of human aspirations.
So even as we respect the unique culture and traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for those aspirations that are universal. We will bear witness to the quiet dignity of reformers like Aung Sang Suu Kyi; to the bravery of Zimbabweans who cast their ballots in the face of beatings; to the hundreds of thousands who have marched silently through the streets of Iran. It is telling that the leaders of these governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation. And it is the responsibility of all free people and free nations to make clear to these movements that hope and history are on their side
Let me also say this: the promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone. At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy. I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation. But I also know that sanctions without outreach – and condemnation without discussion – can carry forward a crippling status quo. No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.
In light of the Cultural Revolution’s horrors, Nixon’s meeting with Mao appeared inexcusable – and yet it surely helped set China on a path where millions of its citizens have been lifted from poverty, and connected to open societies. Pope John Paul’s engagement with Poland created space not just for the Catholic Church, but for labor leaders like Lech Walesa. Ronald Reagan’s efforts on arms control and embrace of perestroika not only improved relations with the Soviet Union, but empowered dissidents throughout Eastern Europe. There is no simple formula here. But we must try as best we can to balance isolation and engagement; pressure and incentives, so that human rights and dignity are advanced over time.
Third, a just peace includes not only civil and political rights – it must encompass economic security and opportunity. For true peace is not just freedom from fear, but freedom from want.
It is undoubtedly true that development rarely takes root without security; it is also true that security does not exist where human beings do not have access to enough food, or clean water, or the medicine they need to survive. It does not exist where children cannot aspire to a decent education or a job that supports a family. The absence of hope can rot a society from within.
And that is why helping farmers feed their own people – or nations educate their children and care for the sick – is not mere charity. It is also why the world must come together to confront climate change. There is little scientific dispute that if we do nothing, we will face more drought, famine and mass displacement that will fuel more conflict for decades. For this reason, it is not merely scientists and activists who call for swift and forceful action – it is military leaders in my country and others who understand that our common security hangs in the balance.
Agreements among nations. Strong institutions. Support for human rights. Investments in development. All of these are vital ingredients in bringing about the evolution that President Kennedy spoke about. And yet, I do not believe that we will have the will, or the staying power, to complete this work without something more – and that is the continued expansion of our moral imagination; an insistence that there is something irreducible that we all share.
As the world grows smaller, you might think it would be easier for human beings to recognize how similar we are; to understand that we all basically want the same things; that we all hope for the chance to live out our lives with some measure of happiness and fulfillment for ourselves and our families.
And yet, given the dizzying pace of globalization, and the cultural leveling of modernity, it should come as no surprise that people fear the loss of what they cherish about their particular identities – their race, their tribe, and perhaps most powerfully their religion. In some places, this fear has led to conflict. At times, it even feels like we are moving backwards. We see it in Middle East, as the conflict between Arabs and Jews seems to harden. We see it in nations that are torn asunder by tribal lines.
Most dangerously, we see it in the way that religion is used to justify the murder of innocents by those who have distorted and defiled the great religion of Islam, and who attacked my country from Afghanistan. These extremists are not the first to kill in the name of God; the cruelties of the Crusades are amply recorded. But they remind us that no Holy War can ever be a just war. For if you truly believe that you are carrying out divine will, then there is no need for restraint – no need to spare the pregnant mother, or the medic, or even a person of one’s own faith. Such a warped view of religion is not just incompatible with the concept of peace, but the purpose of faith – for the one rule that lies at the heart of every major religion is that we do unto others as we would have them do unto us.
Adhering to this law of love has always been the core struggle of human nature. We are fallible. We make mistakes, and fall victim to the temptations of pride, and power, and sometimes evil. Even those of us with the best intentions will at times fail to right the wrongs before us.
But we do not have to think that human nature is perfect for us to still believe that the human condition can be perfected. We do not have to live in an idealized world to still reach for those ideals that will make it a better place. The non-violence practiced by men like Gandhi and King may not have been practical or possible in every circumstance, but the love that they preached – their faith in human progress – must always be the North Star that guides us on our journey.
For if we lose that faith – if we dismiss it as silly or naïve; if we divorce it from the decisions that we make on issues of war and peace – then we lose what is best about humanity. We lose our sense of possibility. We lose our moral compass.
Like generations have before us, we must reject that future. As Dr. King said at this occasion so many years ago, “I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the ‘isness’ of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal ‘oughtness’ that forever confronts him.”
