Our Top Stories
January 19, 2010
10:38 PM EDT
Today, we’re excited to announce the new White House App available for Apple iPhone and iPod Touch. The White House App delivers dynamic content from WhiteHouse.gov to the palm of your hand.
One feature that stands out is live video streaming. Now anyone with this app can watch the President’s public events at the White House, frequent web chats with Administration officials, and other events like key speeches and press briefings in real time.
In fact, the President’s State of the Union speech next week is a great example. In addition to the millions of Americans watching through TV and websites like WhiteHouse.gov/live, iPhone users on the go will be able to tune in through their phones.
The White House App also lets users stay up to date with the White House Blog and the latest from the Briefing Room. Browse behind-the-scenes photos and watch on-demand videos. The app provides instant access to full videos from recent speeches, press briefings, and special events.
- The White House App is available for free download from the iTunes App Store
This is just the first step for WhiteHouse.gov’s mobile platform.
Coming soon: mobile.WhiteHouse.gov
In the coming weeks, we’ll also launch mobile.WhiteHouse.gov, a mobile-ready version of WhiteHouse.gov that is optimized for any internet-enabled mobile device, including many other phones.
Mobile internet access is an important way Americans are staying informed. Mobile web usage grew over 100% in the last year in the United States and higher worldwide. As part of President Obama’s commitment to an open and transparent government, the White House App makes getting all the latest news and media from the White House easier than ever. And of course, we’ll continue to look for new and emerging technologies to engage the American people and make information about the President and his administration easily available.
Jesse LeeJanuary 19, 2010
09:08 PM EDT
President Obama hosted a Forum on Modernizing Government at the White House last week. More than 50 private-sector leaders shared business best practices and other ideas for leveraging technology to streamline federal operations, improve customer service, and save money.
Two breakout sessions – one led by the Deputy Secretary of Education, Tony Miller and one led by the Deputy Secretary of Interior, David Hayes, discussed ideas for measuring customer satisfaction and improving the ways in which the government can deliver services to the American people.
Another two breakout sessions – one led by the Deputy Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Scott Gould and one led by the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Bill Lynn, discussed ideas for managing long-term business transformation and IT projects.
And another breakout session, led by the Deputy Secretary of State, Jack Lew, discussed ideas for prioritizing technology investments and managing the overall technology budget to deliver results.
The best practices discussed in these sessions are included below. We invite you to reflect on these ideas and respond to the OSTP blog with specific examples from the private sector in which these concepts have worked well. What tactics would you use to implement some of these ideas within the federal government? How else have you seen technology used to streamline operations and better meet customer needs?
Nancy SutleyJanuary 19, 2010
06:00 PM EDT
I was happy to return to my hometown, New York City, on Thursday and Friday with a focus on energy efficiency. This gave me an opportunity to appreciate New York City in a different way as energy efficiency efforts are underway throughout the five boroughs -- both in policy and in practice. In the morning, I met with Mayor Bloomberg to discuss New York’s ambitious plan to retrofit buildings to save energy. This is one example of the work mayors are doing throughout the country to reduce their city's carbon footprint, improve air quality and put people back to work through energy efficiency upgrades.
Later, I visited my home borough of Queens, where I toured the Mason Tenders Training Center to see workers being trained in energy efficiency upgrading and weatherization. The work they are learning to do -- caulking windows and doors, adding insulation, investigating HVAC systems, replacing energy inefficient light bulbs -- is the type of work that will lower home owners’ energy bills, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create good, green jobs.
Afterwards, I traveled to the West 135th St. Apartments in Harlem to visit the first Section 8 multi-family housing property to receive Recovery Act funding through the Green Retrofit Program from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Jonathan Rose Companies, a New York-based property owner and developer is receiving a $3.6 million loan to retrofit this 198-unit, 10 building historic property. This loan will fund a comprehensive energy retrofit project that, when completed, will enhance quality of life for the residents, reduce energy costs, cut water consumption, improve indoor air quality, and create quality local jobs.
We see home energy upgrades and retrofits as a part of the President’s vision for a clean energy economy. That is why I am leading the Administration’s work on Recovery Through Retrofit, which builds on the foundation laid in the Recovery Act to expand green job opportunities and boost energy savings by making homes more energy efficient. In the U.S., 130 million homes are responsible for more than 20 percent of our carbon emissions. Energy efficiency retrofits present the opportunity to increase energy efficiency, while also creating new businesses and good green jobs.
