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President Barack Hussein Obama At The Very First ACA Youth Summit

By Jueseppi B.


President Obama Speaks at the White House Youth Summit

December 04, 2013 | 12:07 |Public Domain


President Obama delivers remarks at the White House Youth Summit on the Affordable Care Act. The summit brought together over 160 national and local young leaders who have broad reach in their communities and can help get the word out to young Americans about enrolling in health coverage.



Remarks by the President to ACA Youth Summit

South Court Auditorium
2:10 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT:  Hey!  (Applause.)  Hello, everybody.  Hello, hello.  Good to see you.  Everybody, sit down.  Good afternoon.  (Applause.)  Welcome to the White House.  This is a little bit of a rowdy bunch.  (Laughter.)
Well, it is wonderful to be with all of you, and I couldn’t be more appreciative of all the stuff that you guys are doing all across the country in your communities, in your organizations.  There was a time when I was a young invincible.  (Laughter.)  After five years in this office, people don’t call me that anymore.  (Laughter.)
But I just wanted to drop by and say thank you for everything that you’ve done and will do to spread the word about the Affordable Care Act and what it means for young people.  About a year ago, I got a letter from a woman in her twenties; she had just graduated from law school.  And she wrote, “Thank you for making health care reform a priority.  If you hadn’t, you probably would have fewer gray hairs right now.”  (Laughter.)  That’s a good point.  But her story is a reminder that the law was worth a few gray hairs, because she was one of the 3.1 million young people that this law helped to cover because they could join their parents’ plan.  And that means that when she was diagnosed with a potentially deadly autoimmune disorder, she got the care she needed — medications, blood transfusions, ultimately lifesaving surgery.
She was able to stay in school, graduate first in her class, find a job in her field.  And in the letter she wrote, “I’m grateful because the Affordable Care Act saved my life.  It saved my family from bankruptcy, and it gave me a future.”  So that’s what this law is about:  health care that’s there for you when you need it; financial protection for you and your family if you get sick; the security of knowing that an illness or an accident is not going to completely derail your dreams.
And there are a lot of benefits that are especially important to young people.  Insurance companies now have to provide free preventive care that will help you stay healthy.  They’ll have to provide contraceptive care for women at no extra cost.  If you wanted to take a chance and start your own business, or try multiple careers like many young people do, particularly in this economy, before you settle down you’re not going to have to wonder whether or not you can do that because you’re worried about coverage.  When you do settle down and start a family, maternal care will be covered.  If you’re a woman, you won’t be charged twice as much as men because you’re the one carrying the baby.
So this law is already making a difference for millions of young people, and it’s about to help millions more.  About half a million people across the country already are poised to gain coverage on January 1st, some for the very first time.  One recent article reported that a surprisingly large number of young people are signing up.  And there’s a good reason for that:  The law works.  Most young people without insurance can now get covered for under 100 bucks a month.
Now, I am not allowed, for security reasons, to have an iPhone.  (Laughter.)  I don’t know what your bills are.  I have noticed that Sasha and Malia seem to spend a lot of time on it.  (Laughter.)  My suspicion is that for a lot of you, between your cable bill, your phone bill, you’re spending more than 100 bucks a month.  The idea that you wouldn’t want to make sure that you’ve got the health security and financial security that comes with health insurance for less than that price, you guys are smarter than that.  And most young people are, as well.
The product is good.  It’s affordable.  People want financial stability of health insurance.  We’re going to keep working through any glitches, problems that may come up.  Obviously, the website when it was first launched, wasn’t in tip-top shape, to say the least.  But we have been, 24/7, going at it.  And now, for the vast majority of users, it’s working.  And there will be other things that come up during the course of the next several months, because you’re starting off a new program that has an impact on one-sixth of the economy.  This is a “big deal,” to quote Joe Biden.  (Laughter.)
But we’re just going to keep on working on it, and improving it, and refining it.  And if we see a problem, we’re going to fix it.  But we’re not repealing it — not as long as I’m President — (applause) — particularly because the folks who are criticizing it don’t seem to have any ideas in terms of how to reduce costs; ensure millions of people get coverage for the first time; make sure that insurance is more secure.  And those are things that the law is already doing.
And we’re going to have to just make sure that people know about it.  And that’s why I’m here, because I need your help; that’s why you’re here, because you know I need your help.  Believe it or not, there are actually organizations that are out there working to convince young people not to get insurance.
Now, think about that.  That’s a really bizarre way to spend your money — to try to convince people not to get health insurance, not to get free preventive care, not to make sure that they’re able to survive an accident or an illness.  If I had that much money I wouldn’t be spending it that way.  And some of these ad campaigns are backed by well-funded special-interest groups — I assume they’ve got great health care.
And just remember and remind your friends and your peers — imagine what happens if you get sick, what happens with the massive bills.  The people who are running those ads, they’re not going to pay for your illness.  You’re going to pay for it or your family is going to pay for it.  And that’s hard to imagine.
Look, I do remember what it’s like being 27 or 28, and aside from the occasional basketball injury, most of the time I kind of felt like I had nothing to worry about.  Of course, that’s what most people think until they have something to worry about.  But at that point, oftentimes it’s too late.  And sometimes in this debate, what we’ve heard are people saying, well, I don’t need this, I don’t want this; why are you impinging on my freedom to do whatever I want.
And part of what I say to folks when they tell me that is if you get sick and you get to the hospital, and you don’t have any coverage, then somebody else is also going to be paying for it.  It may be your family that can afford it, or it may be everybody else who does have health insurance and is acting responsibly, and is essentially subsidizing for your care.  And that’s not what I think most young people want.  They want to be independent, and this is part of feeling and being financially, and from a health perspective, secure.
So I’m going to need you all to spread the word about how the Affordable Care Act really works, what its benefits are, what its protections are and, most importantly, how people can sign up.  I know people call this law Obamacare.  And that’s okay — (laughter) — because I do care.  (Laughter and applause.)  I do.  I care about you.  I care about families.  I care about Americans.  (Applause.)
But no matter how much I care, the truth is, is that for your friends and your family, the most important source of information is not going to be me, it’s going to be you.  They are going to trust you.  If you’re taking them on a website, walking them through it saying, look at the price you’re able to get, look at the benefits you’re able to get.  That’s what’s going to be making a difference.
So if you’re a student body president, set up a conference on campus.  If you work at a nonprofit, open your doors and use your email list to help people learn the facts.  If you’ve got a radio show, spread the word on air.  If you’re a bartender, have a happy hour — (laughter) — and also probably get health insurance, because a lot of bartenders don’t have it.  Post something on your Facebook or Instagram.  You can tweet using the hashtag #getcovered.  But do whatever it takes to make sure people have the information they need to make the decision that’s right for them.
If you’re in a state that has its own state exchange, they’re probably doing a lot of activities and you should plug into those as well.  If you’re in a state that so far has not decided to set up a state exchange, then obviously we can make sure that you have all the information you need to succeed.  But the bottom line is I’m going to need you, and the country needs you.  And a lot of your friends and peers, they may not know that they need you, but if something happens somewhere down the road where they really need to get to a hospital or a doctor, the fact that you have talked to them and gotten them involved is going to make all the difference in the world.
And finally, let me just make a broader point to all the young people here.  This whole exercise obviously has huge implications for this country’s future, because if we can start bringing down health care costs, make sure people are covered, give people financial security, that’s good for the economy, it’s good for businesses, it’s good for the federal budget.
But I hope you haven’t been discouraged by how hard it’s been, because stuff that’s worth it is always hard.  The Civil Rights Movement was hard.  Getting women the right to vote — that was hard.  Making sure that workers had the right to organize — that was hard.  It’s never been easy for us to change how we do business in this country and particularly to address needs that a lot of people aren’t worried about on a day-to-day constant basis but then suddenly are desperately worried about it when a mishap happens.
So this has been the case for Social Security, for Medicare, for all the great social progress that we’ve made in this country.  And I wanted to say all that just because my hope is not only that you work hard to help folks get signed up today and tomorrow and next week, but I look around the room and I see a lot of leaders who are going to be leading the charge well into the future on a whole range of issues.  Don’t get discouraged.  Be persistent.  You may get a few gray hairs as a consequence — (laughter) — but I think at the end of the day you’ll think it’s worth it.
Thank you, guys.  (Applause.)
2:23 P.M. EST

