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President Obama’s inauguration address

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Full Transcript

President Obama’s inauguration address

January 20, 2009, 19:55

It was an historic day for the United States of America: President-elect Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th president, and the first African-American president in the nation’s history. Speaking to the hundreds of thousands present at the National Mall, and millions watching on television, President Barack Obama delivered his inauguration address.

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks after taking Oath of Office during inauguration ceremony in Washington
Picture: REUTERS

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers his speech after taking the Oath of Office to become the 44th President of the United States, during the inauguration ceremony in Washington, January 20, 2009. Obama became the first African-American president in U.S. history.

The following is the full text of U.S. President Barack Obama’s inauguration address on Tuesday. Obama, a Democrat, was sworn in on the steps of the Capitol as the 44th U.S. president around noon EST (1700 GMT), taking over from President George W. Bush, a Republican.

“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.

More Pictures

Heavenly Perspective Satellite images of the inauguration
President Obama The 44th president is sworn in
Inauguration Day An historic day in Washington, D.C.
Team Obama Obama’s cabinet is taking shape
Barack Obama Trivia Learn more about the 44th U.S. President
The 44 US Presidents From Washington to Obama
Michelle Obama The new First Lady of the U.S.A.
Meet the Presidents Obama meets his predecessors

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.

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.”

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

January 25, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Posted in World top news

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Coup attempt in Guinea after dictator’s death

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Coup declared in Guinea after dictator’s death

The Associated Press –
CONAKRY, Guinea (AP) – A military group seized control of the airwaves in mineral-rich Guinea and declared a coup Tuesday after the death of the West African country’s dictator, one of the continent’s last strongmen.
Video: Confusion over Guinea coup after president dies – 23 Dec 08


Guinea coup leaders name council BBC News
BloombergInternational Herald
all 1,644 news articles »

In this Sept. 24, 1999 file photo, President of Guinea Lansana Conte addresses the 54th Session of the General Assembly at the United Nations Friday. Conte, who has ruled the African nation with an iron hand since seizing power in a coup nearly a quarter century ago, died following a lengthy illness, the National Assembly president said Tuesday, Dec. 23, 2008. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)


International Herald Tribune

Coup attempt in Guinea after strongman dies

By Alan Cowell
Wednesday, December 24, 2008

LONDON: The 24-year reign of Guinea’s president, one of Africa’s longest-ruling strongmen, ended in confusion and chaos on Tuesday as a group of soldiers seized on his death to proclaim a coup that was immediately challenged by government officials.

Troops in armored personnel carriers took to the streets of Conakry, the capital of Guinea, an impoverished West African state, but there were no immediate reports of bloodshed, according to news agencies. Rather, the “putsch,” as one lawmaker called it, began to unfold in time-honored fashion with a group of officers taking control of the airwaves to announce that the Constitution and the government had been suspended.

Soon afterward, the government denied the claim. Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souaré said in a state broadcast that he was speaking from his office and that his government “continues to function as it should,” The Associated Press reported.

The prime minister was responding to statements by a uniformed army officer on state television and radio that a group calling itself the National Council for Democracy and Development was “taking charge of the destiny of the Guinean people,” news agencies reported.

“The Constitution is dissolved,” the officer was quoted as saying. “The government is dissolved. The institutions of the republic are dissolved.”

President Lansana Conté, 74, whose death on Monday after a long, unspecified illness was announced in the early hours of Tuesday, belonged to a generation of African leaders — the so-called Big Men — who seized power through the gun and ruled ruthlessly.

The claimed coup attempt mirrored Conté’s own rise to power in a military takeover in 1984, after the death of his predecessor, Ahmed Sékou Touré. Touré ruled with an iron fist when the country became independent from France in 1958.

Underpinned by the army, each man ran the country as a personal domain, crushing dissent while Guinea’s 10 million people slipped ever deeper into grinding poverty. Despite potential riches from agriculture and minerals — in particular, the world’s largest deposits of bauxite, used to make aluminum — Guinea ranks among the world’s poorest countries.

Conté faced at least two attempts by military elements to eject him from office. He formed a political party to win elections in 1993, 1998 and 2003, but the ballots were widely depicted by independent monitors as fraudulent.

Conté’s ill health was an open secret among his people for many months, but he did not groom a successor, leaving a power vacuum that some officers and soldiers apparently sought to fill.

There was some doubt about the military’s appetite for a takeover.

“It’s a minority of soldiers and officers,” the president of the National Assembly, Aboubacar Somparé, told a French television station, France 24. “Guinea is now lawless and going through a restless transition,” he said, calling the claimed mutiny a “putsch.”

“We have heard that officers are negotiating among themselves,” he added. “We are waiting for the results.”

