NATIONAL SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH, 2010
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Every day, women, men, and children across America suffer
the pain and trauma of sexual assault. From verbal harassment
and intimidation to molestation and rape, this crime occurs
far too frequently, goes unreported far too often, and leaves
long-lasting physical and emotional scars. During National
Sexual Assault Awareness Month, we recommit ourselves not only
to lifting the veil of secrecy and shame surrounding sexual
violence, but also to raising awareness, expanding support for
victims, and strengthening our response.
Sexual violence is an affront to our national conscience,
one which we cannot ignore. It disproportionately affects
women — an estimated one in six American women will experience
an attempted or completed rape at some point in her life. Too
many men and boys are also affected.
These facts are deeply troubling, and yet, sexual violence
affects Americans of all ages, backgrounds, and circumstances.
Alarming rates of sexual violence occur among young women
attending college, and frequently, alcohol or drugs are used
to incapacitate the victim. Among people with disabilities,
isolation may lead to repeated assaults and an inability to
seek and locate help. Native American women are more than
twice as likely to be sexually assaulted compared with the
general population. As a Nation, we share the responsibility
for protecting each other from sexual assault, supporting
victims when it does occur, and bringing perpetrators to
We can lead this charge by confronting and changing
insensitive attitudes wherever they persist. Survivors too
often suffer in silence because they fear further injury, are
unwilling to experience further humiliation, or lack faith
in the criminal justice system. This feeling of isolation,
often compounded with suicidal feelings, depression, and
post-traumatic stress disorder, only exacerbate victims’
sense of hopelessness. No one should face this trauma alone,
and as families, friends, and mentors, we can empower victims
to seek the assistance they need.
At the Federal, State, local, and tribal level, we must
work to provide necessary resources to victims of every
circumstance, including medical attention, mental health
services, relocation and housing assistance, and advocacy during
legal proceedings. Under Vice President Biden’s leadership, the
2005 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act included
the Sexual Assault Services Program, the first-ever funding
stream dedicated solely to providing direct services to victims
of sexual assault. To further combat sexual violence, my 2011
Budget doubles funding for this program. Through the Justice
Department and the Centers for Disease Control, we are funding
prevention and awareness campaigns as well as grants for campus
services to address sexual assault on college campuses. The
Justice Department has also increased funding and resources to
combat violence against Native American women.
As we continue to confront this crime, let us reaffirm this
month our dedication to take action in our communities and stop
abuse before it starts. Together, we can increase awareness
about sexual violence, decrease its frequency, punish offenders,
help victims, and heal lives.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the
United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in
me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do
hereby proclaim April 2010 as National Sexual Assault Awareness
Month. I urge all Americans to reach out to victims, learn more
about this crime, and speak out against it.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
first day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten,
and of the Independence of the United States of America the
two hundred and thirty-fourth.
NATIONAL CANCER CONTROL MONTH, 2010
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Cancer is among the leading causes of death in our country,
taking over half a million American lives in the past year
alone. This illness has stricken countless individuals and
families in communities across our Nation, but the future holds
untold promise. We continue to make monumental strides in
managing and understanding cancer, and rates of new cases and
deaths have declined for men and women overall in recent years.
During National Cancer Control Month, let us renew our
commitment to combat this disease by raising awareness and
supporting the development of life-saving treatments.
With simple, everyday activities, we all can take steps
to protect ourselves and our loved ones from cancer. Americans
should discuss preventive care with a health professional.
Getting regular check-ups and screenings can help reduce the
risk of developing certain cancers and help detect cancer early,
when it is most treatable. Changing unhealthy habits can often
help prevent cancer before it forms. By limiting sun exposure
and alcohol consumption, avoiding tobacco, exercising regularly,
and maintaining a nutritious diet, we can each reduce our risk
of developing cancer. I encourage all who are struggling
to quit smoking to visit SmokeFree.gov for resources and
My Administration is committed to supporting every American
who is fighting cancer, and we have invested in innovative
research through the National Institutes of Health to develop
more effective treatments. While cancer affects people of every
background and economic status, disparities exist between races,
ethnicities, and incomes regarding the likelihood of survival.
Community cancer centers will play an important role in closing
these gaps and bringing hope to underserved citizens.
Like too many Americans, I know the pain of losing a loved
one to cancer, and I carry the memory of my mother’s courage
with me each day. Inspired by the stories and tenacity of
patients and survivors, and guided by our love for those we have
lost, we will one day triumph over this devastating illness.
The Congress of the United States, by joint resolution
approved March 28, 1938 (52 Stat. 148; 36 U.S.C. 103), as
amended, has requested the President to issue an annual
proclamation declaring April as “Cancer Control Month.”
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the
United States of America, do hereby proclaim April 2010 as
National Cancer Control Month. I call upon citizens, government
agencies, organizations, health care providers, and research
institutions to raise cancer awareness and continue helping
Americans live longer, healthier lives.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this
first day of April, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten,
and of the Independence of the United States of America the
two hundred and thirty-fourth.
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.
President Obama In Japan: “We Will Not Be Cowed By Threats, And We Will Continue To Send A Clear Message Through Our Actions And NOt Just Our Words”
Remarks of President Barack Obama
November 14, 2009
Good morning. It is a great honor to be in Tokyo—the first stop on my first visit to Asia as President. It’s good to be among so many of you – Japanese and Americans – who work every day to strengthen the bonds between our two countries, including my longtime friend and our new ambassador to Japan, John Roos.
It is wonderful to be back in Japan. When I was a young boy, my mother brought me to Kamakura, where I looked up at that centuries-old symbol of peace and tranquility – the great bronze Amida Buddha. As a child, I was more focused on the matcha ice cream. But I have never forgotten the warmth and hospitality that the Japanese people showed a young American far from home.
I feel that same spirit on this visit. In the gracious welcome of Prime Minister Hatoyama. In the honor of meeting with Their Imperial Majesties, the Emperor and Empress on the 20th anniversary of his accession to the Chrysanthemum Throne. In the hospitality shown by the Japanese people. And of course, I could not come here without sending greetings and my gratitude to the citizens of Obama, Japan.
I am beginning my journey here for a simple reason. Since taking office, I have worked to renew American leadership and pursue a new era of engagement with the world based on mutual interests and mutual respect. And our efforts in the Asia Pacific will be rooted, in no small measure, through an enduring and revitalized alliance between the United States and Japan.
From my first days in office, we have worked to strengthen the ties that bind our nations. The first foreign leader that I welcomed to the White House was the prime minister of Japan, and for the first time in nearly fifty years, the first foreign trip by an American secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, was to Asia, starting in Japan.
In two months, our alliance will mark its 50th anniversary – a day when President Dwight Eisenhower stood next to Japan’s Prime Minister and said that our two nations were creating “an indestructible partnership” based on “equality and mutual understanding.”
In the half century since, that alliance has endured as a foundation of our security and prosperity. It has helped us become the world’s two largest economies, with Japan emerging as America’s second-largest trading partner outside of North America. It has evolved as Japan has played a larger role on the world stage, and made important contributions to stability around the world – from reconstruction in Iraq, to combating piracy off the Horn of Africa, to assistance for the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan – most recently through its remarkable leadership in providing additional commitments to international development efforts there.
Above all, our alliance has endured because it reflects our common values – a belief in the democratic right of free people to choose their own leaders and realize their own dreams; a belief that made possible the election of both Prime Minister Hatoyama and myself on the promise of change. And together, we are committed to providing a new generation of leadership for our people, and our alliance.
That is why, at this critical moment in history, the two of us have not only reaffirmed our alliance – we have agreed to deepen it. We have agreed to move expeditiously through a joint working group to implement the agreement that our two governments reached on restructuring US forces in Okinawa. And as our alliance evolves and adapts for the future, we will always strive to uphold the spirit that President Eisenhower described long ago – a partnership of equality and mutual respect.
