Thursday, January 22, 2009

President Barack Obama first speech

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many.They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America - they will be met. On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted - for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things - some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.

For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.

For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn. Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.

This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.

For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act - not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. And all this we will do.

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart - not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.

For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.

To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West - know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.

As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.

We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment - a moment that will define a generation - it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.

Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends - hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility - a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

This is the price and the promise of citizenship.

This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

President Barack Obama's inaugural remarks
on Jan. 20, 2009,
At the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

India Orissa Christmas 2008

Written by AICC
- All India Christian Council

State of Orissa

NEW DELHI – December 23, 2008: Despite the cancelation of a state-wide bandh (strike) by ultra-nationalist Hindu groups, Christians in Orissa state are worried about possible anti-Christian violence over Christmas.

Indian media reports on Dec. 20, 2008 said Orissa's Chief Minister met with the rightwing Hindu group, the Swami Laxmananand Saraswati Shraddhanjali Samiti, and the group agreed to call off a state-wide shut-down planned for Dec. 25. However, aicc Orissa state leaders said the group was planning prayers from 5:10-5:40pm on Dec. 25th in temples across the state.

There are fears the people gathered at each temple could be incited to attack Christians. The Samiti, which has been involved with a temples campaign, was set up by the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and the Bajrang Dal, the two groups responsible for the December 2007 and August-October 2008 violence in the state.

The 12 hour bandh was announced in mid-November if authorities failed to arrest the killers of VHP leader Lakshmanananda Saraswati by December 15, 2008. The murder of the religio-political leader on Aug. 23, 2008 triggered widespread anti-Christian violence despite claims of responsibility from Maoist militants.

John Dayal, aicc Secretary General, said, "We appreciate Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for doing the right thing and successfully urging Hindutva groups to call off their planned bandh. However, the government in Orissa – for that matter, in all states across India – must now ensure mischief makers do not sabotage the peace of the Christmas holidays."

Aicc is making plans to have teams of observers in Orissa to alert authorities should any violence begin. Plans called for teams to include both Christians and non-Christians – especially non-sectarian minded Hindus.
Dayal said, "We encourage Indian Christians to celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to earth in a peaceful and harmonious manner. Christians across our great land must pray for the approximately 50,000 Dalit and Tribal Christians who will spend Christmas away from their damaged and destroyed homes. For many, this will be their second Christmas as refugees inside their own country."

The All India Christian Council birthed in 1998, exists to protect and serve the Christian community, minorities, and the oppressed castes. The aicc is a coalition of thousands of Indian denominations, organizations, and lay leaders.

The Council is financed by the freewill gifts and offerings of its members, Christians throughout India, and concerned citizens everywhere. Contact Aicc


News from India Orissa persecution 2008

"Christmas celebration for the persecuted families"

All India Christian Council Correspondent

State Andhra Pradesh

"The Passion for the Persecuted”, along with The All India Christian Council, organized a Christmas celebration for the persecuted families at the Centenary Baptist Church, Secunderabad on 25th November 2008. Nearly 400 people attended these celebrations.

The unique thing about this celebration was that there were families from Kandhamal who were the victims of the 2008 August Anti-Christian violence in Orissa. A similar program was held last year in the Warangal Baptist Church. For this year’s program more than 50 persecuted families have come from all the corners of our state to be part of this celebration. The victims’ families were given a set of new clothes as a Christmas gift to all those victims who had come to partake these celebrations. It was interesting to see “ the wives’ of the martyrs”,who were present to cut the Christmas cake. The program included different speeches and some encouraging words given to the persecuted families by different Christian leaders who were present at the meeting. Mr. Anil Kumar prominent speaker gave a message and encouraged the victims to live for God. “He emphasized that we should ask God to bring in justice to the all the affected Christians”.

Brother Franklin Sudhakar, thanked Mr Anil Kumar and Stanly Babu for accepting the invitation and spending the evening with the “Persecuted families”. Over all it was a nice evening with many testimonies, exhortations from the guests and some video presentations on the Orissa atrocities.

Bishop Daniel Kalyanapu, Brother Chiranjeevi, and Sis. Kamala Cheranjeevi, Mr. Dasanna, and few other prominent leaders were present on this occasion. The program concluded with a special meal.


