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  • President Obama Delivers Remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative 2014

    President Obama delivers remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York, N.Y. September 23, 2014. (by Paul Morse / Clinton Global Initiative)

    The courage of Berta Soler, the leader of Cuba's Ladies in White who endure harassment and arrest to win freedom for the Cuban people.

    The determination of Russians in Moscow and St. Petersburg, speaking up for the rule of law and human rights in their country. 

    The hope of young Palestinians in Ramallah, dreaming of building their future in a free and independent state. 

    "It is the civil society leaders who, in many ways, are going to have the more lasting impact," President Obama said. "Because as the saying goes, the most important title is not 'president' or 'prime minister'; the most important title is 'citizen.'"  

  • President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the United Nations General Assembly Climate Summit 2014

    President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the United Nations General Assembly Climate Summit 2014 in the General Assembly Hall at the United Nations in New York, N.Y., Sept. 23, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

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    "For all the immediate challenges that we gather to address this week -- terrorism, instability, inequality, disease -- there’s one issue that will define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other, and that is the urgent and growing threat of a changing climate."

    Those were President Obama's words at today's U.N. Climate Summit -- a meeting of world leaders that showcased climate action commitments from governments, local leaders, and the private sector. In his remarks, the President detailed the ambitious clean energy investments and carbon emission reductions the U.S. has made, but made clear that all of the world's major economies also need to step up in order to protect our planet.

  • President Obama addressed 120 countries at the United Nations General Assembly today on a global challenge that concerns us all: Climate change.  

    Climate change is a problem that knows no borders, causes devastating destruction in communities, and requires global action. Our climate will continue to change over this century, but the magnitude and significant consequences of that change depends on the amount of heat-trapping gases that countries emit. 

    It will take all of us working together – governments, communities, businesses, and individuals -- to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and change the future of our climate. In fact, the choices we make right now will determine the extent of future global warming and its impact on the environment, public health, and the economy. 

    Check out the chart to see the difference we can make if we work together to reduce emissions -- and the disastrous consequences if we fail to act: 

  • Ed. Note: This is cross-posted from the Huffington Post. See the original post here

    Today, leaders from more than 120 countries gathered in New York. On the agenda: a challenge that knows no borders, produces devastating local impacts, and requires global action.

    President Obama joined the international community at the UN Secretary General's Climate Summit because he believes that we have a moral obligation to our children and to future generations to take decisive action now -- to reduce the carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas emissions warming the planet, and to build resilience to the climate impacts already being felt in communities across the country and around the world.

    We are the first generation to experience first-hand the chaos that climate scientists have long warned was coming. In recent years, we have been battered by more frequent and severe storms, become inundated by rising seas and storm surge, parched by deeper drought, and burned by fiercer wildfires. From the world's poorest villages to the tiniest seaside communities, climate change poses a real and dangerous threat.

  • President Obama Delivers a Statement on Airstrikes in Syria

    President Barack Obama delivers a statement on confronting the terrorist group ISIL in Syria, on the South Lawn of the White House prior to departure for New York, N.Y. September 23, 2014. (Official White House Photo by David Lienemann)

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    Last night, President Obama ordered American armed forces to begin targeted airstrikes against ISIL targets in Syria. Speaking from the White House South Lawn today, the President made it clear that these strikes are part of the U.S. campaign to deliver one message on ISIL: They will find no safe-haven.

    The U.S. military actions also included strikes to disrupt plotting against the U.S. and our allies by the Khorasan Group -- seasoned al Qaeda operatives in Syria. 

  • Shanah Tovah from the White House! On Wednesday evening, Jews in the United States and around the world will begin celebrating Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year.

    The High Holidays offer the Jewish community a moment of pause, a time to reflect on the previous year and recommit to the unending task of Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. Together, working with people of all faiths, we can bring greater peace and prosperity to the world in 5775.

    In his 2014 video message for the High Holidays, President Obama extends his wishes for a sweet new year and discusses why this time of year is so significant.

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    Read the remarks: 

    Hello. As Jews across America, Israel, and the world gather together for the High Holidays, Michelle and I extend our warmest wishes to you and your families for a sweet and happy new year.

    My good friend Elie Wiesel once said that God gave human beings a secret, and that secret was not how to begin but how to begin again. These days of awe are a chance to celebrate that gift, to give thanks for the secret, the miracle of renewal.