But while our commitment to this region begins in Japan, it does not end here. The United States of America may have started as a series of ports and cities along the Atlantic, but for generations we also have been a nation of the Pacific. Asia and the United States are not separated by this great ocean; we are bound by it. We are bound by our past – by the Asian immigrants who helped build America, and the generations of Americans in uniform who have served and sacrificed to keep this region secure and free. We are bound by our shared prosperity – by the trade and commerce upon which millions of jobs and families depend. And we are bound by our people – by the Asian Americans who enrich every segment of American life. and all the people whose lives, like our countries, are interwoven.
My own life is a part of that story. I am an American President who was born in Hawaii and lived in Indonesia as a boy. My sister Maya was born in Jakarta, and later married a Chinese-Canadian. My mother spent nearly a decade working in the villages of Southeast Asia, helping women buy a sewing machine or an education that might give them a foothold in the world economy. So the Pacific rim has helped shape my view of the world.
Since that time, perhaps no region has changed as swiftly or dramatically. Controlled economies have given way to open markets. Dictatorships have become democracies. Living standards have risen while poverty has plummeted. And through all these changes, the fortunes of America and the Asia Pacific have become more closely linked than ever before.
So I want every American to know that we have a stake in the future of this region, because what happens here has a direct affect on our lives at home. This is where we engage in much of our commerce and buy many of our goods. And this is where we can export more of our own products and create jobs back home in the process. This is a place where the risk of a nuclear arms race threatens the security of the wider world, and where extremists who defile a great religion plan attacks on both our continents. And there can be no solution to our energy security and our climate challenge without the rising powers and developing nations of the Asia Pacific.
To meet these common challenges, the United States looks to strengthen old alliances and build new partnerships with the nations of this region. To do this, we look to America’s treaty alliances with Japan, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and the Philippines – alliances that are not historical documents from a bygone era, but abiding commitments to each other that are fundamental to our shared security.
These alliances continue to provide the bedrock of security and stability that has allowed the nations and peoples of this region to pursue opportunity and prosperity that was unimaginable at the time of my first visit to Japan. And even as American troops are engaged in two wars around the world, our commitment to Japan’s security and to Asian security is unshakeable, and it can be seen in our deployments throughout the region –above all, through our young men and women in uniform
We look to emerging nations that are poised to play a larger role – both in the Asia Pacific region and the wider world. Places like Indonesia and Malaysia that have adopted democracy, developed their economies, and tapped the great potential of their own people.
We look to rising powers with the view that in the 21st century, the national security and economic growth of one country need not come at the expense of another. I know there are many who question how the United States perceives China’s emergence. But as I have said – in an inter-connected world, power does not need to be a zero-sum game, and nations need not fear the success of another. Cultivating spheres of cooperation – not competing spheres of influence – will lead to progress in the Asia Pacific.
As with any nation, America will approach China with a focus on our interests. And it is precisely for this reason that it is important to pursue pragmatic cooperation with China on issues of mutual concern – because no one nation can meet the challenges of the 21st century alone, and the United States and China will both be better off when we are able to meet them together. That is why we welcome China’s efforts to play a greater role on the world stage – a role in which their growing economy is joined by growing responsibility. China’s partnership has proved critical in our effort to jumpstart economic recovery. China has promoted security and stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan. And it is now committed to the global nonproliferation regime, and supporting the pursuit of the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.
So the United States does not seek to contain China, nor does a deeper relationship with China mean a weakening of our bilateral alliances. On the contrary, the rise of a strong, prosperous China can be a source of strength for the community of nations. And so in Beijing and beyond, we will work to deepen our Strategic and Economic Dialogue, and improve communication between our militaries. We will not agree on every issue, and the United States will never waver in speaking up for the fundamental values that we hold dear – and that includes respect for the religion and cultures of all people. Because support for human rights and human dignity is ingrained in America. But we can move these discussions forward in a spirit of partnership rather than rancor.
In addition to our bilateral relations, we also believe that the growth of multilateral organizations can advance the security and prosperity of this region. I know that the United States has been disengaged from these organizations in recent years. So let me be clear: those days have passed. As an Asia Pacific nation, the United States expects to be involved in the discussions that shape the future of this region, and to participate fully in appropriate organizations as they are established and evolve.
That is the work that I will begin on this trip. The Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum will continue to promote regional commerce and prosperity, and I look forward to participating in that forum tomorrow. ASEAN will remain a catalyst for Southeast Asian dialogue, cooperation and security, and I look forward to becoming the first American President to meet with all ten of its leaders. And the United States looks forward to engaging with the East Asia Summit more formally as it plays a role in addressing the challenges of our time.
We seek this deeper and broader engagement because we know our collective future depends on it. And I’d like to speak for a bit about what that future can look like, and what we must do to advance our prosperity, our security, and our universal values and aspirations.
First, we must strengthen our economic recovery, and pursue growth that is both balanced and sustained.
The quick, unprecedented and coordinated action taken by Asia Pacific nations and others has averted economic catastrophe, and helped us begin to emerge from the worst recession in generations. And we have taken the historic step of reforming our international economic architecture, so that the G-20 is now the premier forum for international economic cooperation.
This shift to the G-20 – along with the greater voice that is being given to Asian nations in international financial institutions – clearly demonstrates the broader and more inclusive engagement that America seeks in the 21st century. And as a key member of the G-8, Japan has and will continue to play a leading role in shaping the future of the international financial architecture.
Now that we are on the brink of economic recovery, we must also ensure that it can be sustained. We simply cannot return to the same cycles of boom and bust that led us into a global recession. We cannot follow the same policies that led to such imbalanced growth. One of the important lessons this recession has taught us is the limits of depending primarily on American consumers and Asian exports to drive growth. Because when Americans found themselves in debt or out of work, demand for Asian goods plummeted. When demand fell sharply, exports from this region fell sharply. Since the economies of this region are so dependent on exports, they stopped growing. And the global recession only deepened.
We have now reached one of those rare inflection points in history where we have the opportunity to take a different path. And that must begin with the G20 pledge that we made in Pittsburgh to pursue a new strategy for balanced economic growth.
I’ll be saying more about this in Singapore, but in the United States, this new strategy will mean saving more and spending less, reforming our financial system and reducing our long-term deficit. It will also mean a greater emphasis on exports that we can build, produce, and sell all over the world. For America, this is a jobs strategy. Right now, our exports support millions upon millions of well-paying American jobs. Increasing those exports by just a small amount has the potential to create millions more. These are jobs making everything from wind turbines and solar panels to the technology you use every day.
For Asia, striking this better balance will provide an opportunity for workers and consumers to enjoy higher standards of living that their remarkable increases in productivity have made possible. It will allow for greater investments in housing, infrastructure, and the service sector. And a more balanced global economy will lead to prosperity that reaches further and deeper.
For decades, the United States has had one of the most open markets in the world, and that openness has helped fuel the success of so many countries in this region and others over the last century. In this new era, opening other markets around the globe will be critical not just to America’s prosperity, but to the world’s.
An integral part of this new strategy is working toward an ambitious and balanced Doha agreement – not any agreement, but an agreement that will open up markets and increase exports around the world. We are ready to work with our Asian partners to see if we can achieve that objective in a timely fashion – and we invite our regional trading partners to join us at the table.
We also believe that continued integration of the economies of this region will benefit workers, consumers, and businesses in all of our nations. Together, with our South Korean friends, we will work through the issues necessary to move forward on a trade agreement with them. The United States will also be engaging with the Trans Pacific partnership countries with the goal of shaping a regional agreement that will have broad-based membership and the high standards worthy of a 21st century trade agreement.
Working in partnership, this is how we can sustain this recovery and advance our common prosperity. But it’s not enough to pursue growth that is balanced. We also need growth that is sustainable – for our planet and the future generations that will live here.