National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice At The Human Rights First Annual Summit


By Jueseppi B.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Rice transitioned from her role as U.S. Ambassador to National Security Adviser after Obama appointed her as Tom Donilon's successor on June 5, 2013.

National Security Adviser Susan Rice. Rice transitioned from her role as U.S. Ambassador to National Security Adviser after Obama appointed her as Tom Donilon’s successor on June 5, 2013.


Remarks by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice: “Human Rights: Advancing American Interests and Values”


Remarks by National Security Advisor Susan E. Rice at the Human Rights First Annual Summit
Washington, DC
Wednesday, December 4, 2013


“Human Rights:  Advancing American Interests and Values”


Good afternoon, everyone.  And thank you so much Elisa for your incredibly kind introduction, but even more I want to thank you for your long career fighting the good fight, and for your dedicated leadership of Human Rights First.  For more than three decades, this group has been a clarion voice in defense of human dignity and the rights and freedom of people everywhere.  And it really is my deep honor to be with you today.


Sixty-five years ago this month, representatives to the United Nations General Assembly came together to adopt the Universal Declaration of Human Rights—a worldwide recognition that all members of our human family are born possessing certain equal and inalienable rights.  These same rights are reflected in the founding documents of the United States, and we cherish them as part of our national character.  But, as President Obama has said, just because some truths are self-evident doesn’t mean they are self-executing.  We have to work relentlessly to make them real.  We must constantly question and challenge ourselves to be on the right side of history—to do our part so that more and more of our fellow human beings can enjoy the rights and freedoms, which are the birthright of all mankind.