So let us reach for the world that ought to be – that spark of the divine that still stirs within each of our souls. Somewhere today, in the here and now, a soldier sees he’s outgunned but stands firm to keep the peace. Somewhere today, in this world, a young protestor awaits the brutality of her government, but has the courage to march on. Somewhere today, a mother facing punishing poverty still takes the time to teach her child, who believes that a cruel world still has a place for his dreams.
Let us live by their example. We can acknowledge that oppression will always be with us, and still strive for justice. We can admit the intractability of depravation, and still strive for dignity. We can understand that there will be war, and still strive for peace. We can do that – for that is the story of human progress; that is the hope of all the world; and at this moment of challenge, that must be our work here on Earth.
The U.S. House of Representatives has just passed the historical health care reform bill. The official vote is noted on record as 220 – 215.
Rep. Joseph Cao, (R-LA) was the lone Republican voting for the bill’s passage. Thirty-nine Democrats voted against the legislation.
Chris Brown Shows His TRUE Talent Tonight On Larry King: That Would Be A Despicable Lying, Cowardly Woman Beater! OH! But We Already Knew That!
Hey all you Chris Brown fans out there! Get your popcorn and favorite drinky drink ready as your icon joins Larry King TONIGHT @ 9pm on CNN! I heard that he is going to absolutely, positively LIE his behind off! I don’t know why he would do that because his career is all but over at this point. No amount of lying can save that Titanic because it has already sunk!
That’s right! I know how you Chris Brown fans like to keep Tammy Wynette’s country classic “Stand By Your Man” on constant repeat, so get ready to watch your man say that he doesn’t remember beating the daylights and practically choking the life out of his then girlfriend, Rihanna. Whom Brown also admits that he still loves. Yep. Can’t wait myself! I am practically foaming at the mouth!
I wondered why it was that Chris Brown chose to go on Larry King instead of, let’s say Oprah or Tyra Banks show. Could it be that these two women couldn’t be trusted to allow Chris Brown to LIE his way to some sort of redemption? I mean come on! What teenaged to mid twenties young women watch Larry King? To salvage your tarnished career, everybody knows that Oprah’s couch is the key! Washed up Whitney even knows that!
But, to go on Oprah would mean that Chris Brown would have to own up to the truth and come correct with the reasoning behind it. Tears are definitely a plus toward an Oprah sanctioned redemption! Women everywhere, around the world tune into Oprah at least a dozen times a year. Some every day. Everyone knows that if its a comeback you’re looking for and you’ve been a tad naughty, take it to the Oprah couch. Or at least Dr. Phil.
That’s why no one is going to be quick to believe a word out of Chris Brown’s mouth. His publicists and attorneys have all but ruined his life and career by their bogus strategies of silence and then denial.
I know one thing, Chris Brown didn’t tell that judge in California that flat out lie about blacking out. But, he is willing to feed the public that crap because he and his redemption team think that we are stupid and ignorant. No domestic violence victim wants to hear that load of garbage!
Yeah, Chris Brown blacked out alright!
It was when the LAPD sirens were within hearing distance as he was wringing Rihanna’s little neck. That’s when Chris Brown realized that he had just choked the life out of his short career and blacked out.
Okay Class! Can You Say ‘Shameless Opportunists’? GOOD! Now Repeat After Me: Al Sharpton Is An Ambulance Chaser And Papa Joe Is A Demented Excuse For A Father!
I don’t know about you, but we here at The Kaleidoscope Factor have completely ran out of patience where it concerns Michael Jackson’s father, Joseph Jackson. Now, it has never been a secret as to the type of parent that Joe Jackson is. He is the dictionary classic example of a warped show business Dad. Joe Jackson has always been depicted, by his own flesh and blood children, as a selfish, cold and dispicable tyrant. The Jackson children have all agreed that their father rarely, if ever, showed them love and affection growing up. Some have even publicly wondered if their father just out and out disliked them.
We the public already know how Michael Jackson felt about his father. Basically, in a nut shell, Mike hated the guy. Plain and simple. But isn’t it interesting how now that Michael has tragically left the scene, poor, grieving Pops Jackson has stepped into the spotlight and the cameras and awaiting microphones, declaring himself the spokesman of the entire Jackson clan, criticizing those in the public who have thrown mud on his son’s life in the past, acknowledging Michael’s greatness and legacy, and then, in the same breath, announces the launch of a music label?
What kind of crap is that? And why is it that every other day, Papa Joe calls a news conference that provides zero news? It can only be that the tiny shred of benefit of the doubt that the public had about Joe Jackson has been dashed to pieces! Who in their right mind would take the tragic moment of a child’s death to use to grab the spotlight to promote a business that won’t amount to anything in the first place? Honestly, who would want Joe Jackson managing their career? Miss some choreography and Papa Joe ordering you outside to get a switch so he can beat the rhythm back in you! Yeah, right!