Nancy Sutley is the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
Jesse LeeJanuary 19, 2010
05:00 PM EDT
The message below was sent out to all Coast Guard personnel from Admiral Thad Allen, their Commandant, moments ago:
To the Men and Women of the United States Coast Guard:
Exactly one week ago today, a little before 1700 EST, a violent earthquake devastated Port Au Prince, Haiti. Without waiting for tasking, Coast Guard men and women from all over the country made immediate preparations to assist the beleaguered Haitian people. The next morning, Haitians witnessed President Obama's pledge - "You will not be forsaken and you will not be forgotten" - become reality when the cutter FORWARD arrived with the rising sun as the first American asset on-scene. Amidst the devastation, FORWARD delivered damage assessments, critical command and control capabilities, and most importantly - hope.
I am incredibly proud of the performance of all our personnel during this challenging period and like you, my heart goes out to the Haitian people who have suffered so greatly. Coast Guard units were the first on-scene in Port Au Prince and have been working around the clock with our interagency partners to provide humanitarian assistance, evacuate U.S. citizens, and help the most seriously wounded.
On-scene, the cutters TAHOMA and MOHAWK quickly established a makeshift trauma unit with the Haitian Coast Guard and triaged hundreds of injured people. TAHOMA's crew even delivered a baby boy from an injured Haitian woman on their flight deck and a second baby at their shoreside clinic. C-130 aircraft performed damage assessment flights and the cutter VALIANT conducted a port assessment of Cap Haitian to create another entryway for supplies that were backing up at the airport. The cutter OAK continues to survey Port Au Prince harbor and repair the primary pier to allow much needed supplies to flow directly into the city. Aircrews from Mobile, AL; Elizabeth City, NC; Sacramento, CA; Barbers Point, HI; Detroit, MI; and Jacksonville and Miami, FL are also assisting with overflights and evacuations.
Supporting our forward operations have been thousands of Guardians working inside and outside of the Coast Guard. The Seventh District Commander has been leading the Homeland Security Task Force South East which is a key coordination point for the federal government's collective response and evacuation efforts. A joint FEMA-Coast Guard team has been deployed to Port Au Prince to support United States response operations being directed by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). We are also supporting U.S. Southern Command Joint Task Force Haiti with individual augmentees. Our Area Commanders have worked seamlessly to flow forces rapidly including moving the cutter HAMILTON through the Panama Canal from the West Coast. The Chief of Staff, exercising his mission support responsibilities, has skillfully integrated and deployed logistics elements demonstrating the maturation of our new support model. Here in Washington, our staffs have integrated with key partners including DOD, FEMA and USAID. I have worked with FEMA Director, Craig Fugate, in support of Secretary Napolitano and Deputy Secretary Lute at a number of White House meetings.
We continue to surge people and assets because we will have to sustain our response efforts in Haiti. HAMILTON and LEGARE will soon be on-scene pushing our total number of Guardians in theater to over 700. We are also recalling Coast Guard reservists to augment our humanitarian efforts and ensure maritime safety and security for relief supplies arriving in theater. Our immediate and sustained response illustrates the value of the Coast Guard's flexible command structure, ability to operate across the interagency and international spectrums, and the initiative of our people to take action. This is why the Coast Guard is so valuable to the American public and the global maritime community.
Our efforts have not gone unnoticed. Secretary of State Clinton commented "our Coast Guard has been unbelievable." At a press conference last week, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ADM Mike Mullen stated "the Coast Guard was magnificent from day one. First, they were medevacing people literally within the first 24 hours. And I want to give them a great deal of credit for their response capability as well." Those comments are directed at all of you who executing or supporting our operations.
Many have questioned how the Coast Guard can do so much so quickly, and I simply reply: "This is what we do". Our Guardians are committed to protecting, defending, and saving without having to be told to do so. Along with all Americans, I am truly inspired by the Coast Guard men and women operating in theater, backfilling for deployed units, or providing the necessary support to make it all possible. As always, our Guardians are here to protect and ready to rescue at a moment's notice. That is who we are and why we serve.
I cannot describe it any better than a young petty officer assigned to TAHOMA in this email to his family:
"There is an eerie feeling in the air amongst our crew tonight. Those who remained shielded on the cutter today see in the eyes of those who went ashore what a major disaster can do to a nation. I have never seen so many grown men and women with tears in their eyes. Those who did go ashore experienced first-hand the severity of the situation.
I've been shielded today only talking over the radio to those who have seen it. Never once was there a question of professionalism in their voice. I remember in boot camp being told that the U.S. Coast Guard on the right side of our chest takes priority over our name. Today the men and women who went ashore wore coveralls without their names on them. All that was visible were the letters USCG.
Today was the first day I think I've truly been more thankful to be an American. Not because of our infrastructure or the freedoms given to us, but because as a country we will be there when a country of less fortune is in need. Haiti rarely exports anything to our country. They have no oil or major cash crop we use. But as a county we will stand together and put aside our different opinions of healthcare, war, or economy and help out those in need.
