During Microsoft's early years, Gates was an active software developer, particularly in the company's programming language products, but his primary role in most of the company's history was as a manager and executive. He has not officially been on a development team since working on the TRS-80 Model 100, but he wrote code that shipped with the company's products as late as 1989. Jerry Pournelle wrote in 1985 when Gates announced Microsoft Excel: "Bill Gates likes the program, not because it's going to make him a lot of money (although I'm sure it will do that), but because it's a neat hack."
Gates studied the work of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller, and donated some of his Microsoft stock in 1994 to create the "William H. Gates Foundation". In 2000, Gates and his wife combined three family foundations and Gates donated stock valued at $5 billion to create the charitable Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which was identified by the Funds for NGOs company in 2013, as the world's wealthiest charitable foundation, with assets reportedly valued at more than $34.6 billion. The foundation allows benefactors to access information that shows how its money is being spent, unlike other major charitable organizations such as the Wellcome Trust. Gates, through his foundation, also donated $20 million to Carnegie Mellon University for a new building to be named Gates Center for Computer Science which opened in 2009.
Gates has credited the generosity and extensive philanthropy of David Rockefeller as a major influence. Gates and his father met with Rockefeller several times, and their charity work is partly modeled on the Rockefeller family's philanthropic focus, whereby they are interested in tackling the global problems that are ignored by governments and other organizations. As of 2007[update], Bill and Melinda Gates were the second-most generous philanthropists in America, having given over $28 billion to charity; the couple plan to eventually donate 95% of their wealth to charity.
Gates's public image has changed over the years. At first he was perceived as a brilliant but ruthless "robber baron", a "nerd-turned-tycoon". Starting in 2000 with the foundation of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and particularly after he stepped down as head of Microsoft, he turned his attention to philanthropy, spending more than $50 billion on causes like health, poverty, and education. His image morphed from "tyrannical technocrat to saintly savior" to a "huggable billionaire techno-philanthropist", celebrated on magazine covers and sought after for his opinions on major issues like global health and climate change. Still another shift in public opinion came in 2021 with the announcement that he and Melinda were divorcing. Coverage of that proceeding brought out information about romantic pursuits of women who worked for him, a long-term extra-marital affair, and a friendship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. This information and his response to the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in some deterioration of his public image, going from "a lovable nerd who was out to save the world" to "a tech supervillain who wants to protect profits over public health."
A 2019 New York Times article reported that Gates's relationship with financier Jeffrey Epstein started in 2011, just a few years after Epstein's conviction for procuring a child for prostitution, and continued for some years, including a visit to Epstein's house with Melinda in the fall of 2013, despite her declared discomfort. Gates said in 2011 about Epstein: "His lifestyle is very different and kind of intriguing although it would not work for me".
By Nick Mulvenney GOLD COAST, Australia (Reuters) - Organisers have urged athletes in Australia for the Commonwealth Games to respect the terms of their entry visas after the Cameroon team reported five of their competitors had gone missing. The accreditation to major multi-sports Games acts as a short-term visa to the host country and more than 100 athletes overstayed after the 2000 Sydney Olympics. Organising committee chairman Peter Beattie said they had worked hard with the Australian government on the entry system and he "encouraged" the 6,000 visiting athletes and officials not to breach the terms of their visas. "I would simply say enjoy Australia while you are here, this includes Cameroon and any other athletes, stay within the law and be mindful of the fact that there is a system in place in this country," he told a news conference on Wednesday. "We would appreciate them sticking within the law, enjoying themselves, but sticking within the law. If they are thinking of doing anything other, I would encourage them not to do it." Fairfax media reported earlier on Wednesday that the Cameroon team had told Queensland Police five male athletes, two boxers and three weightlifters, had gone missing from the Athletes' Village. No one was available to comment at the Cameroon team on Wednesday. Queensland Police told Reuters it was a "matter for the Cameroon Commonwealth Games Association to address" until such point that the athletes overstayed their visas. That one of the Cameroon boxers, Christian Ndzie Tsoye, had failed to turn up for his men's 91kg quarter-final bout on Tuesday particularly saddened Commonwealth Games Federation chief David Grevemberg. "I think it's disappointing that athletes that have come didn't compete as they were scheduled to compete," he said. "(But) I think it's important to remember that these athletes are guests and within their visas they have the right to travel freely, but this is obviously an issue that Team Cameroon is monitoring very closely." Illegal immigration is a highly contentious political issue in Australia and Peter Dutton, the country's home affairs minister, issued a warning to athletes in January that they would be deported if they overstayed. "It happens at every Games and it's not a surprise," Beattie added. "There are mechanisms in place and they haven't breached their visas. If there is a breach then Peter Dutton and his department will deal with it. "I don't to be too blase about it but there are mechanisms to deal with it and it will be dealt with in the right way by that department. "We're organising a sporting event, if there are breaches of visas, they will deal with it." (Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook in Sydney, editing by Peter Rutherford)
Negotiators were joined in Paris by a group of billionaires, including Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who announced major donations to help reduce emissions, develop alternative sources of energy, and aid developing countries that will be most affected by climate change. Conference organizers hope that commitment from the business community, coupled with the pledge by 20 countries, including the United States, to double their investments in new energy technology to $20 billion over the next five years, will convince developing countries that they will get critical assistance in moving their economies away from carbon dependence.