Already, the United States has taken more steps to combat climate change in ten months than we have in our recent history: by embracing the latest science, investing in new energy, raising efficiency standards, forging new partnerships, and engaging in international climate negotiations. In short, America knows there is more work to do – but we are meeting our responsibility, and will continue to do so.
That includes striving for success in Copenhagen. I have no illusions that this will be easy, but the contours of a way forward are clear. All nations must accept their responsibility. Those nations – like my own – who have been the leading emitters must have clear reduction targets. Developing countries will need to take substantial actions to curb their emissions, aided by finance and technology. And there must be transparency and accountability for domestic actions.
Each of us must do what we can to grow our economies without endangering our planet – and we must do it together. But the good news is that if we put the right rules and incentives in place, it will unleash the creative power of our best scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs. It will lead to new jobs, new businesses, and entire new industries.
Yet, even as we confront this challenge of the 21st century, we must also redouble our efforts to meet a threat to our security that is the legacy of the 20th century – the danger posed by nuclear weapons.
In Prague, I affirmed America’s commitment to rid the world of nuclear weapons, and laid out a comprehensive agenda to pursue this goal. I am pleased that Japan has joined us in this effort. No two nations on Earth know better what these weapons can do, and together we must seek a future without them. This is fundamental to our common security, and this is a great test of our common humanity. Our very future hangs in the balance.
Let me be clear: so long as these weapons exist, the United States will maintain a strong and effective nuclear deterrent that guarantees the defense of our allies – including South Korea and Japan.
But we must recognize that an escalating nuclear arms race in this region would undermine decades of growing security and prosperity. So we are called upon to uphold the basic bargain of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – that all nations have a right to peaceful nuclear energy; that nations with nuclear weapons have a responsibility to move toward nuclear disarmament; and those without them have the responsibility to forsake them.
Indeed, Japan serves as an example to the world that true peace and power can be achieved by taking this path. For decades, Japan has enjoyed the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy, while rejecting nuclear arms development – and by any measure, this has increased Japan’s security, and enhanced its position.
To meet our responsibilities – and move forward with the agenda I laid out in Prague – we have passed a unanimous UN Security Council resolution embracing this international effort. We are pursuing a new agreement with Russia to reduce our nuclear stockpiles. We will work to ratify and bring into force the Test Ban Treaty. And next year at our Nuclear Security Summit, we will advance our goal of securing all of the world’s vulnerable nuclear materials within four years.
As I have said before, strengthening the global nonproliferation regime is not about singling out individual nations. It is about all nations living up to their responsibilities. That includes the Islamic Republic of Iran. And it includes North Korea.
For decades, North Korea has chosen a path of confrontation and provocation, including the pursuit of nuclear weapons. It should be clear where that path leads. We have tightened sanctions on Pyongyang. We have passed the most sweeping UN Security Council resolution to date to restrict their weapons of mass destruction activities. We will not be cowed by threats, and we will continue to send a clear message through our actions, and not just our words: North Korea’s refusal to meet its international obligations will lead only to less security – not more.
Yet there is another path that can be taken. Working in tandem with our partners – and supported by direct diplomacy – the United States is prepared to offer North Korea a different future. Instead of an isolation that has compounded the horrific repression of its own people, North Korea could have a future of international integration. Instead of gripping poverty, it could have a future of economic opportunity – where trade, investment and tourism can offer the North Korean people the chance at a better life. And instead of increasing insecurity, it could have a future of greater security and respect. This respect cannot be earned through belligerence. It must be reached by a nation that takes its place in the international community by fully living up to its international obligations.
The path for North Korea to realize this future is clear: a return to the Six-Party Talks; upholding previous commitments, including a return to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty; and the full and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. And full normalization with its neighbors can only come if Japanese families receive a full accounting of those who have been abducted. These are all steps that can be taken by the North Korean government, if they are interested in improving the lives of their people and joining the community of nations.
And as we are vigilant in confronting this challenge, we will stand with all of our Asian partners in combating the transnational threats of the 21st century: by rooting out the extremists who slaughter the innocent, and stopping the piracy that threatens our sea lanes; by enhancing our efforts to stop infectious disease, and working to end extreme poverty in our time; and by shutting down the traffickers who exploit women, children and migrants, and putting a stop to this scourge of modern-day slavery once and for all.
Indeed, the final area in which we must work together is in upholding the fundamental rights and dignity of all human beings.
The Asia Pacific region is rich with many cultures. It is marked by extraordinary traditions and strong national histories. And time and again, we have seen the remarkable talent and drive of the peoples of this region in advancing human progress. Yet this much is also clear – indigenous cultures and economic growth have not been stymied by respect for human rights, they have been strengthened by it. Supporting human rights provides lasting security that cannot be purchased in any other way – that is the story that can be seen in Japan’s democracy, just as it can be seen in America’s.
The longing for liberty and dignity is a part of the story of all peoples. For there are certain aspirations that human beings hold in common: the freedom to speak your mind, and choose your leaders; the ability to access information, and worship how you please; confidence in the rule of law, and the equal administration of justice. These are not impediments to stability, they are its cornerstones. And we will always stand on the side of those who seek these rights.
That truth guides our new approach to Burma. Despite years of good intentions, neither sanctions by the United States nor engagement by others succeeded in improving the lives of the Burmese people. So we are now communicating directly with the leadership to make it clear that existing sanctions will remain until there are concrete steps toward democratic reform. We support a Burma that is unified, peaceful, prosperous, and democratic. And as Burma moves in that direction, a better relationship with the United States is possible.
There are clear steps that must be taken – the unconditional release of all political prisoners, including Aung San Suu Kyi; an end to conflicts with minority groups; and a genuine dialogue between the government, the democratic opposition and minority groups on a shared vision for the future. That is how a government in Burma will be able to respond to the needs of its people. That is the path that will bring Burma true security and prosperity.
These are the steps that the United States will take to improve prosperity, security, and human dignity in the Asia Pacific. We will do so through our close friendship with Japan – which will always be a centerpiece of our efforts in the region. We will do so as a partner – through the broader engagement that I have discussed today. We will do so as a Pacific nation – with a President who was shaped in part by this piece of the globe. And we will do so with the same sense of purpose that has guided our ties with the Japanese people for nearly fifty years.
The story of how these ties were forged dates back to the middle of the last century, some time after the guns of war had quieted in the Pacific. It was then that America’s commitment to the security and stability of Japan, along with the Japanese peoples’ spirit of resilience and industriousness, led to what has been called the Japanese Miracle – a period of economic growth that was faster and more robust than anything the world had seen for some time.
In the coming years and decades, this Miracle would spread throughout the region, and in a single generation, the lives and fortunes of millions were forever changed for the better. It is progress that has been supported by a hard-earned peace, and strengthened by new bridges of mutual understanding that have bound together the nations of this vast and sprawling space.
But we know that there is still work to be done – so that new breakthroughs in science and technology can lead to jobs on both sides of the Pacific, and security from a warming planet; so that we reverse the spread of deadly weapons, and – on a divided peninsula – the people of the South can be freed from fear, while those in the north can live free from want; so that a young girl van be valued not for her body but for her mind, and so that young people everywhere can go as far as their talent, their drive, and their choices will take them.
None of this will come easy, nor without setback or struggle. But at this moment of renewal – in this land of miracles – history tells us it is possible. This is America’s agenda. This is the purpose of our partnership – with Japan, and with the nations and peoples of this region. And there must be no doubt: as America’s first Pacific President, I promise you that this Pacific nation will strengthen and sustain our leadership in this vitally important part of the world. Thank you very much
The Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin is at war again. Not with Beyonce or some wannabe pop goddess in training. No this war is about felt. A hat.
