News / USA

    Obama, Halfway Around the World, Has Message for Washington

    President Barack Obama speaks at the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
    President Barack Obama speaks at the memorial service for former South African president Nelson Mandela at the FNB Stadium in Soweto near Johannesburg, Dec. 10, 2013.
    Reuters
    President Barack Obama traveled halfway around the world on Tuesday to deliver a message he hoped would be heard by his political opponents back home, and some U.S. rivals abroad.
     
    Obama's speech at a rain-soaked soccer stadium in Johannesburg was perhaps the most electrifying moment of a day of remembrances about the life of Nelson Mandela, who died last Thursday at age 95.
     
    Throughout his speech, Obama sprinkled references to his determination to work to reduce income inequality in the United States.
     
    His appeal to people who embrace Mandela's life mission to actually live by it may have been directed toward his Republican opponents, who have sought to stymie his agenda on many fronts.
     
    “There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba's legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality,” Obama said, using Mandela's clan name.
     
    Obama's brief trip to South Africa offered a respite from partisan battles in Washington over spending and, more recently, the botched rollout of his signature healthcare plan.
     
    The troubles have weighed heavily on his presidency and contributed to a decline in his popularity among Americans, who now give him a 38 percent job approval rating, among the lowest of his five years in office.
     
    While the U.S. economy is showing some signs of strength, the improvements are not trickling through to the middle class.
     
    Obama wants the U.S. Congress to improve the plight of middle-class Americans by approving a higher minimum wage, more spending on education for children and an overhaul of immigration laws as ways to boost the American economy.
     
    His appeals, however, are not gaining much traction among Republicans, who see his proposals as another way to increase the tax burden on Americans.
     
    Obama also preached a broader message at the Mandela memorial.
     
    Delivered before both Cuban President Raul Castro and Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao, his remarks could easily be construed as being directed at their governments and others with whom the United States has differences over human rights.
     
    “Around the world today, men and women are still in prison for their political beliefs and are still persecuted for what they look like and how they worship and who they love. That is happening today,” he said.
     
    “There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba's struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people.”
     
    Promoting freedom and human rights and ending wars are difficult, he argued, but “South Africa shows us we can choose.”
     
    “We can choose a world defined not by conflict, but by peace and justice and opportunity,” Obama said.

    Watch the entire speech:

    You May Like

    Turkey, US Splits Deepen Over Support for Kurdish Militants

    Ankara summons American ambassador to protest remarks by State Department spokesman who said Washington does not consider Syria's Kurdish Democracy Union Party (PYD) a terrorist organization

    Obama Seeking $19 Billion for National Cybersecurity

    Move, touted as attempt to build broad, cohesive federal response to cyberthreats, calls for increase in cybersecurity spending across all government agencies

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire, who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the wars in Iraq, Syria and Yemen

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
    December 10, 2013 9:37 PM
    Despite I can understand less than half of his address due to my listenning capacity, it sounds like for me encouraging himself to determine again and to be able to carry out his policies as VOA implys. Equal opportunity, freedom, generousity, helping each other, no unilateral domination, seaking ideals. Good luck Obama !

    by: Whistleblower from: District of Criminals
    December 10, 2013 5:27 PM
    Obama and his predecessor have flown on your dime to South Africa to attend the funeral of the former communist Nelson Mandela.

    “President Barack Obama brought former President George W. Bush with him to Africa on Monday to attend a memorial for Nelson Mandela in a high-profile show of American respect for the man who vanquished white-minority rule in South Africa,” Reuters reports.

    All part of the globalist club: Obama shakes hands with Raul Castro during the memorial service for Nelson Mandela.

    Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter went along for the ride, but on separate flights.

    “Obama kept his usual quarters in the front of the plane, while the medical unit cabin was transformed into the Bushes’ quarters for the flight. Clinton stayed in the senior staff cabin.”

    Henri Le Riche estimates “Obama’s expected 10-minute speech at Nelson Mandela’s memorial will cost taxpayers at least $500,000 per minute.”

    That’s not counting any cakes and coffee he and his inner circle consume aboard Air Force One during the 18,000-mile round trip to Johannesburg, via Dakar, in Senegal.

    The 28-hour two-way flight will cost $5 million because the four-engined Boeing 747 costs roughly $180,000 an hour to operate, according to a May 2012 report by the Congressional Research Service.

    The cost includes jet fuel and subsequent maintenance of the aircraft’s engines, electronics and hotel-class facilities.

    Obama has been accompanied by the First Lady, Attorney General Eric Holder, national security advisor Susan Rice and confidante Valerie Jarrett.

    In addition to Obama and his entourage aboard Air Force One, the government sent along the presidential security detail – armed guards, bullet-proof limos, and other equipment – on a far less luxurious C-17 cargo lifters based out of Andrews Air Force base. Cost: $23,811 per hour.

    Obama’s trip is not merely ceremonial. The high profile event serves as a spectacular propaganda piece to highlight multiculturalism, the latest political control tool exploited by the establishment.

    Incidentally, the ideological heirs to Mandela’s communism do not support Obama’s presence in South Africa.

    A statement issued by the National Unions of Metalworkers of South Africa, the South African Communist Party, the Young Communist League of South Africa, the South African Students’ Congress, the Muslim Students’ Association, the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ Union, the Congress of South African Trade Unions, the Friends of Cuba Society, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa, and the World Federation of Trade Unions condemn the U.S. Public relations stunt.

    “Our rejection is based the US’s arrogant, selfish and oppressive foreign policies, treatment of workers and international trade relations that are rooted in war-mongering, neo-liberal super-exploitation, colonial racism and the disregard and destruction of the environment, thus making the realization of a just and peaceful world impossible,” the statement declares.

    The rejection is interesting considering the United States was instrumental in the effort to dismantle apartheid. The Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986, enacted by Congress, imposed sanctions that ultimately led to the release of Nelson Mandela and other political prisoners and the end of apartheid.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clownsi
    X
    February 09, 2016 8:04 PM
    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video Foreign Policy Weighs Heavy for Some US Voters

    VOA talks to protesters in Manchester, New Hampshire who sound off on foreign policy issues such as the Guantanamo Bay Prison, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Middle East Affairs and national security.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.