“I am proud to declare that the United States formally recognizes the Republic of South Sudan”

President Obama’s statement recognizing South Sudan Independence today – A momentous day that PBO played a major role in reaching.

Hope over fear!

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I am proud to declare that the United States formally recognizes the Republic of South Sudan as a sovereign and independent state upon this day, July 9, 2011. After so much struggle by the people of South Sudan, the United States of America welcomes the birth of a new nation.

Today is a reminder that after the darkness of war, the light of a new dawn is possible. A proud flag flies over Juba and the map of the world has been redrawn. These symbols speak to the blood that has been spilled, the tears that have been shed, the ballots that have been cast, and the hopes that have been realized by so many millions of people. The eyes of the world are on the Republic of South Sudan. And we know that southern Sudanese have claimed their sovereignty, and shown that neither their dignity nor their dream of self-determination can be denied.

This historic achievement is a tribute, above all, to the generations of southern Sudanese who struggled for this day. It is also a tribute to the support that has been shown for Sudan and South Sudan by so many friends and partners around the world. Sudan’s African neighbors and the African Union played an essential part in making this day a reality. And along with our many international and civil society partners, the United States has been proud to play a leadership role across two Administrations. Many Americans have been deeply moved by the aspirations of the Sudanese people, and support for South Sudan extends across different races, regions, and political persuasions in the United States. I am confident that the bonds of friendship between South Sudan and the United States will only deepen in the years to come. As Southern Sudanese undertake the hard work of building their new country, the United States pledges our partnership as they seek the security, development and responsive governance that can fulfill their aspirations and respect their human rights.

As today also marks the creation of two new neighbors, South Sudan and Sudan, both peoples must recognize that they will be more secure and prosperous if they move beyond a bitter past and resolve differences peacefully. Lasting peace will only be realized if all sides fulfill their responsibilities. The Comprehensive Peace Agreement must be fully implemented, the status of Abyei must be resolved through negotiations, and violence and intimidation in Southern Kordofan, especially by the Government of Sudan, must end. The safety of all Sudanese, especially minorities, must be protected. Through courage and hard choices, this can be the beginning of a new chapter of greater peace and justice for all of the Sudanese people.

Decades ago, Martin Luther King reflected on the first moment of independence on the African continent in Ghana, saying, “I knew about all of the struggles, and all of the pain, and all of the agony that these people had gone through for this moment.” Today, we are moved by the story of struggle that led to this time of hope in South Sudan, and we think of those who didn’t live to see their dream realized. Now, the leaders and people of South Sudan have an opportunity to turn this moment of promise into lasting progress. The United States will continue to support the aspirations of all Sudanese. Together, we can ensure that today marks another step forward in Africa’s long journey toward opportunity, democracy and justice.

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If one crying baby can change a room…

Here’s what the incredible Chipsticks has done. She took the sweet little ending of last week’s West Wing Week, uploaded it to YouTube, and what do you know, more than 500,000 hits in 4 days and on virtually every show out there. I’m quite sure that more people saw this clip then the fake-man and media darling Jon Huntsman’ announcement.

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“I see the sadness and worry that’s creasing his face”

This, from Michelle, made me tear up a little bit. 

….Michelle Obama, in a sleeveless blue dress, stood at a podium beneath a tree bursting with lavender flowers.

She began by recounting her husband’s journey to the White House, beginning with the moment he told her he wanted to run for President.

“I wasn’t exactly thrilled at the idea,” she said. “I still had some cynicism about politics, that was my hesitation.”

But she said she was transformed on the campaign trail after hearing the stories of everyday Americas. She recalled a campaign stop in Iowa before the Democratic primary there, where she grew so comfortable with the people she was chatting with, she kicked off her heels.

“I was just standing barefoot in the grass, just talking to people,” Obama said.

She said the moment made her realize that campaigning is “about meeting people one-on-one and learning about what was going on in their lives.”

And it led to a revelation about Americans: “Whether you grew up on the South Side of Chicago or Iowa, our stories are shared.”

Obama then listed some of the things her husband has done in office during his first two years. “We’ve gone from an economy that was on the brink of collapse to an economy that is starting to grow again,” she said.

She also mentioned healthcare reform, the passage of the Lilly Ledbetter Act and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. She praised “justice” in the killing of Osama bin Laden, and the withdrawal of troops from overseas.

“We are responsibly ending the war in Iraq and have brought home 100,000 servicemen and women,” she said.

The First Lady talked about the toll that his work had taken on her husband.

“I see the sadness and worry that’s creasing his face,” she said.

She described his work ethic as tireless.

“He reads every word, every memo, so he is better prepared than the people briefing him,” she said. “This man doesn’t take a day off.”

Obama said the next few years of campaigning would be difficult at times for the Obamas and their supporters. “It is not going to be easy, and it is going to be long,” she said. “Now more than ever we need you help to finish what we started.”

President Obama Extends Protections To Gay Couples Under Medicaid

Hi Guys, 

More change you can believe in, but not hear about:

The Obama administration is set on Friday to issue policy guidance to states expanding their ability to offer same-sex couples the same protections afforded to straight couples when they receive long-term care under Medicaid, the Washington Blade has learned exclusively.