Sister Re-Re is definitely not happy with her milliner Luke Song. Who is Luke Song? Everyone in the fashion industry has been buzzed with extreme excitement over the work of Luke Song which is embodied in the grey felt, crystal lined bow hat that Aretha Franklin wore to the Obama inauguration.
The hat caused a stir heard around the world. The lips of every comedian alive couldn’t believe the comedic material that fell plum out of the sky. Because of the popularity of the hat, Luke Song has more than doubled his millinery business located in Detroit. Various versions of the hat named “the Aretha,” have flown off shelves just in time for Mother’s Day.
However, the Queen is not so happy with Mr. Song. In spite of the enormous success that her long-time hatter is now enjoying due to her appearance in it, the Queen wants more. Aretha wants recognition and royalties. Yep. Royalties.
Granted, Luke Song and Aretha did collaborate on the creation of the hat. Yet, the final artistic genius came from Song. But, Aretha believes that she should get a cut of “the Aretha” profits.
Sister Re-Re, you can’t get royalties off a hat. It is a hat, not a song. It’s a Song creation. But not a song…song. No royalties there. No matter how peeved she may be at Luke Song for not mailing her a check, Queen Aretha wore a Mr. Song Millinery original to the Kentucky Derby.
FACT SHEET: President Obama Highlights Vision For Clean Energy Economy
WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Obama traveled to Newton, Iowa today to visit Trinity Structural Towers, the former Maytag appliance factory that now houses a green manufacturing facility, which produces towers for wind energy production and employs dozens of former Maytag employees. Marking Earth Day, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to a comprehensive energy plan that lessens our dependence on foreign oil, creates jobs and helps win the race toward clean energy technology. With the depletion of the world’s oil reserves and the growing disruption of our climate, the development of clean, renewable sources of energy is the growth industry of the 21st century.
“The choice we face is not between saving our environment and saving our economy – it’s a choice between prosperity and decline,” President Obama said. “The nation that leads the world in creating new sources of clean energy will be the nation that leads the 21st century global economy.”
The President’s energy policy will jump-start the creation of an American Clean Energy sector that will create millions of clean energy jobs. The President underscored how jobs at Trinity are examples of the opportunities this sector will create for workers not just in the factories that manufacture wind turbines, but also across the economy, for workers who weatherize our homes and research new technologies.
Today, President Obama unveiled a program to develop the renewable energy projects on the waters of our Outer Continental Shelf that produce electricity from wind, wave, and ocean currents. These regulations will enable, for the first time ever, the nation to tap into our ocean’s vast sustainable resources to generate clean energy in an environmentally sound and safe manner.
President Obama will pursue comprehensive legislation to move toward energy independence and prevent the worst consequences of climate change – while creating the incentives to make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America.
To take this country in the right direction, Congress must pass comprehensive legislation to protect our nation from the serious economic and strategic risks associated with our reliance on foreign oil and the destabilizing effects of a changing climate. Policies to advance energy and climate security should promote economic recovery efforts, accelerate job creation, and drive clean energy manufacturing by:
- Creating new Jobs in the Clean Energy Economy. Drive the development of new, green manufacturing opportunities in the rebuilding, retrofitting and modernizing of our nation’s factories.
- Promoting U.S. Competitiveness. Ensure a level playing field for domestic manufacturing and secure significant actions to combat climate change by our trading partners.
- Investing in the Next Generation of Energy Technologies. Invest $150 billion over ten years in energy research and development to transition to a clean energy economy.
- Breaking Dependence on Oil. Promote the development of the next generation of cars and trucks and the fuels they run on.
- Producing More Energy at Home. Enhance U.S. energy supplies through responsible development of domestic renewable energy, fossil fuels, advanced biofuels and nuclear energy.
- Promoting Energy Efficiency. Promote investments that secure the biggest bang for the buck in reducing energy bills in the transportation, electricity, industrial, building and agricultural sectors.
- Closing the Carbon Pollution Loophole. Develop an economy-wide emissions reduction program to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and secure the greatest benefits at the lowest cost for families and businesses.
- Protecting American Consumers. Revenues generated by closing the carbon loophole will be returned to the people, especially vulnerable families, communities, and businesses.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I speak to you today during a time that is holy and filled with meaning for believers around the world. Earlier this week, Jewish people gathered with family and friends to recite the stories of their ancestors’ struggle and ultimate liberation. Tomorrow, Christians of all denominations will come together to rejoice and remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
These are two very different holidays with their own very different traditions. But it seems fitting that we mark them both during the same week. For in a larger sense, they are both moments of reflection and renewal. They are both occasions to think more deeply about the obligations we have to ourselves and the obligations we have to one another, no matter who we are, where we come from, or what faith we practice.
This idea – that we are all bound up, as Martin Luther King once said, in “a single garment of destiny”– is a lesson of all the world’s great religions. And never has it been more important for us to reaffirm that lesson than it is today – at a time when we face tests and trials unlike any we have seen in our time. An economic crisis that recognizes no borders. Violent extremism that’s claimed the lives of innocent men, women, and children from Manhattan to Mumbai. An unsustainable dependence on foreign oil and other sources of energy that pollute our air and water and threaten our planet. The proliferation of the world’s most dangerous weapons, the persistence of deadly disease, and the recurrence of age-old conflicts.
These are challenges that no single nation, no matter how powerful, can confront alone. The United States must lead the way. But our best chance to solve these unprecedented problems comes from acting in concert with other nations. That is why I met with leaders of the G-20 nations to ensure that the world’s largest economies take strong and unified action in the face of the global economic crisis. Together, we’ve taken steps to stimulate growth, restore the flow of credit, open markets, and dramatically reform our financial regulatory system to prevent such crises from occurring again – steps that will lead to job creation at home.
It is only by working together that we will finally defeat 21st century security threats like al Qaeda. So it was heartening that our NATO allies united in Strasbourg behind our strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and contributed important resources to support our effort there.
It is only by coordinating with countries around the world that we will stop the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons. That is why I laid out a strategy in Prague for us to work with Russia and other nations to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons; to secure nuclear materials from terrorists; and, ultimately, to free the world from the menace of a nuclear nightmare.
And it is only by building a new foundation of mutual trust that we will tackle some of our most entrenched problems. That is why, in Turkey, I spoke to members of Parliament and university students about rising above the barriers of race, region, and religion that too often divide us.
With all that is at stake today, we cannot afford to talk past one another. We can’t afford to allow old differences to prevent us from making progress in areas of common concern. We can’t afford to let walls of mistrust stand. Instead, we have to find – and build on – our mutual interests. For it is only when people come together, and seek common ground, that some of that mistrust can begin to fade. And that is where progress begins.
Make no mistake: we live in a dangerous world, and we must be strong and vigilant in the face of these threats. But let us not allow whatever differences we have with other nations to stop us from coming together around those solutions that are essential to our survival and success.
As we celebrate Passover, Easter, and this time of renewal, let’s find strength in our shared resolve and purpose in our common aspirations. And if we can do that, then not only will we fulfill the sacred meaning of these holy days, but we will fulfill the promise of our country as a leader around the world.
Gotta love her! First Lady Michelle Obama actually started her White House garden last week along with 25 school children to help. Before leaving on her European trip, the First Lady broke ground on what would become the White Houses’ first garden since the mid 1900′s. But really, who thought that Michelle Obama was really gonna get down in the dirt and start planting seedlings?
Kudos to the First Lady!
The White House garden will include annual and perennial herbs such as mint, garlic, chives, thyme, oregano, anise, basil, cilantro, dill and fennel.
Assorted vegetable also will grace the White House table. Different varieties of lettuce, spinach, onions, black kale, shard, snap peas, shell peas, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, tomatillos and cucumbers were planted. The White House garden functions as a duel purpose. To feed and inform. The White House garden will feed, not only the First Family, but neighboring soup kitchens. Most importantly, the White House garden will promote national awareness of eating good, natural healthy foods that families can grow for pennies. It is economical and heart-smart.
