Daily Archives: May 5, 2010

President Obama and First Lady Michelle Host 2010 Cinco De Mayo Fiesta at White House

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama participate in an event marking Cinco de Mayo in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, May 5, 2010. (Photos by REUTERS/Jason Reed)

Feliez Cinco de Mayo! At six o’clock this evening, President Obama and First Lady Michelle welcomed hundreds of guests to the Rose Garden for a celebration of Cinco de Mayo.

Battle of Puebla

Battle of Puebla

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for “fifth of May“) is a voluntarily-observed holiday that commemorates the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguín. It is celebrated primarily in the state of Puebla and in the United States. While Cinco de Mayo has limited significance nationwide in Mexico, the date is observed in the United States and other locations around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage and pride.

On May 19th President Obama and First Lady Michelle will host a state dinner for Mexican President Felipe Calderon and First Lady Margarita Zavala de Calderon during a two-day state visit to the United States.


18th Annual National Cinco de Mayo Festival in Washington

Members of the Maru Montero Dance Company perform at the Sylvan Theater near the Washington Monument during the 18th Annual National Cinco de Mayo Festival in Washington Sunday, May 2, 2010.

(Photos by AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

On Cinco de Mayo, a Call for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Welcoming a boisterous crowd to the Rose Garden for Cinco de Mayo, the President had a long list of people to recognize. From Mexico’s Interior Secretary, Fernando Gomez Mont, to Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan, to esteemed Members of Congress, to Secretaries Solis, Napolitano, and Salazar, to Maru and the Montero Dance Company and Javier Cortes, it was a crowd more than worthy of recognition.

The President also gave a nod to “Los Suns,” the Phoenix basketball team who has made a statement by wearing jerseys in their playoff games that give a nod to American and Arizona’s diversity. The President added his own statement:

“So today reminds us that America’s diversity is America’s strength. That’s why I spoke out against the recently passed law in Arizona. (Applause.) Make no mistake, our immigration system is broken. And after so many years in which Washington has failed to meet its responsibilities, Americans are right to be frustrated, including folks along border states. But the answer isn’t to undermine fundamental principles that define us as a nation. We can’t start singling out people because of who they look like, or how they talk, or how they dress. We can’t turn law-abiding American citizens —- and law-abiding immigrants —- into subjects of suspicion and abuse. We can’t divide the American people that way. That’s not the answer. That’s not who we are as the United States of America.

And that’s why I’ve instructed my administration to closely monitor the new law in Arizona, to examine the civil rights and other implications that it may have. That’s why we have to close the door on this kind of misconceived action by meeting our obligations here in Washington.

So I want to say it again, just in case anybody is confused. The way to fix our broken immigration system is through common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform. (Applause.) That means responsibility from government to secure our borders, something we have done and will continue to do. It means responsibility from businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers -— they’ve got to be held accountable. It means responsibility from people who are living here illegally. They’ve got to admit that they broke the law, and pay taxes, and pay a penalty, and learn English, and get right before the law — and then get in line and earn their citizenship.

Comprehensive reform —- that’s how we’re going to solve this problem. And I know there’s been some commentary over the last week since I talked about this difficult issue: Well, is this politically smart to do? Can you get Republican votes? Look, of course, it’s going to be tough. That’s the truth. Anybody who tells you it’s going to be easy or I can wave a magic wand and make it happen hasn’t been paying attention how this town works. (Laughter.)

We need bipartisan support. But it can be done. And it needs to be done. So I was pleased to see a strong proposal for comprehensive reform presented in the Senate last week —- and I was pleased that it was based on a bipartisan framework. I want to begin work this year, and I want Democrats and Republicans to work with me — because we’ve got to stay true to who we are, a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.”

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First Lady Michelle Obama Visits the USAID Agency

Posted by: Audiegrl

First Lady Michelle Obama visited the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) today in Washington, D.C. Her remarks are as follows:

“MRS. OBAMA: Thank you everyone. Thanks so much. (Applause.) You all take a load off your feet because you work hard enough. (Laughter.) It is truly a pleasure to be here. This is a big agency. This is good. (Laughter.) I think this is one of my largest agency visits. This is really wonderful.

I want to start by thanking Raj for that wonderful introduction, but more so for everything that he’s doing here.

And I also want to thank his family who are here, because they’re doing many things, working at the Department of Education. They’ve got two beautiful young children. They’re just delicious. (Laughter.) And, you know, we are grateful to all of you for the sacrifice that you’re making to work for this administration.

