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Former President Barack Obama speaks at Gates Foundation Global Health Event

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Former President Barack Obama  speaks at the global event sponsored by Bill and Melinda Gates’ organization that marks the release of a report tracking progress on global development. These are his remarks, as prepared for delivery.

Former President Barack Obama delivered his keynote address at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Goalkeepers event in New York on Wednesday to track and measure the progress of global health and development over the past 25 years.

The release of the report by Bill and Melinda Gates measures the world’s health based upon 18 indicators that include infant mortality, AIDS, vaccine use and smoking rates.

The event is also timed to the U.N. General Assembly with notable speakers that include Bill and Melinda Gates, Prime Minister Trudeau, will.i.am, Malala and Stephen Fry.

(Full text of Barack Obama’s Speech):

Thank you, Bill, for that introduction, but more importantly, thank you for the tireless efforts you and Melinda put in towards making this a better world. I’ve had a chance to meet some of the remarkable Goalkeepers here, and I can say you are all an inspiration to me. Whether it’s girls’ education, or global health, or climate change, you are setting a standard for the sorts of innovation, persistence, activism, and heart that we need to change the world.

That’s really what everyone’s here today to talk about — changing the world. And I won’t talk long because I look forward to sitting down with Bill and having a discussion.

I remember sitting down with Bill in Paris a couple of years ago, where the world came together to hammer out an agreement to save the planet by taking meaningful action to tackle climate change. It’s a threat that may define the contours of this century more than any other. But Bill saw it not only as a challenge but as an opportunity. “Well, we’re just going to have to go ahead and invent some new technologies” — meaning, yes this is hard, but we can figure it out. That can-do spirit, rather than despair, is what’s allowed us to see real progress in reducing the pace of carbon emissions increases in the U.S. And even if the federal government isn’t engaged on this effort right now, it’s because of efforts like Bill’s, and a whole host of entrepreneurs, and universities, and cities, and states, that America and the world will ultimately meet this challenge.

My broader point is, you tend to believe someone like Bill when he says we can do something. That kind of optimism is infectious. And that’s exactly what we need right now.

Yes, we face some extraordinary challenges. Economic inequality and a changing climate. Terrorism and mass migration. The rise of nationalist thought, xenophobic sentiment, and a populist politics that too often pits “us” against “them” — a politics that threatens to turn good people away from the kind of collective action that has always driven human progress.

These challenges are real. They’ll take a long time to solve. But that shouldn’t discourage any of us from the belief that we can make a difference. It should inspire us to meet the moment. We just have to reject the notion that we are suddenly gripped by forces that we can’t control, and embrace the longer, more optimistic view of history and the part that we play in it.

If you are skeptical of such optimism, let me say something that may sound controversial. By almost every measure, America is better, and the world is better, than it was 50 years ago, or 30 years ago, or even ten years ago.

I know that statement doesn’t seem to jibe with the steady stream of bad news and cynicism we’re fed on television and Twitter. But it’s true. Think about it. I was born at a time, for example, when women and people of color were systematically excluded from big chunks of American life. Today, women and minorities have risen up the ranks in business, politics, and everywhere else, even if there are still miles to travel, and laws and hearts and minds to change.

Just since I graduated from college, crime rates, teen birth rates, dropout rates, the share of folks living in poverty have dropped, in some cases dramatically. The share of Americans with a college education — that’s up. Despite a massive global recession, in the final year of my presidency, the uninsured rate reached a new low, and the median household income hit a new high.

Worldwide, our progress is even more impressive. Bill can rattle off the stats better than I can, but over the past 100 years, we’ve come from a world where only a small fraction of women could vote to a world where almost every woman can. Since 1950, the global average life expectancy has grown by more than 20 years. Since 1990, we’ve cut extreme poverty and childhood mortality in half. Since 2000, we’ve evolved from a world without marriage equality to one where it’s a reality in more than two dozen countries.

All of this is why, when I speak to young people, I often ask: if you had to choose one moment in history in which you could be born, and you didn’t know ahead of time who you were going to be — what nationality; what gender; what race; whether you’d be rich or poor — what moment would you choose? You’d choose right now. Because the world has never been healthier or wealthier. Despite some ongoing conflicts, the world at large has never been more tolerant or less violent. Fewer people are dying young, and more people are living not only longer, but better. More girls are in school; more adults can read; more children get the vaccines they need. There has never been a better time to be a young person on this planet. There have never been more powerful, more accessible tools for each of you to make a difference in your world, than today.

