Our Top Stories
Jesse LeeSeptember 17, 2009
03:18 PM EDTThis morning, upon recommendation from the Secretary of Defense and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the President announced a new approach to missile defense in Europe. This new approach is based on an assessment of the Iranian missile threat, and a commitment to deploy technology that is proven, cost-effective, and adaptable to an evolving security environment.This new approach will provide capabilities sooner, build on proven systems, and offer greater defenses against the threat of missile attack than the 2007 European missile defense program.This decision was guided by two principal factors. First, we have updated our intelligence assessment of Iran's missile programs, which emphasizes the threat posed by Iran's short- and medium-range missiles, which are capable of reaching Europe. There's no substitute for Iran complying with its international obligations regarding its nuclear program, and we, along with our allies and partners, will continue to pursue strong diplomacy to ensure that Iran lives up to these international obligations. But this new ballistic missile defense program will best address the threat posed by Iran's ongoing ballistic missile defense program.Second, we have made specific and proven advances in our missile defense technology, particularly with regard to land- and sea-based interceptors and the sensors that support them. Our new approach will, therefore, deploy technologies that are proven and cost-effective and that counter the current threat, and do so sooner than the previous program. Because our approach will be phased and adaptive, we will retain the flexibility to adjust and enhance our defenses as the threat and technology continue to evolve.To put it simply, our new missile defense architecture in Europe will provide stronger, smarter, and swifter defenses of American forces and America's allies. It is more comprehensive than the previous program; it deploys capabilities that are proven and cost-effective; and it sustains and builds upon our commitment to protect the U.S. homeland against long-range ballistic missile threats; and it ensures and enhances the protection of all our NATO allies.This approach is also consistent with NATO missile -- NATO's missile defense efforts and provides opportunities for enhanced international collaboration going forward. We will continue to work cooperatively with our close friends and allies, the Czech Republic and Poland, who had agreed to host elements of the previous program. I've spoken to the Prime Ministers of both the Czech Republic and Poland about this decision and reaffirmed our deep and close ties. Together we are committed to a broad range of cooperative efforts to strengthen our collective defense, and we are bound by the solemn commitment of NATO's Article V that an attack on one is an attack on all.The White House also released a fact sheet on U.S. Missile Defense Policy, outlining the President's approach. An excerpt:While further advances of technology or future changes in the threat could modify the details or timing of later phases, current plans call for the following:
- Phase One (in the 2011 timeframe) – Deploy current and proven missile defense systems available in the next two years, including the sea-based Aegis Weapon System, the SM-3 interceptor (Block IA), and sensors such as the forward-based Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance system (AN/TPY-2), to address regional ballistic missile threats to Europe and our deployed personnel and their families;
- Phase Two (in the 2015 timeframe) – After appropriate testing, deploy a more capable version of the SM-3 interceptor (Block IB) in both sea- and land-based configurations, and more advanced sensors, to expand the defended area against short- and medium-range missile threats;
- Phase Three (in the 2018 timeframe) – After development and testing are complete, deploy the more advanced SM-3 Block IIA variant currently under development, to counter short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missile threats; and
- Phase Four (in the 2020 timeframe) – After development and testing are complete, deploy the SM-3 Block IIB to help better cope with medium- and intermediate-range missiles and the potential future ICBM threat to the United States.
Jesse LeeSeptember 17, 2009
03:06 PM EDTLast night, the President and First Lady joined a bevy of prominent members of the Hispanic community in celebrating the start of Hispanic Heritage Month. The President's remarks covered a range of topics, from challenges facing the Hispanic community to the groundbreaking appointment of Chief Justice Sonia Sotomayor.Now, we face enormous challenges as a nation. Many of those challenges are felt far more acutely by Latinos. But our ability to solve any of the problems we face -- from health care to education, from economic recovery to immigration reform -- depends on our willingness to recognize that our destiny is shared. We've seen this starkly throughout this economic crisis, as fortunes linked the small business owner on Main Street and the bond trader on Wall Street, the young family looking to refinance a mortgage to the large bank whose profits depend on their staying out of foreclosure. But this has always been true, in good times and bad. Our success has long depended on our willingness to see our challenges as ones we have to face together; our willingness to live up to a simple ideal: Todos somos Americanos. We are all Americans. (Applause.)Because when there's a young Latina stuck in a crumbling school, who starts to actually believe she's worth less because she doesn't have more, that isn't just a problem for that child. That isn't just a problem for the Hispanic community. That's a problem for a nation. That's why I've challenged states to raise the bar across their early education programs, so that more of our children enter kindergarten ready to learn. That's why I've called for a new race to the top to reform America's schools and provide students with the knowledge and skills they'll need for the 21st century. That's why we will address the dropout crisis that plagues far too many communities, and commit to increasing access to college -- and success at college -- so that America can once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. That depends in part on making sure that Latinos and Latinas have access to higher education and that's a commitment of our administration. (Applause.)We'll provide a complete and competitive education for every student, because our prosperity as a nation requires that we harness the talents of all our people, not just some -- Todos somos Americanos. (Applause.)
September 17, 2009
01:58 PM EDTWith memories of his family's recent visit to the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park still fresh in his mind, President Barack Obama watched a special preview of The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, a new documentary by Ken Burns that will premiere on PBS September 27.While our nation boasts many great ideas, writer and historian Wallace Stegner calls our national parks "the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst." In 1872, Yellowstone National Park became the first national park in the world, its creation spawning a worldwide national parks movement.The National Park Service, on behalf of all Americans, cares for our country’s most treasured places – ones of seemingly impossible natural beauty and those that move us to remember our heroes and battles for freedom, preserve the icons of our shared heritage, honor our nation’s diverse cultures, and celebrate the triumphs of individual spirit over adversity. In addition to caring for nearly 400 national parks, the National Park Service works in communities, by providing grants and expertise, to help neighbors preserve local history and create green spaces for healthy, outdoor family fun.The best thing about national parks is that they belong to each one of us – to visit and enjoy; to care for and preserve for our children and grandchildren. To celebrate this wonderful inheritance, we are working together to make America’s Best Idea even better! On September 26, please join the National Park Service and the National Park Foundation in national parks across the country for a National Day of Service and Celebration – there will be no entrance fees, and you can volunteer and celebrate by seeing the same special preview the President saw today.Learn more about the exciting things the National Park Service is doing and how you can be a part of it at a special website launched today – America’s Best Idea just keeps getting better.You can also join the conversation on Facebook. Tell us your ideas for making our National Parks even better on the National Park Service Facebook page, or check out the National Park Service Facebook app and send a postcard from your favorite park to your friends. And, of course, you can always follow the NPS Twitter feed.Dan Wenk is Acting Director of the National Park Service
Jesse LeeSeptember 17, 2009
10:10 AM EDTAt around 11:40 EDT this morning the President will be at the University of Maryland in College Park, rallying college students for health insurance reform. The White House will not only be streaming it live, but college students (and anybody else) can watch and discuss it live through our Facebook application.