The Rev. Al Sharpton has stepped up his game, too! Calling himself a Jackson family spokesman and confidant, it has become sad to watch how Sharpton has milked the spotlight, too! At Mondays press conference, Sharpton stood side by side with Papa Joe as the Jackson patriarch talked about random bits and pieces concerning Michael Jackson that really wasn’t press conference worthy. Then, the world is awarded with the fantastical news that the fine Rev. Sharpton is also a business partner with Papa Joe in this sham of a record label! Just in the legal department, that is.
Sharpton also defended his client/partner’s opportunistic moves by saying:
“He wanted to thank the fans for all the love, and he felt there had been some distortion that he was trying to promote a record when he did the BET red carpet. But my position is, whether one thinks what he said on the red carpet was appropriate or not, Joe Jackson is the head of that family and he stood by [Michael] during his trial. Look at the footage, Joe and Katherine walked him in and out of that courtroom. To say he doesn’t care about his son is absurd. When it looked like all was lost, that family stood by him.”
Yeah. We remember the trial. Papa Joe was there. The entire Jackson family was there to show their loyalty and support for Michael. No one was blabbing about business ventures, and record deals or other out of the way selfish things. But as of today, this moment within this hour, Michael Jackson is dead. The seventh of the ten children that came forth from Joseph Jackson’s loins is gone. Why can’t he show the same freaking respect that he displayed at his son’s molestation trial by keeping his mouth shut and letting Jermaine or Janet do the talking as they have done so well in the past?
Rev. Al. Sharpton? Opportunist! And it is a shame because he professes to be a God-fearing man. I guess that the love of God doesn’t really mean a thing to Sharpton if there are cameras and a microphone shoved in his face.
Michael Jackson fans are outraged over the disrespect that these two men have displayed for the Jackson family and those around the world who loved Michael. Sharpton and Papa Joe have turned the death of someone well-loved and beautiful into a mockery and a circus.
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Michael Jackson‘s family wants a private autopsy of the pop icon because of unanswered questions about how he died and the doctor who was with him, the civil rights leader Rev. Jesse Jackson said Saturday.
“It’s abnormal,” he told The Associated Press from Chicago a day after visiting the Jackson family. “We don’t know what happened. Was he injected and with what? All reasonable doubt should be addressed.”
People close to Jackson have said since his death that they were concerned about the superstar’s use of painkillers. Los Angeles County medical examiners completed an autopsy Friday and said Jackson had taken prescription medication.
Medical officials also said there was no indication of trauma or foul play. An official cause of death could take weeks.
The coroner’s office released the body to Jackson’s family Friday night. There was no immediate word on whether the second autopsy was being performed right away. Jesse Jackson described the family as grief-stricken.
“They’re hurt because they lost a son. But the wound is now being kept open by the mystery and unanswered questions of the cause of death,” he said.
Two days after Jackson died at a Los Angeles hospital, his most famous sister, Janet, arrived at the mansion Jackson had been renting. She drove up in a Bentley and left without addressing reporters.
Moving vans also showed up at the Jackson home, leaving about an hour later. There was no indication what they might have taken away.
There was also no word from the Jackson family on funeral plans. Many of Jackson’s relatives have gathered at the family’s Encino compound, caring there for Jackson’s three children.
A person close to the family told The Associated Press they feel upset and angry about a lack of information about those who were around the pop superstar in his final days. The person requested anonymity because of the delicate nature of the situation.
Jackson had been rehearsing for 50 London concerts aimed at restoring his crown as the King of Pop. He died Thursday at age 50 after what his family said appeared to be cardiac arrest.
A 911 call from Jackson’s rented home reported that his personal doctor was trying to revive him without success. Police have talked to Dr. Conrad Murray and have said they intend to speak with him again but have stressed he is not a criminal suspect.
Murray has yet to speak publicly since Jackson’s death. Police towed his car from Jackson’s home hours after Jackson died and said later it could contain medication or other evidence. Coroner’s officials also said Jackson was taking prescription medication but declined to elaborate.
A lawyer at a Houston firm, William M. Stradley, confirmed Murray had hired his firm and said one of its partners was meeting with Los Angeles police on Saturday. Stradley said Murray accompanied Michael Jackson to the hospital.
“He was there from the beginning and he’s been cooperating with police from the very beginning,” Stradley said. “Dr. Murray has never left L.A. since Mr. Jackson’s death, and he remains there.”