These trends are real. They’re not the result of mysterious forces or chance. They happened because countless people, toiling many years, chose to make this progress. Some, like Bill and Melinda, deployed great wealth and influence; others, like your earlier speaker, Justin Trudeau, occupied a public office. But far more were simply citizens — workers, mothers, entrepreneurs, clergy, and community leaders who mobilized, and organized, and voted, and innovated, and pushed for change. They knew that they wouldn’t get everything they wanted as fast as they wanted it. They knew that progress requires struggle, and perseverance, and discipline, and faith. They knew that sometimes, for every two steps forward, you take a step back.

And more than anything, that’s what is needed today; the engagement of everyone who wants to see a better future for our children. To take one example — here in America, over the past eight years, thousands upon thousands of Americans threw themselves into the collective effort of reforming our health care system. Maybe they had experience with a sick child or crushing medical bills, or a parent lost to cancer. And against all odds, they made a difference. For the first time, more than ninety percent of Americans know the security of health insurance. Paying more for insurance, or being denied insurance because of a preexisting condition — that’s not a thing anymore. We got rid of that. People are alive today because we did. That’s progress.

Yes, there are people trying to undo that hard-won progress, for the 50th or 60th time, with a bill that will raise costs, reduce coverage, and roll back protections for older Americans and people with pre-existing conditions — the cancer survivor, the expecting mother, the child with asthma or autism for whom coverage will once again become unaffordable and out of reach.

All without any demonstrable economic, actuarial, or even human rationale for pushing such a bill. And yes, it may be frustrating that we have to mobilize every couple months to keep our leaders from inflicting real human suffering on their constituents. But that’s how progress is won. On every issue, we have to stand up for each other, recognizing that progress is not inevitable, that it can be fragile, it’s in need of constant renewal, and that our individual progress depends on the progress of others. It depends on whether or not ordinary citizens stand up, and muster the determination to try and try again because they believe in that upward trajectory of the human story.

I believe that each of us can make a difference, and all of us ought to try. That’s what I ask of you today. I ask you to reject cynicism and pessimism and push forward, in whatever you do, with an infectious, relentless optimism. Not a blind optimism that ignores the scale and scope of our challenges — but a hard-earned optimism that’s rooted in stories of very real progress. The belief that our successes – however small, however incomplete — are successes all the same.

Because each new generation stands on the successes of the last — and reaches up to bend the arc of history in the direction of more freedom, more opportunity, more justice. That’s why I spent so much of my presidency convening young leaders in every continent I visited. And that’s why I’ll spend so much of my post-presidency doing everything I can to help train and prepare the next generation of leaders to take their own crack at changing the world. The Obama Foundation will be based in Chicago, but it will have projects, programs, and digital networks all over the globe. I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to work with some of you. Because I have great faith in you, just as Bill and Melinda have, and I am certain that if we all keep pushing forward, America and the world will make even more progress in the decades to come.

Thank you all very much.

Former President Barack Obama delivers a speech and holds a question and answer session at the Gates Foundation.
Video courtesy of PBS Newshour

 

By LeNora Millen     09-20-17

 

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Lifestyle

Living a “Toxin Free” Life- It is possible!

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Today, we struggle to understand the language surrounding our health and beauty products. GMO, toxic, nontoxic, and chemical-free are among many confusing words that plague us. It is nice to know that there are a few companies that are transparent, upfront, and honest about ingredients, sourcing, and manufacturing. One of those companies is Poofy Organics. When Kristina Gagliardi-Wilson’s mother, Nella Gagliardi, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2006, they began to research chemical-free alternative products. They decided to create their own products when they discovered very few options. They have been creating delightful, healthy products since. The company, with its unusual name, is named after Kristina’s daughter Mariah, affectionately referred to as Poofy. The very popular Baby Poof line was created for her son Nicolas. It is truly a family affair, and all members help in the business. This New Jersey based business creates all the product themselves by hand, in small batches, using organic ingredients, including therapeutic essential oils and extracts. Poofy Organics does have the USDA certified organic stamp of approval.
Through the company’s distribution channel of Independent Guides, I had the pleasure of meeting Chelsea Allen. She had been using the products for three full years before joining as a representative. She was in search of some chemical free products for her two children. Her search led to this small New Jersey company. She has created an entirely toxin-free zone at home with Poofy Organics products. She has become passionate about helping others create that same life. One might be surprised at the number and types of products this company has. Some of the categories are: skin, hair, and body care products, cosmetics, deodorant, toothpaste, and an entire line of household cleaners. All are toxin- free. They even have nail polish and nail polish remover, which are free of toxins, formaldehyde, and acetone found in conventional products. Surprisingly, they even have nontoxic wax melts for your warmers, that are scented only with essential oils. Chelsea was very kind to share some samples of the products with me. The most amazing thing is that, contrary to what you might think, these products smell amazing. The bottom line is that your favorite products are available, they smell amazing, and you CAN detoxify your house safely. If you are a parent looking to create a safer home with less toxins, Poofy Organics is a great place to start. You can celebrate Earth Day with Chelsea Allen by visiting https://crunchychelc.poofyorganics.com and detoxify your home just like she did for herself and her family.

