Posts Tagged ‘ President Barack Obama ’

Newtown Families Launch Violence Prevention Effort

Wednesday, January 16th, 2013

The families of those who were killed in the December mass school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut held a news conference Monday to announce a violence prevention initiative they are organizing to prevent future tragedies like those their families endured.  More on “Sandy Hook Promise” from The New York Times:

In some of their first public statements since the shooting, which killed 20 children and 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the families of 11 of the victims called for a national dialogue on issues of mental health, school safety and what their nonprofit group, called Sandy Hook Promise, described as “gun responsibility.”

The gathering came as President Obama and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. prepared to unveil gun-control proposals as soon as Tuesday that are expected to call for a ban on the kind of assault weapon and high-capacity ammunition magazines used by Adam Lanza in the Newtown shooting.

But perhaps foreshadowing the difficult and contentious debates to come in Washington, group members declined to offer support for any specific measures, saying they needed time to educate themselves on the issues, and emphasizing that the debate must be broader than gun control.

“It’s only been 30 days, and for the past 30 days we’ve really been looking inward and supporting our community,” said Tim Makris, a founder of the group who had a fourth-grade son at the school, who was not hurt.

“We love the focus of the president,” he added, “and we love that the vice president reached out recently to talk directly to the families that chose to meet with him. But we don’t have an immediate response right now.”

Tom Bittman, another founder, who has children who previously attended the school, said that many of the group members were gun owners.

“We hunt, we target shoot,” he said. “We protect our homes. We’re collectors. We teach our sons and daughters how to use guns safely. We’re not afraid of a national conversation in our community and in Congress about responsibility and accountability. We know there are millions of people in this nation who agree with us.”

The news conference, which included other members of the Newtown community, was the first time a group of Sandy Hook families spoke publicly about the tragedy.

Image: News microphone, via Shutterstock

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President Obama Offers Comfort, Pledges Action at Newtown Vigil

Sunday, December 16th, 2012

Speaking at an interfaith vigil in the grief-stricken town of Newtown, Connecticut in the wake of last week’s shooting that left 20 children and 6 adults dead, President Barack Obama offered words of prayer, comfort, and renewed dedication to stem the tide of violence against children in America. As the president spoke, and particularly when he mentioned victims’ names, the sounds of sobbing could be heard from the assembled crowd.

Following is the full text of the President’s speech, which was aired on national television.

“Thank you, Governor. To all the families, first responders, to the community of Newtown, clergy, guests, scripture tells us, “Do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, inwardly, we are being renewed day by day.

“For light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all, so we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

“For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven not built by human hands.”

We gather here in memory of 20 beautiful children and six remarkable adults. They lost their lives in a school that could have been any school in a quiet town full of good and decent people that could be any town in America.

Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts.

I can only hope it helps for you to know that you’re not alone in your grief, that our world, too, has been torn apart, that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you. We’ve pulled our children tight.

And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide. Whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it. Newtown, you are not alone.

As these difficult days have unfolded, you’ve also inspired us with stories of strength and resolve and sacrifice. We know that when danger arrived in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school’s staff did not flinch. They did not hesitate.

Dawn Hocksprung and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Russeau, Rachel Davino and Anne Marie Murphy, they responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances, with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care.

We know that there were other teachers who barricaded themselves inside classrooms and kept steady through it all and reassured their students by saying, “Wait for the good guys, they are coming. Show me your smile.”

And we know that good guys came, the first responders who raced to the scene helping to guide those in harm’s way to safety and comfort those in need, holding at bay their own shock and their own trauma, because they had a job to do and others needed them more.

And then there were the scenes of the schoolchildren helping one another, holding each other, dutifully following instructions in the way that young children sometimes do, one child even trying to encourage a grownup by saying, “I know karate, so it’s OK; I’ll lead the way out.”

As a community, you’ve inspired us, Newtown. In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you’ve looked out for each other. You’ve cared for one another. And you’ve loved one another. This is how Newtown will be remembered, and with time and God’s grace, that love will see you through.

But we as a nation, we are left with some hard questions. You know, someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around.

With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves, our child, is suddenly exposed to the world, to possible mishap or malice, and every parent knows there’s nothing we will not do to shield our children from harm. And yet we also know that with that child’s very first step and each step after that, they are separating from us, that we won’t — that we can’t always be there for them.