Our history is filled with champions who have fought to bring us closer to our ideals—from Dr. King and the thousands who marched on Washington 50 years ago to “Battling” Bella Abzug, from Cesar Chavez to Harvey Milk and countless others.  I know everyone in this room believes, as I do, that continuing their work at home and expanding it around the globe is our great commission as the inheritors of their legacy.


For me, the struggle for equal human rights is deeply personal.  It’s essential to who I am as an American.  I can never forget that I am the daughter of proud citizens who suffered the indignities of Jim Crow.  Nor can I forget that, in 1964, the year of my birth, in many parts of this great country, people who looked like me could not vote or marry someone who looks like my husband.  The unfinished battle for equality and human dignity is not only what drives me as a public servant, it is my central duty as the mother of my two children to make sure they never encounter any limitations on their dreams because of who they are or what they look like.


No one understands this profound responsibility more keenly than President Obama.  From his Nobel Prize acceptance speech to his remarks at the United Nations in September, he has been clear about the principles that guide us and to which we hold ourselves accountable, even as we navigate an increasingly complex world of competing and overlapping challenges.


Make no mistake:  advancing democracy and respect for human rights is central to our foreign policy.  It’s what our history and our values demand, but it’s also profoundly in our interests.  That is why the United States remains firmly committed to promoting freedom, opportunity and prosperity everywhere.  We stand proudly for the rights of women, the LGBT community and minorities.  We defend the freedom for all people to worship as they choose, and we champion open government and civil society, freedom of assembly and a free press.


We support these rights and freedoms with a wide range of tools, because history shows that nations that respect the rights of all their citizens are more just, more prosperous and more secure.  And while it’s neither effective nor desirable to advance human rights through the barrel of a gun, we have made clear that, in the face of imminent mass atrocities, there may be times when it is appropriate to use force to protect the innocent from the very worst crimes.  But, we cannot and we should not bear that burden alone.


Yet, obviously, advancing human rights is not and has never been our only interest.  Every U.S. president has a sworn duty to protect the lives and the fortunes of the American people against immediate threats.  That is President Obama’s first responsibility, and mine.  We must defend the United States, our citizens and our allies with every tool at our disposal, including, when necessary, with military force.  We must do all we can to counter weapons of mass destruction, aggression, terrorism, and catastrophic threats to the global economy, upon which our way of life depends.  Anything less would be a dereliction of duty.


As we seek to secure these core interests, we sometimes face painful dilemmas when the immediate need to defend our national security clashes with our fundamental commitment to democracy and human rights.  Let’s be honest: at times, as a result, we do business with governments that do not respect the rights we hold most dear.  We make tough choices.  When rights are violated, we continue to advocate for their protection.  But we cannot, and I will not pretend that some short-term trade offs do not exist.


Still, over time, we know that our core interests are inseparable from our core values, that our commitment to democracy and human rights roundly reinforces our national security. The greatest threats to our security often emerge from countries with the worst human rights records.  Witness Iran and North Korea, which have stoked tensions with the world, in part to prolong their repressive rule at home.  By contrast, when we are able to strengthen societies through our support for democracy and human rights, we plow the ground for greater cooperation among responsible nations on issues of mutual concern.  So, the fact is: American foreign policy must sometimes strike a difficult balance — not between our values and our interests, because these almost invariably converge with time, but more often between our short and long-term imperatives.


During the past five years, we’ve employed a variety of means to spur governments to respect the universal rights of their people—and to hold them accountable when they do not.


Wherever President Obama goes, he speaks both publicly and privately to highlight human rights abuses and to help nations see that protecting the rights of their people is ultimately in their self-interest.  We use the unmatched strength of our economy to apply financial pressure, including sanctions, on those that violate human rights.  We leverage our military aid and other forms of bilateral support to encourage countries to live up to their international commitments.  We allocate significant resources to assistance programs that foster human rights, the rule of law and good governance.  Our senior leaders engage directly with civil society, both to show our support and to hear what is really happening on the ground.  And, we work closely with multilateral institutions to marshal a coordinated international response to human rights violations.


Under President Obama, we joined the United Nations Human Rights Council in the face of domestic opposition.  And, for all its continuing flaws, we’ve succeeded in making it a more effective institution that has shed light on abuses in Qadhafi’s Libya, Sri Lanka, Syria, Sudan, North Korea and Iran.  And I want to salute my friend and colleague Eileen Donahoe who is a good reason and a major reason for that success in Geneva.  Thank you so much Eileen. We’ve worked cooperatively with the International Criminal Court to foster accountability for the worst crimes.  Together with our international partners, we helped to midwife the peaceful emergence of an independent South Sudan.  In Cote D’Ivoire, we worked through the United Nations to arrest spiraling violence and enable the duly-elected leader of Cote d’Ivoire to take office after a despot stubbornly refused to cede power.  Just recently, we backed regional diplomacy and a robust UN force to help usher the M23 militia off the battlefield in eastern Congo, yielding the promise of progress for the first time in many years.


