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Dec. 7th – Pearl Harbor Remembered with Burial

Posted on 10 January 2011 by The Florida Star Online

Last Rites and Good-Byes were given by family members in remembrances of their love one Chief Petty Officer John H. Carter, Jr. on Tuesday, December 7, 2010. The ceremony was held in honor and tribute to our fallen Veterans aboard the USSR Underwood Shop (FFG36) at May Port Navy Base. In memory of Chief Petty Officer John H. Carter, Jr., a U.S. Flag was presented to the family.

On December 7, 1941 the U. S. Navy Base at Pearl Harbor was attacked. This attack has been identified as one of the most devastating times in history. We therefore salute all of our men and woman who served during these times. The family stated, “We give a personal salute to our father who gave of himself to serve our country. Chief Petty Officer Carter served in the U.S. Navy from 1954 to 1974 in the Department of Aviation Electronics.

CPO Carter is survived by four children, 15 grandchildren and 10 great grand children.

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Goodbye to the America We Know and Love

Posted on 27 November 2010 by The Florida Star Online

What is going to destroy America if we don’t act now?
(1) The Party of “No”
(2) The Tea Party

The two parties above are trying to misdirect our thinking by putting emphasis on racism, religion and the economy. They have the money and the power and are about to achieve their goal, being so greedy that they can’t see that they are destroying America. They just need to look at the old philosophical statement – “Greed and common sense can’t sit at the same table.” But, in a way, that is understood because common sense is not common.

Their first unexpected moves:
1. Obama was elected president.
2. The census predicted that the majority will soon become the minority.

Now first, let us make this clear. It is not all of the people in America, not even the majority that is a part of this ‘fear’ strategy. It is only the ‘party of no’ and the ‘tea party.’

When the party of no took control of the White House, had control of the house and senate, there was a surplus in the American budget. America was in the black and we were considered the number one country in the world. This budget surplus was left by President Bill Clinton. The controlling party was so angry with this Democratic president that they activated impeachment proceedings against him, dealing only with moral values – ‘he had a sexual encounter with a female that was not his wife, and denied it – under oath.’ Since that trial, how many representatives, local, state and nationally, have had their sexual encounters exposed?

The surplus funds that were present when the Republican Party took over were quickly depleted as a large amount of it was spent because we entered a war of ‘mass destruction,’ advising that we were at war with an enemy country, led by Hassan Hussein. This was our first step of hate towards Muslims. People became afraid to ride in taxi cabs driven by persons from Arab nations since they felt that all Arabs, Iranians, and the like, were terrorist Muslims.

Along with the issue of terrorism, the lending institutions, investment bankers and the housing market saw a way to get the American people in a world of high hopes. You can now own your own home and fulfill your American dream. The industry leaders understood the program designed for the housing market would make the homeowner get into a rut when they could not get the persuaded pay increase to match the escalating mortgage payments. But what they did not consider was those homeowners who could make the payment but would walk away from the luxury homes because the large number of foreclosures would decrease the value of the properties and that these money folks would not purchase the foreclosed home to make them rental properties because the decrease in value would be too dramatic.

Another shock to them was the fact that the voters were so fed up with the increase in most of everyday living expenses and the price of gas, they would vote for a president who could see and understand the strategy used and change the laws of Wall Street, the banking and credit card industry, the insurance industry and like companies so that the new laws would not continue to place a burden on low and middle income citizens while the wealthy enjoyed a huge surplus in funds.

They also did not predict that the same administration would evaluate and see how the rich was able to place their surplus funds in overseas banks and outsource jobs while they escaped paying taxes on those extremely large dollars compared to low and middle income Americans. In addition, the rich had a higher percentage of tax benefits then poor and middle class Americans.

What is so sad is the majority of the Tea Party participants are so focused on religion such as who is Christian and who is Muslim as well as the racial changes, it increased their fear of no longer being the majority in spite of the fact that many Blacks and Hispanics are in the prison system for crimes such as the use of crack cocaine while few of the higher income citizens who use cocaine are not in prison because the penalties for the use of crack cocaine has been one to 100 higher than that of the expensive cocaine that the poor and lower income could not afford. Therefore, until this present administration, the penalties placed the users of “cheap crack” in prison for long terms.

So, all the Tea Party can say is, “We want our country back” meaning, we can’t let these minorities become the majority. Lets bear down on immigration even though they know that their ancestors came from many other countries to a land populated by Indians with a slogan on the Statue of Liberty saying, ‘Give me your tired, your poor.’ But of course, they were able to take over from the Indians through fighting weapons and strategies. Now it is their country and they want it back, but not like it was when the ‘founding fathers’ took over from the minorities and became the “new” founders.

To add fuel to the fire, all of a sudden, everybody and everything is focused or concerned about race. Why? Is it because the strategy is to prove that America can no longer be prosperous if it is led by a person who is not of the majority race? Look at the recent attacks on Black politicians. Race is now a big issue and so is being female. Oh, you women did not know that? Sarah Palin, if she is able to get to the White House, she will see the attacks made on President Obama will be minute compared to the attacks she will receive.

It does not take much to figure why they question President Obama’s birth certificate and religion. Hawaii is an American state and he is not a Muslim – for goodness sake, he eats pork (hamburgers).

It was believed that most got over religion when President Kennedy was elected, even though he was of the Catholic faith. But, maybe we did not get a chance to see how some Americans felt about his religious faith since he was assassinated not long after he took his seat and embarked upon a battle for equal rights for all Americans. Like President Obama, his goal was to make a change. President Kennedy was not in the White House long enough and security did not have the technical advances that exist today. But prayers still go up for the health and safety of our present president.

Now that we have a better understanding or view of this strategy that is being played today, what can we do to stop the destruction of America?

We cannot continue to allow the strategies and games being played, including those efforts to change laws and our constitution, to forget who placed this country in a economical hole, who started the war, who keep bringing up issue regarding race as if that is a focus point, who caused the housing problems, who caused the Freddie Mac and Freddie Mae crises, who misrepresented the student loans and accepted fees for doing nothing while graduates struggled to pay the loans off; who caused the high misleading financial fees, who outsourced the jobs; who allowed more import of foreign goods than what was being purchased from us and being exported.

What we should also remember is who came into office less than two years ago and immediately began to make positive changes such as equal pay for women and more.

We should not forget that every proposed improvement made by President Obama was met with a “no” by the entire party. He wanted health care for all but many of the benefits that he wanted, were amended to get passed those representatives and senators on the other side of the aisle.

For a country whose motto is “In God we trust,” changes still have been made so there is a small growth in the economy monthly.

We now have better housing laws; we now have better loans for higher education; we now have banking reform, we now have credit card reforms; we now have health care reform for all Americans; we now have equal pay for women and many, many more.

The Republicans are now back in because many Americans did not understand or received distorted information. They voted out of fear and the formed a pact. Those elected have pledged to reverse all of the changes, and even though they are not in yet, those who are waiting for them to come, have begun a destructive path for America, by not extending unemployment benefits. Those who were elected received their votes by pledging to “get rid of Obama” or work to see that he not serve a second term.

You have begun the journey that will allow the party of no back in or the tea party who ‘want their country back’ (power they don’t even understand and really are not a part of because they will NOT REAP THE BENEFITS OF THE WEALTHY), America will truly be destroyed but not by terrorist. And think, your children, grand children and great, great grands will truly suffer because the party of “No say, “Hell No. “ You must say”ditto – you can’t come back in.”

“We love America and we want to keep it as the number one nation in the world.” To do so, you can no longer sit back while doing nothing. You must take an active role in getting America back on the success trail or be destroyed. We can’t wait, “it’s just that simple.”

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Dumbest Criminals

Posted on 23 November 2010 by The Florida Star Online

Those Legs Were Made for Walking
Things were looking up for Frank Singleton, 21, as he was released from jail. However, when he realized that he  didn’t have a ride home, he walked straight into the prison parking lot and attempted to carjack a woman. He was  foiled when he realized that he couldn’t drive a stick-shift car. As he was re-arrested — this time, for felony carjacking  — Singleton told police that he simply “didn’t feel like walking.”