When I was in college not so long ago I got the line from parents, professors and others that I thought I was invincible – they were probably right. And I was definitely wrong. You can find a new report on "Young Americans and Health Insurance Reform" over at HealthReform.gov – if it’s just been your idealism motivating you so far, you may find some more self-interested reasons to get on board. For example, from the report:
- Watch live here at WhiteHouse.gov [UPDATE: This event has now concluded.]
- Watch and discuss live through Facebook
Greg NelsonSeptember 17, 2009
09:24 AM EDTThis morning on a factory floor Bensalem, PA (just outside of Philadelphia), the topic will be windows – and a window into the jobs being created in the Clean Energy Economy.Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell and Delaware Governor Jack Markell are hosting the third of a series of regional Clean Energy Economy Forums. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu will be joining the Governors, along with Senior Counselor for Manufacturing Policy Ron Bloom and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy Amanda Dory. Watch the event live.The Forum is being held at Accu-Weld, a family owned business based in Bensalem, PA for nearly three decades. The company is currently producing and manufacturing high-energy efficient windows and doors for the residential home market. Despite the economic downturn, Accu-Weld recently announced it would save 140 local jobs as a result of new demand in the home weatherization market, and is growing at annual rate of approximately 20 percent.Windows will be just one of the stories that will be discussed this morning. The audience includes dairy farmers, who will talk about how the installation of a digester has helped turn their farm into an energy producer. It includes workers and executives from Pennsylvania companies that make parts for solar and wind energy. And it includes a group of recent veterans who have been speaking out about the first-hand experiences they have, and the need to address comprehensive energy and climate legislation to lesson our dependence on foreign oil. These are the stories of the Clean Energy Economy.The forum will be webcast in full at www.pa.gov.Greg Nelson is an Associate Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement
September 16, 2009
06:44 PM EDTBefore a cross-section of eager young aspiring Olympians and few with a little more experience, the President took a break from the rigors of policymaking to deliver a much-anticipated message to the world: the United States is more than ready to welcome athletes from around the world to the sparkling Chicago lakefront for the 2016 Olympic Games:Sixteen days away -- we're just 16 days away from the deciding vote on which world city will host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games.So let's get right down to business here: The United States is eager to welcome the world to our shores. This nation would be honored to host the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games and to serve as host to thousands of athletes and millions of visitors from around the world. And within this great country of ours, there is no better city than that than Chicago, Illinois. (Applause.)Now, I may live in Washington these days. I love Washington, D.C. And our house here is a little bigger than the one we got in Chicago. (Laughter.) But I've called Chicago home for nearly 25 years. It's a city of broad shoulders and big hearts and bold dreams; a city of legendary sports figures, legendary sports venues, and legendary sports fans; a city like America itself, where the world -- the world's races and religions and nationalities come together and reach for the dream that brought them here.In Chicago, old and new exist in harmony. It's a city rooted in an industrial past that laid this nation's railroads, forged this nation's steel, rebuilt itself after a great fire, and reversed the course of a mighty river. And it's also a city of bustle and gleaming promise that Mayor Daley has pledged to make the greenest in America. And that's why I think that one of the most exciting parts of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is that all of the plans being made in Chicago exist within minutes of the city center; easily accessible to commerce and culture, parkland and water -- because we don't want these venues to be far-flung, all over the place. We want to host these Games where we live and work and play.We want them in the heart of our proud city -- the city that opened the way westward in the 19th century, that showed the way skyward in the 20th century, and that is leading the way forward in the 21st century. So Chicago is ready. The American people are ready. We want these Games. We want them. (Applause.)While the President's better half, First Lady Michelle Obama, poked fun at her husband's "pathetic" fencing skills, she assured the crowd that the First Family's hometown of Chicago is the perfect place for the Olympic torch to burn brightly:And I have to say that I'm proud of those efforts, but I am also proud of the fact that Chicago may be the host. I cannot think of a better city to host the 2016 Games than my hometown. I was born and raised on the South Side of Chicago. You probably already know that. So I know a lot about this city. We have our home so close to many of the proposed venues. We can say that we are so pumped up about this, aren't we? (Laughter.)And I can tell you, personally, what makes Chicago the ideal home for the 2016 Games and I'm very excited to be able to do that in Copenhagen. It's not just the infrastructure or the resources of the city, and it's not just the beautiful parks, because there are many. It's not that gorgeous lakefront that so many will see during the Olympic Games. And it's not just the excellent public transportation and the accommodations. What makes Chicago such a great host is its people. It's truly the people.Read the entire transcript of the President and First Lady's remarks here.
September 16, 2009
03:21 PM EDTLast week, when the President addressed the Joint Session of Congress in a speech on health reform, he referred to some of the untruths – okay, lies – that have been spread about the plan and sent a clear message to those who seek to undermine his agenda and his presidency with these tactics: "We will call you out." So consider this one of those calls.
Over the past several weeks, we've seen with increasing frequency and volume issues raised around the use of "czars" by this Administration. Although some Members have asked serious questions around the makeup of the White House staff, the bulk of the noise you hear began first with partisan commentators, suggesting that this is somehow a new and sinister development that threatens our democracy. This is, of course, ridiculous. Just to be clear, the job title "czar" doesn’t exist in the Obama Administration. Many of the officials cited by conservative commentators have been confirmed by the Senate. Many hold policy jobs that have existed in previous Administrations. And some hold jobs that involved coordinating the work of agencies on President Obama’s key policy priorities: health insurance reform, energy and green jobs, and building a new foundation for long-lasting economic growth
But of course, it’s really the hypocrisy here that is noteworthy. Just earlier today, Darrell Issa, a Republican from California and one of the leaders in calling for an investigation into the Obama Administration’s use of "czars", had to admit to Fox News that he had never raised any objections to the Bush Administration’s use of "czars". Many of these members who now decry the practice have called on Presidents in the past to appoint "czars" to coordinate activities within the government to address immediate challenges. What is clear is that all of this energy going into these attacks could be used to have a constructive conversation about bringing this country together to address our challenges moving forward – and it doesn’t take a "czar" to bring that about! Just some folks willing to act in good faith.