In Burma, after long and effective pressure, including tough sanctions and persistent calls to end Aung San Suu Kyi’s house arrest and release political prisoners, we are now working to help Burma take steps towards inclusive democracy and national reconciliation.  In the Western Hemisphere, we joined in beating back efforts to limit the autonomy of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and its special rapporteur for freedom of expression.  And, backed by a UN Security Council mandate, we led, with our partners in NATO and the Arab League, an unprecedented international intervention to prevent mass atrocities in Libya.


Around the world, we call to account the world’s worst abusers, from Iran to Syria, from Eritrea to Zimbabwe, from North Korea to Sudan.  These governments crush the rights of their people and use the tyrant’s toolkit of repression to retain power.  Some have systematically slaughtered their own citizens, as in the genocide in Darfur.


In Syria, even as we provide humanitarian assistance and make rapid progress toward eliminating the threat of chemical weapons, our work continues to end the violence that has claimed more than 100,000 lives and to see the perpetrators of atrocities held accountable.   In Iran, as we test the potential for a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear issue, we are mindful that another key test is whether we begin to see progress on human rights.  We call on the government to allow the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in Iran to visit the country.  Our sanctions on Iran’s human rights abusers will continue and so will our support for the fundamental rights of all Iranians.  The Iranian people deserve the same right to express themselves online and through social media as their leaders enjoy.


Closer to home, we note modest steps toward economic reform in Cuba, but we condemn continued arrests of human rights activists and other government critics.  As we mark the fourth year of his imprisonment, we call on the Cuban government to release our innocent, jailed compatriot, Alan Gross.  Ultimately, it will be the Cuban people who drive economic and political reforms. And that’s why President Obama has increased the flow of resources and information to ordinary citizens.  The Cuban people deserve the full support of the United States and of an entire region that has committed to promote and defend democracy through the Inter American Democratic Charter.


These extreme examples are in many ways the most clear-cut.  They are egregious cases, where the weight of our concern and the tenor of our relationship make it easier to chart a clear policy course.  In other countries, it is more difficult to disentangle our competing interests and to give full primacy to our values.  So, let me talk a bit more about these tougher cases.


In this new century, there are few relationships more complex or important than the one between the United States and China.  Building a constructive relationship with China is crucial to the future security and prosperity of the world as a whole.  We value China’s cooperation on certain pressing security challenges, from North Korea to Iran.  Our trade relationship, one of the largest in the world, supports countless American jobs.  And that’s precisely why we have a stake in what kind of power China will become, and that is why human rights are integral to our engagement with China.


So the United States speaks clearly and consistently about our human rights concerns with the Chinese government at every level, including at this year’s summit between President Obama and President Xi at Sunnylands.  U.S. officials engage their Chinese counterparts directly on specific cases of concern—like that of Liu Xiaobo and Xu Zhiyong—as well as about broader patterns of restrictive behavior.  And we voice our condemnation publicly when violations occur.


The Chinese people are facing increasing restrictions on their freedoms of expression, assembly and association.  This is short-sighted.  When people in China cannot hold public officials to account for corruption, environmental abuses, worker and consumer safety, or public health crises, problems that affect China as well as the world go unaddressed.  When courts imprison political dissidents who merely urge respect for China’s own laws, no one in China, including Americans doing business there, can feel secure.  When ethnic and religious minorities—such as Tibetans and Uighurs—are denied their fundamental freedoms, the trust that holds diverse societies together is undermined.  Such abuses diminish China’s potential from the inside.


The same is true of Russia.  We often can cooperate with Russia on nonproliferation, arms control, counterterrorism and other vital interests.  But, as we meet these mutual challenges, we don’t remain silent about the Russian government’s systematic efforts to curtail the actions of Russian civil society, to stigmatize the LGBT community, to coerce neighbors like Ukraine who seek closer integration with Europe, or to stifle human rights in the North Caucasus.  We deplore selective justice and the prosecution of those who protest the corruption and cronyism that is sapping Russia’s economic future and limiting its potential to play its full role on the world stage.


In the Middle East and North Africa, we are navigating the security challenges of the Arab Spring and helping partners lay the foundations for a future rooted in greater peace, opportunity, democracy and respect for human rights.  In Egypt, we said we could not conduct business as usual with the interim government after it used large-scale violence against civilians and detained opposition leaders earlier this year.  So, we withheld the delivery of some major weapons systems pending progress towards democratic reforms and inclusive governance.  We have a stake in promoting inclusive politics in Egypt to avoid driving government opponents into the arms of extremist groups and condemning the country to further instability.  We have spoken out about the deleterious impact the new demonstrations law and its heavy-handed enforcement is having on freedom of assembly in Egypt, and we will continue to urge non-violence and progress on Egypt’s road map towards an inclusive and stable democracy.


