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President Obama

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The President on LGBT Rights …

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President Obama’s Inaugural Speech January 21, 2013

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Vice President Biden, Mr. Chief Justice, Members of the United States Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow citizens:

Each time we gather to inaugurate a president, we bear witness to the enduring strength of our Constitution. We affirm the promise of our democracy. We recall that what binds this nation together is not the colors of our skin or the tenets of our faith or the origins of our names. What makes us exceptional — what makes us American — is our allegiance to an idea, articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Today we continue a never-ending journey, to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time. For history tells us that while these truths may be self-evident, they have never been self-executing; that while freedom is a gift from God, it must be secured by His people here on Earth.

The patriots of 1776 did not fight to replace the tyranny of a king with the privileges of a few or the rule of a mob. They gave to us a Republic, a government of, and by, and for the people, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed.

For more than two hundred years, we have.

Through blood drawn by lash and blood drawn by sword, we learned that no union founded on the principles of liberty and equality could survive half-slave and half-free. We made ourselves anew, and vowed to move forward together.

Together, we determined that a modern economy requires railroads and highways to speed travel and commerce; schools and colleges to train our workers.

Together, we discovered that a free market only thrives when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play.

Together, we resolved that a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.

Through it all, we have never relinquished our skepticism of central authority, nor have we succumbed to the fiction that all society’s ills can be cured through government alone. Our celebration of initiative and enterprise; our insistence on hard work and personal responsibility, are constants in our character.

But we have always understood that when times change, so must we; that fidelity to our founding principles requires new responses to new challenges; that preserving our individual freedoms ultimately requires collective action.

For the American people can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting alone than American soldiers could have met the forces of fascism or communism with muskets and militias.

No single person can train all the math and science teachers we’ll need to equip our children for the future, or build the roads and networks and research labs that will bring new jobs and businesses to our shores. Now, more than ever, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people.

This generation of Americans has been tested by crises that steeled our resolve and proved our resilience. A decade of war is now ending. An economic recovery has begun.

America’s possibilities are limitless, for we possess all the qualities that this world without boundaries demands: youth and drive; diversity and openness; an endless capacity for risk and a gift for reinvention. My fellow Americans, we are made for this moment, and we will seize it — so long as we seize it together.

For we, the people, understand that our country cannot succeed when a shrinking few do very well and a growing many barely make it. We believe that America’s prosperity must rest upon the broad shoulders of a rising middle class.

We know that America thrives when every person can find independence and pride in their work; when the wages of honest labor liberate families from the brink of hardship. We are true to our creed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows that she has the same chance to succeed as anybody else, because she is an American, she is free, and she is equal, not just in the eyes of God but also in our own.

We understand that outworn programs are inadequate to the needs of our time. We must harness new ideas and technology to remake our government, revamp our tax code, reform our schools, and empower our citizens with the skills they need to work harder, learn more, and reach higher.

But while the means will change, our purpose endures: a nation that rewards the effort and determination of every single American. That is what this moment requires. That is what will give real meaning to our creed.

We, the people, still believe that every citizen deserves a basic measure of security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to reduce the cost of health care and the size of our deficit. But we reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.

For we remember the lessons of our past, when twilight years were spent in poverty, and parents of a child with a disability had nowhere to turn. We do not believe that in this country, freedom is reserved for the lucky, or happiness for the few. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we live our lives, any one of us, at any time, may face a job loss, or a sudden illness, or a home swept away in a terrible storm.

The commitments we make to each other — through Medicare, and Medicaid, and Social Security — these things do not sap our initiative; they strengthen us. They do not make us a nation of takers; they free us to take the risks that make this country great.

We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.

Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.

We cannot cede to other nations the technology that will power new jobs and new industries — we must claim its promise. That is how we will maintain our economic vitality and our national treasure — our forests and waterways; our croplands and snowcapped peaks. That is how we will preserve our planet, commanded to our care by God. That’s what will lend meaning to the creed our fathers once declared.

We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war. Our brave men and women in uniform, tempered by the flames of battle, are unmatched in skill and courage. Our citizens, seared by the memory of those we have lost, know too well the price that is paid for liberty.

The knowledge of their sacrifice will keep us forever vigilant against those who would do us harm. But we are also heirs to those who won the peace and not just the war, who turned sworn enemies into the surest of friends, and we must carry those lessons into this time as well.

