President Barack Obama Weekly Address April 25th, 2009 (Video/Transcript)

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
April 25, 2009

Good morning. Over the last three months, my Administration has taken aggressive action to confront an historic economic crisis. As we do everything that we can to create jobs and get our economy moving, we’re also building a new foundation for lasting prosperity – a foundation that invests in quality education, lowers health care costs, and develops new sources of energy powered by new jobs and industries.

One of the pillars of that foundation must be fiscal discipline. We came into office facing a budget deficit of $1.3 trillion for this year alone, and the cost of confronting our economic crisis is high. But we cannot settle for a future of rising deficits and debts that our children cannot pay.

All across America, families are tightening their belts and making hard choices. Now, Washington must show that same sense of responsibility. That is why we have identified two trillion dollars in deficit-reductions over the next decade, while taking on the special interest spending that doesn’t advance the peoples’ interests.

But we must also recognize that we cannot meet the challenges of today with old habits and stale thinking. So much of our government was built to deal with different challenges from a different era. Too often, the result is wasteful spending, bloated programs, and inefficient results.

It’s time to fundamentally change the way that we do business in Washington. To help build a new foundation for the 21st century, we need to reform our government so that it is more efficient, more transparent, and more creative. That will demand new thinking and a new sense of responsibility for every dollar that is spent.

Earlier this week, I held my first Cabinet meeting and sent a clear message: cut what doesn’t work. Already, we’ve identified substantial savings. And in the days and weeks ahead, we will continue going through the budget line by line, and we’ll identify more than 100 programs that will be cut or eliminated.

But we can’t stop there. We need to go further, and we need an all-hands-on-deck approach to reforming government. That’s why I’m announcing several steps that my Administration will take in the weeks ahead to restore fiscal discipline while making our government work better.

First, we need to adhere to the basic principle that new tax or entitlement policies should be paid for. This principle – known as PAYGO – helped transform large deficits into surpluses in the 1990s. Now, we must restore that sense of fiscal discipline. That’s why I’m calling on Congress to pass PAYGO legislation like a bill that will be introduced by Congressman Baron Hill, so that government acts the same way any responsible family does in setting its budget.

Second, we’ll create new incentives to reduce wasteful spending and to invest in what works. We don’t want agencies to protect bloated budgets – we want them to promote effective programs. So the idea is simple: agencies that identify savings will get to keep a portion of those savings to invest in programs that work. The result will be a smaller budget, and a more effective government.

Third, we’ll look for ideas from the bottom up. After all, Americans across the country know that the best ideas often come from workers – not just management. That’s why we’ll establish a process through which every government worker can submit their ideas for how their agency can save money and perform better. We’ll put the suggestions that work into practice. And later this year, I will meet with those who come up with the best ideas to hear firsthand about how they would make your government more efficient and effective.

And finally, we will reach beyond the halls of government. Many businesses have innovative ways of using technology to save money, and many experts have new ideas to make government work more efficiently. Government can – and must – learn from them. So later this year, we will host a forum on reforming government for the 21st century, so that we’re also guided by voices that come from outside of Washington.

We cannot sustain deficits that mortgage our children’s future, nor tolerate wasteful inefficiency. Government has a responsibility to spend the peoples’ money wisely, and to serve the people effectively. I will work every single day that I am President to live up to that responsibility, and to transform our government so that is held to a higher standard of performance on behalf of the American people.

Thank you.

President Barack Obama Weekly Address April 18th, 2009 (Video/Transcript)

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, April 18, 2009

It’s not news to say that we are living through challenging times: The worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. A credit crisis that has made that downturn worse. And a fiscal disaster that has accumulated over a period of years.

In the year 2000, we had projected budget surpluses in the trillions, and Washington appeared to be on the road to fiscal stability. Eight years later, when I walked in the door, the projected budget deficit for this year alone was $1.3 trillion. And in order to jumpstart our struggling economy, we were forced to make investments that added to that deficit through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

But as surely as our future depends on building a new energy economy, controlling health care costs and ensuring that our kids are once again the best educated in the world, it also depends on restoring a sense of responsibility and accountability to our federal budget. Without significant change to steer away from ever-expanding deficits and debt, we are on an unsustainable course.

So today, we simply cannot afford to perpetuate a system in Washington where politicians and bureaucrats make decisions behind closed doors, with little accountability for the consequences; where billions are squandered on programs that have outlived their usefulness, or exist solely because of the power of a lobbyist or interest group; and where outdated technology and information systems undermine efficiency, threaten our security, and fail to serve an engaged citizenry.

