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tv   Washington This Week  CSPAN  July 28, 2012 10:00am-2:00pm EDT

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out where goods common-sense policies that will help doctors make good choices with their patients and help patients make good choices. there's a lot of responsibility on both sides. doctors need to work with their patients to help patients work toward good decisions about pain management but they also need to make sure we're not over prescribing in terms of so much they don't need it anymore. when patients don't need it anymore, they need to be getting rid of that in a responsible manner. there is a way to get rid of it. you can mix it with coffee grounds and put it in the trash. you make it unusable. parents need to make sure it is secure. host: peter delaney is with the substance abuse/mental health services administration. thank you for your time. tomorrow, we will take a look at
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politics with two pollsters and strategists. sheila will join us to take a look at money and politics. then we will get an update from iraq. 's futurealk about iraqi' in light of violence this week. that is tomorrow at 7:00. we will see you then. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> today, we will show you some
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of the international aids conference held this week in washington. dr. fauci is a first. he is followed by secretary of state hillary clinton and former first lady laura bush. this week, one of the world's leading aids researchers outlined the steps necessary for ending the global pandemic. he spoke at the 2012 aids conference held in washington for the first time in 25 years. dr. fauci is followed by phill wilson of the black aids institute. this is 55 minutes.
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>> please welcome francoise barre-sinoussi. >> thank you. it is a privilege and honor to introduce the first speaker of the first plenary session of the aids 2012 conference back in washington, d.c., after 25 years. [applause] only one person could give this first talk, a person with a real vision of science and what science can do for public help -- health. that is the reason i am delighted to introduce this person, tony fauci. [applause]
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tony is the director of the national institute of allergies and infection at the nih. he has overseen research aimed at treating and preventing infectious diseases. he is the chief of the laboratory of a new regulations where he oversees numerous important discoveries related to hiv/aids. he is one of the most cited scientists in the field. he is the author of more than 1000 publications including
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several textbooks. dr. fauci has received numerous awards for his scientific accomplishments, including the national medal of science, the award for public service, and the presidential medal of freedom. ladies and gentlemen, i am pleased to call tony. [applause] >> i want to take the theme developed last night with great enthusiasm and discuss with you
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why we now have the scientific basis to be able to consider the feasibility and reality of in a trade--- of an hiv-aids- free generation. i want to start with a little background. i love math. i love the deep blue of the oceans, the refresh in green of the planes -- plains, and the awesome mountains. when we look at them, they have taken on a different complexion. the dreaded different shadings indicating prevalence in different regions of the world with now 34 million people living with hiv/aids. if you look in the upper left- hand corner, the united states has 1.1 million people living
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with hiv. if you focus in, you see washington, d.c. there are a couple of issues about washington. we welcome you here, but it was 25 years ago that the international aids conference was in washington. i had the privilege and opportunity to of participate in every one of the conferences of the national aids society. like i said, i like maps. this is a google mouth of washington, d.c. again, the dreaded shadings. in washington, we have the prevalence that equal some of the other nations.
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it is the best of times and the worst of times. the worst of times is the prevalence. the hope is the best of times. washington, d.c., has implemented an aggressive and innovative program to have a major impact which can serve as an example. i will get to that in a moment. let's get to the gist of what i want to develop with you over the next several minutes. we want to get to the end of aids. that will only occur with fundamental foundations. these are the basic and clinical research which will give us the tools which will ultimately lead to interventions. ultimately, these will need to be implemented together with studies about how best to implement them. let me briefly go through each of these with you. the basic and clinical research.
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we have had a stunning amount of advances in the arena of basic and clinical science, which are delineated on this side. i do not have time to go through each of them with you. some stand out such as the initial identification of the virus, the demonstration of the agent, the intensive incremental science each year learning more about the hiv virus itself, as well as the pathogenic mechanisms. this is a confusing slide. i put on one about 30 years of incremental research. we know a lot about the virus. the primary infection, the establishment's patricia
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infection in tissue, the feeding of organs, immune activation, partial immunological control, accelerating virus replication. in the absence of their become a distraction of the immune system. very important in the process is understanding the early events in hiv, particularly at the mucosal service -- surface, understanding is an important insight into both transmission and vaccine development. probably the most important of the accumulation of scientific vances' is the understanding -- a scientific advances is understanding the replication cycle, integration, and viral budding. each has given us targets of
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vulnerability on the part of the virus. it is that kind of basic science which brings us to the next step. that is the step of interventions, predominantly in the arena of treatment and prevention. let's start with treatment. i dug this slide out of our archives in the early 1980's when we were frustrated clinically but beginning to make headway scientifically. i refer to these as the dark years of my medical career. what kept us going forward even though we were much in the dark was realizing what people were going through in the community, as eloquently stated in some of the films he had seen about what was going on in san francisco
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describing what was going on -- or in the film describing what was going on in predict college. if you look at the evolution of treatment strategies, the first drug in 1987 was a glimmer of hope. resistance occurs. years go by. two drugs, it goes down a little bit longer but not enough. then the transforming median in vancouver with a three-drug therapy brings it down to below detectable levels, it stays there indefinitely. we have a new dawn of therapeutics that have transformed a lives of individuals. we have up to 30 anti-hiv approved drugs by the fda,
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multiple causes -- classes that have transformed things. we cannot stop there. there's still some responding -- not responding to the drugs. the results have been spectacular. i will pick out a couple of examples. this is a study from holland. i told you during the dark years of my experience, the median starlet's -- survival of my patience was six to eight months. now if a person walks into anyplace with the availability of treatment, is young and recently infected, if you put them on a combination therapy. you can look them in the eye and tell them it is likely they will live an additional 50 years. [applause]
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this is not confined just to the developed world. we know in you gonna come up -- we know in uganda there's been similar results with life expectancy. if you look in the united states of the 1.1 million infected, 20% do not know they are infected. 60 2% are linked to care. 28% are suppressing viral loads. we must do better. we have the tools. we need to implement that. we can take examples from the developing world. what we need to do is have a care continuant seeking out, treating one eligible, and
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making sure they get care. getting back to the district of columbia, there is a study now with six cities, where we're starting to see this can occur if you put in the effort. i am sure you will be hearing more about that later from colleagues. it does not only happen in the developed world. take a look at what is going on in rwanda. when you have a community-based program, the tree retention was 92% -- the treatment retention was 92%. extending intervention, what about prevention? combination hiv prevention, the message is prevention is not unique dimensional.
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we know that. there is a combination that is comprehensive. on low-level of the building blocks are interventions that are not necessarily biologically driven. we are implementing them before we knew there was a virus or what it was. as the years went by, science led us. the prevention of mother to child transmission, the breakthrough steady indicating by treating the mother you can decrease dramatically. now we treat mothers for the disease. the baby is born uninfected and can be breast fed. in the united states, this has transformed the estimated number of h.i.v.-infected infants. remember what may gray said the last night. in this city with high
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prevalence, there has not been a child born with hiv infection since 2009, in a city with high prevalence. [applause] that is the good news. six under thousand pediatric infections were averted by prophylactics. -- 600,000 pediatric infections were averted by prophylactics. what about male circumcision? this is a stunningly successful intervention. the initial trials in south africa showed efficacy. in the confines of the trial, it works. the real question is whether it will work in the field. this is one of the few prevention interventions that actually gets better with time. the initial result was 55% to 60%. five years out, the effectiveness in the community
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is 73%. topical microbicides from a mixed results. the study proved the concept. you can have a mandated intervention. this study and the other have told us something. biological interventions work, but they do not work if you do not adhere. that tells us where we have to marry biological with behavioral. there is no doubt about that. [applause] we know that from the study that showed the study was discontinued. hopefully we will get results from another study. we're pleased the approach of monthly use -- two studies were
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started this year which will hopefully bring a greater degree of adherence to show efficacy can equal effectiveness. . -exposure prophylactics, mixed results. -- pre-exposure prophylactics, mixed results. the recent approval by the fda of the drug helped those at risk. some studies show it does not work. adherence again. hammering home to us the concept that biological efficacy will not be effective without adherence. probably the most game change in advance over the last couple of years has been treatment with prevention with the famous trial which reduced by 96% the
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likeliest someone will transmit to their uninfected partner. if you treat early, a great eargument for getting people on treatment early. before i go on to implementation, i am telling you a lot of good news about science. we still have challenges in the arena of vaccination. we have challenges in the region of care. what about the development of a vaccine? if we were able to plug in a vaccine block, we would have a robust combination prevention package, even if it was not a perfect vaccine. even if it were not 80%, we could do it. your are all familiar with the humbling trial is showing a modest degree of efficacy. when you try to figure it out,
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we find out it is non- neutralizing response against a variable region of the envelope. something the classic paradigm would not have predicted. the neutralizing antibody approach is also important. naturally induced in the bodies, as few as they are and as ineffective as they are, are giving us scientific clues to identify neutralizing epitopes on the of below. you will see structure-based design for rexene -- for a vaccine with neutralizing antibodies. we need to show neutralizing antibodies protect.
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otherwise, a vaccine could be moot. what about a cure? francoise and her colleagues sponsored a symposium about a care. either eradication, purging, or perhaps a functional cure. either enhancing hiv-specific immunity or modifying the host cell to be resistant. this is not an and lamentable intervention -- this is not an implementable intervention. this is way upstream. you can put an end to the pandemic without killing anybody. you can cure a few people without putting an end to the age of the pandemic. this is a scientific challenge. let's go on to implementation. we have been able to implement
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the extraordinary effect of the global fund and philanthropies. recently, the assumption by host countries of their own responsibility has been very important. i want to take a look at this. what happens when you take an efficacious clinical trial-based scientific observation and try to scale it up to see if it becomes effective? there are many examples. i will give a few. what about the positive impact of scaling up and you retroviral -- scaling up anti- retrovirals in botswana? take a look at the diminishing blue bars, the number and
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percentage of children born with hiv. it works. what about the fact that if you treat people, do you really save their lives? we now have 8 million people receiving anti-retrovirals in low or middle income countries. many aids-related deaths have been averted. what about the positive impact of therapy on the hiv incidence? you go to a place where you have 30% and another section with 10% coverage. there is a 38% lower risk of acquiring it in the high coverage areas. treatment as prevention works in the field if you implement it. we know that scientifically. [applause] what about the impact of voluntary male circumcision? if you look at the study in the
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district and take the non-muslim populations who generally do not get circumcised an increase the circumcision of to 35%, by 2011 you have a 42% decrease in the acquisition of infection. what about eco dash morbidities' -- what about co- morbidities'? it reduces incidences. the best way to decrease tb is by treating hiv. it reduces mortality by up to 90% plus. you will hear a lot of models over the next few days, important models. they can be complex and confusing depending on the assumptions. you can model scale up a heart, male circumcision, and even a vaccine.
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rather than go through the complexities of the model, i want to talk about a very uncomplicated aspirational model. . we know the incidents is going down to 2.5%. the slope is going down. i do not have a date because we cannot talk about the date. the decline is not steep enough. when you talk about scaling up, this is what we hope for, that we will see a major defection in the curb -- deflection in the curve. this is what we hope to see. we know it can happen. if you go back to what i was saying about the science, in july of 2012, the statement that
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we do not have the scientific basis to implement is no longer valid. we do. that is the point. the critical question is, what is going to happen? this will not happen spontaneously. it will require the things secretary clinton spoke about when she introduced the possibility of a tree generation. a lot of people, a lot of countries, a lot of regions have a lot to do. from country ownership, capacity building, system strengthening, increased commitment by current partners, involving new partners, coordination. get rid of what does not work and concentrate on what does work. remove the legal, political, and stigma barriers. only then will this occur.
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let's get back to the dreaded map. i mentioned i had the opportunity to present at every one of the 19 meetings. this is a map i led off this meeting with. what i hope for in the coming meetings is to be able to start to show a map that goes like this, and this, and this until finally we can say we are the generation that opened the door through our scientific endeavors and implementation to an aids- free generation. thank you. [applause]
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>> please welcome ebony johnson, a member of the athena network. [applause] >> good morning. as a woman from the united states, i am pleased to welcome you back and congratulate the bold leadership of president obama to lift the travel ban. [applause] as a black woman residing in washington, d.c., where we face
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the highest rates of hiv and where black women are at the epicenter of vulnerability, it is a pleasure to welcome you back to be a voice and for this to be a call option. -- a call of action. it is my pleasure to introduce phill wilson, the president and ceo the black aids institute. the black aids institute is the only national hiv thinktank focused exclusively on ending the aids pandemic in black communities by engaging and mobilizing black institutions and individuals to confront a jarvey -- to confront a tidy, conducting training, providing technical assistance, and disseminating information and advocacy from a uniquely and
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unapologetically black perspective. he served as the aids coordinator for the city of los angeles, as the director of policy and planning for project los angeles, as co-chair of the los angeles health commission, and on the advisory committee. wilson has been involved in a myriad of agencies from their inception across the united states. they include the national black gay and lesbian leadership forum, the national task force on aids, hospice, the aids healthcare foundation, the national minority aids council, the los angeles county gay male consortium, and mr. wilson has worked extensively across eastern and western europe, in africa, india, and mexico.
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in 2001, phill wilson was named as the leadership for change recipient. he received the discovery helped channel medical honor. he has been named as a 2005 black history makers in the making of black entertainment television. he is a prolific writer that has published seven articles and newspaper writings. please welcome him to the stage. thank you. [applause] >> i am honored and humbled to have been announced by the organizers to share my thoughts with you this morning. i am also intimidated to have to follow dr. fauci, one of the greatest heroes in this
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movement. i am always a little nervous to stand between you and one of the highlights of the conference, secretary of state hillary clinton. i am talking about being between a rock and a hard place right now. on behalf of the estimated 1.1 million americans living with hiv and the thousands of doctors, nurses, researchers, activists, and volunteers that work every day to end the aids epidemic every day in this country, welcome back to our house. [applause] 22 years is a long time and we missed you. welcome to the first international aids conference where we know we can end aids. 31 years after the disease was discovered in this country, we finally have the right combination of tools and knowledge to stop the epidemic.