We will defend our people and uphold our values through strength of arms and rule of law. We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully — not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear.

America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad, for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.

We will support democracy from Asia to Africa; from the Americas to the Middle East, because our interests and our conscience compel us to act on behalf of those who long for freedom.

And we must be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the victims of prejudice — not out of mere charity, but because peace in our time requires the constant advance of those principles that our common creed describes: tolerance and opportunity; human dignity and justice.

We, the people, declare today that the most evident of truths — that all of us are created equal — is the star that guides us still; just as it guided our forebears through Seneca Falls, and Selma, and Stonewall; just as it guided all those men and women, sung and unsung, who left footprints along this great Mall, to hear a preacher say that we cannot walk alone; to hear a King proclaim that our individual freedom is inextricably bound to the freedom of every soul on Earth.

It is now our generation’s task to carry on what those pioneers began. For our journey is not complete until our wives, our mothers, and daughters can earn a living equal to their efforts. Our journey is not complete until our gay brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law — for if we are truly created equal, then surely the love we commit to one another must be equal as well.

Our journey is not complete until no citizen is forced to wait for hours to exercise the right to vote. Our journey is not complete until we find a better way to welcome the striving, hopeful immigrants who still see America as a land of opportunity; until bright young students and engineers are enlisted in our workforce rather than expelled from our country.

Our journey is not complete until all our children, from the streets of Detroit to the hills of Appalachia to the quiet lanes of Newtown, know that they are cared for, and cherished, and always safe from harm.

That is our generation’s task — to make these words, these rights, these values — of Life, and Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness — real for every American. Being true to our founding documents does not require us to agree on every contour of life; it does not mean we will all define liberty in exactly the same way, or follow the same precise path to happiness.

Progress does not compel us to settle centuries-long debates about the role of government for all time — but it does require us to act in our time.

For now decisions are upon us, and we cannot afford delay. We cannot mistake absolutism for principle, or substitute spectacle for politics, or treat name-calling as reasoned debate.

We must act, knowing that our work will be imperfect. We must act, knowing that today’s victories will be only partial, and that it will be up to those who stand here in four years, and forty years, and four hundred years hence to advance the timeless spirit once conferred to us in a spare Philadelphia hall.

My fellow Americans, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who serve in this Capitol, was an oath to God and country, not party or faction – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our service.

But the words I spoke today are not so different from the oath that is taken each time a soldier signs up for duty, or an immigrant realizes her dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge we all make to the flag that waves above and that fills our hearts with pride.

They are the words of citizens, and they represent our greatest hope.

You and I, as citizens, have the power to set this country’s course.

You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time — not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals.

Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history, and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom.

Thank you, God Bless you, and may He forever bless these United States of America.


Obama Wins a Second Term !!!

With the calling of OHIO …. President Obama wins a second term as president.

Obama 274
Romney 203

With states still left to call.

Update: 1:23 a.m.

Obama 303
Romney 203

It was a nail biter tonight. It seemed at first that we had a clear winner in President Obama. But for a couple of hours the Romney camp was holding out on OHIO. They were not going to concede as it went on television.

At 1 am Romney came out after making the concession call to President Obama and came out to speak to his constituents in Boston, that indeed, the election was over with and that Obama was the winner.

It was a graceful respectful address.

We have a President… Barack Obama…

 


Get Out the Vote …

 

The Time is Now. It is Go BLUE or go Home. Voting is a right that every American is afforded by birth. So Tomorrow, whatever you choose to do, get out there and vote. There is no more important action that we get to participate in than the presidential election.

It will be a busy day tomorrow. Home Group and meeting. I will be home around 9 p.m. I will be live blogging the results.

And I pray that President Obama receive a second mandate for another 4 years.

Get out and vote and we shall see you tomorrow.


Obama Backs Gay Marriage

Courtesy: HuffingtonPost-Sam Stein

WASHINGTON — In a nod to a dramatic shift in public opinion, Barack Obama on Wednesday became the first sitting president to announce his support for same-sex marriage.

In a sit-down interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, Obama completed what has been a markedly long and oft-mocked evolution on the matter.

“I’ve always been adamant that gay and lesbian Americans should be treated fairly,” Obama told Roberts, in an interview that will air in full on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday.