But where are the collard and mustard greens? Where’s the cabbage and corn? Something tells me that there is another more secret garden close by!
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.”
TEXT OF LETTER FROM THE PRESIDENT
TO THE SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
April 9, 2009
Dear Madam Speaker:
We face a security situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan that demands urgent attention. The Taliban is resurgent and al Qaeda threatens America from its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
With that reality as my focus, today I send to the Congress a supplemental appropriations request totaling $83.4 billion that will fund our ongoing military, diplomatic, and intelligence operations. Nearly 95 percent of these funds will be used to support our men and women in uniform as they help the people of Iraq to take responsibility for their own future — and work to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The rest of the money will fund a variety of defense and international efforts that will help to use all the elements of our power to confront the threats to our security — from securing loose nuclear weapons to combating fear and want under repressive regimes.
In the past, the Congress has moved expeditiously to approve funding for our Armed Forces. I urge the Congress to do so once more. I also urge the Congress to focus on the needs of our troops and our national security, and not to use the supplemental to pursue unnecessary spending. I want the Congress to send me a focused bill, and to do so quickly. When this request returns to me as legislation ready to be signed, it should remain focused on our security. It is important that we follow the same approach we applied to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and keep extraneous and unnecessary projects out of this legislation.
As I noted when first I introduced my budget in February, this is the last planned war supplemental. Since September 2001, the Congress has passed 17 separate emergency funding bills totaling $822.1 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. After 7 years of war, the American people deserve an honest accounting of the cost of our involvement in our ongoing military operations.
We must break that recent tradition and include future military costs in the regular budget so that we have an honest, more accurate, and fiscally responsible estimate of Federal spending. And we should not label military costs as emergency funds so as to avoid our responsibility to abide by the spending limitations set forth by the Congress. After years of budget gimmicks and wasteful spending, it is time to end the era of irresponsibility in Washington. In this request, we are honest about the costs we will bear as a Nation, and we will use our resources wisely and responsibly to meet the threats of our time and keep our Nation safe and secure.
There is no question of the resolve of our military women and men. Yet, in Afghanistan, that resolve has not been matched by a comprehensive strategy and sufficient resources. This funding request will ensure that the full force of the United States — our military, intelligence, diplomatic, and economic power — are engaged in an overall effort to defeat al Qaeda and uproot the safe haven from which it plans and trains for attacks on the homeland and on our allies. At the same time that we are increasing our troop commitment, we will employ the necessary civilian resources to build Afghan governance capacity and self-sufficiency.
As the United States moves forward with our mission, we are asking our friends and allies to join us with a renewed commitment. As I made clear on my recent trip to Europe, the threat posed by al Qaeda is international in scope; the response to the threat also should be international. Going forward with this strategy, we will establish and regularly assess military and civilian capacity, checking progress through clear measurements to ensure an ongoing informed assessment and accountability. I have asked my National Security Advisor, General Jim Jones, to oversee this effort and to work with the Congress on the development of these standards for progress.
In Iraq, violence has been reduced substantially because of the skilled efforts of our troops and the Iraqi people’s commitment to peace. The threat of terrorism in Iraq has been dealt a serious blow. Iraqis are prepared to take responsibility for their own future through a peaceful political process. Because of this, we are positioned to move forward with a responsible drawdown of our combat forces, transferring security to Iraq’s forces. Under the Strategic Framework Agreement and Security Agreement, Iraqi personnel have taken the lead in security operations and will continue to handle greater responsibility.
Stability and security depend on responsive, capable, and accountable governments. This request includes funds to help create political and economic stability in post-conflict areas, assist Afghans and Iraqis to protect and sustain their infrastructure, and build their capacity for more responsive and transparent governance. This request also will enable military commanders to respond to urgent humanitarian relief and reconstruction needs in their areas of responsibility. We provide funds for the extraordinary security and costs associated with supporting U.S. diplomatic activity in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.
The request also increases funding to provide wounded servicemembers with the highest quality support and care, and provides additional compensation to our troops for their service in hazardous, life-threatening areas.
This request reflects the reality of our day and age: We need to use all the elements of our power — economic and diplomatic as well as military — to confront threats to our security.
Thank you for your consideration of this funding request and for your steadfast support for our servicemembers and their families.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee (Reuters) – David “Pop” Winans, patriarch of The Winans family gospel group that earned six Grammy awards, has died, a spokesman for a Nashville hospice said on Thursday.
Winans, 74, died of a heart attack on Wednesday with his wife, Delores, at his side, a spokesman said. He had suffered a heart attack and stroke last year.
Under Winans’ guiding hand as manager of the children, The Winans became the biggest male gospel quartet of the 1980s with such songs as “It’s Time” and “Ain’t No Need to Worry.”
The Winans, nicknamed “Mom” and “Pop,” had 10 children in all.
The four performing as The Winans were Michael, Marvin, Carvin and Ronald, though other family members occasionally joined the group. Two children, BeBe and CeCe Winans, formed a duo and turned out R&B/gospel hits such as “Addictive Love” and “I’ll Take You There.”
The parents recorded a Grammy-nominated debut, “Mom & Pop Winans,” in 1989 followed by “The Rest of My Life,” which featured a rocking rendition of “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”
Another solo album, “Uncensored,” was nominated for a Grammy and was described by Billboard magazine as “some of the most compelling music this century has spawned.”
A statement from the Winans family said that memorial services are planned for next week at Perfection Church in Detroit where Marvin Winans is senior pastor.
***Thank You Reuters!***
Who didn’t enjoy Oprah’s weight gab fest Wednesday? It was awesome! Oprah engaged in conversation Marie Osmond, Valerie Bertinelli and Star Jones in a lively discussion about their individual weight challenges and loss. The one thing that bothered me though was the sneaky suspicion that Marie Osmond and Valerie Bertinelli, very sincere in their weight odyssey, will put the pounds back on after their lucrative contracts with Nutrisystem and Jenny Craig are up.
Didn’t I hear the rumour that Kirstie has regained her poundage?
But the conversation between Oprah and Star Jones was the real deal everyone had been waiting for! Now, I have watched Oprah for years and there are folks that come on the show and lie through their teeth about various matters. Disappointing? Sometimes. But we viewers always sniff out the truth. With the Star Jones conversation, I was surprised that she was so forthcoming with truth after shoveling loads, I mean mounds of dog doo on the public about her reasons for lying about her massive weight loss.
Star admitted to the world that she had in fact forced her colleagues at “The View” to keep her gastric bypass surgery to themselves as she miraculous became the amazing shrinking woman before the cameras eyes. Barbara Walters wrote about the Star Jones weight saga in her memoir “Audition.” Even as late as 2008, Star still had yet to admit that she had put her colleagues through unnecessary hoops simply because she was uncomfortable about her own truth. In a press release about what Walters recalled about her strange behavior and weight denial, Jones lashed out and called Barbara old and an adulteress. I laughed and shook my head at the stupidity of Star Jones. I was amazed with wonder about the shame that she felt about the truth, and the lengths that she would go to protect a very public secret and possibly ruin her television career in the process.
However, on “Oprah,” Star Jones opened up about the feelings of failure she felt after having the surgery; wrongly supposing that the public was condemning her for not being able to control her weight. For the first time, Jones owned up to her weight issue and the various problems that came with being obese in the public eye. Star even admitted that her advisers thought that she should talk about her weight loss in her book. But she refused to. Guess what? That is why I didn’t bother to buy Star’s book or check it out at the local library. By this admission, I think that Jones redeemed herself in her former fans and admirers eyes by becoming human again.
The next thing that would also help Star Jones on her truth journey is to apologize to Barbara Walters and her former colleagues of “The View.” She made her stubbornness intolerable and also forced them to carry the dysfunction of her issues on their shoulders without consulting them first, which forced everyone into a situation that essentially jailed them because of Star’s insecurities.