Right now we are taking it hour by hour, aftershock by aftershock, every little bit helps. I'm going to try and get some sleep, as I've already put in a solid 16 hours. Tomorrow will be longer."
Thank you and Semper Paratus!
Admiral Thad Allen
Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard
Read and see additional firsthand accounts from Guardians providing aid to Haiti on the Coast Guard’s blog.
Jesse LeeJanuary 19, 2010
11:31 AM EDT
Ed. Note: BlogHer is soliciting questions on the Obama Administration and education from their readers for a live online video chat tomorrow here at WhiteHouse.gov. Go join their thread, and come back at 11:30AM EST tomorrow for the chat with Domestic Policy Advisor Melody Barnes.
This morning the President and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan paid a visit to Graham Road Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia where they had a chat with about 30 6th grade students. The conversation put a face to the people they were trying to help with the President's latest investment of more than a billion dollars in next year's budget to amp up the President’s "Race to the Top" program – a competition to incentivize success that has already generated an overwhelming response from states, with over 30 states expected to compete for first-round funding.
You can learn more about Graham Road in the White House background release, but the school made a mark on its community by implementing a comprehensive strategy to turn around student achievement, adopting rigorous and high-quality student assessments, teacher evaluation and professional development, along with innovative and effective use of data systems to track student performance. As a result, in 2008 all of the school's sixth-graders met Virginia's reading standards, and 96 percent met math standards, despite being one of the lowest income schools in the county. The expansion of Race to the Top comes with a plan to encourage precisely this kind of visionary change in schools that apply for the challenge.
In his remarks after the meeting with students, the President explained how it all works, and the logic behind "Race to the Top":
Last year, we set aside more than $4 billion to improve our schools -- one of the largest investments in reform in our nation's history. But we didn't just hand this money out to states that wanted it; we challenged them to compete for it. And it's the competitive nature of this initiative that we believe helps make it so effective. We laid out a few key criteria and said if you meet these tests, we'll reward you by helping you reform your schools.
First, we encouraged states to adopt more challenging standards that will actually prepare our kids for college and their careers. We also encouraged schools to adopt better assessments -- not just one-size-fits-all approaches -- to measure what our kids know and what they're able to do.
Second, we urged schools and school districts to make sure we have excellent principals leading our schools and great teachers leading our classes by promoting rigorous plans to develop and evaluate teachers and principals and by rewarding their success.
Third, we urged states to use cutting-edge data systems to track a child's progress throughout their academic career, and to link that child's progress to their teachers so we know what's working and what's not working in the classroom. Fourth, we encouraged states to show a stronger commitment to turning around some of their lowest-performing schools.
And even before states have received a single dime of taxpayer money, many of them have committed to instituting important reforms to better position themselves for a Race to the Top grant. Forty-eight states have now joined a nationwide partnership to develop a common set of rigorous, career-ready standards in reading and math. Wisconsin has enacted legislation permitting schools to link student achievement to the performance of teachers and principals. In Illinois, Louisiana, Tennessee, California, we've seen changes in laws or policies to let public charter schools expand and succeed. These are public schools with more independence that are formed by teachers, parents, and community members.
So by rewarding some of these states submitting applications today, by extending the Race to the Top for states, by launching a Race to the Top among school districts, and by applying the principles of Race to the Top to other federal programs, we'll build on this success. We're going to raise the bar for all our students and take bigger steps towards closing the achievement gap that denies so many students, especially black and Latino students, a fair shot at their dreams.
Jesse LeeJanuary 18, 2010
05:10 PM EDT
This afternoon the President took a few hours to host a conversation with a small group of African American seniors and their grandchildren on the legacy of the civil rights movement in the Roosevelt Room of the White House. They all took a moment to look over the Emancipation Proclamation, which was hung in the Oval Office over a bust of Dr. Martin Luther King.
The President gave a few brief remarks afterward:
THE PRESIDENT: Hello, everybody. We have just had a wonderful conversation. I want to just tell you a little bit about why we did this. I think sometimes in celebration of Dr. King's birthday we act as if this history was so long ago.
And the reason we brought together some elders and some young people very briefly was not just to visit the Oval Office and see the Emancipation Proclamation, which is going to be on loan to us, but it's also just to remind us that there were some extraordinarily courageous young people like Dr. Dorothy Height, like Mrs. Eleanor Banks and Romaine Thomas and her husband, and others who were actively involved in bringing about one of the great moments in United States history.