    In synagogues and homes over the coming days, Jews will reflect on a year that carried its shares of challenges. We’ve been reminded many times that our world still needs repair. So here at home we continue the hard work of rebuilding our economy and restoring our American dream of opportunity for all. Around the world, we continue to stand for the dignity of every human being, and against the scourge of anti-Semitism, and we reaffirm the friendships and bonds that keep us strong, including our unshakeable alliance with the State of Israel.

    So let’s approach this new year with new confidence and new hope. Let’s recommit ourselves to living out the values we share as individuals and as a country. Above all, let’s embrace this God-given miracle of renewal, this extraordinary opportunity to begin again in pursuit of justice, prosperity, and peace. From my family to yours, shanah tovah.

  • We the People, the Obama administration's online petitions platform, turned 3 yesterday.

    On September 22, 2011, we launched We the People to give Americans a new way to petition their government around issues they care about. It works like this: Start a petition, get enough signatures, and the Obama administration will work with policy experts to issue an official response.

    It's three years later, and We the People remains incredibly popular: More than 15 million users have participated, collecting more than 22 million signatures on more than 360,000 petitions. To date, we've issued nearly 250 responses to petitions on a wide range of topics, including maintaining an open and innovative internet, reducing student loan debt, improving our economy, and even building a "Death Star."

    The We the People platform has led directly to policy changes and provided new opportunities for dialogue between citizens and their government. That's part of the reason why, over the course of 2014, an average of response surveys showed a majority of signers thought it was "helpful to hear the Administration's response," even if they didn't agree. Nearly 80 percent said they would use We the People again.

    To celebrate We the People's third birthday, the White House will host the first-ever social meetup for We the People users and petition creators right here at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. It will be an exciting chance for users to meet with policy experts and connect with each other in person.

    Meanwhile, we continue to work to make We the People even more accessible so that people -- no matter where they are on the internet -- can use the platform to reach the White House. Beginning in October, third-party websites can submit signatures to We the People on behalf of their own signers, using our soon-to-be-released Write API (which is currently in beta). It's the result of months of hard work, and we can't wait to share it with the public.

    Check out the infographic below, and take a look at some of the platform's highlights over the last three years:

  • Today, the Treasury Department announced that it's taking action to reduce the tax benefits of -- and, where possible, stop -- corporate tax inversions from happening.

    What's an inversion again? In short, it's a type of corporate tax deal wherein a U.S.-based multinational with operations in other countries moves the tax residence of the parent company overseas -- moving into a low-tax jurisdiction to avoid paying U.S. taxes. (Want more details? We break it down pretty thoroughly in this post.)

    The President issued the following statement today about the Treasury's action.

  • After just over a year on Twitter and Instagram, First Lady Michelle Obama's social media accounts both passed 1 million followers this summer!

    The First Lady uses Twitter and Instagram to connect with people around the country and keep her followers up-to-date on the latest news from her initiatives, Joining Forces, Let's Move, and Reach Higher. From participating in a Google+ Hangout during her trip to Africa to her Twitter Q&A #LunchWithFlotus on healthy school lunches, the First Lady is continually looking for new ways to connect with the public and answer their questions. 

    To celebrate passing 1 million followers, we’ve put together a list of highlights from @FLOTUS and @MichelleObama.

    Have a favorite moment of your own or ideas about new ways the First Lady could use social media? We want to hear from you! Let us know by tweeting at @FLOTUS or gramming at @MichelleObama. We’ll feature some of our favorite responses. And, don't forget to check out her board on Pinterest.

    Here's a look back at some of our top social media moments from the First Lady.

  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's blog. See the original post here.

    As the former Mayor of an urban Promise Zone community, I have a unique appreciation for the passion and dedication local leaders have when working to turn around their communities.

    I saw San Antonio’s Promise Zone create new pathways allowing our citizens the chance to reach higher, dream bigger, and reach goals they never thought imaginable. They are about giving folks who have been under served for far too long the opportunity to build stronger neighborhoods and more prosperous lives. I am honored to share this opportunity with other communities across the country as they work to transform their futures.

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  • Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Labor's blog. See the original post here.

    Earlier this month, I was in Melbourne, Australia representing our government at a meeting of Labor Ministers of the world’s 20 major economies.

    After sitting down with my G20 counterparts and learning more about their policies relating to work and workplaces, my main takeaway is that the United States is distressingly behind the curve on paid family leave.