Here’s to hoping that a new Star Jones is on the horizon. Not just on the outside. But a new Star Jones on the inside as well.
Remarks of President Barack Obama—As prepared for delivery
Announcement on the Auto Industry
March 30, 2009
One of the challenges we have confronted from the beginning of this administration is what to do about the state of our struggling auto industry. In recent months, my Auto Task Force has been reviewing requests by General Motors and Chrysler for additional government assistance as well as plans developed by each of these companies to restructure, modernize, and make themselves more competitive. Our evaluation is now complete. But before I lay out what needs to be done going forward, I want to say a few words about where we are, and what led us to this point.
It will come as a surprise to no one that some of the Americans who have suffered most during this recession have been those in the auto industry and those working for companies that support it. Over the past year, our auto industry has shed over 400,000 jobs, not only at the plants that produce cars but at the businesses that produce the parts that go into them, and the dealers that sell and repair them. More than one in ten Michigan residents is out of work – the most of any state. And towns and cities across the great Midwest have watched unemployment climb higher than it’s been in decades.
The pain being felt in places that rely on our auto industry is not the fault of our workers, who labor tirelessly and desperately want to see their companies succeed. And it is not the fault of all the families and communities that supported manufacturing plants throughout the generations. Rather, it is a failure of leadership – from Washington to Detroit – that led our auto companies to this point.
Year after year, decade after decade, we have seen problems papered-over and tough choices kicked down the road, even as foreign competitors outpaced us. Well, we have reached the end of that road. And we, as a nation, cannot afford to shirk responsibility any longer. Now is the time to confront our problems head-on and do what’s necessary to solve them.
We cannot, we must not, and we will not let our auto industry simply vanish. This industry is, like no other, an emblem of the American spirit; a once and future symbol of America’s success. It is what helped build the middle class and sustained it throughout the 20th century. It is a source of deep pride for the generations of American workers whose hard work and imagination led to some of the finest cars the world has ever known. It is a pillar of our economy that has held up the dreams of millions of our people. But we also cannot continue to excuse poor decisions. And we cannot make the survival of our auto industry dependent on an unending flow of tax dollars. These companies – and this industry – must ultimately stand on their own, not as wards of the state.
That is why the federal government provided General Motors and Chrysler with emergency loans to prevent their sudden collapse at the end of last year – only on the condition that they would develop plans to restructure. In keeping with that agreement, each company has submitted a plan to restructure. But after careful analysis, we have determined that neither goes far enough to warrant the substantial new investments that these companies are requesting. And so today, I am announcing that my administration will offer GM and Chrysler a limited period of time to work with creditors, unions, and other stakeholders to fundamentally restructure in a way that would justify an investment of additional tax dollars; a period during which they must produce plans that would give the American people confidence in their long-term prospects for success.
What we are asking is difficult. It will require hard choices by companies. It will require unions and workers who have already made painful concessions to make even more. It will require creditors to recognize that they cannot hold out for the prospect of endless government bailouts. Only then can we ask American taxpayers who have already put up so much of their hard-earned money to once more invest in a revitalized auto industry. But I am confident that if we are each willing to do our part, then this restructuring, as painful as it will be in the short-term, will mark not an end, but a new beginning for a great American industry; an auto industry that is once more out-competing the world; a 21st century auto industry that is creating new jobs, unleashing new prosperity, and manufacturing the fuel-efficient cars and trucks that will carry us toward an energy independent future. I am absolutely committed to working with Congress and the auto companies to meet one goal: the United States of America will lead the world in building the next generation of clean cars.
No one can deny that our auto industry has made meaningful progress in recent years. Some of the cars made by American workers are now outperforming the best cars made abroad. In 2008, the North American Car of the Year was a GM. This year, Buick tied for first place as the most reliable car in the world. And our companies are investing in breakthrough technologies that hold the promise of new vehicles that will help America end its addiction to foreign oil.
But our auto industry is not moving in the right direction fast enough to succeed. So let me discuss what measures need to be taken by each of the auto companies requesting taxpayer assistance, starting with General Motors. While GM has made a good faith effort to restructure over the past several months, the plan they have put forward is, in its current form, not strong enough. However, after broad consultations with a range of industry experts and financial advisors, I’m confident that GM can rise again, provided that it undergoes a fundamental restructuring. As an initial step, GM is announcing today that Rick Wagoner is stepping aside as Chairman and CEO. This is not meant as a condemnation of Mr. Wagoner, who has devoted his life to this company; rather, it’s a recognition that it will take a new vision and new direction to create the GM of the future.
In this context, my administration will offer General Motors adequate working capital over the next 60 days. During this time, my team will be working closely with GM to produce a better business plan. They must ask themselves: have they consolidated enough unprofitable brands? Have they cleaned up their balance sheets or are they still saddled with so much debt that they can’t make future investments? And above all, have they created a credible model for how to not only survive, but succeed in this competitive global market? Let me be clear: the United States government has no interest or intention of running GM. What we are interested in is giving GM an opportunity to finally make those much-needed changes that will let them emerge from this crisis a stronger and more competitive company.
The situation at Chrysler is more challenging. It is with deep reluctance but also a clear-eyed recognition of the facts that we have determined, after a careful review, that Chrysler needs a partner to remain viable. Recently, Chrysler reached out and found what could be a potential partner – the international car company Fiat, where the current management team has executed an impressive turnaround. Fiat is prepared to transfer its cutting-edge technology to Chrysler and, after working closely with my team, has committed to building new fuel-efficient cars and engines here in America. We have also secured an agreement that will ensure that Chrysler repays taxpayers for any new investments that are made before Fiat is allowed to take a majority ownership stake in Chrysler.
Still, such a deal would require an additional investment of tax dollars, and there are a number of hurdles that must be overcome to make it work. I am committed to doing all I can to see if a deal can be struck in a way that upholds the interests of American taxpayers. That is why we will give Chrysler and Fiat 30 days to overcome these hurdles and reach a final agreement – and we will provide Chrysler with adequate capital to continue operating during that time. If they are able to come to a sound agreement that protects American taxpayers, we will consider lending up to $6 billion to help their plan succeed. But if they and their stakeholders are unable to reach such an agreement, and in the absence of any other viable partnership, we will not be able to justify investing additional tax dollar to keep Chrysler in business.
While Chrysler and GM are very different companies with very different paths forward, both need a fresh start to implement the restructuring plans they develop. That may mean using our bankruptcy code as a mechanism to help them restructure quickly and emerge stronger. Now, I know that when people even hear the word “bankruptcy” it can be a bit unsettling, so let me explain what I mean. What I am talking about is using our existing legal structure as a tool that, with the backing of the U.S. government, can make it easier for General Motors and Chrysler to quickly clear away old debts that are weighing them down so they can get back on their feet and onto a path to success; a tool that we can use, even as workers are staying on the job building cars that are being sold. What I am not talking about is a process where a company is broken up, sold off, and no longer exists. And what I am not talking about is having a company stuck in court for years, unable to get out.
It is my hope that the steps I am announcing today will go a long way toward answering many of the questions people may have about the future of GM and Chrysler. But just in case there are still nagging doubts, let me say it as plainly as I can – if you buy a car from Chrysler or General Motors, you will be able to get your car serviced and repaired, just like always. Your warrantee will be safe. In fact, it will be safer than it’s ever been. Because starting today, the United States government will stand behind your warrantee.
But we must also recognize that the difficulties facing this industry are due in no small part to the weakness in our economy. Therefore, to support demand for auto sales during this period, I’m directing my team to take several steps. First, we will ensure that Recovery Act funds to purchase government cars go out as quickly as possible and work through the budget process to accelerate other federal fleet purchases as well. Second, we will accelerate our efforts through the Treasury Department’s Consumer and Business Lending Initiative. And we are working intensively with the auto finance companies to increase the flow of credit to both consumers and dealers. Third, the IRS is today launching a campaign to alert consumers of a new tax benefit for auto purchases made between February 16th and the end of this year – if you buy a car anytime this year, you may be able to deduct the cost of any sales and excise taxes. This provision could save families hundreds of dollars and lead to as many as 100,000 new car sales.