“I have to tell you that over the course of several years as I have talked to friends and family and neighbors when I think about members of my own staff who are in incredibly committed monogamous relationships, same-sex relationships, who are raising kids together, when I think about those soldiers or airmen or marines or sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage, at a certain point I’ve just concluded that for me personally it is important for me to go ahead and affirm that I think same sex couples should be able to get married,” he said.

The statement constitutes an act of political bravery on the president’s behalf, as well as a major victory for the gay rights community, which has been pushing him to declare his support for marriage equality for several years. With the issue back in the news this week, the pressure intensified.

On Sunday, Vice President Joseph Biden told NBC’s “Meet The Press” that he was personally comfortable with same-sex marriage, which was followed the next day by Education Secretary Arne Duncan saying the same.

The White House insisted that there was no daylight between the vice president’s position and the president’s, noting that Biden clarified his statement as being in reference to civil rights for gay couples. But the explanation was largely dismissed by both supporters and critics as a convenient way for the president to signal support for marriage equality without having to declare it himself.

On Tuesday evening, the state of North Carolina passed an amendment that defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The president expressed his disappointment with the measure, but it remained difficult to square his opposition to a measure outlawing same-sex marriage with his opposition to same-sex marriage itself.

As the political pressure continued to mount, the president finally chose to speak out Wednesday, with the White House hastily scheduling a sit-down interview.

“It’s interesting, some of this is also generational,” the president said. “You know when I go to college campuses, sometimes I talk to college Republicans who think that I have terrible policies on the economy, on foreign policy, but are very clear that when it comes to same sex equality or, you know, believe in equality. They are much more comfortable with it. You know, Malia and Sasha, they have friends whose parents are same-sex couples. There have been times where Michelle and I have been sitting around the dinner table and we’re talking about their friends and their parents and Malia and Sasha, it wouldn’t dawn on them that somehow their friends’ parents would be treated differently. It doesn’t make sense to them and frankly, that’s the kind of thing that prompts a change in perspective.”

The president’s support of same-sex marriage will have little political impact, from a practical standpoint, as much of the activity on the issue is currently occurring in the states and the courts. Already the Obama administration’s Department of Justice has stopped defending the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as a legal union between a man and a woman. Legislation to overturn DOMA outright would likely be blocked by congressional Republicans.

The more promising path for same-sex marriage advocates remains a friendly hearing by the United States Supreme Court.

Still, the symbolism of Obama’s remarks is hard to ignore. In becoming the first president to publicly support marriage equality, he sets the bar for its political acceptance. He also has the ability to shape public opinion further on the matter.

Of course, there may be drawbacks to such a strong expression of support. While recent polls show that popular support for marriage equality is gaining widespread acceptance, some pivotal swing states remain largely opposed to the concept. And one of them, North Carolina, remains a major target for the president’s reelection campaign.

“The question is, is there a risk?” a prominent Democratic Party official who requested anonymity told The Huffington Post after Biden’s remarks. “It is not nationwide [polling] we are talking about. We are talking about Virginia, North Carolina and other swing states. And we are talking about, would Karl Rove and his team stoop to using horribly grotesque and hateful tactics … and would that peel off 10,000 votes?”

As of Wednesday, that question was hypothetical. Now, it’s a critical component of the 2012 election.


Fallout …

Courtesy: Suitep

What an incredible few days it has been, on many fronts. What a weekend it was for Mr. President. A very gutsy man with balls of steel and a resolve just the same. Who knew from Adam what was going on in his head over the weekend seeing him traveling in the U.S. and yukking it up at the Correspondents dinner on Saturday night.

And who knew what Sunday would bring … I just cannot imagine.

I am sure that Mr. Obama’s stock has risen over the past few days. This kill shot was something that I think will translate into better numbers and even help him in the long run for re-election. At least I hope that is what happens. That’s all we need is for some jamokey republican asshole to win an election, God forbid.

At this point I think the White House is channeling some Ricky Ricardo when he says to Lucy “You got some ‘splainin to do!” Pakistan is not going to skate away with this gigantic intelligence flub. Someone was protecting Osama. Someone must have known he was there, I mean it’s pretty clear from all the information that has been released about this event.