Guinea’s chaos underscored concern about the future of multiparty rule in Africa only a few years after the continent seemed to be enjoying a steady blossoming of democracy. In the last two years, the setbacks have included rigged ballots in Nigeria and violence after disputed elections in Kenya and Zimbabwe.

The African Union, the continent’s biggest representative group, expressed concern about the military’s action in Guinea.

Agence France-Presse said the takeover was announced by a military captain called Moussa Dadis Camara, who said a “consultative council” of civilian and military personnel would run the country to combat “deep despair,” revive the economy and fight corruption.

The military broadcast, starting around 7:30 a.m. local time, followed a night of confusion. According to news reports, Conté’s death was announced at 2 a.m. at a news conference of civilian and military leaders. Somparé, the president of the National Assembly, urged the Supreme Court to follow the Constitution and name him president.

Conté’s stewardship of Guinea drew widespread accusations of abuse from human rights monitors. In August, Human Rights Watch said in an assessment that Guinea had “been rocked by civil unrest that has typically been met with brutal and excessive use of force by government security forces.”

“In January and February 2007, security forces violently repressed a nationwide strike called to protest corruption, bad governance and deteriorating economic conditions, resulting in the deaths of more than 130 protesters,” the assessment said. Human Rights Watch also cited evidence of police torture of detainees to extract confessions, among other abuses.

The reported coup attempt on Tuesday followed signs of a profound malaise in the country, verging on mass unrest.

Last month, frustrated youths took to the crumbling streets of Conakry for three days, throwing stones and setting tires on fire in escalating protests over high gas prices. Witnesses said that at least one person was killed when government troops shot at demonstrators.

The threat of a coup emerged long before Tuesday. In May, soldiers took the army’s second in command as a hostage to protest poor pay and living conditions.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

December 24, 2008 at 2:42 am

Posted in World top news

Zimbabwe’s Mugabe wanted out

Mugabe should go, US ambassador says

United Press International

WASHINGTON, Dec. 11 (UPI) — The US ambassador to Zimbabwe, citing a “man-made humanitarian crisis,” Thursday echoed world leaders who want Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe out.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

December 12, 2008 at 2:30 am

Posted in World top news

Burma’s updated top news (3 June 2008)

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In darkened Rangoon, Burmese get resourceful

The Christian Science Monitor

Rangoon, Burma – Unable to read street signs at 8 p.m., a Burmese driver was lost in the darkness somewhere in a western township of his native Rangoon (Yangon). Ghostly figures of people emerged in the headlights, like deer on a mountain road. In the flickering light of passing cars, shoppers milled around a bustling food market, fumbling for money and buying fruit and vegetables sight unseen.

Voice of America

Untold story of Burma’s relief effort

BBC News –
Meanwhile state television shows Burma’s military generals touring showcase, largely empty, camps and posing beside well-stocked shelves of medical supplies.
Burma might accept UN choppers this week Melbourne Herald Sun
Myanmar cyclone: half of survivors without aid
Radio AustraliaSlateVoice of
all 97 news articles »

Myanmar junta withholds permission to choppers

Merinews –
Farce and the Myanmar military junta have become synonymous. A month after over a million people perished and 2.5 million were rendered homeless, the heartless regime withholds permission to airlift relief supplies by choppers to devastated areas.
US accuses Burma of criminal neglect
Burma junta ‘put children in danger by re-opening schools’
San Jose Mercury NewsLos Angeles TimesPhiladelphia Daily News
all 702 news articles »

ASEAN-UN-Myanmar tripartite core group to make joint assessment on …

Xinhua –
YANGON, June 3 (Xinhua) — A tripartite core group involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the United Nations (UN) and Myanmar is working to make joint assessment on the impact of Cyclone Nargis that devastated Myanmar in early …
Asean, UN to help Myanmar assess cyclone damage
Southeast Asia: Series of unfortunate disasters Global Voices Online
USA TodayReutersRadio AustraliaXinhua
all 50 news articles »

Sydney Morning Herald

Burma Says New Constitution Washes Away NLD Victory

Voice of America –
By VOA News Burma’s state media say a referendum approving a new military-backed constitution has “washed away” the victory won by Aung San Suu Kyi’s opposition party in 1990 elections.
Myanmar charter ‘washes away’ Suu Kyi victory: state media AFP
MIAMI HERALD: Burma’s rulers sink to new low Belleville News Democrat
all 7 news articles »

BBC News

More firms ‘have ties with Burma’

BBC News –
… the country since the group began compiling the list six years ago. Qantas appears on the list because of its controlling stake in Jetstar Asia, which, according to Burma Campaign, flies to the country in partnership with Myanmar Airways International.
Over 150 companies are accused of helping finance Burma’s dictatorship
all 5 news articles »