Bahrain is a long standing partner in the region.  As home to our Fifth Fleet, a stable Bahrain is of great strategic importance to the United States.  So we serve both our principles and our security by pressing for national reconciliation between the government and the opposition.  We are discouraging actions on both sides that sharpen religious divisions or escalate violence.  And, through concrete actions, including withholding portions of our military assistance, we are urging the government to lift restrictions on civil society, to treat members of the opposition in accordance with the rule of law, and to engage in a deliberate reform process.


Our commitment to Israel’s security is unprecedented and enduring.   Thus, in the West Bank, we condemn incitement and violence against Israelis.  At the same time, we reject settler violence against Palestinians.  The daily humiliations of administrative detentions, land confiscations, and home demolitions must end for a culture of peace to take root.


Even as we address such pressing national challenges, the United States continues to lead in promoting a global human rights agenda for the 21st century.  This starts with our intensive efforts to protect and empower women and girls.  No society can reach its full potential when half its people are held back.  That’s why, through the Equal Futures Partnership, we’re working with countries around the world to fulfill specific commitments that elevate the status of women, such as developing constitutional protections for gender equality or extending benefits for women-owned businesses.


A full third of women—one in three—experience either sexual or physical violence in their lifetimes.  Gender-based violence is an affront to human dignity, but it also threatens public health, economic stability, and the security of nations.  So, as part of our commitment to end this scourge, we’re helping equip first responders to protect women and girls from rape as soon as conflicts or disasters occur, and we’re launching a cabinet-level task force to raise awareness and coordinate our efforts to combat violence against women and girls.


No one–no one–should face discrimination because of who they are or whom they love.  So, we are working to lead internationally, as we have domestically, on LGBT issues.  This summer, President Obama championed equal treatment for LGBT persons while standing next to the President of Senegal, a country that is making progress on democratic reforms, but like too many nations, still places criminal restrictions on homosexuality.  President Obama met with LGBT and other civil society activists in St. Petersburg, Russia to discuss the restrictions they face in Russia.  At the UN Human Rights Council and in regional organizations, such as the Organization of American States and the Pan American Health Organization, the United States has fought for and won support for resolutions that recognize the rights and protect the safety and dignity of LGBT persons.  We created the Global Equality Fund to protect LGBT rights and those who defend them.


To support embattled civil society, which is the engine that drives greater transparency and accountability everywhere, including here in the United States we founded and are working through the Open Government Partnership to develop and share best practices.  We’re coordinating with the Community of Democracies to pressure repressive regimes.  The State Department led the creation of the Lifeline partnership, which provides emergency assistance to civil society organizations.  We are reaching out directly to all of you in the NGO community to learn about how we can best support and train your sister organizations around the world.  And, our support for young leaders across Africa focuses, in part, on empowering those who are committed to working for an Africa that is buttressed, as President Obama said, by “strong institutions” rather than by “strongmen.”


This isn’t an exhaustive summary of our efforts.  From Rakhine State in Burma to Jonglei State in South Sudan, we are working to protect vulnerable civilians, especially minorities, to heal rifts in communities, and to press for accountability so that the worst forms of violence do not go unpunished.  The modern-day slavery of human trafficking remains a stain on our collective conscience, and President Obama has redoubled our efforts to end human trafficking in all its forms.


We are promoting internet freedom while still guarding against threats from those who would use the connective power of new technologies to harm us.  And, as part of our comprehensive strategy to help prevent genocide and mass atrocities, we’re developing the tools and partnerships that can warn us before violence ignites and strengthen our capacity to respond.  For example, to take on the deteriorating situation and increasing violence in the Central African Republic, we’re working this week at the UN to support African Union forces protecting civilians, to provide humanitarian assistance, and to investigate human rights abuses so the perpetrators can be held accountable.


Finally, our commitment to human rights means we must live our values at home.  And, here too, our work is not nearly complete.  If we are not walking the talk, we undermine the United States’ ability to lead internationally.   President Obama has an extremely strong record of promoting human rights domestically — from the first bill he signed into law as President, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, to his support for voter protection, and his commitment to full equality for our LGBT brothers and sisters and for repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.  This Administration is deeply committed to ensuring that all men and women are treated equally.


In 2009, as UN Ambassador, I was proud to sign, on behalf of the United States, the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  But, almost five years later, as you know, we are still urging the Senate to approve this convention.  I am very glad you’ll be hearing tomorrow from the great former Senator Bob Dole, who has been a relentless advocate for this cause.  We need Congress to join with us to show that America doesn’t just press other nations to abide by international treaties and norms while we stand on the sidelines.  Rather we must lead by example.