Everyone here is supported by loving families that keep them going. And my greetings here go not just to you but to the families that make it possible for you to do the work that you do.

As you all know, Raj has an extraordinary background. He’s brought an unbelievable amount of energy and experience to the job here at USAID. But of course, as you can see, Raj is still only at the beginning of his career. He is young and smart and talented, but he’s really just getting started. And that’s why we were so happy that he agreed to follow those passions right here to develop the work here at USAID. We are grateful to him, and I want us to give Raj a round of applause for the work that he’s doing. (Applause.)

The beauty is, is that he’s the right fit for this agency because he is passionate and committed, but he’s just a reflection of the passion and commitment that you all bring to this work.

You all recognize the challenges we’re facing are bigger and much more complex than ever before: a billion people living in hunger around the world; the growing threat of climate change; the unpredictable threat of natural disaster that we see playing out all the time; an exploding youth population that can either be one of our greatest challenges or one of our greatest opportunities.

But you all share the courage to face those challenges head-on and the determination to help people around the world turn crisis into opportunity.

And I understand this is a pretty tight-knit group, because it really takes a special kind of person to do the work that you do.

So I know that you have to be tight-knit, and I know firsthand because as you know, my mother-in-law -– Barack’s mother –- spent more than 20 years working on a variety of development projects for USAID in Indonesia. And I got to see her commitment firsthand.

I know that many of you, like her, have lived and worked in conditions that the rest of us could only imagine –- sometimes risking your own lives and your own safety along the way. Many people don’t realize that. You put in incredibly long hours, you work sleepless nights, you’ve got beautiful kids who want to talk to their daddy — (laughter) — and she should be able to talk to her daddy. (Laughter.) Don’t know why you won’t talk to her. (Laughter.) She doesn’t understand why you’re standing over there. (Laughter and applause.) It’s very clear. (Laughter.)

But you all do so much. You’re working weeks and months at a time away from your families. And that in and of itself is a hard thing to even imagine. And you do it all because you believe in the power of development to make America stronger in the world and improve the lives of those less fortunate.

That’s why it’s been really truly a pleasure that as First Lady I’ve been able to visit so many agencies throughout the federal government over the last year to thank folks like you for all the hard work and service that you provide.

Over the years, your work here has touched millions of lives.

Because of your efforts to improve basic health conditions, there are children around the world who are alive today who would have died without your help.

Because of your commitment to sustainable agriculture, we’ve seen the most dramatic increase in food production in history, and we’ve helped you prevent starvation — seen you prevent starvation around the world.

And because of the partnerships you’ve formed with governments, other aid groups, private NGOs, we’ve seen you help advance democracy and protect human rights from Colombia to Nepal.

But as my husband, the President, and Raj have said — that the ultimate job, the ultimate objective here is to create the condition that you are no longer needed. That’s ultimately what you’re working to do. Ultimately your goal is to make it possible for the child in El Salvador to go to school; for the family in the Sudan to live free from fear; and for the woman in Ghana to be able to put food on the table.

That’s why you have always represented what is truly best about America –- the idea that we have an obligation not just to help those in need, but to also help folks beyond our borders build capacity to help themselves.

And I know that the mission has been difficult over the last decade. The work that you do has not been easy. You’ve often been asked to do more and more with less.

And that’s why the President and Secretary Clinton, who, by the way, has done a fantastic job representing America around the world, that’s why together they have made development an important part of foreign policy once again.

USAID will play a central role in our mission going forward. The President and Secretary Clinton are committed to making development an essential part of our efforts to ensure peace, security and progress in the world.

Doing this is about more than simply building good relationships between presidents and prime ministers. You all know that. It’s going to take, as my husband said, a new era of mutual interest, respect and responsibility between real people around the world. Every person that you empower through your work and every life that you improve through your work gets us one step closer to making that vision a reality.

And right now we have more resources and we have a greater ability to help than ever before. We have the ability to coordinate our work not only with other governments, but also with those in the private sector and with NGOs. And together, we’re going to continue to make progress on the issues that you work on each and every single day.

Right now, progress is being made in places like Afghanistan, where your colleagues are working with Afghan people in an incredibly dangerous environment to lay the foundation for a more stable future there.

You’re making sure resources are being used wisely –- increasing access to health care, rejuvenating the economy and making sure that more children have access to a good education.

