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Obama nominates Kagan To Suprme Court- Full Video

President Obama nominates US Solicitor General Elena Kagan to the US Supreme Court. Transcript:
 THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, hello, hello!  Thank you.  (Applause.)  Thank you very much.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Good morning, everybody.  Of the many responsibilities accorded to a President by our Constitution, few are more weighty or consequential than that of appointing a Supreme Court justice — particularly one to succeed a giant in the law like Justice John Paul Stevens. For nearly 35 years, Justice Stevens has stood as an impartial guardian of the law, faithfully applying the core values of our founding to the cases and controversies of our time.    He has done so with restraint and respect for precedent — understanding that a judge’s job is to interpret, not make law  — but also with fidelity to the constitutional ideal of equal justice for all.  He’s brought to each case not just mastery of the letter of the law, but a keen understanding of its impact on people’s lives.  And he has emerged as a consistent voice of reason, helping his colleagues find common ground on some of the most controversial and contentious issues the Court has ever faced. While we can’t presume to replace Justice Stevens’ wisdom or experience, I have selected a nominee who I believe embodies that same excellence, independence, integrity, and passion for the law — and who can ultimately provide that same kind of leadership on the Court:  our Solicitor General, and my friend, Elena Kagan.  (Applause.) Elena is widely regarded as one of the nation’s foremost legal minds.  She’s an acclaimed legal scholar with a rich understanding of constitutional law.  She is a former White House aide with a lifelong commitment to public service and a firm grasp of the nexus and boundaries between our three branches of government.  She is a trailblazing leader — the first woman to serve as Dean of Harvard Law School — and one of the most successful and beloved deans in its history.  And she is a superb Solicitor General, our nation’s chief lawyer representing the American people’s interests before the Supreme Court, the first woman in that position as well.  And she has won accolades from observers across the ideological spectrum for her well-reasoned arguments and commanding presence.  But Elena is respected and admired not just for her intellect and record of achievement, but also for her temperament — her openness to a broad array of viewpoints; her habit, to borrow a phrase from Justice Stevens, “of understanding before disagreeing”; her fair-mindedness and skill as a consensus-builder.  These traits were particularly evident during her tenure as dean.  At a time when many believed that the Harvard faculty had gotten a little one-sided in its viewpoint, she sought to recruit prominent conservative scholars and spur a healthy debate on campus.  And she encouraged students from all backgrounds to respectfully exchange ideas and seek common ground — because she believes, as I do, that exposure to a broad array of perspectives is the foundation not just for a sound legal education, but of a successful life in the law. Continue Reading →

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Health Care Reform Already Working

Transcript:
 
