Saturday, 30 January 2010

Students and Community Organizers Launch the 2010 Break The Silence Speakers Tour at The University of Chicago
Student leaders and community organizers have responded to the silence surrounding the suffering and injustices in the Congo by organizing to Break the Silence and mobilize for change in solidarity with the people of the Congo. Friends of the Congo launches its annual Break the Silence Speakers Tour (February – July 2010) today at the University of Chicago with the following program:
Complicit Destruction: Money Mines and Militarization in the Democratic Republic of Congo
A panel discussion and film screening presented by Chicago Society and the African and Caribbean Students' Association with Global Voices and the University of Chicago International House.
Guest Speakers:Maurice Carney Co-Founder and Executive Director of Friends of the Congo
Dr. Justine Nzeba Former regional director for Central Africa, American Friends Service Committee and Editorial board member of The Great Lakes Research Journal
Kambale Musavuli Student coordinator of the International Break the Silence/Congo Week Campaign
Emilie Ngo-Nguidjol Community activist and founder of AFRICaide
Gilbert Mulamba Community activist and documentarian of "The Street Children of Kinshasa"
Moderator:Kisuule Magala Katende Voice of "ear to the Ground" on Chicago Public Radio
Who: Friends of the Congo in collaboration with student organizations at the University of Chicago.
What: Launch of the Break the Silence Speakers Tour (February – July 2010)
When: 6 pm – 9 pm, Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Where: University of ChicagoInternational House Assembly Hall1414 East 59th StreetChicago, IL 60637

Friday, 29 January 2010

Handover security duties in Afghan provinces starting in late 2010 or early 2011

Funds to reintegrate Taliban who cut ties with al-Qaeda
Hold a 2010 summit in Kabul to develop concrete plans for the Afghan government programme

Backs start of discussions on a new Afghan-led IMF programme

Afghan military strength to 171,600 and police numbers to 134,000 by October 2011
Karzai pays tribute to UK troops
Will the Taliban talk to Karzai?

Tom Sizemore, M.D.
Principal Deputy Director
For Preparedness and Emergency Operations
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Peter Bloland
Associate Director for Science and Programs
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Press Conference


Mr. Duguid: Welcome ladies and gentlemen. We are in the U.S. Joint Information Center in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Today with us are Mr. Tom Sizemore, the Principal Deputy Director for Preparedness and Emergency Operations at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Accompanying him is Mr. Peter Bloland, the Associate Director for Science and Programs at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Our guests will talk to you about the current health situation in Haiti. They’ll begin with a few remarks and then we’ll go to your questions.Dr. Sizemore: Thank you very much for being on this call today. It’s important that the long process of recovery remains visible to the public. Especially to the millions of Americans who through their contributions of money, time, and sympathy, are part of this effort.
As you know, the United Nations, working with the Haitian government and its international partners, our efforts to coordinate effectively have produced a very strong collaboration. It’s our shared goal to alleviate the suffering of the earthquake survivors as much as we can, as fast as possible. And in the days following the quake the focus was on responding to the acute emergency needs and that still continues. Now we’re taking the steps to address the emerging health risk of the population including some million people who have been made homeless by the quake including tens of thousands of people crowded together and living under plastic sheets.
Yesterday the international teams began doing rapid assessments. These assessments will give us a picture of health, nutrition, and shelter of survivors across the country. Today we’re rolling out a general surveillance tool. Whereas the rapid assessment will give us a snapshot of a broad range of indicators, the surveillance system is being deployed and will give us a moving picture of the health threats as they emerge over time. Based on the information collected by the rapid assessments and the general surveillance tool, we’ll be better able to use our resources more effectively.
While the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services still has almost 300 doctors and nurses and support staff in six different locations seen, as of yesterday, over 11,600 different human contacts, different nations, men, women and children we are continuing to evaluate and treat.
The rapid assessments and the surveillance tool provide the first steps in rebuilding Haiti’s public health infrastructure.
Finally, while I’m extremely proud of all the work Americans are doing here, I want to remind you that this is an international collaboration with the government of Haiti.
Thank you again for being on this call today.
Mr. Duguid: Thank you, Dr. Sizemore.
Dr. Bloland, would you like to say a few opening remarks?
Dr. Bloland: We’ve been working very hard, as Dr. Sizemore mentioned, to stand up and implement a public health surveillance system. The surveillance system is really designed to do a couple of major things. The first thing is to give us the ability to rapidly detect the emergence of potential outbreaks of infectious disease that might arise from the breakdown of the public health system here in Haiti and the crowding that has occurred as populations have left their homes or lost their homes and moved to temporary shelters.
The second part of that public health surveillance system is really trying to get a sense of the impact of the earthquake. We’ll go on to continue to collect information about trauma cases and complications of trauma cases.
The third little component is really to try and assess the impact of the earthquake on provisions of ongoing services to chronically ill patients. Things like chronic heart disease, TB, tuberculosis treatment, and treatment for HIV. We hope together these things will not only give us a sense of the impact for planning purposes, but also allow us to have the ability to detect new disease outbreaks and deal with them rapidly and try to limit their impact.
Mr. Duguid: Thank you, gentlemen. We are now ready to take your questions.
Question: [Jeff Schuegel, Stars and Stripes].
I’m wondering, with the combination of dead bodies and tropical heat, what is the possibility of a cholera epidemic?
Dr. Bloland: I think the evidence from past situations where there have been mass casualties has been that it’s very very rare for diseased people, dead bodies in the street or community, to spread disease or be the source of outbreaks. So we’re less concerned about that and more concerned about the social and cultural implications and trying to get families to have the remains of their family members interned in a respectful fashion.
Question: [Carol Rosenberg, Miami Herald Newspaper].
Doctors, thank you for taking the call. What kind of diseases are you seeing so far? And do you have any kind of status update on what’s going on with the orphans?
Dr. Sizemore: I’ll go ahead and start with that, with regard to some of the trauma. As you might expect, the initial results of the earthquake resulted in a lot of crush trauma, broken bones, compound fractures, contusions, concussions, internal abdominal injuries. With regard to diseases, infectious diseases and so forth, I’ll turn to my collaborator here.
Dr. Bloland: Before the earthquake Haiti certainly had its public health challenges. Things like malaria, deng deng, respiratory disease, diarrheal disease. A number of different vector borne diseases that really caused them some difficulties in terms of providing care, keeping their population healthy. That hasn’t changed because of the earthquake. What has changed is really the disruption of the health care system, the healthy provision system, an interruption of the type of services one would hope would be available to recognize when people are sick, and particularly if it’s affecting a large number of people.So we expect there would continue to be the problems that Haiti has always had, the same list of diseases that I mentioned before. But I think what we need to do now is get a system that can rapidly identify outbreaks should they occur. Because people have congregated in fairly large temporary communities that don’t have the kinds of services to provide clean water and sanitation and because of the crowding that’s occurring, we need to be very vigilant about things such as respiratory disease and diarrheal disease. Really, those are the types of things that we’re most focused on because those can crop up very rapidly, affect a large number of people, particularly in a crowded situation.
Question: [Miriam Falco, CNN].
You said hundreds of thousands of people living outside or in what’s called a tent, but is a blanket and a branch. You haven’t had any rain in Haiti yet, but that is surely to come. How are you going to deal with that? What are the chances of more disease spreading once you’ve got water on top of close quarters, lots of people, and you mentioned no sanitation and fresh water, et cetera. How concerned are you about that?
Dr. Bloland: I think we’re very concerned. Certainly heavy rains will not improve the situation by any means. But I think part of what the rapid assessments are aiming to do is to really get a good sense on what shelter is out there, what the needs are. That’s going to be an essential planning tool, to try to understand how best to serve the needs of the population.As you can imagine, many of these people have lost their homes, many are afraid to go back because of the earthquake and the impact that they’ve seen. So we have to be sensitive of this, what it appears they might have, or their situation. I think it’s going to be important to try and understand what services are needed and to plan very carefully how to provide them so that the impact of rains that might come and the sanitation concerns and so forth will be met by the Ministry of Health and other partners.
Question: But if you wait for the assessment, won’t the tents or whatever you can provide come too late?
Dr. Bloland: Assessments will be done in the next couple of days. The rains aren’t expected for a few more weeks and months. So we are under a tight line and we’re certainly going to, the international community is certainly going to try and meet those challenges. But I think the combination of understanding what the needs are, getting the international community to help the Haitian government to meet those needs, and setting up systems to recognize when something bad is happening as rapidly as possible, those things together will help us address the challenge.
Question: [Steven Smith, Boston Globe].
Good afternoon. Thank you for taking the call.
What I have heard from field hospital doctors is that they have seen this pattern emerge where the first few days they were encountering Haitians who had various injuries and complications directly related to the earthquake. What they have begun seeing in more recent days are wounds that have become infected because of the inability to keep them clean, cases of tetanus in some closed wounds, rashes, GI illness. I’m wondering in that regard if you are hearing similar things and what you make of that.
Dr. Sizemore: That’s a great question and a good point. What we do see in fact, as I said earlier, initially were the injuries, and now the number of new injuries ahs leveled off. We are seeing infections from sound care problems and so forth.
With regard to tetanus and things that can be prevented by immunizations, the government of Haiti has announced an immunization program starting up pretty soon. I’ll turn to Captain Bloland here and let him talk a little bit more about that if he would please.
Dr. Bloland: I think what is currently being proposed by the Ministry of Health and its partners are really to look at what vaccinations might make sense in the current situation. The types of things they’re considering would be the normal childhood vaccinations, Diphtheria and other things that might pose a problem, particularly in this kind of setting. So they are working with their partners to try and understand how to put together the kinds of evacuation campaigns that will be necessary to get this out to the communities as rapidly as possible.
Operator: I’m not showing any further questions from the phone at this time.
Mr. Duguid: If someone would like to pose a follow-up question, we’re ready to answer those. If not, we thank everyone for their time.
Thank you for your time in dialing in, and we wish you well and goodbye from the U.S. Joint Information Center in Port-au-Prince Haiti.
# # # #