And so what we've done is we've heard some stories, shared -- Dr. Height has shared with us what it was like meeting Martin Luther King when he was a 15-year-old at Morehouse, visiting there. We heard from Ms. Glanton, Willie Glanton, who is a great activist in Iowa, about the work that she's done there on behalf of the civil rights movement, reminding us that it wasn't just isolated in some areas.
I am especially proud to have the Harveys here -- Mr. Joseph Harvey and Ms. Mabel Harvey. Mr. Joseph Harvey is 105, and Ms. Mabel Harvey here is the spry young one at 102. (Laughter.) And Ms. Harvey just now was whispering in my ear, as you guys were walking in, that this must be the Lord's doing, because we've come a mighty long way. (Laughter.) That's what she said. And so that's wonderful to hear.
We've heard from some young people who were sharing in these stories and understanding that this is a living history. And I was very pleased to hear from Taylor Branch, author of one of the definitive biographies of the civil rights movement and Dr. King. He shared, I thought, a really interesting idea, which is that not only is Dr. King's birthday a time to celebrate service, to reflect and study on how we had helped to perfect our union, but that it should be a day in which each of us individually also try to stretch out of our comfort zones and try to do something for others and to reach out and learn about things that maybe we've shied away from -- because part of what the civil rights movement was all about was changing people's hearts and minds and breaking out of old customs and old habits.
That's, I think, an important lesson for all of us on this day -- are the things that we can try to do that might have seemed impossible but we know are worth doing, and can we apply those principles that we know to be true in our own lives and our society.
So I'm just so grateful that we had this opportunity to share with everybody. And I want to wish everybody around the country a day in which they reflect on the extraordinary contributions that ordinary people can make each and every day to make America the most hopeful country in the world.
Thank you very much, everybody.
January 18, 2010
10:43 AM EDT
Cross-posted from the OSTP blog
Today, in an event at the White House, the National Science Board released its Science and Engineering Indicators 2010 report. This report, produced every two years by the Board—the governing body for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NSF’s Division of Science Resources Statistics, is the major authoritative source of U.S. and international data on science, engineering, and technology and is packed with a wealth of indicators on research and development (R&D) spending, trends in higher education and workforce development in science and engineering (S&E) fields, public attitudes toward science and technology, and new patterns of international collaboration in research. In a way, it’s like a report card on U.S. science, engineering, and technology, comparing U.S. performance with other nations. It also tells us where the U.S. stands and compares American S&E performance to that of other nations.
The latest edition of Indicators tells us that the state of U.S. science and engineering is strong, but that U.S. dominance of world science and engineering has eroded significantly in recent years, primarily because of rapidly increasing capabilities among East Asian nations, particularly China.
OSTP Director John P. Holdren, who also serves as President Obama’s science adviser, received the 2010 edition of Indicators on behalf of the President this week and promised to put the report’s insights to good use in the Federal Government’s policymaking. OSTP, as the lead policymaking body within the White House for matters related to science, engineering, and technology, recognizes that good science and technology policy depends on reliable, comprehensive, and useful data. Indicators is the premier source of science and technology data and will enrich this Administration’s policymaking for years to come.
As Dr. Holdren has noted repeatedly, the Obama Administration is committed to evidence-based policymaking and making data used for policymaking accessible, relevant, and timely. Indeed, the President himself has on many occasions reiterated his deep appreciation of the importance of science, engineering, and technology to finding solutions to the many challenges that today face the country, including building a prosperous and innovative U.S. economy of the future, reducing dependence on foreign energy sources while mitigating the impacts of harmful climate change, and delivering high-quality health care to every American.
The Indicators report is factual and policy-neutral. But a number of Administration policies are already taking aim at the challenges outlined in the new report.
Just last week, for example, President Obama announced a new set of public-private partnerships in the “Educate to Innovate” campaign committing more than $250 million in private resources to attract, develop, reward, and retain science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers. This initiative is responsive to data, presented in Chapter 1 of Indicators, showing that American 15-year-olds are losing ground in science and math achievement compared to their peers around the world.
Similarly, in his April 2009 speech at the National Academy of Sciences and on several occasions since then, President Obama set a goal for the United States to invest 3 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on R&D. Chapter 4 of Indicators tells us that in 2007 the U.S. R&D/GDP ratio was 2.68 percent, with roughly one-third of that investment coming from Federal funding and two-thirds from the private sector, and that the U.S. ranks eighth in the world in this measure among major economies, some of whom—such as—Japan and South Korea—are already investing in excess of 3 percent. The Indicators report tells us why the goal is reasonable and prudent and how close we are to achieving it. Moreover, a careful reading offers a raft of ideas on how the Federal government can do its part to meet that goal.
