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October 24, 2014
06:52 PM EDT
This week, we continued to actively monitor Ebola, invited Americans to participate in a We the People Meet Up, took a look back at the first White House website, and took a critical step to help protect consumers’ financial security.
Photo of the Week
David HudsonOctober 24, 2014
06:17 PM EDT
While caring for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital earlier this month, 26-year-old nurse Nina Pham was also infected with the disease. After first being hospitalized at the Texas hospital, she was later transferred to the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland to continue treatment.
But today, 15 days after she first tested positive for Ebola, Nina was declared Ebola-free. Shortly after she left the hospital, President Obama welcomed her to the Oval Office.
Kori SchulmanOctober 24, 2014
06:06 PM EDT
Dr. Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), sat down to share an update on Ebola. Speaking from his office at NIH headquarters in Bethesda, MD, Dr. Fauci explains how Ebola spreads and what we’re doing to address it in the U.S. and in West Africa.
Take four minutes to get the facts from Dr. Fauci, then pass this video on.
Ashleigh AxiosOctober 24, 2014
05:53 PM EDT
Whether you noticed or not, WhiteHouse.gov casually turned 20 this past Tuesday. That’s right – it was two decades ago this week that the very first version of WhiteHouse.gov was introduced to the world by the first Clinton administration.
We understand that it may have been awhile since you reflected on how far our nation’s information infrastructure has come and how much the website of the president has changed, so we wanted to zoom out for a second, recap some of the highlights of how the WhiteHouse.gov has progressed, and forecast some future improvements that are currently under way.
October 24, 2014
03:27 PM EDT
In the United States of America, we invest less than 1 percent of our GDP in transportation infrastructure. We rank 28th in the world among advanced nations. We rank 28th in the world. The greatest country in the world ranks 28th in the world. And it costs in every way.
– Vice President Joe Biden
The Vice President has been traveling across the country, making the case that we need to invest in American infrastructure. Since 2009, the Obama administration has improved over 350,000 miles of roads, more than 6,000 miles of rail, and repaired or replaced over 20,000 bridges. As the Vice President says, “These are long-term investments in the health, the might and the dynamism of this country.”
But right now, 65 percent of our major roads are still rated in less than good condition, and 25 percent of our bridges require significant repair.
The world is not waiting, and the U.S. is lagging behind other advanced countries when it comes to total transportation investment.
Take a look at this chart to see where the U.S. ranks when it comes to investment in our basic infrastructure:
Secretary Tom VilsackOctober 24, 2014
02:09 PM EDT
This post is the first in a new series that will highlight the work happening across the President's cabinet on any given week. Check back each week -- we guarantee you'll learn something that surprises you.
Those of us who call rural America home know that there’s more to the rural economy than just farms and ranches. From bio-based products to rural manufacturing, the potential to grow and make innovative products in rural America is limitless. Most rural businesses are small ones -- and they support one in three jobs in rural America. Our loans and grants are helping those businesses thrive -- supporting reliable services like water, housing and broadband to make these same communities attract and retain a talented workforce. Collectively, these investments support the businesses and families that call America’s rural areas “home.” That's because we know that the better we equip those communities with the resources they need to succeed, the stronger our entire country's economy will be as a result.
I'm proud to report that the Department of Agriculture did several really important things to help rural communities across the country this week. Here's a run down on what we've been up to. Take a look, and if you learned something new -- pass it on.
Want to stay up to date with USDA? Follow along with us on Twitter at @USDA.
Cameron BrenchleyOctober 24, 2014
12:46 PM EDT
Last year, we launched “Of the People: Live from the White House,” a virtual field trip series with Discovery Education to give middle and high school students unique access to the White House and Obama administration officials.
On October 29, the “Of the People” series continues with a live cooking demonstration and a discussion about nutrition with Sam Kass, Executive Director of Let’s Move! and White House Senior Policy Advisor for Nutrition Policy.
Adam GarberOctober 23, 2014
07:05 PM EDT
This week, the President took action to make consumers' credit card transactions more secure, voted early at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Service Center in Chicago, welcomed the new Ebola Response Coordinator on his first day on the job, and talked science and tech with some of his top advisors. That's October 17 to October 23 or, "A Chip and PIN."