Japan relaxes Southeast Asia loan requirements to compete with China on infrastructure projects. Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe on November 20 announced that the government would halve the time needed to approve infrastructure loans and will ease insurance requirements on grants to public organizations with government involvement. The announcement is seen as a countermeasure to China since the two countries are competing for contracts on regional high-speed rail and other infrastructure projects. China recently pledged to add $10 billion to its funding pool.
Press Conference of the President Video Presidential Remarks Audio Photos En Español 10:05 A.M. ESTTHE PRESIDENT:Good morning. Laura and I, as you know, recently came backfrom Africa, where we saw firsthand how the Emergency Plan for AIDS Reliefis saving lives. I had a chance to go to the -- speak to the SullivanFoundation the other day about our trip, and the reason I did so was toremind the American people about how important it is for our nation toremain generous and compassionate when it comes to helping people overseas.I also, during my trip, urged Congress to reauthorize the Emergency Planand increase our commitment, and they did. They approved a good,bipartisan bill, that maintains the principles that have made this programeffective. And so I want to thank acting Chairman Howard Berman andRanking Member Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, and all the members of the Committeefor the action they took. This afternoon they're going to come down andI'll be able to thank them in person -- I'm going to brief them on thetrip. Obviously, our hope is now that the House will act quickly and sendthe bill reauthorizing PEPFAR to the Senate, and I'd like to sign it intolaw as quickly as possible.Members should also act on a very urgent priority, and that is to passlegislation our intelligence officials need to quickly and effectivelymonitor terrorist communications. At issue is a dispute over whethertelecommunications companies should be subjected to class-action lawsuitsbecause they are believed to have helped defend America after the attacksof 9/11. Allowing these lawsuits to proceed would be unfair. If any ofthese companies helped us, they did so after being told by our governmentthat their assistance was legal and vital to our national security.Allowing the lawsuits to proceed could aid our enemies, because thelitigation process could lead to the disclosure of information about how weconduct surveillance, and it would give al Qaeda and others a roadmap as tohow to avoid the surveillance.Allowing these lawsuits to proceed couldmake it harder to track the terrorists, because private companies besiegedby and fearful of lawsuits would be less willing to help us quickly get theinformation we need. Without the cooperation of the private sector, wecannot protect our country from terrorist attack.Protecting these companies from lawsuits is not a partisan issue. Republicans and Democrats in the United States Senate came together andpassed a good bill, protecting private companies from these abusivelawsuits. And Republicans and Democrats in the House stand ready to passthe Senate bill, if House leaders would only stop blocking an up or downvote and let the majority in the House prevail.Some in Congress have said we have nothing to worry about, because if welose the cooperation of the private sector we can use the old FISA law. They're wrong.FISA was out of date. It did not allow us to track foreignterrorists on foreign soil quickly and effectively. And that is why adangerous intelligence gap opened up last year, and that is why Congresspassed legislation that reformed FISA -- but they did so only temporarily. The law expired; the threat to America has not expired.Congress understood last year that FISA did not give our intelligenceprofessionals the tools they needed to keep us safe. The Senateunderstands that the FISA -- old FISA didn't give us the tools needed toprotect America. The bipartisan bill it passed provides those tools ourintelligence professionals need. Yet the House's failure to pass this lawraises the risk of reopening a gap in our intelligence gathering, and thatis dangerous.Another vital priority for protecting the nation is prevailing in Iraq. Unfortunately, this week the Senate debated yet another bill that threatensto cut off funding and tie the hands of our commanders in Iraq. It seemsthat no matter what happens in Iraq opponents to the war have one answer: Retreat. When things were going badly in Iraq a year ago, they called forwithdrawal. Then we changed our strategy, launched the surge and turnedthe situation around. Since the surge began, high-profile terroristattacks are down, civilian deaths are down, sectarian killings are down,and our own casualties are down. U.S. and Iraqi forces have captured orkilled thousands of extremists, including hundreds of key al Qaedaoperatives and leaders. Reconciliation is taking place in localcommunities across the country. That reconciliation is beginning totranslate into political progress in the capital city.In the face of these changes on the ground, congressional leaders are stillsounding the same old call for withdrawal. I guess you could say that whenit comes for pushing for withdrawal, their strategy is to stay the course. It's interesting that many of the same people who once accused me ofrefusing to acknowledge setbacks in Iraq now are the ones who are refusingto acknowledge progress in Iraq. If we followed their advice a year ago,Iraq would be a far different and more dangerous place than it is today. And the American people would be at greater risk.If we follow their advice now, we would put at risk the gains our troopshave made over the past year. Congress does need to act when it comes toIraq. What they need to do is stand by our brave