Take a look at the facts below – the truth about "czars":Rhetoric: Critics have claimed the Obama Administration is filled with new and unchecked czars.Glenn Beck Claimed There Were 32 "Czars" In The Obama Administration. "The Brainroom counts 32 czars in the Obama administration, based on media reports from reputable sources that have identified the official in question as a czar." [Glenn Beck Website, 8/21/09]In Sunday’s Washington Post, Sen. Hutchison Claimed There Were An "Unprecedented 32 Czar Posts." "A few of them have formal titles, but most are simply known as "czars.’ They hold unknown levels of power over broad swaths of policy. Under the Obama administration, we have an unprecedented 32 czar posts (a few of which it has yet to fill), including a ‘car czar,’ a ‘pay czar’ and an ‘information czar.’" [Washington Post, 9/13/09]Reality: Many of the arbitrarily labeled "czars" on Beck’s list are Senate-confirmed appointees or advisory roles carried over from previous administrations. Others are advisors to the President’s Cabinet Secretaries. Beck himself says on his own website, "Since czar isn't an official job title, the number is somewhat in the eye of the beholder."Republicans have supported these positions in the past. When asked on Fox News if he had opposed any of President Bush’s "czars," Rep. Darrell Issa admitted "No we didn’t." In fact, the Bush administration had many of the same officials and advisors now described as "czars," including Afghanistan czar, AIDS czar, Drug czar, Faith-based czar, Intelligence czar, Mideast Peace Czar, Regulatory Czar, Science Czar, Sudan Czar, TARP/Bailout Czar, Terrorism Czar, and Weapons Czar.Of the 32 "czars" on Beck’s list, nine were confirmed by the Senate:Deputy Interior Secretary David J. Hayes ("California Water Czar")
Director of National Drug Control Policy Gil Kerlikowske ("Drug Czar")
OMB Deputy Director Jeff Zients ("Government Performance Czar")
Director of National Intelligence Adm. Dennis Blair ("Intelligence Czar")
OMB Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs Cass Sunstein ("Regulatory Czar")
Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and OSTP Director John Holdren ("Science Czar")
Treasury Assistant Secretary for Financial Stability Herb Allison ("TARP Czar")
Assistant Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Ashton Carter ("Weapons Czar")
OSTP Associate Director Aneesh Chopra ("Technology Czar")Many of the same critics who are decrying these roles have applauded or even pushed for them in the past. Sen. Robert Bennett has criticized czars as "undermining the Constitution," but reportedly prodded President Clinton to appoint a Y2K Czar. In a 1999 CNN appearance, Sen. Bennett said "I think John Koskinen has been superb. I wrote the president six months before John was appointed, recommending that he appoint a Y2K czar." At a 1999 National Press Club luncheon, Bennett told reporters the Koskinen was "there to help, prod, give information, and make analyses and reports" and said he spoke with the czar to ensure "we maintain the kind of bipartisan and across-the-government sort of communication that this never becomes a political issue."Senator Lamar Alexander has also criticized President Obama’s "czars," calling them "an affront to the Constitution." But during remarks delivered on the Senate floor in 2003, Sen. Alexander said "I would welcome" President Bush’s "manufacturing job czar." That same day in the Senate, he also expressed support for President Bush’s AIDS czar Randall Tobias.When asked on Fox News if he had opposed any of President Bush’s "czars," Rep. Darrell Issa responded "No we didn’t," despite previously claiming that czars "undermine" transparency and accountability.In fact, last year, 176 House Republicans, including Issa, voted for a bill that would create an "Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator" that would advise the President and serve in the White House. By the time the bill passed the Senate, it was co-sponsored by 20 additional senators, including Sen. Alexander.
Anita Dunn is Director of Communications for the White House
Luis MirandaSeptember 15, 2009
07:15 PM EDTEl presidente Barack Obama proclamó hoy el Mes de la Herencia Hispana a celebrarse del 15 de septiembre al 15 de octubre. Celebramos la cultura, las contribuciones y el triunfo de nuestros hermanos hispanos en los Estados Unidos.MES NACIONAL DE LA HERENCIA HISPANA, 2009
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POR EL PRESIDENTE DE ESTADOS UNIDOS DE NORTEAMÉRICALa historia de los hispanos en Estados Unidos es la historia del propio Estados Unidos. Los valores de la comunidad hispana —el amor a la familia, una fe profunda y constante, una sólida ética de trabajo— son valores estadounidenses. Los hispanos reúnen las ricas tradiciones de comunidades con raíces en Estados Unidos que datan de hace siglos y la energía y empuje de inmigrantes recientes. Muchos asumieron grandes riesgos para comenzar una nueva vida con la esperanza de forjar un futuro mejor para sí mismos y sus familias.
Los hispanos han desempeñado una función vital en los sucesos y los movimientos que han moldeado nuestro país. Han enriquecido nuestra cultura y aportado creatividad e innovación a todo, desde los deportes hasta las ciencias, desde las artes hasta la economía.
Los hispanos han servido con honor y distinción en todo conflicto desde la Guerra de la Revolución, y han hecho aportes invalorables por medio de sus servicios a nuestro país. Dirigen corporaciones, entidades sin fines de lucro, instituciones educativas y movimientos sociales. Trabajan en todos los niveles del gobierno, desde las juntas escolares hasta los capitolios estatales, y desde los concejos municipales hasta el Congreso. Y por primera vez en la historia de la nación, una latina ocupa un escaño entre los nueve jueces de la Corte Suprema.
A medida que los hispanos continúan enriqueciendo el carácter de nuestra nación y perfilando nuestro futuro común, afianzan la promesa de Estados Unidos y confirman la narrativa de unidad y progreso estadounidense.
Para rendir homenaje a los logros de los hispanos en Estados Unidos, el Congreso, por medio de la Ley Pública 100-402, tal como ha sido modificada, ha autorizado y solicitado que el Presidente emita una proclama anualmente designando del 15 de septiembre al 15 de octubre como el "Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana".
AHORA POR TANTO, YO, BARACK OBAMA, Presidente de los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica, en virtud de la autoridad que me conceden la Constitución y las leyes de Estados Unidos, por la presente proclamo del 15 de septiembre al 15 de octubre del 2009 como el Mes Nacional de la Herencia Hispana. Hago un llamado a todos los funcionarios públicos, educadores, bibliotecarios y todos los estadounidenses para que celebren este mes con las ceremonias, actividades y programas correspondientes.
EN FE DE LO CUAL, suscribo la presente este decimoquinto día de septiembre del año de Nuestro Señor dos mil nueve, y ducentésimo trigésimo cuarto de la Independencia de Estados Unidos de Norteamérica.BARACK OBAMA
Cada año, miles de personas de origen hispano se mudan a nuestro país en busca de mejores oportunidades y un futuro más seguro y saludable para sus familias. La oficina del Censo de los Estados Unidos estima que para Julio del 2007 la población hispana ya sobrepasaba los 45 millones de personas constituyendo el 15 por ciento de la población total y convirtiendo a los hispanos en el grupo minoritario más grande. Se estima que para el 2050 los estadounidenses de origen hispano constituirán el 24 por ciento de la población.