It has now been a little over a month since I signed health insurance reform into law.  And while it will take some time to fully implement this law, reform is already delivering real benefits to millions of Americans.  Already, we are seeing a health care system that holds insurance companies more accountable and gives consumers more control.    Two weeks ago, four million small business owners and organizations found a postcard in their mailbox informing them that they could be eligible for a health care tax cut this year – a tax cut potentially worth tens of thousands of dollars; a tax cut that will help millions provide coverage to their employees.    Starting in June, businesses will get even more relief for providing coverage to retirees who are not yet eligible for Medicare.  And a little over a month from now, on June 15th, senior citizens who fall into the prescription drug coverage gap known as the “donut hole” will start receiving a $250 rebate to help them afford their medication.    Aside from providing real, tangible benefits to the American people, the new health care law has also begun to end the worst practices of insurance companies.  For too long, we have been held hostage to an insurance industry that jacks up premiums and drops coverage as they please.  But those days are finally coming to an end.    After our administration demanded that Anthem Blue Cross justify a 39% premium increase on Californians, the company admitted the error and backed off its plan.  And this week, our Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, wrote a letter to all states urging them to investigate other rate hikes and stop insurance companies from gaming the system.  To help states achieve this goal, we’ve set up a new Office of Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, and will provide grants to states with the best oversight programs.    In the next month, we’ll also be putting in place a new patients’ bill of rights.  It will provide simple and clear information to consumers about their choices and their rights.  It will set up an appeals process to enforce those rights.  And it will prohibit insurance companies from limiting a patients’ access to their preferred primary care provider, ob-gyn, or emergency room care.    We’re holding insurance companies accountable in other ways, as well.  As of September, the new health care law prohibits insurance companies from dropping people’s coverage when they get sick and need it most.  But when we found out that an insurance company was systematically dropping the coverage of women diagnosed with breast cancer, my administration called on them to end this practice immediately.  Two weeks ago, the entire insurance industry announced that it would comply with the new law early and stop the perverse practice of dropping people’s coverage when they get sick.    On Monday, we’ll also be announcing the new rule that allows young adults without insurance to stay on their parents’ plan until they’re 26 years old.  Even though insurance companies have until September to comply with this rule, we’ve asked them to do so immediately to avoid coverage gaps for new college graduates and other young adults.  This also makes good business sense for insurance companies, and we’re pleased that most have agreed.  Now we need employers to do the same, and we’re willing to work with them to make this transition possible.  These changes mean that starting this spring, when young adults graduate from college, many who do not have health care coverage will be able to stay on their parents’ insurance for a few more years.  And you can check healthreform.gov to find a list of all the insurance carriers who have agreed to participate right away.     I’ve said before that implementing health insurance reform won’t happen overnight, and it will require some tweaks and changes along the way.  Ultimately, we’ll have a system that provides more control for consumers, more accountability for insurance companies, and more affordable choices for uninsured Americans.  But already, we are seeing how reform is improving the lives of millions of Americans.  Already, we are watching small businesses learn that they will soon pay less for health care.  We are seeing retirees realize they’ll be able to keep their coverage and seniors realize they’ll be able to afford their prescriptions.  We’re seeing consumers get a break from unfair rate hikes, patients get the care they need when they need it, and young adults get the security of knowing they can start off life with one less cost to worry about.  At long last, this is what health care reform is achieving.  This is what change looks like.  And this is the promise we will keep as we continue to make this law a reality in the months and years to come.    Thanks so much. Continue Reading →

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Obama:Largest Monthly Job Increase In 4 years

 
President Obama talks about the encouraging April employment figures. The vast majority of the jobs created in April came from the private sector and it was the largest job increase in four years. Transcript:

 
THE PRESIDENT:  All right.  Good morning, everybody.  On what seems like a daily basis, we’re barraged with statistics and forecasts and reports and data related to the health of the economy.  But from the first days of this administration, amidst the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, I’ve said that the truest measure of progress would be whether or not we were creating jobs.  That’s what matters in people’s lives.  What matters is whether someone who needs a job can find work — whether people can provide for their families and save for the future and achieve some measure of economic security. 
 
     Everything we’ve done has been with this goal in mind.  And today, I’m happy to report that we received some very encouraging news.  In April, the economy added 290,000 jobs, with the vast majority — approximately 230,000 — coming from the private sector.  This is the largest monthly increase in four years.  And we created 121,000 more jobs in February and March than previously estimated, which means we’ve now seen job growth for four months in a row.  These numbers are particularly heartening when you consider where we were a year ago, with an economy in freefall.  At the height of the downturn, around the time that I took office, we were losing an average of 750,000 jobs per month.  
     So this news comes on the heels of a report last week that the overall output of our economy — our GDP — is increasing.  We now know that the economy has been growing for the better part of a year.  And this steady growth is starting to give businesses the confidence to expand and to hire new people. 
 
     I should also note that the unemployment rate ticked up slightly from 9.7 to 9.9 [percent].  Given the strength of these job numbers, this may seem contradictory, but this increase is largely a reflection of the fact that workers who had dropped out of the workforce entirely are now seeing jobs again and — are now seeking jobs again, encouraged by better prospects.  
     Now, I want to emphasize:  The economic crisis we’ve faced has inflicted a lot of damage on families and businesses across our country, and it’s going to take time to repair and rebuild.  Over the course of this recession, more than 8 million jobs were lost.  So there are a lot of people out there who are still experiencing real hardship.  And we’ve got to be mindful that today’s jobs numbers, while welcome, leave us with a lot of work to do.  It’s going to take time to achieve the strong and sustained job growth that is necessary.  And of course, long before this recession hit, for a decade middle-class families had been experiencing a sense of declining economic security. 
 