men and women in uniformand fully fund the troops.Finally, Congress needs to act to help homeowners avoid foreclosure. Unfortunately, the Senate is considering legislation that would do more tobail out lenders and speculators than to help American families keep theirhomes.The Senate bill would actually prolong the time it takes for thehousing market to adjust and recover and it would lead to higher interestrates.This would be unfair to the millions of homeowners who make thehard choices every month to pay their mortgage on time and it would beunfair to future home buyers. Instead, Congress should move ahead withresponsible legislation to modernize the Federal Housing Administration andFannie Mae and Freddie Mac. By taking these steps we can help strugglinghomeowners and help our economy weather the difficult time in the housingmarket.I'd be glad to take some questions. Terry.Q Mr. President, bad economic news continues to pile up, the latesttoday with the GDP barely growing. Are you concerned that a saggingeconomy and hard times will help defeat John McCain, like it did yourfather in 1992? And how far are you willing to go to prevent that?THE PRESIDENT:I'm concerned about the economy because I'm concerned aboutworking Americans, concerned about people who want to put money on thetable and save for their kids' education. That's why I'm concerned aboutthe economy. I want Americans working.And there's no question the economy has slowed down. You just citedanother example of slowdown. I don't think we're headed to a recession,but no question we're in a slowdown. And that's why we acted, and actedstrongly, with over $150 billion worth of pro-growth economic incentives --mainly money going into the hands of our consumers. And some money goingto incent businesses to invest, which will create jobs.And so we acted robustly. And now it's time to determine whether or notthis pro-growth package will actually work. Now, the checks will startgoing out in the second week of May. There are going to be letters outsoon explaining who is eligible for the refunds. Credit will happen in thefirst week of May. In other words, some people will choose to have theirbank accounts credited. And in the second week of May, we anticipate thechecks start moving out of Washington.And the purpose is to encourage our consumers.The purpose is to give themmoney -- their own to begin with, by the way -- but give them money to helpdeal with the adverse effects of the decline in housing value.Consumerismis a significant part of our GDP growth, and we want to sustain theAmerican consumer, encourage the American consumer and, at the same time,we want to encourage investment. So we'll see how the plan works.Q But the political context --THE PRESIDENT:You're trying to get me to be the pundit again. Look, youall figure that out. I mean, we've -- what I'm dealing with is thesituation at hand, and I appreciate that -- both Democrats and Republicansin the United States Congress and Senate for getting this bill done veryquickly. And it's a substantial piece of legislation, and it's a good signthat we can figure out how to cooperate with each other at times.And so we'll see the effects of this pro-growth package. I know there's alot of -- here in Washington, people are trying to -- stimulus package twoand all that stuff. Why don't we let stimulus package one, which seemedlike a good idea at the time, have a chance to kick in?Yes.Q Mr. President, Turkey's ground offensive in northern Iraq is now aweek old with no end in sight.How quickly would you like to see Turkeyend its offenses, its incursion? And do you have any concerns about thepossibility of protracted presence in northern Iraq causing furtherdestabilization in the region?THE PRESIDENT:A couple of points on that. One, the Turks, the Americans,and the Iraqis, including the Iraqi Kurds, share a common enemy in the PKK. And secondly, it's in nobody's interests that there be safe haven forpeople who are -- have the willingness to kill innocent people.A second point I want to make to you, Matt, is that there is a specialforces presence in northern Iraq -- in Kurdistan -- now, apart from whatyou're referring to. So there is a presence. And there has been apresence for a while.Thirdly, I strongly agree with the sentiments of Secretary Gates, who saidthat the incursion must be limited, and must be temporary in nature. Inother words, it shouldn't be long-lasting. But the Turks need to movequickly, achieve their objective, and get out.Q But how quickly, sir, do they need to move out?THE PRESIDENT:You know, as quickly as possible.Q Days or weeks?THE PRESIDENT:Well, as possible.Q Sir, I'd like to ask you about Russia. The Democratic candidates,when asked about the new Russian leader, Dmitry Medvedev, didn't appear toknow a great deal about him. I wonder what you can say about him, how muchpower you think he's really got, with Putin still in the picture? Andcritics would say you badly misjudged Vladimir Putin. So what would beyour cautionary tale to your successor about the threat Russia poses, andhow to deal with this new leader?THE PRESIDENT:I don't know much about Medvedev either. And what will beinteresting to see is who comes to the -- who represents Russia at the G8,for example. It will be interesting to see -- it will help, I think, givesome insight as to how Russia intends to conduct foreign policy afterVladimir Putin's presidency. And I can't answer the question yet.I can say that it's in our interests to continue to have relations withRussia. For example, on proliferation matters, it's in our interest to beable to make sure that materials that could cause great harm aren'tproliferated. It's in our interest to work together on Iran. As I said Ithink in this room the last time I was here, I appreciated the fact thatVladimir Putin told the Iranians that they will provide -- they, Russia --will provide enriched uranium to run the Bushehr power plant, therebynegating the need for the Iranians to enrich in the first place. I thoughtthat was a constructive suggestion, and we need to be in a position to beable to work with Russia on Iran.There's a lot of areas where -- yesterday, for example, with the PrimeMinister of the Czech Republic, I talked about a missile defense system inEurope, but I believe it's in our interests to try to figure out a way forthe Russians to understand the system is not aimed at them, but aimed atthe real threats of the 21st century, which could be a launch from aviolent regime -- a launch of a weapon of mass destruction.So there's areas, David, where we need to cooperate and -- let me finish --and so it's -- I'm going to try to leave it so whoever my successor is willbe able to have a relationship with whoever is running foreign policy inRussia. It's in the country's interest. That doesn't mean we have toagree all the time. I mean, obviously we didn't agree on Kosovo. Therewill be other areas where we don't agree. And yet it is in the interest ofthe country to have a relationship, leader to leader, and hopefully beyondthat.Q But first of all, are you suggesting, or are you worried that, infact, Medvedev is a puppet for Vladimir Putin?And --THE PRESIDENT:No, I wouldn't say that. That's your conclusion, not mine.Q No, I'm asking the question about whether you're concerned. But isn'tthere something you took away that you can offer to your successor abouthow it's risky in the process of sizing up your Russian counterpart? Don'tyou think that you learned something from your time with Putin?THE PRESIDENT:Here's what I learned -- here's what I learned: I learnedthat it's important to establish personal relations with leaders eventhough you may not agree with them -- certain leaders.I'm not going tohave a personal relationship with Kim Jong-il, and our relationships aresuch that that's impossible.But U.S.-Russian relations are important. It's important for stability. It's important for our relations in Europe. And therefore my advice is toestablish a personal relationship with whoever is in charge of foreignpolicy in Russia. It's in our country's interest to do so.Now, it makes it easier, by the way, when there's a trustworthyrelationship, to be able to disagree and yet maintain common interests inother areas. And so we've had our disagreements. As you know, Putin is astraightforward, pretty tough character when it comes to his interests. Well, so am I.And we've had some head-butts, diplomatic head-butts. Youmight remember the trip to Slovakia. I think you were there at the famouspress conference. But -- and yet, in spite of that, our differences ofopinion, we still have got a cordial enough relationship to be able to dealwith common threats and opportunities.And that's going to be importantfor the next President to maintain.Yes, Jonathan.Q Mr. President, do you believe if we have the kind of rapid pull-outfrom Iraq that Democrats are talking about, that we would be at greaterrisk of a terrorist attack here at home? And when Senator Obama was askeda similar question, he said, "If al Qaeda is forming a base in Iraq, thenwe will have to act in a way that secures the American homeland and ourinterests abroad." So I'm wondering if --THE PRESIDENT:That's an interesting comment.If al Qaeda is securing aal Qaeda base -- yes, well, that's exactly what they've been trying to dofor the past four years. That's their stated intention, was to createenough chaos and disorder to establish a base from which to either launchattacks or spread a caliphate.And the intent of the surge was to sendmore Marines into the area that -- where they had proclaimed their desireto set up a base. That was Anbar province. And so, yes, that's one of thechallenges we face, is denying al Qaeda a safe haven anywhere.And theirintentions -- that's what they said, that they would like to have a base orsafe haven in Anbar province.Yes, Bill.Q But --THE PRESIDENT:No, next turn.Q But the question about --THE PRESIDENT:Nice try. (Laughter.)Q Mr. President --THE PRESIDENT:You obviously haven't been here long.John, where have you been, Jonathan? (Laughter.)Q Across the river.THE PRESIDENT:Yes, okay, yes. Welcome to the other side. (Laughter.)Q You can get the Congress to protect telecom companies from lawsuits,but then there's no recourse for Americans who feel that they've beencaught up in this. I know it's not intended to spy on Americans, but inthe collection process, information about everybody gets swept up and thenit gets sorted. So if Americans don't have any recourse, are you justtelling them, when it comes to their privacy, to suck it up?THE PRESIDENT:I wouldn't put it that way, if I were you, in public. Well, you've been long been long enough to -- anyway, yes, I -- look,there's -- people who analyze the program fully understand that America'scivil liberties are well protected. There is a constant check to make surethat our civil liberties of our citizens aren't -- you know, are treatedwith respect. And that's what I want, and that's what most -- allAmericans want.Now let me talk about the phone companies. You cannot expect phonecompanies to participate if they feel like they're going to be sued. Imean, it is -- these people are responsible for shareholders; they'reprivate companies. The government said to those who have alleged to havehelped us that it is in our national interests and it's legal.It's in ournational interests because we want to know who's calling who from overseasinto America. We need to know in order to protect the people.It was legal. And now, all of a sudden, plaintiffs attorneys, class-actionplaintiffs attorneys, you know -- I don't want to try to get inside theirhead; I suspect they see, you know, a financial gravy train -- are tryingto sue these companies. First, it's