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  • President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in Map Room of the White House, Sept. 19, 2014.

    President Barack Obama tapes the Weekly Address in Map Room of the White House, Sept. 19, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson)

    In this week’s address, the President thanked Congress for its strong bipartisan support for efforts to train and equip Syrian opposition forces to fight ISIL. This plan is part of the President’s comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy to degrade and destroy the terrorist group, and does not commit our troops to fighting another ground war. America, working with a broad coalition of nations, will continue to train, equip, advise, and assist our partners in the region in the battle against ISIL.

    In the coming week, the President will speak at the United Nations General Assembly and continue to lead the world against terror, a fight in which all countries have a stake.

    Transcript | mp4 | mp3

  • This week, President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins and Army Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat, met with National Spelling Bee winners, announced a major increase in our efforts to help fight Ebola in West Africa, gave a statement about the bipartisan support of our strategy to defeat ISIL, and launched a campaign to help stop sexual assault.

    Check out the rest of the highlights from this week.


    Monday:

    A Closer Look at the Medal of Honor Ceremony

    President Obama awarded the Medal of Honor to Army Command Sergeant Major Bennie G. Adkins and Army Specialist Four Donald P. Sloat for their heroic and brave actions in Vietnam. While you probably know that the Medal of Honor is the highest military award that a member of the U.S. Armed Forces can receive, have you ever wondered what goes into the actual ceremony at the White House?

    We went behind the scenes as the President presented the Medal of Honor in June to Cpl. William "Kyle" Carpenter, a retired United States Marine, for his actions during combat operations in Afghanistan. Take a look here:

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  • This week, Congress passed and President Obama signed something called a Continuing Resolution, an important measure that ensures our government has the resources necessary to address key domestic and national security goals in the months ahead, including our strategy to degrade and destroy ISIL, and to continue normal government operations without disruption.

    The President thanked Congress for their quick action in supporting our efforts: “I believe that we’re strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together.  And I thank leaders in Congress for the speed and seriousness with which they approached this urgent issue -- in keeping with the bipartisanship that is the hallmark of American foreign policy at its best.”

    But what exactly is a Continuing Resolution and what does this one include? Here’s a few answers to some key questions that many Americans may be asking: 

    Q: So what is a Continuing Resolution?

    In our government, the legislative branch holds the power of the purse, which means Congress is responsible for passing legislation to fund the government.  From funding our national defense to investing in job training and public infrastructure to maintaining government operations, Congress decides how to appropriate taxpayer dollars each fiscal year.  

    However, if Congress fails to pass legislation to fund the government before a new fiscal year begins, they can pass legislation to keep federal operations going at the current spending levels. That legislation is called a Continuing Resolution (CR).

  • Earlier today, White House staffer Jordan Brooks sent this message to the White House email list. Didn't get it? Make sure you sign up for email updates here.


    I'm proud to work for our President every day. But that's especially true today.

    To the survivors who are leading the fight against sexual assault on campuses, your efforts have helped to start a movement. I know that ... there are times where the fight feels lonely, and it feels as if you're dredging up stuff that you'd rather put behind you. But we're here to say, today, it's not on you. This is not your fight alone. It's on all of us -- every one of us -- to fight campus sexual assault. You are not alone, and we have your back.

    That's what President Obama said in the East Room this morning, when he announced the launch of "It's On Us" -- a new effort to fundamentally change the way we think about sexual assault as a country, by inspiring everyone to see it as their responsibility to do something.

    When I was in college, I met so many courageous students and friends who had been victims of sexual assault. Their stories, and countless stories of people just like them, touched me deeply and personally. They made me feel angry, sad, outraged, and -- often times -- powerless.

    I decided to do absolutely everything that I could to make a change, and keep it from happening to anyone else. So I organized with our campus gender relations center. We conducted bystander intervention trainings for students across campus, and worked to get out the word about sexual assault: how people couple help step up to stop it, and how survivors could get the resources they needed to heal.

    I believe, just like so many others working to end sexual assault, that it's on every one of us to step up, take a stand, and make a difference where we can.

    Right now, I'm asking you to take a stand, too -- join the President and Americans across the country by making a personal commitment to help keep men and women safe from sexual assault. Visit ItsOnUs.org, and take the pledge.