A third example: Last month, the Administration announced a new Manufacturing Strategy, in effect a policy framework for revitalizing American manufacturing as a key component of an innovation-based U.S. economy. We have a remarkably good measure of manufacturing’s importance from Chapter 6 of Indicators, which shows us the U.S. is still, by far, the world leader in value-added manufacturing. But we also know from Indicators that recent trends haven’t been favorable for the U.S. because of the increasing importance of East Asian economies in high value-added manufacturing. Most of these data don’t yet incorporate the impacts of the global recession, but they begin to tell a worrying story. So evidence from Indicators on the decline of U.S. venture-capital funding in 2008, for example, supplemented by more recent data, help explain why increasing access to capital for new businesses is a key component of both the Administration’s Manufacturing Strategy and its broader Innovation Strategy announced by the President in September.
These are just a few examples of how the data contained in the Science and Engineering Indicators 2010 report can help the Federal government make better policy. We invite you to take a look at the report for yourself—even keep a copy on your computer or desk as we do!—and make use of this rich set of data and analysis, fully accessible to the public on a very user-friendly site. Dr. Holdren and all of us at OSTP join the science, engineering, and technology community in thanking the National Science Board and the National Science Foundation for their excellent work. Our commitment is to put it to great use.
Kei Koizumi is Assistant Director for Federal Research and Development with the Office of Science and Technology Policy
Lynn RosenthalJanuary 18, 2010
10:20 AM EDT
All Americans should be heartened by the recent announcement that the Department of Justice, under the leadership of Attorney General Eric Holder, is strengthening its commitment to fighting crimes of violence against Native American women.
As part of broader DOJ reforms to dramatically improve public safety in tribal communities, the Attorney General recognized that though there is no "quick fix," we "must continue our efforts with federal, state, and tribal partners to identify solutions to the challenges we face." After holding listening sessions with tribal leaders across the nation, he directed all 44 U.S. Attorneys' Offices with federally recognized tribes in their districts to reinvigorate efforts to combat and prosecute violent crime, particularly against women and children. And he announced an additional $6 million to hire Assistant United States Attorneys—and additional victim specialists—to assist with the ever-growing Indian Country caseload.
After all, for Native American women, even "challenges" may be an understatement. On some reservations, violent crime is more than twenty times the national average—but women tend to suffer most. Some tribes face murder rates against Native American women of more than ten times the national average. And tribal leaders say there are countless more victims of domestic violence and sexual assault whose stories may never be told. As President Obama put it at the White House Tribal Nations Conference on November 5, "the shocking and contemptible fact that one in three Native American women will be raped in their lifetimes is an assault on our national conscience that we can no longer ignore."
The White House strongly supports efforts to strengthen the capability of law enforcement to address public safety needs on reservations, including the announced Justice Department reforms and the Tribal Law and Order Act. That's why at the Tribal Nations Conference, he commended Attorney General Holder for his efforts to ensure greater safety in tribal communities and thanked Senate Committee on Indian Affairs Chairman Byron Dorgan and Representative Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin for their leadership on this important issue.
In his memorandum to U.S. Attorneys, Deputy Attorney General David Ogden explained why the federal government has a responsibility to address the endemic pattern of abuse, assault, and other violence that reservations across the United States face every day. Our unique legal relationship with Native American tribes mandates it. And the 1994 Violence Against Women Act authored by Vice President Biden calls for it. But our national conscience also demands justice.
Only now, we can finally come to expect it, too.
Lynn Rosenthal is the White House Advisor on Violence Against Women
Macon PhillipsJanuary 17, 2010
10:44 PM EDT
Earlier this evening, the White House released an overview of key facts and examples of government actions in response to the earthquake in Haiti. You can keep up to date with the latest news and resources on the response at the White House's dedicated webpage. Before this summary of what your government is doing, a quick reminder from former Presidents Bush and Clinton about how you can help:
- Contribute online through ClintonBushHaitiFund.org.
- Text “QUAKE” to 20222 to charge a $10 donation to the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund (the donation will be added to your cell phone bill).
- Find more ways to help through the Center for International Disaster Information.
All numbers below are accurate as of noon Sunday, January 17, 2010
AIRPORTS AND AIRSPACE
- The airfield is open for 24/7 operations and has a 100-aircraft per day capacity, this is an increase from yesterday’s 60 aircraft per day capacity.
- The airport has received more than 600 short tons of supplies.
- USAF air traffic control and airfield management personnel continue to manage air operations at the airport with approval of the Government of Haiti.
- There are 30 military helicopters providing relief to the people of Haiti.
- These helicopters are operating out of nine landing zones, including five drop-off points.
- Approximately 5,800 military personnel on the ground or afloat.