unfair. It is patently unfair. Andsecondly, these lawsuits create doubts amongst those who will -- whose helpwe need.I guess you could be relaxed about all this if you didn't think there was atrue threat to the country. I know there's a threat to the country. Andthe American people expect our Congress to give the professionals the toolsthey need to listen to foreigners who may be calling into the United Stateswith information that could cause us great harm. So, on the one hand, thecivil liberties of our citizens are guaranteed by a lot of checks in thesystem, scrutinized by the United States Congress.And secondly, I cannot emphasize to you how important it is that theCongress solve this problem. The Senate has solved the problem. Andpeople say, would you ever compromise on the issue? The Senate bill is acompromise. And there's enough votes in the House of Representatives topass the Senate bill. It's a bipartisan bill.And the House leaders needto put it on the floor, let the will of the House work. In my judgment, ithappens to be the will of the people, to give the professionals the toolsthey need to protect the country.Elaine.Q Mr. President, you've stressed over and over in recent daysparticularly the importance of FISA reform to help keep America safe, andyet you have not yet filled a key national security post. Fran Townsendannounced her resignation months ago, in November. What is the delaythere, and what are Americans to make of that delay? Is America less safebecause of it?THE PRESIDENT:We got a fine man named Joel Bagnal working that officeright now. He's a professional. I trust his judgment. He's a real goodguy. And no, they shouldn't worry about Joel.He knows what he's doing.John.Q But, sir, the American --THE PRESIDENT:John.Q The Homeland Security Advisor is a key post. What's taking so long?THE PRESIDENT:Joel Bagnal has occupied the position, Elaine.He's doingthe job, and I've got confidence in him. And so should the American peoplehave confidence in him. He's a fine professional. He knows what he'sdoing.And I'm very comfortable in saying, on your cameras, that our staffin the White House, led by Joel Bagnal, knows what they're doing when itcomes to advising the President on matters of homeland security.John.Q Thanks, Mr. President. There's been a lot of criticism on thecampaign trail of free trade policies and even talk about the U.S. optingout of NAFTA. And it doesn't seem that you want to discuss the prospectsof Republican candidates on the campaign trail this year, but --THE PRESIDENT:Not yet.Q Not yet. But just given all the concerns about the economy thatpeople have, do you feel like you could win in a state like Ohio if youwere running again for President?THE PRESIDENT:Landslide. (Laughter.) Look, I am a big believer in freetrade.And the reason why is I firmly believe that free trade is essentialto the formation of high-paying, quality jobs.In other words, people whowork for industries that export goods to overseas are likely to be paidmore than their -- other workers.Secondly, if you look at the -- our economic growth recently, particularlylast year, a major portion of that growth came as a result of exports. It's an essential part of our economic picture.Yes, I heard the talk about NAFTA. One statistic I think people need toknow is I think there's roughly like $380 billion worth of goods that weship to our NAFTA partners on an annual basis.Now, $380 billion worth ofgoods means there's a lot of farmers and businesses, large and small, whoare benefiting from having a market in our neighborhood. And the idea ofjust unilaterally withdrawing from a trade treaty because of trying toscore political points is not good policy. It's not good policy on themerits, and it's not good policy as a message to send to our -- people whohave, in good faith, signed a treaty and worked with us on a treaty.Thirdly, those of us who grew up in Texas remember what the border lookedlike when we were kids, and it was really poor. And you go down to thatborder today, it is prosperous on both sides of the river, to the credit ofthose who proposed NAFTA, and to the credit of those who got NAFTA throughthe Congress. If you're worried about people coming into our countryillegally, it makes sense to help a place like Mexico grow its economy. Most folks would rather be finding a job close to home; most folks wouldrather not try to get in the bottom of an 18-wheeler to come and put foodon the table.This agreement has meant prosperity on both sides of our borders, north andsouth.And I believe it's in the interests to continue to seek markets forour farmers, ranchers and businesspeople. I also know it's in our interestto insist that when people sell products into our countries [sic], that weget treated fairly. In other words, if we treat a country one way, peoplein a country one way, we expect to be treated the same way -- likeColombia.The Colombia Free Trade vote is coming up. Many of their products comeinto our country much easier than our products go into theirs.It makessense to be treated equally. But on this vote, there's an additionalconsequence. If the Congress rejects the Colombia Free Trade Agreement, itwill sorely affect the national security interests of the United States. It will encourage false populism in our neighborhood. It will underminethe standing of courageous leaders like President Uribe. And I stronglyurge the Congress, when they bring this -- when the Colombia Free TradeAgreement is brought to a vote, to seriously consider the consequences ofrejecting this trade agreement.Mike.Q Mr. President, on FISA, do you worry that perhaps some HouseDemocratic leaders are playing a high-stakes game of "wait and see," interms of if we get attacked, we all lose; if we don't get attacked, thenmaybe that makes the case that you don't need all the powers in FISA?THE PRESIDENT:No, I don't think so. I