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President Obama Officially Begins 2nd Term

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Washington (CNN) — President Barack Obama officially begins his second term today, a day ahead of his public swearing in and all the pomp and ceremony of a U.S. presidential inauguration.

Because the Constitution calls for the president to be sworn in on January 20, Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will be sworn in for their second terms in relatively quiet ceremonies before they take their public oaths in front of the Capitol on Monday and before an audience spread down the National Mall.

Obama’s Monday address will lay out the values and vision for his second term and acknowledge the division in Washington but won’t address policy, a source with knowledge of the speech told CNN on the condition of anonymity. He’ll lay out policy in his February 12 State of the Union address, the source said.

The nation’s first African-American president also will become only the 17th U.S. leader to deliver a second inaugural address before joining the traditional parade up Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House.  For his second inauguration, less than half of the estimated 1.8 million onlookers who crammed the Mall in 2009 are expected — organizers expect 800,000 people to attend Monday’s public ceremony.

The smaller crowd this time around reflects the reality of second-term presidencies, when the novelty and expectations of a new leader have been replaced with the familiarity and experiences of the first four years.

Inauguration activities kicked off on Saturday with President Obama, first lady Michelle Obama, Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden leading volunteers across the country in National Day of Service Activities.

The Obamas joined in a project at Burrville Elementary School in Washington, aiding volunteers who were staining a bookcase. Cameras at the school caught the president and first lady staining a bookcase.  The president told volunteers that his family would do volunteer projects on holidays, “So I was taught from a young age.” Volunteering “is really what America is all about,” he said.

The Bidens helped to put together care packages for service members deployed overseas at the National Guard Armory in Washington. Biden’s office said volunteers at the armory would produce 100,000 packages.

“We still have 68,000 troops in harm’s way in some of the most godforsaken territory in the world,” Biden said, adding that the military members can find comfort “knowing that we back home just remember, we know what’s going on.”

Chelsea Clinton, honorary chairwoman of the Day of Service, said at a kickoff event on Mall that Saturday was the 19th anniversary of her father former President Bill Clinton signing the bill that designated a National Day of Service to coincide with Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the federal holiday honoring the late civil rights leader.

“When he signed the bill, he reminded us of what Dr. King called life’s most persistent and urgent question: What are you doing for others?” she said. “And in my family, the only wrong answer to that question is ‘nothing.’ “

Later Saturday, singer Katy Perry headlined a concert for children of service men and women and Washington schoolchildren that was hosted by the first lady and Mrs. Biden. Singer Usher and the cast of the TV show “Glee” were among others who performed.

The Saturday event was to recognize the sacrifices and “level of maturity that is required from military kids,” the first lady said.

 “It means always thinking about things that are so much bigger than yourself. It means growing up just a little faster and working just a little harder than other kids,” she said. “And it means doing the greatest thing you can ever do with your life at such a young age, and that is to serve our country.”

Today, the vice president will take his official oath shortly after 8 a.m. at the Naval Observatory, his official residence, and the president will take his at the White House shortly before noon

Obama and Biden will travel to Arlington National Cemetery after Biden’s swearing-in for a traditional wreath-laying ceremony.

In the evening, the Obamas will watch Latino acts at “In Performance at the Kennedy Center,” which is followed by the Let Freedom Ring concert. The Red, White and Blue Inaugural Ball and Hip-Hop Inaugural Ball are also scheduled in the capital.

The president will speak to donors at a Candlelight Celebration and the National Building Museum on Sunday night.

Monday’s events will be a bit down-sized from Obama’s first inauguration. After events in front of the Capitol, the Obamas and Bidens will lead the traditional parade down Pennsylvania Avenue to the White House, there are only two presidential balls this year, down from the 10 staged in 2009.

While the anticipated crowd for Monday’s events is expected to be about half of those who gathered four years ago, the temperature will be a bit higher than in 2009 when the high hovered around the freezing mark. While the early morning temperature will be in the 20s, the forecast calls for a high temperature in the upper 30s or low 40s. Still, organizers cautioned attendees to bundle up because of prolonged exposure to the cold as they watch the events and make their way to and from them.

Credit to: CNN.com

 

Obama Buys Books To Promote Independent Shops

President Barack Obama, with daughters Sasha, left, and Malia, center, goes shopping at a small bookstore, One More Page, in Arlington, Va., Saturday, Nov. 24, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

By: MATTHEW DALY (AP)

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) — President Barack Obama made a quick trip to a Virginia bookstore for some Christmas shopping.