Murray lives in Las Vegas but apparently left his practice and moved in with Jackson about two weeks ago. No one answered the door Saturday at his Las Vegas home, which property records show Murray bought five years ago for $1.1 million.
The promoter of the series of London concerts that Jackson was to begin next month has said Jackson personally insisted Murray be on the payroll.
Also Saturday, spiritual teacher Dr. Deepak Chopra said he had been concerned since 2005 that Jackson was abusing prescription painkillers and most recently spoke to the pop star about suspected drug use six months ago.
Chopra said Jackson, a longtime friend, asked him for painkillers in 2005 when the singer was staying with him following his trial on sex abuse allegations. Chopra said he refused. He also said the nanny of Jackson’s children repeatedly contacted him with concerns about Jackson’s drug use over the next four years.
He said she told him a number of doctors would visit Jackson’s homes in Santa Barbara County, Los Angeles, Miami and New York. Whenever the subject came up, Jackson would avoid his calls, Chopra said.
******THANK YOU ASSOCIATED PRESS******
As much as the African American community loves playwright, television, film and actor Tyler Perry, it goes without saying that he is widely supported and appreciated. However, the flip side of that adoration is the deafening silence of the African American community regarding Tyler Perry’s television series “House of Payne” and “Meet The Browns.”
With everything that Tyler Perry touches turning into gold, it is no wonder that he would try his hand at a television sitcom. The problem develops soon after in that the shows are not original and the story lines are sub par. “House of Payne” borrows too much from the Archie Bunker meets George Jefferson school of situation comedy. In fact, “House of Payne” is crammed pack every week with tons of buffoon / clown antics and situations that make little sense. It is hard to concieve that Tyler Perry would put something of this magnitude on the small screen that only justifies why television executives aren’t really hard-pressed at creating positive African American television shows. Why should they when number one top box office filmmaker Tyler Perry produces sitcoms that border on unintelligent and unwatchable, which continues to project a negative image of African Americans?
Spike Lee made an interesting quote that should not be shot down just because he said it:
“I am a huge basketball fan, and when I watch the games on TNT, I see these two ads for these two shows (Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne”), and I am scratching my head. We got a black president, and we going back to Mantan Moreland and Sleep ‘n’ Eat?”
It is fascinating how accurate that statement is! The scary thing about it also is that no one in the African American community with clout is standing up and saying that “House of Payne and “Meet The Browns” are mere modern day charicatures of “Amos and Andy.”
Here’s a suggestion: perhaps instead of the African American community applauding publicly and frowning privately behind closed doors about the negativity of Tyler Perry’s two sitcoms , maybe a healthy dialogue should take place to bring “House of Payne” and “Meet The Browns” up to a standard that will be in line with the historic election of an African American President.
When future generations look back at the year 2009, wouldn’t it be great to show the steady positive progression of African Americans in ALL aspects of achievement? It would be a shame to have President Barack Obama and his family on one wall and the cast of “House of Payne” on the other. What would be the lesson there? Our generation still didn’t get it?
Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
April 25, 2009
Good morning. Over the last three months, my Administration has taken aggressive action to confront an historic economic crisis. As we do everything that we can to create jobs and get our economy moving, we’re also building a new foundation for lasting prosperity – a foundation that invests in quality education, lowers health care costs, and develops new sources of energy powered by new jobs and industries.
One of the pillars of that foundation must be fiscal discipline. We came into office facing a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion for this year alone, and the cost of confronting our economic crisis is high. But we cannot settle for a future of rising deficits and debts that our children cannot pay.
All across America, families are tightening their belts and making hard choices. Now, Washington must show that same sense of responsibility. That is why we have identified two trillion dollars in deficit-reductions over the next decade, while taking on the special interest spending that doesn’t advance the peoples’ interests.
But we must also recognize that we cannot meet the challenges of today with old habits and stale thinking. So much of our government was built to deal with different challenges from a different era. Too often, the result is wasteful spending, bloated programs, and inefficient results.
It’s time to fundamentally change the way that we do business in Washington. To help build a new foundation for the 21st century, we need to reform our government so that it is more efficient, more transparent, and more creative. That will demand new thinking and a new sense of responsibility for every dollar that is spent.
Earlier this week, I held my first Cabinet meeting and sent a clear message: cut what doesn’t work. Already, we’ve identified substantial savings. And in the days and weeks ahead, we will continue going through the budget line by line, and we’ll identify more than 100 programs that will be cut or eliminated.