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release January 27, 2010


U.S. Capitol

9:11 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: Madam Speaker, Vice President Biden, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Our Constitution declares that from time to time, the President shall give to Congress information about the state of our union. For 220 years, our leaders have fulfilled this duty. They've done so during periods of prosperity and tranquility. And they've done so in the midst of war and depression; at moments of great strife and great struggle.

It's tempting to look back on these moments and assume that our progress was inevitable -– that America was always destined to succeed. But when the Union was turned back at Bull Run, and the Allies first landed at Omaha Beach, victory was very much in doubt. When the market crashed on Black Tuesday, and civil rights marchers were beaten on Bloody Sunday, the future was anything but certain. These were the times that tested the courage of our convictions, and the strength of our union. And despite all our divisions and disagreements, our hesitations and our fears, America prevailed because we chose to move forward as one nation, as one people.

Again, we are tested. And again, we must answer history's call.

One year ago, I took office amid two wars, an economy rocked by a severe recession, a financial system on the verge of collapse, and a government deeply in debt. Experts from across the political spectrum warned that if we did not act, we might face a second depression. So we acted -– immediately and aggressively. And one year later, the worst of the storm has passed.

But the devastation remains. One in 10 Americans still cannot find work. Many businesses have shuttered. Home values have declined. Small towns and rural communities have been hit especially hard. And for those who'd already known poverty, life has become that much harder.

This recession has also compounded the burdens that America's families have been dealing with for decades –- the burden of working harder and longer for less; of being unable to save enough to retire or help kids with college.

So I know the anxieties that are out there right now. They're not new. These struggles are the reason I ran for President. These struggles are what I've witnessed for years in places like Elkhart, Indiana; Galesburg, Illinois. I hear about them in the letters that I read each night. The toughest to read are those written by children -– asking why they have to move from their home, asking when their mom or dad will be able to go back to work.

For these Americans and so many others, change has not come fast enough. Some are frustrated; some are angry. They don't understand why it seems like bad behavior on Wall Street is rewarded, but hard work on Main Street isn't; or why Washington has been unable or unwilling to solve any of our problems. They're tired of the partisanship and the shouting and the pettiness. They know we can't afford it. Not now.

So we face big and difficult challenges. And what the American people hope -– what they deserve -– is for all of us, Democrats and Republicans, to work through our differences; to overcome the numbing weight of our politics. For while the people who sent us here have different backgrounds, different stories, different beliefs, the anxieties they face are the same. The aspirations they hold are shared: a job that pays the bills; a chance to get ahead; most of all, the ability to give their children a better life.

You know what else they share? They share a stubborn resilience in the face of adversity. After one of the most difficult years in our history, they remain busy building cars and teaching kids, starting businesses and going back to school. They're coaching Little League and helping their neighbors. One woman wrote to me and said, "We are strained but hopeful, struggling but encouraged."

It's because of this spirit -– this great decency and great strength -– that I have never been more hopeful about America's future than I am tonight. (Applause.) Despite our hardships, our union is strong. We do not give up. We do not quit. We do not allow fear or division to break our spirit. In this new decade, it's time the American people get a government that matches their decency; that embodies their strength. (Applause.)
And tonight, tonight I'd like to talk about how together we can deliver on that promise.

It begins with our economy.

Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, and everybody in between, it's that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it -- (applause.) I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal. (Laughter.)

But when I ran for President, I promised I wouldn't just do what was popular -– I would do what was necessary. And if we had allowed the meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today. More businesses would certainly have closed. More homes would have surely been lost.

So I supported the last administration's efforts to create the financial rescue program. And when we took that program over, we made it more transparent and more accountable. And as a result, the markets are now stabilized, and we've recovered most of the money we spent on the banks. (Applause.) Most but not all.

To recover the rest, I've proposed a fee on the biggest banks. (Applause.) Now, I know Wall Street isn't keen on this idea. But if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need. (Applause.)

Now, as we stabilized the financial system, we also took steps to get our economy growing again, save as many jobs as possible, and help Americans who had become unemployed.

That's why we extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 million Americans; made health insurance 65 percent cheaper for families who get their coverage through COBRA; and passed 25 different tax cuts.

Now, let me repeat: We cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95 percent of working families. (Applause.) We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college. (Applause.)

I thought I'd get some applause on that one. (Laughter and applause.)

As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas and food and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers. And we haven't raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person. Not a single dime. (Applause.)

Because of the steps we took, there are about two million Americans working right now who would otherwise be unemployed. (Applause.) Two hundred thousand work in construction and clean energy; 300,000 are teachers and other education workers. Tens of thousands are cops, firefighters, correctional officers, first responders. (Applause.) And we're on track to add another one and a half million jobs to this total by the end of the year.

The plan that has made all of this possible, from the tax cuts to the jobs, is the Recovery Act. (Applause.) That's right -– the Recovery Act, also known as the stimulus bill. (Applause.) Economists on the left and the right say this bill has helped save jobs and avert disaster. But you don't have to take their word for it. Talk to the small business in Phoenix that will triple its workforce because of the Recovery Act. Talk to the window manufacturer in Philadelphia who said he used to be skeptical about the Recovery Act, until he had to add two more work shifts just because of the business it created. Talk to the single teacher raising two kids who was told by her principal in the last week of school that because of the Recovery Act, she wouldn't be laid off after all.

There are stories like this all across America. And after two years of recession, the economy is growing again. Retirement funds have started to gain back some of their value. Businesses are beginning to invest again, and slowly some are starting to hire again.

But I realize that for every success story, there are other stories, of men and women who wake up with the anguish of not knowing where their next paycheck will come from; who send out resumes week after week and hear nothing in response. That is why jobs must be our number-one focus in 2010, and that's why I'm calling for a new jobs bill tonight. (Applause.)

Now, the true engine of job creation in this country will always be America's businesses. (Applause.) But government can create the conditions necessary for businesses to expand and hire more workers.

We should start where most new jobs do –- in small businesses, companies that begin when -- (applause) -- companies that begin when an entrepreneur -- when an entrepreneur takes a chance on a dream, or a worker decides it's time she became her own boss. Through sheer grit and determination, these companies have weathered the recession and they're ready to grow. But when you talk to small businessowners in places like Allentown, Pennsylvania, or Elyria, Ohio, you find out that even though banks on Wall Street are lending again, they're mostly lending to bigger companies. Financing remains difficult for small businessowners across the country, even those that are making a profit.

So tonight, I'm proposing that we take $30 billion of the money Wall Street banks have repaid and use it to help community banks give small businesses the credit they need to stay afloat. (Applause.) I'm also proposing a new small business tax credit
-– one that will go to over one million small businesses who hire new workers or raise wages. (Applause.) While we're at it, let's also eliminate all capital gains taxes on small business investment, and provide a tax incentive for all large businesses and all small businesses to invest in new plants and equipment. (Applause.)

Next, we can put Americans to work today building the infrastructure of tomorrow. (Applause.) From the first railroads to the Interstate Highway System, our nation has always been built to compete. There's no reason Europe or China should have the fastest trains, or the new factories that manufacture clean energy products.

Tomorrow, I'll visit Tampa, Florida, where workers will soon break ground on a new high-speed railroad funded by the Recovery Act. (Applause.) There are projects like that all across this country that will create jobs and help move our nation's goods, services, and information. (Applause.)