Finally, several members of Congress have proposed an even more ambitious incentive program to increase car sales while modernizing our auto fleet. Such fleet modernization programs, which provide a generous credit to consumers who turn in old, less fuel efficient cars and purchase cleaner cars have been successful in boosting auto sales in a number of European countries. I want to work with Congress to identify parts of the Recovery Act that could be trimmed to fund such a program, and make it retroactive starting today.
Let there be no doubt, it will take an unprecedented effort on all our parts – from the halls of Congress to the boardroom, from the union hall to the factory floor – to see the auto industry through these difficult times. But I want every American to know that the path I am laying out today is our best chance to make sure the cars of the future are built where they’ve always been built – in Detroit and across the Midwest; to make America’s auto industry in the 21st century what it was in the 20th century – unsurpassed around the world. This path has been chosen after consulting with other governments that are facing this crisis. We have worked closely with the Government of Canada on GM and Chrysler, as both companies have extensive operations there. The Canadian Government has indicated its support for our approach and will be announcing their specific commitments later today.
While the steps I am talking about will have an impact on all Americans, some of our fellow citizens will be affected more than any others. And so I’d like to speak directly to all those men and women who work in the auto industry or live in the countless communities that depend on it. Many of you have been going through tough times for longer than you’d care to remember. And I will not pretend the tough times are over. I cannot promise you there isn’t more pain to come. But what I can promise you is this – I will fight for you. You are the reason I am here today. I got my start fighting for working families in the shadows of a shuttered steel plant and I wake up every single day asking myself what I can do to give you and working people all across this country a fair shot at the American dream.
When a community is struck by a natural disaster, the nation responds to put it back on its feet. While the storm that’s hit our auto towns is not a tornado or a hurricane, the damage is clear, and we must respond. That is why today, I am designating a new Director of Recovery for Auto Communities and Workers to cut through red tape and ensure that the full resources of our federal government are leveraged to assist the workers, communities, and regions that rely on our auto industry. Edward Montgomery, a former Deputy Labor Secretary, has agreed to serve in this role. Together with Labor Secretary Solis and my Auto Task Force, Ed will help provide support to auto workers and their families, and open up opportunity in manufacturing communities. Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and every other state that relies on the auto industry will have a strong advocate in Ed. He will direct a comprehensive effort that will help lift up the hardest hit areas by using the unprecedented levels of funding available in our Recovery Act and throughout our government to create new manufacturing jobs and new businesses where they are needed most – in your communities. And he will also lead an effort to identify new initiatives we may need to help support your communities going forward.
These efforts, as essential as they are, will not make everything better overnight. There are jobs that cannot be saved. There are plants that will not reopen. And there is little I can say that can subdue the anger or ease the frustration of all whose livelihoods hang in the balance because of failures that weren’t theirs.
But there is something I want everyone to remember. Remember that it is precisely in times like these – in moments of trial, and moments of hardship – that Americans rediscover the ingenuity and resilience that makes us who we are. That made the auto industry what it once was. That sent those first mass-produced cars rolling off assembly lines. That built an arsenal of democracy that propelled America to victory in the Second World War. And that powered our economic prowess in the first American century.
Because I know that if we can tap into that same ingenuity and resilience right now; if we can carry one another through this difficult time and do what must be done; then we will look back and say that this was the moment when America’s auto industry shed its old ways, marched into the future, and remade itself, once more, into an engine of opportunity and prosperity, not only in Detroit, and not only in our Midwest, but all across America.
The creator and executive producer of fan favorites “The Tyra Banks Show” and “America’s Next Top Model,” Tyra Banks, issued a statement concerning the riot-like situation that took place among “Top Model” hopefuls in front of a Manhatten hotel last week.
“We are concerned by the events. We still don’t know all the details of what triggered the event,” Banks and “Top Model” producer Ken Mok said in a joint statement. “We appreciate the the efforts of the NYPD and will assist them in any way possible.”
Thousands of hopefuls turned out for a chance to be featured on the show, only to have the NYPD cancel the audition. Six people were injured and three people were arrested and charged with inciting to riot and disorderly conduct.
It seems as if Bravo’s “Housewives of Atlanta” very own egotistical, self-centered and designer labeled down Sheree Whitfield might not be doing all of that massive shopping that she’s notorious for. “The Real Housewives of Atlanta” began taping this week and it will be amusing to discover just how Sheree Whitfield will manage her time without financial ends.
Late last year, Whitfield attempted to squeeze more money out of her ex, Bob Whitfield, claiming that she was uneducated and therefor not able to support herself and her children. That argument didn’t pan out because ole Bob is broke!
Then, a few weeks ago, Sheree found herself in some legal trouble and requested court appointed legal representation because she was unable to financially acquire one for herself. Now, Sheree’s divorce attorneys are suing her. These attorneys say that Sheree Whitfield owes them $87,000! According to them, Sheree hasn’t paid them a cent since 2006!
However, wasn’t that Sheree who was spending all kinds of dough throwing herself a swanky birthday party, complete with a designer bag birthday cake that probably cost a few thousand? How about that fashion show that wasn’t? Remember Sheree’s big fashion line reveal that revealed nothing?
For a sista that flashes money in the form of minks, diamonds, designer purses, personal shoppers and private showings, one would think that Sheree Whitfield could have at least broke her attorneys off a little something something? If she could have gone in her closet and consigned some items or maybe even gave her attorneys a mink or two in exchange for their services, perhaps Sheree’s bill would not be so high.
We don’t know. But it sure is a shock to learn that perhaps Sheree Whitfield’s well was already dry during season one of the “Housewives” and that she could possibly be a fraud!
In its’ never-ending quest to define the official role of First Lady, print media has taken it upon themselves to create a description of Michelle Obama. Supposing that perhaps to have an educated African American First Lady in the White House is a threat of some sort, newspapers and certain magazines have unilaterally taken it upon themselves to throw the intelligent character of Michelle Obama under the bus.
The New York Times has noted attributes of the First Lady that has absolutely nothing to do with what her role will be for the next four years. In an OP ED column, the New York Times chided that Michelle Obama’s fit and sculpted shoulders could stamp out terrorists in one swipe. Where’s the humor in that?
The New York Post, during election season, carried a controversial caricature cartoon of Michelle Obama on its’ cover, dressed as a Black Power militant engaging in a fist bump with President Obama. And guess what? It doesn’t stop.
The March 2009 cover of The New York Post has another cartoon representation of First Lady Michelle Obama. This time, she is being featured as a fashion maven. So, the question is: are Caucasian men really that threatened by an educated African American sista? Or are they masking their adoration by chopping Michelle Obama down into stereotypical bite sized morsels to suit their egos?
Remember the trauma that former First Lady Hillary Clinton endured for being educated and having a viable opinion that might help millions of Americans? Remember the debate that ensued over the fact that the now Secretary of State kept her maiden name, Rodham? Yeah. It was ugly and orghestrated by Caucasian men who felt threatened by an intelligent woman who might know a little bit more about the way the world works than they do.
Well, it is the 21st century and it is high time that not only Caucasian men, but ALL men, bury their enormous and exaggerated egos, and join the rest of us in respecting the contributions of women. We are so much more than a body dressed to attract, a vessel to empty sexual frustrations into, and an object to be seen and not heard.
Hopefully, within these next four years, former unenlightened views as to what the so-called ‘proper role’ of First Lady should be comprised of, will be shattered.