But we can’t stop there. We need to go further, and we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to reforming government. That’s why I’m announcing several steps that my Administration will take in the weeks ahead to restore fiscal discipline while making our government work better.
First, we need to adhere to the basic principle that new tax or entitlement policies should be paid for. This principle – known as PAYGO – helped transform large deficits into surpluses in the 1990s. Now, we must restore that sense of fiscal discipline. That’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass PAYGO legislation like a bill that will be introduced by Congressman Baron Hill, so that government acts the same way any responsible family does in setting its budget.
Second, we’ll create new incentives to reduce wasteful spending and to invest in what works. We don’t want agencies to protect bloated budgets – we want them to promote effective programs. So the idea is simple: agencies that identify savings will get to keep a portion of those savings to invest in programs that work. The result will be a smaller budget, and a more effective government.
Third, we’ll look for ideas from the bottom up. After all, Americans across the country know that the best ideas often come from workers – not just management. That’s why we’ll establish a process through which every government worker can submit their ideas for how their agency can save money and perform better. We’ll put the suggestions that work into practice. And later this year, I will meet with those who come up with the best ideas to hear firsthand about how they would make your government more efficient and effective.
And finally, we will reach beyond the halls of government. Many businesses have innovative ways of using technology to save money, and many experts have new ideas to make government work more efficiently. Government can – and must – learn from them. So later this year, we will host a forum on reforming government for the 21st century, so that we’re also guided by voices that come from outside of Washington.
We cannot sustain deficits that mortgage our children’s future, nor tolerate wasteful inefficiency. Government has a responsibility to spend the peoples’ money wisely, and to serve the people effectively. I will work every single day that I am President to live up to that responsibility, and to transform our government so that is held to a higher standard of performance on behalf of the American people.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
ON HIGHER EDUCATION
Diplomatic Reception Room
1:46 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you. That was excellent — we might have to run her for something some day. (Laughter.) That was terrific. Thank you, Stephanie. I want to also introduce Yvonne Thomas, who is Stephanie’s proud mother. And we appreciate everything that you’ve done. And Stephanie’s father, Albert, is around here as well.
There are few things as fundamental to the American Dream or as essential for America’s success as a good education. This has never been more true than it is today. At a time when our children are competing with kids in China and India, the best job qualification you can have is a college degree or advanced training. If you do have that kind of education, then you’re well prepared for the future — because half of the fastest growing jobs in America require a Bachelor’s degree or more. And if you don’t have a college degree, you’re more than twice as likely to be unemployed as somebody who does. So the stakes could not be higher for young people like Stephanie.
And yet, in a paradox of American life, at the very moment it’s never been more important to have a quality higher education, the cost of that kind of that kind of education has never been higher. Over the past few decades, the cost of tuition at private colleges has more than doubled, while costs at public institutions have nearly tripled. Compounding the problem, tuition has grown ten times faster than a typical family’s income, putting new pressure on families that are already strained and pricing far too many students out of college altogether. Yet, we have a student loan system where we’re giving lenders billions of dollars in wasteful subsidies that could be used to make college more affordable for all Americans.
This trend — a trend where a quality higher education slips out of reach for ordinary Americans — threatens the dream of opportunity that is America’s promise to all its citizens. It threatens to widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots. And it threatens to undercut America’s competitiveness — because America cannot lead in the 21st century unless we have the best educated, most competitive workforce in the world. And that’s the kind of workforce — and the kind of citizenry — to which we should be committed.
And that’s why we have taken and proposed a number of sweeping steps over our first few months in office — steps that amount to the most significant efforts to open the doors of college to middle-class Americans since the GI Bill. Millions of working families are now eligible for a $2,500 annual tax credit that will help them pay the cost of tuition; a tax credit that will cover the full cost of tuition at most of the two-year community colleges that are some of the great and undervalued assets of our education system.
We’re also bringing much needed reform to the Pell Grants that roughly 30 percent of students rely on to put themselves through college. Today’s Pell Grants cover less than half as much tuition at a four-year public institution as they did a few decades ago. And that’s why we are adding $500 to the grants for this academic year, and raising the maximum Pell Grant to $5,550 next year, easing the financial burden on students and families.
And we are also changing the way the value of a Pell Grant is determined. Today, that value is set by Congress on an annual basis, making it vulnerable to Washington politics. What we are doing is pegging Pell Grants to a fixed rate above inflation so that these grants don’t cover less and less as families’ costs go up and up. And this will help prevent a projected shortfall in Pell Grant funding in a few years that could rob many of our poorest students of their dream of attending college. It will help ensure that Pell Grants are a source of funding that students can count on each and every year.