  • Recently, a private-sector partner opined that it would be nice if the millions of dollars he was putting into defense wasn’t defeated by a $500 tool easily rented online. It doesn’t matter whether you’re from a government agency, a contractor, or a retailer – no one seems to be immune to this problem.

    But there are some relatively simple steps that we can take to make those investments more effective against the $500 tool. Just as a neighborhood bands together to raise its collective safety, we can work as a community to strengthen our collective defenses to make it harder for those who wish to cause harm. 

    First, we can broaden how we think about cybersecurity to make our defenses more effective. The Cybersecurity Framework issued earlier this year helps us do that. The Framework’s greatest strength is that it is deeply rooted in how businesses actually manage risk in the real world. In taking a risk management approach, the Framework recognizes that no organization can or will spend unlimited amounts on cybersecurity. Instead, it enables a business to make decisions about how to prioritize and optimize its cybersecurity investments.

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    Today at the White House, President Obama joined Vice President Biden and Americans across the country to launch the “It’s On Us” initiative -- an awareness campaign to help put an end to sexual assault on college campuses. 

    It's On Us asks everyone -- men and women across America -- to make a personal commitment to step off the sidelines and be part of the solution to campus sexual assault. 

    "An estimated one in five women has been sexually assaulted during her college years -- one in five," the President noted. "Of those assaults, only 12 percent are reported, and of those reported assaults, only a fraction of the offenders are punished." 

  • This morning, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent the following message to the White House email list.

    Didn't get the email? Make sure you're signed up to receive updates from the White House and senior Administration officials.


    Last week, I met Brittany.

    She's a hardworking student at West Georgia Technical College who is now just months away from being certified as a nursing assistant, but there was a point when she didn’t think she’d be here. In high school, Brittany became pregnant and her future suddenly became uncertain. Her high school counselor suggested she apply for the 12 for Life program, a local program that offers students who have fallen behind in high school the opportunity to attend class, work and get back on their feet.

    As I talked with Brittany and her fellow students — many of whom were the first in their family to graduate high school — they spoke powerfully and tearfully of the program’s success, and how it had given them hope for the future.

    Brittany’s inspiring story is just one of many I heard last week during the Department of Education’s annual back-to-school bus tour. This year’s tour took us to Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, and provided my team and me with the opportunity to see innovations in education and to discuss progress, promise, and results.

    I wish I could see every innovative program — every initiative creating promise for our children — happening across the country, but even after visiting all 50 states and more than 350 schools during my time as Secretary, I can’t visit every school. So that’s where you come in.

    What cutting-edge programs are your local schools undertaking? Or, if you don’t know of any, what would you like to see them do?

    We'll share some of your stories and suggestions on the White House blog.

  • Today, the President announced an initiative to help put an end to campus sexual assault. It's called "It's On Us."

    That's not just a slogan or catchphrase. It's the whole point. Because in a country where one in five women on college campuses has been sexually assaulted -- only 12 percent of which are reported -- this is a problem that should be important to every single one of us, and it's on every single one of us to do something to end the problem. 

    As a husband, as a brother, and as a father of three boys and daughter who is a sophomore in college, it's on me to help create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable, and where survivors are supported.

    It's on me to tell my kids to never blame the victim. To not be a bystander. It's on me to make sure they know that if they see something that looks wrong, they need to get involved -- to intervene any way they can, even if it means enlisting the help of a friend or resident advisor. It's on me to teach them to be direct, and to trust their gut.

    That's why this is personal for me. 

    And it’s why I took a step this morning to show my commitment to doing my part.  And whether you're a parent, a student, a survivor or a friend of one, there's something you can do right now to do the same.

    Go to ItsOnUs.org, and take the pledge -- a personal commitment to help keep women and men safe from sexual assault. It's a promise that you won't be a bystander to the problem -- that you'll be a part of the solution. The President took the pledge this morning. I did, too -- along with dozens of other White House staffers. Do it right now.

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    In a bipartisan vote, the House and Senate passed a Continuing Resolution that supports the U.S. military effort to train and equip moderate Syrian opposition forces so they can take the fight to the terrorist force ISIL.

    At the White House tonight, President Obama delivered a statement to clearly outline these efforts and to thank Congress for standing united in our efforts to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.

    I believe that we’re strongest as a nation when the President and Congress work together. And I want to thank leaders in Congress for the speed and seriousness with which they approached this urgent issue -- in keeping with the bipartisanship that is the hallmark of American foreign policy at its best.

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