  
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Now Hiring
28-year-old Demetrius Robinson wanted to rob a Golden Pantry store late one night, but he needed to pass the  time as naturally as possible until he and the clerk were alone. He decided to fill out a job application. Not a bad  idea, except he left his real name on the application, along with his uncle’s phone number. After he robbed the  store, it didn’t take long for police to track him down. Needless to say, he didn’t get the job.  
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Billion Dollar Dummy
Rule #1 of trying to cash a bogus check: make it out for a reasonable amount. Charles Ray Fuller, 21, broke that  rule and all conventions of common sense when he tried to cash a check for $360 BILLION DOLLARS. To top it  off, the check wasn’t even made out to him. He was arrested on forgery charges.

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No Unemployment Extension

Posted on 20 November 2010 by The Florida Star Online

  

 The line was long as hundreds, including some retired school teachers, waited to receive food from Second Harvest and True Light of God in Christ Church Saturday, almost two weeks since mid-term election that changed the dominant party in the House of Representatives, making the ‘party of no’ more stronger. So, congress went back to work and on their fourth day, rejected a bill that would have extended unemployment benefits for another three months. The vote was 258 to 154, not the two-third needed to fasttrack procedures. Therefore, four million Americans are set to lose their benefits when they expire November 30.

The Republicans say they want their country back, claiming extending unemployment benefits would increase the deficit. In the meantime, they are committing to extending tax cuts to the very wealthy while cutting what they see as government support programs, for the unemployed and don’t forget those whose benefits have already run to 99 weeks and the 17 to 25 percent unemployed young African Americans and Hispanics over the past decade, including the number of homeless Americans and the millions without healthcare. With this rejection right before Thanksgiving and Christmas, who can be blamed?

In Duval County, five precincts had over 70 percent voter turnout on November 2nd. 

The five precincts that had over 70 percent voter turnout were Precinct 14R the Ortega United Methodist Church, which had a 74.22 percent total voter turnout, Precincts 03A the Queen’s Harbour Yacht and Country Club, 13G the Adele Grage Cultural Center and 14P the Ortega United Methodist Church topped 71 percent turnout and Precinct 05E the Saint Mark’s Luthern Church – ELCA, was at 70-90 percent for the Election.

What is this telling the voters around Duval County? That these people had a planned strategy and commitment that they followed through. The other voters, African Americans and Hispanics, did not feel it was important to go out to the polls and therefore will now suffer the consequence.

Also, please note that most of the precincts were churches. That is another message on how the pastors and ministers were helping to get the people out to vote. It d efinitely shows the organization of the tea party members and how much they believed in what they are doing and the importance of their desire.

Just as the tea party members stood together for the November 2, 2010 election, it appear the same thing is happening with Dancing With the Stars, where Sarah Palin’s daughter keeps getting the high votes from the audiences, not from the judges. In fact, in a survey, it was discovered that there are or were web sites,advising tea party members that they could vote more than one time by changing e-mail addresses. One lady said she voted 300 times for Palin’s daughter. It also shows that beliefs are stronger than honesty.

Many African American organizations, including the Black media tried to let the community know how crucial it was to vote, if they wanted to stop the republicans from rolling back job creations, healthcare and financial reforms that President Obama fought and continues to fight for.

Richard Burton of Project R.E.A.C.H. said that “the invisible vapor of racism has caused many young voters both black and white to distrust the political system and to skip this past election. Also, many seniors voted out of fear with the belief that healthcare is reparations and black kids can beat up white kids with impunity.”

What those who are complaining about the high deficit have forgotten how we got into debt and have not taken the time to use mathematics.

Rather than cut off unemployment, they should understand that if a person is getting some form of income, the economy will continue because those unemployed and homeless will have money to put into the economy, if it is just for food and clothing, or a place to stay warm or stay cool.

The unemployment money does place funds back into the economy through funds just to survive. Will extending tax cuts to the wealthy make the same impact? Not as long as jobs are being outsourced and the large companies, like our former vice president, are moving their headquarters overseas.

The republicans are saying that the reason the elections went the way they did is because people want them to provide help to those in need, not add to the debt. Unemployment and bringing jobs back to America will not deepen out debt. Extending unemployment to those who have low income levels will do much more to stimulate the economy than providing the wealthiest Americans with additional tax cuts.

It is the method that was used to communicate to Americans that made them vote the way they did in this past election. They were fed information that was not beneficial to them, but beneficial to those who wish to continue the one percent of America’s wealth.

We need more jobs created, and they do not all need to be desk jobs. We need to begin manufacturing again. According to reports, the top jobs in America today are retail salespersons, cashiers, office clerks, food service workers, registered nurses, waiters and waitresses, customer service representatives, material movers, janitors, stock clerks and order fillers, secretaries, bookkeepers, general managers, truck drivers and elementary school teachers.

Americans need work.

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Bishop Tom Diamond – Sudden Death of a State Legend

Posted on 07 November 2010 by The Florida Star Online

Bishop Tom Diamond  had an eventful Sunday, October 31 when  Congresswoman Brown, candidate for Governor  of Florida, Alex Sink and State Representative  Audrey Gibson visited his church and joined in  fellowship. Bishop Diamond’s sermon was: How  to Stay Calm in the Storm. His message was  strong and moving. After his dynamic sermon, the  bishop stopped and took pictures with his special  guest. No one even thought that the pictures taken  would be his last pictures.

Bishop Tom E. Diamond, Senior Pastor of  Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church died  Monday of sudden heart failure. He was 67.  Bishop Diamond served as Pastor of the 2000  member church for the past 26 years. 

Born in Perry, Bishop Diamond was reared in Lake  Wales. He received a bachelor’s degree in English  from Florida Memorial College. He received his master of divinity degree from  Colgate Rochester (N.Y.) Divinity School and his doctorate of ministry degree from  Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Ga. 

His first pastorate was in 1975 at St. Peter’s Missionary Baptist Church in Gifford,  Fla., before accepting the pastorate at Abyssinia here in  1984, he was pastor of Mount Bethel Missionary accepting the pastorate at Abyssinia here in 1984, he was pastor of Mount Bethel  Missionary Baptist Church in Daytona Beach. 

One of Bishop Diamond’s sons, the Rev. Eugene Diamond, was named co-pastor in  1998 and was elevated to pastor in 2002 when his father was named senior pastor. 

In November 1999, the church, which had been a fixture on Kings Road just west  of Edward Waters College for more than two decades, purchased 10 acres of land in  North Jacksonville on Interstate Center Drive just west of I-95. The church moved  to its new sanctuary in 2005. 

Bishop Diamond was a former president of the Florida General Baptist Congress of  General Education and taught preachers on growing churches through Sunday school  as a teacher of the ministers division of the National Congress of Christian  Education. 

He was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, the Baptist Ministers Alliance and  the NAACP. He authored several books, including “Book of Sermons – Not Much  Just Crumbs,” “Sermons from the Heart of the Diamond Mind,” and “From Boys to  Men.” 

Known for his strong involvement in civil rights, Bishop Diamond led numerous  demonstration and challenged issues that were pertinent to the well being of local citizens.  He received various awards from his work and became well known throughout  the country for his preaching and teaching style. 

“Bishop was a dynamic Father, Pastor, Husband, and friend” says Eric Sparrow, a  staff member of the church. “Jacksonville and the country have lost one of its greatest.” 

Bishop Diamond is survived by his wife of 46 years, Lois B. Diamond: another son,  Minister Roderick Diamond of Jacksonville; eight grandchildren; and three brothers,  Bennett Diamond of Albany, Ga.; Oscar Patterson of Adel, Ga.; and Willie Hill Jr. of  Jacksonville. 

Homegoing services for Bishop Diamond will be Saturday, November 6 at 11:00  a.m. at Abyssinia Missionary Baptist Church. 

Congresswoman Corrine Brown said, “We are all deeply and profoundly sadden by  the tragic and sudden loss of the Reverend Tom Diamond, of Abyssinia Missionary  Baptist Church, whom I considered as a personal friend and spiritual leader. Tom  Diamond was a man of great stature and one who was blessed with the passion to  serve his community. A man who was dedicated to living the true word and who  took his truths from the pulpit to the streets, teaching, preaching and reminding us of  our obligation to ourselves and to our community. He is to be remembered for his  dedication, determination and his unwavering belief in the sanctity of the Holy word  and its practice in service to mankind. 

