Margaret Crawford has made sure she is registered to vote on 3 May
A 100-year-old woman who was eligible to vote in the 1929 General Election has urged people in Scotland to register for the 3 May poll.
Margaret Crawford’s message from her Cameron Park Nursing Home in Edinburgh was clear: “Don’t waste your vote.”
The centenarian took part in the first UK election in which women aged 21 to 30 were able to vote.
UK, Commonwealth or EU citizens, aged 18 and over, are entitled to vote in May if they register by 18 April.
In 1918, the suffragette movement achieved voting rights for women over the age of 30 and in 1928 women aged 21 to 30 were given the opportunity to vote.
Take for granted
Ms Crawford’s call for people to register for the Scottish Parliament and local authority elections is part of the politically neutral Vote Scotland campaign spearheaded by the Electoral Commission and Scottish Executive.
The Vote Scotland campaign was launched in March
Andy O’Neill, head of the Electoral Commission’s Scotland Office, said: “It’s easy to take the right to vote for granted.
“It is important to remember that at one time everyone did not have this right.
“This makes it all the more important that people make sure that they are on the register.”
People who are unsure whether they are registered – or want to change their details – are advised to contact their local electoral registration office.
They can also apply to vote by post or proxy. Information is available from the Vote Scotland website at www.votescotland.com.
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 21ST, 2009 AT 1:27 PM
President Barack Obama’s Inaugural Address
Posted by Macon Phillips
Yesterday, President Obama delivered his Inaugural Address, calling for a “new era of responsibility.” Watch the video here:
By President Barack Hussein Obama
My fellow citizens: I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you’ve bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.
I thank President Bush for his service to our nation — (applause) — as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often, the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because we, the people, have remained faithful to the ideals of our forebears and true to our founding documents.
So it has been; so it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly, our schools fail too many — and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable, but no less profound, is a sapping of confidence across our land; a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this America: They will be met. (Applause.)
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord. On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics. We remain a young nation. But in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness. (Applause.)
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted, for those that prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated, but more often men and women obscure in their labor — who have carried us up the long rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops, and settled the West, endured the lash of the whip, and plowed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died in places like Concord and Gettysburg, Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions, greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week, or last month, or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions — that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America. (Applause.)
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of our economy calls for action, bold and swift. And we will act, not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We’ll restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of ourambitions, who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short, for they have forgotten what this country has already done, what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage. What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them, that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.
The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public’s dollars will be held to account, to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day, because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched. But this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control. The nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our gross domestic product, but on the reach of our prosperity, on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart — not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good. (Applause.)
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers — (applause) — our Founding Fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man — a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake. (Applause.)
And so, to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born, know that America is a friend of each nation, and every man, woman and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity. And we are ready to lead once more. (Applause.)
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with the sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort, even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we’ll work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.
We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense. And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken — you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you. (Applause.)
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus, and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society’s ills on the West, know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. (Applause.)
To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist. (Applause.)
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, nor can we consume the world’s resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the role that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who at this very hour patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages.
We honor them not only because they are the guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service — a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves.
And yet at this moment, a moment that will define a generation, it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all. For as much as government can do, and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends — honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism — these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.
What is demanded, then, is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition on the part of every American that we have duties to ourselves, our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept, but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship. This is the source of our confidence — the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny. This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed, why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall; and why a man whose father less than 60 years ago might not have been served in a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath. (Applause.)
So let us mark this day with remembrance of who we are and how far we have traveled.
In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At the moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words to be read to the people:
“Let it be told to the future world…that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive… that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].”
America: In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words.
With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God’s grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.
First official photo taken by Annie Leibovitz -The White House -10/23/2009
The Nobel Foundation :
All Nobel laureates :
October 9, 2009
Obama’s speech transcript (from the White House site) :
[same] speech + video :
[same] video on YouTube :
The Associated Press at the White House (1’29” video) :
ABC news (1’50” video)
Al Gore thinks “Obama’s Nobel win is thrilling” :
The Washington Post
“Facts and Numbers of the Nobel Peace Prize” :
“Obama wins 2009 Nobel Peace Prize ” :
“Africans react to Obama Prize” :
[interviewees = residents from Soweto]
Time for kids
“Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize” :
“What Twitterers Thought of Giving Obama the Prize” :
Newsweek – The Gaggle (Press, Politics, and Absurdity)
“Why Obama Should Have Won The Nobel For Literature Instead” :
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Around the world millions of children are not getting a proper education because their families are too poor to afford to send them to school. In India, one schoolboy is trying change that. In the first report in the BBC’s Hunger to Learn series, Damian Grammaticas meets Babar Ali, whose remarkable education project is transforming the lives of hundreds of poor children.