That is why too President Obama remains deeply determined to close the detention facility at Guantanamo. We have new envoys at the Departments of State and Defense dedicated to this cause.  In August, we completed the first successful detainee transfers under the onerous restrictions that Congress enacted in 2011, and we expect to announce more transfers in the near future.  We continue to urge Congress to remove these restrictions, which have severely hampered our efforts to close the Guantanamo detention facility.  And I want to thank Human Rights First and your coalition for your energetic support for closing Guantanamo.


More broadly, after over a decade of war, we continue to transition from a perpetual war footing while robustly protecting America’s interests and security around the world.  Earlier this year, President Obama announced new guidelines governing the use of lethal force in our counterterrorism operations outside areas of active hostilities, including the use of drones.  Congress is briefed on every strike taken, and we are committed to sharing as much information as possible with the American people about our efforts.  Over time, continued progress against al Qaeda and associated terrorist groups should reduce the need for such actions.


More recently, President Obama directed a review of our signals intelligence collection.  Intelligence saves lives—American lives and those of our allies and partners.  We are committed to continuing to collect such information to meet our critical security needs.  At the same time, we recognize that, in many countries, surveillance is an instrument of repression, which is why we must use the unprecedented power that technology affords us responsibly, while respecting the values of privacy, government transparency, and accountability that all people share.


In closing, I want to stress that our nation, and we in the Obama Administration, benefit enormously from groups like Human Rights First.  Your analyses, your perspectives — and, yes, your criticisms—help shape and improve our decision making.  It may be decades before we see how all the challenges and choices of today play out.  But, the promise we make to you is this:  The United States will keep working every day to uphold the rights and freedoms that belong to all the people of this earth.


Over the last 20 years, I’ve seen up close the evil that humans can perpetrate against one another—from churchyards in Rwanda to dirt camps in Darfur, from war-torn Sarajevo to burned-out death traps in Tripoli.  More recently, I chaired meetings in the Situation Room after the Assad regime unleashed the world’s largest chemical weapons attack in 25 years.  I’ve seen the worst of man’s inhumanity.  But I also know the bewildering resilience of the human spirit.  In so many unlikely places, I’ve seen the hope that pushes its way to the surface, unbidden, in the most dire circumstances.


I often think of the little boy, just 3 or 4 years old, whom I met in 1994 while visiting an IDP camp in war-torn rural Angola.  I didn’t get his name.  He was just one in a group of curious kids who came out to greet our delegation.  He had short legs, a distended belly, and only a torn, dirty t-shirt to cover his little body.  Looking around at his hellish surroundings was enough to sap the hope out of the most optimistic person.  But that little boy defied logic.  He just glowed — with a smile so innocent and infectious I will carry it to my grave.  As I moved toward him, drawn almost involuntarily, I suddenly realized I had nothing of worth to offer him, except perhaps the well-worn baseball hat on my head.  When I took it off and set it on his unsuspecting head, he just beamed, radiating nothing but joy.  The poet Emily Dickinson tells us that, “Hope is the thing with feathers that perches in the soul.”  So, for me, hope will always be that young boy’s smile.


Everything I’ve seen and done in my career since then has only left me more convinced of the common yearnings that stir in all of us.  I have no idea what happened to that little boy in Cuito, Angola, but there are millions more just like him all over the Earth—each  deserving of the same rights, the same security, and the same hope that our own children enjoy.  Their future is bound up with our own.  It is for their sake, and ours, that we stand fast for human rights.  For their sake, and ours, we hold resolutely to our founding principles in this complicated and often dangerous world.  And, it is for the sake of our common humanity and our shared future, that, even if imperfectly, we keep striving each day to build a world that is more just, more equal, more safe, and more free.


Thank you all very much.



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Mr Martin Bashir Resigns From MSNBC Rather Than Work For Asshole Phil Griffin, President Of MSNBC.


By Jueseppi B.

Martin Bashir...When You Tell The truth At MSNBC, You Get Punished.

Martin Bashir…When You Tell The truth At MSNBC, You Get Punished.


A statement by Martin Bashir


The following is a message for the msnbc community from Martin Bashir:


“After making an on-air apology, I asked for permission to take some additional time out around the Thanksgiving holiday. Upon further reflection, and after meeting with the President of msnbc, I have tendered my resignation.  It is my sincere hope that all of my colleagues, at this special network, will be allowed to focus on the issues that matter without the distraction of myself or my ill-judged comments.


“I deeply regret what was said, will endeavor to work hard at making constructive contributions in the future and will always have a deep appreciation for our viewers – who are the smartest, most compassionate and discerning of all television audiences.  I would also wish to express deepest gratitude to my immediate colleagues, and our contributors, all of whom have given so much of themselves to our broadcast.”



Phil Griffin, President of msnbc, added the following:


“Martin Bashir resigned today, effective immediately. I understand his decision and I thank him for three great years with msnbc. Martin is a good man and respected colleague  - we wish him only the best.”