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we do not have a cure or vaccine yet, but david only had a sling felled goliath. our tools are not perfect, but they're good enough to get the job done if we use them efficiently, effectively, expeditiously, and compassionately. that is what i want to talk to you about this morning. i am an openly gay man who has been living with hiv for 32 years. [applause] treatment may be prevention, but i am proof that treatment is treatment. [applause] when half of the people living with hiv in this country are black and over 60% are men who have sex with men, i in
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understand why the organizers of the meeting would invite someone like me to give the stock. i am black, i am day, i am hiv positive. according to a rp, i can -- aarp, i can check off the senior box as well. i am not a woman, a straight man, latinos, native american, white, or an immigrant. i do not speak spanish. i am not a sex worker, homeless, or a victim of domestic violence. i do not live in the rural sector. i have never been to encourage or bismarck. but i know we will not end the
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aids epidemic in this country unless all of those voices are included. all of what i am and am not must be a part of the conversation. the united states spends nine time zones. it has a population of over 300 million people speaking 311 languages. 14 million american households, english is not a primary language. you might think the united states has it easy. s we do.way wa we have universities, and entrepreneurial spirit, and where wealthy. even so, many live in debilitating pollock -- poverty.
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we have large numbers of people who are homeless and have no stillness. we have large numbers of people with hiv that suffer from other diseases that are marginalized and stigmatized. not only have the largest the epidemic in the world. we have one of the most complicated epidemics in the entire world. we face gigantic challenges that demand we rely on lessons learned in other countries, lessons learned by you in this room. challenges offer the possibility of learning lessons that can be applied all over the globe. approximately 50,000 people get infected each year in the united states. that is a dramatic decrease from where we were in the mid-1980s. our prevention efforts have been stalled for the last 15 years. demographically, our epidemic is 75% male and 25% female. the estimated prevalence among
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transgendered ranges from 14% to 69%. 44% of the epidemic lives in 12 cities. new infections are rapidly rising in rural communities, especially the south. the u.s. epidemic is primarily a concentrated epidemic. in certain populations, we have generalized epidemics. with a background prevalence of almost 3% and 835,000 new infections in 2010, the aids epidemic in washington, d.c., is one that is worse than haiti.
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black men who have sex with men are involved in a raging epidemic. the black a research group -- gave research group says they are at an elevated risk of hiv infection regardless of aids. the odds of infection increases age 25 ton four at a 59.3% chance by the time he reaches 45 years old. by the time a black day mail reaches 40 years old, nearly 60% of them will be hiv-positive. the aids epidemic in america is a tale of two cities. that seems to be a theme this week. it is definitely the best of times and the worst of times.
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we have a system that can work well for some of us. for many of us, the system is terribly broken. the other day, i was talking to my friend david from the aids foundation of chicago about his friend, a mexican immigrant who lived the last nine years of his life in the united states. he worked six and seven days a week as a busboy and dishwasher at two restaurants. he paid taxes and obey the law. he was privately jovial and love to dress in drive. -- loved to dress in drag. in 1995 at the age of 25, he died of aids-related complications. his friends pulled together the resources to bury him. what followed next shocked everyone who knew him.
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his name was not luis. that was an alias he assumed for work papers, social security, and medicaid. he lived the most secretive life of all. his sister and travel from mexico to collect his remains the who travelled from mexico to collect his remains learned only after his death of her brother was gay and had aids. it helped him to access health care he could not otherwise not afford. it denied him the chance to live and die with dignity. lawrence is in the audience today. he was 17 when he found out he was hiv-positive. it only took one mistake for the virus to become a personal reality for him. his father, when he found out his son had a chevy, reacted by going into the bathroom and closing the door -- when he
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found out his son had hiv, reacted by going into the bathroom and closing the door. he eventually got care and found a job working with hiv. his job did not offer help insurance and did not pay enough for him to cover his own treatment. he was forced to choose between working or staying on medication. what kind of choices that? luis and lawrence are not isolated examples. the first model estimates how many people with hiv in the u.s. are engaged in the steps of continuum of care from diagnosis to final suppression. there are three things that strikes me most. first, about 80% of hiv-positive people in the united states know their status. we can do better. that is not too bad. when we get people on anti-
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retrovirals, around 71% get to suppression. we can do better, but the real problem is in the middle section. we do a terrible job of moving people on to being on anti- retrovirals. between testing and being on anti-retrovirals, we lose 54% of people. in the richest nation on the planet, barely 1/4 of the people with hiv are in effective treatments. more than 70% are either not on treatment at all or on partial treatment. that is bad for them and everyone else. when they are not on treatment, they are much more likely to spread the virus. the people in this room and a
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global vision, people doing that work every day you could not afford to come to this conference have to change that. luckily there are people and programs showing us how. in this city, the community education group search predominately black neighborhoods. it offers hiv tests and a lot more. of the people who turn out to be positive, 95% are linked were confirmed to be receiving treatment and services. [applause] rather than giving individuals the paper referral, and provide clients an immediate personal escort. if needed, financial incentives to go to the medical provider. it uses new technology to
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conduct risk assessment and unrolls community members in the d.c. free insurance program or medicaid. they provide patient follow-up such as text reminders and indications of when they have medical appointments. something else happens in washington, d.c., that is a huge help for people with hiv. it is called the affordable care act, better known as obamacare. [applause] because of this law, no insurance company can deny your coverage because you have a pre- existing condition, jack appear rates, or drop you because you are sick. for people with hiv and aids, these provisions are lifesaving. leadership matters. two years ago, president obama
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released the first ever comprehensive hiv-aids strategy in the united states. according to the vision of a strategy, the united states would become a place where new hiv infections are rare and when they do occur, every person regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or economic circumstances will have better access to high- quality, life-extending care free from stigma and discrimination. [applause] together, we can manifest that vision if we do the following things. we must fully implement the affordable care act. [applause] this will deliver health coverage to more than 30 million
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people are currently uninsured. single childless adults typically not eligible for medicaid, a critical failure in the epidemic concentrated among gay men. under the affordable care act, everyone will have the means to pay for life-saving treatment. this most important piece of legislation over the last 40 years has generated a lot of opposition and misinformation. aids advocates must be at the forefront of opposing any efforts to roll back reforms on the affordable care act. we need to ensure the mandatory benefits packages under the legislation include an annual physical for everyone, and hiv check every physical, including
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at least two annually for high- risk individuals, low sets for those living with hiv, and comprehensive coverage of arv's for treatment and prevention. everyone living with hiv must come out. we all must come out. living openly with hiv confronts the stigma but also helps to build demand for essential services. openly hiv-positive people serve us all living reminders of the importance of knowing one's hiv status. it also communicates it is possible to live a full, healthy life with hiv. that is important. [applause]
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when you come out about your a to b. status, you not only save your life, but you saved -- when you come out about your hiv status, you not only save your life, but you save other lives as well. my family is in this room, my brother, my dad, and my mom. when i was 24, i gave my mother a book called "loving someone day." -- gay." she said to me, why did you give me this book? i do not love any one day. i said you do, you love me. i am alive today because i have the love and support a family and friends. [applause] but they could not support me if i denied them a chance to truly know me, not just someone-
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dimensional avatar of me, but all of me. despite the thrill of being on the mall this week, the stories of our lives go largely untold and unnoticed. we want our families to love and support us, but they cannot love us if they do not know less. -- us. they cannot know us if we hide from them. i am not naive. i know it is too dangerous for some of us to come out now. some of us can. if we do, others will be able to join us later. we need to put as much emphasis on building demand for treatment as we do on insuring access. our health care system has long been a source of shame. the united states is the only industrialized country that has
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not guaranteed health coverage for citizens. through a combination of programs such as medicaid, we have built a robust system of care for people living with hiv. only about one in four people with hiv in our country are now receiving the care they need and deserve. if we demand it, they will have to build it. health services are not meaningful unless they are used. too many people are intimidated by the medical system. to many still believe a positive status is a death sentence. to many still believe hiv treatment requires a fist full of pills every day with horrible side effects. we need a massive investment in education and literacy. we need an army of patient navigators' that link individuals to the care they need. we need to integrate the biomedical and behavioral in
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our prevention and treatment efforts. some continue to resist in radicalization of aids while others promote the new tools as a panacea. neither% of -- need your perspective is correct. these are more powerful than anything we have had in our tool kit before. -- neither perspective is correct. these powerful tools need to correct -- connect with actual people, those who deliver them and those who use them. the biomedical interventions will not be effective if people are frustrated by the complexity of the delivery service system. they give up. if they do not in understand the importance of adhering to the regimen or of the providers are judgmental or do not understand
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what our lives or like -- are like. we have learned a lot about how to influence human behavior of over the course of this epidemic. we need to apply these lessons as we put our new biomedical tools into practice. the crucial point is it is not an either or but both and and. the biomedical model only works when counseling, change, adherents, and support are all there. the history of the epidemic has shown us while education and intervention are necessary, they are not sufficient. if they were, the epidemic would be over already. if the addition of biomedical intervention that can lead us to the promise of ending aids, we must turn the tide together.
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organizations need to retool themselves to the rapidly evolving landscape. community will remained central to the ability to end aids. most organizations have focused on behavioral intervention only. few have meaningful scientific expertise. you are still actually develop health care services -- fewer still actually develop and deliver health care services. we can dramatically alter the terrain for health and social services. many organizations risk becoming irrelevant. fortunately some visionary organizations have begun to read too. harlem united has worked to adapt to the dynamic environment, readying itself for
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reform and shifts in the health care system. it began as a small organization but is federally qualified with 3000 patients. harlem united connects the dots between medical care and social services. eric is here this morning. he is a health educator and youth advocate for a. -based social service serving latinos in los angeles. they build an infrastructure that connects prevention, treatment, and science with advocacy. they are 3 examples of what effect of aids service organizations must look like if we're going to end the aids epidemic. i have a recurring dream in
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which a little boy asks a wise old woman, what did you do when millions were dying from aids? i always wake up before she has a chance to answer. i am afraid i wake up because i am afraid of the answer. i am afraid the answer will be, not enough. i worked for a tiny organization. for all i know, we may close our doors next week. but this week, with our 30 black advocates and black scientists, this week with our journalists, we're going to squeeze every drop of information out of this meeting. [applause] my worst nightmare is we will squander this historic opportunity. this is what i know. the day will come when the epidemic will be over. when it does, it is important for them to know we were not all
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monsters. we were not all cowards. some of us dared to care in the face of this. some of us dared to fight because of it. some of us dared to love in spite of it. it is in the caring, fighting, and loving that we live for ever. this is our time. this is our moment. together, we're greater than a ids. [cheers and applause] >> at the same event, secretary of state hillary clinton announced millions of dollars for battling hiv-aids.
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she said united states stands behind the goal of an aids-free generation. this is 40 minutes. >> please welcome the executive director. [applause] >> friends, at the opening ceremony, i challenged you to dream big dreams, to be bold, to
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think of the opportunity we have to end the epidemic, to be able to say 10 or 20 years from now that our generation took us over the finish line. our generation made the decision to finally end aids. that is the legacy for all of us. this morning, i am honored to be given the honor to introduce a great leader who already is turning that into a reality. she is part of america's dream team for hiv. [applause] president obama, secretary
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clinton, secretary sebelius, and my brother and friend. [applause] secretary clinton's leadership has touched so many people, from island communities to large states. using foreign-policy as a tool to promote global health, by appointing america's first embassador at large for global women's issues. she was the first global leader to speak out about the tragic economic impact of violence against women. [applause]
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last november, she was the first global leader to call for an aids-free generation. [applause] she challenges us all to imagine a world where all babies are born free from hiv, where everyone in need has access to treatment, with the right of women and girls is protected and promoted them that [applause] . where shared responsibility is met with a global solidarity, and all people but especially those most affected by epidemics from discrimination. she understands that if we turn
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the tide against hiv now, it will produce benefits across the world. [applause] at the moment when she has so many demands from syria to afghanistan to the human rights council, it is a powerful testimony of her heart and sensitivity. she has always found time to be a caring mother.
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it is my tremendous pleasure and honor to introduce a true champion of the aids movement, the secretary of state of the united states of america, hillary rodham clinton. [cheers and applause]
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>> good morning. good morning and -- [chanting] now, what would an aids conference be without a little protesting? we understand that. [cheers and applause] part of the reason we have come as far as we have is because so many people all over the world have not been satisfied that we have done enough. and i am here to set a goal for a generation that is free of aids. [cheers and applause]
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but first, let me say five words that we have not been able to say for too long -- welcome to the united states. [cheers and applause] we are so pleased to have you all finally back here, and i want to thank the leaders of the many countries who have joined us. i want to acknowledge my colleagues from the administration and congress who have contributed so much to the fight against aids. but mostly, i want to salute all of the people who are here today who do the hard work that has given us the chance to stand here in 2012 and actually
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imagine a time when we will no longer be afflicted by this terrible epidemic and the great cost and suffering it has imposed for far too long. [applause] on behalf of all americans, we thank you. but i'd want to take a step back and think how far we have come since the last time this conference was held in the united states. it was in 1990, in san francisco. a doctor who is now our global aids ambassador ran a triage center there for all the h.i.v.-positive people who became sick during the conference. they set up i.v. drug drips to rehydrate patients, they gave
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antibiotics to patients with aids-related pneumonia. many had to be hospitalized, and a few died. even at a time when the world's response to the epidemic was sorely lacking, there were places and people of caring, where people with aids found support. but tragically, there was so little that could be done medically, and thankfully, that has changed. caring has brought action, and action has had an impact. the ability to prevent and treat the disease has advanced beyond what many might have reasonably hoped 22 years ago.
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yes, aids is still incurable, but it no longer has to be a death sentence. that is a tribute to the work of countless people around the world, many of whom are here at this conference, others who are no longer with us, but whose contributions live on. but for decades, the united states has played a key role, starting in the 1990's under the clinton administration, which began slowly to make hiv- treatment drugs more affordable and face the epidemic in our country. in 2003, president bush launched a program with strong bipartisan support, and this country began treating millions of people.