*** *** *** ***

We have had a Royal Wedding, The beatification of John Paul II in Rome, the killing of Osama bin Laden and an election here in Canada. The fallout from the election is huge. The Orange wave came to Quebec and took the province by storm. There were incredible losses for the Bloq. The Bloq leader lost his seat in an upset, and in the end resigned from his position as party leader, not to mention the Bloq lost party status in the House of Parliament. You must have at least 12 seats to be afforded party status, and the Bloq lost in a bloodbath last night. So the Bloq is all but kaput. So much for that referendum.

Mr. Layton won a huge number of ridings here in Quebec. Many freshman young M.P’s are going to Ottawa, and we are so proud of the huge wins by the NDP. Not to mention with 102 seats won, for the first time in history the NDP wins the coveted title of Official Opposition Party in the commons. I mean the room went nuts when Jack Layton walked out to greet the party. My vote made a difference.

The Conservatives won a majority. As I have read on other blogs tonight, the earth did not shift on its axis, we will all survive this. And in the end we hope the government does what it said it will do. Canada needs to work to protect the people of Canada, we need more jobs, a secure financial sector and we need to solidify our place in the worlds eyes.

I questioned the ability of Mr. Ignatieff to win anything that’s why a lot of voters went with Jack. The Liberal party was decimated last night. The leader of the party as well, lost his seat and resigned from the party this morning. A leadership convention is coming. There is rumbling about Justin Trudeau, can he step up, if he is tapped as the heir apparent? Can the magic happen? Justin won’t say what he is going to do to that end just yet. At least he won his riding for the Liberal party, beating out the Bloq incumbent.

We saw history happen last night. The total collapse of the Bloq and the Liberal party. I heard it mentioned on the news coverage about Canada moving towards a two party system in Parliament. It seems the voters were over all the drama and political bullshit and we all voted for change and hope. The voters have spoken. Now the parties MUST rise to the occasion and do what they have been mandated to do.

A good chunk of Quebec went orange, with hints of red and blue here and there. Mr. Layton’s crop of young bloods have got some serious shoes to fill.

So much to look forwards to in the coming months.

*** *** *** ***

Here on the home front we are in the final weeks of classes. I have class tomorrow night and then a final and essay due on Thursday night, which I still have to write yet, then my final interview to come next week on the 9th.

It rained today. But numbers were nominal for the meeting. Lots of new faces and the conversation was nice and lively. We are pleased with what we have for today.

*** *** *** ***

So what do we know ???

  1. The Princess got her man
  2. Obama got Osama
  3. The NDP won big in Canada

Life goes on and we will all survive. The world is a safer place because the face and person of evil is dead and is floating at the bottom of the Arabian Sea, Thanks be to God.

The era of Osama is over.

Well Done Mr. President. We are so very proud of you…


How intense was it in the White House Situation Room while the bin Laden compound was being raided?

Courtesy: Rachel Maddow Blog

 –
Mon May 2, 2011 5:40 PM EDT

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, along with members of the national security team, receive an update on the mission against Osama bin Laden in the Situation Room of the White House, May 1, 2011. Please note: a classified document seen in this photograph has been obscured. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)


Barack Obama's New World Order

The United States is still the same country it was a year ago, give or take about 6 million jobs. But its international branding campaign, as led by the new President, Barack Obama, is so different that the rest of the world might be forgiven if it has to do a double take.

Most of the hallmarks of the foreign policy of George W. Bush are gone. The old conservative idea of “American exceptionalism,” which placed the U.S. on a plane above the rest of the world as a unique beacon of democracy and financial might, has been rejected. At almost every stop, Obama has made clear that the U.S. is but one actor in a global community. Talk of American economic supremacy has been replaced by a call from Obama for more growth in developing countries. Claims of American military supremacy have been replaced with heavy emphasis on cooperation and diplomatic hard labor. (Read “Obama in Europe: Facing Four Big Challenges.”)

The tone was set from Obama’s first public remarks in London on Wednesday, at a press conference with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, where the American President said he had come “to listen, not to lecture.” At a joint appearance with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Baden-Baden on Friday, a German reporter asked Obama about his “grand designs” for NATO. “I don’t come bearing grand designs,” Obama said, scrapping the leadership role the U.S. maintained through the Cold War. “I’m here to listen, to share ideas and to jointly, as one of many NATO allies, help shape our vision for the future.”