Son muchos los hispanos que se han destacado en el entretenimiento y las artes, el mundo de los negocios y empresas, la salud, educación, las leyes y el Gobierno, entre otros. Muy recientemente tuvimos la oportunidad de celebrar la confirmación de la Jueza Sonia Sotomayor como una de los nueve jueces de la Corte Suprema, así como celebramos a Hilda L. Solís secretaria del Departamento del Trabajo.
Según uno de los reportes más recientes de ComScore, Inc., los hispanos representan el 11 por ciento del mercado total en línea de los Estados Unidos, por lo tanto constituyen un mercado importante tanto para las empresas como para el Gobierno.
A continuación una lista de algunos sitios web donde puedes encontrar información oficial del Gobierno de los Estados Unidos, en español:
- Reality Check/La Realidad, Información sobre le reforma del seguro médico
- Sitio oficial de la Casa Blanca (pronto será actualizado con más información)
- Gobiernousa.gov, sitio oficial del Gobierno de los Estados Unidos
- CDC en español, información sobre salud y seguridad
- EPA en español, Información sobre salud ambiental
- Medlineplus.gov, información sobre salud
- America.gov, Información y noticias en general sobre los Estados Unidos
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage
President Barack Obama has proclaimed today Hispanic Heritage Month to be celebrated from September 15th to October 15th. We celebrate the culture, the contributions and the success of our Hispanic brothers and sisters in the United States.NATIONAL HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH, 2009
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BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA A PROCLAMATIONThe story of Hispanics in America is the story of America itself. The Hispanic community's values -- love of family, a deep and abiding faith, and a strong work ethic -- are America's values. Hispanics bring together the rich traditions of communities with centuries-old roots in America and the energy and drive of recent immigrants. Many have taken great risks to begin a new life in the hopes of achieving a better future for themselves and their families.
Hispanics have played a vital role in the moments and movements that have shaped our country. They have enriched our culture and brought creativity and innovation to everything from sports to the sciences and from the arts to our economy.
Hispanics have served with honor and distinction in every conflict since the Revolutionary War, and they have made invaluable contributions through their service to our country. They lead corporations and not-for-profits, and social movements and places of learning. They serve in government at every level from school boards to statehouses, and from city councils to Congress. And for the first time in our Nation's history, a Latina is seated among the nine Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States.
As Hispanics continue to enrich our Nation's character and shape our common future, they strengthen America's promise and affirm the narrative of American unity and progress.
To honor the achievements of Hispanics in America, the Congress, by Public Law 100-402, as amended, has authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation designating September 15 through October 15 as "National Hispanic Heritage Month."
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 15 through October 15, 2009, as National Hispanic Heritage Month. I call upon public officials, educators, librarians, and all the people of the United States to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fifteenth day of September, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fourth.BARACK OBAMA
Every year, thousands of Hispanics move to our country looking for better opportunities and a more safe and healthy future for their families. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated by July of 2007 that the Hispanic population had reached 45 million people representing 15% of the total population and becoming the largest minority group. Census estimates that by 2050, Hispanics will represent 24% of the total population.
Many Hispanics have succeeded in the entertainment and arts, business, health, education and laws fields, and within the Government, etc. Recently we had the chance to celebrate the confirmation of Judge Sonia Sotomayor as one of the members of the Supreme Court and celebrate Hilda L. Solis as the new U.S. Secretary of Labor.
According to a recent report from ComScore, Inc., Hispanics also represents 11% of the total U.S. Online audience, becoming a very important market not only for companies but for the Government as well.
Check out some of the websites where you can find official Government information in Spanish.
- Reality Check/La Realidad, Info about the Health Insurance Reform
- Sitio oficial de la Casa Blanca (Will be updated to have more info available)
- Gobiernousa.gov, Official U.S. Government Information in Spanish
- CDC en español, Health and Safety Info
- EPA en español, Environmental Health Info
- Medlineplus.gov, Health Info
- America.gov, General Info and News
Jesse LeeSeptember 15, 2009
04:47 PM EDTHaving spent the morning with Ohio GM workers, the President traveled to Pittsburgh, PA to talk to the hard-working Americans at the AFL-CIO Convention. The enthusiasm the crowd showed for health insurance reform was palpable, and you could hear the President getting "fired up and ready to go" with them:And, yes, we'll grow our middle class by finally providing quality, affordable health insurance in this country. Health care can't wait. (Applause.) It can't wait. Few have fought -- few have fought for this cause harder, few have championed it longer than you, our brothers and sisters in organized labor. You're making phone calls, knocking on doors, showing up at rallies -- because you know why this is so important. You know this isn't just about the millions of Americans who don't have health insurance, it's about the hundreds of millions more who do; Americans who worry that they'll lose their insurance if they lose their job; who fear their coverage will be denied because of a preexisting condition; who know that one accident or illness could mean financial ruin.In fact, a new report from the Kaiser Family Foundation was released today showing that family premiums rose more than 130 percent over the last 10 years -- three times faster than wages. They now average over $13,000 a year, the highest amount on record, which is why when you go in to negotiate, you can't even think about negotiating for a salary -- a wage increase because the whole negotiation is about trying to keep the benefits you already have. (Applause.)That's not just the fault of the employer, it's the fault of a broken health care system that's sucking up all the money. When are we going to stop it? (Applause.) When are we going to say enough is enough? How many more workers have to lose their coverage? How many more families have to go into the red for a sick loved one? (Applause.) How much longer are we going to have to wait? It can't wait. (Applause.)AUDIENCE: We can't wait! We can't wait! We can't wait!THE PRESIDENT: We can't wait. My friends, we have talked -- we have talked this issue to death, year after year, decade after decade. That's why I said last week before a joint session of Congress, I said, the time for bickering is over. The time for games has passed. Now is the time for action. Now is the time to deliver on health insurance reform. (Applause.)The plan I announced will offer more security and more stability to Americans who have insurance. It will offer insurance to Americans who don't. And it will slow the growth of health care costs for our families, our businesses, and our government.If you already have health insurance through your job -- and because many of you are members of unions, you do -- nothing in this plan will require you or your employer to change your coverage or your doctor. Let me repeat: Nothing in this plan will require you to change your coverage or your doctor.What this plan will do is make your insurance work better for you. It'll be against the law for insurance companies to deny you coverage because of a preexisting condition. (Applause.) It will be against the law for insurance companies to drop your coverage when you get sick, or water it down when you need it the most. (Applause.) They won't be able to place some arbitrary cap on how much coverage you can receive in a given year or a given lifetime. (Applause.) We'll place a limit on how much you can be charged for out-of-pocket expenses -- because in the United States of America, nobody should go broke just because they got sick. (Applause.)
