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During his 2008 campaign, candidate Obama described a speech he would one day present to the Muslim world if he became President. This week, in Cairo, Egypt, President Barack Obama delivered that  speech. From Cairo University, the President used his outstanding communication skills—and his ability to bridge cultural divides—to speak of a ‘new beginning’ between Americans and Muslims.

He addressed the world’s 1.5 billion followers of Islam and received positive responses from Muslims around the globe.

Obama also got tough on the economy this week….instructing his Cabinet to move faster with Recovery Act funds, and signaling the urgency of health care reform legislation to Senate leaders.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Obama Rolls-Up-His-Sleeves for Health Care Reform

On the other hand, maybe we should say—the President is putting on his boxing gloves for what is sure to be a battle to get health care reform passed this year. In a meeting with lawmakers, Obama expressed the importance of health care reform stating, “We can’t afford to put this off, and the dedicated public servants who are gathered here today understand that and they are ready to get going, and this window between now and the August recess I think is going to be the make-or-break period.

This is the time where we’ve got to get this running.”

In a letter addressed to Senators Ted Kennedy and Max Baucus, the Chairmen of the key committees in the Senate handling health care reform, the President made clear that, “in 2009, health care reform is not a luxury.” He went on to describe the urgency of the situation by stating:

“It’s a necessity we cannot defer. Soaring health care costs make our current course unsustainable. It is unsustainable for our families, whose spiraling premiums and out-of-pocket expenses are pushing them into bankruptcy and forcing them to go without the checkups and prescriptions they need. It is unsustainable for businesses, forcing more and more of them to choose between keeping their doors open or covering their workers….In short, the status quo is broken, and pouring money into a broken system only perpetuates its inefficiencies.  Doing nothing would only put our entire health care system at risk. Without meaningful reform, one fifth of our economy is projected to be tied up in our health care system in 10 years; millions more Americans are expected to go without insurance; and outside of what they are receiving for health care, workers are projected to see their take-home pay actually fall over time. We simply cannot afford to postpone health care reform any longer.”

First Lady Speaks to Graduates at DC High School

Stating she wanted to speak at a Washington, D.C. public school to celebrate the achievements of young people in her new hometown, First Lady Michelle Obama gave the commencement address to graduating seniors at the Washington Math and Science Technology Public Charter High School. The well-respected school has a 99% graduation rate and Mrs. Obama told the graduates not to be intimidated when they go to college, reminding them:

“It is natural for graduates to doubt themselves and question their abilities when they first set foot onto their new college campuses. When you set foot on the soil of whatever campus that has admitted you, understand that you are responsible for your own experiences. So what I want you to do is ‘own’ your voice.  Own it. Don’t be intimidated by your new surroundings. Remember, everyone else is in the same position that you’re in. Be an engaged and active participant in all of your classes. Never, ever sit in silence, ever. That first day, raise your hand, use your voice, ask a question. Don’t be afraid to be wrong, don’t be afraid to sound unclear, because understand this is the only way you’ll learn.”

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Obama Speaks to Muslim World from Cairo, Egypt

In a major speech, addressed to Muslims around the world, President Obama signaled a new beginning of relations between the US and Muslim countries.  Starting with the customary Muslim greeting ‘Assalaamu’alaykun’, Obama’s well-received talk was part introduction to his background (“I am a Christian, but my father came from a Kenyan family that includes generations of Muslims.  As a boy, I spent several years in Indonesia and heard the call of the azaan at the break of dawn and the fall of dusk. As a young man, I worked in Chicago communities where many found dignity and peace in their Muslim faith.”); part history lesson (he described the mistrust that has grown over the years between the U.S. and Muslim countries); part religious discourse (he quoted from the Quran, the Talmud and the Bible), and part policy speech (he spoke of the current hot-spots in the middle east and his administration’s approach to the region, and also addressed women’s rights in Islamic nations.) During the speech, President Obama pointed out the commonalities of our cultures and our religion—and cautioned, “Just as Muslims do not fit a crude stereotype, America is not the crude stereotype of a self-interested empire. The United States has been one of the greatest sources of progress that the world has ever known. ... We are shaped by every culture, drawn from every end of the Earth, and dedicated to a simple concept: E pluribus unum: ‘Out of many, one.’” Muslims from around the world praised the speech and the respect showed to their culture. The crowd at Cairo University gave the President cheers and a standing ovation at the conclusion of his speech.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Obama Visits Buchenwald Concentration Camp

The President visited German Chancellor Angela Merkel at Dresden Castle in Germany and toured the Church of Our Lady. This was followed by a trip to Buchenwald Concentration Camp, where Bertrand Herz, a survivor of the camp, and Nobel Laureate and fellow holocaust survivor, Elie Wiesel, joined them. During the emotional visit at the former camp, the President recounted his great uncle, who was part of the 89th Infantry Division, the first Americans to reach a concentration camp. They liberated Ohrdruf, one of Buchenwald’s subcamps.  Obama described the significance of the visit saying, “We are here today because we know this work is not yet finished. To this day, there are those who insist that the Holocaust never happened—a denial of fact and truth that is baseless and ignorant and hateful. This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts; a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history.”

Saturday, June 6, 2009

President Attends D-Day Remembrance

President Barack Obama spoke during a ceremony marking the 65th anniversary of the Allied D-Day landings in Normandy at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville sur Mer in Western France. Addressing the few remaining D-Day veterans who were also present, the President stated, “It came down to the men who landed here—those who now rest in this place for eternity, and those who are with us here today. Perhaps more than any other reason, you, the veterans of that landing, are why we still remember what happened on D-Day. You’re why we keep coming back. For you remind us that in the end, human destiny is not determined by forces beyond our control. You remind us that our future is not shaped by mere chance or circumstance. Our history has always been the sum total of the choices made and the actions taken by each individual man and woman. It has always been up to us.”

The President was joined by the First Lady and foreign leaders, including:

Britain’s Prince Charles, Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper and France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy.

President and First Lady Enjoy Dinner in France

While in France, the President and his wife were spotted dining at a cozy French Bistro. The restaurant, not lavish by any means, was filled with diners who were ecstatic to be joined by the new American President and his wife.  The following day the President returned to the U.S., while Mrs. Obama and the First Daughters, Malia and Sasha, toured London and France.

Monday, June 8, 2009

President Accelerates Recovery Act

Citing increasing unemployment numbers, the President summoned his Cabinet and instructed them to move faster in implementing Recovery Act projects across the country.

The President has made it clear—he wants the Stimulus money to help struggling

Americans, and he wants to cut through the bureaucratic red tape that normally slows down federal projects.

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