We offer our prayers for Mrs. Diamond and the Diamond family, his parishioners  and the community he so dearly loved. We are indebted to Reverend Tom Diamond  for all his good works and his love for all of us as shown as a true advocate for peace,  justice and fairness.”

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U.S. Senator for Florida: Country Sees this Race as Critical

Posted on 31 October 2010 by The Florida Star Online

The country sees this Florida race as very critical  because of the number of battles that President Obama has  had to fight just to get bills passed the Republicans who  during the past two years, have termed themselves as the  “party of no,” no matter the issues, when it comes to matters  desired by the President, the Democrats and  American citizens. The telephone lines have been more  busy regarding this race than one can remember, not just  from Florida callers, but callers from other parts of the  country, saying Floridians must think about what is best  for the country and not be selfish or egotistical.
 
So what are they referring to when they say ‘selfish and egotistical?” When asked,  it is explained that it is selfish or egotistical for one to feel there are enough Blacks  in Florida to provide Meek with enough numbers to make him win this election and  become the first Black from Florida to become a U.S. Senator or, if Meek could win,  he would be the first Black from the South to become a U. S. Senator and at this time,  he would be the only Black U. S. Senator.
 
Yes, that would be historical but at this time, the polls show that this is an impossible  dream and the voices are saying even louder, that Meek should get out of the  race, agreeing with former president, Bill Clinton, who came to Jacksonville to help  initiate Meek’s campaign. The votes that have been cast for Meek and Crist are not  enough, individually for either to win over Rubio who, according to the latest poll,  has 42 percent, Crist has 35% and Meek has 15%. In a joint effort, one could win,  and even though it won’t make the history list for Blacks, it would give all minorities  a better chance at getting the changes they desire and need, made.
 
Meek, during the debate earlier this week told Crist that when he hears “flip flops  in the hall,” he thinks it is he coming. The comment was made in reference to  Governor Crist being a Republican when he was elected and then changing to  Independent when he had to face Rubio. However, it has not been long enough for  Blacks and other minorities to remember that Rubio moved ahead of Crist by referring  to him giving President Obama a ‘welcome hug’ when he came to Florida.  Many Floridians and other minorities feel that Crist would do more about what is  best for the country and the democrats then Rubio. They feel Rubio is selfish and  will only do what is best for Rubio, not the country and definitely not minorities,  even though he is Cuban.
 
We also learned that many minorities have already voted for Crist prior to Mr.  Clinton’s suggestion, because of the fear they have of Rubio in the senate and the  negative effect it would have on moving ahead.

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Dedicate Votes to Harry T. & Harriette Moore

Posted on 31 October 2010 by The Florida Star Online

On Christmas night of 1951, Florida Civil-Rights crusader Harry T. Moore and his wife, Harriette, were killed  (Mrs. Moore died a few days later in the hospital) by a bomb placed under their house, by members of the Ku  Klux Klan. Moore founded the first branch of the NAACP in Brevard County, Florida and helped organize the  statewide organization. He became the state secretary for the Florida chapter of the NAACP. The NAACP won  a major victory in Florida in 1944 when its Whites-only Democratic Primary was ruled unconstitutional, and  Moore began immediately to take advantage of the opportunity to increase Black political power and stepped up  the organizations voter registration efforts. Largely as a result of his activities, Black voter registration increased  from a miserable 5 percent in 1934 to 31 percent in 1950…a figure that was higher than any other southern state. 

 November 2, 2010 will be almost 59 years from the time the Moore’s gave their lives for us to have the Right  To Vote! December 25, 2010 will be one year shy of six decades when two little girls lost their parents because  some racist thought we should NOT have the Right To Vote! 

 I DON’T THINK WE HAVE A CHOICE TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2010. I BELIEVE WE OWE IT TO  HARRY AND HARRIETTE MOORE TO GET OUT AND VOTE!!! 

The Conservative are not trying to fool us, they have told us to our faces what they plan to do if they take back  the U. S. House and Senate. They have let us know that they plan to roll back the funds for Education which will  affect Our Children; and Social Security which will affect Our Mothers and Fathers; Health Care, which will  affect All of Us who do not currently have health insurance; and Jobs, which will affect All of Us who do not currently  have jobs or those who wish to have better jobs or the opportunity to move up. 

 In 2008 we elected President Barack H. Obama, the first African American President. November 2, 2010 at the  top of the ticket we have the opportunity to elect Kendrick Meek to the U. S. Senate. As the Senator for Florida  Kendrick Meek would be the first African American elected to the Senate past the Mason Dixon Line. The whole  south is watching Florida in this race. This is the half way point in President Obama’s presidency and we owe it  to him to give him the help he needs to enable him to keep working and succeeding the way he has for us.  Contrary to what the conservatives want us to think, President Obama has been very successful during the first  half of his presidency. Try and name another president who accomplished what he told us he would accomplish  when he was campaigning for our vote. (See attached list of accomplishments of Obama Administration) 

If we don’t send him the support personnel he needs we will spend the next 2 years with our mouths hanging  open gasping for air…”oh I didn’t know it was that important…I should have voted!” 

President Obama campaigned on “Yes We Can” and here in Florida we all caught the fire and agreed “Yes We  Can”! Nowhere did the president say “Yes I Can” and WE must continue to work WITH the president so that he  can continue to move the progressive agenda which will benefit all of US. 

Harry and Harriette Moore were ordinary people. Mr. Moore taught school in the segregated public school system  in Mims, Florida, eventually moving up to a Junior High Principal and then a Senior High Principal, remaining  an educator until he was fired for his political activities in 1946. The Moore’s probably could not even dream  of the number of registered African American voters in Florida today, which is 1.6 million African American and  Caribbean voters…let’s make this clear, not that just live in Florida, but are registered to vote…1.6 MILLION…  and certainly they would not even think of Florida having Early Voting. Harry & Harriette Moore are the first  NAACP activist to be murdered and Harry Moore has been called the first 1950’s era Civil Rights Martyr. 

You know how we like to “study” history and you can rest assured the historians will look back at the 2010 elections  and say what did WE as African Americans do to prevent a back slide from  2008 and a slap in the face to Harry and Harriette Moore for giving their lives in 1951. 

Yes we won in 2008…and we won BIG… Let’s not be accused of Now Parking In  Our Success! 

 We who live in Florida have no excuse as to why we won’t vote. We actually have  to go out of our way not to vote. We can vote early, We can vote by mail, or we can  vote the traditional election day, November 2, 2010 and take five (5) people to the  polls with you!!! 

We cannot continue to listen to people who don’t have our best interest at heart, conservative  talk radio, trying to use religion to pit us against each other. 

We all live in the same house, unless you have a helicopter pad in your back yard or  a yacht docked nearby. You can’t go anywhere without me and I’m too scared to go  anywhere without you. 
Your Vote Is No Joke!!! 
Tony Hill  State Senator – District 1 
Chairman, FACE Alliance – www.FACE.org

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Obamacare Benefits effective Sept. 23rd

Posted on 01 October 2010 by The Florida Star Online

The Affordable Care Act
was signed by President
Obama on March 23, 2010.
An appeal to stop health care
for Americans was filed on
the same day, led by
Florida’s Attorney General
Bill McCollum who sought
to become the state’s governor,
joined with the “party of no” (GOP and the Tea
Party) against an affordable health care plan.
On September 22, President Obama marked the six
month anniversary by meeting with Americans across
the country who will benefit from the new law.
Details of the Patient’s Bill of Rights and examples of
how it has already helped are included here so that all
can see and wonder why, the party of no does not wish
this bill of rights for citizens.

A New Patient’s Bill of Rights
On September 23, critical new consumer protections in the new law – a
Patient’s Bill of Rights — begin to take effect. The Patient’s Bill of Rights puts an
end to some of the worst insurance company abuses, and puts consumers, not insurance
companies, in control of their health care. These new protections include:

Ban on Discriminating Against Kids with Pre-Existing Conditions: Before
reform, tens of the thousands of families had been denied insurance each year for
their children because of an illness or condition. Starting September 23rd, plans
cannot discriminate against kids with pre-existing conditions. In 2014, no one
seeking coverage can be discriminated against because of a preexisting condition.
Up to 72,000 uninsured children are expected to gain coverage by banning insurers
from refusing them coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Coverage for up to
90,000 children will no longer exclude benefits because of a pre-existing condition.