Now, while our nation has a responsibility to make college more affordable, colleges and universities have a responsibility to control spiraling costs. And that will require hard choices about where to save and where to spend. So I challenge state, college and university leaders to put affordability front and center as they chart a path forward. I challenge them to follow the example of the University of Maryland, where they’re streamlining administrative costs, cutting energy costs, using faculty more effectively, making it possible for them to freeze tuition for students and for families.
At the same time, we’re also working to modernize and expand the Perkins Loan Program by changing a system where colleges are rewarded for raising tuition, and instead, rewarding them for making college more affordable.
Now just as we’ve opened the doors of college to every American, we also have to ensure that more students can walk through them. And that’s why I’ve challenged every American to commit to at least one year of higher education or advanced training — because by the end of the next decade, I want to see America have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. We used to have that; we no longer do. We are going to get that lead back.
And to help us achieve that goal, we are investing $2.5 billion to identify and support innovative initiatives that have a record of success in boosting enrollment and graduation rates — initiatives like the IBEST program in Washington state that combines basic and career skills classes to ensure that students not only complete college, but are competitive in the workforce from the moment they graduate.
And to help cover the cost of all this, we’re going to eliminate waste, reduce inefficiency, and cut what we don’t need to pay for what we do. And that includes reforming our student loan system so that it better serves the people it’s supposed to serve — our students.
Right now, there are two main kinds of federal loans. First, there are Direct Loans. These are loans where tax dollars go directly to help students pay for tuition, not to pad the profits of private lenders. The other kinds of loans are Federal Family Education Loans. These loans, known as FFEL loans, make up the majority of all college loans. Under the FFEL program, lenders get a big government subsidy with every loan they make. And these loans are then guaranteed with taxpayer money, which means that if a student defaults, a lender can get back almost all of its money from our government.
And there’s only one real difference between Direct Loans and private FFEL loans. It’s that under the FFEL program, taxpayers are paying banks a premium to act as middlemen — a premium that costs the American people billions of dollars each year. Well, that’s a premium we cannot afford — not when we could be reinvesting that same money in our students, in our economy, and in our country.
And that’s why I’ve called for ending the FFEL program and shifting entirely over to Direct Loans. It’s a step that even a conservative estimate predicts will save tens of billions of tax dollars over the next ten years. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the money we could save by cutting out the middleman would pay for 95 percent of our plan to guarantee growing Pell Grants. This would help ensure that every American, everywhere in this country, can out-compete any worker, anywhere in the world.
In the end, this is not about growing the size of government or relying on the free market — because it’s not a free market when we have a student loan system that’s rigged to reward private lenders without any risk. It’s about whether we want to give tens of billions of tax dollars to special interests or whether we want to make college more affordable for eight and a half million more students. I think most of us would agree on what the right answer is.
Now, some of you have probably seen how this proposal was greeted by the special interests. The banks and the lenders who have reaped a windfall from these subsidies have mobilized an army of lobbyists to try to keep things the way they are. They are gearing up for battle. So am I. They will fight for their special interests. I will fight for Stephanie, and other American students and their families. And for those who care about America’s future, this is a battle we can’t afford to lose.
So I am looking forward to having this debate in the days and weeks ahead. And I am confident that if all of us here in Washington do what’s in the best interests of the people we represent, and reinvest not only in opening the doors of college but making sure students can walk through them, then we will help deliver the change that the American people sent us here to make. We will help Americans fulfill their promise as individuals. And we will help America fulfill its promise as a nation.
So thank you very much. And thank you, Stephanie. And thank you, Stephanie’s mom.
All right. Thanks, guys.
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
Dwight D. Eisenhower Executive Office Building
12:02 P.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: Good morning. I decided not to bring Bo today — because he stepped on my economic speech yesterday. (Laughter.)
Good morning. I know that April 15th isn’t exactly everyone’s favorite date on the calendar. But it is an important opportunity for those of us in Washington to consider our responsibilities to the people who sent us here and who pay the bills. And I’ve brought some friends of mine who sent me here and pay the bills.
Across America, families like the people who join me have had tough choices forced upon them because of this economic downturn. Many have lost a job; many are fighting to keep their business open. Many more are struggling to make payments, to stay in their home, or to pursue a college education. And these Americans are the backbone of our economy, the backbone of our middle class. They’re the workers, the innovators, the students who are going to be powering our recovery. So their dreams have to be our own. They need a government that is working to create jobs and opportunity for them, rather than simply giving more and more to those at the very top in the false hope that wealth automatically trickles down.