The Council is financed by the freewill gifts and offerings of its members, Christians throughout India, and concerned citizens everywhere. Contact Aicc


President Barack Obama - The Day Before


Honoring Dr. King’s Legacy and Serving America

Inauguration Day at Capitol

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009 at 12:01 pm

Yesterday, with Washington and the country eagerly awaiting the Inauguration, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and their families spent the day honoring the memory of Martin Luther King Jr. by serving others. After spending the morning with wounded soldiers at the Walter Reed Medical Center, President Obama traveled to the Sasha Bruce Youthwork shelter for homeless teens in Northeast Washington where he helped renovate "safe space" housing.

After leaving the shelter, the President and Mrs. Obama attended a reception with volunteers at Coolidge Senior High School, where President Obama spoke about the challenges ahead and how every one person can contribute to fighting them.

"Dr. King taught us that we could no longer view our own day-to-day cares and responsibilities as somehow separate from what was happening in the wider world that we read about in the newspaper and saw on TV," the President said at the reception. "Because ultimately, for each of us, our own story and the American story are not separate, they are shared. And they are both strengthened and enriched each time we stand up and answer the call to help meet the challenges of our new century."

Earlier in the day, Michelle Obama, Malia and Sasha Obama, and Dr. Jill Biden and Ashley Biden participated in a service project for American soldiers stationed overseas. All told, the volunteers at RFK Memorial Stadium, where the First and Second Families were working, created more than 85,000 care packages. Vice President Biden worked with Habitat for Humanity -- with about 50 AmeriCorps volunteers, firefighters, police officers, and others -- creating homes for families in need in Northeast Washington, D.C.

In all, more than 11,000 service events were held across the nation yesterday. Traditionally, Martin Luther King Jr. Day has often been referred to as a National Day of Service, but the President emphasized that the commitment must extend beyond a single day. "Government will do its part to open up more opportunities for citizens to participate," he said. "And in return, I ask you to play your part – to not just pitch in today, but to make an ongoing commitment that lasts far beyond one day, or even one presidency."

Read President Obama's full remarks below:

Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama
Day of Service Luncheon at Coolidge High School
January 19, 2009 - Washington, DC 20009

I want to start by thanking all of you for coming together from across this community – people who are young and old, of every race and background and faith – and taking part in the great American tradition of giving of yourselves to lift up your community.

We meet at a moment when this work could not be more urgent. Today, we face challenges like never before in our lifetime. A lot of folks here in DC and across America are hurting and filled with uncertainty about what the future holds. And as I prepare to take that oath tomorrow, I know my Administration has our work cut out for us.

But I also know this: that however well government does its job; however hard we work to make good plans and policies and restore a sense of responsibility to Washington, our problems cannot be solved by government alone – or even mostly by government. It’s going to take all of us, putting our shoulder to the wheel, doing our part to remake this nation.

That’s why we’ve called on the American people to come together and devote their time and effort to work in their communities today. And that’s why we chose this particular day, when we honor a man who lived his life as a servant to his fellow citizens – and whose greatness can be measured not just in his own extraordinary contributions, but in how he inspired others to contribute.

Dr. King taught us that we could no longer view our own day-to-day cares and responsibilities as somehow separate from what was happening in the wider world that we read about in the newspaper and saw on TV. Because ultimately, for each of us, our own story and the American story are not separate, they are shared. And they are both strengthened and enriched each time we stand up and answer the call to help meet the challenges of our new century.

So today, I am asking you to roll up your sleeves and join in the work of remaking this nation. I pledge to you that government will do its part to open up more opportunities for citizens to participate. And in return, I ask you to play your part – to not just pitch in today, but to make an ongoing commitment that lasts far beyond one day, or even one presidency.

And to those who are skeptical about whether this will happen – to anyone who thinks that the American people are selfish or apathetic – I invite them to come here to Coolidge High School and to the more than 11,000 other places across this country where people have spent today fixing up schools and renovating homes and organizing food drives and blood drives and so much more. I see what the American people are doing today and every day. So don’t tell me that we can’t usher in a new spirit of service in this country.

I know we can do this. America is a great nation precisely because Americans have been willing to stand up when it was hard; to give when they had little left to give; to rise above moments of great challenge and terrible trial.

And I know that I am here today – as are so many of you – because somebody, at some point, decided that loving their community and their country meant doing something to change it.

That’s what we are called to do once again, in this moment – our moment – in history. So today, in the words of Dr. King, "Let us rise up…with a greater readiness. Let us stand with a greater determination. And let us move on in these powerful days, these days of challenge to make America what it ought to be."

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

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