Ban on Insurance Companies Dropping Coverage:
Before reform, insurance
companies could cancel your coverage when you got sick and needed it most
because of a simple mistake on your application. Starting September 23rd, insurance
companies are banned from cutting off your coverage due to an unintentional
mistake on your application. Approximately 10,700 people’s coverage, whose coverage
is dropped each year because they get sick or make a technical mistake on
their application, will be protected under the new law.

Ban on Insurance Companies Limiting Coverage: Before reform, cancer
patients and individuals suffering from other serious and chronic diseases were
often forced to limit or go without treatment because of an insurer’s lifetime limit
on their coverage. Starting September 23rd, insurance companies can no longer put
a lifetime limit on the amount of coverage they provide, so families can live with
the security of knowing that their coverage will be there when they need it most. Up
to 20,400 people who typically hit their lifetime limits on the dollar amount that can
be spent on coverage, along with the nearly 102 million enrollees who have policies
with lifetime limits, will no longer have to worry about hitting their benefits caps.
The use of annual dollar limits will be restricted, and in 2014will be banned completely.
By 2013, up to 3,500 people will gain coverage as a result of the ban on
annual limits that insurers impose on nearly 18 million people today.

Ban on Insurance Companies Limiting Choice of Doctors: Before reform,
insurance companies could decide which doctor you could go to. Starting
September 23rd, if you purchase or join a new plan you have the right to choose
your own doctor in your insurer network. Up to 88 million people will benefit from
the provision that protects primary care provider choice by 2013.

Ban on Insurance Companies Restricting Emergency Room Care: Before
reform, insurance companies could limit which emergency room you could go to or
charge you more if you went out of network. Starting September 23rd, if you purchase
or join a new plan, those plans are banned from charging more for emergency
services obtained out of network. Up to 88 million people will benefit from this
provision.

Guarantee You a Right to Appeal: Before reform, when insurers denied you
coverage or restricted your treatment, you were left with few options to appeal.
Starting September 23rd, if you purchase or join a new policy, you will be guaranteed
the right to appeal insurance company decisions to an independent third party.
Up to 88 million people will benefit from the new appeals process provisions by
2013.

Covering Young Adults on Parent’s Plan: Starting September 23rd, young
adults will be allowed to remain on their parent’s plan until their 26th birthday,
unless they are offered coverage at work. Up to 2.4 million young adults, up to 1.8
million who are uninsured and nearly 600,000 who purchase coverage in the individual
market, could gain coverage through their parents.

Covering Preventive Care With No Cost: Starting September 23rd, if you
join or purchase a new plan, you will receive recommended preventive care with no
out-of-pocket cost. Services like mammograms, colonoscopies, immunizations, prenatal
and new baby care will be covered and insurance companies will be prohibited
from charging deductibles, co-payments or co-insurance. Up to 88 million people
will have access to preventive care with no out of pocket costs.

Six Months of Progress
In addition to implementing the Patient’s Bill of Rights, the Obama Administration
has worked to deliver other benefits of reform to the American people. In the last
six months, the Administration has:

Fought Waste, Fraud and Abuse: The Affordable Care Act includes robust
new tools that will help fight fraud and protect taxpayer dollars. Using these new
tools, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has pledged to cut Medicare’s error rate
(the percentage of claims paid inappropriately) in half by 2012. A proposed regulation
that implements the first round of Affordable Care Act policies to combat
Medicare and Medicaid fraud was issued on September 17.

Helped Fight Premium Increases: The Affordable Care Act also includes
critical new resources and authorities to crack down on unjustified rate hikes.
Today, 46 states are using resources under the new reform law to pass or strengthen
premium rate review laws which will have a significant impact on keeping yearto-
year increases in premiums low. In a number of states (California,
Massachusetts, Maine) regulators have already reviewed and rejected these proposed
increases. We expect this pattern to continue. The Administration has also
been working on rules that require insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent
of premium dollars on health care instead of overhead, salaries or administrative
expenses, in 2011. If they fail to do so, they will be required to provide rebates to
consumers.

Offered Support for Small Businesses: Under the Affordable Care Act, up
to 4 million small businesses nationwide could qualify for a small business tax credit
this year, which will provide a total of $40 billion in relief for small firms over the
next 10 years. Small businesses have been notified of these tax credits and can make
plans knowing the credits will help bring down their health care costs.

Helped Make Prescription Drugs More Affordable: More than 1 million
seniors who have fallen into the prescription drug coverage gap known as the donut
hole have received $250 rebate checks. The checks are the first step toward closing
the donut hole in 2020.

Launched a New Website to Make it Easier to Find Coverage: On July 1,
the Administration launched www.HealthCare.gov. www.Healthcare.gov is a new,
easy to use website that helps consumers take control of their health care and make
the choices that are right for them by putting the power of information at their fingertips.
The website is the first of its kind to bring information and links to health
insurance plans and other coverage options to one place, making it easier for consumers
to learn about their insurance options. The site includes extensive, easy to
understand information about patients’ rights, how to navigate the current insurance
market, and how the Affordable Care Act will help them. A Spanish language version
– www.CuidadodeSalud.gov – was launched on September 8, and additional
pricing information will be added on October 1.

Started Covering Individuals With Pre-Existing Conditions: On July 1, the
Administration announced the establishment of the Pre-Existing Condition
Insurance Program to provide coverage for eligible Americans who have been uninsured
for six months because of a pre-existing condition. Coverage started in 47
states by August, and will be provided in all states by the end of September.

Provided Employers Support to Cover Early Retirees: On August 31, the
Administration announced that over 2,000 employers and unions across all fifty
states had been approved to receive help to pay for their early retirees’ health care
through the Early Retiree Reinsurance Program. This program will help many older
Americans, who are not yet eligible for Medicare, continue to have quality affordable
coverage through their employer.

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Bishop Eddie Long Accused by 3

Posted on 01 October 2010 by The Florida Star Online

Some heard the news that three males filed a lawsuit
in DeKalb County, Georgia, claiming that their
pastor and mentor, Bishop Eddie Long, abused his
spiritual authority to seduce them with cars, money,
clothes, jewelry, international trips and access to
celebrities. Bishop Eddie Long is pastor of New Birth
Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, with
a membership of around 25,000. Long was appointed
pastor of the church in 1987. At that time, the church
had about 150 members.

The Rev. Bernice King, youngest daughter of Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr., is a clergy at the church. Her
mother’s homegoing service was held there where
Bishop Long was able to host many prominent
Americans.

The three men, who have all given their names, and one provided the picture above
as evidence of some of the bishop’s behavior. Bishop Long is standing in front of a
mirror taking his own picture. According to the report, the picture was sent to the
young man to encourage a sexual engagement. Other say it was sent to show the
man that with proper exercise, he could get that look.

Even though the suits have been filed, all of the men were above Georgia’s legal
age of 15, for consensual sex, therefore, no criminal charges can be filed.
Bishop Long said he will talk to his congregation on Sunday as his first public
appearance regarding the matter. He is known for his dislike of homosexual behavior
and strong opposition to same sex marriage.