- Approximately 7,500 additional military personnel are expected to arrive by 1/18.
- More than 1,000 personnel from the 82nd Airborne Division arrived in Haiti on 1/16.
- More than 250 HHS medical personnel have arrived in Haiti.
- 2 planeloads of medicine, medical equipment and supplies from HHS have arrived in Haiti with a third expected to arrive today.
- 3,840 hygiene kits taken from USAID stockpiles in Miami have arrived.
- The USNS Comfort is currently underway and expected to arrive on 1/20 with 600 medical personal on board.
EVACUATION AND RESCUES
- As of 0900 a total of 1,760 American citizens have been airlifted out of Haiti.
- USAID/DART reported that a U.S. Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) team had rescued an additional three individuals at the Caribbean Market.
- As of 0900, US USAR teams have rescued 26 individuals.
- There are currently six US USAR teams operating in Haiti along with 21 international USAR teams from around the world. US teams are based out of Fairfax VA, Los Angeles CA, Miami FL (two teams), New York NY and Virginia Beach VA.
- Each USAR team includes approximately 70 team members.
FOOD AND WATER
- U.S. military aircraft have airlifted 130,000 humanitarian daily rations and more than 70,000 bottles of water to Port-au-Prince.
- Three water purification units are operational and can supply 180,000 liters per day.
- USS Carl Vinson continues to provide potable water production.
- U.S. military aircraft will continue to support the delivery of an additional 600,000 daily rations over the next several days.
- Six additional water purification units are scheduled to arrive in the coming days from USAID stockpiles in Dubai. Each unit provides 1000,000 liters of safe drinking water serving 10,000 people per day.
- 12,000 water containers have arrived from Miami.
- Yesterday, the U.N. World Food Program distributed high-energy biscuits to a total of 50,000 people.
- The World Food Program Port-au-Prince metropolitan areas schools feeding program is now serving hot meals to 50,000 affected people.
Get Information about Friends or Family
The State Department Operations Center has set up the following phone number for Americans seeking information about family members in Haiti: 1-888-407-4747 (due to heavy volume, some callers may receive a recording). You can also send an email to the State Department. Please be aware that communications within Haiti are very difficult at this time. Learn more at the State Department's dedicated page.
Jesse LeeJanuary 17, 2010
04:20 PM EDT
Let it be clear up front that it is well worth considering the President's remarks today in full - by all means simply watch them in their entirety above or read the full transcript.
As he began his remarks today focused on honoring the legacy and ideals of Dr. Martin Luther King, President Obama spoke first about the venue in which he spoke:
Now, it's fitting that we do so here, within the four walls of Vermont Avenue Baptist Church -- here, in a church that rose like the phoenix from the ashes of the civil war; here in a church formed by freed slaves, whose founding pastor had worn the union blue; here in a church from whose pews congregants set out for marches and from whom choir anthems of freedom were heard; from whose sanctuary King himself would sermonize from time to time.
The President spoke of the time and problems that Dr. King referred to as the "Challenge of a New Age" - a time when pivotal victories of the Civil Rights struggle had been won in the courts, but when racism still persisted, and when these rulings were still defied in the South:
So it's not hard for us, then, to imagine that moment. We can imagine folks coming to this church, happy about the boycott being over. We can also imagine them, though, coming here concerned about their future, sometimes second-guessing strategy, maybe fighting off some creeping doubts, perhaps despairing about whether the movement in which they had placed so many of their hopes -- a movement in which they believed so deeply -- could actually deliver on its promise.
So here we are, more than half a century later, once again facing the challenges of a new age. Here we are, once more marching toward an unknown future, what I call the Joshua generation to their Moses generation -- the great inheritors of progress paid for with sweat and blood, and sometimes life itself.
The President went on to discuss the lessons of hope and fortitude that this "Joshua generation" could learn from that "Moses generation":
First and foremost, they did so by remaining firm in their resolve. Despite being threatened by sniper fire or planted bombs, by shoving and punching and spitting and angry stares, they adhered to that sweet spirit of resistance, the principles of nonviolence that had accounted for their success.
Second, they understood that as much as our government and our political parties had betrayed them in the past -- as much as our nation itself had betrayed its own ideals -- government, if aligned with the interests of its people, can be -- and must be -- a force for good. So they stayed on the Justice Department. They went into the courts. They pressured Congress, they pressured their President. They didn’t give up on this country. They didn’t give up on government. They didn’t somehow say government was the problem; they said, we're going to change government, we're going to make it better. Imperfect as it was, they continued to believe in the promise of democracy; in America's constant ability to remake itself, to perfect this union.