We should put more Americans to work building clean energy facilities -- (applause) -- and give rebates to Americans who make their homes more energy-efficient, which supports clean energy jobs. (Applause.) And to encourage these and other businesses to stay within our borders, it is time to finally slash the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas, and give those tax breaks to companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America. (Applause.)

Now, the House has passed a jobs bill that includes some of these steps. (Applause.) As the first order of business this year, I urge the Senate to do the same, and I know they will. (Applause.) They will. (Applause.) People are out of work. They're hurting. They need our help. And I want a jobs bill on my desk without delay. (Applause.)

But the truth is, these steps won't make up for the seven million jobs that we've lost over the last two years. The only way to move to full employment is to lay a new foundation for long-term economic growth, and finally address the problems that America's families have confronted for years.

We can't afford another so-called economic "expansion" like the one from the last decade –- what some call the "lost decade" -– where jobs grew more slowly than during any prior expansion; where the income of the average American household declined while the cost of health care and tuition reached record highs; where prosperity was built on a housing bubble and financial speculation.

From the day I took office, I've been told that addressing our larger challenges is too ambitious; such an effort would be too contentious. I've been told that our political system is too gridlocked, and that we should just put things on hold for a while.

For those who make these claims, I have one simple question: How long should we wait? How long should America put its future on hold? (Applause.)

You see, Washington has been telling us to wait for decades, even as the problems have grown worse. Meanwhile, China is not waiting to revamp its economy. Germany is not waiting. India is not waiting. These nations -- they're not standing still. These nations aren't playing for second place. They're putting more emphasis on math and science. They're rebuilding their infrastructure. They're making serious investments in clean energy because they want those jobs. Well, I do not accept second place for the United States of America. (Applause.)

As hard as it may be, as uncomfortable and contentious as the debates may become, it's time to get serious about fixing the problems that are hampering our growth.

Now, one place to start is serious financial reform. Look, I am not interested in punishing banks. I'm interested in protecting our economy. A strong, healthy financial market makes it possible for businesses to access credit and create new jobs. It channels the savings of families into investments that raise incomes. But that can only happen if we guard against the same recklessness that nearly brought down our entire economy.

We need to make sure consumers and middle-class families have the information they need to make financial decisions. (Applause.) We can't allow financial institutions, including those that take your deposits, to take risks that threaten the whole economy.

Now, the House has already passed financial reform with many of these changes. (Applause.) And the lobbyists are trying to kill it. But we cannot let them win this fight. (Applause.) And if the bill that ends up on my desk does not meet the test of real reform, I will send it back until we get it right. We've got to get it right. (Applause.)

Next, we need to encourage American innovation. Last year, we made the largest investment in basic research funding in history -– (applause) -- an investment that could lead to the world's cheapest solar cells or treatment that kills cancer cells but leaves healthy ones untouched. And no area is more ripe for such innovation than energy. You can see the results of last year's investments in clean energy -– in the North Carolina company that will create 1,200 jobs nationwide helping to make advanced batteries; or in the California business that will put a thousand people to work making solar panels.

But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. And that means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. (Applause.) It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. (Applause.) It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies. (Applause.) And, yes, it means passing a comprehensive energy and climate bill with incentives that will finally make clean energy the profitable kind of energy in America. (Applause.)

I am grateful to the House for passing such a bill last year. (Applause.) And this year I'm eager to help advance the bipartisan effort in the Senate. (Applause.)

I know there have been questions about whether we can afford such changes in a tough economy. I know that there are those who disagree with the overwhelming scientific evidence on climate change. But here's the thing -- even if you doubt the evidence, providing incentives for energy-efficiency and clean energy are the right thing to do for our future -– because the nation that leads the clean energy economy will be the nation that leads the global economy. And America must be that nation. (Applause.)

Third, we need to export more of our goods. (Applause.) Because the more products we make and sell to other countries, the more jobs we support right here in America. (Applause.) So tonight, we set a new goal: We will double our exports over the next five years, an increase that will support two million jobs in America. (Applause.) To help meet this goal, we're launching a National Export Initiative that will help farmers and small businesses increase their exports, and reform export controls consistent with national security. (Applause.)

We have to seek new markets aggressively, just as our competitors are. If America sits on the sidelines while other nations sign trade deals, we will lose the chance to create jobs on our shores. (Applause.) But realizing those benefits also means enforcing those agreements so our trading partners play by the rules. (Applause.) And that's why we'll continue to shape a Doha trade agreement that opens global markets, and why we will strengthen our trade relations in Asia and with key partners like South Korea and Panama and Colombia. (Applause.)

Fourth, we need to invest in the skills and education of our people. (Applause.)

Now, this year, we've broken through the stalemate between left and right by launching a national competition to improve our schools. And the idea here is simple: Instead of rewarding failure, we only reward success. Instead of funding the status quo, we only invest in reform -- reform that raises student achievement; inspires students to excel in math and science; and turns around failing schools that steal the future of too many young Americans, from rural communities to the inner city. In the 21st century, the best anti-poverty program around is a world-class education. (Applause.) And in this country, the success of our children cannot depend more on where they live than on their potential.

When we renew the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, we will work with Congress to expand these reforms to all 50 states. Still, in this economy, a high school diploma no longer guarantees a good job. That's why I urge the Senate to follow the House and pass a bill that will revitalize our community colleges, which are a career pathway to the children of so many working families. (Applause.)

To make college more affordable, this bill will finally end the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that go to banks for student loans. (Applause.) Instead, let's take that money and give families a $10,000 tax credit for four years of college and increase Pell Grants. (Applause.) And let's tell another one million students that when they graduate, they will be required to pay only 10 percent of their income on student loans, and all of their debt will be forgiven after 20 years –- and forgiven after 10 years if they choose a career in public service, because in the United States of America, no one should go broke because they chose to go to college. (Applause.)

And by the way, it's time for colleges and universities to get serious about cutting their own costs -– (applause) -- because they, too, have a responsibility to help solve this problem.

Now, the price of college tuition is just one of the burdens facing the middle class. That's why last year I asked Vice President Biden to chair a task force on middle-class families. That's why we're nearly doubling the child care tax credit, and making it easier to save for retirement by giving access to every worker a retirement account and expanding the tax credit for those who start a nest egg. That's why we're working to lift the value of a family's single largest investment –- their home. The steps we took last year to shore up the housing market have allowed millions of Americans to take out new loans and save an average of $1,500 on mortgage payments.

This year, we will step up refinancing so that homeowners can move into more affordable mortgages. (Applause.) And it is precisely to relieve the burden on middle-class families that we still need health insurance reform. (Applause.) Yes, we do. (Applause.)

Now, let's clear a few things up. (Laughter.) I didn't choose to tackle this issue to get some legislative victory under my belt. And by now it should be fairly obvious that I didn't take on health care because it was good politics. (Laughter.) I took on health care because of the stories I've heard from Americans with preexisting conditions whose lives depend on getting coverage; patients who've been denied coverage; families –- even those with insurance -– who are just one illness away from financial ruin.

After nearly a century of trying -- Democratic administrations, Republican administrations -- we are closer than ever to bringing more security to the lives of so many Americans. The approach we've taken would protect every American from the worst practices of the insurance industry. It would give small businesses and uninsured Americans a chance to choose an affordable health care plan in a competitive market. It would require every insurance plan to cover preventive care.

And by the way, I want to acknowledge our First Lady, Michelle Obama, who this year is creating a national movement to tackle the epidemic of childhood obesity and make kids healthier. (Applause.) Thank you. She gets embarrassed. (Laughter.)

Our approach would preserve the right of Americans who have insurance to keep their doctor and their plan. It would reduce costs and premiums for millions of families and businesses. And according to the Congressional Budget Office -– the independent organization that both parties have cited as the official scorekeeper for Congress –- our approach would bring down the deficit by as much as $1 trillion over the next two decades. (Applause.)

Still, this is a complex issue, and the longer it was debated, the more skeptical people became. I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people. And I know that with all the lobbying and horse-trading, the process left most Americans wondering, "What's in it for me?"

But I also know this problem is not going away. By the time I'm finished speaking tonight, more Americans will have lost their health insurance. Millions will lose it this year. Our deficit will grow. Premiums will go up. Patients will be denied the care they need. Small business owners will continue to drop coverage altogether. I will not walk away from these Americans, and neither should the people in this chamber. (Applause.)

So, as temperatures cool, I want everyone to take another look at the plan we've proposed. There's a reason why many doctors, nurses, and health care experts who know our system best consider this approach a vast improvement over the status quo. But if anyone from either party has a better approach that will bring down premiums, bring down the deficit, cover the uninsured, strengthen Medicare for seniors, and stop insurance company abuses, let me know. (Applause.) Let me know. Let me know. (Applause.) I'm eager to see it.