But perhaps nowhere has your work been more visible to the American people over the last year than in Haiti.

In the aftermath of the terrible earthquake that killed hundreds of thousands of people and left millions without food, water and shelter, the men and women of USAID, you all answered the call, and you put service above self, and helped to mount a rapid response to one of the most complex disasters that we’ve seen.

Your DART teams were some of the first on the ground, helping to save lives and assess the damage.

Your work with the Haitian government, our military, the U.N. and NGOs helped feed nearly 3 million Haitians, and provide water and sanitation services to much of the affected population.

And through a variety of resources and sources, you’ve helped treat thousands of victims who urgently needed medical care.

And as you know, three weeks ago, Jill Biden and I visited Port-Au-Prince to see your work firsthand, and to meet the women and men who are working so hard to get that country back on its feet. And it was truly an inspiring visit.

I had the privilege of meeting with many of your colleagues, including the USAID country head, Dr. Carlene Dei while I was there, and she was terrific.

And wherever I went, I was amazed and incredibly touched to hear the stories of your sacrifice and your compassion and your amazing partnership with the Haitian people and folks around the world in the aftermath of that disaster. It was clear from my visit that people valued the work and saw this country in a different way because of the work that you were doing.

We had a chance to visit families that were living in the tent cities in Champs De Mars — families, as you know, who’ve lost everything, and for whom every day is a struggle just to stay dry and to feed their kids.

We visited a school, which was really just a set of buses that were donated by the First Lady of the Dominican Republic. But these buses allowed thousands of boys and girls in Haiti to continue to focus on their studies and to have a place to go to just settle down from the crisis. Teachers there were using the art, music and dance to provide emotional support for students who were suffering from the trauma.

And we also visited another school that’s being rebuilt so that more children can realize their dreams of an education even in the midst of the devastation.

And part of our mission in visiting Haiti was to shine a light not just on the work that you did, but on the work that still needs to be done.

The destruction, as you know, there is catastrophic, and the needs of the Haitian people are still overwhelming, as you know.

But every day, USAID and others are working to help Haiti recover and to rebuild, little by little, over the next months and over the years to come.

And I know that your work in places like Haiti and Afghanistan represents only a small fraction of the work that you do here at USAID.

And I know that many of you here and around the world are making a difference in ways that will never show up on the TV. It’ll never land on the front page of the newspaper. Much of the work that you do is quiet. Many people don’t know it’s happening.

But I do think that events of the last few months have given the American people just a glimpse of the kind of people who work here — the sacrifices you make; the exhaustion; the tragedy and the risk that you endure — all because you believe that it’s your duty to help people in their greatest time of need.

And that’s why the men and women of USAID are so special — a very different breed of folk. That’s why development will once again be a central part of our foreign policy in America, and that’s a very good thing because of the work that you do. And that’s why we’re counting on you to help us strengthen and transform this agency, to continue to work with Raj, to support him in everything he does, because we support him.

There are no words that can express the amount of gratitude that my husband and I feel for the work that you do. You are making us proud. You’re making the country proud. And you’re making the world see America in a very fundamentally different way.

So it is my great honor to be here. I hope to be back. I hope to be able to see many more of you on my trips internationally to support the work that you’re doing, to help shine a light on the efforts that you’re making, the progress that’s being made.

And, again, I’m just grateful to all of you. And I’m going to take some time now just to shake some hands. You all can stand back up again, I’m sure. (Laughter.) And Raj can see his child. (Laughter.)

So thank you all. Thank you so much. (Applause.) “

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President Obama Signs the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act

Posted by: Audiegrl

President Barack Obama signs the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act in the State Dining Room of the White House May 5, 2010 in Washington, DC. The act will improve health care services for veterans and expand caregiver benefits and training. (Photo by Pool/Getty Images North America)

AP~President Obama signed the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act that improves health care services for veterans and provides assistance and training to those who provide care to wounded warriors. Extra help is on the way for family members who give up their jobs to become caregivers for severely wounded Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, courtesy of the landmark bill.

The bill, estimated to cost $3.7 billion over five years, also expands veterans care for women, the homeless, and those who live in rural areas.

Standing behind Obama at the White House signing was Ted Wade, 32, who lost his right arm and sustained a traumatic brain injury in a roadside bombing in Iraq in 2004 while serving with the 82nd Airborne Division. Wade smiled and grasped the hand of his wife, Sarah, as she wiped a tear.