At 16 years old, Babar Ali must be the youngest headmaster in the world. He’s a teenager who is in charge of teaching hundreds of students in his family’s backyard, where he runs classes for poor children from his village.
The story of this young man from Murshidabad in West Bengal is a remarkable tale of the desire to learn amid the direst poverty.
Babar Ali’s ‘school’ has some 800 students
Babar Ali’s day starts early. He wakes, pitches in with the household chores, then jumps on an auto-rickshaw which takes him part of the 10km (six mile) ride to the Raj Govinda school. The last couple of kilometres he has to walk.
The school is the best in this part of West Bengal. There are hundreds of students, boys and girls. The classrooms are neat, if bare. But there are desks, chairs, a blackboard, and the teachers are all dedicated and well-qualified.
As the class 12 roll-call is taken, Babar Ali is seated in the middle in the front row. He’s a tall, slim, gangly teenager, studious and smart in his blue and white uniform. He takes his notes carefully. He is the model student.
Babar Ali is the first member of his family ever to get a proper education.
Mustafa Yorumcu, London
“It’s not easy for me to come to school because I live so far away,” he says, “but the teachers are good and I love learning. And my parents believe I must get the best education possible that’s why I am here.”
Raj Govinda school is government-run so it is free, all Babar Ali has to pay for is his uniform, his books and the rickshaw ride to get there. But still that means his family has to find around 1,800 rupees a year ($40, £25) to send him to school. In this part of West Bengal that is a lot of money. Many poor families simply can’t afford to send their children to school, even when it is free.
Chumki Hajra is one who has never been to school. She is 14 years old and lives in a tiny shack with her grandmother. Their home is simple A-frame supporting a thatched roof next to the rice paddies and coconut palms at the edge of the village. Inside the hut there is just room for a bed and a few possessions.
Chumki Hajra, a pupil at Babar Ali’s school, describes her day
Every morning, instead of going to school, she scrubs the dishes and cleans the homes of her neighbours. She’s done this ever since she was five. For her work she earns just 200 rupees a month ($5, £3). It’s not much, but it’s money her family desperately needs. And it means that she has to work as a servant everyday in the village.
“My father is handicapped and can’t work,” Chumki tells me as she scrubs a pot. “We need the money. If I don’t work, we can’t survive as a family. So I have no choice but to do this job.”
But Chumki is now getting an education, thanks to Babar Ali. The 16-year-old has made it his mission to help Chumki and hundreds of other poor children in his village. The minute his lessons are over at Raj Govinda school, Babar Ali doesn’t stop to play, he heads off to share what he’s learnt with other children from his village.
At four o’clock every afternoon after Babar Ali gets back to his family home a bell summons children to his house. They flood through the gate into the yard behind his house, where Babar Ali now acts as headmaster of his own, unofficial school.
Lined up in his back yard the children sing the national anthem. Standing on a podium, Babar Ali lectures them about discipline, then study begins.
Babar Ali gives lessons just the way he has heard them from his teachers. Some children are seated in the mud, others on rickety benches under a rough, homemade shelter. The family chickens scratch around nearby. In every corner of the yard are groups of children studying hard.
Babar Ali was just nine when he began teaching a few friends as a game. They were all eager to know what he learnt in school every morning and he liked playing at being their teacher.
| Without this school many kids wouldn’t get an education, they’d never even be literate
Now his afternoon school has 800 students, all from poor families, all taught for free. Most of the girls come here after working, like Chumki, as domestic helps in the village, and the boys after they have finished their day’s work labouring in the fields.
“In the beginning I was just play-acting, teaching my friends,” Babar Ali says, “but then I realised these children will never learn to read and write if they don’t have proper lessons. It’s my duty to educate them, to help our country build a better future.”
