Posts Tagged ‘africa

24
Sep
14

A Letter from the President

by Africa

Helping Liberia – Thank you President Obama – from the bottom of my heart

On August 3, at the urging of BobFr, I sent a letter to President Obama. Essentially, it was a modified comment I had posted here.

It was just at the start of the African Summit that President Obama was going to be convening with leaders from across the continent. At the time, news of the Ebola virus ravaging several countries in West Africa, including Liberia, my native country, was being hotly discussed. We also learned that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, the president of Liberia, would not be attending the conference because of the seriousness of the deadly virus. I lamented here that this would have been an opportune time for her to discuss not only the Ebola virus, but the deplorable health care infrastructure in the country.

I touched on some of those same concerns here in my August 3 comments (here)

That’s why after Bob encouraged me to write President Obama, I did. On September 22, I received a letter from him, dated September, 15, 2014.

I don’t quite remember everything I said to the president in my letter, because I typed it in the White House e-mail format and regrettably did not save a copy. But I believe I shared with him the lack of basic health care in Liberia and my own family struggle with my husband’s illness and desire to return someday, but could not do so. Without adequate routine medical care, my husband would not survive in Liberia, given that there is no treatment center there to treat him.

So, two days ago, shortly after I had gotten home briefly to drop off the car so that my husband could run and see his nurse, as I walked into the door, he said, “There is an envelope for you from the White House.” You can only imagine my surprise.

I immediately dropped my purse and grabbed the oversized manila envelope. I quickly opened it and began reading its contents. I was so excited, I could barely contain myself. I ran to my computer and tweeted that I got the letter and then posted it here.

My friends, words cannot express my deepest gratitude to President Obama for the swift action he has taken to save the lives of thousands of Liberians. It is a massive undertaking that many in Liberia will be grateful for, too. (Liberian Observer: President Obama’s Robust Response: A Security Council Resolution Could Greatly Help the Process)

You see, even before I wrote to President Obama, the U.S. had already taken steps to help Liberia and other countries in the region. And since my letter weeks ago, the President and his administration, alongside their International partners, have done much more to help battle the deadly virus. As part of the efforts to respond the Ebola epidemic, last week, the president sent 3,000 soldiers to Liberia to begin the work of containing the fast moving virus. (WH FACT SHEET: U.S. Response to the Ebola Epidemic in West Africa)

I am hopeful that the residual effects from the aid by the U.S. government and its partners around the world, will offer an opportunity for Liberia to emerge with a health care infrastructure, that will not only allow me and my family to go home, but will benefit thousands of Liberians who suffer needlessly and sometimes die from illnesses that could be easily treated.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), “the 2014 Ebola outbreak is the largest Ebola outbreak in history and the first Ebola outbreak in West Africa.” And to date, it has touched the lives of 5,864 people. In Liberia alone, some 1,500 people have died. (CDC: 2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa)

So far, both my husband’s family and mine still living in Liberia, have not been harmed by the devasting virus. Many others are not so lucky.

Not only do we count our blessings for this, but also for President Obama’s action to take a stand and join other nations to prevent the loss of countless lives.

For this, as a Liberian native, I am eternally grateful to President Obama and I thank him from the bottom of my heart. Many Liberians will never forget what you have done here today.

Thank you fellow TODers for all your support and encouragement. I am deeply honored to be a part of this wonderful place.

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06
Aug
14

US – Africa Leaders Summit

@dougmillsnyt: Running late… [President] Obama jogs on stage for his press conference at the US-Africa Summit.

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Read more on the Summit here

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President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference following the Africa Leaders Summit

“Sit down, Benghazi Boy.”