On Thursday night, after the G-20 summit ended, Obama took so many questions from the foreign press, including British, Indian and Chinese reporters, that a group of them applauded when he left the stage. Two American reporters asked Obama for his response to the claim by Brown that the “Washington consensus is over.” Obama all but agreed with Brown, noting that the phrase had its roots in a significant set of economic policies that had shown itself to be imperfect. He went on to talk about the benefits of increasing economic competition with the U.S. “That’s not a loss for America,” he said of the economic rise of other powers. “It’s an appreciation that Europe is now rebuilt and a powerhouse. Japan is rebuilt, is a powerhouse. China, India – these are all countries on the move. And that’s good.”

At a town hall in Strasbourg, France, Obama stood before an audience of mostly French and German youth and admitted that the U.S. should have a greater respect for Europe. “In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world,” he said before offering other European critical views of his country. “There have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.”

The contrast is striking. Only four years ago, George W. Bush, in his second Inaugural Address, described what he called America’s “considerable” influence, saying, “We will use it confidently in freedom’s cause.” Bush’s vision of American power was combative and aggressive. He said the U.S. would “seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture.” He continued, “We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom.”

Obama, by contrast, is looking for collaboration. He is looking to build a collective vision, not to impose an American one. And the response has been notable, from the endless flashbulbs that fired off at his town hall to the cheers of spectators who lined his motorcade routes and gathered outside his events in London. At the end of Obama’s Friday press conference, French President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed the issue directly, speaking through an interpreter. “It feels really good to be able to work with a U.S. President who wants to change the world and who understands that the world does not boil down to simply American frontiers and borders,” he said. “And that is a hell of a good piece of news for 2009.”


Barack Obama’s New World Order

The United States is still the same country it was a year ago, give or take about 6 million jobs. But its international branding campaign, as led by the new President, Barack Obama, is so different that the rest of the world might be forgiven if it has to do a double take.

Most of the hallmarks of the foreign policy of George W. Bush are gone. The old conservative idea of “American exceptionalism,” which placed the U.S. on a plane above the rest of the world as a unique beacon of democracy and financial might, has been rejected. At almost every stop, Obama has made clear that the U.S. is but one actor in a global community. Talk of American economic supremacy has been replaced by a call from Obama for more growth in developing countries. Claims of American military supremacy have been replaced with heavy emphasis on cooperation and diplomatic hard labor. (Read “Obama in Europe: Facing Four Big Challenges.”)

The tone was set from Obama’s first public remarks in London on Wednesday, at a press conference with Prime Minister Gordon Brown, where the American President said he had come “to listen, not to lecture.” At a joint appearance with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Baden-Baden on Friday, a German reporter asked Obama about his “grand designs” for NATO. “I don’t come bearing grand designs,” Obama said, scrapping the leadership role the U.S. maintained through the Cold War. “I’m here to listen, to share ideas and to jointly, as one of many NATO allies, help shape our vision for the future.”

On Thursday night, after the G-20 summit ended, Obama took so many questions from the foreign press, including British, Indian and Chinese reporters, that a group of them applauded when he left the stage. Two American reporters asked Obama for his response to the claim by Brown that the “Washington consensus is over.” Obama all but agreed with Brown, noting that the phrase had its roots in a significant set of economic policies that had shown itself to be imperfect. He went on to talk about the benefits of increasing economic competition with the U.S. “That’s not a loss for America,” he said of the economic rise of other powers. “It’s an appreciation that Europe is now rebuilt and a powerhouse. Japan is rebuilt, is a powerhouse. China, India – these are all countries on the move. And that’s good.”

At a town hall in Strasbourg, France, Obama stood before an audience of mostly French and German youth and admitted that the U.S. should have a greater respect for Europe. “In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world,” he said before offering other European critical views of his country. “There have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.”

The contrast is striking. Only four years ago, George W. Bush, in his second Inaugural Address, described what he called America’s “considerable” influence, saying, “We will use it confidently in freedom’s cause.” Bush’s vision of American power was combative and aggressive. He said the U.S. would “seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture.” He continued, “We go forward with complete confidence in the eventual triumph of freedom.”

Obama, by contrast, is looking for collaboration. He is looking to build a collective vision, not to impose an American one. And the response has been notable, from the endless flashbulbs that fired off at his town hall to the cheers of spectators who lined his motorcade routes and gathered outside his events in London. At the end of Obama’s Friday press conference, French President Nicolas Sarkozy addressed the issue directly, speaking through an interpreter. “It feels really good to be able to work with a U.S. President who wants to change the world and who understands that the world does not boil down to simply American frontiers and borders,” he said. “And that is a hell of a good piece of news for 2009.”