mean, I think that's -- that wouldbe ascribing motives that are -- I just don't they're the motives of theHouse leaders to do that. I think they're really wrestling with providingliability protecting to phone companies. I don't think that's cynical ordevious, Michael. That's just too risky.A lot of these leaders understand that there is an enemy that wants toattack. The caucus, evidently, in the House -- the Democratic Caucus --is, you know, concerned about exactly Plante's question, you know. And Ijust can't tell you how important it is to not alienate, or not discourage,these phone companies.How can you listen to the enemy if the phone companies aren't going toparticipate with you? And they're not going to participate if they getsued. Let me rephrase -- less likely to participate. And they're facingbillions of dollars of lawsuits, and they have a responsibility to theirshareholders. And yet they were told what they were going to do is legal.And anyway, I'm going to keep talking about the issue, Mike. This is animportant issue for the American people to understand.And it's importantfor them to understand that no renewal of the Patriot Act -- I mean, theProtect America Act -- is dangerous for the security of the country, justdangerous.I'm sure people, if they really pay attention to the details of thisdebate, wonder why it was okay to pass the Protect America Act last summer,late last summer, and all of a sudden it's not okay to pass it now. And soI will keep talking about the issue, and talking about the issue.Michael.Q Thank you, Mr. President.I'd like to ask you about another issuethat's kind of come up on the campaign trail, in terms of discussion, whichis, this is a point of view that has been espoused, that we would be betteroff if we talked to our adversaries, in particular, Iran and Cuba, youknow, without preconditions. And as President, you have obviouslyconsidered and rejected this approach.And I'm wondering if you can giveus a little insight into your thinking about this, and just explain to theAmerican people what is lost by talking with those when we disagree?THE PRESIDENT:What's lost by embracing a tyrant who puts his people inprison because of their political beliefs? What's lost is it will send thewrong message.It will send a discouraging message to those who wonderwhether America will continue to work for the freedom of prisoners. Itwill give great status to those who have suppressed human rights and humandignity.I'm not suggesting there's never a time to talk, but I'm suggesting now isnot the time -- not to talk with Raul Castro. He's nothing more than anextension of what his brother did, which was to ruin an island, andimprison people because of their beliefs.I had these wives of these dissidents come and see me, and their storiesare just unbelievably sad. And it just goes to show how repressive theCastro brothers have been, when you listen to the truth about what theysay. And the idea of embracing a leader who's done this without anyattempt on his part to release prisoners and free their society would becounterproductive and send the wrong signal.Q No one is saying embrace him, they're just saying talk --THE PRESIDENT:Well, talking to him is embracing. Excuse me.Let me useanother word -- you're right, "embrace" is like big hug, right? You'relooking -- I do embrace people. Mike, one of these days, I'm just thinkingabout -- (laughter.) Right, okay, good, thank you for reminding me to usea different word. Sitting down at the table, having your picture takenwith a tyrant such as Raul Castro, for example, lends the status of theoffice and the status of our country to him. He gains a lot from it bysaying, look at me, I'm now recognized by the President of the UnitedStates.Now, somebody would say, well, I'm going to tell him to release theprisoners. Well, it's a theory that all you got to do is embrace and thesetyrants act. That's not how they act.That's not what causes them torespond. And so I made a decision quite the opposite, and that is to keepsaying to the Cuban people, we stand with you; we will not sit down withyour leaders that imprison your people because of what they believe; wewill keep an embargo on you; we do want you to have money from people herein the homeland, but we will stay insistent upon this policy until youbegin to get free.And so that's the way I've conducted foreign policy, and will continue toconduct foreign policy. I just remind people that the decisions of theU.S. President to have discussions with certain international figures canbe extremely counterproductive. It can send chilling signals and messagesto our allies; it can send confusion about our foreign policy; itdiscourages reformers inside their own country. And in my judgment, itwould be a mistake -- on the two countries you talked about.Sheryl.Q Mr. President, thank you.I want to bring you back to Senator Obama'scomment on Iraq. Do you believe that his comment was naive?THE PRESIDENT:I believe Senator Obama better stay focused on his campaignwith Senator Clinton, neither of whom has secured their party's nominee yet-- nomination yet. And my party's nomination hasn't been decided yeteither. And so there will be ample time to discuss whoever their candidate-- the positions of whoever their candidate is.Nice try, Sheryl. Would you like to try another tact, another question?Q Well, you said it was an interesting comment. Okay, I'll follow onit. About Iraq, you have said in the past -- (laughter) -- that you wantto leave a sustainable policy --THE PRESIDENT:Yes.Q Wait a minute --Q I'd like to have another question.THE PRESIDENT:Okay.Q You want to leave your --THE PRESIDENT:Well, it was just -- give her -- should we vote on whethershe gets another question? (Laughter.)Q You've said, Mr. President, that you want to leave Iraq in asustainable situation --THE PRESIDENT:Yes, I do.Q -- at the end of your