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
Simple Solutions to Combat Winter Skin Sensitivity
The winter season is here, and it’s important to get in the habit of taking care of your skin. Cold weather brings low humidity levels and dry air, which can suck the moisture from your skin, and without proper care, skin can become dry, cracked and irritated, causing discomfort.
This winter, focus on a regimen that helps protect and hydrate skin so you can spend time enjoying the benefits of winter like family game night, snow days and snuggling by the fire.
Prepare your family for cold weather with these simple tips that can be easily incorporated into your family’s daily routine, keeping skin feeling soft and healthy all winter long.
Hydrate Inside and Out. Staying hydrated during the hot, summer months is a given, but it is also important to remember that cold winter air can leave your skin parched. Use a humidifier to keep skin hydrated during the dry months and be sure to lather on moisturizer. Natural moisturizers like coconut oil and shea butter can act as protective barriers against harsh elements, sealing in moisture. In addition to hydrating on the outside, it is just as important to stay hydrated on the inside. By drinking water throughout the day, your skin can stay healthy and moisturized.
Switch to a Mild Laundry Detergent. Many common detergents can be abrasive to sensitive skin, especially when it is more vulnerable to irritation during the harsh winter months. Wash bed linens, towels and clothes with a mild detergent like all Free Clear year-round, especially during the winter months. As the No. 1 recommended detergent brand by dermatologists, allergists and pediatricians for sensitive skin, all Free Clear includes no dyes, fragrances or irritating residues. Using the power of stainlifters to fight tough stains, it is also safe for the whole family to use, keeping laundry clean while being gentle on skin.
Avoid Toxins, Specifically Allergens, and Irritants. Products that contain toxins, allergens and irritants should be avoided during months when skin is most sensitive. Choose moisturizers and skin care products that don’t contain common irritants, and opt for mild cleansers and moisturizers that are specifically labeled for sensitive skin. Castor oil is another moisturizer alternative that is natural and can be used on both the face and body.
Layer Up. Lock in moisture and protect your skin from wind, rain, and snow by wearing layers whenever you venture outside. The skin on your neck, face and hands is thinner than other areas of the body and therefore more sensitive to the effects of winter weather. Thermals, scarves and gloves can keep you warm and protect your skin from the cold, dry air. For those with sensitive skin, avoid synthetic fabrics and itchy materials like wool, and wash clothes with a dermatologist-recommended detergent like all Free Clear.
By implementing these best practices for skin sensitivity, you can minimize redness, dryness and discomfort to help skin stay healthy and glowing throughout the winter season. Visit all-laundry.com to learn more.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images
Tire Safety Tips for Winter When Temperatures Drop
The same temperature you can begin to see your breath at 45 F—is also when the all-season tires on your car can start to lose traction and grip.
As temperatures drop, drivers should remember that if you can see your breath, you should think about winter tires. Whether you’re planning a cross-country trek or simply driving to and from work daily, exposing your vehicle’s tires to colder weather could lead to potential trouble on the road.
Snow and ice may be fun to play in, but they make for dangerous driving conditions. Winter tires are built for cold-weather conditions and deliver improved starting, stopping and steering control in temperatures 45 F and below. The difference is the tread compound of winter tires, which stays soft and pliable in colder temperatures for superior traction. Add the tread design of winter tires with thousands of extra gripping edges and you get as much as a 25-50 percent increase in traction over all-season tires.
To help stay safe on the road this winter, the experts on tires and winter driving recommend following these four tire safety tips:
- Get ready now. It is important to replace all four of your vehicle’s all-season tires with winter tires if you regularly drive in temperatures 45 F or below, snow or no snow. Winter tires are made of a softer rubber that allows the tires to stay pliable and maintain better contact with the road through winter weather conditions.
- Don’t forget the wheels. Having a set of wheels specifically for your winter tires can save you money in the long run. Pairing a separate set of wheels with your winter tires can eliminate certain changeover costs and save your everyday wheels from the wear and tear brought on by ice, slush, snow, and salt during the winter months.
- Know your numbers. Check your tire pressure at least once a month to make sure tires are at the appropriate inflation level. Temperature changes affect tire pressure – for every 10 degrees of temperature change, tire air pressure changes 1 pound per square inch. Low tire pressure can lead to decreased steering and braking control, poor gas mileage, excessive tire wear and the possibility of tire failure. Also, don’t forget to check your spare tire.
- Rotate, rotate, rotate. To help increase tread life and smooth out your ride, rotate your tires every 6,000 miles or sooner if irregular or uneven wear develops.
Your safety is important, that’s why drivers should make it a point to beat the rush by getting winter ready before the first snowstorm or cold streak of the season hits.
Photo: Getty Images
Source: Discount Tire
Medicare Takes Aim at Medical Identity Theft: Protecting Seniors From Fraud
Criminals are increasingly targeting people age 65 or older for personal identity theft. In 2014 alone, there were 2.6 million such incidents among seniors, according to the Department of Justice.
A growing offshoot of identity theft is healthcare fraud, which can result when someone unlawfully uses another person’s Medicare number. Medical identity theft can lead to inaccuracies in medical records, which in turn can result in delayed care, denied services and costly false claims.
That’s why Medicare works with the Department of Justice, taking aim squarely at would-be thieves. In the largest law enforcement action against criminals fraudulently targeting the Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare programs, 412 people around the country, including 115 doctors, nurses and other licensed medical professionals, were charged in 2017 with bilking U.S. taxpayers out of $1.3 billion.
New Medicare Card for 2018. (Video Courtesy of YouTube)
The next big fraud-fighting push is well underway — and its focus is protecting the personal information of senior citizens by removing their Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.
People with Medicare don’t need to take any action to get a new Medicare card. Beginning in April 2018, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will mail out newly designed Medicare cards to the 58 million Americans with Medicare. The cards will have a new number that will be unique for each card recipient. This will help protect personal identity and prevent fraud because identity thieves can’t bill Medicare without a valid Medicare number. To help with a seamless transition to the new cards, providers will be able to use secure lookup tools that will support quick access to the new card numbers when needed.
Healthcare fraud drives up costs for everyone, but healthcare consumers can be an effective first line of defense against fraud. Follow these tips to help protect yourself:
- Treat your Medicare number like a credit card.
- When the new card comes in the mail next year, destroy your old card and make sure you bring your new one to your doctors’ appointments.
- Be suspicious of anyone offering early bird discounts, limited time offers or encouraging you to act now for the best deal. That’s an indicator of potential fraud because Medicare plans are forbidden from offering incentives.
- Be skeptical of free gifts, free medical services, discount packages or any offer that sounds too good to be true.
- Only give your Medicare number to doctors, insurers acting on your behalf or trusted people in the community who work with Medicare, like your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP).
- Report suspected instances of fraud.
- Check your Medicare statements to make sure the charges are accurate.
- Don’t share your Medicare number or other personal information with anyone who contacts you by telephone, email or approaches you in person, unless you’ve given them permission in advance. Medicare will never contact you uninvited and request your Medicare number or other personal information.
- Don’t let anyone borrow or pay to use your Medicare number.
- Don’t allow anyone, except your doctor or other Medicare providers, to review your medical records or recommend services.
- Don’t let anyone persuade you to see a doctor for care or services you don’t need.
- Don’t accept medical supplies from a door-to-door salesman.
Learn more about how you can fight Medicare fraud at Medicare.gov/fraud, or call 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227). You can also visit a local SHIP counselor, who can provide free, one-on-one, non-biased Medicare assistance.
With a common sense approach to protecting health information, senior citizens can be effective partners in fighting Medicare fraud.
Source: Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
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