BBC News

Burma’s unsung heroes

BBC News –
It has been a month since Cyclone Nargis laid waste to huge areas of southern Burma, leaving more than 130000 people dead or missing.
Feature: After the cyclone Inspire Magazine
Burma reopens schools hit by Cyclone Nargis
Watford Observer
all 6 news articles »

Burma pressured over camp evictions –
Foreign aid groups have pressed Burma to stop closing relief camps after Cyclone Nargis left millions destitute. A meeting is being held between aid groups and the Burmese government, during which red tape and the closure of cyclone camps will be …
Rangoon residents left in dark Toronto Star
Eyewitness account Ottawa Citizen
BBC NewsReliefWeb (press release)The Irrawaddy News Magazine
all 8 news articles »

Soft line on Burma hard to beat: Malaysian PM

The Age –
Malaysia is a vocal member of ASEAN, and Mr Abdullah said the grouping had taken the lead in talks between Burma and the global community.


Myanmar denies delays to cyclone aid, as relief effort lags

YANGON (AFP) – Myanmar denied Tuesday any delays to cyclone aid, but the United Nations said the operation to help 2.4 million survivors is still moving too slowly one month after the deadly storm.

Post-disaster reconstruction in Myanmar underway

Xinhua –
YANGON, June 3 (Xinhua) — Official media the New Light of Myanmar Tuesday quoted state leaders as saying that the first phase of the country’s post-disaster restoration work — rescue and relief, has finished up to a certain extent.
Myanmar Rulers Still Impeding Access New York Times
Back to school in Myanmar Los Angeles Times
The Associated PressReutersInternational Herald TribuneJerusalem Post
all 527 news articles »


A month on, sickness and sadness in Myanmar’s neglected villages

ANGU, Myanmar (AFP) – The Irrawaddy delta bore the brunt when Cyclone Nargis struck on May 2 and 3, instantly killing more than 20 people in Angu village, while dozens of villagers have since fallen ill with coughs, colds and diarrhoea as vital aid …
Second wave economic crisis in Myanmar Asia Times Online
Myanmar Delays Cost `Thousands of Lives,’ Gates Says (Update2) Bloomberg
all 2,281 news articles »

UN: 1 million in Myanmar aren’t getting basic aid

The Associated Press –
“It’s unconscionable for Burma’s generals to force cyclone victims back to their devastated homes,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
Aid ‘lottery’ for Myanmar survivors
Aid groups: 1 million in Myanmar without help CNN
ReliefWeb (press release)
all 132 news articles »


Despite damage, many schools reopen in Myanmar

Schoolchildren leave their school with cyclone damaged roof, windows and walls in the village of Thuwana, 26 kilometers (16 miles) south of Yangon, Myanmar, Monday, June 2, 2008. Schools reopened Monday with many in and around Yangon still bearing the scares and damage of the May 2-3 Cyclone Nargis that left more than 130,000 people dead or missing. (AP Photo) (AP)

THUWANA, Myanmar – As students filed into Middle School No. 1 on Monday for the first day of classes since the cyclone hit Myanmar a month ago, all eyes stared skyward — at the gaping hole in the roof.


Xinhua –
YANGON, June 3 (Xinhua) — A tripartite core group involving the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the United Nations (UN) and Myanmar is working to make joint assessment on the impact of Cyclone Nargis that devastated Myanmar in early …


BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) — One month after the devastating cyclone hit Myanmar, aid groups say more than a million survivors are still without basic relief.
Myanmar monks a vital lifeline for cyclone survivors AFP
all 18 news articles »


Who’s in the Junta?The mysterious generals who run Burma.

Slate –
By Jacob Leibenluft US Defense Secretary Robert Gates accused the military leaders of Burma of “criminal neglect” on Sunday for their reluctance to accept international aid after Cyclone Nargis.
Top UN Official Accuses Burma of Obstructing Aid Voice of America
Myanmar reopens schools 1 month after cyclone The Associated Press Jose Mercury News
all 501 news articles »


Seattle Post Intelligencer –
After a cyclone devastated the Asian country several weeks ago, the public encyclopedia’s editors – remember, anyone can edit it – changed the title of the country’s encyclopedia article from Myanmar to Burma. Others changed it back again.

Burma Cyclone Disaster Fundraiser, Scala, London

Independent –
It’s always tempting, when thinking about a disaster of Cyclone Nargis’s magnitude, to conclude that there is nothing much one person can do.

. Mon Jun 2, 4:00 AM ET

Rangoon, Burma – Flying home, Burmese sailors are awestruck when they see the Irrawaddy Delta below them. Four weeks after cyclone Nargis hit, much of the delta is still underwater, a murky inland sea of swollen rivers and flooded fields, dotted with soggy clumps of thatch and bamboo that used to be villages teeming with children and water buffaloes.

Written by Lwin Aung Soe

June 3, 2008 at 4:19 am