     So, yes, we’ve got a ways to go.  But we’ve also come a very long way.  And we can see that the difficult and at times unpopular steps that we’ve taken over the past year are making a difference.  Productivity is up.  The hours people are working are up.  Both are signs the company may be hiring more workers in the months to come.  We saw the largest increase in manufacturing employment since 1998.  And we can see the benefits of our Recovery Act in the strong employment reports from construction and other sectors, where we’ve made key investments in creating and saving jobs. 
 
     Of course, there are limits to what the government can do.  The true engine of job growth in this country will always be the private sector.  That’s why we are very pleased to see the strong employment growth on the private sector side. Continue Reading →

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Obama: AZ Immigration Law “misconcieved action”

 
Transcript:
So today reminds us that America’s diversity is America’s strength.  That’s why I spoke out against the recently passed law in Arizona.  (Applause.)  Make no mistake, our immigration system is broken.  And after so many years in which Washington has failed to meet its responsibilities, Americans are right to be frustrated, including folks along border states.  But the answer isn’t to undermine fundamental principles that define us as a nation.  We can’t start singling out people because of who they look like, or how they talk, or how they dress.  We can’t turn law-abiding American citizens —- and law-abiding immigrants —- into subjects of suspicion and abuse.  We can’t divide the American people that way.  That’s not the answer.  That’s not who we are as the United States of America. 
 
And that’s why I’ve instructed my administration to closely monitor the new law in Arizona, to examine the civil rights and other implications that it may have.  That’s why we have to close the door on this kind of misconceived action by meeting our obligations here in Washington.   
 
So I want to say it again, just in case anybody is confused. The way to fix our broken immigration system is through common-sense, comprehensive immigration reform.  (Applause.)  That means responsibility from government to secure our borders, something we have done and will continue to do.  It means responsibility from businesses that break the law by undermining American workers and exploiting undocumented workers -— they’ve got to be held accountable.  It means responsibility from people who are living here illegally.  They’ve got to admit that they broke the law, and pay taxes, and pay a penalty, and learn English, and get right before the law — and then get in line and earn their citizenship.       
 
Comprehensive reform —- that’s how we’re going to solve this problem.  And I know there’s been some commentary over the last week since I talked about this difficult issue:  Well, is this politically smart to do?  Can you get Republican votes?  Look, of course, it’s going to be tough.  That’s the truth.  Anybody who tells you it’s going to be easy or I can wave a magic wand and make it happen hasn’t been paying attention how this town works. (Laughter.)
 
We need bipartisan support.  But it can be done.  And it needs to be done.  So I was pleased to see a strong proposal for comprehensive reform presented in the Senate last week —- and I was pleased that it was based on a bipartisan framework.  I want to begin work this year, and I want Democrats and Republicans to work with me — because we’ve got to stay true to who we are, a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants.  Continue Reading →

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Obama: Love/Hate With Yankees At White House

President Obama welcomes the 2009 baseball world champion New York Yankees to the White House. He notes it has been nine years since the Yankees have won a title. And while that might seem like an eternity for Yankees fans, some other clubs, such as the Cubs, would be be very happy with that.  
Transcript:
 
THE PRESIDENT:  Hello, everybody.  Everybody have a seat, please.  Hello, everybody, and welcome to the White House.  And congratulations on being World Series champions.  (Applause.)
 
As you can see, we’ve got a few Yankees fans here in the White House — (applause) — who are pretty excited about your visit.  I want to actually start by recognizing Secretary of Treasury Tim Geithner, who is here — (applause) — and Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood.  Now, I understand Ray and Joe went to the same high school -– a few years apart.  (Laughter.)  But they grew up obviously big Yankees fans. 
 