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today under president obama, we are building on this legacy. pepfar is starting to build sustainable health systems that will help us finally win this fight and deliver an aids-free generation. it is hard to overstate how sweeping this change is. when president obama took office, we knew if we were going to win the fight against aids, we could not keep treating it as an emergency. we had to fundamentally change the way we and our global partners did business. so we have engaged diplomatically with ministers of finance and health, but also presidents and prime ministers to listen and learn about their priorities and needs in order
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to attract the best way forward together. that has required difficult conversations about issues that some leaders do not want to face, like government corruption in the procurement and delivery of drugs or dealing with injecting drug users. but it has been an essential part of helping more countries manage more of their own response to the epidemic. we have also focused on supporting high-impact intervention, making tough decisions driven by science about what we will and will not fund. we are delivering more results for the american taxpayers' dollars by taking several steps, by changing to generic drugs which saved over $320
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million in 2010 alone. [applause] and crucially, we have vastly improved our coordination with the global fund, where we used to work independently of each other. we now sit down together to decide, for example, which of us will fund aids treatment somewhere and which one of us will fund the delivery of that treatment. that is a new way of working together, but i think it holds great results for all of us. now, all of these strategic shifts have required a lot of heavy lifting. but it only matters in the end if it means we are saving more lives, and we are. since 2009, we have more than
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doubled the number of people who get treatment that keeps them alive. we're also reaching far more people with prevention, testing, and counseling. and i want publicly to thank first and foremost dr. eric goosby, who has been on the front line of all this work since the 1980's in san francisco. [applause] he is somewhere in this vast hall, cringing with embarrassment, but more than anyone else, he had a vision for what pepfar needed to become and the tenacity to keep working to make it happen. and i want to thank his extraordinary partners here in this administration, dr. tom frieden.
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now, with the progress we're making together, we can look ahead to a historic goal -- creating an aids-free generation. this is part of president obama's call to make fighting global hiv-aids a priority for this administration. in july 2010, he launched the first comprehensive national hiv-aids strategy, which has reinvigorated the domestic response to the epidemic, especially important here in washington, d.c., which needs more attention, resources, and strategies to deal with the epidemic in our nation's capital. and last november at the
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national institutes of health, with my friend dr. tony fouchi, i spoke about the goal of an aids-free generation and laid out some of the ways we are advancing it through pepfar. and on world aids day, president obama launched an ambitious commitment to reach 6 million people globally with life-saving treatment. now, since that time, i have heard a few voices from people raising questions about america's commitment to an aids-free generation, wondering if we are really serious about achieving it. i here today to make it absolutely clear. the united states is committed and will remain committed to achieving an aids-free generation. we will not back off. we will not back down.
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we will fight for the resources necessary to achieve this historic milestone. [applause] i know that many of you share my passion about achieving this goal. in fact, one could say i am preaching to the choir. we need preaching to the choir, and we need the congregation to keep singing, spreading the message to everyone who is still standing outside. while i want to reaffirm my government's commitment, i am here to boost yours. this is a fight we can win. have already come so far, too
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far to stop now. i want to describe our progress toward that goal and what work lies ahead. i will define by what we mean by an aids-free generation. it is a time when, first of all, virtually no child anywhere will be born with the virus. secondly, as children and teenagers become adults, they will be at significantly lower risk of ever becoming infected than they would be today, no matter where they are living. and, third, if someone does acquire hiv, they will have access to treatment that helps
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prevent them from developing aids and passing the virus on to others. so, yes, hiv may be with us into the future until we finally achieve a cure, a vaccine, but the disease that hiv causes need not be with us. [applause] as of last fall, every agency in the united states government involved in this effort is working together to get us on that path to an aids-free generation. we're focusing on what we call combination prevention. our strategy includes condoms, counseling and testing, and places special emphasis on three other interventions -- treatment as prevention,
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voluntary medical male circumcision, and stopping the transmission of hiv from mothers to children. since november, we have elevated combination prevention in all our hiv-aids work, including right here in washington, which has the highest rate of any in our country, and we have partnered with countries, shifting their investments toward the specific mix of prevention tools that will have the greatest impact for their people. for example, haiti is scaling up its effort to prevent mother- to-child transmission, which will prevent new infections, and, for the first time, the haitian ministry of health is committing its own funding to
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provide anti-retroviral treatment. [applause] notableso making progress of the three pillars of our combination prevention strategy. united states has added funding for nearly 600,000 more people since september, which means we're reaching nearly 4.5 million people now and closing in on our national goal of 6 million by the end of next year. that is our contribution to the global effort to reach universal coverage. on male circumcision, we have supported more than 400,000 procedures since last december alone, and i am pleased to
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announce that pepfar will provide an additional $40 million to support south africa's plan to provide a voluntary medical circumcision for almost 500,000 boys and men in the coming year. [applause] you know and we want the world to know that this procedure reduces the risk of female-to- male transmission by more than 60%, and for the rest of the man's life. the impact can be phenomenal. in kenya and tanzania, mothers ask for circumcision campaigns during school vacations so their teenage sons can participate. in zimbabwe, some male lawmakers wanted to show their constituents how safe and virtually painless the procedure is, so they went to a clinic and got circumcised.
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that is the kind of leadership we welcome, and we are also seeing the development of new tools that would allow people to perform the procedure with less training and equipment than they need today without compromising safety, and when such a device is approved by the world health organization, pepfar is ready to support it right away. [applause] and on mother-to-child transmission, we are committed to eliminating it by 2015, getting the number to zero. over the years, we have invested more than $1 billion for this effort. in the first half of this fiscal year, we've reached more than 370,000 women globally, and we are on track to hit pepfar's
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target of reaching an additional 1.5 million women by next year. there also setting out to overcome one of the biggest hurdles in getting to zero. when women are identified as hiv-positive and eligible for treatment, they are often referred to another clinic, one that may be too far away for them to reach. as a result, too many women never start treatment. today, i am announcing that the united states will invest an additional $80 million to fill this gap. these funds -- [applause] these funds will support innovative approaches to ensure that hiv-positive pregnant women get the treatment they need to protect themselves,
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their babies, and their partner. the united states is accelerating its work on all three of these fronts in the effort to create an aids-free generation. and look at how all these elements have come together to make a historic impact. in zambia, we are supporting the government as they step up their efforts to prevent mother- to-child transmission. between 2009 and 2011, the number of new infections went down by more than half, and we're just getting started. together we are going to keep up our momentum on mother-to-child transmission. we will help many more zambians get on treatment and support a massive scale-up of male circumcision as well, steps which will drive down the
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number of new sexually- transmitted infections by more than 25% over the next five years. as the number of new infections in zambia goes down, it will be possible to treat more people than are becoming infected each year. so for the first time we will get ahead of the pandemic there, and an aids-free generation of zambians will be in sight. think of all the people who will never be impacted by this disease, and then multiplying it across the many other countries we're working with. in fact, if you are not getting excited about this, please raise your hand and i will send somebody to check your pulse. [applause]
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but i know treating an aids- free generation takes more than the right tools, as important than they are. ultimately, it is about people, the people who have the most to contribute to this goal and the most to gain from it. that means embracing the central role that communities play, especially people living with hiv and the critical work of the faith-based organizations. we need to make sure we are looking out for orphans and vulnerable children who are too often overlooked in this epidemic. [applause] and it will be no surprise to you to hear me say i want to
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highlight the particular role that the women play. [cheers] [applause] and sub-saharan africa today, women account for 60% of those living with hiv. women want to protect themselves from hiv, and they want access to adequate health care, and we need to answer their call. pepfar is part of our comprehensive effort to meet the health needs of women and girls, working across the united states government, and with our partners on hiv, maternal and child health, and reproductive health, including voluntary family planning and our newly launched child survival call to action. every woman should be able to decide when and whether to have children. this is true whether she is
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hiv-positive or not. [applause] and i agree with the strong message that came out of the london summit earlier this month -- there should be no controversy about this, none at all. [applause] and across all of our health and development work, the united states is emphasizing gender equality, because women need and deserve a voice in the decisions that affect their lives. [applause] and we are working to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, which puts women at higher risk for contracting the
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virus, and because women need more ways to protect themselves from hiv infection. last year we invested more than $90 million in research on microbicides. these efforts will close the health gap between women and men. if we're going to create an aids-free generation, we also must address the needs of the people who are at the highest risk of contracting hiv. one recent study of female sex workers and those who traffic in prostitution in low- and middle-income countries found on average 12% of them were hiv-positive, far above the rates for women at large. and people who use injecting
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drugs account for about 1/3 of all the people who acquire hiv outside of sub-saharan africa. and in low- and middle-income countries, studies suggest that hiv prevalence among men who have sex with male partners could be up to 19 times higher than among the general population. over the years, i have seen and experienced halle difficult it can be to talk about a disease -- how difficult it can be to talk about a disease transmitted the way aids is. aids, wegoing to beat cannot avoid sensitive conversations. we cannot fail to reach the people at the highest risk. [applause]
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unfortunately, today very few countries monitor the quality of havees -- thed quality of services delivered to these populations. even if you are assess whether the services prevent transmission or do anything to ensure hiv-positive people get the care and treatment they need. even worse, some take actions that drive more people into the shadows where it is that much harder to fight and the consequences are devastating for the people themselves and the fight against hiv. when he groups are marginalized, the virus spreads rapidly within
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those groups and then also in to the lower risk general population. we're seeing this happen right now in eastern europe and southeast asia. humans might discriminate, but viruses do not. there is an old saying that goes, why robbed the bank? because that is where the money is. if we want to save more lives, we need to go where the virus is and get there as quickly as possible. [applause] that means scientists should guide our efforts. today i am announcing three new efforts to reach keep populations. we will invest $50 million in implementation research to identify specific interventions most effective for each key
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population. we are also launching a $20 million challenge fund that will support country-led plans to expand services for keep populations. finally, we will invest $2 million to bolster efforts of civil society groups to reach keep populations. [applause] americans are rightly proud of the leading role of our country place -- plays in the fight against hiv-aids. the world has learned a great deal through pepfar about what works and why. we have learned a great deal about the needs not being met and have everyone must work together to meet those needs. -- however one must work together to meet those needs. pepfar will remain america's
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commitment to an aids-free generation. i have asked the ambassador to take the lead on developing and sharing our efforts on the next stage. we want the next congress, the next secretary of state, and all of our partners here and around the world to have a clear picture of everything we have learned and a road map that shows what we will contribute to achieving an aids-free generation. reaching this goal is a shared responsibility. it begins with what we can all do to break the chain of mother to child transmission. this takes leadership every level from investing in health care workers to removing the registration fees that discourage women from seeking
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care. we need community and family leaders from grandmothers to religious leaders to encourage women to get tested and demand treatment if they need it. we also have a shared responsibility to support multilateral institutions like the global fund. as the united states has stepped up our commitment, so has saudi arabia, japan, germany, the gates foundation, and others. i encourage other donors, especially in emerging economies, to increase their contribution to this essential organization. finally, we all have a shared responsibility to get serious about promoting country and ownership. the end state where a nation's efforts are led, implemented,
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and eventually paid for by its government, civil society, and private sector. i spoke about how the united states is supporting country ownership. we also look to our partner countries and donors to do their part. they can follow the example of the last few years in south africa, botswana, india, and other countries who are able to provide more and better care for their people because they're committing more of their own resources to h.i.v.-8. -- to hiv/aids. partner countries also need to take steps like fighting corruption and making sure their systems for approving drugs are as efficient as possible. i began today by recalling the last time this conference was
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held in the united states. i want to close by recalling another symbol of our cause, the aids memorial quilt. for a quarter-century, this has been a source of solace and comfort for people from the world. a visible way to honor and remember, to mourn husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, partners, and france -- friends. some of you have seen the parts of the quilt on view in washington this week. i remember the moment in 1996 when bill and i went to the national mall to see the quilt for ourselves. i sent word ahead that i wanted to know where the names of friends i have lost were placed
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so i could be sure to find them. when we saw how enormous the quilt was, covering acres, stretching from the capitol building to the washington monument, it was devastating. in the months and years that followed, the quilt kept growing. in 1996, that was the last time it could be displayed all at once. it got too big, too many people can sign -- kept dying. we are here because we want to bring about the moment when we stop adding names, when we can come to a gathering like this and not talk about the fight against aids, but instead commemorate the birth of a generation that is free of aids.
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that moment is still in the distance. but we know what drove me to take. we're closer to that destination than we have ever been. as we continue this journey together, we should be encouraged and inspired by the knowledge of how far we have already come. today and throughout this week, let us restore our own faith and renew our own purpose so we may reach speckle of an aids-free generation -- so we may reach that goal of an aids-free generation and truly honor all of those lost. the bank you very much. -- thank you very much. [applause] >> later in the week, laura bush spoke to the international aids conference. she spoke about her efforts in africa. this is about 20 minutes.