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Hands Off Obama

Posted on 27 March 2010 by The Florida Star Online

President Obama photo by FMPowell

“Hoo…..” my girlfriend sighed, fanning herself in an animated fashion while the rest of my lunch companions laughed empathetically at her playful exasperation. The male equivalent of Halle’ Berry, President Number 44 had just wrapped another eloquent and profound speech. We of course, eschewed the ratings of opinion polls because as far as we were concerned even one year after the inauguration, we couldn’t have made a more sound decision with our votes. As intelligent educated females we had viewed our candidate as the ideal person to fill the highest political office in America. As women, our imaginations had viewed him as the ideal man….in every way. For those of us who go through life trying to piece together a man with such endearing qualities as those publicly and privately displayed by our leader, it is all at once inspiring to know that they do exist but disheartening to realize we just don’t know where to look. What did Michelle do to have garnered such a wonderful blessing? Furthermore, how can the rest of us be expected to remain sensible about a man whose testosterone we can smell right through the television? My girlfriend’s “Hoo” was quite understandable, but in a jungle where Tiger’s can become Cheetahs overnight we must be mindful not to become poachers. Maybe her wistful sigh should be coined the acronym of restraint for “Hands Off Obama!”
  During the presidential campaign many of us had secretly crossed fingers that no untoward woman would suddenly emerge from some dark sideline to discredit his immaculacy. For the most part he appears and we believe he is far too honorable to commit any act that would demean himself, his beautiful family, or the United States, but eight years is a long time. Too often the people we subconsciously put on pedestals betray our trust and it diminishes our spirit, from Priests and Presidents to Tigers and every level between. In Washington there have been many examples of this type of elevation and disappointment. Clinton/ Lewinski is still one of the most popular, yet her story is just one of many young interns. Often powerful officials will target the new girls (or guys) but this also frequently works in reverse with some new comers believing a sexual collaboration will catapult their career. Or, in some instances general admiration for a powerful man slips into an unexpected crush, and crushes as we know move in and renovate without invitation, occupying most of the brain and leaving only a tiny room available for clarity where the curtains are closed most days…. except, maybe Tuesdays.
  It was this type of cloudy crush that confused another friend of mine who was living in Atlanta some years ago. She began parking her car outside Evander Holyfied’s home after she decided; she was going to marry him, no matter what! After several days of getting dressed to the nines only to end up sitting in her car for hours she finally gave up on the idea to scale his security fence. Then after a few more months she gave up on him. More recently another friend felt she had been given divine information that she was supposed to be the wife of a famous and prominent pastor who just happened to already be married. She was certain that if she could just get him to notice her that he would leave his wife. She sent numerous cards and letters to his office head quarters that went without response. This prompted her to begin following him to speaking engagements across the country. She continued in this vein for over a year, securing front row seats at each venue until she was finally distracted by the male confidant she had used as a sounding board and ended up marrying him. I found this particular situation interesting because she herself was a pastor and well versed in scripture, yet she had become a poacher, pursuing her prey selfishly without regard for God, or the prey’s marriage vows. Suddenly a smart, wonderful, compassionate woman was being lead by a baser nature that was completely apathetic to the facts that she would hurt his wife, her sister in God, or that his children would be devastated, or that his position as a leader and role model for his followers could be destroyed.
Most of us are able to maintain our infatuations within the good sense boundaries of old fashioned admiration, but for others infatuation literally morphs itself into the confusion of an obsessive fixation and bends us to its’ will. Together, in good fun, my friends and I say our “Female Only” things about President Obama and believe we have good sense, but I have no doubt that any of us, single, married or barely breathing wouldn’t swoon if we imagined he glanced at us the right way, hence the concern. And, what about those women who have close access to him day after day? Exactly how does one exempt herself from the poaching impulse when presented with such a magnificent creature? How is it possible to survive the bedazzling Alpha Male testosterone tsunami whenever 44 enters a room? …Prayer? Prayer!
  There are those private rules and boundaries that we impose upon ourselves whether it be from a religious perspective or a simple understanding of right and wrong. Once we have decided our personal values most of us fight to create and maintain our private integrity, yet if we are honest most of us can agree that it is hardly ever easy. Morals are encouraged to fade more each day. We find ourselves captivated and thrilled by Jerry and Maury and overwhelmed by reality TV shows that exploit and glorify human dysfunction. Some of us have become slaves to a mouse who promises to deliver every type of sexual depravity so we sit there and pet him for hours. Meanwhile the morality of the world is being held together by an invisible, visible web whose obscure lines are stretched so thin that it is selfishly crossed time and time again without any consideration for morality and the laws of the jungle become perplexing and obsolete. Hunters, prey, victims, poachers all assuming the other’s role. It’s hard to know where danger waits. 
  Today as I petted my own mouse I was horribly dismayed to happen upon a cleverly disguised site intended specifically for the President. My stomach rigorously threatened to return the lunch I was enjoying as soon as the page opened. Hundreds of nude women of every race age and figure were displayed in the most explicitly lewd photographs imaginable complete with full contact information and what they would do to and for him. This was just one incident and one site but with this many poachers waiting for the dawn how can any type of animal survive? Sadly, females have been given a bad reputation since “Eve,” and it’s true that many apples have been bitten without our encouragement, but it can’t be denied that we are perpetuating our own myth with this behavior. I’m certain that this will not be the only site or the only way an attempt to distract and dishonor him will be made so to all my sisters I say, please, for the good of a Nation let’s try and make it through these eight years! Don’t go to DC when the hormones kick in if you don’t have to! When he gives a speech and the scent of MAN wafts from the set just fan it away and say “Hoo!,” because in a world that is becoming so overwhelmingly gray the only thing that seems to be in plain Black and White is our President! Let’s keep it that way.

Yvette Evans
evetevan@yahoo.com

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America’s Dynasty Moving on Down

Posted on 16 December 2009 by The Florida Star Online

FStar-121209-a-01h
If someone had told you about this chart, would you have believed it? It is truly amazing how the wealth of American companies have declined.  This is possible because so many jobs are going to overseas workers and so few creative work and manufacturing
is still being done in this country.

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President Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

Posted on 10 October 2009 by The Florida Star Online

obama-10-10-09The Norwegian Nobel Committee said U. S. President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

Nobel Statement:

norwaynobelThe Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2009 is to be awarded to President Barack Obama for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples. The Committee has attached special importance to Obama’s vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons.

Obama has as President created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts. The vision of a world free from nuclear arms has powerfully stimulated disarmament and arms control negotiations. Thanks to Obama’s initiative, the USA is now playing a more constructive role in meeting the great climatic challenges the world is confronting. Democracy and human rights are to be strengthened.

Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future. His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.

For 108 years, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has sought to stimulate precisely that international policy and those attitudes for which Obama is now the world’s leading spokesman. The Committee endorses Obama’s appeal that “Now is the time for all of us to take our share of responsibility for a global response to global challenges.”

Oslo, October 9, 2009

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Mob Kills Honor Student in Chicago

Posted on 03 October 2009 by The Florida Star Online

derrion_albertDerrion Albert, 16, was fatally beaten last Thursday in an after school mob melee in Chicago. He was an honor student, waiting for the bus, and just happened to be in the area of a gang war. Four were arrested.

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Black Leaders Launch Grassroots Campaign for Health Care

Posted on 26 September 2009 by The Florida Star Online

NNPA National Correspondent and Editor-in-Chief

The line is drawn. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) has pledged to kill any House health care bill that does not include a robust public option and organization members of the Black Leadership Forum (BLF) are rolling out an array of grassroots campaigns in support of passing health care reform overall. TContinue Reading

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Child Health as a Critical National Security Issue

Posted on 26 September 2009 by The Florida Star Online

by Marian Wright Edelman
President, Children’s Defense Fund

In April 2005, a group of scholars at the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services published a policy brief on “National Security and U.S. Child Health Policy: The Origins and Continuing Role of Medicaid and EPSDT.” (.pdf)

The Department of Health Policy chair, Dr. Sara Rosenbaum, and her colleagues studied how Medicaid and its comprehensive benefit package for children, the Early and Periodic Screening, Diagnosis, and Treatment (EPSDT) program, were seen from the beginning as a key way to help ensure that we would have enough healthy young Americans prepared to serve and defend the country. As Congress and the nation focus more on health care reform now, it’s well worth reexamining the history of how this vital connection was made between child health and national security. As Dr. Rosenbaum and her colleagues looked at the roots of this link, they focused on an important 1964 government report titled, One Third of a Nation: A Report on Young Men Found Unqualified for Military Service. This study was commissioned as a response to the 50 percent rejection rate among young men drafted into the military in 1962, a rate so high it raised red flags about the nation’s ability to develop a well-prepared military. The rate among men who had stepped forward as volunteers was slightly better, but overall, approximately one-third of prospective recruits were being turned away in the early 1960s. In September 1963, President Kennedy asked the Secretaries of Defense, Labor, and Health, Education, and Welfare to lead a Task Force on Manpower Conservation to study why this was so and determine what could be done to fix it.

What they learned was that far too many prospective recruits just weren’t healthy enough for service. The Task Force’s final report, Dr. Rosenbaum and her colleagues found, “concluded that the military draft failure rate provided powerful evidence of ‘the unfinished business of the Nation.’” They note, “Among [the report's] most significant findings: the majority of young men rejected for compulsory military service in the early 1960s failed as a result of physical and mental health conditions, many of which could have been diagnosed and successfully treated in childhood and adolescence. These young adults typically came from impoverished families and had experienced unrelenting deprivation in health care, education, and employment. The report’s findings provided compelling evidence for an underlying tenet of President Johnson’s conclusion that improving the health and well being of the nation’s poor required strategies aimed at ameliorating the effects of social, economic, and health disparities.”

