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On The Road To Redemption, Vick Speaks Out Against Dog Fighting

President Obama wasn’t the only one speaking to students today. Mike Vick as part of his road to redemption spoke to a group high school students in Philadelphia, warning against the dangers of peer pressure and offered himself as a cautionary tale of what can happen when someone is a follower instead of a leader.

The Philadelphia Eagles quarterback, who served prison time for running a dogfighting ring, addressed a rapt audience of 200 freshmen on their first day at Nueva Esperanza Academy, a North Philadelphia charter school. He urged the students to make the right choices and to resist the temptation to follow the crowd.

“I didn’t choose to go the right way, which led to 18 months in prison, which was the toughest time of my life,” he said. “Being away from my family, being away from my kids who I adore dearly, and being away from the game of football, doing something so foolish, and I wish I could take it all back.

“I was influenced by so many people when I should have been a leader, not a follower.”

The 10-minute talk marked Vick’s first anti-dogfighting public appearance in Philadelphia since he signed a one-year, $1.6 million deal with the Eagles on Aug. 13. At the time, he expressed a desire “to be part of the solution and not the problem” by speaking to children around the country about dogfighting.

Speaking without notes, Vick told the hushed assembly Tuesday that his poor decisions imperiled the goals he had set for himself.

“Growing up, I had dreams and I always wanted to have this great, lavish life and make it to the NFL, go and accomplish great things and leave a great legacy. That was my goal from a young kid,” Vick said. “My future was promising … at some point, I got sidetracked. I started listening to my friends and doing some things that were not ethical and not right.”

He said he tried to do the right things at school and at home, “but I had another side to me, and it was a dark side.”

Vick visited the school with Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. Pacelle has said he met with Vick in prison at the quarterback’s request and that Vick sought to work with the group after his release.

Vick and the organization are working on “a national campaign to try to reach especially young people so we can all be voices against organized animal fighting,” specifically dog-fighting and cockfighting, Pacelle said.

“It’s really a test of our character as individuals about being good to those who are less powerful,” he said.

Once the highest paid player in the NFL, Vick was suspended from the league following his conviction in August 2007 on charges of conspiracy and organizing the dogfighting ring. He was released from federal custody on July 20.

Several animal rights groups criticized the team’s decision to sign the quarterback, saying he is a poor example for young people.

Eagles spokeswoman Pamela Browner-Crawley has said the team has an obligation to the community, and to children particularly, to discourage them from engaging in dogfighting or any animal abuse.

Vick is suspended for the first two games of the regular season and is eligible to play beginning Sept. 27. In two preseason games, Vick completed 11 of 15 passes for 45 yards with one interception and rushed for 36 yards on eight carries with one touchdown.

Vick also spoke with students in Chicago. See Video below:

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    Posted 4 years, 11 months ago at 2:57 pm. Add a comment

    Work Harder Is The President’s Message To Students

    ARLINGTON, Va. In a pep talk that kept clear of politics, President Barack Obama on Tuesday challenged the nation’s students to take pride in their education — and stick with it even if they don’t like every class or must overcome tough circumstances at home.

    “Every single one of you has something that you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer,” Obama told students at Wakefield High School in suburban Arlington, Va., and children watching his speech on television in schools across the country.

    “And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is.”

    Presidents often visit schools, and Obama was not the first one to offer a back-to-school address aimed at millions of students in every grade.

    Yet this one was doused with controversy from the beginning, as several conservative organizations and many concerned parents warned Obama was trying to sell his political agenda. That concern was caused in part by an accompanying administration lesson plan encouraging students to “help the president,” which the White House later revised and Education Secretary Arne Duncan acknowledged Tuesday was wrongheaded.

    School districts in some areas decided not to provide their students access to his midday speech.

    Upon arrival at the school, Obama’s motorcade was greeted by a small band of protesters. One carried a sign exclaiming: “Mr. President, stay away from our kids.”

    Obama didn’t mention the uproar.

    He preceded his broad-scale talk by meeting with about 40 Wakefield students in a school library, where at one point he advised them to “be careful what you post on Facebook. Whatever you do, it will be pulled up again later somewhere in your life.”

    “When I was your age,” Obama said, “I was a little bit of a goof-off. My main goal was to get on the varsity basketball team and have fun.”

    One young person asked why the country doesn’t have universal health insurance. “I think we need it. I think we can do it,” Obama replied. The president said the country can afford to insure all Americans and that doing so will save money in the long run.

    He also told the group that not having a father at home “forced me to grow up faster.”

    Asked to name one person — dead or alive — he would choose to dine with, Obama said inspirational leader Mohandas K. Gandhi.

    “He’s somebody I find a lot of inspiration in. He inspired Dr. (Martin Luther) King with his message of nonviolence,” Obama said. “He ended up doing so much and changed the world just by the power of his ethics.”

    The White House released the text of his speech a day early so school officials and parents could evaluate it before it was delivered. Obama gave it virtually unchanged, and it was carried live on ESPN and the White House Web site.