I want to congratulate the Steinbrenner family, Brian Cashman and all the folks who helped to make this team what it is.  (Applause.)  And I want to thank all of the members of the New York congressional delegation.  And I noticed a couple of Connecticut and North Dakota guys showing up here, too — (laughter) — all of whom take credit for the Yankees’ success.  (Laughter.) 
 
Now, it’s been nine years since your last title -– which must have felt like an eternity for Yankees fans.  I think other teams would be just fine with a spell like that.  (Laughter.)  The Cubs, for example.  (Laughter.)  But this is a team that goes down to spring training every year expecting to win it all — and more often than not, you guys get pretty close.  Of course, if I had Rivera, I’d get pretty close, too.  (Laughter.)  My White Sox would get close every year.  That attitude, that success, has always made the Yankees easy to love — and, let’s face it, easy to hate as well.  (Laughter.)  For a White Sox fan like me, it’s painful to watch Mariano’s cutter when it’s against my team, or to see the Yankees wrap up the pennant while the Sox are struggling on the South Side.  Although I do remember 2005, people -– (laughter) — so don’t get too comfortable.  (Laughter.)
 
But for the millions of Yankees fans in New York and around the world who bleed blue, nothing beats that Yankee tradition:  27 World Series titles; 48 Hall of Famers — a couple, I expect, standing behind me right now.  From Ruth to Gehrig, Mantle to DiMaggio, it’s hard to imagine baseball without the long line of legends who’ve worn the pinstripes.  Last season, this team continued that legacy, winning 103 games and leaving no doubt who was the best team in baseball.  
But what people tend to forget -– especially after watching their teams lose -– is that being a Yankee is as much about character as it is about performance; as much about who you are as what you do.  Being successful in New York doesn’t come easy, and it’s not for everybody.  It takes a certain kind of player to thrive in the pressure cooker of Yankee Stadium -– somebody who is poised and professional, and knows what it takes to wear the pinstripes.  It takes somebody who appreciates how lucky he is, and who feels a responsibility for those who are less fortunate. Continue Reading →

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Don’t Get Fooled Again By Wall Street, GOP

Transcript:
 
There were many causes of the turmoil that ripped through our economy over the past two years.  But above all, this crisis was caused by failures in the financial industry.  What is clear is that this crisis could have been avoided if Wall Street firms were more accountable, if financial dealings were more transparent, and if consumers and shareholders were given more information and authority to make decisions.  
But that did not happen.  And that’s because special interests have waged a relentless campaign to thwart even basic, common-sense rules – rules to prevent abuse and protect consumers.  In fact, the financial industry and its powerful lobby have opposed modest safeguards against the kinds of reckless risks and bad practices that led to this very crisis. 
 
The consequences of this failure of responsibility – from Wall Street to Washington – are all around us: 8 million jobs lost, trillions in savings erased, countless dreams diminished or denied.  I believe we have to do everything we can to ensure that no crisis like this ever happens again.  That’s why I’m fighting so hard to pass a set of Wall Street reforms and consumer protections.  A plan for reform is currently moving through Congress.  
Here’s what this plan would do.  First, it would enact the strongest consumer financial protections ever.  It would put consumers back in the driver’s seat by forcing big banks and credit card companies to provide clear, understandable information so that Americans can make financial decisions that work best for them. 
 
Next, these reforms would bring new transparency to financial dealings.  Part of what led to this crisis was firms like AIG and others making huge and risky bets – using things like derivatives – without accountability.  Warren Buffett himself once described derivatives bought and sold with little oversight as “financial weapons of mass destruction.”  That’s why through reform we’d help ensure that these kinds of complicated financial transactions take place on an open market.  Because, ultimately, it is a marketplace that is open, free, and fair that will allow our economy to flourish.  
We would also close loopholes to stop the kind of recklessness and irresponsibility we’ve seen.  It’s these loopholes that allowed executives to take risks that not only endangered their companies, but also our entire economy.  And we’re going to put in place new rules so that big banks and financial institutions will pay for the bad decisions they make – not taxpayers.  Simply put, this means no more taxpayer bailouts.  Never again will taxpayers be on the hook because a financial company is deemed “too big to fail.”
 
