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September 8, 2009 - 6:38am
posted by Bea McManis in children, national news, President Obama, speech.

Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility. I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn. I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox. I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself. Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse. But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future. That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it. I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK. Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying. No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.
And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best. It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

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

October 29, 2008 - 12:57pm
posted by Philip Anselmo in crime, Daily News, police, national news.

Recently convicted killer Robert Kirkup has got the attention of Dateline NBC, which plans to devote segment of its news magazine show this spring or summer retracing the path Kirkup took leading up the murder of his wife at a Genesee County campground, according to the Daily News.

Scott DeSmit spoke with County District Attorney Lawrence Friedman, who is being interviewed for the show. Friedman had this to say about the interest in the case:

"I think it's the elements of a cold case. ... You have a 16-year-old murder, an infirm, older defendant, a body that was never found and the fact that he was interviewed (by police) in the same motor home that he killed her in 16 years ago."

DeSmit was unable to connect with the show's producer. No one yet knows if the crews will be filming in Genesee County.


In other news, a mix-up Monday afternoon led to a 7-year-old Batavia city school student getting on the wrong bus and dropped off a few miles from her home. The girl, Emily DiSanto, did eventually make it back home safely. School Superintendent Margaret Puzio said that the schools will now require each child to carry a bus pass "with his/her name, address, drop-off point and bus number on it" so that this mishap is not repeated.

We encourage you to pick up a copy of the Daily News at your local newsstand. Or, better yet, subscribe at BataviaNews.com.

September 17, 2008 - 8:49am
posted by Philip Anselmo in finance, national news.

All things local may keep our blood pumping each morning as we scan the doppler for clouds over our heads, but the national scene never ceases to prod our ponderings as we chew the cud of the day. With that in mind, we thought to start the morning—along with our roundup of other local media leads—with a look at which stories are quickening the collective pulse of the nation.

Here's what we found inciting the editorial finger to wag this morning (feel free to talk amongst yourselves):

Bloomberg reports that "we the people" will back the loan to bail out yet another private Wall Street institution:

The U.S. government took control of American International Group Inc. in an $85 billion bailout to prevent the bankruptcy of the nation's biggest insurer and the worst financial collapse in history.

The Federal Reserve will provide a two-year loan, take 79.9 percent of the New York-based company's stock and replace its management because "a disorderly failure of AIG could add to already significant levels of financial market fragility," according to a statement by the central bank late yesterday.

This quote in the Bloomberg article is especially revealing:

"Nobody really knows what it would have meant if they would have been allowed to fail, but there was an enormous amount of systemic risk," said David Havens, a credit analyst at UBS AG in Stamford, Connecticut. "It's an enormous relief."

Nobody really knows. In an NPR account of the bailout broadcast this morning, commentators were heard to say that if AIG had been allowed to fail, the "already delicate" economy would have been hurt even further, "confidence in the economy" would have been weakened even more and it would become even more difficult for borrowers to get loans from banks. Even more, even further—there's a good reason they call these moves bailouts. The ship is sinking, folks. All hands off deck. Worst financial collapse in history, according to Bloomberg—and they're not the only one to say it.

What do you think? Does a government bailout help staunch the blood flow from an already profusely wounded economy? What does this matter to the everyday John and Jane down the block? I asked my six-year-old niece yesterday if she thought the economy was doomed or if we might get done with this backslide and start climbing back up soon, and she was doom and gloom all the way. She's a smart kid. Should we believe her?

Any financial gurus out there who can give us a better idea of what's going on and what to expect?

Here's some more coverage:

September 12, 2008 - 8:20am
posted by Philip Anselmo in election, national news, Palin.

They're saying Sarah Palin stumbled, struggled, sidestepped, misstepped and was caught off guard in an interview with ABC's Charles Gibson that was aired in part last night. It should however be noted that none of the reports failed to note her confidence and poise on camera despite what her interviewer exasperatedly called her "blizzard of words."

From the New York Times:

Ms. Palin was clearly caught off guard when Mr. Gibson asked, “Do you agree with the Bush doctrine?” Seeking direction, and perhaps time to formulate an answer, Ms. Palin leaned back, smiled stiffly and said, “In what respect, Charlie?”

Initially unwilling to define the doctrine, Mr. Gibson said, “What do you interpret it to be?”

Ms. Palin asked, “His world view?”

Mr. Gibson said, “No, the Bush doctrine, enunciated September 2002, before the Iraq war.”

Ms. Palin responded: “I believe that what President Bush has attempted to do is rid this world of Islamic extremism, terrorists who are hell bent on destroying our nation.”

Mr. Gibson, finally defining the doctrine as “the right of anticipatory self-defense,” still struggled for a direct answer, asking twice more if she agreed with it before Ms. Palin answered: “Charlie, if there is a legitimate and enough intelligence that tells us that a strike is imminent against American people, we have every right to defend our country.”

From the Los Angeles Times:

By turns tense and combative, Palin, 44, used two interviews with ABC anchor Charles Gibson to display her grasp of issues central to the vice presidency.

She acknowledged that, other than a trip last year to see troops in Iraq, Kuwait and Germany, her only visits abroad were to Mexico and Canada. And she said that she had never met a head of state but that she did speak last week with President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia.

On the issues, Palin said that "we (as Americans) do not have to stand for" Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons, Georgia and the Ukraine should be welcomed into a NATO alliance and "man's activities certainly can be contributing to the issue of global warming."