If we’re to going to rebuild our economy on a solid foundation, we need to change the way we do business in Washington. We need to restore the American people’s confidence in their government – that it is on their side, spending their money wisely, to meet their families’ needs.

That starts with the painstaking work of examining every program, every entitlement, every dollar of government spending and asking ourselves: Is this program really essential? Are taxpayers getting their money’s worth? Can we accomplish our goals more efficiently or effectively some other way?

It’s a process we have already begun, scouring our budget line by line for programs that don’t work so we can cut them to make room for ones that do. That means ending tax breaks for companies shipping jobs overseas; stopping the fraud and abuse in our Medicare program; and reforming our health care system to cut costs for families and businesses. It means strengthening whisteblower protections for government employees who step forward to report wasteful spending. And it means reinstating the pay-as-you-go rule that we followed during the 1990s – so if we want to spend, we’ll need to find somewhere else to cut.

And this Monday, at my first, full Cabinet meeting, I will ask all of my department and agency heads for specific proposals for cutting their budgets. Already, members of my Cabinet have begun to trim back unnecessary expenditures. Secretary Napolitano, for example, is ending consulting contracts to create new seals and logos that have cost the Department of Homeland Security $3 million since 2003. In the largest Department, Secretary Gates has launched an historic project to reform defense contracting procedures and eliminate hundreds of billions of dollars in wasteful spending and cost overruns. And I commend Senators McCain and Levin – a Republican and a Democrat – who have teamed up to lead this effort in Congress.

Finally, in the coming weeks, I will be announcing the elimination of dozens of government programs shown to be wasteful or ineffective. In this effort, there will be no sacred cows, and no pet projects. All across America, families are making hard choices, and it’s time their government did the same.

That is why I have assembled a team of management, technology, and budget experts to guide us in this work – leaders who will help us revamp government operations from top to bottom and ensure that the federal government is truly working for the American people.

I have named Jeffrey Zients, a leading CEO, management consultant and entrepreneur, to serve as Deputy Director for Management of the Office of Management and Budget and as the first ever Chief Performance Officer. Jeffrey will work to streamline processes, cut costs, and find best practices throughout our government.

Aneesh Chopra, who is currently the Secretary of Technology for Governor Kaine of Virginia, has agreed to serve as America’s Chief Technology Officer. In this role, Aneesh will promote technological innovation to help achieve our most urgent priorities – from creating jobs and reducing health care costs to keeping our nation secure.

Aneesh and Jeffrey will work closely with our Chief Information Officer, Vivek Kundra, who is responsible for setting technology policy across the government, and using technology to improve security, ensure transparency, and lower costs. The goal is to give all Americans a voice in their government and ensure that they know exactly how we’re spending their money – and can hold us accountable for the results.

None of this will be easy. Big change never is. But with the leadership of these individuals, I am confident that we can break our bad habits, put an end to the mismanagement that has plagued our government, and start living within our means again. That is how we will get our deficits under control and move from recovery to prosperity. And that is how we will give the American people the kind of government they expect and deserve – one that is efficient, accountable and fully worthy of their trust.

Thank you.


Red Face When Drinking

Article found in The New Year Times
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
by Nicholas Bakalar

People whose face turn red when they drink alcohol may be facing more than embarrassment. The flushing may indicate an increase risk for a deadly throat cancer, researchers report.

The flushing response, which may be accompanied by nausea and a rapid heartbeat, is caused mainly by an inherited deficient in an enzyme called ALDH2, a trait shared by more than a third of people of East Asian ancestry - Japanese, Chinese or Koreans. As little as half a bottle of beer can trigger the reaction.

The deficiency results in problems in metabolizing alcohol, leading to an accumulation of toxin called acetaldehyde in the body.

People with two copies of the gene responsible have such unpleasant reactions that they are unable to consume large amounts of alcohol. This aversion actually protects them against the increase risk for cancer.

But those with only one copy can develop a tolerance to acetadehyde and become heavy drinkers.

"What we're trying to do here is raise awareness of the risk factor among doctors and their ALDH2-deficient patients," said Philip J. Brooks, an investigator with the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and an author of the report ecently published in the PLoS Medicine. "It's a pretty serious risk."

The malignancy, called squamous cell esophageal cancer, is also caused by smoking and can be treated with surgery, by survival rates are low.


CNN interview with Fareed Zakaria, GPS and Malcolm Gladwell

Sunday April 12, 2009 on CNN - "Global Public Square" (GPS)

ZAKARIA: Malcolm Gladwell is probably the best-selling nonfiction writer in America. He's sold many millions of books based on very simple ideas.