Finally, these reforms hold Wall Street accountable by giving shareholders new power in the financial system.  They’ll get a say on pay: a vote on the salaries and bonuses awarded to top executives.  And the SEC will ensure that shareholders have more power in corporate elections, so that investors and pension holders have a stronger voice in determining what happens with their life savings.  
Now, unsurprisingly, these reforms have not exactly been welcomed by the people who profit from the status quo – as well their allies in Washington.  This is probably why the special interests have spent a lot of time and money lobbying to kill or weaken the bill.  Just the other day, in fact, the Leader of the Senate Republicans and the Chair of the Republican Senate campaign committee met with two dozen top Wall Street executives to talk about how to block progress on this issue. Continue Reading →

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Obama Threatens Veto On Financial Reform

President Obama told his a meeting of his financial advisers today that he would “veto legislation that doesn’t bring the derivatives market under control”. The President described the risky derivatives market as “millions of dollars exchanging hands in darkness”. The derivatives market and the housing bubble it fueled were at the root of America’s financial collapse in 2008. The President pointed to the Wall Street collapse and government bailout and said “we can’t allow this to repeat itself. Continue Reading →

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“Too Big To Fail”- Never Again

President Obama, along with Vice President Biden, welcomes House and Senate leaders from both parties to the White House to discuss financial regulatory reform.  
Key quote from President Obama: I think all of us recognize that we cannot have a circumstance in which a meltdown in the financial sector once again puts the entire economy in peril, and that if there’s one lesson that we’ve learned it’s that an unfettered market where people are taking huge risks and expecting taxpayers to bail them out when things go sour is simply not acceptable.  
As a consequence, I am actually confident that we can work out an effective bipartisan package that assures that we never have “too big to fail” again; that consumers are adequately protected when it comes to financial instruments — whether it’s mortgages or credit cards or debit cards; that we have a strong mechanism to regulate derivatives, something that we have not had, a derivatives market that is in the shadow economy but is enormously powerful, enormously risky — we want to get that into daylight so that regulators and ordinary Americans know what’s going on when it comes to this huge segment of the financial system. Continue Reading →

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World Will Be Safer From Nuking Terrorists

Key Quote from President Obama: This evening, I can report that we have seized this opportunity, and because of the steps we’ve taken — as individual nations and as an international community — the American people will be safer and the world will be more secure. Continue Reading →

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Obama:Locking Down Loose Nukes

President Obama speaks to the press on the eve of the Nuclear Security Summit. He speaks from Blair House in Washington, D.C. after meetings with Prime Minister Singh of India and President Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan, and just before meeting with President Zuma of South Africa. Continue Reading →

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Justice Stevens:Obama To Quickly Name Successor