Fact Sheet: Expanding the Promise of Education in America
“In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity, it is a pre-requisite. That is why it will be the goal of this Administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education – from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.”
– President Barack Obama
Address to Joint Session of Congress, February 24, 2009
Providing a high-quality education for all children is critical to America’s economic future. Education has always been the foundation for achieving the American dream, providing opportunity to millions of American families, newcomers, and immigrants. Our nation’s economic competitiveness depends on providing every child with an education that will enable them to compete in a global economy that is predicated on knowledge and innovation.
Progress toward this goal requires a race to the top to reform our nation’s schools. It requires holding schools accountable for helping all students meet world-class standards aligned to the demands of the 21st century workforce. It requires solutions for schools to close the achievement gap, and strategies to accelerate the learning of those that are the furthest behind. It requires new reforms to promote effective teaching and attract the best and brightest into the profession. It requires a national strategy to confront America’s persistent dropout crisis, and strengthen transitions to college and career.
President Obama’s agenda will improve outcomes for students at every point along the educational pipeline.
Early Education: A Strong Foundation for Success
Research demonstrates that the years before kindergarten comprise the most critical time in a child’s life to influence educational outcomes. It’s time that our nation make the early investments that will transform lives, create opportunity and save money in the long term
· President Obama is committed to helping states develop seamless, comprehensive, and coordinated “Zero to Five” systems to improve developmental outcomes and early learning for all children.
· In the 2010 budget, Early Learning Challenge Grants will encourage states to raise the bar on the quality of early education, upgrade workforce quality, and drive improvements across multiple federal, state, and local funding streams.
· Incentive grants to states will support data collection across programs (Head Start, child care, Pre-kindergarten, and other early learning settings), push for uniform quality standards, and step-up efforts for the most disadvantaged children.
K-12: Fostering a Race to the Top
To excel in the global economy, we must adopt world-class standards, assessments, and accountability systems to upgrade the quality of teaching and learning in America’s classrooms.
· The President encourages an end to the practice of low-balling state reading and math standards, and will promote efforts to enhance the rigor of state-level curriculum to better foster critical thinking, problem solving, and the innovative use of knowledge needed to meet 21st century demands.
· He will push to end the use of ineffective “off-the-shelf” tests, and promote the development of new, state-of-the-art data and assessment systems that provide timely and useful information about the learning and progress of individual students.
· With funding provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the U.S. Department of Education will work with states to upgrade data systems to track students progress and measure the effectiveness of teachers.
Teachers are the single most important resource to a child’s learning. America must re-invest in the teaching profession by recruiting mid-career professional and ensuring that teachers have the world’s best training and preparation. We must take action to improve teaching in classrooms that need it most, while demanding accountability and performance.
· The President will teacher quality by dramatically expanding successful performance pay models and rewards for effective teachers, scaling up federal support for such programs in up to an additional 150 school districts nationwide.
· He supports improved professional development and mentoring for new and less effective teachers, and will insist on shaping new processes to remove ineffective teachers.
· The President supports a new, national investment in recruiting the best and brightest to the field of teaching, and will invest in scaling-up innovative teacher preparation and induction models.
Driving Innovation and Expecting Excellence
America’s schools must be incubators of innovation and success. Where charter schools are successful, states should be challenged to lift arbitrary caps and make use of successful lessons to drive reform throughout other schools.
· President Obama will encourage the growth of successful, high-quality charter schools, and challenge states to reform their charter rules and lift limits that stifle growth and success among excellent schools.
· The President supports rigorous accountability for all charter schools, and will encourage higher-quality processes for the approval and review of charter schools, as well as plans to shut-down charters if schools are failing to serve students well.
America’s competitiveness demands a focus on the needs of our lowest-performing students and schools. Our middle- and high- schools must identify students at-risk of dropping out, and we must scale-up models that keep students on a path toward graduation. Reform in America’s lowest-performing schools must be systemic and transformational. For some, partnerships and additional support can bring about change and drive improvement. Others may need to move beyond the late 19th century and expand the school day.
· The President supports a national strategy to address the dropout crisis in America’s communities, and efforts to transform the nation’s lowest-performing schools. 2,000 of the nation’s struggling high schools produce over half of America’s dropouts. The President will invest in re-engaging and recovering at-risk students, including those enrolled in the middle school grades.
· The FY 2010 budget will support the development and scaling of effective dropout prevention and recovery models – such as transfer schools that combine education and job training for high school students that are far behind.
· President Obama supports the acceleration of America’s lowest-performing schools, and will make a robust investment toward recovery for schools failing standards under the No Child Left Behind Act.
Restoring America’s Leadership in Higher Education
Our competitiveness abroad depends on opening the doors of higher education for more of America’s students. The U.S. ranks seventh in terms of the percentage of 18-24 year olds enrolled in college, but only 15th in terms of the number of certificates and degrees awarded. A lack of financial resources should never obstruct the promise of college opportunity. And it’s America’s shared responsibility to ensure that more of our students not only reach the doors of college, but also persist, succeed, and obtain their degree.
· President Obama’s FY 2010 budget makes a historic commitment to increasing college access and success by restructuring and dramatically expanding financial aid, while making federal programs simpler, more reliable, and more efficient.
· The President will restore the buying power of the Pell Grant for America’s neediest students and guarantee an annual increase tied to inflation. His plan will end wasteful subsidies to banks under the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, and re-direct billions in savings toward student aid.
· And it will dramatically simplify the Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA), making it easier to complete and more effective for students.
· The President supports strengthening the higher education pipeline to ensure that more students succeed and complete their college education. His plan will invest in community colleges to conduct an analysis of high-demand skills and technical education, and shape new degree programs for emerging industries.
** Exclusively from the Office of the Press Secretary **
For the very first time in nine years, Oprah Winfrey will share the cover with someone else. Not her “skinny” self. She’s been there, done that! No, to share the cover of “O” magazine with its’ publisher and founder you have to be seriously big time! Bigger than Oprah! Who could that possibly be?
You know who it is! First Lady Michelle Obama! Who else? The history making issue finds it way to news stand on March 17. In an exclusive interview, Michelle Obama shares with Oprah what it means to live in the White House, decorating aspirations, how her family are adjusting, and what her plans are for the House “that belongs to America.”
“The White House,” First Lady Michelle Obama explained to Oprah as they relaxed together one afternoon, “is a beautiful home. We feel privileged and feel a responsibility to make it feel like the people’s house. We have the good fortune of being able to sleep here, but this house belongs to America.”
As far as decorating the “people’s house,” Michelle Obama says that it will “reflect our family.” She plans to make the White House comfortable, reflecting contemporary and traditional art. “I want to bring in new American artisans,” Obama said in the April issue of “O.”
About Malia and Sasha, the First Lady says that she wants “the kids to be treated like children, not little princess.”
Zimbabwe’s new prime minister survived a car accident Friday that killed his wife, officials said.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was taken to the hospital, where he was visited by President Robert Mugabe and other senior government officials.
The vehicle in which the two were traveling was reportedly sideswiped by a truck. Sources within Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party said it appeared that Susan Tsvangirai took the full impact of the collision.
The accident happened south of the capital Harare, on an undulating road on a notoriously dangerous stretch. The prime minister was heading to his country home in Buhera, where he was to address a rally Saturday.
For 10 years, Tsvangirai was the country’s opposition leader and Mugabe’s fiercest critic. But after a disputed presidential vote last year and state-sponsored violence against the opposition, regional leaders stepped in and proposed a power-sharing deal.
Protracted negotiations and bickering over Cabinet posts finally ended last month when Tsvangirai took the oath of office as prime minister and joined his arch-rival in a national unity government. Tsvangirai pledged to rebuild Zimbabwe, but the challenges remain monumental: the country has the highest inflation in the world, a growing humanitarian and hunger crisis, and a cholera epidemic; health and education services have also collapsed.
Taken from NPR. Thank You!