"Blink." Should you trust your first impression? "The Tipping Point." How does a fad become a sensation?

His new book, which is my favorite, is called "Outliers." In it he explores what makes a person successful. Why do some talented people flame out early while others go on to brilliant careers?

His main point is this. Success doesn't have much to do with talent. Instead, he says, it's almost always a product of hard work and of the culture in which one lives.

Malcolm Gladwell, thank you.

MALCOLM GLADWELL, AUTHOR, "OUTLIERS": Thank you for having me.

ZAKARIA: One of my favorite examples is actually your first example, where you talk about hockey players.

And the reason I think you talk about them is because, what could be more meritocratic than sports? You just -- you know, it's not who your parents are. It's just a question of raw talent and hard work, it would seem.

But what do you find?

GLADWELL: Well, you find -- there's some lovely work by a series of psychologists. What you find is that an overwhelming majority of hockey players are born in the first three months of the year -- elite hockey players.

And the same is true, by the way, of soccer around the world.

And the reason for that is that the system -- the system under which age class hockey and age class soccer are organized has as a cutoff date January 1st. And so, from the very beginning when we pick young kids to pull them out and put them on all-star teams and give them special coaching and special encouragement, we're looking at groups of children who are all nine years old. And we're saying, those three are the best. Let's pull them out.

Well, who is the best at nine years old? Well, it's children who are the eldest in their class, those born closest to the cutoff date.

ZAKARIA: So, the ones who are nine years ten months, nine years 11 months and nine years 11.5 months, tend to be the best.

GLADWELL: Are the best. When you're nine years old, 11 months can be four inches in height. It can be 25 pounds. It can be the difference between being a klutz and someone who's incredibly coordinated.

And so, we think there that what we've done is identify people who have extraordinary individual talent. We actually haven't. We've created a system that confers a special benefit on children born in a certain part of the year. And that benefit persists.

And those kids are the ones who end up 10 years later being in, playing all-star, playing in the NHL or playing professional football or soccer around the world.

ZAKARIA: Do you think this applies to, I don't know, finance? That there were some kids who seemed, at a young age, a little bit more talented at math, and that they get a certain amount of attention by teachers and parents?

GLADWELL: And it snowballs.

ZAKARIA: And they're told they're smart, and then it's reinforced.

GLADWELL: Yes. This is -- this principle in psychology is called Matthew Effect, after the line in the Bible, "To he who has, much more will be given." Right?

It's this idea that -- it's called cumulative advantage, which is, small initial advantages mushroom over time.

The best data we have is on reading. A very, very small difference in reading ability at a very young age quickly mushrooms into a large difference. Why? Because if you're a little bit better at reading at the age of six, you'll read more. Right? Because reading is easier and more pleasurable.

And that little extra increment of reading that you do causes you to read even better than the person behind you. And the cycle reinforces itself until you have, by the time kids are -- when kids are six, the difference in the amount they read is like this. When they're 12, the same kids, the difference is this. And it's because of this snowballing effect that happens with small initial advantages growing.

ZAKARIA: Tell the story of the Beatles with regard to practice.

GLADWELL: The Beatles are a lovely example, because we think that their story begins with the invasion of America in 1964. Right? These four, fresh-faced, practically teenagers who burst on the scene.

You know, nothing could be further from the truth. They spend the really critical periods -- they spend two years in Hamburg, Germany, as the house band in a strip club playing eight-hour sets, seven days a week, for months at a stretch.

They have one of the most extraordinarily intensive apprenticeships in rock 'n' roll. And if you think about what it takes to play -- I mean, the typical set for a rock band is what, an hour, an hour-and-a-half. They did eight-hour sets, day in, day out.

If you think about that you realize, if you force a group of young musicians to play together over that -- in that way, for months at a stretch -- you're forcing them to master all kinds of different genres, to learn how to play together well, to write songs.

I mean, everything you need to do, particularly at the dawn of rock 'n' roll, to be the most dominant band of your generation requires some kind of apprenticeship. And lo and behold, they have it.

And I would argue, and many agree with me, that no Hamburg, no Beatles. You know, they're just not the band that we remember unless they had that kind of intensive training.

ZAKARIA: But of course, it raises an interesting question to me, which is, you could imagine a lot of other bands being told, "I've got good news for you. You've got a great gig in Hamburg, Germany. The bad news is you're going to have to play eight hours a day, seven days a week." And they would have said, "No way. We're not going to do it."