They will suffer sickness and setbacks and broken hearts and disappointments, and we learn that our most important job is to give them what they need to become self-reliant and capable and resilient, ready to face the world without fear. And we know we can’t do this by ourselves.

It comes as a shock at a certain point where you realize no matter how much you love these kids, you can’t do it by yourself, that this job of keeping our children safe and teaching them well is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors, the help of a community and the help of a nation.

And in that way we come to realize that we bear responsibility for every child, because we’re counting on everybody else to help look after ours, that we’re all parents, that they are all our children.

This is our first task, caring for our children. It’s our first job. If we don’t get that right, we don’t get anything right. That’s how, as a society, we will be judged.

And by that measure, can we truly say, as a nation, that we’re meeting our obligations?

Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children, all of them, safe from harm?

Can we claim, as a nation, that we’re all together there, letting them know they are loved and teaching them to love in return?

Can we say that we’re truly doing enough to give all the children of this country the chance they deserve to live out their lives in happiness and with purpose?

I’ve been reflecting on this the last few days, and if we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough. And we will have to change. Since I’ve been president, this is the fourth time we have come together to comfort a grieving community torn apart by mass shootings, fourth time we’ve hugged survivors, the fourth time we’ve consoled the families of victims.

And in between, there have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and in big cities all across America, victims whose — much of the time their only fault was being at the wrong place at the wrong time.

We can’t tolerate this anymore. These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change.

We will be told that the causes of such violence are complex, and that is true. No single law, no set of laws can eliminate evil from the world or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society, but that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely we can do better than this.

If there’s even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that’s visited Tucson and Aurora and Oak Creek and Newtown and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that, then surely we have an obligation to try.

In the coming weeks, I’ll use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement, to mental health professionals, to parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this, because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine.

Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?

Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?

You know, all the world’s religions, so many of them represented here today, start with a simple question.

Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives our acts purpose?

We know our time on this Earth is fleeting. We know that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain, that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that, no matter how good our intentions, we’ll all stumble sometimes in some way.

We’ll make mistakes, we’ll experience hardships and even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans.

There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace, that is true.

The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves and binds us to something larger, we know that’s what matters.

We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that.

That’s what we can be sure of, and that’s what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us. That’s how you’ve inspired us. You remind us what matters. And that’s what should drive us forward in everything we do for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.

“Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”

Charlotte, Daniel, Olivia, Josephine, Ana, Dylan, Madeline, Catherine, Chase, Jesse, James, Grace, Emilie, Jack, Noah, Caroline, Jessica, Benjamin, Avielle, Allison, God has called them all home.

For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on and make our country worthy of their memory. May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort, and may He bless and watch over this community and the United States of America.”

For more on the Sandy Hook tragedy, visit the following on Parents.com:

Image: President Barack Obama, via spirit of america / Shutterstock.com

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Woman Names Twins Born on Election Day Barack and Mitt

Thursday, November 8th, 2012

After Tuesday’s election, both candidates expressed a desire to reach across the aisle and set aside partisan differences. Two other guys named Barack and Mitt can just reach across the crib. Millicent Awour delivered twin boys on Tuesday and named them after the incumbent President Barack Obama and Republican candidate Mitt Romney, the NY Daily News reports. The twins were born in Slaya, Kenya, close to the town where President Obama’s relatives live.

Image: Babies’ feet via Shutterstock

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Obama’s Re-Election: What it Means for Health Care Reform

Wednesday, November 7th, 2012

After a hard-won fight in numerous battleground states, incumbent candidate Barack Obama defeated former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney in yesterday’s presidential election. How will Obama’s second term affect families? For one thing, the President’s re-election eliminates the possibility of a full repeal of his healthcare reform law, Reuters reports.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was passed in 2010 and upheld by the Supreme Court in June 2012, aims to offer benefits to 30 million uninsured Americans by 2014. Under the ACA, states will participate in insurance exchange programs, and families will have access to immunizations, pre- and post-natal care such as folic acid supplements, and preventive screenings such as mammograms without co-pays or out-of-pocket costs. The controversial reform is still facing approximately two dozen lawsuits, many of which seek to overturn a mandate requiring church-affiliated institutions to cover the cost of employees’ contraceptives.

