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Former President Clinton


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#1
mediaman

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Former president Bill Clinton visits Santa Barbara to kick off a new UCSB program and to cash a big check from a local philanthropist. The former president has traveled all over the world the past few months encouraging others to get together and talk about how to make positive changes globally.

Today, he visited Santa Barbara to chat with Paul Orfalea. In the 1970s, Orfalea opened up a small copy shop near UCSB called Kinko's. Two years ago, he sold the Kinko's chain to FedEx for $2.4 billion. Now he's giving away a good chunk of his fortune. Orfalea has already pledged $500,000 a year for the next decade to create a masters program for global and international studies at UCSB. This afternoon, he pledged another $400,000 to the Clinton Global Initiative.

Inside the Arlington Theater in front of a crowd of more than 2,000 people, Clinton and Orfalea sat down today for a chat about the challenges facing the world and how humanitarian non-governmental organizations -- or NGOs -- can help bring peace and stability to places around the world where governments sometimes fail. NGOs with a worldwide reach -- like the Red Cross, or Goleta-based Direct Relief Internaional -- have an impressive track record in helping bring aid to far-flung corners of the globe. But that takes a lot of money. And that's where Clinton comes in.

No matter what your politics, Clinton is one of the best at raising it -- whether it's for fellow Democrats, NGOs, or his new Global Initiative.

For the most part, Clinton kept politics out of the conversation today, encouraging the audience to try to make a positive change, to learn from others, copy what works and ditch what doesn't.

"Whatever your politics are," Clinton says "stay with your philosophy, but never become blind to evidence and argument."

#2
mediaman

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Ex-president big hit at Santa Barbara chat

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Former president Bill Clinton works the line at the rear of Santa Barbara's Arlington Theatre on Friday after his dialogue with Kinko's founder Paul Orfalea. Clinton greeted members of the crowd and signed everything from his book to notebooks and posters.

If he were running for office, ex-president Bill Clinton would have won by acclamation Friday before an audience at Santa Barbara's Arlington Theater that listened to his informal dialogue on global issues with Kinko's founder Paul Orfalea.

In a 90-minute event that focused more on human needs than politics - and on the growing ability and importance of individuals and nongovernmental entities to help solve them - Clinton displayed the folksy charisma, intellect and humor that won him two terms as president before he was succeeded by President George W. Bush in January 2001.

The sellout crowd of about 2,100 cheered and loudly applauded, giving him a standing ovation, both when Clinton walked on stage and when the event drew to a close. It ended a half-hour behind schedule because the former president insisted on answering prepared questions from several of the 600 UCSB students who were admitted for free to the event priced at $45 and $75 per person.

Thomas Tighe, the moderator and chief executive officer of Direct Relief International, had announced there would be time for only one question, but Clinton quickly blurted: “We'll stay for the questions,” drawing loud applause again from the partisan crowd.

When asked how to get around the “war between religious politics and secular politics,” his off-the-cuff reply was lengthy, thoughtful and reflective of his liberal leanings.

As the movie “Independence Day” illustrated, he replied, “We need at the outset to have an outside threat to remind us of that our common needs are more important than our individual differences,” he responded in his trademark Arkansas drawl.

“Here's the problem between religious politics and secular politics,” he added. Those who claim to possess “absolute truth” and consider people with different beliefs to be “less human” are guilty of committing no less than “political heresy,” said the silver-haired Clinton, 60, dressed in a dark-gray suit and wearing an orange tie.

The discussion between Clinton and Orfalea, who grew Kinko's copying company from a small storefront in Isla Vista into a hugely successful international business, also kicked off UCSB's new Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies.

Having sold off Kinko's years ago, Orfalea is now a distinguished visiting lecturer at UCSB and - along with his wife, Natalie - ceremoniously donated $400,000 at Friday's event to the Clinton Global Initiative, headed by the former president.

Such nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations, each man emphasized, are the key to bridging the gap between what governments can and can't - or won't - do to solve global problems such as AIDS, hunger, children's health needs and genocides like the one occurring in Darfur.

“The most important point I can make is that politics is important,” Clinton said at the outset, “but there will always be a gap which has to be filled by something other than government. Today, private citizens have more power to do public good than ever before. Those of us who have the means to, and the time to do it, can have a huge impact.”

His message resonated strongly with Marcy Sheffield of Camarillo, who was lucky enough to snag a front-row seat and was one of dozens who reached up to shake Clinton's hand as he slowly left the stage.