Here's what I ask Congress, though: Don't walk away from reform. Not now. Not when we are so close. Let us find a way to come together and finish the job for the American people. (Applause.) Let's get it done. Let's get it done. (Applause.)

Now, even as health care reform would reduce our deficit, it's not enough to dig us out of a massive fiscal hole in which we find ourselves. It's a challenge that makes all others that much harder to solve, and one that's been subject to a lot of political posturing. So let me start the discussion of government spending by setting the record straight.

At the beginning of the last decade, the year 2000, America had a budget surplus of over $200 billion. (Applause.) By the time I took office, we had a one-year deficit of over $1 trillion and projected deficits of $8 trillion over the next decade. Most of this was the result of not paying for two wars, two tax cuts, and an expensive prescription drug program. On top of that, the effects of the recession put a $3 trillion hole in our budget. All this was before I walked in the door. (Laughter and applause.)

Now -- just stating the facts. Now, if we had taken office in ordinary times, I would have liked nothing more than to start bringing down the deficit. But we took office amid a crisis. And our efforts to prevent a second depression have added another $1 trillion to our national debt. That, too, is a fact.

I'm absolutely convinced that was the right thing to do. But families across the country are tightening their belts and making tough decisions. The federal government should do the same. (Applause.) So tonight, I'm proposing specific steps to pay for the trillion dollars that it took to rescue the economy last year.

Starting in 2011, we are prepared to freeze government spending for three years. (Applause.) Spending related to our national security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will not be affected. But all other discretionary government programs will. Like any cash-strapped family, we will work within a budget to invest in what we need and sacrifice what we don't. And if I have to enforce this discipline by veto, I will. (Applause.)

We will continue to go through the budget, line by line, page by page, to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work. We've already identified $20 billion in savings for next year. To help working families, we'll extend our middle-class tax cuts. But at a time of record deficits, we will not continue tax cuts for oil companies, for investment fund managers, and for those making over $250,000 a year. We just can't afford it. (Applause.)

Now, even after paying for what we spent on my watch, we'll still face the massive deficit we had when I took office. More importantly, the cost of Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will continue to skyrocket. That's why I've called for a bipartisan fiscal commission, modeled on a proposal by Republican Judd Gregg and Democrat Kent Conrad. (Applause.) This can't be one of those Washington gimmicks that lets us pretend we solved a problem. The commission will have to provide a specific set of solutions by a certain deadline.

Now, yesterday, the Senate blocked a bill that would have created this commission. So I'll issue an executive order that will allow us to go forward, because I refuse to pass this problem on to another generation of Americans. (Applause.) And when the vote comes tomorrow, the Senate should restore the pay-as-you-go law that was a big reason for why we had record surpluses in the 1990s. (Applause.)

Now, I know that some in my own party will argue that we can't address the deficit or freeze government spending when so many are still hurting. And I agree -- which is why this freeze won't take effect until next year -- (laughter) -- when the economy is stronger. That's how budgeting works. (Laughter and applause.) But understand –- understand if we don't take meaningful steps to rein in our debt, it could damage our markets, increase the cost of borrowing, and jeopardize our recovery -– all of which would have an even worse effect on our job growth and family incomes.

From some on the right, I expect we'll hear a different argument -– that if we just make fewer investments in our people, extend tax cuts including those for the wealthier Americans, eliminate more regulations, maintain the status quo on health care, our deficits will go away. The problem is that's what we did for eight years. (Applause.) That's what helped us into this crisis. It's what helped lead to these deficits. We can't do it again.

Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it's time to try something new. Let's invest in our people without leaving them a mountain of debt. Let's meet our responsibility to the citizens who sent us here. Let's try common sense. (Laughter.) A novel concept.

To do that, we have to recognize that we face more than a deficit of dollars right now. We face a deficit of trust -– deep and corrosive doubts about how Washington works that have been growing for years. To close that credibility gap we have to take action on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue -- to end the outsized influence of lobbyists; to do our work openly; to give our people the government they deserve. (Applause.)

That's what I came to Washington to do. That's why -– for the first time in history –- my administration posts on our White House visitors online. That's why we've excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs, or seats on federal boards and commissions.

But we can't stop there. It's time to require lobbyists to disclose each contact they make on behalf of a client with my administration or with Congress. It's time to put strict limits on the contributions that lobbyists give to candidates for federal office.

With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. (Applause.) I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. (Applause.) They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.

I'm also calling on Congress to continue down the path of earmark reform. Applause.) Democrats and Republicans. (Applause.) Democrats and Republicans. You've trimmed some of this spending, you've embraced some meaningful change. But restoring the public trust demands more. For example, some members of Congress post some earmark requests online. (Applause.) Tonight, I'm calling on Congress to publish all earmark requests on a single Web site before there's a vote, so that the American people can see how their money is being spent. (Applause.)

Of course, none of these reforms will even happen if we don't also reform how we work with one another. Now, I'm not naïve. I never thought that the mere fact of my election would usher in peace and harmony -- (laughter) -- and some post-partisan era. I knew that both parties have fed divisions that are deeply entrenched. And on some issues, there are simply philosophical differences that will always cause us to part ways. These disagreements, about the role of government in our lives, about our national priorities and our national security, they've been taking place for over 200 years. They're the very essence of our democracy.

But what frustrates the American people is a Washington where every day is Election Day. We can't wage a perpetual campaign where the only goal is to see who can get the most embarrassing headlines about the other side -– a belief that if you lose, I win. Neither party should delay or obstruct every single bill just because they can. The confirmation of -- (applause) -- I'm speaking to both parties now. The confirmation of well-qualified public servants shouldn't be held hostage to the pet projects or grudges of a few individual senators. (Applause.)

Washington may think that saying anything about the other side, no matter how false, no matter how malicious, is just part of the game. But it's precisely such politics that has stopped either party from helping the American people. Worse yet, it's sowing further division among our citizens, further distrust in our government.

So, no, I will not give up on trying to change the tone of our politics. I know it's an election year. And after last week, it's clear that campaign fever has come even earlier than usual. But we still need to govern.

To Democrats, I would remind you that we still have the largest majority in decades, and the people expect us to solve problems, not run for the hills. (Applause.) And if the Republican leadership is going to insist that 60 votes in the Senate are required to do any business at all in this town -- a supermajority -- then the responsibility to govern is now yours as well. (Applause.) Just saying no to everything may be good short-term politics, but it's not leadership. We were sent here to serve our citizens, not our ambitions. (Applause.) So let's show the American people that we can do it together. (Applause.)

This week, I'll be addressing a meeting of the House Republicans. I'd like to begin monthly meetings with both Democratic and Republican leadership. I know you can't wait. (Laughter.)

Throughout our history, no issue has united this country more than our security. Sadly, some of the unity we felt after 9/11 has dissipated. We can argue all we want about who's to blame for this, but I'm not interested in re-litigating the past. I know that all of us love this country. All of us are committed to its defense. So let's put aside the schoolyard taunts about who's tough. Let's reject the false choice between protecting our people and upholding our values. Let's leave behind the fear and division, and do what it takes to defend our nation and forge a more hopeful future -- for America and for the world. (Applause.)

That's the work we began last year. Since the day I took office, we've renewed our focus on the terrorists who threaten our nation. We've made substantial investments in our homeland security and disrupted plots that threatened to take American lives. We are filling unacceptable gaps revealed by the failed Christmas attack, with better airline security and swifter action on our intelligence. We've prohibited torture and strengthened partnerships from the Pacific to South Asia to the Arabian Peninsula. And in the last year, hundreds of al Qaeda's fighters and affiliates, including many senior leaders, have been captured or killed -- far more than in 2008.

And in Afghanistan, we're increasing our troops and training Afghan security forces so they can begin to take the lead in July of 2011, and our troops can begin to come home. (Applause.) We will reward good governance, work to reduce corruption, and support the rights of all Afghans -- men and women alike. (Applause.) We're joined by allies and partners who have increased their own commitments, and who will come together tomorrow in London to reaffirm our common purpose. There will be difficult days ahead. But I am absolutely confident we will succeed.

As we take the fight to al Qaeda, we are responsibly leaving Iraq to its people. As a candidate, I promised that I would end this war, and that is what I am doing as President. We will have all of our combat troops out of Iraq by the end of this August. (Applause.) We will support the Iraqi government -- we will support the Iraqi government as they hold elections, and we will continue to partner with the Iraqi people to promote regional peace and prosperity. But make no mistake: This war is ending, and all of our troops are coming home. (Applause.)

