Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas AND Happy Holidays

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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Aw, The First Family and the Elves

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Sunday, December 15, 2013

First Anniversary of Newtown Massacre

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From Reuters
On December 14, 2012, Adam Lanza, 20, shot his way into the school he had once attended and murdered 20 first-graders, all aged 6 and 7, and six adults. Before heading to the school, Lanza killed his mother, who had legally purchased the guns he used that day.

Newtown officials said the town wanted to be left alone on the anniversary. Some of the victims' families have encouraged those moved by the shooting to mark the day by performing an act of kindness in their own communities.

At the White House, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama observed a moment of silence after lighting 26 candles to honor those lost at the school.

And just yesterday, a reminder that nothing has really changed ... yet. Another school shooting in Arapahoe County, Colorado.

From Yahoo News
A schoolboy armed with a shotgun opened fire and wounded two fellow students on Friday before killing himself, the latest US mass shooting on the eve of the Newtown school massacre anniversary.

. . . Hundreds students locked themselves into classrooms as the shooter -- identified by authorities as Karl Pierson, 18 -- stormed into the school brandishing a shotgun, shouting that he was looking for a particular teacher in what police said was apparently a planned "revenge" attack.

America's perennial gun control debate is back in the headlines on the anniversary Saturday of the 2012 school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that killed 26 people, including 20 young children.

In Friday's incident, students locked themselves in classrooms after shots rang out shortly after 12:30 pm (1930 GMT), triggering an all-too-familiar police operation.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mandela Memorial: Obama Speaks and Soweto Cheers

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Previous Related Posts:
R.I.P. Nelson Mandela - "He Belongs to the Ages
Obama in Africa: Capetown to Tanzania


President Obama and every other living President except George H.W. Bush attended the Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela in Soweto, South Africa. Speaking in the rain to a packed stadium, President Obama had the crowd fired up and cheering, as he often does in our own country. His was by far the most dynamic speech. Most of the tributes could have been edited intensely and no one would have noticed. However, Mandela's grandchildren were wonderfully poetic!

Click Here for Complete Text of President Obama's Eulogy

. . . Mandela understood the ties that bind the human spirit. There is a word in South Africa -- Ubuntu -- a word that captures Mandela’s greatest gift: his recognition that we are all bound together in ways that are invisible to the eye; that there is a oneness to humanity; that we achieve ourselves by sharing ourselves with others, and caring for those around us.

We can never know how much of this sense was innate in him, or how much was shaped in a dark and solitary cell. But we remember the gestures, large and small -- introducing his jailers as honored guests at his inauguration; taking a pitch in a Springbok uniform; turning his family’s heartbreak into a call to confront HIV/AIDS -- that revealed the depth of his empathy and his understanding. He not only embodied Ubuntu, he taught millions to find that truth within themselves.

. . . Over 30 years ago, while still a student, I learned of Nelson Mandela and the struggles taking place in this beautiful land, and it stirred something in me. It woke me up to my responsibilities to others and to myself, and it set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today. And while I will always fall short of Madiba’s example, he makes me want to be a better man. He speaks to what’s best inside us.

After this great liberator is laid to rest, and when we have returned to our cities and villages and rejoined our daily routines, let us search for his strength. Let us search for his largeness of spirit somewhere inside of ourselves. And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, when our best-laid plans seem beyond our reach, let us think of Madiba and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of his cell: “It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.”

What a magnificent soul it was. We will miss him deeply. May God bless the memory of Nelson Mandela. May God bless the people of South Africa.

Mandiba's Grandchildren - He Would Be Proud!

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Friday, December 6, 2013

RIP Nelson Mandela - "He Belongs to the Ages"

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Previous Related Post:
Obama in Africa: Cape Town to Tanzania

Must-See Video of Mandela Dancing:

President Obama's Full Statement on the Death of Nelson Mandela:

5:25 P.M. EST

THE PRESIDENT: At his trial in 1964, Nelson Mandela closed his statement from the dock saying, “I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

And Nelson Mandela lived for that ideal, and he made it real. He achieved more than could be expected of any man. Today, he has gone home. And we have lost one of the most influential, courageous, and profoundly good human beings that any of us will share time with on this Earth. He no longer belongs to us -- he belongs to the ages.

Through his fierce dignity and unbending will to sacrifice his own freedom for the freedom of others, Madiba transformed South Africa -- and moved all of us. His journey from a prisoner to a President embodied the promise that human beings -- and countries -- can change for the better. His commitment to transfer power and reconcile with those who jailed him set an example that all humanity should aspire to, whether in the lives of nations or our own personal lives. And the fact that he did it all with grace and good humor, and an ability to acknowledge his own imperfections, only makes the man that much more remarkable. As he once said, “I am not a saint, unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying.”

I am one of the countless millions who drew inspiration from Nelson Mandela's life. My very first political action, the first thing I ever did that involved an issue or a policy or politics, was a protest against apartheid. I studied his words and his writings. The day that he was released from prison gave me a sense of what human beings can do when they’re guided by their hopes and not by their fears. And like so many around the globe, I cannot fully imagine my own life without the example that Nelson Mandela set, and so long as I live I will do what I can to learn from him.

To Graça Machel and his family, Michelle and I extend our deepest sympathy and gratitude for sharing this extraordinary man with us. His life’s work meant long days away from those who loved him the most. And I only hope that the time spent with him these last few weeks brought peace and comfort to his family.

To the people of South Africa, we draw strength from the example of renewal, and reconciliation, and resilience that you made real. A free South Africa at peace with itself -- that’s an example to the world, and that’s Madiba’s legacy to the nation he loved.

We will not likely see the likes of Nelson Mandela again. So it falls to us as best we can to forward the example that he set: to make decisions guided not by hate, but by love; to never discount the difference that one person can make; to strive for a future that is worthy of his sacrifice.

For now, let us pause and give thanks for the fact that Nelson Mandela lived -- a man who took history in his hands, and bent the arc of the moral universe toward justice. May God Bless his memory and keep him in peace.