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Davidson Hotels and Resorts expands Portfolio with Hotel Zachary in Chicago

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Photo Courtesy of Hotel Zachary. Photo Credit: Dave Burk Photography (PRNewsfoto/Davidson Hotels & Resorts

Hotel Zachary has an exclusive blend, thoughtful amenities and artistic touches in every guestroom to locally-infused dining and signature cocktails from the City’s Top Chefs

 

Photo Courtesy of Hotel Zachary. Photo Credit: Dave Burk Photography (PRNewsfoto/Davidson Hotels & Resorts

This Week Davidson Hotel & Resorts – one of the nation’s leading hotel management companies for delivering hospitality and creating value – announced the addition of Zachary at Gallagher Way, a Tribute Portfolio Hotel, to its highly curated Portfolio.

It’s owned by Hickory Street Capital, this exciting new hotel will be managed by Pivot Hotels & Resorts – Davidson’s Lifestyle and Luxury Division.

Hotel Zachary at Gallagher Way is a distinctive boutique hotel that brings history and style together to deliver an authentic Chicago neighborhood experience.

It’s situated in the heart of Chicago’s renowned Lakeview neighborhood.

Hotel Zachary at Gallagher Way is inspired by it’s namesake, famed Chicago architect, Zachary Taylor Davis, who designed the esteemed Wrigley Field in 1914.

Located in the heart of the city’s Lakeview neighborhood and adjacent to historic Wrigley Field, the 173-room hotel celebrates world-renowned Wrigley Field architect and Chicagoan Zachary Taylor Davis.

Hotel Zachary at Gallagher Way delivers a memorable guest experience to baseball fans, the curious traveler and locals in-the-know.

“My family and I are truly honored to bring the Hotel Zachary to Lakeview and the City of Chicago, “said Tom Ricketts, who is Chairman of Hickory Street Capital. “Hotel Zachary will pay homage to the neighborhood’s rich history and to Chicago’s architecture and design legacy. We’re excited to offer new chef driven restaurants and unique, year-round experiences for neighbors, families, fans and visitors.”

Hotel Zachary is situated within 238,000-sq-ft mixed-use development that also features some of Chicago’s best-known chefs and restaurants, including West Town Bakery & Tap, Big Star, Smoke Daddy, and Matthias Merges ‘new eatery, Mordecai. Hotel Zachary will deliver authentic local experiences on Chicago’s North Side, as a new in-town hub for city explorers, business travelers, visiting families and baseball enthusiasts to find entertainment, great dining and a distinctively personalized lodging experience.

For more information, please visit www.hotelzachary.com or follow along on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/HotelZachary/ or Twitter http://twitter.com/hotelzachary

Source: Davidson Hotels & Resorts

Photo Courtesy of Hotel Zachary. Photo Credit: Dave Burk Photography (PRNewsfoto/Davidson Hotels & Resorts

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Lifestyle

Messengers Among Us

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This week I have been amazed at the world around me. I am continually working toward self-actualization.  On this quest, I seek to manifest clarity of my beliefs for my well-being.  My work is to constantly detach from the world around me to find truth among the noise and chaos that consumes our lives and time. 

Think about that for a moment – the noise and chaos consuming.  Like a heterotrophic bacterium, eating and absorbing dead matter, the noise and chaos consume our lives and time in that same manner.  Look at your life and examine how much time social media, the news, entertainment, gossip, work politics and the like consume your mind and time.  It is as if your mind is constantly being pulled to the left and the right, jerking itself to keep up with one distraction after another. 