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President Barack Obama and more than 50 African officials wave as they gather for a family photo for the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit at the U.S. State Department

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Text of the President’s remarks here

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@dougmillsnyt: President Obama jokes with President Boni Yayi of Benin during the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

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President Barack Obama, with President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, left, and Mozambique’s President Armando Emilio Guebuza, participates in the US African Leaders Summit

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Laura Bush and First Lady Michelle Obama participate in a Spousal Symposium at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

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Text of the First Lady’s remarks here

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President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit Session One on “Investing in Africa’s Future,” at the U.S. Department of State (More here)

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President Barack Obama greets Mozambique’s President Armando Guebuza

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President Barack Obama shares a laugh with Ambassador Susan Rice, the President’s National Security Advisor, during a lunch he hosted for over 50 African leaders and their delegations at the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit

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03
Aug
14

The Economist: An Interview with the President

(Audio only)

Transcript here

Thank you @MagicalEarth

30
Jul
14

‘My Story Is The Story Of The Impossible Getting Done’

First Lady Michelle Obama addresses the Summit of the Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

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Remarks by the First Lady at the Summit of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders

“…. no matter where you all work, no matter what issue you focus on – whether it’s health or microfinance, human rights or clean energy – women’s equality must be a central part of your work.  It must. Because make no mistake about it, the work of transforming attitudes about women, it now falls on your shoulders. And it’s up to you all to embrace the future, and then drag your parents and grandparents along with you.

And I know this won’t be easy. I know that you will face all kinds of obstacles and resistance – you already have.  But when you get tired or frustrated, when things seem hopeless and you start thinking about giving up, I want you to remember the words of the man whom your fellowship is now named – and I know these words have been spoken many times.

As Madiba once said, “It always seems impossible until it is done.”

And I, oh, I know the truth of those words from my own history and from the history of my country.

My ancestors came here in chains. My parents and grandparents knew the sting of segregation and discrimination. Yet I attended some of the best universities in this country. I had career opportunities beyond my wildest dreams. And today, I live in the White House, a building — (applause) — but we must remember, we live in a home that was constructed by slaves.

Today, I watch my daughters – two beautiful African American girls – walking our dogs in the shadow of the Oval Office. And today, I have the privilege of serving and representing the United States of America across the globe.

So my story and the story of my country is the story of the impossible getting done. And I know that can be your story and that can be Africa’s story too. But it will take new energy, it will take new ideas, new leadership from young people like you.

We’ve done this because we believe in Africa, and we believe in all of you.  And understand we are filled with so much hope and so many expectations for what you will achieve.  You hold the future of your continent in your hands, and I cannot wait to see everything you will continue to accomplish in the years ahead.

Full transcript here

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 @JosephineKulea: Sitting next to you #FLOTUS round circle and listening your inspirational speech was the best moment

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Text of Remarks by the First Lady Before a Roundtable with Young African Leaders here

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11
Jul
14

Rise and Shine

On This Day: President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama visit La General Hospital in Accra, Ghana, July 11, 2009

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Today (All Times Eastern)

10:50: The President meets with company executives and their small business suppliers, Eisenhower Executive Office Building

12:45: Josh Earnest briefs the press

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Paul Waldman: Why The Border Crisis Is The Exact Opposite Of Katrina

If there’s one thing we’re good at, it’s taking a genuine policy crisis and turning into an inane discussion about “optics,” which is what’s happening now with regard to the situation at the southern border. Both Republicans and the media have become obsessed with the question of whether President Obama should go to the border for a photo opportunity, with the accompanying and bizarre assertion that this is “Obama’s Katrina.” In fact, it’s just the opposite. In that case, it was Bush’s failure of competence and his inability to go beyond photo ops that resulted in so much destruction. In this case, the president’s critics are actually demanding a photo op, while refusing to take any immediate practical steps to address the problem.

… One wonders exactly what all these people believe would happen if Obama went to the border. What sort of change would occur? Would he move closer to the Republican perspective on immigration policy? Are they under the impression that if the President had the opportunity to look into the face of a 9-year-old refugee from Honduras, he’d say, “By god, the Republicans are right. This here’s a terror baby! Get out of America, punk! USA! USA!” … If they had a plan for action, but Obama was the one refusing to do anything, maybe then Republicans could reasonably argue that this is his Katrina. But at the moment, it looks more like theirs. the Obama administration has made a request for funds from Congress and is actually trying to address the problem at the border, while Republicans are refusing to do anything at all. Instead, they’re complaining about Obama’s failure to stage a photo op.

More here

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Business Insider: Major New Study Says Obamacare Is Working – Even For Republicans

The Affordable Care Act has been successful at achieving some major goals in the first year of its full implementation, according to a new study from The Commonwealth Fund. There are three important findings from the study: The uninsured rate is dropping, most people like their new insurance plans (even Republicans!), and most people are finding it easy to visit a doctor. The study found the uninsured rate in the U.S. declined by one-quarter over the last nine months, which included the law’s first, six-month open-enrollment period in which individuals could sign up for private insurance plans through exchanges established by the law.