Martin Bashir Says Someone Should Shit in Sarah Palin’s Mouth – Attacks Sarah Palin



Bashir concluded his commentary by suggesting Palin is deserving of the same treatment.In his Clear the Airsegment, Bashir lit into Palin straight away, referring to her as America’s resident dunce and characterizing her remarks as scraping the barrel of her long-deceased mind, and using her all-time favorite analogy in an attempt to sound intelligent about the national debt.


He then played a clip of Palin’s comments from last weekend, in which she told a crowd at Iowa’s Faith and Freedom Coalition event, “Our free stuff today is being paid for by taking money from our children, and borrowing from China. When that note comes due — and this isn’t racist, so try it. Try it anyway. This isn’t racist. But it’s going to be like slavery when that note is due. It will be like slavery.”


Given her well-established reputation as a world class idiot, it’s hardly surprising that she should choose to mention slavery in a way that is abominable to anyone who knows anything about its barbaric history.


So here’s an example, Bashir continued. One of the most comprehensive first-person accounts of slavery comes from the personal diary of a man called Thomas Thistlewood, who kept copious notes for 39 years.


Thistlewood was the son of a tenant farmer, who arrived on the island of Jamaica in April 1750, and assumed the position of overseer at a major plantation What is most shocking about Thistlewood’s diary is not simply the fact that he assumes the right to own and possess other human beings, but is the sheer cruelty and brutality of his regime, Bashir added.


In 1756, he records that a slave named Darby ‘catched eating kanes had him well flogged and pickled, then made Hector, another slave, s-h-i-t in his mouth.’ This became known as ‘Darby’s Dose,’ a punishment invented by Thistlewood that spoke only of inhumanity.


And he mentions a similar incident in 1756, his time in relation to a man he refers to as Punch. ‘Flogged punch well, and then washed and rubbed salt pickle, lime juice and bird pepper, made Negro Joe piss in his eyes and mouth,’ Bashir recited. I could go on, but you get the point, Bashir said, concluding When Mrs. Palin invokes slavery, she doesn’t just prove her rank ignorance. She confirms if anyone truly qualified for a dose of discipline from Thomas Thistlewood, she would be the outstanding candidate.



MSNBC Host Apologizes For Sarah Palin Comments


Published on Nov 20, 2013

“On Friday, MSNBC host Martin Bashir delivered a blistering commentary in which he suggested that former Governor Sarah Palin (R-AK) deserved the same treatment as that described in the diary of British overseer Thomas Thistlewood’s diary. Bashir’s commentary was pegged to remarks that Palin made last week, comparing public debt to slavery. At the top of Monday’s show, Bashir delivered a lengthy, abject apology for his remarks, and promised to learn from the experience…”.* The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks it down.






I admire Martin Bashir, and I like his show on MSNBC week days at 3 PM Central Standard Time. Of the seven “liberal” show host that MSNBC employs in the 3 PM to 10 PM time slot, The Rev Al Sharpton and Martin Bashir are my favorite political “expert pundits.”


I support Martin Bashir 5000% in his suggesting that Stupid Sarah Palin should receive a Darby Dose, and I suggest that every time she speaks on slavery….she gets dosed.


I’ll even go three steps further…anytime any politician or celebrity or public official opens his/her mouth to offer expert punditry on subjects they know jack shit about, they be made to endure a Darby Dose.


You speak about slavery without ever having studied slavery…Darby Dose. You talk about SNAP benefits and how that program should be cut, without ever having lived on food stamps….Darby Dose. You vote against legislation that 90% of Americans want…..Darby Dose.


Get my drift….


I realize Martin Bashir apologized to keep MSNBC happy, and for that I comprehend his apology. I also know Martin Bashir took time off to get the taste of apologizing to a stupid bitch, Sarah Palin, who has not ever apologized for circling America saying things 5000 times worse than what Martin Bashir suggested by saying Palin should be Darby Dosed.


I think she should be “pickled” as well as Darby Dosed. Daily.


I will miss you Mr. Martin Bashir.


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Moms Mark Anniversary of Sandy Hook Elementary Tragedy With Nationwide “No More Silence” Events


By Jueseppi B.




Moms Mark Anniversary of Sandy Hook Elementary Tragedy with Nationwide “No More Silence” Events


by Moms Demand Action


Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America Release Television Ad in Honor of Newtown Victims; Sponsoring Week of Action Asking Congress to Act on Background Checks




Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America will host more than 50 memorial events nationwide on Sat., Dec. 14, in honor of the 20 children and six adults murdered one year ago at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, CT. These vigils, called “No More Silence,” will send a clear message that it’s time to make noise about gun reform. Moms across the country will honor the Newtown victims and all victims of gun violence through bell ringing in lieu of a moment of silence.


Members of Moms Demand Action and their families will gather together for “No More Silence” events in more than 35 states. Events will be co-sponsored by Mayors Against Illegal Guns and will include remarks from activists, survivors of gun violence, members of the faith community, and elected officials. All events will culminate in a communal bell ringing to honor the 26 victims killed in Newtown, and to demonstrate that American mothers will never again be silent about gun violence. A full list of events is available here.