Including Babar Ali there are now 10 teachers at the school, all, like him are students at school or college, who give their time voluntarily. Babar Ali doesn’t charge for anything, even books and food are given free, funded by donations. It means even the poorest can come here.
“Our area is economically deprived,” he says. “Without this school many kids wouldn’t get an education, they’d never even be literate.”
Seated on a rough bench squeezed in with about a dozen other girls, Chumki Hajra is busy scribbling notes.
Her dedication to learning is incredible to see. Every day she works in homes in the village from six in the morning until half past two in the afternoon, then she heads to Babar Ali’s school. At seven every evening she heads back to do more cleaning work.
Chumki’s dream is to one day become a nurse, and Babar Ali’s classes might just make it possible.
The school has been recognised by the local authorities, it has helped increase literacy rates in the area, and Babar Ali has won awards for his work.
The youngest children are just four or five, and they are all squeezed in to a tiny veranda. There are just a couple of bare electric bulbs to give light as lessons stretch into the evening, and only if there is electricity.
And then the monsoon rain begins. Huge drops fall as the children scurry for cover, slipping in the mud. They crowd under a piece of plastic sheeting. Babar Ali shouts an order. Lessons are cancelled for the afternoon otherwise everyone will be soaked. Having no classrooms means lessons are at the mercy of the elements.
The children climb onto the porch of a nearby shop as the rain pours down. Then they hurry home through the downpour. Tomorrow they’ll be back though. Eight hundred poor children, unable to afford an education, but hungry for anything they can learn at Babar Ali’s school.
Here are some of your comments. You can send your own comment with the form at the bottom of this story.
Babar Ali is a hero (and I don’t use that word often). He, and his loyal pupils, deserve not only our total respect, but our support and encouragement too.
Rob Baker, Newport, S. Wales
“Be the change you want to see in others”- Babar leads by example- such a humbling story that encourages everyone. Thank you!
The news is really an eye-opener. We always blame others including Government, but Babar Ali proves that we can return back to the society if we want.
Pradosh Debnath, Kolkata, India
If there are saints in this world, Babar Ali is one of them. He sees the problems of others. If the corrupt officials could learn from this young boy, they would not waste huge public funds that could educate millions.
JK, DSM, Tanzania
In world were you are measured by the materials you own, (house, cars, clothes etc) it’s amazing to see a young making the most of what resource there is. Trying to improve not only the quality of his life, but others around him. A truly magnificent story about a remarkable young man.
Andrew Anastasi, London
Babar Ali is indeed a rare soul, who at such a young age is filled with a sense of duty, direction and patriotism. Maybe if more youths of today were like him, the world would be a better place. After reading the hardship these children go through, I cannot help but think how lucky Malaysian children are. It’s human nature to take things for granted, some say. But I will share this story with my students. In hope that more will be inspired to be like someone like Babar Ali.
Teacher Jason, Penang, Malaysia
I too read this story with my mouth open and with tears in my eyes. What an inspiration this young boy is. This article should be read by teenagers in the western world who take their education for granted and think that they are entitled to whatever they want without lifting their little fingers. I’ll definitely read this article to my teenage daughter.
Fayrouz, Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire
Every student in every senior school in the UK should be given a copy of this at the beginning of each school year; to remind them of how privileged they are living in this country.
Ian Redding, Burscough, Lancashire, England
What BABAR ALI is doing is unquantifiable. I wish the local authority could give him a helping hand in order to take this ‘school’ to where he has in mind. He is a young man of vision and the whole world should stand up to help the guy. It’s high time we stopped wasting our resources on things that doesn’t have a good end result. This is a project that could go a long way in alleviating illiteracy if given the necessary support. Say me well to him and tell him we are praying for his success.
Agboola Olawale, Ilorin, Nigeria
Very inspiring! it takes me back 30 years as my uncle used to do exactly the same in my native village which had one school where he used to work and had his informal classes for poor students at home. Mr. Baber Ali, I salute you.
Srinivas Patnala, Grahamstown, South Africa
What a truly remarkable chap ! But hold on, isn’t this India, the world’s largest democracy? Doesn’t anyone there want to legislate to make education state funded and available for all? What about abandoning their nuclear weapons and space programme to allow this to be funded.