What do you think? Was Palin a bumbling boob, a confident rock, a candidate to be proud of or one to be feared? Where do you think she will go from here?

UPDATE (by Howard): Here's the interview:

September 4, 2008 - 8:46am
posted by Philip Anselmo in Republican, national news, New York Times.

There's little in the way of Batavia news bleeping on my radar this morning—except for reports on the Muckdogs title hopes, already covered by Howard and Mollie this morning. My lack of news to report could be because I was stuck home for a little longer today owing to an overturned tractor-trailer that spilled crushed cars all over I-490 smack in the middle of my commute—anyone else feel that pain this morning.

So I thought we could try another exercise in national news comparisons. Last night was big for the Republican party. John McCain's choice for vice-president, Sarah Palin, took up the microphone and fired up the party—while riot police fired up the tear gas guns outside.

Below are four excerpts from four different op-ed columnists for the New York Times, each one writing about Sarah Palin. Do you think these columnists make good points? Bad points? No points? What are your thoughts on Palin? Does she represent a tough-nosed America that you know well or not at all?

Thomas Friedman:

With his choice of Sarah Palin — the Alaska governor who has advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and does not believe mankind is playing any role in climate change — for vice president, John McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil.

Gail Collins:

Sarah Palin came out of hiding Wednesday night, and boy, she seemed ticked off.

“Here’s a little news flash for all those reporters and commentators: I’m not going to Washington to win their good opinion,” said the moose-gutting, polar bear-trashing, aerobics-class-networking vice presidential nominee.

The speech was very well done. The Palin family — who we’re supposed to ignore, but they did sort of seem to be pretty much front and center — were adorable. And she was way more effective than the keynote speaker, Rudy Giuliani, at the red-meat-tossing detail. If you’re going to be really mean for an extended period of time, it’s better if you don’t look as if you want to lunge for the throat of the cameramen.

Maureen Dowd (from Tuesday):

Unable to stop the onslaught of wild soap opera storylines erupting from the Palin family and the Alaska wilderness, McCain campaign adviser Steve Schmidt offered caterwauling reporters a new mantra: “Life happens.”

Indeed, it does. Only four days into her reign as John McCain’s “soul mate,” or “Trophy Vice,” as some bloggers are calling her, on the ticket known as “Maverick Squared,” Palin, the governor of Alaska, has already accrued two gates (Troopergate and Broken-watergate), a lawyer (for Troopergate), a future son-in-law named Levi (a high school ice hockey player, described by New York magazine as “sex on skates”), and a National Enquirer headline about the “Teen Prego Crisis” with 17-year-old daughter Bristol.

Timothy Egan:

As she showed Wednesday night with her acceptance speech, Governor Sarah Palin fits the mold of a certain kind of Alaskan – “take it from a gal who knows,” as she said. The state has a unique political ecosystem, as quirky, odd and compelling as the big land itself.

...

But Palin’s style may not play outside of Alaska.

The governor isn’t so much a tough-minded reformer — see her sidling up to indicted Senator Ted Stevens, the earmarks directed to her hometown or the pressure from her governor’s office against a bad-boy former brother-in-law and trooper — nor is she some Annie Oakley throwback.

She is, though, a very recognizable Alaskan.

Thoughts?

September 2, 2008 - 11:53am
posted by Philip Anselmo in Elections, Republican, protest, national news, current events.

A news search on Google brings up 170 articles from across the nation—plus one from our friends in the United Kingdom—about yesterday's protests at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Needless to say, no two news outlets handle the event in the same way. Many look for some figure to represent the action: the ever-juridical CNN, for example, focuses on the arrests: "Hundreds to be charged in court," reads the headline.

Most news outlets, however, can't resist the opportunity for a good old fashion us-versus-them report, and a few of them will even be so bold as to tilt their coverage in favor of one side or the other, empathizing with the police or the protestors. A Fox News affiliate in St. Paul, for example, seems to take the side of the police against the "unruly and violent" mob. There is no mistaking the tenor of the language in this report which classifies the demonstrators as "anarchists" who are "causing chaos" in the streets. For a different take, you can check out a Minnesota daily newspaper that takes up the showdown from both sides but nevertheless seems to make allegiance with the protestors. This is made clear less in the language than through the telling photograph of a lone demonstrator getting "hosed down" with pepper spray. She stands alone in the center of the image, cringing and hunched over as an intimidating line of masked police in full riot gear march at her, sticks held bent sinister across their chests. Nothing of their faces is visible behind the reflective plastic and the gas mask tube over the mouth.

However interesting it is to do this compare and contrast with national news stories, and whichever point-of-view you choose to take on the events in St. Paul, there is one very definite image that emerges from out of all the coverage, and it is best represented in these two paragraphs from the New York Times:

As the protests grew, scores of National Guard troops in riot gear and gas masks fanned out around the Xcel Energy Center, where the convention is being held, and set up a blockade about three blocks away. Police helicopters buzzed over St. Paul throughout the day. Humvees painted in fatigue green ferried water to police officers working in the 88-degree heat, and city dump trucks were used to block traffic on some streets.

At one point, a group of about 200 protesters — many wearing black bandannas across their faces and some wearing black balaclavas — roamed through downtown, shouting and chanting and throwing street signs and concrete planters in the road. At another point, a police officer grabbed one of the youths. Others wrested him away, then appeared to knock the officer to the ground. On one knee, the officer released an arc of pepper spray.

What an image! Step aside Alexis de Tocqueville, this is democracy in America.

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