Third, our predecessors were never so consumed with theoretical debates that they couldn't see progress when it came. Sometimes I get a little frustrated when folks just don't want to see that even if we don't get everything, we're getting something. (Applause.) King understood that the desegregation of the Armed Forces didn’t end the civil rights movement, because black and white soldiers still couldn't sit together at the same lunch counter when they came home. But he still insisted on the rightness of desegregating the Armed Forces. That was a good first step -- even as he called for more. He didn’t suggest that somehow by the signing of the Civil Rights that somehow all discrimination would end. But he also didn’t think that we shouldn’t sign the Civil Rights Act because it hasn’t solved every problem. Let's take a victory, he said, and then keep on marching. Forward steps, large and small, were recognized for what they were -- which was progress.
Fourth, at the core of King's success was an appeal to conscience that touched hearts and opened minds, a commitment to universal ideals -- of freedom, of justice, of equality -- that spoke to all people, not just some people. For King understood that without broad support, any movement for civil rights could not be sustained. That's why he marched with the white auto worker in Detroit. That's why he linked arm with the Mexican farm worker in California, and united people of all colors in the noble quest for freedom.
Of course, King overcame in other ways as well. He remained strategically focused on gaining ground -- his eyes on the prize constantly -- understanding that change would not be easy, understand that change wouldn't come overnight, understanding that there would be setbacks and false starts along the way, but understanding, as he said in 1956, that "we can walk and never get weary, because we know there is a great camp meeting in the promised land of freedom and justice."
Even more broadly, he spoke to two of the defining principles both of the Civil Rights era and the entire history of this nation - hard work, and faith.
On hard work:
Progress will only come if we're willing to promote that ethic of hard work, a sense of responsibility, in our own lives. I'm not talking, by the way, just to the African American community. Sometimes when I say these things people assme, well, he's just talking to black people about working hard. No, no, no, no. I'm talking to the American community. Because somewhere along the way, we, as a nation, began to lose touch with some of our core values. You know what I'm talking about. We became enraptured with the false prophets who prophesized an easy path to success, paved with credit cards and home equity loans and get-rich-quick schemes, and the most important thing was to be a celebrity; it doesn’t matter what you do, as long as you get on TV. That's everybody.
And on faith:
It's faith that gives me peace. The same faith that leads a single mother to work two jobs to put a roof over her head when she has doubts. The same faith that keeps an unemployed father to keep on submitting job applications even after he's been rejected a hundred times. The same faith that says to a teacher even if the first nine children she's teaching she can't reach, that that 10th one she's going to be able to reach. The same faith that breaks the silence of an earthquake's wake with the sound of prayers and hymns sung by a Haitian community. A faith in things not seen, in better days ahead, in Him who holds the future in the hollow of His hand. A faith that lets us mount up on wings like eagles; lets us run and not be weary; lets us walk and not faint.
So let us hold fast to that faith, as Joshua held fast to the faith of his fathers, and together, we shall overcome the challenges of a new age. (Applause.) Together, we shall seize the promise of this moment. Together, we shall make a way through winter, and we're going to welcome the spring. Through God all things are possible. (Applause.)
May the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King continue to inspire us and ennoble our world and all who inhabit it. And may God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much, everybody. God bless you. (Applause.)
January 16, 2010
06:38 PM EDT
Responding to the President's call, the U.S. Navy moved at top speed to ready ships, load them with supplies and steam toward Haiti to provide humanitarian assistance after the devastating earthquake there Tuesday.
Already on station, the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and her Sailors have been providing hospital services, along with a much needed aviation platform.
Navy Aviation Boatswain's Mate Handling (AW) Lisa Gurnick is a 21-year-old Sailor from Brunswick, Ohio stationed aboard USS Vinson and works on the flight deck. She said Friday that she felt honored to be a part of this mission.
"This is exactly why I joined the Navy, to help other people, and now I'm getting to do that," began Gurnick. "We are on board an aircraft carrier that normally carries a large number of fixed-wing aircraft, but right now we are fully loaded with helicopters. We are working long hours right now and getting up early, but we are a strong team working together and I feel like we have such a clear purpose and mission. This (Friday) morning I have been working to launch and land helicopters as they are loaded up with water, medicine and people to fly into Haiti."
The humanitarian aid doesn't stop there.
As of Saturday, the Navy had nine ships scheduled to support the people of Haiti through air, hospital and supply operations. The forces are creating a "sea base" for staging humanitarian operations to provide assistance as quickly as possible. A testament to the naval forces agile operational ability, these ships combined can produce more than 900,000 gallons of water each day, a portion of which can be taken ashore to help relieve some suffering in Haiti. USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship, left Baltimore on Saturday morning after assembling a floating hospital of crew and supplies from around the nation. The ship has 250 hospital beds, four operation rooms and more than 500 medical staff.