Governor Romney vowed to repeal the act if elected. Now, “There’s sort of an immediate acceptance that this law will stay in place in some meaningful way,” explained Chris Jennings, a top healthcare adviser to former Democratic President Bill Clinton. “It’s sort of like a big barrier has been removed.”

To learn more about the Affordable Care Act, read our exclusive interview with Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Image: Map with stethoscope via Shutterstock

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The Wake-Up After the Quiet After the Storm (OPINION)

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Over the next few months, the editors of Parents.com will report on hot-button election issues that American families face today, from healthcare to education. In the spirit of offering diverse perspectives on the election, we’ve chosen three moms from across the political spectrum to be guest bloggers on Parents News Now. Each one of them will offer a unique take on the topics that they–and you!–are most passionate about. (Read the entire blog series.)

By Sharon Lerner

I’m feeling grateful for having power, Internet access, a dry place to sleep. But even in what may be one of the least superstorm-affected houses in Brooklyn, things are not yet back to normal — especially from the kids’ perspective. The Halloween parade was cancelled. School has yet to re-open. Whenever someone calls from out of town, my boys hasten to share the terrible news that lodged itself in their uncomprehending brains: that two young people right near us were killed by a falling tree.

People talk about the calm before the storm. But, strange and upsetting as Sandy was, there’s also been a calm after this storm. Shaken free from our routine, we’ve been operating in a quiet bubble in our house, finding comfort in unlikely playdates, checker games, baking experiments.

We’ve also been enjoying a reprieve, if a short-lived one, from the election. I know I’m not alone when I say that the race between “Bronco Bamma” and Mitt Romney was getting a little, er, wearying. (I admit I had moment of irrational fear that I had somehow magically caused the storm by screaming “Make them stop!” over and over during the last debate.)

But as I watched the sun shine over my leaf-strewn street this morning, it hit me that it’s time to wake up from the quiet after the storm. Given that the mere mention of political ads and “five-point plans” had become literally nauseating in the weeks before Sandy, it was a pleasant surprise to realize that I am not only ready to glance at the poll numbers today but also alive with a new urgency to fight to make sure Obama wins this race.

This coming Tuesday — THIS COMING TUESDAY! — is election day. And if Sandy left me with nothing else of value, it’s that this contest matters in a life-and-death way. The natural disaster brought two issues into sharp focus: the size of government and climate change. Both are issues that deeply affect children — and, at least when it comes to climate change, our children’s children, and their children’s children. And both are issues on which the political candidates have starkly different, potentially world-altering positions.

Mitt Romney, of course, believes in shrinking government. He’s made this clear with health care, which he promises to restore to its former state of dysfunction. He also believes in small government when it comes the safety net — or rather the elimination of benefits on which poor families depend.

And — try telling this to the child being rescued in this picture — he even believes in whittling down the government when it comes to disaster management. At least that’s how it seemed during the Republican primary, when he said he favors shutting down the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Wednesday, he came out with another position on the matter, which as Rachel Maddow points out, raises its own questions.

And then there’s climate change. Neither candidate has given enough attention to the issue. But Romney does far worse than ignore it, going so far as to mock  President Obama’s environmental efforts at the Republican National Convention.

Not surprisingly, his actual positions on the very serious matter of our climate are hard to pin down, as the Washington Post’s Brad Plumer notes. In front of some crowds, he says that he believes climate change is real and that humans have a role in it. While in front of others, like this one at a town hall meeting, he says essentially the opposite:

Do I think the world’s getting hotter? Yeah, I don’t know that but I think that it is,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s mostly caused by humans.”

“What I’m not willing to do is spend trillions of dollars on something I don’t know the answer to.”

I’m searching for a word that means the opposite of leadership now. Flip-flopping doesn’t quite do it. Pathetic politicking? Slithering?

Whatever you call it, ignoring climate change, as Romney would likely do if he were elected, would no doubt lead to only more of the catastrophic weather events like the one we just experienced. It would mean devastation for the planet our children and grandchildren will inherit. And, at least while he’d be at the helm, it would mean also getting less federal help during those disasters.

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