The president took his daughters, Sasha and Malia, to One More Page Books in Arlington, Va., on Saturday afternoon.

The White House says Obama was promoting an effort called “small business Saturday” to encourage shoppers to patronize mom-and-pop businesses after Thanksgiving.

At the store, Obama held up his BlackBerry, apparently looking up a book title as he spoke with shop owner Eileen McGervey. He said “preparation” was the key to his shopping.

Obama brushed off a reporter’s question about the looming “fiscal cliff,” saying “we’re doing Christmas shopping.”

The White House says Obama bought 15 children’s books that will be given as Christmas gifts to family members.

Credit to: Associated Press

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/obama-buys-books-promote-independent-shops

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2012 in BLACK Events, Politics

 

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President Obama Makes History Again!

Viva Obama!

President Obama has made history again, this time he is the first president to get re-elected during a tough economic time with a high rate of unemployment. Some political experts felt like the state of the economy alone made him an easily beatable candidate. The Republican Party found out that he was not as easy to beat as they thought. At 11:18 on November 6th, 2012, Barack H. Obama was officially declared the winner of the presidential election. The people of the United States granted this historically significant president a second term in the White House. People waited with bated breath for almost two hours to hear the president deliver what would be the final acceptance speech of his political career. The beleaguered president took the stage with his family and one could almost see the relief they had for the end of a hard fought campaign. The votes had long since been counted and the winner declared but President Obama, like the rest of us waited patiently for Mitt Romney to finally give his concession speech. The tradition is that the loser calls the winner to congratulate him first, after which he gives his speech where he will concede the election to the winner, then the winner makes an acceptance speech. Every news organization sat on the edge of their seats as the Romney campaign was “still analyzing the numbers” even though expert analysis had already declared that he lost the election. After what seemed like many hours, but in actuality was just one hour, Mitt Romney delivered his concession speech just after midnight.

We always pay a lot of attention to the top of the ticket, but there were also some other democratic victories and important referendums that night. Victories in the Senate allow the Democrats to retain control of the governing body, while Republicans retain control of the house. Dozens of state-wide ballot questions were posed to voters, and the result of the votes cast can have a resounding effect, even across state lines. Maine and Maryland have added themselves to the list of states that now allow same sex marriage. The struggle for the LBGTQ community to achieve marriage equality has made several more strides toward success. And in an unprecedented move, Colorado and Washington state voters have passed referendums legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The drug is still banned under federal law however. In Massachusetts, voters approved a law to allow marijuana for medicinal purposes, adding itself to the list of 17 other states that allow the use of medicinal marijuana.

After the euphoria of the re-election wears off, there is a lot of work to do. Before he is even sworn in to office for his second term, Obama has to deal with the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, which Republicans want to extend for the wealthiest Americans and Obama wants these tax cuts to only remain for those making less than $250,000 a year. Right after he does that, he has to meet with Congress about increasing the debt ceiling once more, something that proved perilous when he tried to confront it in 2011.

In his acceptance speech, Obama vowed that in his second term, he would continue to listen to people who do not always agree with him and to work together with Republicans and Democrats alike for the good of this nation. He said that he is “more determined and more inspired than ever” about the work that needs to get done for the country.

Written By: Kika Ramsay

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Posted by on November 7, 2012 in BLACK Events, BLACK History, Businesses, Professionals, & Organizations, Culture, Education, Politics

 

Obama Condemns Libya Violence in U.N. Address

Obama addresses the U.N. General Assembly in New York on Tuesday

 

President Barack Obama gave foreign policy a new emphasis in the presidential campaign in his address the United Nations amid a resurgence of unrest in the Muslim world and as his Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, intensified his criticism of the White House’s approach to the region.

In his speech Tuesday to the annual gathering of the U.N. General Assembly, the president condemned the anti-Muslim video that sparked protests. Violence in Libya led to the deaths of four Americans, including U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, after a storming of a U.S. consulate in Libya.

Mr. Obama referred to Mr. Stevens multiple times, citing the ambassador’s approach to the region to challenge the U.N. to denounce the violence that has taken hold there and to underscore the values the U.S. is seeking to promote abroad with its policy toward the Arab Spring.