Jesse LeeSeptember 15, 2009
01:50 PM EDTThe President spent this morning with some of those hit hardest by the economic downturn - GM plant workers in Ohio. In a roundtable with a handful of employees, he praised them for the training and skill they had acquired to do their jobs, and restated his pledge to make that kind of education and training available to the next generation, both for the jobs of today and the jobs of tomorrow.Afterwards, speaking to thousands of GM employees, the President delivered good news to a community that might have thought they'd never hear any again:Because of the steps we've taken, this plant is about to shift into high gear. (Applause.) A hundred and fifty of your coworkers came back to work yesterday. (Applause.) More than 1,000 will be coming back to work in less than three weeks as production of the Cobalt ramps up. (Applause.) That's worth standing for. (Applause.) And next year, this plant will begin production of the Chevy Cruze -- (applause) -- a new car that will get more than 40 miles per gallon. I just sat in the car. I asked for the keys, they wouldn't give me the keys. (Laughter.) I was going -- I was going to take it for a little spin. (Laughter.) But it was nice sitting in there. It was a roomy car -- 40 miles per gallon.So if you picked up a copy of the Youngstown Vindicator back in January, you would have seen a headline that read: "Worries mount in wake of layoffs." A couple weeks ago, you would have read a different story: "Good news at Lordstown is good news for all." And today, you made, by the way, some more good news: I understand that the one-millionth Cobalt rolled off the assembly line late last night. (Applause.)>So I don't want to just congratulate you, I want to thank you. You're doing your part to move us forward and make sure that the high-quality, well-engineered, safe and fuel-efficient cars of the future will be built where they've always have been built -- right here in Ohio, right across the Midwest, right here in the United States of America. (Applause.)Calling upon workers to maintain a fighting spirit, President Obama thanked Ohio residents for their perseverance and assured that more hope is on the way:Now, we've still got a long way to go. But there is little debate that the decisions we've made and the steps we've taken helped stop our economic freefall. In some places, they've helped us turn the corner. Home sales are up; business investment is starting to stabilize. For the first time in 18 months, we're actually seeing growth in American manufacturing, instead of decline. (Applause.)I know that's small consolation when so many people you know are still out of work. It's going to take some time to achieve a complete recovery. But I want you all to know, I will not rest until anybody who's looking for a job can find one -- and I'm not talking about just any job, but good jobs that give every American decent wages and decent benefits and a fair shot at the American Dream. (Applause.) That's what I'm fighting for every single day. (Applause.)
Vivek KundraSeptember 15, 2009
12:09 PM EDTToday, I am excited to announce that we have launched Apps.gov to help continue the President’s initiative to lower the cost of government operations while driving innovation within government. I'll be discussing this in a speech at the NASA Ames Research Center at 1:00 EDT - watch the speech live here [UPDATE: This event has now concluded].Apps.gov is an online storefront for federal agencies to quickly browse and purchase cloud-based IT services, for productivity, collaboration, and efficiency. Cloud computing is the next generation of IT in which data and applications will be housed centrally and accessible anywhere and anytime by a various devices (this is opposed to the current model where applications and most data is housed on individual devices). By consolidating available services, Apps.gov is a one-stop source for cloud services – an innovation that not only can change how IT operates, but also save taxpayer dollars in the process.The federal government spends over $75 billion annually on information technology (IT). This technology supports every mission our government performs— from defending our borders to protecting the environment. IT is essential for the government to do its work, and it is essential that we have access to the latest and most innovative technologies.However, federal agencies and departments encounter many difficulties in deploying new IT services and products. Procurement processes can be confusing and time-consuming. Security procedures are complex, costly, lengthy and duplicative across agencies. Our policies lag behind new trends, causing unnecessary restrictions on the use of new technology. Past practices too often resulted in inefficient use of purchased IT capabilities across the federal government. We are dedicated to addressing these barriers and to improving the way government leverages new technology.Now, we can start to address some of these challenges by adopting the use of cloud computing in the federal government through Apps.gov. Cloud computing is defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology as a computing model where IT capabilities are delivered as a service over the Internet to many users. Like a utility such as electricity or water, cloud computing allows users to only consume what they need, to grow or shrink their use as their needs change, and to only pay for what they actually use. With more rapid access to innovative IT solutions, agencies can spend less time and taxpayer dollars on procedural items and focus more on using technology to achieve their missions.We are just beginning this undertaking, and it will take time before we can realize the full potential of cloud computing. Like with Data.gov, Apps.gov is starting small – with the goal of rapidly scaling it up in size. Along the way, we will need to address various issues related to security, privacy, information management and procurement to expand our cloud computing services. Over time, as we work through these concerns and offer more services through Apps.gov, federal agencies will be able to get the capabilities they need to fulfill their missions at lower cost, faster, and ultimately, in a more sustainable manner.Vivek Kundra is the U.S. Chief Information Officer.
September 14, 2009
05:51 PM EDT
This data, from 2007, is startling, because we know it only represents a fraction of the women who are victims of violence. One in every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year, and one in six women will experience an attempted or completed rape at some time in her life.That is why today, President Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation lauding the 15th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act:This bipartisan accomplishment has ushered in a new era of responsibility in the fight to end violence against women. In the 15 years since VAWA became law, our Nation's response to domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking has strengthened. Communities recognize the special needs of victims and appreciate the benefits of collaboration among professionals in the civil and criminal justice system, victim advocates, and other service providers. With the support of VAWA funds, dedicated units of law enforcement officers and specialized prosecutors have grown more numerous than ever before. Most importantly, victims are more likely to have a place to turn for help -- for emergency shelter and crisis services, and also for legal assistance, transitional housing, and services for their children.In 1994, then Senator Joe Biden authored this landmark legislation. Created in recognition of the severity of the crimes associated with domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking, it led to the creation of the Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women.This critical component of the Justice Department administers a wide variety of financial and technical assistance to communities around the country. These grants than facilitate the creation of programs, policies and practices aimed at ending domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking – programs like the STOP program.Today the Department of Justice marks the start of a year-long anniversary effort to raise public awareness on issues around violence against women, to reinforce and build coalitions among federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement and victim services communities, and to reinforce the goal of ending domestic and dating violence, sexual assault and stalking for men, women and children across the country.Attorney General Holder noted the Act’s importance to the Department of Justice:"The Violence Against Women Act forever changed the way this nation meets our responsibility to survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. It has been an essential building block in the Justice Department’s work to end violence against women. The Justice Department will continue to take every possible step to enforce laws protecting victims of violence and to provide resources to aid victim service providers."Over the last 15 years, the Violence Against Women Act, and the work done by the Office of Violence Against Women, has created a paradigm shift in how the issue of violence against women is addressed in communities throughout the nation, but there is still work to do.As Vice President Biden said today:"We’ve made tremendous progress since the Violence Against Women Act first passed in 1994, but we have much more to do. We cannot rest. It will take all of us to fulfill the promise to end domestic violence and sexual assault."You can learn more about the Office and Violence Against Women and the Violence Against Women Act at http://www.ovw.usdoj.gov/.Tracy Russo is New Media Director at the Department of Justice
505,000: The number of victims who were assisted by the STOP Violence Against Women Formula Grant Program, a project of the Office of Violence Against Women.