And that’s why my administration has taken far-reaching action to give tax cuts to the Americans who need them, while jump-starting growth and job creation in the process. We start from the simple premise that we should reduce the tax burden on working people, while helping Americans go to college, own a home, raise a family, start a business and save for retirement.
Those goals are the foundation of the American Dream, and they are the focus of my tax policy.
First, we’ve passed a broad and sweeping tax cut for 95 percent of American workers. This tax cut was a core focus of my campaign, it was a core component of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and it is the most progressive tax cut in American history. And starting April 1st, Americans saw this tax cut in the extra money that they took home with each paycheck.
Make no mistake: This tax cut will reach 120 million families and put $120 billion directly into their pockets, and it includes the most American workers ever to get a tax cut. This is going to boost demand, and it will save or create over half a million jobs. And the Congressional Budget Office has found that tax cuts like these for American workers are more than three times more effective in stimulating recovery than tax breaks for the very wealthiest Americans.
This tax cut also keeps a fundamental promise: that Americans who work hard should be able to make a decent living. It lifts more than 2 million Americans out of poverty. And together with the child tax credit, it ensures that a working parent will be able to support their family.
Second, we are helping small businesses keep their doors open so they can weather this economic storm and create good jobs. Instead of the normal two years, small businesses are now allowed to offset their losses during this downturn against the income they’ve earned over the last five years. And this could provide a record number of refunds for small businesses, which will provide them with the lifeline they need to maintain inventory and pay their workers.
Third, we are helping Americans get the education they need to succeed in a global economy. For years we’ve seen the price of tuition skyrocket at the same time that it became more and more important to earn a college degree. And that’s why we are making college more affordable for every American that needs a hand. That is why we are committed to simplifying the student loan process so more families can get the help they need. And that’s also why our $2,500 tax credit for all four years of college will help us reach a goal that will help our country lead in the 21st century: By 2020, Americans once again will have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.
Fourth, we are helping more Americans purchase homes that they can afford. Just as we must put an end to the irresponsible lending and borrowing that created the housing bubble, we must restore the home as a source of stability and an anchor of the American Dream. That’s why we’re providing a tax credit of up to $8,000 for first-time home buyers, which will put a home within reach for hardworking Americans who are playing by the rules and making responsible choices. And by the way, there are at least a couple of folks here who have already used that $8,000 credit, and I think it’s wonderful to see that this is already prompting some willingness for people to go ahead and make that first-time purchase where they thought maybe it was out of reach before.
Fifth, we know that tax relief must be joined with fiscal discipline. Americans are making hard choices in their budgets, and we’ve got to tighten our belts in Washington, as well. And that’s why we’ve already identified $2 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade. And that’s why we’re cutting programs that don’t work, contracts that aren’t fair, and spending that we don’t need.
We’re also doing away with the unnecessary giveaways that have thrown our tax code out of balance. I said this during the campaign, I’m now saying it as President: We need to stop giving tax breaks to companies that stash profits or ship jobs overseas so we can invest in job creation here at home. And we need to end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans, so that people like me, who are extraordinarily lucky, are paying the same rates that the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans paid when Bill Clinton was President.
Finally, we need to simplify a monstrous tax code that is far too complicated for most Americans to understand, but just complicated enough for the insiders who know how to game the system. So I’ve already started by asking Paul Volcker and my Economic Recovery Board to do a thorough review of how to simplify our tax code, and to report back to me by the end of this year. It’s going to take time to undo the damage of years of carve-outs and loopholes. But I want every American to know that we will rewrite the tax code so that it puts your interests over any special interests. And we’ll make it easier, quicker and less expensive for you to file a return, so that April 15th is not a date that is approached with dread every year.
Now, I just had a conversation with these wonderful Americans, and like people I talked to all across the country, they’re not looking for a free ride. Every single person here is working hard and deserves a chance to get ahead. And they’re a family like — families like the Kirkwoods, who just want to own their own business and put away some money away for their kids’ college tuition. And they’re workers like Clark Harrison, behind me, who has worked hard and wants to be able to purchase that first home. They’re business owners like Alan Givens, who wants his company to sustain itself through bad times as well as the good. And I was encouraged to hear that Alan’s business is going strong on a whole bunch of clean energy measures that he’s helping to promote in his area.