Mr. Obama also stressed the importance of those in the region condemning slander against Christians and Jews.

“The attacks of the last two weeks are not simply an assault on America. They are also an assault on the very ideals upon which the United Nations was founded,” Mr. Obama said.

“If we are serious about those ideals, we must speak honestly about the deeper causes of this crisis,” he continued. “Because we face a choice between the forces that would drive us apart, and the hopes we hold in common.”

Mr. Obama reaffirmed his commitment to keeping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, including his willingness to use military force. He said there is still time for diplomacy with Iran, and address the conflict in Syria and the stalled Middle East peace process.

“Make no mistake: a nuclear-armed Iran is not a challenge that can be contained,” Mr. Obama said.

Mr. Romney accused the president Monday of playing down tumult in the Middle East, saying the U.S. needs to exert stronger leadership and that the president needs to do more to shape events abroad.

Mr. Romney zeroed in on Mr. Obama’s remark in an interview that aired Sunday in which he said the U.S. had been right to align with democratic movements during the Arab Spring but that “there are going to be bumps in the road.”

“His indication that developments in the Middle East represent ‘bumps in the road’ is a very different view than I have,” Mr. Romney told ABC News.

The Republican candidate criticized Mr. Obama over the unrest in the Muslim world, Iran’s continued efforts on its nuclear program and the continuing violence in Syria, saying: “We’re at the mercy of events rather than shaping the events in the Middle East.”

He also suggested the president, in his “bumps in the road” remark, was referring specifically to the violence that caused the deaths of four Americans. “These are not bumps in the road; these are human lives,” Mr. Romney said at a campaign stop in Pueblo, Colo.

Mr. Obama’s aides said he meant there are going to be challenges as the region transforms, including the unrest in recent weeks that has included protests at U.S. embassies. White House press secretary Jay Carney called the charge that Mr. Obama was referring to the deaths of four Americans “desperate and offensive.”

The sniping between the two candidates comes as polls suggest that Mr. Obama’s leadership on foreign policy is coming under challenge. In the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey, conducted on Sept. 12-16, at the height of the violent protests in the Middle East and North Africa, more voters approved of the president’s handling of foreign policy than those who disapproved, 49% to 46%.

But those numbers marked a sharp drop from August, when 54% of voters gave the president high marks on foreign policy, compared with the 40% who disapproved.

The drop was severe among independent voters. In the August poll, far more independent voters approved of Mr. Obama’s handling of foreign policy than disapproved—53% to 38%. One month later, those disapproving outnumbered those approving by 10 percentage points, 51% to 41%.

In same September poll, Mr. Obama retained his lead over Mr. Romney on who voters see as better able to serve as commander in chief, with the president leading, 45% to 38%, on that trait.

Mr. Obama’s aides see the U.N. gathering as an opportunity for him to appear in a forum that makes him look presidential, and to put into context some foreign policy issues that have recently spilled into the political arena.

Mr. Obama used the U.N. platform to say that violence hasn’t been an acceptable response to the anti-Muslim video that has been blamed in for triggering protests, and that the U.S. won’t shrink its presence or its goals of promoting democratic values in the region. Mr. Romney had accused the president of abandoning the principle of free speech in the administration’s initial response to the recent protests.

“It’s a real moment for the United States to assert its values and its leadership role, to make clear where we stand in the midst of this remarkable period of transformation in the Arab world,” Mr. Carney said.

The president’s main goal during his 24-hour stay in New York is to do no harm. Unlike his past trips to the U.N. General Assembly, Mr. Obama hasn’t scheduled any meetings with world leaders. Last year, he held more than a dozen.

Instead Mr. Obama stopped by the set of the ABC TV show “The View” on Monday with first lady Michelle Obama, where he fielded a question on Libya amid conversation about lavishing his wife with attention on their 20th wedding anniversary and taking a postelection vacation.

“The overwhelming majority of Muslims, they want the same things that families here want,” Mr. Obama said in a taped appearance on the talk show. “They want opportunity, kids want an education, they want jobs, they want peace. But there are extremist strains that are there.”

The president has come under particular GOP criticism for not scheduling a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York this week. Mr. Netanyahu had criticized Mr. Obama for failing to set clear red lines that Tehran can’t cross in its nuclear work or risk facing U.S. and Israeli military action.