Tonight, all of our men and women in uniform -- in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and around the world –- they have to know that we -- that they have our respect, our gratitude, our full support. And just as they must have the resources they need in war, we all have a responsibility to support them when they come home. (Applause.) That's why we made the largest increase in investments for veterans in decades -- last year. (Applause.) That's why we're building a 21st century VA. And that's why Michelle has joined with Jill Biden to forge a national commitment to support military families. (Applause.)

Now, even as we prosecute two wars, we're also confronting perhaps the greatest danger to the American people -– the threat of nuclear weapons. I've embraced the vision of John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan through a strategy that reverses the spread of these weapons and seeks a world without them. To reduce our stockpiles and launchers, while ensuring our deterrent, the United States and Russia are completing negotiations on the farthest-reaching arms control treaty in nearly two decades. (Applause.) And at April's Nuclear Security Summit, we will bring 44 nations together here in Washington, D.C. behind a clear goal: securing all vulnerable nuclear materials around the world in four years, so that they never fall into the hands of terrorists. (Applause.)

Now, these diplomatic efforts have also strengthened our hand in dealing with those nations that insist on violating international agreements in pursuit of nuclear weapons. That's why North Korea now faces increased isolation, and stronger sanctions –- sanctions that are being vigorously enforced. That's why the international community is more united, and the Islamic Republic of Iran is more isolated. And as Iran's leaders continue to ignore their obligations, there should be no doubt: They, too, will face growing consequences. That is a promise. (Applause.)

That's the leadership that we are providing –- engagement that advances the common security and prosperity of all people. We're working through the G20 to sustain a lasting global recovery. We're working with Muslim communities around the world to promote science and education and innovation. We have gone from a bystander to a leader in the fight against climate change. We're helping developing countries to feed themselves, and continuing the fight against HIV/AIDS. And we are launching a new initiative that will give us the capacity to respond faster and more effectively to bioterrorism or an infectious disease -– a plan that will counter threats at home and strengthen public health abroad.

As we have for over 60 years, America takes these actions because our destiny is connected to those beyond our shores. But we also do it because it is right. That's why, as we meet here tonight, over 10,000 Americans are working with many nations to help the people of Haiti recover and rebuild. (Applause.) That's why we stand with the girl who yearns to go to school in Afghanistan; why we support the human rights of the women marching through the streets of Iran; why we advocate for the young man denied a job by corruption in Guinea. For America must always stand on the side of freedom and human dignity. (Applause.) Always. (Applause.)

Abroad, America's greatest source of strength has always been our ideals. The same is true at home. We find unity in our incredible diversity, drawing on the promise enshrined in our Constitution: the notion that we're all created equal; that no matter who you are or what you look like, if you abide by the law you should be protected by it; if you adhere to our common values you should be treated no different than anyone else.

We must continually renew this promise. My administration has a Civil Rights Division that is once again prosecuting civil rights violations and employment discrimination. (Applause.) We finally strengthened our laws to protect against crimes driven by hate. (Applause.) This year, I will work with Congress and our military to finally repeal the law that denies gay Americans the right to serve the country they love because of who they are. (Applause.) It's the right thing to do. (Applause.)

We're going to crack down on violations of equal pay laws -– so that women get equal pay for an equal day's work. (Applause.) And we should continue the work of fixing our broken immigration system -– to secure our borders and enforce our laws, and ensure that everyone who plays by the rules can contribute to our economy and enrich our nation. (Applause.)

In the end, it's our ideals, our values that built America -- values that allowed us to forge a nation made up of immigrants from every corner of the globe; values that drive our citizens still. Every day, Americans meet their responsibilities to their families and their employers. Time and again, they lend a hand to their neighbors and give back to their country. They take pride in their labor, and are generous in spirit. These aren't Republican values or Democratic values that they're living by; business values or labor values. They're American values.

Unfortunately, too many of our citizens have lost faith that our biggest institutions -– our corporations, our media, and, yes, our government –- still reflect these same values. Each of these institutions are full of honorable men and women doing important work that helps our country prosper. But each time a CEO rewards himself for failure, or a banker puts the rest of us at risk for his own selfish gain, people's doubts grow. Each time lobbyists game the system or politicians tear each other down instead of lifting this country up, we lose faith. The more that TV pundits reduce serious debates to silly arguments, big issues into sound bites, our citizens turn away.

No wonder there's so much cynicism out there. No wonder there's so much disappointment.

I campaigned on the promise of change –- change we can believe in, the slogan went. And right now, I know there are many Americans who aren't sure if they still believe we can change –- or that I can deliver it.

But remember this –- I never suggested that change would be easy, or that I could do it alone. Democracy in a nation of 300 million people can be noisy and messy and complicated. And when you try to do big things and make big changes, it stirs passions and controversy. That's just how it is.

Those of us in public office can respond to this reality by playing it safe and avoid telling hard truths and pointing fingers. We can do what's necessary to keep our poll numbers high, and get through the next election instead of doing what's best for the next generation.

But I also know this: If people had made that decision 50 years ago, or 100 years ago, or 200 years ago, we wouldn't be here tonight. The only reason we are here is because generations of Americans were unafraid to do what was hard; to do what was needed even when success was uncertain; to do what it took to keep the dream of this nation alive for their children and their grandchildren.

Our administration has had some political setbacks this year, and some of them were deserved. But I wake up every day knowing that they are nothing compared to the setbacks that families all across this country have faced this year. And what keeps me going -– what keeps me fighting -– is that despite all these setbacks, that spirit of determination and optimism, that fundamental decency that has always been at the core of the American people, that lives on.

It lives on in the struggling small business owner who wrote to me of his company, "None of us," he said, "…are willing to consider, even slightly, that we might fail."

It lives on in the woman who said that even though she and her neighbors have felt the pain of recession, "We are strong. We are resilient. We are American."

It lives on in the 8-year-old boy in Louisiana, who just sent me his allowance and asked if I would give it to the people of Haiti.

And it lives on in all the Americans who've dropped everything to go someplace they've never been and pull people they've never known from the rubble, prompting chants of "U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A!" when another life was saved.

The spirit that has sustained this nation for more than two centuries lives on in you, its people. We have finished a difficult year. We have come through a difficult decade. But a new year has come. A new decade stretches before us. We don't quit. I don't quit. (Applause.) Let's seize this moment -- to start anew, to carry the dream forward, and to strengthen our union once more. (Applause.)

Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America. (Applause.)

END 10:20 P.M. EST

Monday, 25 January 2010

Ayoub mzee with Birtish actor Kwame
Kwame was Writer in Residence at the Bristol Old Vic 1999-2001 where he wrote three plays - A Bitter Herb (Winner Peggy Ramsey award), Blues Brother Soul Sister, and Big Nose. He is currently Writer in Residence for BBC Radio drama, an Associate Artist at the National Theatre of Gt. Britain, Centerstage Baltimore and Congo Square theatre company Chicago USA.
His triptych of plays set in the habits of the African Caribbean community - Elmina’s Kitchen - Fix Up and Statement of Regret premiered at the National Theatre between 2003- 2007, with Elmina’s Kitchen transferring to the London’s West End, (The First African Caribbean playwright to have had that honour ) Baltimore and Chicago. Amongst others he has won the Evening Standard Charles Wintor Award for Most Promising Playwright, Screen Nation Award for Favourite TV Actor, 100 Black Men of Britain PublicFigure Award, GPA Man of the Year and The RECON Community Leadership award 2007.
Kwame has been nominated for a Lawrence Oliver Award and a BAFTA. He received an Honorary Doctorate from The Open University in 2008. Kwame made his directorial debut at Baltimore’s Centerstage directing the Macarther award winning playwright Naomi Wallace’s Things of Dry Hours in early 2007. He then went on to direct the Pultizer nominated playwright Esa Davis’s Ten minute play Dave Chappelle Was Right for the 24hr plays on Broadway and has recently completed directing his own play - Let There Be Love at the Tricycle Theatre London. Kwame has presented Newsnight Review and the Culture Show, has been a panellist on Question Time and Newsnight Review, and is often heard on BBC Radio 4. He was a regular columnist for The Guardian (2005-6) and has written articles for The Independent, The Telegraph, The Evening Standard, the New Statesmen and The Observer.
Kwame has been the Good Will ambassador for Trade for Christian Aid 2003- . He is a Governor at The University of the Arts London - A trustee of The Roundhouse, The National Theatre and the Tricycle Theatre and LEAP, a local employment charity focussing on getting the long term unemployed back into employment. As an actor Kwame played Finley Newton in the BBC’s Casualty 1999-2004 has recently been seen in the TV series Hotel Babylon , ITV’s LEWIS and the film Fade to Black.