1,201,000: The number of services provided to these victims in communities across America as a result of the grants awarded by the Office of Violence Against Women’s STOP program.
4,700: The number of individuals arrested for violations of protection orders intended to prevent violence against woman under the STOP program.
Jesse LeeSeptember 14, 2009
05:42 PM EDTThe President's speech welcoming students back to school last week focused on a number of messages that all parents can get behind. He told them to take responsibility for their educations, to not only stay in school but to thrive, and to appreciate what they have. If the reactions of eight seniors at the School Without Walls in Washington, DC, were any indication, these messages got through to at least some of America’s students – watch the video from the Department of Education:
September 14, 2009
03:45 PM EDTLast week I toured the Ivanhoe neighborhood in Kansas City, MO with colleagues from the federal government. The stories I heard from folks in the neighborhood and the places I saw reminded me of the untapped potential of so many similar communities across the country. This is a place that had been overlooked and underserved for decades, and was held together by neighborhood residents who refused to give up.
Our visit to Kansas City is part of the White House Office of Urban Affairs’ tour called the National Conversation on the Future of Cities and Metros. At this stop we explored a "place based initiative" called the Green Impact Zone — an ambitious plan to invest in a specific area to address a variety of challenges. Over the last year, a public-private partnership led by Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, that included neighborhood leaders, the Mid America Regional Council (MARC), Kansas City Power & Light and the Kansas City Area Transportation Authority, designed an innovative plan to weatherize every home in a 150-block area, train local residents in green jobs, deploy a "smart" electricity grid in the Zone, and develop a green bus-rapid-transit system to connect this community to opportunities in the city and region.
HUD Secretary Donovan and Transportation Deputy Secretary Porcari joined our White House delegation to learn more about the challenges these partners overcame to plan for the Green Impact Zone, and the critical catalytic role the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act played in spurring this on. The Zone is comprised of six neighborhoods and is known as the area "East of Troost Avenue." It has historically been plagued by high rates of unemployment and poverty. A major element of the Green Impact Zone plan is to link residents to resources like the jobs that will be created through the home weatherization efforts.We had the opportunity to tour the Zone with Margaret May, Director of the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Community Center and David Warm, Executive Director of the Mid-America Regional Council (MARC). We stopped at the home of Ida Dockery whose home was recently weatherized. Ida was very happy to know she will save a lot on her utilities. She spoke about the transformation of the neighborhood that began with a few neighbors getting together to clean up their blocks and enlisting many neighbors and finally the help of the city.
Right after the neighborhood tour, we helped to cut the ribbon at the grand opening of the Green Impact Zone Community Assistance Center. Led by Anita Maltbia, Director of the new center, this office will deploy organizers to work with the community on green projects and serve as a one-stop-shop for accessing federal resources to redevelop the Zone.
When you visit Kansas City you must have lunch at Gates BBQ. Folks in Kansas City are rightfully proud of their barbecue culinary tradition. So, in keeping with local tradition we had a great lunch at Gates BBQ, while we engaged in a rigorous policy discussion on the elements of the Green Impact Zone and how it might be replicated around the country. Make sure you follow your lunch with coffe if you intend to continue a day of work, as we did.
The stakeholders who were part of this discussion agreed to help the federal government identify barriers (statutory and regulatory) to smart investments and innovations that serve communities. Mark Huffer of the Kansas City Area Transit Authority explained that one barrier to transit development is finding qualified transit operators. He urged that we develop opportunities for training prospective operators in the urban core. Deputy Secretary John Porcari noted that the Department of Transportation has to "beat to fit"that is, "beat federal policy to fit the needs of the communities we serve." DOT, as well as all federal agencies, are working with us to explore methods of providing more flexibility in funding to help local leaders better address the needs of their communities.
Our day ended with a robust discussion about the future of Kansas City and the Green Impact Zone with local leaders and members of the community. Manheim Neighborhood Association President Rodney Knott shared his vision for building more green homes and training neighborhood folks in construction, so they are able to rehabilitate abandoned properties in the area. Mr. Knott said, "A great man once called on us and challenged the nation to put a man on the moon, and we did, another great man has challenged us to realize energy independence and invest in human capital. The Green Impact Zone is evidence that we can meet this challenge." HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan applauded Knott’s efforts and noted that HUD has proposed to set aside $150 million in funding for sustainable development at the regional, city and neighborhood levels.
I believe the smart investment being made in Kansas City’s Green Impact Zone will prove to be a ground-breaking approach to neighborhood revitalization. This is the kind of inter-agency, interdisciplinary strategy we need to apply in hundreds of communities around the country. As I told the crowd gathered, "national policy should be driven by smart local plans."
Bravo Kansas City!
For questions or ideas for the Urban Tour, please feel free to send a message to email@example.com.
Adolfo Carrión, Jr. is Director of the White House Office of Urban Affairs and Deputy Assistant to the President
Jesse LeeSeptember 14, 2009
01:40 PM EDTIt was one year ago today that predictions of a possible depression began to be taken seriously. Lehman Brothers, one of the world's oldest financial institutions, one which most would have assumed would be around virtually forever, had fallen. In the time since then, a great deal has happened – a new President was elected and sworn in; the Recovery Act was passed to spur job creation in sectors that would rebuild our nation for a new century; and the Treasury Secretary took aggressive action to stabilize the financial markets that were dragging down everything from 401(k)'s to spots on the factory floor. And of course there have been endless news cycles and political scuffles along the way.But as economic indicators continue to trickle out showing that we are returning from the brink, and that the tragic impact on jobs that this downturn has had will not last forever, the President spoke at Federal Hall in New York City to both look back and look forward:While full recovery of the financial system will take a great deal more time and work, the growing stability resulting from these interventions means we're beginning to return to normalcy. But here's what I want to emphasize today: Normalcy cannot lead to complacency.Unfortunately, there are some in the financial industry who are misreading this moment. Instead of learning the lessons of Lehman and the crisis from which we're still recovering, they're choosing to ignore those lessons. I'm convinced they do so not just at their own peril, but at our nation's. So I want everybody here to hear my words: We will not go back to the days of reckless behavior and unchecked excess that was at the heart of this crisis, where too many were motivated only by the appetite for quick kills and bloated bonuses. Those on Wall Street cannot resume taking risks without regard for consequences, and expect that next time, American taxpayers will be there to break their fall.And that's why we need strong rules of the road to guard against the kind of systemic risks that we've seen. And we have a responsibility to write and enforce these rules to protect consumers of financial products, to protect taxpayers, and to protect our economy as a whole. Yes, there must -- these rules must be developed in a way that doesn't stifle innovation and enterprise. And I want to say very clearly here today, we want to work with the financial industry to achieve that end. But the old ways that led to this crisis cannot stand. And to the extent that some have so readily returned to them underscores the need for change and change now. History cannot be allowed to repeat itself.So what we're calling for is for the financial industry to join us in a constructive effort to update the rules and regulatory structure to meet the challenges of this new century. That is what my administration seeks to do. We've sought ideas and input from industry leaders and policy experts, academics, consumer advocates, and the broader public. And we've worked closely with leaders in the Senate and the House, including not only Barney, but also Senators Chris Dodd and Richard Shelby, and Barney is already working with his counterpart, Sheldon [sic] Bachus. And we intend to pass regulatory reform through Congress.And taken together, we're proposing the most ambitious overhaul of the financial regulatory system since the Great Depression. But I want to emphasize that these reforms are rooted in a simple principle: We ought to set clear rules of the road that promote transparency and accountability. That's how we'll make certain that markets foster responsibility, not recklessness. That's how we'll make certain that markets reward those who compete honestly and vigorously within the system, instead of those who are trying to game the system.