In moving so fast, we are also distracted from the beauty and perfection that is the foundation of all that is.  We miss the important things in life and instead become conformed to what we are consuming, noise and chaos. Chaos is disorder and confusion.  In life, it shows up as confusion of who we are, where we are and how we are.  Constantly out of order.  Not only in our minds, but in relationship to the universe itself.

In my discovery this week, I realized that my rush to reach goals, achieve heights and make the most of my time here on earth has caused me to miss out on what makes the journey beautiful.  I was missing out on the hands that push me along the way, the voice that draws my attention forward and the lights that guide my feet.  The little things that assure my safe travel and help to lift me above life’s heavy pull to complete the voyage.  These impressions I neglected.  I let them drown in the noise. 

In my haste, these hands and voices appeared to be talking trees.  An oddity that became normal to ignore.  After a few interviews this week and conversations with some amazingly insightful and determined individuals, I realized I was not walking past talking trees.  In my day to day, I was walking past individual spirits in human form with messages for me.  Their niceties, their conversations, their encounters, I shrugged off as part of happenings of life.  I forsook their importance and my importance in these moments.  I disregarded the work of the universe to perfect these moments.  I overlooked how important I must be for the universe to send a message to me in such an orchestrated manner.  I discounted how valuable the messenger must be to hold such information and maintain a life appointment neither was aware. 

I imagine that from the beginning of time, their life was formed, and their path perfected to be a messenger for me and me for them.  We for others.  Our meetings converted to a special remembrance to renew our lives and minds and assist in opening the eyes of others to messages all around them.

This week I became clear and grateful to the universe and the messengers for helping me to see what I had made myself blind to see.  Taking for granted the souls that surround me on any given day.  I became grateful for why I am pushed to help and connect with others. For, in the end, they actually help and connect me to me.  I am giving to no one; everyone is giving to me.  When I am giving to others, I give to myself and they to themselves.  My hand to them is a key that unlocks the message they hold for me.

I have a few stories I am writing that will be published in the coming weeks.  I wanted to use other people’s stories and messages to continue to have readers question themselves and their beliefs.  Have readers find hope, purpose, and well-being through the eyes and lives of others.  I wanted to put a spotlight on unique journeys and stories.  In actuality, I received light and answers to my questions.  I was sent their way to be fed.  Though their stories will be told, my story, in turn, has been enriched by their passage through my life.

This week I interviewed a blind man who had greater vision and clarity than those with eyes.   A man who helped me to see that my eyes are not for seeing at all.  They are for realizing and becoming aware of what I have already created.  A man that could walk you into your destiny, guided by his foresight within.  He caused me to see where I was blind.

I interviewed a woman whose personal path was destined by her ancestral past.  It was so intense, that when she did not listen to its call, it pulled her into death to ignite the gift and shift her mind.  It called her to death to give her a message and clear the confusion she walked in.  She returned to life with a power and message that only she specifically could hold.  Her life, her heritage, her persona perfectly orchestrated to be the messenger of this message.  Her gift and light gave me life.

I met a group of activist advocating for assisted suicide.  Their stories were informing me of points of view and processes that drew levels of compassion and questions of my belief system that I would never have challenged without their meeting.  I met groups of advocates for children, politicians and school leaders sharing hopes, dreams, limitations, and struggles.   These individuals were destroying biases and shifting my views.  They helped me release limiting thoughts and walk boldly into uncharted territories.  I offered my help, support, and conversation, not knowing that, in turn, I would be lifted. 

Though all of these individuals have different stories apprised from their life perspectives, I found them all speaking to me.  Their lives, their stories, their pains, their joys and gifts all held messages for me.  Some were whispers of Spirit leading or directing me.  Some held confirmations.  Others held fingers of light directing me toward a future I was unaware possible.  Their messages released doubts, strengthened, encouraged, empowered, opened doors of my mind and destroyed biases.

I learned through this experience to slow down and hear those speaking.  Stop rushing past so fast, that the voices become talking trees in the forest of my life. I will listen from now on.  I will see and connect to the messengers around me.  I will be grateful for them.  Because of them, I know I am never alone, and a message is always waiting for me to question, to answer my questions, to direct or inform me of me.

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