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>> how are bush, -- laura bush. she hardly needs an introduction, but she deserves one. as the first lady, she was universally admired for her style and leadership in that role. she was then and continues to be actively involved in issues of national and global concern with a particular emphasis on education, health care, and human rights. during her eight years as first lady, mrs. bush traveled to all 50 states and more than 75 countries in support of global life-h's saving initiatives including the malaria initiative and pepfar. she visited africa, asia, and the americas to raise global awareness of malaria and h.i.v.-
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aids. as the chair of the women's initiative at the george w. bush institute, she continues her work on global health care innovations, empowering women in emerging democracies, education reform, is supporting the women and men who have served in america's military. in september 2011, the bush institute, the u.s. government, u.n. aid, and susan g. komen announced the partnership to leverage pepfar's platform and resources to combat cervical cancer in developing nations. my organization have the honor of having mrs. bush as the keynote speaker at our annual conference a few years ago. she was introduced by her twin daughters, also great women leaders, who gave one of the
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most touching internet -- introductions i have never heard. they painted a full picture of their mother and reminded us all of the roles women balance every day in ways that are remarkable. as they did, i want to present to you a woman leader of great depth and accomplishment, but a woman who is also a wife, mother, and friend to all of us in this room who fight for equality and dignity for women all over the world. mrs. lara bush. -- mrs. laura bush. [applause] >> thank you. i am very happy to be with you at this conference. i am glad you are meeting in our beautiful capital city. i hope you enjoyed your time in washington. i am especially glad to be with you to mark the progress made
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and look forward to an even greater response to hiv-aids. helene, you are the perfect moderator for a session on leadership. thank you for your leadership in care and a life-saving work. we just heard for a leader that i admire very much. her courage and persistence is an example to women and men worldwide. when i thought about what i wanted to say about women in today's session, i thought of the many women, some of whom i know and some i will never know, who came before us and led us in our response to a pandemic disease. i thought of my own mother-in- ush. barbara rochb
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when my father-in-law was present during the early days of age, barbara bush cradled hiv- positive babies and hugged people with aids. she met with families who lost loved ones to aids. she visited the memorial quilt that was on the mall than like it is now. her grateful example -- her graceful example challenge all americans to confront a chevy- aids with care and compassion rather than fear and judgment. when you look around the world, you see women are in the forefront of life change in progress. in afghanistan under the taliban, women ran underground literacy centers, risking their lives to teach women and girls to read. in burma, despite years of oppression, women remained
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steadfast in their dissent inspiring the world with their grace and courage in the face of brutality. women have been central in the fight against aids, a disease one newspaper compared to the black death of the middle ages. a global horror. 10 years ago, it raged out of control. worldwide, more than 22 million men, women, and children had died from aids. 15,000 people were infected every day. in 2002, experts estimated the pandemic could double in the next five years to 80 million people infected with the virus. health professionals and leaders around the world knew that dramatic action was necessary to address the crisis. in june of 2002, my husband, president bush, spoke to a crowd
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in the rose garden. he said, the global devastation of h.i.v.-aids staggers the imagination and shocks the conscience. he announced a $500 million initiative to combat aids by treating hiv-infected women with anti-retroviral drugs to stop transmission between mothers and babies. six months later in his 2003 state of the union address, president bush announced the president's emergency plan for aids relief. the largest international health initiative ever directed at a single disease. [applause] members of congress stood solidly with president bush. thunderous applause echoed throughout the capital when he
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announced the historic commitments. sitting with me in the gallery of the evening was a you gone up -- was a ugandan doctor that helped develop pepfar. his smile radiated relief and joy. as a medical professional in one of the countries hardest hit by the deadly disease, he knew the toll of aids. he remembered the faces of the patients he could have saved if he had medicine. on a cold january evening, thousands of miles from his home, he knew the outcome would be different for future patients. pepfar committed $15 billion over five years to prevent new infections and care for children
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whose parents had died of aids. he saw firsthand the devastating toll of aids. in the pediatric clinic, my daughter and i met a mother man brought her little girl for treatment. she dressed her daughter like an angel in a lovely lavender and white dress to meet the american president. this precious little child was so frail and sick. her mother's last hope was to make her beautiful. today with access to anti- retrovirals, that little girl would have another chance at life. three weeks ago, returned -- we returned to botswana. we saw the same clinic. it now has so few clinic where did patients -- it now has so
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few patients that they are looking for a new use for the facility. [applause] barbara, our daughter, was so affected by the speed of a child that she resolved to help confront the challenges this little girl face. today she leaves global health effort to recruit college graduates to work in the health field in underserved areas. [applause] thank you for clapping for barbara. while george was president, i traveled to africa five times. we have returned their together to the times since leaving washington. on each visit, i saw the consequences of aids. widowed women left to care for their families. orphaned children forced to grow up quickly and provide for
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themselves and their siblings. i have seen what many call the lazarus effect. aids patients returning from death's door and living a barbara life. -- living a vibrant life. [applause] rather than waiting for death, millions who suffer from hiv are working and participating in their communities. in zambia, my daughter jenna and i toured a center run by a woman whose husband died of aids. it provides home-based care for more than 100 patients. it offers support groups for female victims of violence and promotes anti-hiv prevention campaigns were young people so the next generation will be h.i.v.-free.
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[applause] we helped to pack medicine, mosquito nets, baby bells, and toiletries -- baby dolls, and toiletries so that they could provide a home-based care for peace. -- home-based care for patients. we listened to stories of those being held at the center. two girls what -- wept as they told us how they contracted aids through sexual violence. jenna walked over to hug them and tell them that she was not haute -- they were not alone and that she was writing a book about a girl she met in central america who had suffered as they had. they said to her, right about us. tell our story. just by revealing their tragic
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past, these young women are building a hopeful future for the next-generation. i heard stories and every one of the 12th pepfar countries i eightd during george's years in office. women led efforts to confront hiv. women starting their own businesses to provide for themselves and their families. mothers teaching mothers to prevent the spread of hiv to their unborn children. women in leadership using their influence to reduce the stigma associated with hiv and to raise awareness for testing and treatment. we know education, especially for girls, is vital to efforts to stop the spread of hiv. educated girls have lower rates of hiv. they have held their families.
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they have higher rates of education for their own children. last december, president bush and i traveled with barbara, jenna, and her husband to zambia. we met a woman whose husband was hiv-positive. she did not know until she contracted the disease. when he died, she was shunned by her own family. they allowed her to stay with them. she was not allowed to sit with them or eat with them. plateven gave her her own and utensils out of the mistaken belief they could catch aids from her. then she was introduced to the faith-based organization that andided organization training for women. they taught her how to make beautiful purses, a few of which
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we boutght, out of recycled material to support herself and her children. as her finances improved, as she moved out on her own with her children. now she supports the family that once shunned her, extending to the emigres she received -- extending to them the grace she received. her story is a powerful testament to what we must do to remote the good health of women everywhere. the health of women affects families, communities, and countries. healthy mothers make healthy families. when a mother dies, her children are 10 times more likely to die themselves. they are less likely to ever go to school. we have seen the benefits of strong partnerships to fight aids. nearly 7 million people are
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living with hiv now because of access to anti-retroviral therapy. new infections have fallen by 20%. the success of pepfar has given us a proven strategy and resources to confront other challenges. we added efforts to prevent malaria. because we're seeing women living with aids but dine from cervical cancer, the bush institute has launched a pink ribbon-red ribbon. at the summit last year, president bush announced the institute's new partnership. the bush institute is partnering with the united states state department, you and aids, and susan g. komen for the cure to
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screen and treat cervical and breast cancer among women in the globdeveloping world. i am so pleased our partners are here with us today. bottom thank you for joining us. -- thank you for joining us. [applause] we're happy to have several private sector partners supporting this initiative. bristol-myers squibb, glaxo smithkline, i.b.m., merck, airborne lifeline, and the national breast cancer foundation. cervical cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in sub- saharan africa. it is a preventable and treatable disease.
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it is five times more common in women whose immune systems are compromised with a charity. -- with hiv. the initiative will build on the pepfar platform to screen and treat women for breast and cervical cancer. we launched it in zambia last december. when we returned earlier this month, president bush and i were thrilled to see their progress. pink ribbon-red ribbon has expanded beyond the capital city and across the country. multiple clinics are treating women for cervical cancer. more than 14,000 women have been screened. nearly 40% of the women are hiv- positive. nearly 1/3 of all the women tested positive for precancerous
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or cancerous cervical cells. of those who tested positive, more than 80% to be treated immediately with cryotherapy. [applause] the first lady of zambia is a doctor in obstetrics and gynecology. she is a champion for the pink ribbon/red ribbon efforts throughout her country. since her husband became president of zambia last fall, she has worked to focus national attention on maternal health and mortality. earlier this week, she hosted a conference for africans to discuss aids and cervical cancer. his strong leadership is setting an example for efforts from the first lady and women everywhere. [applause] in our fight against aids, we
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have learned that any measure of success requires sustained leadership at every level, from international organizations likeuna to political leaders in each nation and from ministries of health to local community health workers. that is why i am so grateful for everyone in this audience today for your courage and your persistence. you are the proven agents of change are round the world. by working together, we can give hope to mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, two wives and husbands, and sons and daughters so that they and their families can live a full and productive lives. thank you all very, very much. [applause] [applause]
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>> tonight, a look at mitt work on the olympic games. we will look back at his role in lobbying congress for funding for the games. we also speak with washington correspondent alex altman on his recent stories on the olympic turnaround. join us at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span. >> political parties are holding up f and platform meeti. in august, republicans start their platform process at the convention site in florida. c-span coverage of the party conventions continues august 10 with the reform party in philadelphia followed by the republican national convention with live coverage beginning august 22 from tampa. the democratic national
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convention live from charlotte, north carolina, starting september 3. >> this week, members of the senate and house spoke about the shooting in colorado where 12 people were killed and 28 -- 58 others were killed. we begin with the remarks from harry reid and mitch mcconnell. in a few minutes, the congressional delegation from colorado. >> this afternoon, the senate pauses to remember those killed last week in colorado. jonathan blunc, a graduate of hud high school in reno, nevada. a navy veteran, father of two. my heart goes out to his loved ones, to all the victims and their families as they struggle to make sense of the senselessness. how can you make sense of
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something that's so senseless, mr. president? we may never know the motivations behind this terrible crime or understand why anyone would target so many innocent people. friday's events were a reminder that nothing in this world is certain and that life is precious and short. today we pause to mourn the dead but also honor how they lived. we pledge our support to the people of aurora, colorado, both as they grieve and as they begin to heal from this terrible tragedy. mr. mcconnell: mr. president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: we've all been sifting through the events of last friday and i think it's entirely appropriate for the senate to take a moment today to acknowledge, as we just did, the victims of this nightmarish
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rampage, their families, and the wider community of aurora. in the life of a nation, some events are just so terrible that they compel all of us to set aside our normal routines and preoccupations, step back, reflect on our own motivations and priorities and think about the kind of lives we all aspire to live. this is certainly one of those times. and as is almost always the case in moments like this, the horror has been tempered somewhat by the acts of heroism and self-sacrifice that took place in the midst of the violence. i read one report that said three different young men sacrificed their own lives in
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protecting the young women they were with. and we know that the first responders and nurses and doctors saved lives, too. including the life of an unborn child. i think all of us were moved over the weekend by the stories we've heard about the victims themselves. it's hard not to be struck by how young most of them were, of how many dreams were extinguished so quickly and mercilessly. but we were also moved by the outpouring of compassion that followed and by the refusal of the people of aurora to allow the monster who committed this crime to eclipse the memory of the people he killed. president obama, governor hickenlouper and the religious
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leaders in and around aurora are to be commended for the effort they put in for consoling the victims and the broader community. i think the best thing the rest of us can do right now is to show our respect for those who have been affected by this terrible and senseless crime and to continue to pray for the injured, that they recover fully from their injuries. there are few things more common in america than going out to a movie with friends, which is why the first response most of us had to the shootings in on aurora was to think, it could have been any of us. it's the randomness of a crime like this that makes it impossible to understand and so hard to accept. but as the scripture says, the rain falls on the just and the unjust.
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so we accept that some things we just can't explain. evil is one of them. and we take comfort in the fact that while tragedy and loss persist, so does the goodness and generosity of so many. and now i'd like to join governor hickenlouper in honoring the victims by reciting their names. er havveronica moser sullivan. gordon cowden. matthew mcquinn. alex sullivan. makayla mideke. john larimer. jesse childress.
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alexander boyd. jonathan blunc. rebecca ann wingo. alexander tevis. jessica golly. we, too, will remember. mr. udall: i ask consent the quorum call be lifted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. udall: mr. president, like you i come to the floor this evening with a heavy heart. i know as senators and leaders we're expected to have words for every occasion, and what happened last friday morning makes it very difficult to put words that are appropriate. however, as i think of the coloradans that we there that we're so lucky to represent, theirctions spoke louder than
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words. their actions spoke very louy on a friday morning in the city of aurora and i want to focus on the actions of all those brave, decent coloradans who were victims in a variety of ways at the horrific movie theater shooting that took place there in aurora. and it cut short the lives of 12 people, injured approximately 58 others. and i'm rising to pay tribute to all of those people as well as to their familiesnd their loved ones. but i think -- and i know the presiding officer, my colleague and my fellow senator from colorado knows that most importantly we're going to be here to state emphatically that aurora will triumph over adversely in our state and colorado will emerge stronger than ever. i know from the time i woke up
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to the news of the movie theater shootings in aurora early friday morning, july 20, i, along with the rest of colorado and our country, have experienced meigss ranging from deep, profound sadness to utter -- frankly -- outrage. our state was just starting to recover from the devastating wildfires that have destroyed hundreds of homes, forced tens of thousandso evacuate their communities, and scorched thousands of beautiful acres in our state of colorado. with that in mind, none of us could have been prepared for the news of these mass shootings in one of our communities. i know the presiding officer has three beautiful daughters. i have two children. i know that having loved ones stolen from us in such a tragic and violent fashion is something you can never be prepared for. but it's during these times that
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we're also reminded to cherish those all-too-brief moments that we have with the people we love. and though this heinous crime may have shaken us, it did not break us, and it will not break us. we will mourn those we've lost and those who are injured, and with them in mind we'll heal and we'll become stronger. sadly, mr. president, this kind of tragedy isot new to colorado. it was 13 short years ago that we learned of another mass shootings at columbine high school on the western side of denver. and as a nation, we're reminds of more recent shootings at virginia tech, fort hood texas, and tucson, arizona. these incidents may occur in one city or in one state, but they're national tragedies that tear at us all, and then cause us all to tear up and cry together.