administration. Can you describe for usspecifically what do you mean by "sustainable"? Do you have specific goalsand objectives that in your mind would meet the criteria of sustainability?THE PRESIDENT:Yes, which is to keep enough troops there so we cansucceed. And David Petraeus will -- for example, David Petraeus will comeback, along with Ryan Crocker, here later on this spring and will make arecommendation as to what those troop levels ought to be.The idea of having a request by the Iraqi government for a long-termsecurity agreement is part of sustainability. And obviously we're going tobe pushing hard at the same time to get the political process movingforward.I don't know if you noticed yesterday, but it was a very interesting momentin Iraqi constitutional history, when part of the -- a member of thepresidency council utilized his constitutional right to veto one of thethree pieces of legislation recently passed. I understand the use of theveto, intend to continue to use it, but I thought it was a healthy signthat people are thinking through the legislation that's passed, and they'reworrying about making sure that laws are constitutional. And I feel prettygood about the fact that they're, of course, going to continue to work tomake sure that their stated objective of getting provincial elections doneby October of 2008 will happen.So there's going to be a lot of -- my only point is sustainability ispolitical, economic and security.Yes, Ed.Q Good morning, sir.THE PRESIDENT:Yes, thank you.Q If I could get back to the economy. The GDP numbers today show thatour economy is increasingly relying on U.S. exports to keep growing. Howimportant is a competitive dollar in keeping U.S. exports strong?THE PRESIDENT:We believe in a strong dollar policy, and we believe that-- and I believe that our economy has got the fundamentals in place for usto be a -- is to grow and continue growing more robustly, hopefully, thanwe're growing now. And the dollar, the value of the dollar will bereflected in the ability for our economy to be -- to grow economically. And so we're still for a strong dollar.Q Can I follow up on that, sir?THE PRESIDENT:Maybe.Q The --THE PRESIDENT:I guess you are -- I haven't said yes.(Laughter.)Q What's your advice to the average American who is hurting now, facingthe prospect of $4 a gallon gasoline, a lot of people facing --THE PRESIDENT:Wait, what did you just say? You're predicting $4 a gallongasoline?Q A number of analysts are predicting --THE PRESIDENT:Oh, yeah?Q -- $4 a gallon gasoline this spring when they reformulate.THE PRESIDENT:That's interesting. I hadn't heard that.Q Yes, sir.THE PRESIDENT:Yes. I know it's high now.Q And the other economic problems facing people. Beyond your concernthat you stated here, and your expectations for these stimulus checks, whatkind of hope can you offer to people who are in dire straits?THE PRESIDENT:Permanent tax -- keep the tax cuts permanent, for starters. There's a lot of economic uncertainty. You just said that. You just saidthe price of gasoline may be up to $4 a gallon -- or some expert told youthat -- and that creates a lot of uncertainty if you're out there wonderingwhether or not -- you know, what your life is going to be like and you'relooking at $4 a gallon, that's uncertain. And when you couple with theidea that taxes may be going up in a couple of years, that's doubleuncertainty. And therefore one way to deal with uncertainty is forCongress to make the tax cuts permanent.Secondly, it's -- people got to understand that our energy policy needs tobe focused on a lot of things -- one, renewables, which is fine, which Istrongly support, as you know; two, conservation. But we need to befinding more oil and gas at home if we're worried about becoming dependenton oil overseas. And this -- I view it as a transitory period to newtechnologies that will change the way we live, but we haven't built arefinery in a long time. We're expanding refineries, but we haven't builta refinery in a long time. I strongly suggested to the Congress that webuild refineries on old military bases, but, no, it didn't pass. But ifyou've got less supply of something, as demand continues to stay steady orgrow, your price is going to go up.Secondly, on oil, we -- the more oil we find at home, the better off we'regoing to be in terms of the short-run.And yet our policy is, you know,let us not explore robustly in places like ANWR. And there areenvironmental concerns, and I understand that.I also know there'stechnologies that should mitigate these environmental concerns. They got abill up there in Congress now.Their attitude is, let's tax oil companies. Well, all that's going to do is make the price even higher. We ought tobe encouraging investment in oil and gas close to home if we're trying tomitigate the problems we face right now.And so, yes, there's a lot of uncertainty, and I'm concerned about theuncertainty. Hopefully this pro-growth package will help -- this, onehundred -- I think it's $147 billion that will be going out the door,starting electronically in the first week of May, and through check in thesecond week of May. And the idea is to help our consumers deal with theuncertainty you're talking about. But, yes, no question about it, it's adifficult period.Yes, Ken.Q Thank you, sir. Now that you've found a location for yourpresidential library, you've got to find the money to build it. Reportsindicate that you may be trying to collect as much as $200 million. Isthat figure accurate? Do you believe it's important for the Americanpeople to know who is giving that kind of money to their President? Willyou disclose the contributions as they come in? And will you place anyrestriction on who gives money and how much they can give?THE PRESIDENT:No, yes, no, yes. (Laughter.)Next question.