September 13, 2009
04:57 PM EDTSeptember is National Preparedness Month and a great opportunity for your household, business, or community to focus on preparedness. It is recommended that all Americans have an emergency supply kit and an emergency plan, and be informed about the different emergencies that can happen in their area and the appropriate responses.Getting prepared can be as easy as following these steps:
Check out this video from Ready.gov:Join the Ready Campaign today to help share information about emergency preparedness or submit a testimonial on the importance of being prepared for emergencies and natural disasters to the Ready Video Blog.Here are some related preparedness webinars coming up that are free and open to the public:
For more information about these events, please visit Ready.gov
- Sept 16: Pandemic Planning - How to Prepare Your Business for the Upcoming Flu Season
- Sept 23: Social Media – What Role Does it Play in Business Preparedness
- Sept 30: Creating a Culture of Preparedness
Jesse LeeSeptember 13, 2009
11:58 AM EDT
During Wednesday's address to Congress, the President rose above the chatter, misinformation, and petty politics that opponents of health insurance reform have taken to new heights. In laying out the specifics of his plan, he spoke clearly on how it will benefit those who already have insurance -- ending discrimination based on pre-existing conditions, making sure you can't be dropped just because you get sick, capping out-of-pocket expenses, and eliminating extra charges for preventive care and tests that help you avoid getting sick in the first place. He explained how for the tens of millions of Americans without insurance, a new Insurance Exchange, a public option, and tax credits will open up a new range of afforable choices. And he explained how all Americans can feel safe that reform will include provisions guaranteeing it will not add to the deficit and take significant steps to bring down costs for families, businesses, and the government.
Yesterday the President took his case from the heart of Washington out on the road, where an enthusiastic crowd showed a snapshot of the hunger for reform all over the country. During his remarks, the President discussed all of the same benefits of reform, but also emphasized that the fate of reform ultimately rests in their hands, and in all of your hands across the country:THE PRESIDENT: ...Minnesota, we are closer to reform than we've ever been before, but this is the hard part. This is when the special interests and the insurance companies and the folks who think, you know, this is a good way to bring Obama down -- (boos) -- this is when they're going to fight with everything they've got. This is when they'll spread all kinds of wild rumors designed to scare and intimidate people. That's why I need your help. (Applause.)AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!THE PRESIDENT: You know, there have been -- there have been some of the pundits in Washington who have been saying, well, maybe you've been trying to do too much.AUDIENCE: No!THE PRESIDENT: Maybe you've been pushing too far too fast.AUDIENCE: No!THE PRESIDENT: And I try to remind them, I said, listen, I never said change would be easy. (Applause.) Change is hard. It's always been hard. When FDR -- when FDR decided that Social Security was something that seniors needed -- (applause) -- when FDR decided -- when FDR introduced Social Security, you know what happened? They called it socialism. But senior citizens decided that, you know what? If I've got some protection in my golden years, that's something that's worth fighting for. (Applause.) When Medicare -- when Medicare was introduced as an idea, they said this is going to be a government takeover of Medicare. But imagine what seniors would be dealing with right now if they didn't have Medicare. Every time we've made progress it's because ordinary people banded together and they stood up and they said, we've got to make progress, and we're going to push and we're going to prod until Washington finally reacts, finally responds. (Applause.)I've always believed -- because I've always believed that change doesn't come from the top down; it comes from the bottom up. It doesn't start in Washington, D.C.; it begins in places like Minneapolis, it begins in places like St. Paul. (Applause.) It begins with you sharing your stories, fighting for something better. (Applause.) That's how change happens. That's what's happening right now. (Applause.)AUDIENCE: Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!THE PRESIDENT: You know, I asked you -- I asked you at the beginning of the rally whether you were fired up. (Applause.) Some of you may have heard where that story comes from. But for those of you who don't know, I want to just tell this story real quick. My staff loves this story, so they always tell me, "Tell that story." (Laughter.) But it bears on what's happening with health care today.This is back at the beginning, when I was running for President. Nobody thought I could win; nobody could pronounce my name. (Laughter.) Nobody except R.T., that was the only person who believed. (Applause.)So I went down to -- it was right at the beginning of the campaign. I went down to South Carolina to a legislative conference where I was supposed to be one of the speakers. And I was sitting next to a state representative there -- nobody was that excited to see me. (Laughter.) You know, I was -- but I really needed some support and endorsements because South Carolina was an early state. So I said to this state representative, "Will you endorse my campaign?" And she looked at me and she said, "I will endorse your campaign if you come to my hometown of Greenwood, South Carolina." So I had had some wine and I was feeling kind of desperate. (Laughter.) I said, "Yes, I'll come to Greenwood. Be happy to do it." Only to find out that Greenwood is like an hour and a half from everyplace else. (Laughter.) You can't fly into Greenwood.About a month later, I've been campaigning in Iowa for weeks -- (applause) -- haven't seen my family -- got some Iowa folks in the house? (Applause.) I'm exhausted. I get into Greenville, South Carolina, about midnight. I get to my hotel about 1:00 a.m. I'm dragging to the hotel. I'm carrying my bags, ready to hit the pillow. And suddenly my staff says, "Sir?" I said, "What?" (Laughter.) They said, "Sir, you have to be in the car at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow -- in the morning." (Laughter.) I said, "Why is that?" They said, "Because you've got to go to Greenwood like you promised."Next morning, I wake up and I feel awful, I feel terrible. I'm exhausted. And I stagger over to the window to pull open the blinds, and it's pouring down rain outside, terrible day. I go out and I get some coffee and open up the newspaper -- bad story about me in The New York Times. (Laughter.) I pack up, I go downstairs. As I'm walking to the car my umbrella blows open and I get drenched. (Laughter.) So by the time I'm in the car I'm wet and I'm sleepy and I'm mad. (Laughter.)And I drive -- and we drive and we drive and we drive -- hour and a half, we just keep on driving. (Laughter.) Finally we get to Greenwood -- although you don't know that you're in Greenwood right away. (Laughter.) It's not like Minneapolis. (Laughter.) So there's a little field house in a park, and we go into the field house, I walk in, I get a little more wet. I walk in -- lo and behold, 20 