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like all americans, my heart goes out to the victims and their families, and i also remain hopeful that the presiding officer and i were at the hospital -- one of the hospitals on sunday -- that survivors are going to defy the odds on their road to recovery and we've bee truly inspired by their stories. iant to take a moment and applaud the leadership shown by colorado's public servants from governor john hickenlooper, aurora mayor steve hogan and especially the police chief, dan oates. there are also other law enforcement professionals that came to the scene immediately, first responders, medical professionals on site and in a number of hospitals where the victims were taken. i think what's most notable is that they worked seamsly to carry out the city's disaster plan and protect the victims from further harm. the aurora police and
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firefighters arrived a mere 90 seconds off the first 911 call was placed and there is no question that lives were saved by the swift and crdinated action of aurora's first responders. i have to say, this incident showed, as similar tragedies have before, that america shines brightest when the night is darkest, and that was literally the situation at midnight on friday morning in aurora. mr. president, we had the uplifting experience of hearing the stories of bravery coming out of aurora. we marveled at those stories on sunday. and you can't but start with the fact that ateast four young men demonstrated the heights of heroism when they i sacrificed their lives to protect their girlfriends from the hail of this gunman's bullets and one young woman had the courage to remain by the side of her
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wounded friend camelia plying pressure to the friend's -- calmly applying pressure to the friend's wound while the gunfire continued around her. let me put it this way: lives were saved friday morning by those who did not let fear override their capacity to care for one another. mr. president, these experiences have underlined for me and our entire nation that what makes us great and will help us endure this tragedy. and that is our people. i saw that sunday night. we all saw that sunday night while participating in a moving vigil in aurora where our community not only mourned gether but also held together during this most difficult time. although the west is known for its rugged individualists, colorado is also known for its
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rugged cooperators. people help their neighbors in times of adversity. we saw it after the recent wildfires and we see it again now. president obama's visit with victims and families on july 22, just sunday, two days ago in are aurora, provided comfort those in need and again reminded us that the sanctity and strength of family and community is what unites us in the face of adversary. coloradans have seen in the wake of this tragedy, our nation has come together for aurora and our state and to my colleagues and anyone listening today, let me say humbly, we are grateful. mr. president, i want to take a moment to say the names of the 12 people who were taken from us too soon, and i know that later you will share even more of their stories with us and with
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the nation. eir families and friends have my commitment that we will -- to honor these good people, these coloradans -- never fget them as the healing process goes on. so, mr. president, the 12 coloradans, americans who we lost friday morning, jonathan t.bluyk, alexander j.boik, jesse childress, jays could ghawi, michaela medek, matthew m mcquinn, john larimer, alex sullivan, alexander teves, rebecca wingo, and i think the
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hardest name for all of us to say, that of 6-year-old veronica moser-sullivan. i think the presiding officer has seen the photo of her with an ice cream cone in hand, delight on her face, ice cream on her nose. and i guess maybe what we could do is each take the time to enjoy an ice cream cone, maybe leave that ice cream on our nose for a little bit and remember her. in honor of these victims, i filed a congressional resoluti resolution, senate congressional resolution 53,long with my colleague, the presiding officer, senator bennet. congressmaan identical resolutin filed in the u.s. house of representatives and the resolution among many things strongly condemns the atrocities which occurred in aurora, offers
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condolences to the families' friends and loved ones of those killed in the attack and expresses hope for the rapid and complete recovery of the wounded. applauds the hard work and dedication exhibited by the hundreds of local, state, and federal officials, and others who offered their support and assistance. and last but certainly not least, it honors th the resiliee of the city and the state of colorado in the face of such adversity. i ask all of my colleagues in thinsenate to support aurora and support this resolution. as we pay tribute to our fallen fellow americans and the heroes around them, here's what i hope can come out of what can only be described as a senseless tragedy. can we harness the sense of community we feel this week and
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use it to create a lasting sense of collaboration in america? and use it to solve our shared challenges in a measured, respectful, and thoughtful way? we can truly learn from those who selflessly gave of themselves during the chaos of the aurora shootings. and draw from i the strength, a better people, better family members, and, yes, even better legislators. in rowman mythology, aurora is the goddess of dong. at dawn onriday, the chaos and the pain and the tra ofhethat w. but by dawn on the second day, the signs of heroism, of recovery, and of community began
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to shine through the darkness of the great colorado city called aurora. as each dawn signals a new day, we owe it to the victims to rise to the occasion and renew our commitment to make thi a better, stronger, and more perfect nation. thank you, mr. president. mr. president. i'd ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: thank you, mr. president. i'd like to first thank my friend -- and i don't mean that in the political sense, i mean in the real sense -- the senior senator from colorado, the presiding officer, for his incredibly thoughtful remarks about the tragedy last week in colorado. and i can't think of any more fitting place to be than here with you tonight to have this conversation. so thank you very much for your words. mr. just a few dark moments last
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week in aurora, colorado, 12 innocent lives were taken from us, 12 people full of life and aspirations, loved by family and friends, and now 12 people remembered by an entire nation. as the presiding officer said, thousands of coloradans attended a vigil hosted by the city of aurora on sunday evening. we shared tears and prayers. we -- we also resolved to support one another, to heal and to always remember those who lost their lives on july 20, 2012. and it's for that purpose that the presiding officer and i come to the floor this evening. first is jonathan blunk, age 26. jon was a father of two who moved to colorado in 2009 after
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three tours in the persian gulf, the north arabian sea for the u.s. navy. he was a certified firefighter and e.m.t. jonost his life protecting his friend, jansen young, from the gunman's line of fire. jon shield her from gunfire by pushing her to the ground while shots were fired. he was supposed to fly on saturday to nevada to see his wife, chantal blunk, and his four-year-old daughter and two-year-old son. instead, his wife had to put up the dress her daughter had picked out to wear to the airport. she told her daughter that they wouldn't see their dad anymore but that he would still love them and look over them. his daughter, hayley, is comforted by calling her fathe father's cell phone and hearing him on voicemail.
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this is a.j. boik, alexander boik. age 18. a.j. recently graduated from gateway high school. he enjoyed baseball, music and making pottery. a.j. was to start art classes at the rocky mountain college of art and design in the fall. he was described -- quote -- "as being the life of the party. a.j. could bring a smile to anybody's face." he was a young man with a warm and loving heart. this is jesse childress. age 29. jesse was an air force cyber systems operator based at buckley air force base. he loved to play flag football, softball and bowl. he was a devoted fan of the denver broncos, for which he secured season tickets. and he was described by his superior officer as an
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invaluable part of the 310th family who touched everyone he worked with. this is gordon cowden, age 51. gordon was originally from texas and lived in aurora with his family. he was -- quote -- "a quit-witted world traveler with a keen sense of humor." he will are remembered for his devotion to his children and for always trying to do the right thing, no matter the obstacle. gordon took his two teenaged children to the theater the night of the shooting, both of whom thankfully made it out unharmed. >> this is jessica ghawi, age 24. jessica was an aspiring journalist, most recently
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interning with mile high sports radio in denver and went by the nickname redfield. she was hard working and ambitious with a generous spirit and kind heart. when numerous homes were recently destroyed by colorado wildfires, ghawi decided to start collecting hockey equipment to donate to the kids affected because she wanted to help. >> thithis is john thomas layer. she was a cryptological technician also at buckley. a job which requires "exceptional good comarkt and skills." originally from chicago, he was the youngest of five children and joined the service just over a year ago, like his father and grandfather. john chose to serve in the u.s. navy. john's superior officer called him -- quote -- "an outstanding
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shipmate, a valued member of the navy and an extremely dedicated sailor. colleagues were drawn to his calming demeanor and exceptional work ethic. he was also known as an extremely competent professional. here's matthew, matthew mcquinn, age 27. matt died while protecting his girlfriend, samantha sw yowler, by jumping in front of her during the shooting. matt and samantha moved to colorado from ohio last fall and worked at targ he. and he samantha were very much in love and planning their life together. because of matt's bravery, samantha was only wounded in the knee and is expected to make a full recovery. this is cayla, micayla medek, age 23. cayla was a gradual of william
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c. hinckley high school in aurora and a resident of westminster. she worked at subway and was a huge green bay packers fan. cayla would plan weekend activities around watching the games with her brother and father. she is remembered as a loving and gentle young woman. this is veronica moser-sullivan, age six. veronica had just learned to swim and attended holly ridge elementary school in denver, colorado. she was a good student who loved to play dress-up and read. veronica's mother, ashley moser, remains in critical condition at aurora medical center. she was shot in the neck and abdomen. we pray for ashley's recovery and strength and working through the passing of her daughter,
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veronica. alex sullivan, age 27. alex was at the movies celebrating his 27th birthday and first wedding anniversary. he loved comic books, the new york mets and movies. alex was such a big movie fan that he took jobs at theaters just to see the movies. alex stood 6'4" and weighed about 280 pounds. he played football and wrestled before graduating high school in 2003 and later went to culinary school. alex was known as a gentle giant and loved by many. this is alexander teves, age
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246789 alex received an m.a. in counseling psychology from the university of denver in june and was planning on becoming a psychiatrist. he also competed in the tough mudder, an intense endurance challenge, and helped students with special needs. alex was at the theater on the night of the shooting with his girlfriend, amanda winger, when the gunman opened fire and he immediately lunged to block amanda from the gunfire, held her down and covered her head. this is rebecca wingo, age 32. rebecca, originally from texas and a resident of o aurora, joid the air force after high school, where she became fliewntd in fln mandarin chinese and served as a translator. she was the single mother of two girls and worked as a customer relations representative at a mobile medical engine company. rebecca was also enrolled in the
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community college of aurora since fall 2009 and had been working toward an associate of arts degree. she was known to family and friends as a gentle -- as -- quote -- "a gentle, sweet and beautiful soul." mr. president, here is a photo of the gathering that we had last sunday night in aurora. i believe, like you, mr. president, that the early morning hours of july 20, 2012, will not be remembered for the evil that happened. scripture tells us -- quote -- "not to be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good." that's what the people of aurora
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and colorado have been doing since the first moment of this tragedy, and that is what we'll continue to do. in time, we'll not remember the -- the morning of july 2 20th for the evil that killed 12 innocent and precious people. instead, we'll remember the bright lives of those we lost and the families they leave behind. we'll remember the 58 wounded survivors whose recovery bears witness to humanity's strength and resolve. and tonight, knowing that some are still in critical condition, we pray for their recovery. we'll remember the heroic acts of everyday citizens, our first responders and medical personnel that saved lives that otherwise surely would have been lost. we'll remember the continuing generosity of those coloradans and americans who donated blood in record numbers and raising funds to support the families in this trying time. and in time, because we are all aurora, we'll draw strength from
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the example set by one great american city and the faith of her people in one another. thank you, mr. president. mr. speaker, if i could ask for unanimous consent to speak out of order for one minute. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman is recognized. mr. perlmutter: thank you, mr. speaker. i stand here with a lot of sadness with my friends from the colorado delegation. we're pretty -- we're democrats and republicans, a pretty tight knit group. we had a terrible incident in aurora, colorado, friday. you are well aware of it. 12 people we killed. 58 were wounded. and it is with sadness and grief that we come before you today. as our governor said at the villingle -- vigil on sunday night, we will remember these 12 and those who were shot. but there was a silver lining in this very, very dark moment in the history of colorado.
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and we saw bravery and selflessness and heroism among the people that were in that theater that night and any one us can tell you stories of how people, to complete strangers, were willing to give up their own lives to save the life of the stranger next to them. and, you know, in times when it is difficult like that, you want to find bright spots and there were many. another bright spot was the courage demonstrated by the auroraolice and the fire department and the f.b.i. and the a.t.f. in the face of what was a monstrous action by this guy. in colorado we consider
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ourselves to be pretty tough. auroraans, the way we were -- where this act took place, pretty tough. it hurts. we all hurt. but we're resilient and we will get through it and the stories that some of those who are injured are sharing actually really do lighten the day. and know a one of us would be happy to talk to you all about that. but there has been a tremendous outpouring of sympathy and condolences and compassion from all of you. and i know i speak on behalf of our entire delegation to thank you for thinking about us and where we live in our community, because we are in this together and we just thank you very much. so i ask that all of you stand with me and our delegation in a moment of silence to honor the
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memory of those that were killed , the wounded victims and all americans during this time of healing and as i said once before, and as our governor said, we will remember these people who were hurt and we will help them all along the way. the speaker pro tempore: does the gentleman from colorado seek recognition? >> thank you, mr. speaker. pursuant to the order of the house on july 25, 2012, i call up house concurrent resolution 134 and ask for its immediate consideration. the speaker pro tempore: the clerk will report the title of the concurrent resolution.
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the clerk: house concurrent resolution 134, concurrent resolution condemning in the strongest possible terms the heinous atrocities that occurred in aurora, colorado. the speaker pro tempore: pursuant to the order of the house of january 25, 2012, the gentleman from colorado, mr. perfect mutter, and the gentleman from colorado, mr. coffman, will each control 15 minutes. mr. coffman: we can never explain nor fully comprehend evil. but last friday we were reminded of its existence. the face of evil emerged when a cold-blooded calculating mass murderer trapped unsuspecting movie patrons packed in a darkened theater in my hometown of aroara -- aurora, colorado. today on the floor of the united
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states house of representatives we pause to again remember the victims of this horrendous crime and to honor the courage of so many who put their own lives at risk to limit the carnage. the victims who lost their lives in the early morning hours of last friday are veronica moser, age 6. alex teves, age 24. jessica ghawi, age 24. alex sullivan, age 27. matt mcquinn, age 27. micayla medek, age 23. john larimer, age 27.
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a.j. boik, age 18. rebecca wingo, age 32. jon blunk, age 26. jessica childress, age 29. gordon cowden, age 51. aurora is a proud suburban community. mostly working class and middle class families who share basic american values, the values of hard work and of faith in god and of family. my family came to aurora, colorado, in 1964 when my father, a career soldier, was sent to fits simmons army medical center for his last assignment in the u.s. army. back then aurora was just a small town surrounded by three military bases. in the 1970's aurora transitioned away from being a military town, although it still has an air force base.