Tim Stokes, Sittingbourne, Kent
A powerful example set by Mr. Babar Ali. After reading this article, I feel like going back home to my village in India and do something like this.
Shiv Sharma, Vermont, USA
Just Phenomenal! Stories like Babar Ali’s are inspirational and life-changing. If the smallest percentage of readers the world over get inspired to give back in some form to further education in such villages, the Indian story will be one of enlightenment.
Rahul S, New York, NY
It’s young people like this who really make the world turn and people stand up and realise that there is more outside of our little corners that is far more remarkable than we could ever achieve.
Donna, Milton Keynes
This is a great story. I come from Calcutta, W Bengal near to the place Babar Ali is doing this great job. I am going to Calcutta in November. I will positively visit the school, meet Babar Ali and will donate anything my resources will permit to support his mission.
Amit Ray, River Hills, USA
To influence one life is itself amazing, and here is Babar, at 16, influencing and changing 800 lives for their betterment. Hats off to him and I hope somebody from the West Bengal Education department read this story and hopefully reacts soon!!
Rakzeen, Detroit, Michigan, USA
A little ray of light in all that darkness. I reckon this guy deserves the Nobel prize for peace right now. Obama could have waited a year.
Reinhard Adolf, Yokohama, Japan
I have no words. It just makes me think that I should not complain about anything and take things for granted.
Florence Nesamani, Pune, India
Quite Amazing! Does this happen here in our planet? Ali is doing something which many other could think to be fictitious.
Wondwossen, Adds Ababa
The United States and all other other 1st world countries should support this young person give him the nobel peace prize, more education more peace I believe.
I can’t believe this, what a remarkable young man! I read this article with my mouth open. Thanks for this article BBC it makes me truly, truly humbled.
Olu, Stevenage, Hertfordshire
Babar Ali is a great soul. He will change lot of young lives. This is truly a remarkable story. The higher education system in Great Britain USA and should recognize Babar Ali and help him all the way in his noble cause.
Sunil Parikh, Davie, Florida
This article is like a cold shower that woke me up. my parents pay thousands of euros to my uni every year to give me an education. Realising that with the same amount of money all these children could much easily get education hurts. It hurts realising i have the chance and the means to learn, but I’m even complaining for having “too much to study”. To see i have Facebook open instead of a book. We do need articles like this, we do need to wake up.
No doubt, wherever Mr Babar Ali goes, even highly educated and positioned people will stand and respect him. I salute Babar Ali and pray for the future to be bright and prosperous for ‘The Head Master’ and his ‘Pupil’. May God, through the Government, fulfil their desire.
S.Vijayan, Chennai, India
What an extraordinary story!! It nearly brought tears to my eyes. What dedication and commitment in such dire poverty from all these people. I personally never had any such problems and quite frankly could never dream of any as I was blessed to be in free state schooling in the UK. However, when I read the story of Babar Ali and his students, it makes me feel tiny. Thank you for bringing this story BBC.
Sajjid Abbasi, Saudi Arabia
What a wonderful kid, if only we can get his type within our community, we could be better off. Instead of our graduates to be sitting down under trees to argue unnecessarily they can borrow a leaf from Babar Ali.
Ahmad Ibrahim, Kano, Nigeria
The world needs people like these with the conviction to make a CHANGE in others lives.
This boy deserves the highest recognition by the world’s highest human rights institutions. He should be awarded a price in form of a school built near his home and named after it. He should be assisted to train as an educator in order for him to carry on his noble duties to his community
German Lungu, Lusaka, Zambia
I was deeply humbled by Babar Ali’s story. So many people so many parts of the country take education funded by the government for granted. Deliberately missing lessons etc. And here are some 800 kids who’ll do anything to get educated, to be better, thanks to this extremely remarkable teenager. We should be ashamed with our selves if we at some point took things for granted.
Farah, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
It’s cost over $50K for my education as a primary school teacher. I wish I could have sent it to them instead!
Kimberly Luedke, Milwaukee, WI United States
India is in the process of a social change and it is the youths like Babar Ali who are trying to bring this change. It is people like him who are trying their bits and they have kept alive the hopes of numerous people in India whose lives are not rosy but every night they sleep in the hope that tomorrow will bring something good.
Bhavna Karki, Delhi, India
No comment. It’s just wonderful.