President Johnson said after the report was released in January 1964 that “The findings of this Task Force are dramatic evidence that poverty is still with us, still exacting its price in spoiled lives and failed expectations. For entirely too many Americans the promise of American life is not being kept.” Ultimately the Task Force, and the politicians who shaped its initial findings into policy, concluded that one answer was for the government to take a more active role in safeguarding the health of the nation’s children, especially the poorest children who needed the most help. They realized that fighting the inequalities that existed and keeping all children as healthy as possible was necessary for them to grow up to be productive citizens—including members of the military.

Forty years later, evidence still overwhelmingly shows that early intervention and prevention make a critical difference in children’s health. Meanwhile, our national security needs—as well as our nation’s overall needs for healthy, educated citizens prepared to compete in a globalized economy—are more serious than ever. Dr. Rosenbaum and her colleagues say in their conclusion, “The importance of a continuing commitment to broad child health policy endures, even as the health system itself is transformed. National security depends on the growth and development of children; in view of the demographics of those who serve, this dependence is particularly striking in the case of the low-income children who are at greatest risk for poor health outcomes.”

Health disparities still exist for poor children and children of color. But Congress has the opportunity and responsibility this year to make certain that the promise of American life is being kept for all children by committing to real child health system reform. They can include amendments by Representative Bobby Scott that provide comprehensive child-appropriate EPSDT benefits for all children and they can enact amendments offered by Representative Bobby Rush to simplify the health bureaucracy and to make sure that millions of children are better off, and not worse off, than they are today. We must ensure that health coverage in any final health care reform bill will guarantee all children the comprehensive health and mental health care they need and be affordable and simple to get and keep. Our children’s and our nation’s security still depend on making sure that our children really get the health care they need now.

Marian Wright Edelman, whose new book is The Sea Is So Wide And My Boat Is So Small: Charting a Course for the Next Generation, is president of the Children’s Defense Fund. For more information about the Children’s Defense Fund, go to http://www.childrensdefense.org/.

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President Barack Obama's address to Congress on health care reform

Posted on 09 September 2009 by The Florida Star Online

Text of President Barack Obama’s address to Congress on health care reform Wednesday, as prepared for delivery and provided by the White House


Madame Speaker, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, and the American people:

When I spoke here last winter, this nation was facing the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. We were losing an average of 700,000 jobs per month. Credit was frozen. And our financial system was on the verge of collapse.

As any American who is still looking for work or a way to pay their bills will tell you, we are by no means out of the woods. A full and vibrant recovery is many months away. And I will not let up until those Americans who seek jobs can find them; until those businesses that seek capital and credit can thrive; until all responsible homeowners can stay in their homes. That is our ultimate goal. But thanks to the bold and decisive action we have taken since January, I can stand here with confidence and say that we have pulled this economy back from the brink.

I want to thank the members of this body for your efforts and your support in these last several months, and especially those who have taken the difficult votes that have put us on a path to recovery. I also want to thank the American people for their patience and resolve during this trying time for our nation.

But we did not come here just to clean up crises. We came to build a future. So tonight, I return to speak to all of you about an issue that is central to that future — and that is the issue of health care.

I am not the first president to take up this cause, but I am determined to be the last. It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform. And ever since, nearly every president and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way. A bill for comprehensive health reform was first introduced by John Dingell Sr. in 1943. Sixty-five years later, his son continues to introduce that same bill at the beginning of each session.

Our collective failure to meet this challenge — year after year, decade after decade — has led us to a breaking point. Everyone understands the extraordinary hardships that are placed on the uninsured, who live every day just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy. These are not primarily people on welfare. These are middle-class Americans. Some can’t get insurance on the job. Others are self-employed, and can’t afford it, since buying insurance on your own costs you three times as much as the coverage you get from your employer. Many other Americans who are willing and able to pay are still denied insurance due to previous illnesses or conditions that insurance companies decide are too risky or expensive to cover.

We are the only advanced democracy on Earth — the only wealthy nation — that allows such hardships for millions of its people. There are now more than 30 million American citizens who cannot get coverage. In just a two year period, one in every three Americans goes without health care coverage at some point. And every day, 14,000 Americans lose their coverage. In other words, it can happen to anyone.

But the problem that plagues the health care system is not just a problem of the uninsured. Those who do have insurance have never had less security and stability than they do today. More and more Americans worry that if you move, lose your job, or change your job, you’ll lose your health insurance too. More and more Americans pay their premiums, only to discover that their insurance company has dropped their coverage when they get sick, or won’t pay the full cost of care. It happens every day.

One man from Illinois lost his coverage in the middle of chemotherapy because his insurer found that he hadn’t reported gallstones that he didn’t even know about. They delayed his treatment, and he died because of it. Another woman from Texas was about to get a double mastectomy when her insurance company canceled her policy because she forgot to declare a case of acne. By the time she had her insurance reinstated, her breast cancer more than doubled in size. That is heartbreaking, it is wrong, and no one should be treated that way in the United States of America.

Then there’s the problem of rising costs. We spend one-and-a-half times more per person on health care than any other country, but we aren’t any healthier for it. This is one of the reasons that insurance premiums have gone up three times faster than wages. It’s why so many employers — especially small businesses — are forcing their employees to pay more for insurance, or are dropping their coverage entirely. It’s why so many aspiring entrepreneurs cannot afford to open a business in the first place, and why American businesses that compete internationally — like our automakers — are at a huge disadvantage. And it’s why those of us with health insurance are also paying a hidden and growing tax for those without it — about $1000 per year that pays for somebody else’s emergency room and charitable care.

Finally, our health care system is placing an unsustainable burden on taxpayers. When health care costs grow at the rate they have, it puts greater pressure on programs like Medicare and Medicaid. If we do nothing to slow these skyrocketing costs, we will eventually be spending more on Medicare and Medicaid than every other government program combined. Put simply, our health care problem is our deficit problem. Nothing else even comes close.

These are the facts. Nobody disputes them. We know we must reform this system. The question is how.

There are those on the left who believe that the only way to fix the system is through a single-payer system like Canada’s, where we would severely restrict the private insurance market and have the government provide coverage for everyone. On the right, there are those who argue that we should end the employer-based system and leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own.

I have to say that there are arguments to be made for both approaches. But either one would represent a radical shift that would disrupt the health care most people currently have. Since health care represents one-sixth of our economy, I believe it makes more sense to build on what works and fix what doesn’t, rather than try to build an entirely new system from scratch. And that is precisely what those of you in Congress have tried to do over the past several months.

During that time, we have seen Washington at its best and its worst.

We have seen many in this chamber work tirelessly for the better part of this year to offer thoughtful ideas about how to achieve reform. Of the five committees asked to develop bills, four have completed their work, and the Senate Finance Committee announced today that it will move forward next week. That has never happened before.

Our overall efforts have been supported by an unprecedented coalition of doctors and nurses; hospitals, seniors’ groups and even drug companies — many of whom opposed reform in the past. And there is agreement in this chamber on about 80 percent of what needs to be done, putting us closer to the goal of reform than we have ever been.

But what we have also seen in these last months is the same partisan spectacle that only hardens the disdain many Americans have toward their own government. Instead of honest debate, we have seen scare tactics. Some have dug into unyielding ideological camps that offer no hope of compromise. Too many have used this as an opportunity to score short-term political points, even if it robs the country of our opportunity to solve a long-term challenge. And out of this blizzard of charges and countercharges, confusion has reigned.

Well the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the season for action. Now is when we must bring the best ideas of both parties together, and show the American people that we can still do what we were sent here to do. Now is the time to deliver on health care.

The plan I’m announcing tonight would meet three basic goals:

It will provide more security and stability to those who have health insurance. It will provide insurance to those who don’t. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government. It’s a plan that asks everyone to take responsibility for meeting this challenge — not just government and insurance companies, but employers and individuals. And it’s a plan that incorporates ideas from Senators and Congressmen; from Democrats and Republicans — and yes, from some of my opponents in both the primary and general election.