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aurora's grown to become the third largest city in the state of colorado. with a population of over 300,000 residents. aurora has grown -- has also grown to become the most racially and ethnically diverse city in the state of colorado. aurora has received the all-american city award by the national league of cities in recognition of being a community whose citizens work together to identify and tackle communitywide challenges and for having achieved uncommon results. a couple weeks ago i was at a meeting with the aurora board of realtors where the mayor was speaking. he proudly informed the audience that aurora was recently ranked as the 8th safest city of its size in the country. no doubt we are still in shock and trying to understand why this happened to our community.
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the theater where so many lost their lives and injured, lies in the heart of our city. the vacant ground beside the theater has been designated by our city's planners to be the future site of the city septre -- center. aurora will never be the same after this horrific act of evil that occurred last week. the citizens of aurora are caring and resilient and the long process of healing has already begun. we will stand together and come back stronger than before this attack. when i think of all the victims of this tragedy, and how much our community has suffered, i'm reminded by a refrain from a hymn that i have often sung in
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church. and he will raise you up on eagle's wings, bear you on the breath of dawn, make you to shine like the sun and hold you in the palm of his hand. mr. speaker, i reserve the balance of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves the balance of his time. the gentleman from colorado, mr. perlmutter. mr. perlmutter: thank you, mr. speaker. thank you for the opportunity the other day for us to have a moment of silence. i know it was important to the members of our delegation as well as to the people of our community in aurora, colorado, and the whole metropolitan area. and i had a chance to speak on
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tuesday, i have a number of things to say, but i know each of us in our delegation bears a heavy heart as a result of all this, and i would like others to be able to share some of their thoughts. so with that i yield two minutes to my friend from boulder, mr. polis. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado, mr. polis, is recognized for two minutes. mr. polis: thank you. i want to thank my colleague, mr. perlmutter, from colorado, not only for bringing forward this resolution but for spending time those affected in the aftermath of this. i'd also like to thank president obama for immediately changing his plans and coming to colorado to express on behalf of our nation grief and provide what comfort he could to the victims and their families. i think one thing that's important for americans to understand is awe -- aurora is a
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community just like yours. my district is several miles from aurora, i have been to movies myself from aurora, drive through it frequently on the way to the airport. this could be anyone. it's a safe community. it's a community of loving families. it's a growing city. and the tragedy that occurred could have been at any one of our neighborhood theaters. going to the movie theater, an expression of joy, something people have grown up with for generation, the magic of the silver green. and lives torn apart. not only -- silver screen. and lives torn apart. not only those who lost their lives tragically, not only those who were injured, some of whom remain in the hospital, but all the others that were terrified, scared, in the other theaters, in the other movie theaters that night, in the community at
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large. this was in many ways a crime against innocence, and a crime against enjoyment and diversion. people turn to movies, turn to entertainment for a moment's respite, a moment's entertainment from their daily lives. in this tragic really represents an end of innocence for so many people that were affected. but so, too, we have seen many great heroes rise to the occasion. the courageous responders, the community aurora, mayor hogan, the families of those affected, our criminal justice system. we all come together in difficult times. we all come together and together with the love and respect and support from american families across the country, the victims' families
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know they are not alone. that's important. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado, mr. coffman. mr. coffman: thank you, mr. speaker. i'd like to yield four minutes to the gentleman from colorado, mr. tipton. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado, mr. tipton, is recognized for four minutes. mr. tipton: i thank the gentleman for yielding. mr. speaker, i think that we all struggle to be able to find words, to be able to address a flash point in time in the city of aurora to where we saw the absolute worst of humanity and senseless slaughter of inknow september people. -- innocent people, but we also saw the best of humanity. as people rose to be able to protect their loved ones, as we saw emergency service personnel
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rush to the scene to be able to operate -- to offer aid. in the hospitals where doctors and nurses fought valiantly to be able to preserve life. as we look back on that day, we can't help but be reminded that too many lives were cutter short -- cut short. chapters that were yet to be written, and needlessly and mindlessly were cut off. the hearts of all coloradoans and what we have seen demonstrated on this floor, i think speaks to the heart of this country. as people rose as one to be able to express their empathy and their concern.
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we saw neighbors and strangers reaching out with helping hands. all praying for that opportunity and the ability to be able to find the right words, if there could ever be such words, to offer some moment of comfort to those who suffered such a tragic loss. this is a day that certainly our state and people of aurora will never forget. it has touched each and every one of our hearts, and you cannot help but condemn, obviously, the act. but each one of us, i think this day and for days, weeks, monts, and years to come -- months, and years to come will continue to offer up prayers for those who lost their lives, for the
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families that were affected, and our thanks, our thanks for those who showed such love and concern, and for all the emergency service personnel who were there to defend people who just were out for a good evening. mr. speaker, i applaud this resolution and this colorado delegation standing together today to be able to express this and thank this house for the support that they have shown as well for the people of colorado. with that, mr. speaker, i yield back my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado, mr. perlmutter. mr. perlmutter: thanks, mr. speaker. i'd like to yield three minutes to my friend from denver who had a number of constituents in the movie theater that evening, and
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i'd like to yield three minutes to ms. degette from denver. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady is recognized for three minutes. ms. degette: thank you very much, mr. speaker. i'd like to thank my dear friend and colleague, mr. perlmutter for yielding to me. this is a difficult week for all of us from colorado. there were two movie theaters in the denver metro area that were showing this premiere at midnight last thursday night. so there were people from all over the community in that theater. they are with their families and their friends. almost the entire employees of a restaurant in colorado, they went to have a fun evening on a summer night and tragedy of course struck that night, unexpectedly, to everybody. i have been overwhelmed as we all have in the delegation by the support of the community for all of the victims of this shooting and their family. the way the communities have come together, aurora and denver
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and engelwood and all of the communities has been a blessed thing to see for all of us. no one can make sense of the tragedy like this, and the stories that heroism are still coming out every day. the stories of miracles, babies born just a day or two after in the same hospital where the father lies in a coma. . while we hear all these stories of heroism and the first responders rushing to the scene and helping even within 90 seconds, at our heart we say, how can this happen and what can we do. i did have a number of constituents in that theater. some who were just injured. some who were in the nearby theaters who will be scarred psychologically forever by this. a close friend of my daughter's
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and others. i had at least three constituents who were killed by this terrible crime. the little girl, veronica moser, age 6, whose mother lies in critical condition. alex teves. it's wonderful to see the entire house delegation from colorado. we consider ourselves to be close allies although we often disagree on different issues. i just want to say something to all of my colleagues and to everyone in this house, mr. speaker. we have now had as of today 25 moments of silence as we respect victims of gun violence since the columbine shooting. i was here for that too. we had two moments of silence just the other day. one for aurora and one for the anniversary of the capitol police officer who was killed
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10 years ago here today. so we can have our debates, we can have our discussions, we can mourn for the victims, which is appropriate this week, but it is our challenge as leaders of our state and leaders of our country to go on from today and to say, what can we seriously do as a nation to make sure that no tragedy of this scope or horror ever happens in this country again? and with that, mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado, mr. coffman. mr. coffman: mr. speaker, i yield three minutes to the gentleman from colorado, mr. doug lamborn. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado, mr. lamborn, is recognized for three minutes. mr. lamborn: thank you, mr. speaker. i want to thank representative mike coffman and representative perlmutter for leading this this morning. the entire delegation, bipartisan delegation, is here as just a small reflection how the people of colorado are
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coming together and the people of aurora are coming together after this senseless tragedy. we heard a lot of stories of bravery, both on the part of the first responders and the parts of everyday citizens, but i want to tell a story of one of the victims. i'd like to share the story of caleb medley. today, he lies in a medically induced coma after being shot in the face. in the day since that horrific shooting, his wife, katie, has given birth to their first child, hugo. caleb spent his teen years in florence and after high school he married his high school sweetheart, katie. he went to work at a local grocery store. like most people, he and katie have big plan and dreams for their lives. from the time he was in the eighth grade, caleb has wanted to be a standup comedian. katie wants to work in veterinarian medicine.
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they moved to aurora to pursue their dreams. just two days before the shooting, caleb appeared at the comedy works and did well enough to advance to the next round and they were looking forward to their baby's birth a few days later. but before little hugo could be born, caleb and katie made the faithful decision to go out one last night before becoming parents. according to a website that caleb's family has posted, the two spent too much on popcorn and soda. they endured the movie trailers and they watched the beginning of the movie and that's when evil struck. evil came to them from a man that opened fire on that theater. katie and baby hugo made it out uninjured, but caleb was struck in the face by gunfire. caleb has lost his right eye, has some brain damage and doctors have put him in a
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medically induced coma. so, mr. speaker, i ask that the people of america would be praying for caleb and his family. we are pulling for you, caleb, and for all the victims of this senseless tragedy. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado, mr. perlmutter. mr. perlmutter: i thank my friend, doug, for describing in detail one of these injuries. i'd like to introduce, mr. speaker, if i could, for the record some brief bigraphical information of each of the victims who was killed. jon blunk, alexander "a.j." boik, gordon cowden, jessica
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ghawi, john larimer, matt mcquinn, micayla medek, veronica moser, alex sullivan, alex teves and rebecca wingo because i want our record in this congress to have their names and some information about them. and i appreciate you talking about somebody specifically. these are hard moments for all of us. these are good people and some very bad things happened to some very good people, but i want to talk about some of the positive aspects that came out of this dreadful night. 13 years ago diana degette mentioned columbine and my district on the southwest side
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of my district, i have columbine on the northeast side of my district have this theater. and colorado is a good place. i mean, all of us love where we come from. we've had some violent incidents that have taken our innocence, as mr. polis had said. we heal from these things but you're never quite the same. you're never quite the same. but one of the positive aspects of that terrible incident 13 years ago at columbine high school was that our law enforcement, our first responders, our police, our firefighters, our medical teams learned some real lessons. and we have in the aurora area a community college called aurora community college where we have gone through a number of exercises to deal with a
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mass casualty incident such as this where the police, the fire, law enforcement agencies from across our communities, denver, adams, arapaho counties working together with the medical school to address these kinds of incidents. you know, as the chief of police, dan oates, who deserves a higher place in heaven for the way he has managed this terrible time on behalf of law enforcement, they prepared and prepared and prepared and unbelievably this terrible tragedy happened, but because of that preparation, because of what we've gone through before and the terrible lessons we learned lives were saved. there's no question about it, lives were saved that otherwise would have been lost. i want to applaud again the
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aurora police, firefighters, the medical teams. casualties were taken to six or seven different hospitals in our area, but they all did an outstanding job. the dispatchers. can you imagine all the 9/11 calls that -- imagine all the 911 calls that came in that might? our bureau chief, was outstanding on behalf of the federal response to deal with both the shootings that occurred in the theater and the elaborate boobytrap that was set in this apartment that i drive by at least once a week right across from the university of colorado. this is something that we will heal from this but we will never be the same. and i just -- i want to thank the aurora schools who provided a place of safety for all of these individuals to go at the time of this incident. i want to thank the minute
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tearial alliance. as mr. coffman said, this is a community of great faith. and our churches and our synagogues have responded in a tremendous fashion to the sorrow that we all feel. there are many stories, some beautiful ones. the president shared one. and before i go further, mr. speaker, can i inquire as to the time on both sides, because i know i have a couple other speakers that would like to -- the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado, mr. perlmutter, has 4 1/2 minutes. the gentleman from colorado, mr. coffman, has four minutes remaining. mr. perlmutter: i would just mention the story, and this is one i am so proud of people from colorado. there were two young women in the back of the theater when the gentleman came in and threw a tear gas canister across the theater. and the taller of the two noticed that it really was something other than a smoke
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bomb and a stunt and she stood up to warn people and she was shot in the neck immediately. and she -- blood started to spirt out. her smaller friend pulled her down, compressed that wound, and the older one said something -- the one who had been shot something like, you need to leave, you need to get out of here and the friend said, i'm not leaving without you. and continued to press. police responded very quickly, but it probably seemed like an eternity, but the young lady who was shot in the neck is on the mend and is going to recover fully. and her friend basically saved her life and the quick actions of the police and the fire department. despite these terrible losses that we suffered, and there are so many heartbreaking stories. there are heart-warming stories as well. with that i reserve the balance
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of my time. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman reserves his time. without objection, the bigraphical material referenced by the gentleman from colorado, mr. perlmutter, shall be entered into the record. the gentleman from colorado, mr. coffman. mr. coffman: thank you, mr. speaker. i, too, rise in support of mr. perlmutter's comments in relationship to our own aurora police department as well as all the other law enforcement entities that helped in this terrible tragedy. i now will yield as much time as he may consume to the gentleman from colorado, mr. cory gardner. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado, mr. gardner, is recognized for as much time as he may consume. mr. gardner: i thank the gentleman from aurora for yielding time and sharing time and thank the gentleman from colorado, mr. perlmutter, for your leadership and your comfort and encouraging words during the incredible tragedy. and to the president, thank you for sharing your love with
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colorado as well as to the governor for the leadership that you have provided, he has provided throughout this past week. this chamber has seen its incredible days of victories, of celebrations, of great triumphs for this country. and today we discuss a resolution that talks about one of our nation's great tragedies. and so we join together as a delegation to talk about an event that we in colorado know we will not let remain a tragedy but will turn into remembrance of those who are good in our state and our country. we oftentimes in colorado forget because the great beauty of our state that sometimes the hearts of all people don't match that beauty. but as we sat at the prayer
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vigil this past sunday and looked out as the rays of sun broke through the clouds on the choir, on the many people of faith that gathered, we know that this one dark moment in history will be matched by far greater light. and it's our obligation to make sure that that indeed happens. as a father, i can't imagine the great loss of families, friends, the victims of this horrendous crime. and our hearts, our prayers, our thoughts go with them as we build a stronger community going forward. the many people of faith who have prayed, the people in this body who have shared their prayers and thoughts with the people of colorado remind a passage in the book of matthew
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where jesus went out onto the lake in the middle of a storm with his disciples and he looked out upon the stormy waters and he said, peace, be still. and we ask that those who are troubled, those whose hearts have yet to heal, we ask for the peace that we all so desperately need. i yield back. . the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado, mr. perlmutter. mr. perlmutter: thank you, mr. speaker, aid like to yield one minute to the leader, ms. pelosi. the speaker pro tempore: the gentlelady from california is recognized for one minute. miss -- ms. pelosi: thank you very much. i'm very sad to join my colleagues in expressing the deepest sympathies of the house of representatives to the families and loved ones of the victims in aurora, colorado, and the entire community as it grapples with its grief.