“I was very excited to do it,” said the longtime Democrat. “I have to admit it - he was like a rock star.”

She was struck by Clinton's “energetic, excited and positive spirit,” she added. “I really miss him. I'm sick of fear and sick of negativity.”

Evidence of his reputation as a “man of the people” was evident, too, after Clinton exited through a back door of the theater, where a convoy of jet-black SUVs waited to shuttle him and his entourage away.

As numerous stern-faced Secret Service guards kept watch over hundreds of people gathered along a security barrier at the edge of the parking lot, Clinton surprised the throng by walking along the entire perimeter shaking hands, hugging onlookers and signing countless autographs for about 15 to 20 minutes.

Earlier in the day, he spoke to a campus crowd at UCLA, urging a yes vote on California's Proposition 87, a November ballot measure that would tax oil to fund alternative energy research.

As the former president shook spectators' hands inside the Santa Barbara theater before exiting the stage, Bill Cornfield said he thought Clinton “was amazing. No one wants to leave,” he remarked of the lingering audience.

“He's a genius,” an elderly Shirley McCarthy observed as she gingerly walked out of the theater holding the arm of her daughter.

#3
humanbot

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Knowing it takes a village to change the world, many Montecito villagers showed up last week in downtown Santa Barbara to support the global-connection vision of neighbors Paul and Natalie Orfalea. It didn’t hurt that former President Bill Clinton was on hand to endorse the Orfalea cause, or that the event served to kick off UCSB's Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies Master’s Program.

The unbeatable combination made the Arlington Theater the place to be last Friday afternoon. Tickets for the event sold out in two hours, filling all of the theater's 2,018 seats. Among the Montecitans taking seats were Tom and Eileen Mielko, Wayne and Sharol Seimens, and Roger and Miny Willmon. Coral Casino members Harry and Judi Weisbart enjoyed premier loge seats not far from First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal and his wife Gina.

More than 600 seats were allotted to UCSB students and they led the cheer for President Clinton, resplendent in an apricot tie, and his host Paul Orfalea, the founder of Kinko's. The statesman/businessman duo came on stage and settled into leather covered recliners for a chat. And while they joked about being semi-retired with “nowhere else to go,” it quickly became clear that they had a mission, which was to motivate the UCSB future leaders as well as the assemblage of Santa Barbara’s master-movers.

Direct Relief Executive Director Tom Tighe effortlessly facilitated the two-hour drawing-room style chat. The conversation was wide-ranging, covering AIDS, religion, politics, philanthropy, goal setting, business management, and non-government organizations. NGO’s, as they are tagged, are endorsed by both Orfalea and Clinton. The system allows non-profits to assist governments by filling in gaps and by creating strategically planned global policies aimed at conquering world poverty, health problems, and environmental abuse.

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“Private citizens have more power to do more public good than ever before and those with the means and the time to do it have the advantage,” Clinton said. His remarks hit home to many in the audience, including super-philanthropists Sara Miller McCune, Baroness Leni Fe Bland, Anne Towbes, Deanna Dehlsen, and Nancy Koppelman, who commented later she liked the non-political and positive tone of Clinton’s comments.


“I’m a wide-eyed optimist and human history is on our side,“ Clinton told the crowd, when asked about changing the sometimes sad state of human affairs. “Just think how boring the world would be without challenges.”

Clinton added he believes environmental issues may hold the key to world unity: “The environment will be the common thread that pulls (mankind) together—it will remind us our common humanity is more important than our differences.”

The event ended with the Orfalea family convening on stage to commit $400,000 to the Clinton’s Global Initiative. The afternoon also served as the official inauguration for the new Orfalea Center at UCSB, which will be offering a master's degree in global and international studies. Lending enthusiastic approval for the Orfaleas' contributions and vision were Montecito residents Nina Terzian, Ann McWilliam, Jo and Andy Gifford, Tarik Kadri, and natural history filmmaker Michael deGruy.

Clinton departed quickly after the lecture, but 300-plus well wishers gathered at an invitation-only reception honoring the Orfaleas and UCSB students in the global studies program. Montecito guests were overheard describing the Clinton-Orfalea colloquy as “fascinating,” “enlightening,” “motivating,” and “invigorating.”

As she departed, one guest said she planned to swap her small town village vision for the more universal concerns of the global village. And, Supervisor Carbajal spoke for many when he offered this observation of the event: “It was exhilarating to be here today and be able to hear about the real challenges in a real world and then be able to leave with some real solutions!”




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