Sunday, 24 January 2010

voting for our tomorrow-Operation Black Vote

Positive thinking will take Britain to its’ “Yes We Can” moment, says Lee Jasper
When I was struggling at that time to shine a great light on a huge injustice, three black men in Cardiff were found guilty of murdering a white woman a crime they could not have committed, I invited the Rev Al Sharpton to the UK so that I could take him to Cardiff and get some publicity for this case.
Being the activist he is he came and he set the UK alight. The headlines on the day he landed were “Race Hate Preacher from Hell flies into UK.” Well, one mans hell is another mans heaven! Such was the publicity he brought to that case that the campaign became a national cause célèbre. Five years later the Cardiff three were freed.
Since then we have watched each other from each side of the pond remaining good friends and I have seen him go through good times and bad with an undimmed commitment and when I have endured the vicious racism of a high tech media lynching it was his example that inspired me.
You see, if you’re going to be a fighter for justice you have to get into the ring, you have to get bloody, you will have to endure scars to you reputation and withstand false and malicious testimony.
So if I stand before you today if my political face looks scared and bloody, you need to know that these are the honor scars of a black power fighter. I bear my tribulation with pride and I am honored to be hated by the right wing press and media. I thank those of you who supported me from the bottom of my heart.
As we celebrate the birthday of Dr King we should take the time to reflect on his ideal of a post racist society as an objective that we are capable of delivering

Whilst we marveled at the election of President Barack Obama, the big question for us in the UK is, could such a thing happen here? I have always been an optimist and I truly believe that we are destined to write our own page in history.
We here in the UK will arrive at our “Yes We Can” moment in history, but we have to be positive. The positive thinker sees the invisible, feels the intangible, and achieves the impossible.
Be under no illusion this election could provide the first step toward that destiny by ensuring the highest level of voter registration within our communities, in British political history.
As we push on into the 21st Century let us do so with our heads held high, in confident fashion having established ourselves as an electoral force to be reckoned with. And as with anything else in life, if we want to fly high and soar on the wings of confident optimism, it is our attitude not our aptitude that will.
Put simply, we want you to be revolutionary about registration, evangelical about the election and determined about democracy.
We want you to become, like Dr King a passionate advocate for justice. We want you to become a volatile voter, a civically militant electorate.
To those who turn away from the ballot box favoring a conscious ‘opt out’ from the democratic process and then complain about their lot, I say think again. Your non-voting quasi ‘revolutionary’ disengagement has failed. And to those who simply cannot be bothered, I say to you there is no such thing as not voting.
Those who do not vote elect bad politicians. By choosing to opt out you give your vote to maintaining the status quo. You are voting for the maintenance of racism and discrimination, you are voting for failing schools, you are voting for stop and search, you are voting for keeping Africa and the Caribbean in debt, you are voting to ensure that the people of Haiti never get the scale of help they urgently need and richly deserve.
You’ve got to be a chump not to vote! Not only is not voting self defeating it a betrayal of our history and it spits in the face of those like Dr King and many others who died securing our right to vote. It dances on the graves of Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks.
The vote is the instrument and the symbol of a free man’s power to take the present and turn it into the future. Non-voting is a fundamental betrayal of our historic struggle for freedom and justice.
Any one that does not vote is not only a chump, but you’re also a traitor to your race. You have become part of the problem. And there is a lot we should be voting on.
Our parents believed it was their responsibility to beat down racism so that we, their children would enjoy greater opportunities than they enjoyed. This was their priority their raison d’être to make a life better for themselves and their children.
That’s what propelled them to leave their countries of origin and come to Britain. This generation may betray that legacy and we are in danger of abdicating our responsibility as parents, bequeathing to our children lesser opportunities than we enjoyed. This is something our children and grandchildren will not forgive or forget

Inaction is not an option; non-voting is not an option. Malcolm X my political mentor said this talking to a group of students said the following;
Look at yourselves. Some of you teenagers, students. How do you think I feel and I belong to a generation ahead of you – how do you think I feel to have to tell you, “We, my generation, sat around like a knot on a wall while the whole world was fighting for its human rights – and you’ve got to be born into a society where you still have that same fight.”
Today the issues facing us are a legion. From the moment of conception if you’re black in Britain you’re at a disadvantage. Figures show that Pakistan, African and Caribbean women experience significantly higher levels of infant mortality.
For Pakistani mothers the data shows 8.6 deaths per 1000 live births and for Caribbean mothers the figure stands at 10.7, this compared with the average mortality rate of 4.9 per 1000 live births immediately points to a glaring disproportion.
In the current recession we have seen black youth unemployment increase from 35% to 48%, that’s half our young people right there who are out of work and immersed in poverty.
We have more black men in jail than university and a serious problem of extreme violence among our young people. And we are our own principle victims of crime. We have high and increasing levels of teenage pregnancies and babies without fathers. We have poverty at home and are up to our necks in an illegal war abroad.
Racism requires double standards to exist and we should not buy into that mindset. You saw in Hurricane Katrina what you’re about to see in Haiti, international press straining at the leash to describe a proud people driven to absolute desperation as “violent looters” so that they can then walk away and blame the Haitians.
The earthquake caused a hell of a lot of damage but that is nothing compared to the damage caused by the world’s criminal neglect of Haiti. The world’s first Black republic has been punished ever since the day it became independent. Haiti is not poor Haitians have had poverty imposed upon them.
That double standard informs our everyday reality, it’s the stereotype that says all black men are pimps, that black boys are inherently violent and deserve exclusion from school, that black students are unintelligent. Yet when we gain our degrees we are overly unemployed as university graduates.
If we do have a job, it’s to fill quotas and if we don’t we are benefit scroungers. Those in work are first to be sacked and last to be promoted. We are underrepresented in Parliament and over represented in prison and psychiatric wards.
If we complain we are militants playing the race card and if we don’t it is evidence that there is not a problem. When we demand equality we are really talking about special treatment and if we wear a headscarf we are oppressed. If our friends are all black were self segregating and when we move into white areas were spoiling the neighborhood.
This is the reality of racism. Now as crazy as things are here we are fortunate because we have an opportunity to do something about it. We can help our children realise a better future. We can ensure that international aid from Britain comes with no strings attached. We can determine the price Caribbean farmers are paid for their bananas.
We can prevent illegal wars and demand that we spend money on schools and tackling pensioner poverty rather than wars and banker bailouts. This is where our redemption lies in taking up the historic challenge to register our people to vote in unprecedented numbers.
We can change this society and we can write our own page in history, I say to you that we here in the UK have a duty to our own children as well as the rest of humanity. If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the millions who won’t survive the week.
If you have never experienced the horrifying danger of war or the loneliness of false imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you are ahead of 20 million people around the world.
If you attend a Church or a Mosque without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than almost three billion people in the world.
If you have food in your fridge, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this world.
If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace and enjoy more than two dollars a day you are among the top 8% of the worlds wealthy.
If you can read the literature we have provided tonight, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read anything at all.
Let us be thankful for what we have got and use it to reach down and pull our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters up out of the mire of oppression and discrimination. You change for only two reasons: 
 you learn enough that you want to, 
or you hurt enough that you have to. Either way change is coming to Britain.
Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose. Join us on this historic quest.
* This is a version of the speech Lee Jasper gave at the Realising The Dream rally last night, with Rev Al Sharpton

Friday, 22 January 2010



TUESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2010 AT 4:15 P.M. EST

MODERATOR: First off, I would like to welcome you to the Foreign Press Center in Washington and welcome our colleagues in New York from the press center there. Today’s on-the-record briefing is with U.S. Department of State Assistant Secretary for International Organizations Esther Brimmer, and we will be – and she will be speaking on the cooperation among Haiti, the United States, and other international organizations in the relief efforts.

Following Assistant Secretary Brimmer’s remarks, we will take your questions. Please wait to be called on before asking your question and please remember to identify yourself and your news organization. Assistant Secretary Brimmer, I turn the floor over to you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Thank you very much for that introduction. Good afternoon. Like all of you, indeed like people across the globe, I’ve been deeply saddened by the death and destruction brought by last week’s earthquake in Haiti. But I’ve also been heartened by the response from the international community. Indeed, people from around the globe have drawn together. Governments, the United Nations, international organizations, NGOs, private enterprise, and hundreds of thousands of private individuals from all corners of the globe have answered the call to help Haiti at its time of need.

Today, I’d like to concentrate my comments on that particular effort and particularly on the role being played by the United Nations in partnership with my country, the United States, and many others. In so doing, we must first acknowledge that the scale of destruction has greatly complicated relief efforts. The process of getting aid to those in need has been slower, much slower than many of us would like. Yet at the same time, we have witnessed a vast outpouring of goodwill from across the globe and coordination mechanisms have been growing stronger by the hour.