Senior U.S. officials say Mr. Obama has repeatedly rebuffed Mr. Netanyahu’s calls for such action, including in a direct phone call earlier this month. But Israeli leaders are hoping that the American leader will at least press the world body to prepare for more coercive actions against Iran, including a fifth round of U.N. Security Council economic sanctions, if Tehran doesn’t take concrete steps to slow its nuclear program. Mr. Obama is expected to say he believes there is still time to pursue diplomacy to keep Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“We hope this will be an opportunity for the president to highlight for world leaders the severity of the Iranian threat,” said an Israeli official attending the General Assembly.

Messrs. Obama and Netanyahu won’t be in New York at the same time. Secretary of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will meet Mr. Netanyahu later this week.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) questioned Mr. Obama’s decision to make a daytime talk show appearance but not sit for meetings with foreign leaders at a time of unrest in a critical part of the world. “To me, it indicates a lack of willingness to lead in times of trouble,” Mr. Cantor said on a conference call with reporters.

While Mr. Romney has devoted the bulk of his stump speeches and campaign attacks to the economy, the Republican nominee and his allies have become increasingly critical of the Obama administration on foreign policy in recent weeks.

The shift of focus initially put Mr. Romney on the defensive, after he issued a controversial statement condemning the administration’s response to protests in Egypt while events were still in flux.

Afterward, some of Mr. Romney’s aides began to second guess whether they had made the right move as the Republican candidate faced intense blowback from Democrats and some conservatives who felt the campaign had moved too quickly to politicize the crisis.

Senior campaign staffers, including members of the foreign policy team and communications department, embarked on a series of internal discussions about whether they moved too fast or not, according to someone familiar with the conversation. Their primary take-away: The statement was a bold moment to contrast with the president, and they had been right to seize the opportunity.

Mr. Romney has since strengthened his attacks, although the foreign policy focus has expanded beyond the unrest in the Middle East to include China policy. Both campaigns began the week by intensifying their battle over China trade issues in an attempt to woo voters in the industrial Midwest, which includes critical battlegrounds states like Ohio.

The Romney campaign unveiled a new ad Monday accusing the president of not standing up to China on trade issues. In the latest spot, the Republican charges Mr. Obama with failing to protect American intellectual property rights and says the alleged failure resulted in two million American lost jobs.

The Obama campaign responded by releasing a memo citing nine trade-enforcement complaints the administration has filed against China with the World Trade Organization, including one the president announced last week in Ohio.

Both candidates are also set to address Tuesday the annual meeting of former President Bill Clinton’s foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative, where Mr. Obama may announce a new human trafficking initiative, according to people familiar with his speech.

—Colleen McCain Nelson and Sara Murray contributed to this article.

Credit to: Wall Street Journal

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10000872396390444358804578017992043176534.html?mod=googlenews_wsj

 

JAMAICA, WEST INDIES – Home of Olympic heroes Usain Bolt & Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price

During the first week of August, a sea of people dressed in black, green and gold occupied an enormous space teeming with electricity and excitement on the grounds of the Jamaica 50 Grand Jubilee Village, formerly the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica. The stadium was filled with lively musical celebrations, plays, movie screenings, fashion shows, dancing and was complete with a large screen that displayed the Olympic winning moments of homegrown heroes Usain Bolt and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Price.  Those winning moments seemed to be the icing on the cake for a country that, despite its hard times, knows how to celebrate when the time comes.  And celebrate they did, in that typical raucous Jamaican fashion when it was confirmed that both the fastest man and the fastest woman in the world both hailed from the tiny Caribbean island.

Jamaica came under British control in 1655 when it was captured from the Spanish. From that time until 1838, the British brought slaves from Africa to work the land which largely consisted of sugar plantations. After slavery ended, Britain invested in infrastructure on the island, but simultaneously had a system of repression of the nation’s Black majority and punished those who tried to buck that establishment. Jamaica started moving toward independence in the 1940s. Britain conceded to giving the colony greater economic and political power to govern themselves. On August 6, 1962, in the same national stadium that hosted the 50th anniversary celebration, the flag of the British Empire was lowered for the final time and replaced by the gold, black and green Jamaican flag that flies today.