From the July-to-September 2013 period to the April-to-June 2014 period, the uninsured rate of people between the ages of 19-64 dropped from 20% to 15%, according to the study. The research found 9.5 million people gained insurance, either through the exchanges or through the law’s expansion of the federal Medicaid program. The decline in uninsured was seen across different age groups and races, though the drop was disproportionately high among the young (-10%) and Latinos (-13%).

More here

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LA Times: Rate Of Uninsured Californians Is Halved Under Obamacare, Survey Finds

The percentage of Californians without health insurance was cut in half in the last nine months during the federal health law’s expansion of coverage, a new survey shows. Nationwide, an estimated 9.5 million adults under the age of 65 gained health insurance between late summer 2013 and last month, according to a survey the Commonwealth Fund released Thursday.

Those gains during the rollout of Obamacare dropped the nation’s rate of uninsured from 20% last year to 15% now. The change was even larger in California with the proportion of uninsured declining from 22% in late summer 2013 to 11% by early June, the survey found. .”… The findings suggest that the Affordable Care Act is beginning to achieve its central goal – reducing the number of Americans who are uninsured and improving access to healthcare,” said Sara Collins, the lead researcher and a vice president at the Commonwealth Fund.

More here

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ThinkProgress: The Most Creative Ways That People Are Protesting The Hobby Lobby Ruling

1. Making their own IUDs out of pipe cleaners. Since Hobby Lobby will no longer cover intrauterine devices (IUDs) for their female employees, one satirical video has some tips for workers who may need a new option. “Miss Sandy from Hobby Lobby” — an entirely fictional character — explains how to use pipe cleaners, glue guns, googly eyes, and glitter to create a homemade IUD. The video’s creators specify that all of those craft supplies were actually purchased from Michael’s, one of Hobby Lobby’s direct competitors. Some of the protesters who showed up to rally outside of their local Hobby Lobby stores this past week brought along their own IUDs fashioned out of craft supplies, too.

3. Handing out birth control. Protesters across the country are bringing condoms to Hobby Lobby stores and either handing them out to customers or leaving them on the shelves. Even religious leaders are getting in on the action. In Illinois, a group of clergy handed out condoms in front of a Hobby Lobby to make the point that not all people of faith are opposed to contraception, even though Hobby Lobby supporters claim that the right to drop coverage for birth control is a matter of religious liberty.

More here

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And the Emmy goes to…..

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Veronica Toney: “Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis”: President Barack Obama’s Segment Nominated For An Emmy

The 6 minute 30 second episode of “Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis,” featuring President Barack Obama was nominated for Outstanding Short-Format Live-Action Entertainment Program. Shout out to HeathCare.gov! The episode of the Funny or Die internet parody talk show, which published on March 11, has received 22 million views to date.

Only the executive producers of the segment (Scott Aukerman, Zach Galifianakis, BJ Porter and Mike Farah) were nominated for the award. But if The President had been nominated and won the trophy on August 25, it would have been his third entertainment award. President Obama won Grammy Awards for best spoken word album for 2008′s “The Audacity of Hope” and 2006′s “Dreams from My Father.”

More here

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David Zucchino: Florida Redistricting Illegally Favors Republicans, Judge Rules

Florida judge ruled the state’s congressional district map invalid Thursday night, saying it violates constitutional provisions that require fair districts and instead favors Republicans. In a scathing opinion, Leon County Circuit Judge Terry P. Lewis ruled in Tallahassee that the Legislature’s Republican political consultants had “made a mockery” of the redistricting process, tainting it with “partisan intent.” Lewis said that the districts, drawn by the Republican-controlled Legislature after the 2010 census, flouted voter-passed constitutional amendments intended to eliminate gerrymandering – that is, often-bizarre and irregular lines that make a district safe for one party or the other.