people there. (Laughter.) Twenty people. And I'm already thinking about the fact I've got another hour and a half I've got to drive back. (Laughter.) And they're all kind of damp and they don't look like they're that happy to be there. The state rep had dragged them to the meeting.But that's okay. I have a job to do. I'm running for President, I shake their hand, I say, "How do you do, what do you do, nice to meet you." Suddenly I hear this voice should out behind me: "Fired up?" (Laughter.) And I almost jumped out of my shoes. (Laughter.) But everybody else acts like this is normal and they all say, "Fired up!" And then I hear this voice: "Ready to go?" And the people around me, they just say, "Ready to go!" I don't know what's going on. So I look behind me, and there's this little woman there. She's about 5'2", 5'3", she's maybe 50, 60 years old. And she looks like she's dressed for church. She's got a big church hat. (Laughter.) And she's just grinning at me, just smiling. And she points at me and she says "Fired up?" (Laughter and applause.)Wait, wait, the story gets better here. It turns out that she is a city councilwoman from Greenwood named Edith Childs -- that's her name -- and she's also known as the chant lady because she does this chant wherever she goes. She goes, "Fired up?" "Fired up!" "Ready to go?" "Ready to go!" (Laughter.) And she does this at every event she goes to. She's also, by the way, we discovered later, she also moonlights as a private detective but that's a -- (laughter) -- true story. True story.But she's well known for her chant, so for the next five minutes, she starts chanting. She says, "Fired up?" And everybody says, "Fired up!" "Ready to go?" "Ready to go!" And this just keeps on going. And I realize I'm being upstaged by this woman. (Laughter.) And I'm -- she's getting all the attention, and I'm standing there looking at my staff and they're shrugging their shoulders. (Laughter.) But here's the thing, Minneapolis. After about a minute, maybe two, I'm feeling kind of fired up. (Laughter and applause.) I'm feeling -- I'm feeling like I'm ready to go. (Applause.)And so -- so for the rest of the day, every time I saw my staff, I'd say, "Are you fired up?" They'd say, "I'm fired up." "Are you ready to go?" They'd say, "I'm ready to go." (Applause.) And it goes to show you how one voice can change a room. (Applause.) And if it changes a room it can change a city. And if it can change a city it can change a state. And if it can change a state it can change a nation. If it changes the nation it can change the world. (Applause.) It can bring health care to every American. It can lower our costs. It can make your insurance more secure. I want to know, Minnesota, are you fired up?AUDIENCE: Fired up!THE PRESIDENT: Ready to go?AUDIENCE: Ready to go!THE PRESIDENT: Fired up?AUDIENCE: Fired up!THE PRESIDENT: Ready to go?AUDIENCE: Ready to go!THE PRESIDENT: Fired up?AUDIENCE: Fired up!THE PRESIDENT: Ready to go?AUDIENCE: Ready to go!THE PRESIDENT: They can't stop us. Let's go get this done. Thank you, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)
When you go talk to your neighbors, bring a few of these (pdf).
Jesse LeeSeptember 12, 2009
02:00 AM EDTThe President discusses a staggering new report from the Treasury Department indicating that under the status quo, around half of all Americans under 65 will lose their health coverage at some point over the next ten years. He pledges not to allow this future to unfold: "In the United States of America, no one should have to worry that they'll go without health care – not for one year, not for one month, not for one day. And once I sign my health reform plan into law – they won't."
September 11, 2009
05:15 PM EDT
Dressed casually in a vibrant blue cardigan and jeans and armed with a paintbrush, a passerby may assume the smiling volunteer was just another Habitat for Humanity worker. A double-take reveals, however, that standing alongside George Washington University students is none other than the First Lady, Michelle Obama.
As part of the first National Day of Service, the First Lady visited a DC Habitat for Humanity site, her presence an exciting start to what is sure to be GW's most service-oriented year ever.
With a promise to speak at GWU's May 2010 Commencement on the line, students accepted the First Lady's challenge to complete a collective 100,000 hours of community service by the end of the school year. She told them, "What’s taking place at The George Washington University is what United We Serve is all about. My challenge to the GW community is to make service a daily part of their lives."
They had one other set of hands to help them out as well:
Jesse LeeSeptember 11, 2009
04:08 PM EDTThis morning’s dismal skies were in sharp contrast to a sunny, cloudless September 11 eight years ago, when tragedy struck America. Today, the President paid tribute to those who lost their lives at the Pentagon Wreath-Laying Ceremony.
We remember with reverence the lives we lost. We read their names. We press their photos to our hearts. And on this day that marks their death, we recall the beauty and meaning of their lives; men and women and children of every color and every creed, from across our nation and from more than 100 others. They were innocent. Harming no one, they went about their daily lives. Gone in a horrible instant, they now "dwell in the House of the Lord forever."We honor all those who gave their lives so that others might live, and all the survivors who battled burns and wounds and helped each other rebuild their lives; men and women who gave life to that most simple of rules: I am my brother's keeper; I am my sister's keeper.We pay tribute to the service of a new generation -- young Americans raised in a time of peace and plenty who saw their nation in its hour of need and said, "I choose to serve"; "I will do my part." And once more we grieve. For you and your families, no words can ease the ache of your heart. No deeds can fill the empty places in your homes. But on this day and all that follow, you may find solace in the memory of those you loved, and know that you have the unending support of the American people.The President called upon the nation reflect upon the lessons of the tragedy, and to forever hold the day in reverence:Let us renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this barbaric act and who plot against us still. In defense of our nation we will never waver; in pursuit of al Qaeda and its extremist allies, we will never falter.Let us renew our commitment to all those who serve in our defense -- our courageous men and women in uniform and their families and all those who protect us here at home. Mindful that the work of protecting America is never finished, we will do everything in our power to keep America safe.Let us renew the true spirit of that day. Not the human capacity for evil, but the human capacity for good. Not the desire to destroy, but the impulse to save, and to serve, and to build. On this first National Day of Service and Remembrance, we can summon once more that ordinary goodness of America -- to serve our communities, to strengthen our country, and to better our world.Most of all, on a day when others sought to sap our confidence, let us renew our common purpose. Let us remember how we came together as one nation, as one people, as Americans, united not only in our grief, but in our resolve to stand with one another, to stand up for the country we all love.