On Thursday, December 5, Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns will hold a press call at 1pm EST to discuss progress in the gun reform movement in the year following the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary and to announce details regarding events around the country to commemorate the Newtown anniversary. To RSVP, please contacttaylor.maxwell@berlinrosen.com.


“American mothers will never again listen to those who say it’s too soon after a senseless tragedy like Sandy Hook to discuss gun reform. And we will never again be silent about gun violence – that bell cannot be unrung,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Over the past year, we have grieved the loss of too many victims and witnessed too much inaction by our elected officials.”


“What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary was an unimaginable tragedy for my family, and the families of all of the victims,” said Maura Sherlach Schwartz, a national spokesperson for Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and daughter of Mary Sherlach, a school psychologist shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary. “It was also a shattering wake-up call for millions of mothers across America. I am proud to be part of this powerful grassroots movement working to combat the national epidemic of gun violence that claims the lives of nearly eight children or teens every day.”


“No More Silence” events will kick-off on Capitol Hill on Fri., Dec. 13. Members of Moms Demand Action will deliver bells to members of Congress with the message that the American mothers will vote in the midterm elections based on which legislators support enacting new and stronger gun laws. On Sat., Dec. 14, more than 50 bell-ringing events will occur throughout the nation, from Seattle, WA; to Houston, TX; to Providence, RI.


In addition, Moms Demand Action has partnered with Mayors Against Illegal Guns to develop an ad, “No More Silence,” which will premiere this week on cable news networks. The ad is a commentary on the need for continued indignation among Americans at the inaction of Congress, and was created by the Toronto office of GREY advertising. The ad can be viewed here:


Moms Demand Action: No More Silence 30 second ad


Published on Dec 4, 2013

Saturday, December 14 marks one year since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Moms Demand Action will commemorate the anniversary with No More Silence, a campaign to honor the victims and show our resolve never to be silent again about gun violence. The campaign will include a week of action culminating on December 14, with events in more than 35 states. Each event will include a communal ringing of bells—a moment of No More Silence—to remember the victims and to show that the time for silence is over.






Moms Demand Action: No More Silence 60 second ad


Published on Dec 4, 2013

Saturday, December 14 marks one year since the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Moms Demand Action will commemorate the anniversary with No More Silence, a campaign to honor the victims and show our resolve never to be silent again about gun violence. The campaign will include a week of action culminating on December 14, with events in more than 35 states. Each event will include a communal ringing of bells—a moment of No More Silence—to remember the victims and to show that the time for silence is over.




In the week leading up to the anniversary, members of Moms Demand Action will engage in a week of action, during which they will call on Congress to immediately enact common-sense reforms such as comprehensive background checks for gun purchases.


Sun., Dec. 15, will mark the one-year anniversary of Moms Demand Action, which was founded one day after the mass shooting in Newtown. In just 12 months, Moms Demand Action has more than 125,000 members with a chapter in every state. The grassroots movement’s members have been instrumental in securing significant legislative victories at the state and local levels, including the passage of strong new gun laws in California, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York. Moms Demand Action also has been active in supporting candidates with gun sense, including endorsements for Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Virginia Governor-Elect Terry McAuliffe.


“One year ago, 20 beautiful children and six brave teachers and administrators were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School in a tragedy that is still impossible to comprehend,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein. “On that morning, a deranged killer shot his way into what should have been a safe place, with an assault weapon and enough high-capacity ammunition magazines to kill as many people as possible in the shortest amount of time. The massacre was the product, in large part, of our nation’s weak gun laws—laws that allow military-style assault weapons to be sold legally and that permit criminals and domestic abusers to easily obtain weapons at gun shows and over the Internet without a background check.”


“I’m proud to stand with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and with thousands of police chiefs, doctors, religious leaders and gun violence victims. They have mobilized across the country to fight for what Congress has so far been unwilling to do—strengthen our nation’s gun laws and change the culture of violence that senselessly claims our friends and neighbors every single day,” Feinstein said.


Moms Demand Action also successfully convinced Starbucks to change its policy allowing guns inside stores. In September, Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz announced, “Guns are no longer welcome at Starbucks.” Moms Demand Action is continuing to push for gun sense policies at American businesses and institutions, including Staples and other retailers.


“American moms are finally raising their voices, and in the past year we’ve helped enact new and stronger gun laws and policies at the city and state level, and even in corporate America. By honoring the victims of the tragedy in Newtown with a moment of ‘No More Silence,’ we are demonstrating our resolve to keep working for a safer America for our children,” said Watts.


Read the full press release




Moms Demand Action











Imagine a world that is gun free.

Imagine a world that is gun free.

This should be the only gun Americans are allowed to purchase and own.

This should be the only gun Americans are allowed to purchase and own.



enoughisenough2 (1)


Pink Rose


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