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The National Scene

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Linnie Frank Bailey
After celebrating the nation’s birthday with military families at the White House, the Obama family left the country for a trip to Russia, Italy and Ghana. In what will be one of the most moving experiences for people of African descent the world over—in Ghana on Friday, President Barack Obama will visit the Cape Coast Castle, where enslaved Africans were once held before being loaded into ships and traded in the Americas and Caribbean.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009
Oline Town Hall Meeting
President Obama held an “online town hall” in which he took questions submitted online, as well as from the live audience, at Northern Virginia Community College. The topic was healthcare and the President reiterated his determination to pass a health care reform bill this year. He heard health care stories and answered questions as he described the Senate’s progress on a plan, “that will hold down costs, improve patient care and ensure that you will not lose your coverage if you lose your job, change your job, or have a pre-existing medical condition.” Obama has stated he wants the health care reform bill on his desk by October 1, 2009.

Thursday, July 2, 2009
Green Jobs for a New Economy
Touting a new economy, with energy related jobs as a main pillar— President Obama met with a group of leaders from both large and small energy firms to discuss job creation and long-term plans. In describing Administration plans to grow the economy, Obama stated, “I’m pleased to say that we’ve achieved more in the past few months to create a new clean energy economy than we had achieved in many decades before. The recovery plan will double our country’s supply of renewable energy, and is already creating new clean energy jobs.” The President praised the innovation that is taking place in the energy industry and stressed the importance of continuing the path, saying, “The American people I believe want us to make the right choice….for at every juncture in our history, we’ve chosen to seize big opportunities—rather than fear big challenges. We’ve chosen to take responsibility. We’ve chosen to honor the sacrifices of those who came before us—and fulfill our obligations to generations to come. That’s what we’re going to do this time, as well.”

 

Saturday, July 4, 2009
The First Family Celebrates the Nation’s Birthday
President Obama and the First Family celebrated their first 4th of July as residents of the White House. Their special guests were military families who gathered at picnic tables and on blankets on the South Lawn to meet the President and enjoy a special concert to honor our troops. The USO sponsored event featured Jimmy Fallon, Michelle Branch and the Foo Fighters. The evening’s festivities closed with fireworks over the National Mall.

In remarks before the concert, the President thanked the troops and their families and pledged as President, “This Fourth of July, I renew my pledge to each and every one of you—that for as long as I have that immeasurable honor, you will always have the equipment and support you need to get the job done. Your families will always be a priority of Michelle’s and mine, and remain on our hearts and on our minds. And when our service members do return home, it will be to an America that always welcomes them home with the care that they were promised.”

Monday, July 6, 2009
The Obamas in Russia
President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with their daughters Malia and Sasha, were greeted by Russian President Medvedev and Mrs. Medvedev at the Kremlin in Moscow. President Obama described his meetings with Russian leaders as a chance to push ‘the reset’ button in U.S.-Russian relations. In a joint press conference with President Medvedev, Obama summed up their meeting by saying, “President Medvedev and I agreed that the relationship between Russia and the United States has suffered from a sense of drift. We resolved to reset U.S.-Russian relations, so that we can cooperate more effectively in areas of common interest.” As a result of the meeting, President Obama and the Russian leader agreed in principle to reduce their permitted nuclear arsenals by nearly a third to try to ease tensions between the former Cold War rival nations. The tentative nuclear accord is intended to serve as a followup to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which is set to expire Dec. 5. START was signed in 1991, just five months after the collapse of the Soviet Union and nearly a decade after it was first proposed by President Reagan.

President Obama met with Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin the following day. Putin had been Russia’s president—until he handpicked Medvedev to replace him.

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