Gerrymandering “has been criticized as allowing, in effect, the representatives to choose their voters instead of vice versa,” he wrote. Specifically, Lewis found that congressional districts 5 and 10 had been drawn to favor the GOP, and that neighboring districts had been affected as well. Those two districts, and any others affected, will need to be redrawn, he said. “I find the congressional redistricting plan adopted by the Legislature to be constitutionally invalid,” he wrote. The case goes “to the very foundation of our representative democracy.”

More here

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SmartyPants: President Obama Plays Tortoise To The Media’s Hare. And We Know Who Wins That One!

I’ve often thought that the best metaphor for the Obama presidency is the fable about the tortoise and the hare. Of course – in the role of the hare is our linkbait-obsessed media that runs from one form of hysteria to another in a constant quest for “Obama’s Katrina,” only to tire almost immediately before the story’s conclusion. The role of the tortoise is played by our President, who is always focused on the long game (“slow and steady wins the race”). As FLOTUS once said: Here’s the thing about my husband: even in the toughest moments, when it seems like all is lost, Barack Obama never loses sight of the end goal.

He never lets himself get distracted by the chatter and the noise, even if it comes from some of his best supporters. He just keeps moving forward. And in those moments when we’re all sweating it, when we’re worried that the bill won’t pass or the negotiation will fall through, Barack always reminds me that we’re playing a long game here. He reminds me that change is slow — it doesn’t happen overnight. As we approach the finish line, we can begin to see who is going to reach the tape first. Here are some recent “long game” headlines:

More here

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Tom Kludt: Pundits Collectively Lose It Over A Quote Obama Didn’t Even Say

Many pundits on Thursday were shocked by the gall of President Obama to say that he doesn’t “do photo-ops,” a mere day after glossy, White House-sanctioned shots surfaced of him sipping beer and shooting pool with the Colorado governor. Except he didn’t actually say that, manifold distortions notwithstanding. Here’s what Obama actually said Wednesday night when defending his decision to not visit the U.S.-Mexico border. This isn’t theater. This is a problem.

I’m not interested in photo-ops; I’m interested in solving a problem. And those who say I should visit the border, when you ask them what should we be doing, they’re giving us suggestions that are embodied in legislation that I’ve already sent to Congress. So it’s not as if they’re making suggestions that we’re not listening to. In fact, the suggestions of those who work at the border, who visited the border, are incorporated in legislation that we’re already prepared to sign the minute it hits my desk. “Gotcha,” the critics cried in unison.

More here

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AP: House GOP Moves Ahead On Suing Obama

House Republicans took the initial step on Thursday to sue President Barack Obama over the administration’s decision to delay the employer mandate of the health care law. The office of Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, released a draft of the resolution that would authorize the House to file suit amid GOP criticism that the president has declined to faithfully execute the laws of the country. “In 2013, the president changed the health care law without a vote of Congress, effectively creating his own law by literally waiving the employer mandate and the penalties for failing to comply with it,” Boehner said in a statement. “That’s not the way our system of government was designed to work. No president should have the power to make laws on his or her own.”

White House press secretary Josh Earnest reiterated that position and linked it to economic initiatives, saying in a statement that “Republican leaders in Congress are playing Washington politics rather than working with the president on behalf of hardworking Americans.” Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, said the effort was a waste of taxpayer dollars. “This lawsuit is just another distraction from House Republicans desperate to distract the American people from their own spectacular obstruction and dysfunction,” Hamill said. Boehner’s actions on the lawsuit come as some Republicans are demanding a far more formidable step — impeachment.

More here

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On This Day

La General Hospital in Accra, Ghana, July 11, 2009

President Obama finishes an address following a tour with his family of Cape Coast Castle in Ghana on July 11, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, Sasha and Malia, Marian Robinson and a friend tour Cape Coast Castle in Ghana on July 11, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama tours Cape Coast Castle in Ghana, July 11, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

People wave to President Obama at a hotel in Accra, Ghana, upon his arrival back from Cape Coast July 11, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with Malia and Sasha, participate in a departure ceremony at Accra airport in Ghana, July 11, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama speaks to the crowd at the departure ceremony at Accra airport in Ghana, July 11, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama shakes hands at the departure ceremony at Accra airport in Ghana, July 11, 2009 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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President Obama greets members of the 1963 Loyola University Chicago Ramblers NCAA Championship men’s basketball team in the Oval Office, July 11, 2013 (Photo by Pete Souza)

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