So, something about that group made them relish the opportunity...


ZAKARIA: ... to do enormous amounts of practice. And presumably, that's true of some of these sportsmen and true of other people.

That is, yes, it takes practice. But you need a certain mentality to want to practice...

GLADWELL: To want to practice that much.

ZAKARIA: ... the hell out of it. You know, the...

GLADWELL: What you have described is what I believe talent is.

Talent is the desire to practice. Right? It is that you love something so much that you are willing to make an enormous sacrifice and an enormous commitment to that, whatever it is -- task, game, sport, what have you.

When people use that word, we usually talk about something inherent in you. And we think of something very specific. I don't think that's what talent is. I think talent is simply desire.

It's what you said of the Beatles. Their talent consisted of their ability to see Hamburg as an opportunity, whereas 99 out of 100 bands would have seen Hamburg as a nightmare -- which, by the way, it was.

I mean, you could argue that the Beatles talent was also an act of delusion. You know, to be able to see opportunity in Hamburg in 1959 required, at the very least, an extraordinary imagination.

ZAKARIA: But there is no such thing as a certain inherent talent? I mean, there are people who clearly are just great at math. There are people who are -- you know, who clearly have a way with poetry.

Was Shakespeare not talented?

GLADWELL: Well, see, this is a surprisingly active debate among psychologists. So, does Shakespeare have something in him, separate from the desire, to write poetry and plays that explains his genius? All right. I'll grant you that.

But the question is, is it this big, or is it this big? I think it's this big.

Same thing when you say someone has a talent for mathematics. I would say that much of the talent for mathematics is that they like numbers. My father is a mathematician. What is his talent? He genuinely loves numbers in a way that you or I would find unfathomable. Right? That's 90 percent of why he's a mathematician. He just -- and so, as a result, from the very youngest age he was drawn to this, and has put in -- put in by the age of 21, 100 times more time in math than I did by the age of 21.

It starts with love.

Now, does he have some separate facility with numbers that I don't have? Maybe. But I'm not convinced it's significant.

You know, I mean, I think any reasonably intelligent human being has the intellectual firepower to do calculus. But only a small fraction of us make use of it. And it's the "make use" part that I'm interested in.

ZAKARIA: Malcolm, when you talk about what succeeds, some of what you talk about in terms of success and failure is not just the individuals -- because, as you say, that doesn't seem dominant. It's the environment around them, the culture around them. And some cultures -- I mean, national cultures -- seem better and worse.


ZAKARIA: You found that, by and large, Koreans were very bad at being pilots.


ZAKARIA: Explain that.

GLADWELL: To be a good pilot we think is a matter of technical skill. It isn't really.

ZAKARIA: But what about Sully Sullenberger?

GLADWELL: Well, he's such a -- he's such an outlier, to the theory of "Outliers." That's a very rare kind of plane crash. In fact, I don't know if there'd ever been a successful water landing in the last 50 years.

Most crashes are of a very different form. The overwhelming majority of crashes are the result of a breakdown in communication between the co-pilot and a pilot. Something comes up, a situation emerges that requires those two pilots to be in open and honest communication, and they fail to do that. One person withholds information. One person doesn't share. Whatever.

There are invariably social failures.

So the question is -- this is why there's a cultural component -- is it easier in some cultures for a subordinate to speak openly and honestly to his superior than in other cultures? And the answer is, absolutely.

In fact, this is one of the dimensions on which cultures vary the most. It's called power distance. It is the respect for hierarchy. And there are some cultures that have zero respect for hierarchy, and some cultures for which that is the dominant paradigm of social interaction.

Korea, as it happens, is a culture which has enormous respect for hierarchy, where power distance is a -- in fact, the entire linguistic structure of the Korean language is infused with this sense of, how do I treat you if you are older and superior to me? I use specific pronounal forms. I mean, it goes on and on and on. Right?

Well, that is, in 99 percent of cases, a beautiful and wonderful thing. In the cockpit, it's a problem.

And so, you see -- whenever you see cultures, if you overlay the list of cultures in the world by their respect for power distance with the list of cultures in the world by their plane crashes per capita, it's basically the same list.

ZAKARIA: So, it's the ones that hierarchical that have the most plane crashes.

GLADWELL: That have the most plane crashes.

So, you'll see -- so a classic, you know...

ZAKARIA: And what does Korean Airlines do?

GLADWELL: Well, this is the second part of this argument, which is, this is not to say that certain cultures are incapable of doing that task. It just means that, if they want to get better, they have to address the cultural component of their interaction.