(Laughter.) I haven't -- phew, man. You obviously haven't asked a question in a longtime. It was like, you know, -- one, I haven't seen the final budget. Two, as Donnie Evans said, who is the chairman of the foundation, we'lllook at the disclosure requirements and make a decision. You know, here's-- there's a lot of people -- or some people; I shouldn't say "a lot" --some people who like to give and don't particularly want their namesdisclosed, whether it be for this foundation or any other foundation. Andso we'll take that into consideration.Thirdly -- and what was the other?Q Any restrictions on who can give?Will you take foreign money forthis?THE PRESIDENT:Yes, I'll probably take some foreign money, but don't knowyet, Ken. We just haven't -- we just announced the deal and I, frankly,have been focused elsewhere, like on gasoline prices and, you know, my tripto Africa, and haven't seen the fundraising strategy yet. So the answer toyour question, really, I can't answer your question well.Q Where does the people's right to know this fit into all that?THE PRESIDENT:We're weighing, taking a look, taking consideration, givingit a serious consideration. Nice try, though.Olivier.Q Thank you, sir. In China a former factory worker who says that humanrights are more important than the Olympics is being tried for subversion. What message does it send that you're going to the Olympics, and do youthink athletes there should be allowed to publicly express their dissent?THE PRESIDENT:Olivier, I have made it very clear, I'm going to theOlympics because it's a sporting event, and I'm looking forward to seeingthe athletic competition. But that will not preclude me from meeting withthe Chinese President, expressing my deep concerns about a variety ofissues -- just like I do every time I meet with the President.And maybe I'm in a little different position. Others don't have a chanceto visit with Hu Jintao, but I do. And every time I meet with him I talkabout religious freedom and the importance of China's society recognizingthat if you're allowed to worship freely, it will benefit the society as awhole; that the Chinese government should not fear the idea of peoplepraying to a god as they see fit. A whole society, a healthy society, aconfident society is one that recognizes the value of religious freedom.I talk about Darfur and Iran and Burma. And so I am not the least bit shyof bringing up the concerns expressed by this factory worker, and I believethat I'll have an opportunity to do so with the President and, at the sametime, enjoy a great sporting event. I'm a sports fan.I'm looking forwardto the competition. And each Olympic society will make its own decision asto how to deal with the athletes.Yes, Mark.Q Mr. President, back to the oil price -- tax breaks that you weretalking about a minute ago. Back when oil was $55 dollars a barrel, yousaid those tax breaks were not needed; people had plenty of incentive todrill for oil.Now the price of oil is $100 a barrel and you're planningto threaten a plan that would shift those tax breaks to renewables.THE PRESIDENT:I talked about some -- some of the breaks. And this is a-- this generally is a tax increase, and it doesn't make any sense to do itright now. We need to be exploring for more oil and gas. And taking moneyout of the coffers of the oil companies will make it harder for them toreinvest. I know -- they say, well, look at all of the profits. Well,we're raising the price of gasoline in a time when the price of gasoline ishigh.Secondly, we've invested a lot of money in renewables.This administrationhas done more for renewables than any President. Now, we got a problemwith renewables, and that is the price of corn is beginning to affect food-- cost of food, and it's hurting hog farmers and a lot of folks. And thebest way to deal with renewables is to focus on research and developmentthat will enable us to use other raw material to produce ethanol. I'm astrong believe in ethanol, Mark. This administration has got a greatrecord in it. But it is a -- I believe research and development is what'sgoing to make renewable fuels more effective.Again, I repeat, if you look at what's happened in corn out there, you'rebeginning to see the food issue and the energy issue collide. And so, tome, the best dollar spent is to continue to deal with cellulosic ethanol inorder to deal with this bottleneck right now. And secondly, the tax --yes, I said that a while ago -- on certain aspects, but the way I analyzethis bill is it's going to cost the consumers more money. And we need moreoil and gas being explored for; we need more drilling; we need lessdependence on foreign oil.And as I say, we're in a period of transition here in America, from a timewhere we were -- where we are oil and gas dependent, to, hopefully, a timewhere we got electric automobiles, and we're spending money to do that; atime when we're using more biofuels, and we've taken huge investments inthat; a time when we've got nuclear power plants and we're able to dealwith the disposal in a way that brings confidence to the American people --so we're not dependent on natural gas to fire up our -- a lot of ourutilities, and a time when we can sequester coal.That's where we're headed for, but we've got to do something in theinterim. Otherwise, we're going to be dealing, as the man said, with $4gasoline. And so that's why I'm against that bill.I thank you. It's been a pleasure. Enjoyed being with you.Q Sir, do you think Hillary Clinton will be the nominee?THE PRESIDENT:Pardon me?Q You still think Hillary Clinton will be the nominee?THE PRESIDENT:I'm not talking about politics.Q You said that before, though --THE PRESIDENT:Trying to get me to be pundit-in-chief.Q Are they qualified to be commander-in-chief?THE PRESIDENT:I appreciate you doing that.Jackson -- Jackson, nice to see you. (Laughter.) Glad to see you back. (Laughter.)END10:51 A.M. 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