Ezra MechaberOctober 23, 2014
05:52 PM EDT
— WeThePeople (@wethepeople) October 23, 2014
On September 22, 2011, we launched We the People to give Americans a new way to petition their government around issues they care about. Since then, more than 15 million users have participated, collecting more than 22 million signatures on more than 360,000 petitions. And to celebrate its third birthday, we hosted our first-ever meetup for We the People users and petition creators right here at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Meetup participants toured the White House, then spent the afternoon across the street at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, where they discussed their experience using the petitions platform and heard from Administration officials.
During the afternoon session, they spoke with Megan Smith, the government's Chief Technology Officer, Paulette Aniskoff, Director of the Office of Public Engagement, and James Kvaal, Deputy Director of the Domestic Policy Council. Finally, the petition creators and signers capped off their day meeting with Press Secretary Josh Earnest to talk broadly about how new technologies have changed the way the government engages with media and with the public.
Check out their day at the White House below and over on Storify.
October 23, 2014
03:51 PM EDT
Ed. Note: This is cross-posted on the Department of Agriculture's blog. See the original post here.
Birthdays are truly special occasions, celebrating a milestone of achievement. This week, USDA’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children (better known as WIC) celebrates the program’s 40th anniversary, highlighting four decades of helping improve the lives of millions of infants and children across America.
Since the first WIC clinic opened in Pineville, KY, back in 1974, the program now provides services through almost 1,900 local agencies in all 50 states, 34 Tribal Organizations, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.
Leigh HeymanOctober 23, 2014
12:24 PM EDT
The White House petitions platform, We the People, just became more accessible and open than ever before. We are very excited to announce the launch of the "write" version of the Petitions Application Programming Interface, or "API."
Starting today, people can sign We the People petitions even when they’re not on WhiteHouse.gov. Now, users can also use third-party platforms, including other petitions services, or even their own websites or blogs. All of those signatures, once validated, will count towards a petition’s objective of meeting the 100,000-signature threshold needed for an official White House response.
We the People started with a simple goal: to give more Americans a way to reach their government. To date, the platform has been more successful than we could have imagined, with more than 16 million users creating and signing more than 360,000 petitions.
We launched our Write API beta test last year, and since then we’ve been hard at work, both internally and in collaboration with our beta test participants. Last spring, as part of the National Day of Civic Hacking, we hosted a hackathon right here at the White House, where our engineers spent a day sitting side-by-side with our beta testers to help get our code and theirs ready for the big day.
That big day has finally come.
Click here if you want to get started right away, or read on to learn more about the Petitions Write API.
October 23, 2014
10:20 AM EDT
When was the first White House website launched?
The first White House website went live under the Clinton administration 20 years ago in 1994, the same year we were born. As interns in the White House Office of Digital Strategy and children of the 90s, we grew up alongside the several updated versions of the White House website.
In a way, we’ve shared our awkward teenage years with the site -- including our transition from clip art to emoji, VHS to YouTube videos, and full sentences to 140 characters.
Tanya SomanaderOctober 22, 2014
07:29 PM EDT
The United States continues to lead a comprehensive effort to enhance our preparedness to respond to Ebola here at home, while also tackling the epidemic at its source in West Africa. From helping hospitals improve training and care to coordinating and contributing significant resources to fight the disease at its source, the Administration is working to help keep Americans safe.
Today, President Obama met with Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain and Administration officials to discuss the latest steps we're taking to prevent the spread of Ebola here at home. One way is through active monitoring, a procedure the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in coordination with local health authorities, is putting in place to ensure travelers from the affected countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea will report their temperature and symptoms to health officials for 21 days. The CDC will work with state and local officials of six states -- New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Georgia, which are the destinations for the majority of travelers from the three countries -- to actively monitor them.
October 22, 2014
03:15 PM EDT
Today, President Obama wished a Happy Diwali to all those who celebrate the festival of lights.
In 2009, President Obama became the first U.S. president to celebrate the festival of lights, a time of rejoicing for many in the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community and across the world.
Tanya SomanaderOctober 22, 2014
02:03 PM EDT
After speaking with Prime Minister Stephen Harper by phone, President Obama made the following statement on the tragic shootings in Ottawa, Canada:
"I had a chance to talk with Prime Minister Harper this afternoon. Obviously, the situation there is tragic. Just two days ago, a Canadian soldier had been killed in an attack. We now know that another young man was killed today. And I expressed on behalf of the American people our condolences to the family and to the Canadian people as a whole.