And that's exactly what Korean Air did. And they fixed their problem. Today, Korean Air -- Korean Air was, through the '90s, one of the most dangerous airlines in the world. I mean, it was almost shut down at the end of the '90s by international aviation authorities.

The Canadians told them at one point, you can't fly over Canada any more. I mean, which is a real problem if you're trying to get from one end of the world to the other.

And they fixed it. And they fixed it by bringing in people who have a different cultural attitude, and essentially re-educating the pilots in Korean Airlines.

ZAKARIA: And they made them speak in English...

GLADWELL: Made them speak in English.

ZAKARIA: ... because they said it's a non-hierarchical language.

GLADWELL: It's a non-hierarchical language. They want them to think like, you know -- I mean, non-hierarchical cultures are America, Israel, Austria, Australia. They want them to think like Australians, essentially.

What do you do? Well, you make them speak English, right? And it works.

I mean, and this is the sort of hopeful lesson at the core of my book, which is that, when we acknowledge how much of success is embedded in culture, that's a hopeful thing, because culture is malleable. It's something we can address if we put our minds to it.

ZAKARIA: So, when you look at America today, what elements of our culture are producing the kind of problems we see -- with a bad education system, for example?

GLADWELL: I think that we are -- we have carried -- in the educational realm we have carried our obsession with individualism too far. And paradoxically, we have an enormous amount to learn, I think, from Asian cultures like Korea. I mean, just as they can learn from us on flying planes, we can learn from them on education.

If you go to Korea or China or Hong Kong, and you ask them, what does it take to be good at math, their answer would be, being good at math is a function of how hard you work.

Now, hard work is something that is available to all students regardless of intellectual ability. So when you come in with that perspective, your expectation is everyone can work.

The dull child can work as hard as -- in fact, the dull child may find it easier to work harder than the smart child. That work-based perspective on achievement allows you, I think, to serve the needs of a much broader pool of students than our -- we have an ability-based approach. Right?

We're constantly segregating kids according to their aptitude, whatever on earth that is. I think we would do well to banish that word and simply -- I think we should separate kids according to how hard they want to work.

The kids who want to do their homework ought to be one. And if you don't want to do your homework, I think we should say, then, you have a problem. And we should -- I don't care if you have an I.Q. of 150, you have a problem.

You know, you have to -- a work-based culture is, at the end of the day, a far more effective means of raising the middle.

ZAKARIA: Malcolm Gladwell, thank you very much.


President Barack Obama Weekly Address April 11th, 2009 (Video/Transcript)

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, April 11, 2009

I speak to you today during a time that is holy and filled with meaning for believers around the world. Earlier this week, Jewish people gathered with family and friends to recite the stories of their ancestors’ struggle and ultimate liberation. Tomorrow, Christians of all denominations will come together to rejoice and remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

These are two very different holidays with their own very different traditions. But it seems fitting that we mark them both during the same week. For in a larger sense, they are both moments of reflection and renewal. They are both occasions to think more deeply about the obligations we have to ourselves and the obligations we have to one another, no matter who we are, where we come from, or what faith we practice.

This idea – that we are all bound up, as Martin Luther King once said, in "a single garment of destiny"– is a lesson of all the world’s great religions. And never has it been more important for us to reaffirm that lesson than it is today – at a time when we face tests and trials unlike any we have seen in our time. An economic crisis that recognizes no borders. Violent extremism that’s claimed the lives of innocent men, women, and children from Manhattan to Mumbai. An unsustainable dependence on foreign oil and other sources of energy that pollute our air and water and threaten our planet. The proliferation of the world’s most dangerous weapons, the persistence of deadly disease, and the recurrence of age-old conflicts.

These are challenges that no single nation, no matter how powerful, can confront alone. The United States must lead the way. But our best chance to solve these unprecedented problems comes from acting in concert with other nations. That is why I met with leaders of the G-20 nations to ensure that the world’s largest economies take strong and unified action in the face of the global economic crisis. Together, we’ve taken steps to stimulate growth, restore the flow of credit, open markets, and dramatically reform our financial regulatory system to prevent such crises from occurring again – steps that will lead to job creation at home.

It is only by working together that we will finally defeat 21st century security threats like al Qaeda. So it was heartening that our NATO allies united in Strasbourg behind our strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and contributed important resources to support our effort there.