You’ve all seen the images from Haiti and we’ve all heard about the mounting death toll. And clearly, the disaster requires unity of action and of purpose. On the ground, despite extremely difficult and challenging circumstances, the Haitian Government is directing relief and recovery efforts to the degree possible. Contemplating and complementing this particular effort is the wider effort of the United Nations system with – and the United Nations itself was deeply wounded by the earthquake. And I’ll take a moment just to note now our view that Secretary General Ban and the United Nations are accomplishing extraordinary efforts in extremely difficult situations, dealing with resource limitations, difficult conditions, and their own grave losses of personnel.

For its part, the United States is consulting and coordinating closely with the Haitian authorities and the United Nations, and working hand-in-hand with many international partners and organizations on the ground. These efforts are making a difference in what is taking shape as among the largest urban search-and-recovery effort ever in history. As of this morning, more than 70 individuals had been rescued, and the flow of aid to those most in need is accelerating rapidly.

The security situation in Haiti remains generally good with communication and cooperation among Haitian, UN, and U.S. uniformed personnel. In fact, it is the events such as this terrible earthquake that illuminate the crucial role of the United Nations in mobilizing and coordinating not just its own activities, but also those of the larger international community, because at just such a moment, that’s when we become truly a community.

Yesterday, the Security Council held emergency consultations on the situation in Haiti. The United States joined other members of the UN Security Council in expressing their deep sympathy and condolences to the government and people of Haiti and reaffirmed the Council’s strong support. The Council also took the opportunity to express its support for the proposal of the Secretary General to increase the overall level of UN peacekeeping to support immediate recovery and stability efforts.

And today, the United States and its partners at the Security Council acted to authorize an increase with Resolution 1908 to the military component – is now as high as 8,940 personnel in troops of all ranks and increase the authorized level of the police component to over 3,700. This action taken by consensus should be a clear indication of the international community’s determination to respond with speed and energy.

The Security Council also extended their deepest condolences to the families of all UN personnel who lost their lives in the quake, including the Special Representative of the Secretary General Hedi Annabi, the Principal Deputy Special Representative Luiz Carlos da Costa.

Ladies and gentlemen, the United States is a friend and partner of Haiti and the Haitian people. We will assist the Government of Haiti in every way we can. I believe that this commitment is evident both in words and in action. Indeed, we have witnessed a remarkable outpouring of support and resources from the UN, numerous countries, countless nongovernmental organizations, and even private individuals.

As the international community rallies to address the UN’s flash appeal and resource requests that are likely to follow, donor coordination and consultation with the Haitian Government and the UN will be critical. The early steps in this regard are encouraging. However, over the coming months and years, when international attention to the disaster in Haiti diminishes, the UN and partners such as the United States must and will remain to help the Haitian people rebuild and do the painstaking, incremental work that comes after the rubble is cleared and the immediate danger is past. This is a long-term commitment and if we are to realize the meaning of community, we must all prepare to do what is necessary to help Haiti recover and rebuild.

I would like to end my comments and would – will welcome your questions. I will also note that UN Secretary General Ban had calls for a moment of silence throughout the UN system at 4:53 p.m. to coincide with the one-week anniversary of the earthquake. I propose that we similarly honor those lost, all of those lost in this terrible tragedy, and take a moment of silence at that time. And therefore, we will conclude just before that particular time.

Again, thank you, and I welcome your questions.

MODERATOR: Thank you. Do we have any questions in the room?

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Sonia Schott with Radio Valera, Venezuela. One of the major challenges always in a situation like that that the international community is facing is try to make accountable all these efforts and all this aid that should be provided and should be located to the people in need. There is any specific plan to make accountable all these organizations and all the people who are receiving this aid? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: In particular, if we’re looking at the efforts that – to coordinate all of the aid coming in, because there are so many different parts of aid, I think it’s important to notice the role that the United Nations is playing in coordinating the aid that is coming in. And indeed, if we look at the system that has already been set up, that – the major humanitarian aid has been divided into four different clusters.

If we look at the health area, it’s covered by the World Health Organization, food and logistics is being covered by the World Food Program, water and sanitation by UNICEF, and shelter by the International Organization for Migration. Each of these agencies are experts in their field and identify who really needs the aid and making sure that it gets to those most needy, hence making sure that those who receive it are the ones who need that aid. And they’re trying to coordinate the global effort in each of those areas.

MODERATOR: It looks as if one of our – we have a colleague in the Foreign Press Center in New York that would like to ask a question. Let’s go to New York.

QUESTION: Hello. My name is Shinya Abe from Tokyo Shimbun, a Japanese news organization. And while I have a question about the – your military effort – I mean, military presence in Haiti – well, actually, we are really impressed by the speed and amount of the assistance effort of the U.S. Government. But at the same time, there are some concerns about the over-presence of the U.S. military.

So my question is: How do you coordinate your military presence with the UN troops actually on the ground, that has been on the ground before the earthquake? And how do you deal with that kind of concerns of the over-presence of the U.S. military? Thank you.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Thank you very much for your question. Indeed, all of the international support is in support of the Government of Haiti at the request of the Government of Haiti and in support of the United Nations. Indeed, the United Nations peacekeeping operation MINUSTAH has overall efforts and coordination here. The military forces of the United States are there in support of the Government of Haiti, and at their request, and very much focused on close coordination.

And indeed, there is daily close coordination among the Government of Haiti, the Special Representative of the Secretary General Edmond Mulet, and the head of the Task Force Haiti forces, General Keen. They have a very good, close relationship.

And indeed, the Brazilian general who is the head of MINUSTAH and has had several years as leadership of MINUSTAH is a very close coordination. Indeed, U.S. military forces flew him back into Haiti. They are very much focused on close coordination on a daily basis in support of the needs requested by the Government of Haiti and by MINUSTAH.

MODERATOR: Next question.

QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Julio Marenco with La Prensa Grafica. Speaking of the Haiti – of the Haitian Government, the government seemed to be very much inoperable during the first days following the earthquake. Would you please assess how the government has recovered so far?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Well, I would think that, of course, the most direct assessment, of course, would come from those who are on the ground; I’m here in Washington. But I think it’s important to notice that despite the fact of the terrible loss of life and the loss of many of the government buildings, the Government of Haiti has been directing relief and recovery efforts, reaching out to many partners – not only the United States but many other close partners – for support. But indeed they have, of course, reconstituted at a new location, given the lack of building structures available. But I think it’s remarkable, given the catastrophic nature of the earthquake, the leadership that the Government of Haiti has shown in reaching out to the UN and to other partners.

MODERATOR: Any other questions? No questions. No questions from New York? If there’s – it looks as if we do have one more question from New York. Let’s go to New York.

QUESTION: Yes. Thank you very much. My name is Andrej Brstovsek. I’m a correspondent for Slovenian daily Dnevnik. I have a sort of follow-up of what my colleague here asked before. There were some harsh words that the minister of French Government was saying about the way the United States is exercising its control of the airport in the Haiti capital. Could you comment on that, and could you explain how is the decision being made about which airport [sic] gets to land and when and which doesn’t?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: Thank you very much. Indeed, the Haitian airport itself, as you know, was damaged during the earthquake. Even before the earthquake, it is a one-runway airport, which now has many flights coming from around the world. Immediately after the earthquake, it was difficult, of course, to bring flights in. In cooperation with the Haitian military, the U.S. military has been helping with air traffic control, with the contribution of the World Food Program, which works on the logistics. As I mentioned earlier, they are in charge of the logistics cluster and are working together on prioritizing and getting flights in.

And indeed, we can see some success day by day. In an operation of this complexity and this difficulty, you measure success by improvements day by day. And just after the earthquake, you could only get a handful of flights into the airport as the effort was done to put the airport back up to speed.

My understanding is that as recently as yesterday, there were – 100 flights landed at the airport. So there’s a real effort to help get the airport back up to speed, and there is direct cooperation between the Haitian Government, the U.S. military, and the UN on working on getting those flights in.

MODERATOR: Any other questions? New York, no further questions? That – we’re going to conclude this portion of the briefing.

There’s a follow-up question from New York.

QUESTION: Okay. Sorry. Well – Shinya Abe from Tokyo Shimbun again. And – well, it’s sort of a technical question, but how long do you plan to station your military to – for the rescue effort? I mean, do you have a concrete plan to – in terms of the – how long the U.S. Government will station the U.S. troops? And another question is: Are you subordinate – is the U.S. Government subordinating the U.S. troops under the control of the UN military, UN peacekeeping operations?