Sources: US to sign UN gay rights declaration

Obama

By MATTHEW LEE, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON – The Obama administration will endorse a U.N. declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality that then-President George W. Bush had refused to sign, The Associated Press has learned.

U.S. officials said Tuesday they had notified the declaration’s French sponsors that the administration wants to be added as a supporter. The Bush administration was criticized in December when it was the only western government that refused to sign on.

The move was made after an interagency review of the Bush administration’s position on the nonbinding document, which was signed by all 27 European Union members as well as Japan, Australia, Mexico and three dozen other countries, the officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because Congress was still being notified of the decision. They said the administration had decided to sign the declaration to demonstrate that the United States supports human rights for all.

“The United States is an outspoken defender of human rights and critic of human rights abuses around the world,” said one official.

“As such, we join with the other supporters of this statement and we will continue to remind countries of the importance of respecting the human rights of all people in all appropriate international fora,” the official said.

The official added that the United States was concerned about “violence and human rights abuses against gay, lesbian, transsexual and bisexual individuals” and was also “troubled by the criminalization of sexual orientation in many countries.”

“In the words of the United States Supreme Court, the right to be free from criminalization on the basis of sexual orientation ‘has been accepted as an integral part of human freedom’,” the official said.

Gay rights and other groups had criticized the Bush administration when it refused to sign the declaration when it was presented at the United Nations on Dec. 19. U.S. officials said then that the U.S. opposed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation but that parts of the declaration raised legal questions that needed further review.

According to negotiators, the Bush team had concerns that those parts could commit the federal government on matters that fall under state jurisdiction. In some states, landlords and private employers are allowed to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation; on the federal level, gays are not allowed to serve openly in the military.

It was not immediately clear on Tuesday how the Obama administration had come to a different conclusion.

When it was voted on in December, 66 of the U.N.’s 192 member countries signed the declaration — which backers called a historic step to push the General Assembly to deal more forthrightly with anti-gay discrimination.

But 70 U.N. members outlaw homosexuality — and in several, homosexual acts can be punished by execution. More than 50 nations, including members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, opposed the declaration.

Some Islamic countries said at the time that protecting sexual orientation could lead to “the social normalization and possibly the legalization of deplorable acts” such as pedophilia and incest. The declaration was also opposed by the Vatican.


Hopes and Dreams

Obama Inauguration

It is 2:40 in the morning and I am watching tv – Keith Olbermann. Would we have the audacity of hope to ponder that the agent of real change will come in the person and presidency of Barack Obama? With his soaring rhetoric and ability to move “millions” of people to vote and to gather for his inauguration, we must believe that the agent of change has come.

It was fitting that he began his “Ball” trek at the Neighborhood Ball because the Obama’s are Neighborhood people. His campaign began in the neighborhood and we are all part of a Global Neighborhood, no matter where we live.

It only takes one man to create change. We can look at the person of Jesus and know that change is possible, we can look and see the movement he started that exists to this day.

I believe that the ceiling of hopes and dreams has been shattered. I think the world now rests in the hands of all the young people from all over the world. We must dream big and we must hope high. We are a few hours into the new presidency of Barack Obama, and you know, I pray that in the morning when he rises from his bed, that he can stand up and support all the hopes and dreams that the world has placed upon his shoulders.

The road may be long, the mountain may be high, and the slope may be steep, but the world must stand behind him and support him so that he can climb the slope left to him by the previous tenant of the White House.

Failure is not an option. We cannot fail President Obama, we cannot fail our communities, we cannot fail our neighborhoods, we cannot fail ourselves.

Success may be slow and may only come in increments, but success will come, one day at a time, one week at a time, one month at a time, and one year at a time. We must believe, we must hope and we must dream.

We must dream because the world would be a very lonely and empty place without the dreams that we speak to the universe.

Imagine the ripple effect that Barack Obama may have on world leaders. Imagine that change starts in the U.S. and moves North and South, East and West. Far and Wide, here and there. If the voices of millions of Americans who voted can bring about this “agent of change” to the White House, imagine what we can do in our own countries?

They say that change begins at home. I have written that what we teach our children by thought, word and deed, will impact them for the rest of their lives. They say that the youth had a direct impact on the election of Barack Obama, as I saw tonight in interviews. The youth impacted their parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, brothers and sisters. The U.S. was ready for change and change is on the menu tonight.