We don’t yet have all the information about what motivated the shooting. We don’t yet have all the information about whether this was part of a broader network or plan, or whether this was an individual or series of individuals who decided to take these actions. But it emphasizes the degree to which we have to remain vigilant when it comes to dealing with these kinds of acts of senseless violence or terrorism. And I pledged, as always, to make sure that our national security teams are coordinating very closely, given not only is Canada one of our closest allies in the world but they’re our neighbors and our friends, and obviously there’s a lot of interaction between Canadians and the United States, where we have such a long border.
And it’s very important I think for us to recognize that when it comes to dealing with terrorist activity, that Canada and the United States has to be entirely in sync. We have in the past; I’m confident we will continue to do so in the future. And Prime Minister Harper was very appreciative of the expressions of concern by the American people.
I had a chance to travel to the Parliament in Ottawa. I’m very familiar with that area and am reminded of how warmly I was received and how wonderful the people there were. And so obviously we’re all shaken by it, but we’re going to do everything we can to make sure that we’re standing side by side with Canada during this difficult time."
Lindsay HolstOctober 22, 2014
01:39 PM EDT
President Barack Obama awards the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom to Ben Bradlee during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House, Nov. 20, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)
When he retired as executive editor of the Washington Post, the entire newsroom was on its feet.
He'd begun his career at the paper more than four decades earlier, on Christmas Eve of 1948, as a police and court reporter earning 80 dollars a week.
In the decades that followed, he'd guide the paper through its most challenging moments. Under his watch, the Post would successfully challenge the Federal Government over the right to publish the Pentagon Papers, bring the events at Watergate to light, and usher in a "new era of investigative journalism," as the President put it when he honored him with the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the nation's highest civilian honor -- last year.
His previous boss and publisher, Donald Graham, called him "The best American newspaper editor of his time."
Benjamin Bradlee, the legendary 26-year executive editor of the Washington Post, died at home last night at the age of 93.
Jeffrey ZientsOctober 22, 2014
11:22 AM EDT
On Friday, President Obama signed a new Executive Order — the first part of the new BuySecure initiative — that takes critical steps to protect consumers’ financial security and improve confidence in the marketplace.
The Executive Order itself will help by assisting victims of identity theft, improving the government’s payment security as a customer and a provider, and accelerating the transition to stronger security technologies and the development of next-generation payment security tools.
In remarks at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) announcing the new BuySecure initiative, the President highlighted some of the specific steps that his Administration and the private sector are taking to improve Americans' financial security — and called on Congress again to enact overdue cybersecurity legislation that will protect Americans, particularly by clarifying companies' obligations when sensitive data is breached.
October 22, 2014
10:43 AM EDT
SUAKOKO, Liberia—”It becomes day-to-day life. You get into your PPE [personal protective equipment] and you go in every day and you feel safe,” explains Audrey Rangel -- a nurse at the Bong County Ebola treatment unit run by International Medical Corps with support and funding from USAID.
October 21, 2014
02:13 PM EDT
The Department of Defense (DOD), at the request of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced this weekend that U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) is providing a 30-person medical support team to quickly, effectively, and safely respond in the event of additional Ebola cases in the United States.
USNORTHCOM is the military's geographic command responsible for homeland defense, civil support, and security cooperation. It is prepared to support this request and be part of a multi-disciplinary team that, if directed, will give our nation another layer of support providing the highest quality and safest care in responding to any future Ebola cases in the homeland.
This team is a deliberate infusion of some of the best medical personnel across all of our nation's military services. They will stand ready to help civilian medical professionals develop additional capabilities. Following infectious disease protocols and properly using personal protective equipment is essential to success. This DOD team will be prepared to help civilian agencies quickly develop the expertise that will keep their staff safe and prevent the spread of disease.
Lindsay HolstOctober 21, 2014
02:07 PM EDT
Sign up to be a medical volunteer.
If you're a qualified medical professional and want to volunteer to work in West Africa, the Center for International Disaster Information (CIDI) can connect you with reputable organizations who are active in the Ebola response. Click here to learn more.
The CDC is also developing an introductory safety training course for licensed clinicians who want to work in an Ebola Treatment Unit in Africa. Learn more here.
Click here to meet some of the CDC experts who have traveled to West Africa to help stop the spread of the disease.