ASSISTANT SECRETARY BRIMMER: To address your questions, first off, to note that the U.S. military is in Haiti at the request of the Haitian Government, and therefore, the length of time will be based by the determination of what is necessary. It’s part of the strong bilateral commitment to support the Government of Haiti and to support the United Nations. And indeed, Defense Secretary Gates recently commented on the role of the U.S. military, noting their key role in helping support the humanitarian effort. So therefore, I think that is really the determining factor. It’s really the needs of the humanitarian effort.

And then in terms of the U.S. military that is there, as I say, is there in support of the bilateral effort. The overall diplomatic responsibility in Haiti, of course, belongs to the U.S. Ambassador, and indeed the troops are there as part of the bilateral commitment there as part of the U.S. troop presence there.

MODERATOR: Okay. One more time. Are there any other questions either here in Washington or in New York?

All right. So this time, I think we are going to conclude. Thank you very much, Assistant Secretary Brimmer.


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Posted Monday, January 11 2010 at 19:41

Monday, 11 January 2010

Ghana OFF Togo, Gp B
Ivory Coast v Burkina Faso, Gp B, 0-0
Malawi v Algeria, Gp A, 3-0
_______________________________________ Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Burkina Faso v Ghana, Gp B, 0-1
Ivory Coast v Togo, Gp B,


Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Egypt v Nigeria, Gp C, 3-1
Mozambique v Benin, Gp C, 2-2

________________________________________ Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Egypt v Benin, Gp C, 2-0
Nigeria v Mozambique, Gp C, 3-0


Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Cameroon v Gabon, Gp D, 0-1
Zambia v Tunisia, Gp D, 1-1

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Cameroon v Tunisia, Gp D, 16:00
Gabon v Zambia, Gp D, 16:00

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Angola v Malawi, Gp A, 2-0

Mali v Algeria, Gp A, 0-1

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Winner Gp A v Runner-up Gp B, QF
Winner Gp B v Runner-up Gp A, QF

Friday, 15 January 2010

Burkina Faso v Togo, Gp B, 16:00
Ivory Coast v Ghana, Gp B, 3-1

________________________________________ Monday, 25 January 2010

Winner Gp C v Runner-up Gp D, QF
Winner Gp D v Runner-up Gp C, QF

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Egypt v Mozambique, Gp C, 2-0
Nigeria v Benin, Gp C, 1-0
________________________________________ Thursday, 28 January 2010

Winner Q/F 1 v Winner Q/F 4, SF
Winner Q/F 2 v Winner Q/F 3, SF

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Cameroon v Zambia, Gp D, 3-2
Gabon v Tunisia, Gp D, 0-0
________________________________________ Saturday, 30 January 2010

Loser SF1 v Loser SF2, 3rd

Monday, 18 January 2010

Angola v Algeria, Gp A, 0-0
Mali v Malawi, Gp A, 3-1

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Winners SF1 v Winners SF2, F

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Siku Rais Kikwete alipojeuka Mbogo Ikulu
Jijini Dar es Salaam

Rais Jakaya Kikwete akimuliza mmoja wa wasaidizi wake Ikulu jijini Dar es Salaam juzi Bw Luambiya Fyanga Baada ya Rais Kikwete Kushindwa kutoa msaada wa Magari ya wagonjwa Aliyotaka kutoa kwa mkurugenzi wa mtendaji wa Halmashauri ya wilaya ya Londigo kupokelewa na mkurugenzi mtendaji wa Halmashauri ya ngorongoro.Picha na Fidelis Felix
Mambo yalikua Hivi...

''Wewe bwana unatoka wapi? alihoji Rais Kikwete na mkurugenzi huyo aliyejitambulisha kwa jina la Kayange Jacob alijibu ametoka wilaya ya Ngorongoro. “Unasema unatoka Ngorongoro?" aliendelea kuhoji Rais Kikwete. "Hapa umefikaje, umekuja kufanya nini na nani kakualika? Aliendelea kuhoji huku akiwageukia wasaidizi wake akiwemo Katibu wa Rais Ikulu.

"Huyu amekuja kufanya nini hapa? Nani kamwalika", alisema Rais Kikwete ambaye sura yake ilionekana wazi kukasirika na kulazimia kuvua miwani.

Hatuwezi kukupa gari hii. Hii ni kashfa kubwa, nakumbuka vizuri msaada huu niliahidi kwa wananchi wa wilaya ya Longido wakati nilipofanya ziara kijiji cha Engalinaibo kipindi cha ukame ambapo nilifika Kituo cha Afya wakazi wa Engalinaibo wakaniambia hawana gari la wagonjwa na nikawaahidi nitawaletea: “Nakumbuka nilipofanya ziara wananchi wale waliniambia wanayo dispensary (Zahanati ) lakini, hawana gari la wagonjwa na sio nyinyi! Hatukupi bwana, sio lako hatukupi."

"Hatuwezi kukupa gari, watafuteni wanaopaswa kupewa gari hili, hii ni kashfa kubwa, document zote zimeandikwa kwa kijiji cha Engalinaibo iweje tuwape watu wa Ngorongoro?" alihoji.

Waombeni radhi hawa mabwana (waandishi) mliowaalika kwa ajili ya kufanya coverage hii (kuandika habari hii) kwa kuwasumbua, siwezi kutoa gari hapa waende tu, ”alisisitiza Kikwete na kuondoka eneo la tukio kwa hasira bila kukabidhi magari hayo. Baada ya tukio hilo Mwandishi Msaidizi wa Rais, Premi Kibanga aliwaomba radhi waandishi wa habari kwa kuwasumbua kuhudhuria tukio hilo.

Kwa habari zaidi juu ya sakata hili zima Soma Hapa na Hapa.........>>>>>



Kwa Watanzania wote madiaspora waishio Uingereza,(Ireland,Wales,England na Scotland)

Kamati ya kuandaa mchakato wa upatikanaji wa viongozi wapya wa watanzania hapa uingereza (taskforce) inawatakia watanzania wote mwaka mpya wenye neema na baraka tele.

Umoja wa watanzania hapa uingereza umekuwa ukifanyiwa tathmini kwa muda ili kuuwezesha kuwa na mwelekeo na mfumo wenye kuleta hamasa, uwazi na ufanisi zaidi katika kutumikia jamii ya watanzania hapa UK.

Kamati kwa ushirikiano na ushauri wa wadau(wanajamii) imeweza kufanya kazi kubwa ya kuleta maono na mwelekeo utakaokuwa na ufanisi zaidi katika kuwatumikia wanajamii wote hapa UK kwa kipindi hiki.

Kamati imeweza kuangalia na kurekibisha(Kupendekeza) sehemu zote muhimu zilizohitaji marekebisho ili kuleta ufanisi zaidi nazo ni kama zifuatazo:



Katiba ya Umoja

Mwelekeo wa Umoja, na

Mfumo wa Uongozi wake.

Muundo na mwelekeo huu mpya wa umoja wa watanzania utayazingatia mambo ya muhimu ambayo ni muhimu kuyaweka wazi.

Umoja utahakikisha unaendelea kujifunza; na kuwa wazi katika utendaji wake; kuwaelimisha na kuwawezesha wanajamii wake,ili waweze kuwa sehemu ya mabadiliko na ufanisi katka jamii yetu.

Mabaadiliko ndio itakuwa changamoto yake: ili kuwa makini kukidhi mahitaji wa wadau wake.

Umoja utahakikisha unawawezesha wadau ili kuchochea umiliki na uwajibikaji wa wadau katika kuendeleza Umoja wao.

Utahakikisha unafuatilia, unatambua, kutoa nafasi na unatumia vipaji vyote vilivyo ndani ya watanzania ili kujiendeleza.

Umoja utahakikisha majukumu ya viongozi(uongozi) yanaainishwa kwa uwazi ili kuondoa miingiliano ya utendaji unaoleta mafarakano; na pia utaweka utaratibu wa kiutendaji utakaokuwa makini kulenga manufaa yawadau wake wakati wote.

Taarifa zaidi zitaendelea kutolewa , Tafadhali watanzania waishio miji ifuatayo:

Cardiff Milton keynes
Belfast Glasgow
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G. Manchester Portsmouth
Southampton Leicester
Dublin Birmingham
Luton Slough
Coventry London
Scotland Westmidlands

Tunaomba muwasiliane na kamati hii ya Umoja wa watanzania kupitia:

Email: , au Simu zifuatazo,

Coordinator: 07766168471, Secretary: 07908010344, Members: 07799212095, or 0788841971

Tunaomba mawasiliano ili tuweze kupata watu watakaokuwa tayari kufacilitate uanzishwaji wa Umoja wa watanzania katika miji yenu.

Tafadhali anagalia kiambatanisho kwa habari zaidi. Taarifa ijayo itaambatanisha repoti ya kamati ya taskforce


Umoja wa Watanzania UK