    “There is no excuse for not trying” he said. “The truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject that you study. You won’t click with every teacher that you have.”

    The school he chose as the setting for his talk — Wakefield — is the most economically and racially diverse school in Arlington County, according to the Department of Education. Nearly 40 percent of graduating seniors pass an Advanced Placement test. That’s more than twice the national average.

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      Posted 4 years, 11 months ago at 2:16 pm. Add a comment

      Laura Bush Speaks Out On The President Being Labeled A Socialist

      Embedded video from CNN Video

      PARIS, France (Sept. 7) — Former first lady Laura Bush praised the performance of her husband’s successor Monday, breaking with many Republicans in telling CNN that she thinks President Obama is doing a good job under tough circumstances.

      She also criticized Washington’s sharp political divide during an interview covering a range of topics including her thoughts on first lady Michelle Obama, former Vice President Dick Cheney, the situation in Afghanistan and Myanmar, and life after eight tumultuous years in the White House.

      Bush sat down with CNN on Monday during a United Nations meeting in Paris, France, where she was promoting global literacy, a cause she trumpeted during her husband’s administration.

      The typically reserved former first lady defended Obama’s decision to deliver a back-to-school speech to students, putting her at odds with many conservatives afraid that the president will use the opportunity to advance his political agenda.

      “I think he is [doing a good job],” Bush said when asked to assess Obama’s job performance. “I think he has got a lot on his plate, and he has tackled a lot to start with, and that has probably made it more difficult.”

      Michelle Obama is also “doing great,” she said, in part by turning the White House into a comfortable home for her family.

      Referencing the uproar over Obama’s address to schoolchildren, which will be aired nationwide Tuesday, Laura Bush said it’s “really important for everyone to respect the president of the United States.”

      Bush didn’t completely dismiss the concerns of some conservatives but noted that controversial Education Department plans recommending that students draft letters discussing what they can do to help Obama had been changed.

      “I think there is a place for the president … to talk to schoolchildren and encourage” them, she said. Parents should follow his example and “encourage their own children to stay in school and to study hard and to try to achieve the dream that they have.”

      Bush indicated that she didn’t think it was fair for Obama to be labeled a “socialist” by critics and expressed her disappointment with the intensely polarized nature of contemporary American politics.

      Part of the reason for the polarization, she said, was the increase in the number of congressional districts dominated by either strongly conservative or liberal voters.

      “We’ve seen that for the last eight years, certainly, and we’re still seeing it,” she said. “That’s just a fact of life.”

      Bush conceded that after her husband was elected president, he was unable to replicate his success as governor of Texas in reaching across the aisle to Democrats.

      “He was disappointed that that was not the way it worked out in Washington,” she said. “I’m sure President Obama didn’t expect it to be that way [either]. … All of us need to do what we can to come together on issues.”

      Despite her husband’s disappointment, he is “doing very well,” she said. Both of them are now working on their memoirs, she noted.

      Though the former first lady criticized the excessive partisanship of Washington, she expressed gratitude for Cheney’s decision to vocally defend her husband’s performance.

      Cheney has been outspoken in his defense of the Bush administration’s national security record, which has been sharply criticized on, among other things, questions relating to the detention and interrogation of terrorist suspects.

      “I think that Vice President Cheney has every right to speak out, and I appreciate that he is defending” the administration, Bush said. “I think that is important. I think there is a place for that.”

      Bush also said it doesn’t bother her husband that Cheney’s “out there being critical.”

      The former first lady said her husband still speaks with Cheney occasionally. Multiple sources have indicated that the two men parted ways on several issues in the last years of their administration, including Bush’s refusal to offer a pardon for former top Cheney aide Lewis “Scooter” Libby.

      Libby was convicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and lying to investigators looking into the leak that resulted in the exposure of CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson.

      Though Bush expressed confidence that her husband will ultimately be remembered as “somebody who stood for freedom and who stood for the security of our country,” she admitted that she’s worried about the current situation in Afghanistan.

      “I’m very concerned, of course,” she said.

      “All of us are concerned, and everybody, as they look at Afghanistan from around the world, really hope and want to [do] whatever they can to help the government stabilize, to see that the elections were fair.”

      Bush said she hoped people “will redouble their efforts” to help the country fend off Taliban and al Qaeda extremists.

      She also repeated her outspoken criticism of the government of Myanmar, also known by its former name of Burma, which has come under fire for imprisoning pro-democracy activist Aung San Suu Kyi.
      “She’s always been held under house arrest [because] they’re afraid of her popularity. They think that undermines their regime,” Bush said.

      “I hope that they’ll see what she really wants. … She wants [the nation to have] a peaceful transition to a democracy and to have the chance for Burma to really build itself [into] a very wealthy and educated nation.”

      After her husband’s eight controversial years in the White House, what does Bush have to say to critics who believe he had a negative, destructive influence in the world?

      “I would say that that’s absolutely not right,” Bush said.

      “I don’t think they have either the right view of him or what his responsibilities are and were as president of the United States.”

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        Posted 4 years, 11 months ago at 12:09 pm. Add a comment