Good afternoon, everybody.  I want to say a few words about the tragedy that took place this week in West Virginia, but before I do, I’d first like to comment on the news that Justice John Paul Stevens will retire from the Supreme Court at the end of its current term. When President Ford was faced with a Supreme Court vacancy shortly after the nation was still recovering from the Watergate scandal, he wanted a nominee who was brilliant, non-ideological, pragmatic, and committed above all to justice, integrity, and the rule of law.  He found that nominee in John Paul Stevens. Justice Stevens has courageously served his country from the moment he enlisted the day before Pearl Harbor to his long and distinguished tenure on the Supreme Court.  During that tenure, he has stood as an impartial guardian of the law.  He has worn the judicial robe with honor and humility.  He has applied the Constitution and the laws of the land with fidelity and restraint.  He will soon turn 90 this month, but he leaves his position at the top of his game.  His leadership will be sorely missed, and I just had an opportunity to speak with him and told him on behalf of a grateful nation, that I thanked him for his service. As Justice Stevens expressed to me in the letter announcing his retirement, it is in the best interests of the Supreme Court to have a successor appointed and confirmed before the next term begins.  And so I will move quickly to name a nominee, as I did with Justice Sotomayor. Once again, I view the process of selecting a Supreme Court nominee as among my most serious responsibilities as President.  And while we cannot replace Justice Stevens’ experience or wisdom, I will seek someone in the coming weeks with similar qualities — an independent mind, a record of excellence and integrity, a fierce dedication to the rule of law, and a keen understanding of how the law affects the daily lives of the American people.  It will also be someone who, like Justice Stevens, knows that in a democracy, powerful interests must not be allowed to drown out the voices of ordinary citizens.  Much like they did with Justice Sotomayor, I hope the Senate will move quickly in the coming weeks to debate and then confirm my nominee so that the new Justice is seated in time for the fall term. Now, let me say a few words about what has happened in West Virginia. This has been an unimaginably difficult week for the people who live near Montcoal.  Thirty-one workers were inside the Upper Big Branch mine when an explosion ripped through its walls on Monday afternoon.  Two were saved.  Twenty-five were lost.  And for the four who remain missing, we are praying for a miracle. I want to offer my deepest condolences to the friends and the families of the fathers and the husbands and brothers, nephews and sons who were killed in this accident.  I’m also in awe of the courage and selflessness shown by the rescue teams who’ve risked their lives over and over and over this week for the chance to save another.  They’ve worked around the clock, with little sleep, for the past few days, and this nation owes them a debt of gratitude. Now, mining has a long and proud history in West Virginia.  For many families and communities, it’s not just a way to make a living; it’s a way of life.  And the jobs they do in these mines help bring heat and electricity to millions of Americans. It’s a profession that’s not without risks and danger, and the workers and their families know that.  But their government and their employers know that they owe it to these families to do everything possible to ensure their safety when they go to work each day. When I was in the Senate, I supported the efforts of Senators Byrd and Rockefeller to try and improve mine safety, but it’s clear that more needs to be done.  And that’s why I’ve asked my Secretary of Labor as well as the head of the Mine Safety and Health Administration to give me a preliminary report next week on what went wrong and why it went wrong so badly, so that we can take the steps necessary to prevent such accidents in the future. Because mining is a tradition that’s often passed down through generations, it’s not uncommon to see an entire family choose this line of work.  And sadly, when a tragedy like this occurs, it’s also not uncommon to lose almost an entire family all at once. I spoke to some surviving members of one such family on Wednesday.  This week, Tim Davis, and two of his nephews, Josh, age 25, and Cory, age 20, were killed in the explosion in the Upper Big Branch mine. Rescuers have reported that Tim and his two nephews were all found together.  Two other members of their families that worked in the mine were able to escape unharmed. Before he left for the mine on Monday, Josh wrote a letter for his girlfriend and young daughter.  And in it, he said, “If anything happens to me, I’ll be looking down from heaven at you all.  I love you.  Take care of my baby.  Tell her that daddy loves her, she’s beautiful, she’s funny.  Just take care of my baby girl.” Reflecting on that letter, and the losses she endured in just one week, Josh’s mother Pam simply said, “It is just West Virginia.  When something bad happens, we come together.”  When something bad happens, we come together. Through tragedy and heartache, that’s the spirit that has sustained this community, and this country, for over 200 years.  And as we pray for the souls of those we’ve lost, and the safe return of those who are missing, we are also sustained by the words of the Psalm that are particularly poignant right now.  Those words read:  “You, O Lord, keep my lamp burning; my God turns my darkness into light.”  Thank you very much. Continue Reading →

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“The Nuclear Tipping Point” Screens At White House

 
President Obama hosts a showing of the film “The Nuclear Tipping Point” in the The White House screening room. The movie is about the dangers of nuclear proliferation. Several notable foreign policy experts from both parties who helped produce the film were there including Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn, George Schultz and William Perry.   Continue Reading →

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Obama Signs START Treaty With Russians

Prague, Czech Republic

President Obama: Finally, this day demonstrates the determination of the United States and Russia — the two nations that hold over 90 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons — to pursue responsible global leadership. Together, we are keeping our commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which must be the foundation for global non-proliferation. While the New START treaty is an important first step forward, it is just one step on a longer journey. Continue Reading →

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