Change begins in our homes, in our villages, in our towns, cities and states. If Barack Obama can bring about a tidal wave of change for the U.S. imagine how we can change the rest of the world. I cannot begin to imagine what kind of change he will bring to his world travels in the first year of his presidency.

Barack Obama will be coming to Canada in February. Ottawa is only two hours from Montreal. The Canadian Prime Minister looks forward to working with the new U.S. President we are their closest ally, neighbor and trade partner, I think Canadians will all agree that Canada could use change like President Obama has spoken so eloquently about.

Dream Big, Hope High. In order to begin change, we must become the change we want to see. There is no limit to what we can do as citizens of “President Obama’s neighborhood.” The world celebrated today. Let that celebration be the impetus for all of us to create the change we want to see in our own locations.

We are to love God with all our hearts, with all of our strength and all of our minds, and we are to love our neighbor as ourselves.

Let the neighbors and neighborhoods unite all over the world.

Change has come. And let it begin with me…

THIS is another Defining Moment…


Mandela praises Obama for his message of hope

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – On the day that he made history, Barack Obama got some heartfelt praise from Nelson Mandela.

The anti-apartheid icon said Obama’s inauguration in Washington has inspired the same sense of hope the world felt when South Africa threw off apartheid and elected its first black president — Mandela himself.

Mandela, in a letter released shortly after Obama took the oath of office Tuesday, said people around the world were inspired by his inauguration in 1994 to believe that “injustice can be overcome.” And he says Obama’s presidency offers a similar hope.

“Your election to this high office has inspired people as few other events in recent times have done,” Mandela wrote. “Amongst many around the world a sense of hopelessness had set in as so many problems remain unresolved and seemingly incapable of being resolved. You, Mister President, have brought a new voice of hope that these problems can be addressed and that we can in fact change the world and make of it a better place.”

Mandela also wrote of Africa’s pride at seeing Obama, whose father was born in Kenya, achieve such high office.

Across the continent Tuesday, particularly in Kenya, Africans celebrated Obama’s inauguration and marveled that a nation that once bought and sold African slaves was now led by a man with African roots. There was also recognition that Obama would have concerns and an agenda beyond Africa.

“We are aware that the expectations of what your presidency will achieve are high and that the demands on you will be great,” Mandela wrote. “We therefore once more wish you and your family strength and fortitude in the challenging days and years that lie ahead.”

Mandela, 90, has largely retired from public life and such statements from him are increasingly rare. But he seems to feel a personal connection to Obama — he also sent a letter of congratulations in November when Obama won the U.S. presidential election.

Obama “will always be in our affection as a young man who dared to dream and to pursue that dream,” Mandela wrote Tuesday.


01-20-09

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Originally found on: Vincent’s Blog, It Hit Home…

I did not sleep much last night and I am operating ok. I got up at 10 am this morning and parked myself in front of my tv with video tapes in hand to record this monumental day.

Canadian’s are just as excited to see Barack Obama as President as Americans are. I just hope and believe that President Obama is going to bring some serious change to the world, knowing that he will be visiting Canada in February, I think all of Canada is praying that he can radiate some sense into our Prime Minister. Let Us Pray !!!

It was just a beautiful day. I skipped class so that I could watch the entire festive days events, then went off to my meeting. [but not before trying to take a shower and clean up, and the hot water in our building stopped running] They told me downstairs that the furnace turned itself off by itself.

And I was like WTF ??? The water furnace for an entire building can just shut itself off when it wants to??? That is totally unacceptible. So I took a cold shower before going out and it was like [FRIGID] outside to boot…

I was not a happy camper…

Anyways, Happy Inauguration Day …


Inaugural Photos : Neighborhood Ball

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Obama Inauguration

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Sweet. They make a beautiful couple. I wish them well. And I hope for the First Family. Where were you at 12:05 this afternoon? I was watching tv.


Text of President Barack Obama’s inaugural address

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Text of President Barack Obama‘s inaugural address on Tuesday, as prepared for delivery and released by the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

OBAMA: My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we the people have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land — a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America — they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.

For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.

Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act — not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them — that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account — to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day — because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control — and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort — even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West — know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment — a moment that will define a generation — it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

“Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).”

America, in the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.