Here are the details that every American needs to know about this plan:

First, if you are among the hundreds of millions of Americans who already have health insurance through your job, Medicare, Medicaid, or the VA, nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change the coverage or the doctor you have. Let me repeat this: nothing in our plan requires you to change what you have.

What this plan will do is to make the insurance you have work better for you. Under this plan, it will be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a pre-existing condition. As soon as I sign this bill, it will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick or water it down when you need it most. They will no longer be able to place some arbitrary cap on the amount of coverage you can receive in a given year or a lifetime. We will place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they get sick. And insurance companies will be required to cover, with no extra charge, routine checkups and preventive care, like mammograms and colonoscopies — because there’s no reason we shouldn’t be catching diseases like breast cancer and colon cancer before they get worse. That makes sense, it saves money, and it saves lives.

That’s what Americans who have health insurance can expect from this plan — more security and stability.

Now, if you’re one of the tens of millions of Americans who don’t currently have health insurance, the second part of this plan will finally offer you quality, affordable choices. If you lose your job or change your job, you will be able to get coverage. If you strike out on your own and start a small business, you will be able to get coverage. We will do this by creating a new insurance exchange — a marketplace where individuals and small businesses will be able to shop for health insurance at competitive prices. Insurance companies will have an incentive to participate in this exchange because it lets them compete for millions of new customers. As one big group, these customers will have greater leverage to bargain with the insurance companies for better prices and quality coverage. This is how large companies and government employees get affordable insurance. It’s how everyone in this Congress gets affordable insurance. And it’s time to give every American the same opportunity that we’ve given ourselves.

For those individuals and small businesses who still cannot afford the lower-priced insurance available in the exchange, we will provide tax credits, the size of which will be based on your need. And all insurance companies that want access to this new marketplace will have to abide by the consumer protections I already mentioned. This exchange will take effect in four years, which will give us time to do it right. In the meantime, for those Americans who can’t get insurance today because they have pre-existing medical conditions, we will immediately offer low-cost coverage that will protect you against financial ruin if you become seriously ill. This was a good idea when Senator John McCain proposed it in the campaign, it’s a good idea now, and we should embrace it.

Now, even if we provide these affordable options, there may be those — particularly the young and healthy — who still want to take the risk and go without coverage. There may still be companies that refuse to do right by their workers. The problem is, such irresponsible behavior costs all the rest of us money. If there are affordable options and people still don’t sign up for health insurance, it means we pay for those people’s expensive emergency room visits. If some businesses don’t provide workers health care, it forces the rest of us to pick up the tab when their workers get sick, and gives those businesses an unfair advantage over their competitors. And unless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek — especially requiring insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions — just can’t be achieved.

That’s why under my plan, individuals will be required to carry basic health insurance — just as most states require you to carry auto insurance. Likewise, businesses will be required to either offer their workers health care, or chip in to help cover the cost of their workers. There will be a hardship waiver for those individuals who still cannot afford coverage, and 95 percent of all small businesses, because of their size and narrow profit margin, would be exempt from these requirements. But we cannot have large businesses and individuals who can afford coverage game the system by avoiding responsibility to themselves or their employees. Improving our health care system only works if everybody does their part.

While there remain some significant details to be ironed out, I believe a broad consensus exists for the aspects of the plan I just outlined: consumer protections for those with insurance, an exchange that allows individuals and small businesses to purchase affordable coverage, and a requirement that people who can afford insurance get insurance.

And I have no doubt that these reforms would greatly benefit Americans from all walks of life, as well as the economy as a whole. Still, given all the misinformation that’s been spread over the past few months, I realize that many Americans have grown nervous about reform. So tonight I’d like to address some of the key controversies that are still out there.

Some of people’s concerns have grown out of bogus claims spread by those whose only agenda is to kill reform at any cost. The best example is the claim, made not just by radio and cable talk show hosts, but prominent politicians, that we plan to set up panels of bureaucrats with the power to kill off senior citizens. Such a charge would be laughable if it weren’t so cynical and irresponsible. It is a lie, plain and simple.

There are also those who claim that our reform effort will insure illegal immigrants. This, too, is false — the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally.

And one more misunderstanding I want to clear up — under our plan, no federal dollars will be used to fund abortions, and federal conscience laws will remain in place.

My health care proposal has also been attacked by some who oppose reform as a “government takeover” of the entire health care system. As proof, critics point to a provision in our plan that allows the uninsured and small businesses to choose a publicly sponsored insurance option, administered by the government just like Medicaid or Medicare.

So let me set the record straight. My guiding principle is, and always has been, that consumers do better when there is choice and competition. Unfortunately, in 34 states, 75 percent of the insurance market is controlled by five or fewer companies. In Alabama, almost 90 percent is controlled by just one company. Without competition, the price of insurance goes up and the quality goes down. And it makes it easier for insurance companies to treat their customers badly — by cherry-picking the healthiest individuals and trying to drop the sickest; by overcharging small businesses who have no leverage; and by jacking up rates.

Insurance executives don’t do this because they are bad people. They do it because it’s profitable. As one former insurance executive testified before Congress, insurance companies are not only encouraged to find reasons to drop the seriously ill; they are rewarded for it. All of this is in service of meeting what this former executive called “Wall Street’s relentless profit expectations.”

Now, I have no interest in putting insurance companies out of business. They provide a legitimate service, and employ a lot of our friends and neighbors. I just want to hold them accountable. The insurance reforms that I’ve already mentioned would do just that. But an additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available in the insurance exchange. Let me be clear — it would only be an option for those who don’t have insurance. No one would be forced to choose it, and it would not impact those of you who already have insurance. In fact, based on Congressional Budget Office estimates, we believe that less than 5 percent of Americans would sign up.

Despite all this, the insurance companies and their allies don’t like this idea. They argue that these private companies can’t fairly compete with the government. And they’d be right if taxpayers were subsidizing this public insurance option. But they won’t be. I have insisted that like any private insurance company, the public insurance option would have to be self-sufficient and rely on the premiums it collects. But by avoiding some of the overhead that gets eaten up at private companies by profits, excessive administrative costs and executive salaries, it could provide a good deal for consumers. It would also keep pressure on private insurers to keep their policies affordable and treat their customers better, the same way public colleges and universities provide additional choice and competition to students without in any way inhibiting a vibrant system of private colleges and universities.

It’s worth noting that a strong majority of Americans still favor a public insurance option of the sort I’ve proposed tonight. But its impact shouldn’t be exaggerated — by the left, the right, or the media. It is only one part of my plan, and should not be used as a handy excuse for the usual Washington ideological battles. To my progressive friends, I would remind you that for decades, the driving idea behind reform has been to end insurance company abuses and make coverage affordable for those without it. The public option is only a means to that end — and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal. And to my Republican friends, I say that rather than making wild claims about a government takeover of health care, we should work together to address any legitimate concerns you may have.

For example, some have suggested that that the public option go into effect only in those markets where insurance companies are not providing affordable policies. Others propose a co-op or another nonprofit entity to administer the plan. These are all constructive ideas worth exploring. But I will not back down on the basic principle that if Americans can’t find affordable coverage, we will provide you with a choice. And I will make sure that no government bureaucrat or insurance company bureaucrat gets between you and the care that you need.

Finally, let me discuss an issue that is a great concern to me, to members of this chamber, and to the public — and that is how we pay for this plan.

Here’s what you need to know. First, I will not sign a plan that adds one dime to our deficits — either now or in the future. Period. And to prove that I’m serious, there will be a provision in this plan that requires us to come forward with more spending cuts if the savings we promised don’t materialize. Part of the reason I faced a trillion dollar deficit when I walked in the door of the White House is because too many initiatives over the last decade were not paid for — from the Iraq War to tax breaks for the wealthy. I will not make that same mistake with health care.

Second, we’ve estimated that most of this plan can be paid for by finding savings within the existing health care system — a system that is currently full of waste and abuse. Right now, too much of the hard-earned savings and tax dollars we spend on health care doesn’t make us healthier. That’s not my judgment — it’s the judgment of medical professionals across this country. And this is also true when it comes to Medicare and Medicaid.

In fact, I want to speak directly to America’s seniors for a moment, because Medicare is another issue that’s been subjected to demagoguery and distortion during the course of this debate.