For too long, we’ve seen taxes used as a wedge to scare people into supporting policies that actually increased the burden on working people instead of helping them live their dreams. That has to change, and that’s the work that we’ve begun. We’ve passed tax cuts that will help our economy grow. We’ve made a clear promise that families that earn less than $250,000 a year will not see their taxes increase by a single dime. And we have kept to those promises that were made during the campaign. We’ve given tax relief to the Americans who need it and the workers who have earned it. And we’re helping more Americans move towards their American Dream by going to school, owning a home, keeping their business and raising their family.
So on this April 15th, we’re reminded of the enormous responsibility that comes with handling peoples’ tax dollars. And we’re renewing our commitment to a simpler tax code that rewards work and the pursuit of the American Dream. And I just again want to personally thank all of the families, folks who join me here today, because they inspire me to do what I do every single day.
All right, thank you, everybody.
We at The Kaleidoscope Factor balk at gossip and celebrity news unless there is some type of hypocrisy that we can pounce on. But recently, we have come across information that may not be news to those close to the story, but sort of relevant to others.
80′s heart-throb and music sensation Al B. Sure! has been accused by his son, Quincy Brown, of being a dead-beat father. It is remarkable how African American male celebrities can basically get away with murder and not be held accountable to their fan base for their actions. Al B. Sure! was every sistas dream man and potential father of their fantasy children.
Apparently, those unfortunate ladies who did end up with Al B. Sure and had subsequent children with him, got the short end of the stick.
But the one thing that I have to admire about this whole situation is the galant effort that Sean Puffy Combs has displayed in stepping into the role of Dad to Quincy Brown. I am not a Puffy fan, but I do admire him for steppingup to the plate that Al B. Sure! deserted. Check out the well-crafted letter of Quincy Brown to his father, Al B. Sure!:
A Letter To My Father
I’ve been inspired throughout my life by special circumstances and unique experiences. Foremost, I grew up with a family that injected me with unconditional love and enduring confidence. This is my foundation … the family holidays and celebrations with my maternal lineage … supportive smiles in audiences at school programs … guiding hands to complete homework and special projects in the wee hours of the morning.
However, I grew up without my father, an irreplaceable force and influence that was absent in my life. I watched other kids enjoy the embrace of theirs, and I searched for a way to reconcile the meaning of my circumstance.
Despite my pain, I’ve imagined a life as a good son with my father. Baseball … Playing in School Band … Church … All of the things that he would expect his son to do, I’ve done. I’ve stood in front of audiences to receive awards. I heard their applause and praise. But, the accolades have been absent the sound of his clapping hands and encouraging words … his voice that I could distinguish in my sleep. Where has he been?
Now, I reflect on the journey, the pain, the challenges, and the triumphs through this song. I’m reconciled as a man, no longer a boy, in verse. Now, I know that I’m not alone.
Albert Brown, also known as “Al B Sure!” is my biological father, but Sean Combs, also known as “Diddy” has been a father figure in my life for as long as I can remember. Sean Combs is the person whom I look up to and appreciate as a father. He is the one who help mold me into the person I am today and will always try to live up to his expectations. He has always been supportive of me and I will forever love and respect him. As far as my biological father goes, the “spitting image” is all I have taken from him. Throughout my life, I’ve always wondered about him; Where he was? What was he doing? and most importantly, Was he even thinking about me? The absence of my father has given me a better understanding of what type of man I am going to be. I am grateful for my mom’s love, support, guidance, and for her strength.
To those who share my plight, know that you have a great future … a DESTINY. Take the lemons that you are handed and make lemonade. Your journey is in “A Letter To My Father.”
- Quincy “iQ” Brown
Doctor That Treated Widow Of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Arrested For Practicing Medicine Without A License!
The doctor who treated the late Coretta Scott King for ovarian cancer was arrested in California this week in the middle of his radio broadcast.
Kurt Donsbach, 73, was formally charged on 11 felony counts that included practicing medicine with out a state license. Bail was set at $1.5 million dollars. Donsbach is known for his naturopathic approach for treating various diseases with unorthodox or holistic approaches.
Donsbach’s website, Letstalkhealth.com, disseminates naturopathic information and dispenses natural supplements that carry the claims that theses can cure arthritis and cancer.
The late widow of Dr. Martin Luther King, Coretta Scott King, was treated by Kurt Donsbach in 2006 at his clinic, Santa Monica Health Institute, located in Rosarito, Mexico. In 1997, Donsbach was sentenced to one year in prison for smuggling $250,000 in unapproved drugs into the U.S from Mexico.
California District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis stated the following after an extensive FBI investigation:
“The defendant preyed on vulnerable patients who were looking for medical help. Under the guise of providing natural and safe supplements, he sold victims potentially dangerous drugs.”