Under the new guidance, dated June 10, states have the option to allow healthy partners in a same-sex relationship to keep their homes while their partners are receiving support for long-term care under Medicaid, such as care in a nursing home.

Medicaid kicks in for a beneficiary to receive care after an individual depletes virtually all of their money. To pay for the beneficiary’s expenses under Medicaid, a state could impose a lein, or take possession, of a beneficiary’s home to pay for Medicaid expenses.

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Grrrrr, it’s Politico, but this story warmed my heart to no end:

Barack Obama still sells sandwiches

Nearly a week after President Barack Obama’s unannounced visit to a Rudy’s Hot Dog joint in Toledo, Ohio, the residents of Five Points are still abuzz about the unexpected presidential visit to their neighborhood.

“The locals have been driving me nuts and going crazy,” said Harry Dionyssiou, whose family operates six Rudy’s diners. “Everybody wants to sit at the same table, on the same chair that the president sat in; they want to eat the same thing that he ate.”
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Even after the initial hype over the president’s visit has quieted, the financial benefits for business owners are long lasting. The media spotlight can help raise a restaurant’s profile, putting a little-known local spot on the national dining landscape and turning it into a destination eatery for tourists.

“We make over 1,000 po’ boys a day, and that number has really gone up since the president’s visit,” said Eileen Nix, co-owner of Parkway Bakery & Tavern in New Orleans, which the Obama family visited in August. (The first couple had shrimp po’ boys; daughters Sasha and Malia ordered hamburgers.)

David Thornton, who co-owns the Tastee Sub Shop in Edison, N.J., said business is still up 10 percent since the president stopped by his shop almost a year ago.

“We can tell that there is still sort of a buzz about it,” said Thornton, who framed a picture of Obama with a sub in his hand. “One person came in shortly after the visit and sat in every chair to make sure he sat in the same chair as the president.”

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Garrett Graff, editor of Washingtonian magazine, said the Obamas eat out “more than any other first family in recent memory. George W. Bush only rarely ventured out. Bill Clinton ate out some, but I don’t think he was as regular or at as diverse a list of places as Obama.”

Public relations experts say there is no better publicity than the “celebrity halo effect” that follows a restaurant visit from the president of the United States.

It’s huge,” said Dean Small, founder and managing partner of Synergy Restaurant Consultants. “It’s like getting an official seal from the president that says, ‘This is where I choose to eat.’”

Obama’s impromptu visits also help raise morale in communities that have struggled during the economic downturn, said Dick Eppstein, president of Toledo’s Better Business Bureau.

“Toledo is a proud city, but we’ve had a very tough time, so a presidential visit really boosts everyone’s spirits,” he said.

Nix, who was raised in New Orleans and will turn 59 next week, said Parkway Bakery & Tavern is a family business that bears the scars of her city. In 2005, two years after the restaurant opened, Nix and her brother Jay shut down the store when it was submerged in more than 6 feet of water after Hurricane Katrina swept across Louisiana. Parkway reopened in December of that year.

Just five years later, the restaurant was hit again — this time by the BP oil spill that devastated the fishing industry along the Gulf Coast. For Nix, the sight of Obama and the first lady eating New Orleans shrimp po’ boys and gumbo spoke louder than any political speech.

“The president was just one man doing his best and trying to correct problems from the past,” Nix said. “He ate the shrimp to let people know that everything will be OK.”

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OMG. One more pretty good story from Politico. Somebody over there is going to get fired soon…

Obama shows charm on campaign trail

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“If anything, loosening up on the campaign trail is even more necessary for this president than most, because he is by nature far more formal than at least his most recent predecessors, and to say that 21st-century American culture is ‘loose and informal’ is to understate the case considerably,” said Clark Ervin, who served on Obama’s transition.

“Nowadays, regrettably in my view, the last thing the average voter wants in the White House is an intellectual, and since this president is the quintessential intellectual, it’s a wonder — another wonder, his race, heritage, short stint on the public stage being others — that he was elected in the first place”.

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Fingers crossed:

Second Half 2011 U.S. Growth Rebound Intact

Slowdowns in consumer spending and employment will prove temporary, giving way to a U.S. growth rebound in the second half of 2011, economists surveyed by Bloomberg News said.

After growing at a 2.3 percent annual pace this quarter, the world’s largest economy will expand at a 3.2 percent rate from July through December, according to the median forecast of 67 economists polled from June 1 to June 8.

Rising exports, stable fuel prices, record levels of cash in company coffers and easier lending rules will be enough to overcome the damage done by one-time events like poor weather and the disaster inJapan, economists said. Nonetheless, the current slackening means Federal Reserve policy makers will wait even longer to raise interest rates next year, the survey shows.

“The economic headwinds are well known, but if you look at the tailwinds, they are still pretty strong,” said Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts. “There are a lot of reasons to be fairly upbeat about the recovery. Growth will pick up in the second half.”

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Could this be true?

Qaddafi’s son has approached rebels to negotiate an exit from power for his father

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West Wing Week:

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Yea, a picture worth and all that…:)