“These caregivers put their own lives on hold, their own careers and dreams aside, to care for a loved one. They do it every day around the clock,” Obama said. “As Sarah can tell you, it’s hard physically and it’s hard emotionally. It’s certainly hard financially.”

President Obama hugs Sarah Wade, wife of Ted Wade after signing the Caregivers and Veterans Omnibus Health Services Act in the State Dining Room of the White House May 5, 2010 in Washington, DC. The act will improve health care services for veterans and expand caregiver benefits and training. (Photos by Pool/Getty Images North America)

The Wades lobbied for the legislation on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project, one of several veterans service organizations that pushed for more support for caregivers out of concern that the wounded were going to institutions because parents, spouses, and other family members couldn’t afford to take care of them.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of the vice president, also attended along with VA Secretary Eric Shinseki and several members of Congress.

Under the bill, caregivers of the estimated 2,000 severely wounded veterans from the recent conflicts are eligible for training, a monthly stipend and health care.

Caregivers of veterans from other eras receive more limited benefits. But the VA secretary under the law must report on the possibility of expanding benefits to them within two years.

The bill also expands care in other ways. It instructs the VA to create a childcare pilot program; offer post-delivery care to female veterans’ newborns; and work with the Pentagon on a study on veterans suicide.

Full remarks by the President

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Happy Cinco de Boycott!

Posted by: BuellBoy
Written by Mario Solis-Marich

Mario Solis-Marich, progressive talk radio show host

Mario Solis-Marich, progressive talk show radio host

The fabled Mexican battle at Puebla will be commemorated today although most people celebrating it wont know what they are celebrating. Cinco de Mayo is not as celebrated in Mexico as it is in the US. Cinco de Mayo is in fact a uniquely American celebration about one of it’s many cultures’ historical mile stones. The holiday was only big in Puebla until it was big here. A signal that being Latino is as American as a double Patron margarita strained into a large salted martini glass ( try it if you haven’t yet).

A sore spot among Latinos has long been that America accepts our cultural best while openly vilifying us in general. Salsa has long replaced ketchup as our country’s favorite condiment. Americans have adopted Cesar salads to the extent that most don’t even know it is a Mexican creation. Suburbanites love the hard work ethic that is embedded in our cultural DNA and that they so readily hire. Tierra, Shakira, Ricky Martin, Eve Longoria, Raquel Welch, Vicky Carr are loved. The man that fixes fences, the trust worthy woman who creates safety and care for children, the boy that bags groceries are sought after. The voter that preserves balance and the politician that consistently votes for education are courted. All of these people are admired…. when needed.

Yet these same people are conflated by the media with drug smugglers and terrorists. The disconnect is painfully irritating and quite frankly politically and socially unsustainable.

No place is this hypocritical disconnect more obvious then in the political arena. The President called on Latino voters recently to help save his Democratic legislative majorities and a few days later seemed to roll over while the broken US Senate decided that climate legislation was to be it’s sole next priority. In the US Senate races the dissonance is dramatically experienced in Colorado as incumbent Democratic Senator Michael Bennet tells Latino activists that he is better on immigration issues than his primary opponent but fails to move aggressively on immigration reform and on condemning the Arizona hate bill. Bennet cannot win without a clear Latino super majority. It seems that in politics as in life Latinos are charged with doing the heavy lifting for little pay back.

The Arizona boycott movement has been a immediate success. People of all races and ethnicities have reacted with their pocket books and are sending Jan Brewer and the GOP led state legislature a strong message. The message has been passionate and clear. While the strength of the boycott movement will undoubtedly have a huge impact on the Arizona market place it provides a warning to the national political arena as well. For now the boycott is limited to Arizona and the market place of goods and services. Both political party’s would be wise to work hard to contain it as such.

While politicians tonight toast Latinos with margaritas as they dip their chips into mild salsa they would be wise to remember that the battle that is being commemorated was one won by an outnumbered and grossly underestimated people determined to maintain their freedoms and independence. A tough lot to beat, just ask the French.

Join Mario at : Boycott the Police State Known as Arizona

Mario Solis-Marich is a radio talk show host who can be heard on AM 760 in Denver and world wide at www.GoToMario.com. You can find Mario on Facebook.

Follow Mario Solis-Marich on Twitter: www.twitter.com/marioradio

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