As Jamaica celebrates 50 years of independence from Great Britain, the celebration is made great through the entity that can be seen as Jamaica’s greatest asset and even its greatest export; its people. Jamaica’s national motto is “Out of many, one people,” which summarizes the diversity of ethnicities in its population which is more extensive than most people realize. There are about 3 million Jamaicans that populate the island and roughly the same amount live in other countries, helping to disperse their unique culture. For almost fifty years, this tiny speck of land in the Caribbean Sea, roughly the same size as the state of Connecticut, is a fixture on the world stage in the fields of music, athletics, academia, and international diplomacy, among others. Jamaica has made these contributions in extraordinary part through the export of its people to the farthest corners of the Earth, in particular to the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States of America. 

Despite economic hardships, high crime rates, government corruption, these resilient people continue to smile, to work hard, and to make extraordinary contributions to the world. Here’s to the next 50 years.

Written by: Kika Ramsay

 

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Voter ID Law Threatens Obama’s Chances in 2012

Pennsylvania residents will be forced to show government-issued photo identification in order to cast votes in November. Supporters of the law argued that it was just a small measure meant to combat voter fraud.  The statistics however show that voter fraud is not a large issue in this country. According to frequently cited studies on voter fraud, there were only 13 recorded incidents from 2000 to 2010.

Voter ID laws such as this one in Pennsylvania are being proposed by Republican politicians all over the country.  Some figures released this week show that the law may affect more than 750,000 Pennsylvanians who don’t currently possess identification cards issued by the state Department of Transportation Department.  In an effort to win the November 2012 election, the republicans have aggressively attempted to use these laws as a tool.  The figures are so alarming for this one state that Democrats have gone on the defensive against these laws which seem to target people who traditionally vote for democrats. They target students, minorities and elderly voters.

The debate over voter ID efforts continues to heat up. Last month, Pennsylvania GOP House Majority Leader Mike Turzai made a comment that many see as an admission that the GOP is using these laws to quash votes on the Democratic side to benefit the Republican candidates. “Voter ID — which is going to allow Gov. [Mitt] Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania — done,” Turzai told a group of cheering attendees at a Republican State Committee meeting.  It seems that Republicans are using everything in their disposal to defeat Barack Obama in 2012.

Written by: Kika Ramsay


 
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Posted by on July 10, 2012 in BLACK Corner, Politics

 

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Obama’s Healthcare Bill Upheld by Supreme Court

Emotions raged high yesterday, June 28th, 2012, as Obama announced his health plan was upheld by the supreme court with a victory of 5-4. Democrats and the general public cheered on of this victorious win. Republicans however are convinced this is indeed a mistake and an unwanted expansion of the government. Undoubtedly it’s because it will cost them a loss of millions of profitable dollars. Millions of Americans now have access to healthcare. Specially those with pre-existing illnesses. Also, children can be covered under their parents care until they reach the age of 26.

The Affordable Care Act – At-A-Glance:

Ending Insurance Company Abuses: Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, insurers can no longer put a lifetime cap on how much care they will pay for if you get sick or cancel your coverage when you make a mistake on your paperwork. Starting in 2014, health insurers will be prohibited from charging you more because you are a woman.

More Affordable Care: Today, we have the new 80/20 rule: insurance companies must spend at least 80 cents of your premium dollar on your health care or improvements to care. And insurance companies must publicly justify their actions if they want to raise premiums by 10 percent or more. And States have more power to block them.

President Obama signs the health care bill in the East Room of the White House

Coverage for Young Adults: Under the Affordable Care Act, young adults under age 26 can stay on their parent’s health insurance plan until age 26 – a change that has already allowed 3.1 million young adults to get health coverage and given their families peace of mind. For more information on how the Affordable Care Act impacts young adults please Click here.

Coverage for Pre-Existing Conditions: The Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan in every State offers an option to people who have been locked out of the insurance market because of a pre-existing condition like cancer or heart disease. And under the new law, insurers can no longer deny coverage to children under age 19 because of a pre-existing condition like asthma and diabetes. Starting in 2014, health insurers will be prohibited from discriminating against anyone due to pre-existing conditions.

Preventive Benefits: All new health plans must now cover preventive services ranging from mammograms to vaccinations for your child, without making you pay a copay or deductible.

For more information on how the Supreme Court Decision and the Affordable Care please go to: http://www.healthcare.gov/law/index.html

 

Source: http://www.rodneysebichotte.com

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2012 in BLACK Corner, Health, Politics

 

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