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my colleagues have spoke very movingly from the standpoint of faith and hopefully that plathe will be a comfort to those -- faith will be a comfort to those who are affected. as you know, mr. speaker, when we learned of this tragedy, the president ordered flags to be flown half-staff for one week to commemorate the tragedy that aurora, these individual families, and our country had suffered. that was done as a mark of respect for the 12 innocent victims and all who were affected. the victims who were murdered, that's just the word, that day, the vast majority were very young people. the one, gordon cowden was a father in his 50's. the others were very young whose last words to his daughters were, to tell them he loved them.
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a story that deserves to be told, each was beloved, each left home with a different expectation of what would happen that evening. so did the rest of the country. several died protecting their loved ones, including john blunk, alex teves, and matt mcquinn. alex sullivan was about to celebrate his one-year wedding anniversary. that was celebration, going out to the movies. a.j. boik had just graduated from high school. jessica ghawi dreamed of being a sports journalist. micayla medek and rebecca wingo were pursuing education at a community college. jesse childress signed up to
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risk their life to protect our freedoms. who could have ever thought they would lose their lives going to the movies. as a child, veronica mose, will now forever be remembered as the -year-old. what a sad tragedy. most of us here in this body are parents and grandparents, in steny's case great grandparent, every person knows the feeling of sending a child off to a movie with their friends, excitement of an opening night, and then the worry when the minutes tick by and someone hasn't come home. it is with heavy heart that we send our thoughts and prayers to the many greefing today and we continue -- grieving today and we continue to pray and thank you for taking us down that path. we continue to pray for the healing of those who survived, both their physical pain and their emotional scars. that's probably the hardest. we send our gratitude to our first responders.
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within minutes, when minutes counted, when seconds counted, they responded with bravery and with professionalism. in the words of this resolution, the congress honors the resilience of the community of the city of aurora and state of colorado in the face of such adversity. may you feel the support and love and prayers of our nation. may those tragically taken from us be honored and remembered. may time heal our grief. i hope it is a comfort to those who are affected by this tragedy, who lost loved ones or have injuries in their families, but so many people throughout the world mourn their loss and are praying for them at this sad time. i yield back the balance of my time. thank you. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado, mr. coffman. mr. coffman: mr. speaker, i ask unanimous consent that all
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members may have five legislative days to revise and extend their remarks and include extraneous material on house concurrent resolution 134. the speaker pro tempore: without objection. so ordered. the gentleman from colorado, mr. perlmutter. mr. perlmutter: mr. speaker, i again inquire about the balance of time because i would like to yield two minutes to the gentleman from maryland. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado, mr. perlmutter, has 2 1/2 minutes remaining. the gentleman from maryland is recognized for two minutes. mr. hoyer: i thank the gentleman from colorado who has been so involved and so eloquent in expressing the grief that his constituents share and all the members from colorado on either side of the aisle who have come together to share this grief. mr. speaker, when tragedy of this kind strikes our hearts go out to those who lost loved once. we have seen both an outpouring of love and support for victims
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and their families and the quickness to point out what might have been done differently. that is our nature as americans. always seeking answers. searching for corrective action for a measure of logic and the irrational. the first question we ought to ask and is already being asked, how can we draw closer as a community? not just the community of aurora, but the community of americans. as president obama said on friday, and i quote, if there's anything to take away from this tragedy, it's the reminder that life is very fragile. and what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, ultimately it's how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another. i would add it is also how we commit to live with one another as neighbors. we may not share the same faith or politics or philosophy, but we do share a fundamental belief
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that our people should feel safe in our theaters and malls and schools, in their homes and on the streets. wherever they go. today we share the pain with the people of aurora. but we also share in the hope that the city whose name is the dawn, would find in our sympathy and prayers the comfort it needs during the dark hour to begin the process of healing and to believe again in a brighter tomorrow. i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman from colorado, mr. coffman. mr. coffman: mr. speaker, i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. the gentleman from colorado, mr. perlmutter. mr. perlmutter: i'd just like to end, mr. speaker, by thanking my friends, and they are my friends and colleagues, from colorado. i just want to say that for all of us, aurora, and everybody who has been so affected by this
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senseless act, we are praying for you. we love you. and i just want to end, this act actually affected people from one coast to the other, a lot of people from all over the nation were in that. in fact, at the time, mr. speaker, from a nearby military base, there were 53 members of our military, army, navy, air force, and marines were in that theater that night. this is something that touches us all. something that we'll all remember. we will heel -- heal. and let's hope and pray something like this doesn't happen again. with that i yield back. the speaker pro tempore: the gentleman yields back the balance of his time. all time for debate has expired. pursuant to the order of the house of wednesday, july 25, 2012, the previous question is ordered. the question on adoption of the concurrent resolution. mr. perlmutter: if i could, i also have another poem i'd like as part of the record if i could. i ask unanimous consent. the speaker pro tempore: without
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objection. the question is on adoption of the concurrent resolution. so many as are in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes have >> in a speech this week to the national urban league, president obama talked about the colorado shooting. here is a portion of his remarks. >> our hearts break for the victims of the massacre in aurora. we pray for those who were lost and we pray for those who loved them. we pray for those who are recovering with courage and with
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hope. and we also pray for those who succumb to the less publicized acts of violence that plagued our communities in so many cities across the country every single day. we cannot forget about that. every day -- in fact, every day and a half, the number of young people we lose to violence is about the same as the number of people we lost in a movie theater. for every columbine or virginia tech there are dozens of people gunned down in the streets of chicago and atlanta, and here in new orleans.
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for every tucson or aurora, there is daily heartbreak over young americans shot in milwaukee or cleveland. violence plagues the biggest cities, but it also plagues the smalle towns. it claims the lives of americans of different ages and different races, and it's tied together by the fact that these young people had dreams and had futures that were cut tragically short. and when there is an extraordinarily heartbreaking tragedy like the one we saw, there's always an outcry immediately after for action. and there's talk of new reforms, and there's talk of new legislation. and too often, those efforts are defeated by politics and by lobbying and eventually by the pull of our collective attention elsewhere. but what i said in the wake of tucson was we were going to stay on this, persistently. so we've been able to take some actions on our own, recognizing that it's not always easy to get things through congress these days. the background checks conducted on those looking to purchase firearms are now more thorough and more complete. instead of just throwing more money at the problem of violence, the federal government is now in the trenches with communities and
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schools and law enforcement and faith-based institutions, with outstanding mayors like mayor nutter and mayor landrieu -- recognizing that we are stronger when we work together. so in cities like new orleans, we're partnering with local officials to reduce crime, using best practices. and in places like boston and chicago, we've been able to help connect more young people to summer jobs so that they spend less time on the streets. in cities like detroit and salinas, we're helping communities set up youth prevention and intervention programs that steer young people away from a life of gang violence, and towards the safety and promise of a classroom. but even though we've taken these actions, they're not enough. other steps to reduce violence have been met with opposition in congress. this has been true for some time -- particularly when it touches on the issues of guns.
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and i, like most americans, believe that the second amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. and we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation - that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage. but i also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that ak-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals -- [applause] -- that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities. i believe the majority of gun we to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons; that we should check someone's criminal record before they can check out a gun seller; that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily. [applause.]
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these steps shouldn't be controversial. they should be common sense. so i'm going to continue to work with members of both parties, and with religious groups and with civic organizations, to around violence reduction -- not just of gun violence, but violence looking at everything we can do to reduce violence and keep our children safe - from improving mental health services for effective community policing strategies. unturned, and recognize that we have no greater mission as a country than keeping our young people safe.
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>> later today, cbs correspondents affect -- discussed the presidential campaign and issues affecting voters. join us at 7:00 eastern here on c-span. >> it is the tradition of common law judges not to reply to criticism. we get clobbered by the press all the time. i cannot tell you how many wonderful letters i have written to the washington post just for my own satisfaction and then ripped up and thrown away. you do not send them. that is the tradition of the common law judge. you do not respond to criticism. >> antonin scalia reflects on over 25 years on the bench and interpreting legal documents sunday at 8:00 on q&a. >> president obama defended his
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foreign policy record on monday. he said he kept his promises of ending the rock were irresponsibly and winding down the war in afghanistan. this is just over 35 minutes. >> it is now my honor to introduce someone who is no stranger to the foreign wars of the united states or to this stage. he was born in hawaii, braised with midwestern values and educated at columbia and harvard. he served in the state senate for eight years before becoming the u.s. senator from illinois in 2004. he would co-sponsor numerous legislation to benefit to veterans. he would attend the vfw
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washington office legislative conference reception and appear on this stage for two years in a row as a candidate for our nation's highest office. then he appeared before us again after he got the job in 2009 when he would exchange diplomatic notes with the russian president to revitalize the u.s.-russia joint commission on pow mia is and would sign into law in advance to preparations for the department of veterans affairs. he said he would take care of veterans, service members and their families, and he has been true to his word. [applause] and mr. president, i would be definitely remus not to add our profound appreciation -- remiss not to add our profound
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appreciation for all the work the first lady has done along with a chilled by the end for our troops and their families. -- along with jill biden, for our troops and their families. and now comrades and sisters, please welcome the president of the united states, barack obama. >> press is. hello, vfw. thank you so much. please, please, everybody have a seat. commander denoyer, thank you for your introduction, and your service in vietnam and on behalf of america's veterans. i want to thank your executive director, bob wallace; your next commander, who i look forward to working with, john hamilton.
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and to gwen rankin, leanne lemley, and the entire ladies auxiliary, thank you for your patriotic service to america. i stand before you as our hearts still ache over the tragedy in aurora, colorado. yesterday i was in aurora, with families whose loss is hard to imagine -- with the wounded, who are fighting to recover; with a community and a military base in the midst of their grief. and they told me of the loved ones they lost. and here today, it's fitting to recall those who wore our nation's uniform: staff sergeant jesse childress -- an air force reservist, 29 years old, a cyber specialist who loved sports, the kind of guy, said a friend, who'd help anybody.
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petty officer third class john larimer -- 27 years old, who, like his father and grandfather before him, joined the navy, and who is remembered as an outstanding shipmate. rebecca wingo -- 32 years old, a veteran of the air force, fluent in chinese, who served as a translator; a mother, whose life will be an inspiration to her two little girls. and jonathan blunk -- from reno, just 26 years old, but a veteran of three navy tours, whose family and friends will always know that in that theater he gave his own life to save another. these young patriots were willing to serve in faraway lands, yet they were taken from
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us here at home. and yesterday i conveyed to their families a message on behalf of all americans: we honor your loved ones. we salute their service. and as you summon the strength to carry on and keep bright their legacy, we stand with you as one united american family. veterans of foreign wars, in you i see the same shining values, the virtues that make america great. when our harbor was bombed and fascism was on the march, when the fighting raged in korea and vietnam, when our country was attacked on that clear september morning, when our forces were sent to iraq -- you answered your country's call.
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because you know what americans must always remember -- our nation only endures because there are patriots who protect it. in the crucible of battle, you were tested in ways the rest of us will never know. you carry in your hearts the memory of the comrades you lost. for you understand that we must honor our fallen heroes not just on memorial day, but all days. and when an american goes missing, or is taken prisoner, we must do everything in our power to bring them home. even after you took off the uniform, you never stopped serving. you took care of each other -- fighting for the benefits and care you had earned. and you've taken care of the
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generations that followed, including our newest veterans from iraq and afghanistan. on behalf of all our men and women in uniform, and on behalf of the american people, i want to thank you, vfw. thank you for your outstanding work. of course, some among you -- our vietnam veterans -- didn't always receive that thanks, at least not on time. this past memorial day, i joined some of you at the wall to begin the 50th anniversary of the vietnam war. and it was another chance to say what should have been said all along: you did your duty, and you made us proud. and as this 50th anniversary
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continues, i'd ask all our vietnam vets to stand, or raise your hand, as we say: thank you and welcome home. [applause] every generation among you served to keep us strong and free. and it falls to us, those that follow, to preserve what you won. four years ago, i stood before you at a time of great challenge for our nation. we were engaged in two wars. al qaeda was entrenched in their safe havens in pakistan. many of our alliances were frayed. our standing in the world had
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suffered. we were in the worst recession of our lifetimes. around the world, some questioned whether the united states still had the capacity to lead. so, four years ago, i made you a promise. i pledged to take the fight to our enemies, and renew our leadership in the world. as president, that's what i've done. and as you reflect on recent years, as we look ahead to the challenges we face as a nation and the leadership that's required, you don't just have my words, you have my deeds. you have my track record. you have the promises i've made and the promises that i've kept. i pledged to end the war in iraq honorably, and that's what we've done.
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[applause] after i took office, we removed nearly 150,000 u.s. troops from iraq. and some said that bringing our troops home last year was a mistake. they would have kept tens of thousands of our forces in iraq -- indefinitely, without a clear mission. well, when you're commander-in- chief, you owe the troops a plan, you owe the country a plan -- and that includes recognizing not just when to begin wars, but also how to end them. so we brought our troops home responsibly. they left with their heads held high, knowing they gave iraqis a chance to forge their own future. and today, there are no americans fighting in iraq, and
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we are proud of all the americans who served there. i pledged to make it a priority to take out the terrorists who had attacked us on 9/11. and as a candidate, i said that if we had osama bin laden in our sights, we would act to keep america safe -- even if it meant going into pakistan. some of you remember, at the time, that comment drew quite a bit of criticism. but since i took office, we've worked with our allies and our partners to take out more top al qaeda leaders than any time since 9/11. and thanks to the courage and the skill of our forces, osama bin laden will never threaten america again, and al qaeda is on the road to defeat.