It is only by coordinating with countries around the world that we will stop the spread of the world’s most dangerous weapons. That is why I laid out a strategy in Prague for us to work with Russia and other nations to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons; to secure nuclear materials from terrorists; and, ultimately, to free the world from the menace of a nuclear nightmare.

And it is only by building a new foundation of mutual trust that we will tackle some of our most entrenched problems. That is why, in Turkey, I spoke to members of Parliament and university students about rising above the barriers of race, region, and religion that too often divide us.

With all that is at stake today, we cannot afford to talk past one another. We can’t afford to allow old differences to prevent us from making progress in areas of common concern. We can’t afford to let walls of mistrust stand. Instead, we have to find – and build on – our mutual interests. For it is only when people come together, and seek common ground, that some of that mistrust can begin to fade. And that is where progress begins.

Make no mistake: we live in a dangerous world, and we must be strong and vigilant in the face of these threats. But let us not allow whatever differences we have with other nations to stop us from coming together around those solutions that are essential to our survival and success.

As we celebrate Passover, Easter, and this time of renewal, let’s find strength in our shared resolve and purpose in our common aspirations. And if we can do that, then not only will we fulfill the sacred meaning of these holy days, but we will fulfill the promise of our country as a leader around the world.

President Barack Obama Weekly Address April 4th, 2009 (Video/Transcript)


Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, April 4, 2009

In this new century, we live in a world that has grown smaller and more interconnected than at any time in history. Threats to our nation’s security and economy can no longer be kept at bay by oceans or by borders drawn on maps. The terrorists who struck our country on 9/11 plotted in Hamburg, trained in Kandahar and Karachi, and threaten countries across the globe. Cars in Boston and Beijing are melting ice caps in the Arctic that disrupt weather patterns everywhere. The theft of nuclear material from the former Soviet Union could lead to the extermination of any city on earth. And reckless speculation by bankers in New York and London has fueled a global recession that is inflicting pain on workers and families around the world and across America.

The challenges of our time threaten the peace and prosperity of every single nation, and no one nation can meet them alone. That is why it is sometimes necessary for a President to travel abroad in order to protect and strengthen our nation here at home. That is what I have done this week.

I began my trip by attending a summit of the G20 – the countries that represent the world’s largest economies – because we know that the success of America’s economy is inextricably linked to that of the global economy. If people in other countries cannot spend, that means they cannot buy the goods we produce here in America, which means more lost jobs and more families hurting. Just yesterday, we learned that we lost hundreds of thousands more jobs last month, adding to the millions we’ve lost since this recession began. And if we continue to let banks and other financial institutions around the world act recklessly and irresponsibly, that affects institutions here at home as credit dries up, and people can’t get loans to buy a home or car, to run a small business or pay for college.

Ultimately, the only way out of a recession that is global in scope is with a response that is global in coordination. That is why I’m pleased that after two days of careful negotiation, the G20 nations have agreed on a series of unprecedented steps that I believe will be a turning point in our pursuit of a global economic recovery. All of us are now moving aggressively to get our banks lending again. All of us are working to spur growth and create jobs. And all of us have agreed on the most sweeping reform of our financial regulatory framework in a generation – reform that will help end the risky speculation and market abuses that have cost so many people so much.

I also met this past week with the leaders of China and Russia, working to forge constructive relationships to address issues of common concern, while being frank with each other about where we disagree. President Hu and I agreed that the link between China’s economy and ours is of great mutual benefit, and we established a new Strategic and Economic Dialogue between the U.S. and China. President Medvedev and I discussed our shared commitment to a world without nuclear weapons, and we signed a declaration putting America and Russia on the path to a new treaty to further reduce our nuclear arsenals. Tomorrow, I will lay out additional steps we must take to secure the world’s loose nuclear materials and stop the spread of these deadly weapons.

Finally, I met yesterday with our NATO allies and asked them for additional civilian support and assistance for our efforts in Afghanistan. That is where al Qaeda trains, plots, and threatens to launch their next attack. And that attack could occur in any nation, which means that every nation has a stake in ensuring that our mission in Afghanistan succeeds.

As we have worked this week to find common ground and strengthen our alliances, we have not solved all of our problems. And we have not agreed on every point or every issue in every meeting. But we have made real and unprecedented progress – and will continue to do so in the weeks and months ahead.

Because in the end, we recognize that no corner of the globe can wall itself off from the threats of the twenty-first century, or from the needs and concerns of fellow nations. The only way forward is through shared and persistent efforts to combat fear and want wherever they exist. That is the challenge of our time. And if we move forward with courage and resolve, I am confident that we will meet this challenge.

Thank you.