More than four decades ago, this nation stood up for the principle that after a lifetime of hard work, our seniors should not be left to struggle with a pile of medical bills in their later years. That is how Medicare was born. And it remains a sacred trust that must be passed down from one generation to the next. That is why not a dollar of the Medicare trust fund will be used to pay for this plan.

The only thing this plan would eliminate is the hundreds of billions of dollars in waste and fraud, as well as unwarranted subsidies in Medicare that go to insurance companies — subsidies that do everything to pad their profits and nothing to improve your care. And we will also create an independent commission of doctors and medical experts charged with identifying more waste in the years ahead.

These steps will ensure that you — America’s seniors — get the benefits you’ve been promised. They will ensure that Medicare is there for future generations. And we can use some of the savings to fill the gap in coverage that forces too many seniors to pay thousands of dollars a year out of their own pocket for prescription drugs. That’s what this plan will do for you. So don’t pay attention to those scary stories about how your benefits will be cut — especially since some of the same folks who are spreading these tall tales have fought against Medicare in the past, and just this year supported a budget that would have essentially turned Medicare into a privatized voucher program. That will never happen on my watch. I will protect Medicare.

Now, because Medicare is such a big part of the health care system, making the program more efficient can help usher in changes in the way we deliver health care that can reduce costs for everybody. We have long known that some places, like the Intermountain Healthcare in Utah or the Geisinger Health System in rural Pennsylvania, offer high-quality care at costs below average. The commission can help encourage the adoption of these common sense best practices by doctors and medical professionals throughout the system — everything from reducing hospital infection rates to encouraging better coordination between teams of doctors.

Reducing the waste and inefficiency in Medicare and Medicaid will pay for most of this plan. Much of the rest would be paid for with revenues from the very same drug and insurance companies that stand to benefit from tens of millions of new customers. This reform will charge insurance companies a fee for their most expensive policies, which will encourage them to provide greater value for the money — an idea which has the support of Democratic and Republican experts. And according to these same experts, this modest change could help hold down the cost of health care for all of us in the long-run.

Finally, many in this chamber — particularly on the Republican side of the aisle — have long insisted that reforming our medical malpractice laws can help bring down the cost of health care. I don’t believe malpractice reform is a silver bullet, but I have talked to enough doctors to know that defensive medicine may be contributing to unnecessary costs. So I am proposing that we move forward on a range of ideas about how to put patient safety first and let doctors focus on practicing medicine. I know that the Bush Administration considered authorizing demonstration projects in individual states to test these issues. It’s a good idea, and I am directing my Secretary of Health and Human Services to move forward on this initiative today.

Add it all up, and the plan I’m proposing will cost around $900 billion over ten years — less than we have spent on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and less than the tax cuts for the wealthiest few Americans that Congress passed at the beginning of the previous administration. Most of these costs will be paid for with money already being spent — but spent badly — in the existing health care system. The plan will not add to our deficit. The middle-class will realize greater security, not higher taxes. And if we are able to slow the growth of health care costs by just one-tenth of one percent each year, it will actually reduce the deficit by $4 trillion over the long term.

This is the plan I’m proposing. It’s a plan that incorporates ideas from many of the people in this room tonight — Democrats and Republicans. And I will continue to seek common ground in the weeks ahead. If you come to me with a serious set of proposals, I will be there to listen. My door is always open.

But know this: I will not waste time with those who have made the calculation that it’s better politics to kill this plan than improve it. I will not stand by while the special interests use the same old tactics to keep things exactly the way they are. If you misrepresent what’s in the plan, we will call you out. And I will not accept the status quo as a solution. Not this time. Not now.

Everyone in this room knows what will happen if we do nothing. Our deficit will grow. More families will go bankrupt. More businesses will close. More Americans will lose their coverage when they are sick and need it most. And more will die as a result. We know these things to be true.

That is why we cannot fail. Because there are too many Americans counting on us to succeed — the ones who suffer silently, and the ones who shared their stories with us at town hall meetings, in e-mails, and in letters.

I received one of those letters a few days ago. It was from our beloved friend and colleague, Ted Kennedy. He had written it back in May, shortly after he was told that his illness was terminal. He asked that it be delivered upon his death.

In it, he spoke about what a happy time his last months were, thanks to the love and support of family and friends, his wife, Vicki, and his children, who are here tonight . And he expressed confidence that this would be the year that health care reform — “that great unfinished business of our society,” he called it — would finally pass. He repeated the truth that health care is decisive for our future prosperity, but he also reminded me that “it concerns more than material things.” “What we face,” he wrote, “is above all a moral issue; at stake are not just the details of policy, but fundamental principles of social justice and the character of our country.”

I’ve thought about that phrase quite a bit in recent days — the character of our country. One of the unique and wonderful things about America has always been our self-reliance, our rugged individualism, our fierce defense of freedom and our healthy skepticism of government. And figuring out the appropriate size and role of government has always been a source of rigorous and sometimes angry debate.

For some of Ted Kennedy’s critics, his brand of liberalism represented an affront to American liberty. In their mind, his passion for universal health care was nothing more than a passion for big government.

But those of us who knew Teddy and worked with him here — people of both parties — know that what drove him was something more. His friend, Orrin Hatch, knows that. They worked together to provide children with health insurance. His friend John McCain knows that. They worked together on a Patient’s Bill of Rights. His friend Chuck Grassley knows that. They worked together to provide health care to children with disabilities.

On issues like these, Ted Kennedy’s passion was born not of some rigid ideology, but of his own experience. It was the experience of having two children stricken with cancer. He never forgot the sheer terror and helplessness that any parent feels when a child is badly sick; and he was able to imagine what it must be like for those without insurance; what it would be like to have to say to a wife or a child or an aging parent — there is something that could make you better, but I just can’t afford it.

That large heartedness — that concern and regard for the plight of others — is not a partisan feeling. It is not a Republican or a Democratic feeling. It, too, is part of the American character. Our ability to stand in other people’s shoes. A recognition that we are all in this together; that when fortune turns against one of us, others are there to lend a helping hand. A belief that in this country, hard work and responsibility should be rewarded by some measure of security and fair play; and an acknowledgement that sometimes government has to step in to help deliver on that promise.

This has always been the history of our progress. In 1933, when over half of our seniors could not support themselves and millions had seen their savings wiped away, there were those who argued that Social Security would lead to socialism. But the men and women of Congress stood fast, and we are all the better for it. In 1965, when some argued that Medicare represented a government takeover of health care, members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, did not back down. They joined together so that all of us could enter our golden years with some basic peace of mind.

You see, our predecessors understood that government could not, and should not, solve every problem. They understood that there are instances when the gains in security from government action are not worth the added constraints on our freedom. But they also understood that the danger of too much government is matched by the perils of too little; that without the leavening hand of wise policy, markets can crash, monopolies can stifle competition, and the vulnerable can be exploited. And they knew that when any government measure, no matter how carefully crafted or beneficial, is subject to scorn; when any efforts to help people in need are attacked as un-American; when facts and reason are thrown overboard and only timidity passes for wisdom; and we can no longer even engage in a civil conversation with each other over the things that truly matter — that at that point we don’t merely lose our capacity to solve big challenges. We lose something essential about ourselves.

What was true then remains true today. I understand how difficult this health care debate has been. I know that many in this country are deeply skeptical that government is looking out for them. I understand that the politically safe move would be to kick the can further down the road — to defer reform one more year, or one more election, or one more term.

But that’s not what the moment calls for. That’s not what we came here to do. We did not come to fear the future. We came here to shape it. I still believe we can act even when it’s hard. I still believe we can replace acrimony with civility, and gridlock with progress. I still believe we can do great things, and that here and now we will meet history’s test.

Because that is who we are. That is our calling. That is our character. Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.

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President Barack Obama's Back-to-School Message To America's Students

Posted on 07 September 2009 by The Florida Star Online

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia
September 8, 2009

The President: Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.
I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.
I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.
Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”
So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.
Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.
I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.
I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.
I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.
But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.
And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.
Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.
Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.
And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.
And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.
You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.
We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.
Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.
I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.
So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.
But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.
Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.
But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.
Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.
That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.
Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.
I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.
And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.
Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.
That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.
Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.
I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.
But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.
That’s OK.  Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.
No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.
The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.
It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.
So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?
Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

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