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i pledged to finish the job in afghanistan. after years of drift, we had to break the momentum of the taliban, and build up the capacity and the capability of afghans. and so, working with our commanders, we came up with a new strategy, and we ordered additional forces to get the job done. this is still a tough fight. but thanks to the incredible services and sacrifices of our troops, we pushed the taliban back; we're training afghan forces; we've begun the transition to afghan lead. again, there are those who argued against a timeline for ending this war -- or against talking about it publicly. but you know what, that's not a
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plan for america's security either. after 10 years of war, and given the progress we've made, i felt it was important that the american people -- and our men and women in uniform -- know our plan to end this war responsibly. and so by the end of this summer, more than 30,000 of our troops will have come home. next year, afghans will take the lead for their own security. in 2014, the transition will be complete. and even as our troops come home, we'll have a strong partnership with the afghan people, and we will stay vigilant so afghanistan is never again a source for attacks against america. we're not just ending these wars; we're doing it in a way that achieves our objectives. moreover, it's allowed us to broaden our vision and begin a new era of american leadership. we're leading from europe to the asia pacific, with alliances that have never been stronger.
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we're leading the fight against nuclear dangers. we've applied the strongest sanctions ever on iran and north korea -- nations that cannot be allowed to threaten the world with nuclear weapons. we're leading on behalf of freedom -- standing with people in the middle east and north africa as they demand their rights; protecting the libyan people as they rid the world of muammar qaddafi. today, we're also working for a transition so the syrian people can have a better future, free of the assad regime. and given the regime's stockpiles of chemical weapons, we will continue to make it clear to assad and those around him that the world is watching, and that they will be held accountable by the international community and the united states, should they make the tragic mistake of using those weapons.
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and we will continue to work with our friends and our allies and the syrian opposition on behalf of the day when the syrian people have a government that respects their basic rights to live in peace and freedom and dignity. because we're leading around the world, people have a new attitude toward america. there's more confidence in our leadership. we see it everywhere we go. we saw it as grateful libyans waved american flags. we see it across the globe -- when people are asked, which country do you admire the most, one nation comes out on top -- the united states of america. so this is the progress that we've made. thanks to the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform, we're winding down a decade of war; we're destroying the terrorist network that
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attacked us; we're strengthening the alliances that extend our values. and today, every american can be proud that the united states is safer and stronger and more respected in the world. and all this allows us to fulfill another promise that i made to you four years ago -- strengthening our military. after 10 years of operations, our soldiers will now have fewer and shorter deployments, which means more time on the home front to keep their families strong; more time to heal from the wounds of war; more time to improve readiness and prepare for future threats. as president, i've continued to make historic investments to keep our armed forces strong. and guided by our new defense strategy, we will maintain our military superiority.
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it will be second to none as long as i am president and well into the future. we've got the best-trained, best-led, best-equipped military in history. and as commander-in-chief i am going to keep it that way. [applause] and by the way, given all the rhetoric lately -- it is political season -- let's also set the record straight on the budget. those big, across-the-board cuts, including defense, that congress said would occur next year if they couldn't reach a deal to reduce the deficit? let's understand, first of all, there's no reason that should happen, because people in congress ought to be able to come together and agree on a plan, a balanced approach that reduces the deficit and keeps
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our military strong. it should be done. and there are a number of republicans in congress who don't want you to know that most of them voted for these cuts. now they're trying to wriggle out of what they agreed to. instead of making tough choices to reduce the deficit, they'd rather protect tax cuts for some of the wealthiest americans, even if it risks big cuts in our military. and i've got to tell you, vfw, i disagree. if the choice is between tax cuts that the wealthiest americans don't need and funding our troops that they definitely need to keep our country strong, i will stand with our troops every single time. so let's stop playing politics with our military. let's get serious and reduce our deficit and keep our military strong. let's take some of the money
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that we're saving because we're not fighting in iraq and because we're winding down in afghanistan -- use half that money to pay down our deficit; let's use half of it to do some nation-building here in the united states of america. let's keep taking care of our extraordinary military families. for the first time ever, we've made military families and veterans a top priority not just at dod, not just at the va, but across the government. as richard mentioned, this has been a mission for my wife, michelle, and vice president joe biden's wife, dr. jill biden. today, more people across america in every segment of society are joining forces to give our military families the
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respect and the support that they deserve. and there's another way we can honor those who serve. it may no longer be a crime for con artists to pass themselves off as heroes, but one thing is certain -- it is contemptible. so this week, we will launch a new website, a living memorial, so the american people can see who's been awarded our nation's highest honors. because no american hero should ever have their valor stolen. this leads me to another promise i made four years ago -- upholding america's sacred trust with our veterans.
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i promised to strengthen the va, and that promise has been kept. in my first year, we achieved the largest percentage increase in the va budget in 30 years. and we're going to keep making historic investments in our veterans. when richard came to the oval office, we talked about what those automatic budget cuts -- sequestration -- could mean for the va. so my administration has made it clear: your veteran's benefits are exempt from sequestration. they are exempt. and because advance appropriations is now the law of the land, veterans' health care is protected from the budget battles in washington. i promised you that i'd stand up for veterans' health care. as long as i'm president, i will not allow va health care to be turned into a voucher
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system, subject to the whims of the insurance market. some have argued for this plan. i could not disagree more. you don't need vouchers, you need the va health care that you have earned and that you depend on. so we've made dramaticinvestments to help care for our veterans. for our vietnam veterans, we declared that more illnesses are now presumed connected to your exposure to agent orange. as a result of our decision, vietnam-era vets and your families received nearly $4 billion in disability pay. you needed it; you fought for it. we heard you and we got it done. we've added mobile clinics for our rural veterans; more
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tailored care for our women veterans; unprecedented support for veterans with traumatic brain injury. all tolled, we've made va health care available to nearly 800,000 veterans who didn't have it before. and we're now supporting caregivers and families with the skills and the stipends to help care for the veterans that they love. of course, more veterans in the system means more claims. so we've hired thousands of claims processors. we're investing in paperless
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systems. to their credit, the dedicated folks at the va are now completing one million claims a year. but there's been a tidal wave of new claims. and when i hear about veterans waiting months, or years, for your benefits -- it is unacceptable. and we are doing something about it. we're taking all those folks who processed your agent orange claims -- more than 1,200 experts -- and giving them a new mission: attack the backlog. we're prioritizing veterans with the most serious disabilities. and the va and dod will work harder towards a seamless transition so new veterans aren't just piled on to the backlog. and we will not rest -- i will not be satisfied until we get this right. and today, i'm also calling on all those who help our vets complete their claims -- state
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vas, physicians and veteran groups like the vfw -- to join us. you know how this can work better, so let's get it done, together. we're also focused on the urgent needs of our veterans with ptsd. we've poured tremendous resources into this fight -- thousands of more counselors and more clinicians, more care and more treatment. and we've made it easier for veterans with ptsd to qualify for va benefits. but after a decade of war, it's now an epidemic. we're losing more troops to suicide -- one every single day -- than we are in combat. according to some estimates, about 18 veterans are taking their lives each day -- more every year than all the troops killed in iraq and afghanistan combined. that's a tragedy. it's heartbreaking. it should not be happening in the united states of america. so when i hear about servicemembers and veterans who had the courage to seek help but didn't get it, who died waiting, that's an outrage. and i've told secretary panetta, chairman dempsey and secretary shinseki we've got to do better. this has to be all hands on
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deck. so our message to everyone who's ever worn the uniform -- if you're hurting, it's not a sign of weakness to seek help, it's a sign of strength. and when you do, we'll be there and do more to help -- including more counselors and clinicians to help you heal. we need to end this tragedy, vfw. and we're going to work together to make it happen. so, too with our campaign to end homelessness among our veterans. we've now helped to bring tens of thousands of veterans off the streets and into permanent housing. this has to be a core mission, because every veteran who has fought for america ought to have a home in america. and this brings me to the last promise i want to discuss with you. four years ago, i said that i'd do everything i could to help
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our veterans realize the american dream, to enlist you in building a stronger america. after all, our veterans have the skills that america needs. so today, our economy is growing and creating jobs, but it's still too hard for too many folks to find work, especially our younger veterans, our veterans from iraq and afghanistan. and with a million more troops rejoining civilian life in the years ahead -- and looking for work -- we've got to step up our game, at every stage of their careers. so today, i'm announcing a major overhaul of our transition assistance program. we're going to set up a kind of "reverse boot camp" for our departing servicemembers. starting this year, they'll get more personalized assistance as
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they plan their careers. we'll provide the training they need to find that job, or pursue that education, or start that business. and just as they've maintained their military readiness, we'll have new standards of "career readiness." in addition, by making the post-9/11 gi bill a priority, we've helped more than 800,000 veterans and their families pursue their education. and i've issued an executive order to help put a stop to schools that are ripping off our veterans. i've directed the federal government to step up on jobs. since i took office, we've hired more than 200,000 veterans into the federal government. we made it a priority. and we're keeping track -- every agency, every department: what are you doing for our veterans? i've challenged community health centers to hire thousands
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of veterans as physicians and nurses. and as we help local communities hire new police officers and firefighters and first responders, we're giving a preference to veterans. we're also fighting to get more vets hired in the private sector. with new tools like our online veterans jobs bank, we're connecting veterans directly to jobs. we're helping thousands of veterans get certified for good-paying jobs in manufacturing. we succeeded in passing tax credits for businesses that hire our veterans and our wounded warriors. and this morning, i signed into law the veteran skills to jobs act -- making it easier for veterans to transfer their outstanding military skills into the licenses and credentials they need to get civilian jobs. if you are a young man that is in charge of a platoon or millions of dollars of equipment and are taking responsibility, or you're a medic out in the field who is
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saving lives every single day -- when you come home, you need to be credentialed and certified quickly so you can get on the job. people should understand how skilled you are. and there shouldn't be bureaucrats or runarounds. we've got to put those folks to work. last summer, i also challenged the private sector to hire or train 100,000 veterans or their spouses. michelle and jill biden have been leading the effort, through joining forces. and so far, thousands of patriotic businesses have hired or trained more than 90,000 veterans and spouses. and our message to companies is simple: if you want somebody who gets the job done, then hire a vet. hire a vet. hire a vet and they will make you proud just like they've made america proud. and we're fighting for veterans who want to start their own businesses, including more training in entrepreneurship.
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it's one of the reasons we've cut taxes -- 18 times for small businesses, including veteran- owned businesses. and the effects ripple out, because vets are more likely to hire vets. so today, we can point to progress. more veterans are finding jobs; the unemployment rate for veterans has come down. yes, it's still too high, but it's coming down. and now we've got to sustain that momentum. it's one of the reasons i've proposed to congress a veterans jobs corps to put our veterans back to work protecting and rebuilding america. and today, i am again calling on congress: pass this veterans jobs corps and extend the tax credits for businesses that hire veterans so we can give these american heroes the jobs and opportunities that they deserve. so, vfw, these are the promises that i made.
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these are the promises that i've kept. where we still have more to do, we will not rest. that's my vow to you. i've got your back. i've got your six. because we have a solemn obligation to all who serve -- not just for the years you're in uniform, but for all the decades that follow, and because even though today's wars are ending, the hard work of taking care of our newest veterans has only just begun. just as you protected america, we're going to pass our country to the next generation, stronger and safer and more respected in the world. so if anyone tries to tell you that our greatness has passed, that america is in decline, you tell them this: just like the 20th century, the 21st is going to be another great american century.
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for we are americans, blessed with the greatest form of government ever devised by man, a democracy dedicated to freedom and committed to the ideals that still light the world. we will never apologize for our way of life; we will never waver in its defense. we are a nation that freed millions and turned adversaries into allies. we are the americans who defended the peace and turned back aggression. we are americans who welcome our global responsibilities and our global leadership. the united states has been, and will remain, the one indispensable nation in world affairs. and you, you are the soldiers, the sailors, the airmen, the marines and the coast guardsmen
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who have kept us strong. we will honor your legacy. and we will ensure that the military you served, and the america that we love, remains the greatest force for freedom that the world has ever known. god bless you. god bless all of our veterans. and god bless the united states of america. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2012]
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>> mitt romney also spoke. he accused the white house of leaking classified information about the u.s. military raid that killed osama bin ladin. his remarks are just under half an hour. >> thank you. the was quite an introduction. i appreciate your generous words. it is a real source of pride for us to see a combat veteran from massachusetts serving as the national commander of the vfw. great job. thank you. ladies auxiliary president, incoming national commander, in
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coming ladies auxiliary president, general, executive director, distinguished guests and members of the vfw, thank you for your generous welcome. i want to start today with a few words about the unimaginable tragedy in colorado last week. we have since learned that among the victims were four people who served our country in uniform. today our hearts go out to the families of those victims. a navy veteran died shielding his girlfriend from the spray of bullets. the loss of four americans who served our country only adds to the profound tragedy of that day. all americans are grateful for their service and deeply
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saddened by their deaths. we mourn am and we will remember them. the vfw, as you know, is now over two million strong. it has a special place in america's heart. some of you fall recently in iraq or afghanistan. -- fox recently in iraq for afghanistan. others of you are old enough to have marched or sailed by the orders of franklin d. roosevelt. whatever your age, whether you are republican or democrat, whenever you served, there is one thing you have in common. you answered the call of your country in a time of war. [applause] from december 7th, 1941 to september 11th, 2001, whenever america has been tested, you a step forward. you come from our farms, our great cities, our small towns and quiet neighborhoods.
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many of you have known violence so that your neighbors could no peace. you have done more earth than -- you have done more than protect america. your service defines america. your america at its best and it is an honor to address you today. [applause] our veterans are part of a proud tradition that stretches back to the battlefields at lexington and concord and now to places like fallujah and kandahar. year after year, our men and women in uniform have added solid achievements to their record of service and president obama appropriately pointed to some of them yesterday in his speech. any time our military accomplishes a vital mission, it is a proud moment for our nation. but we owe our veterans more than just an accounting of our successes. we deserve a frank asm


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