As the Navy arrives ready on station, you can follow the naval forces humanitarian assistance on the official U.S. Navy Facebook page.
Lieutenant Kaye Sweetser serves in the United States Navy
Macon PhillipsJanuary 16, 2010
12:40 PM EDT
"How can I help?"
That's what former Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton both asked as the devastating impact of the earthquake in Haiti became clear. This question brought them to a place they both know well, the Oval Office. There they met with President Obama and agreed to lead a major fundraising effort for relief: the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund.
In the Rose Garden just after the meeting, President Bush touched on the work that's already being done and the best way for Americans to help:
The challenges down there are immense, but there's a lot of devoted people leading the relief effort, from government personnel who deployed into the disaster zone to the faith-based groups that have made Haiti a calling.
The most effective way for Americans to help the people of Haiti is to contribute money. That money will go to organizations on the ground and will be -- who will be able to effectively spend it. I know a lot of people want to send blankets or water -- just send your cash. One of the things that the President and I will do is to make sure your money is spent wisely. As President Obama said, you can look us up on clintonbushhaitifund.org.
President Clinton reaffirmed his optimism for Haiti's future, despite this enormous challenge for the country:
I believe before this earthquake Haiti had the best chance in my lifetime to escape its history -- a history that Hillary and I have shared a tiny part of. I still believe that. The Haitians want to just amend their development plan to take account of what's happened in Port-au-Prince and west, figure out what they got to do about that, and then go back to implementing it. But it's going to take a lot of help and a long time.
President Obama summed up the importance of the sustained attention and support the two former Presidents will champion:
In any extraordinary catastrophe like this, the first several weeks are just going to involve getting immediate relief on the ground. And there are going to be some tough days over the next several days. People are still trying to figure out how to organize themselves. There's going to be fear, anxiety, a sense of desperation in some cases.
I've been in contact with President Préval. I've been talking to the folks on the ground. We are going to be making slow and steady progress, and the key now is to -- for everybody in Haiti to understand that there is going to be sustained help on the way.
But what these gentlemen are going to be able to do is when the news media starts seeing its attention drift to other things but there's still enormous needs on the ground, these two gentlemen of extraordinary stature I think are going to be able to help ensure that these efforts are sustained. And that's why it's so important and that's why I'm so grateful that they agreed to do it.
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusJanuary 16, 2010
12:00 PM EDT
National Influenza Vaccination Week is coming to a close. It was a great week. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its partners announced a number of new initiatives and held events across the country designed to spread the word about the importance of getting the H1N1 flu vaccine.
The fact is that flu season is unpredictable and we don’t know whether there will be additional waves of flu illness. H1N1 is still circulating, it’s still dangerous, and there are still lives to be saved. That’s why it’s so critical for everyone to get vaccinated.
And we need your help. So, today, I am challenging you to become a “Flu Fighter” on Facebook.
Earlier this week, we launched a new Facebook application called “I’m a Flu Fighter.” This application allows users to select a Flu Fighting character and tell their friends that they received the flu vaccination and urge others to do the same. Users can also learn more about the flu vaccine and use the vaccine locator to find a clinic nearby where they can get vaccinated.
People often rely on the advice of close friends and family when it comes to personal matters of health. Through emerging social media tools like Facebook, we can share updates with our friends and family and promote positive health behaviors. This application gives people a fun way to encourage friends and family to get vaccinated. Getting vaccinated is the best way to protect yourself, and as a Flu Fighter, you are also helping to protect the people around you. It’s also particularly important right now, since we’re only at the beginning of the ordinary flu season.
If one person tells 5 friends, and they tell 5 friends each, and each of those friends tells another 5 friends, that is already 156 people. Imagine how many people we could encourage to get vaccinated if we each told just 5 friends -- or, even better, all of our Facebook friends. Together we can be Flu Fighters, and protect our families, friends, and communities from the flu, one vaccination at a time.
Kathleen Sebelius is Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
Update: The application was developed through the HealthySocial research project at Children’s Hospital Boston in collaboration with HHS.
Jesse LeeJanuary 16, 2010
06:00 AM EDT
As the President continues to work on immediate job creation, he discusses his proposal for a new fee on the largest financial institutions to ensure that every cent of taxpayer assistance gets paid back. Saying that, "we're not going to let Wall Street take the money and run," he then discusses the ongoing push to make sure banks can never put our economy at risk again.
Jesse LeeJanuary 15, 2010
09:26 PM EDT
The White House Forum on Modernizing Government was a unique opportunity to draw on the experience and wisdom of some of the country's top CEOs and workers. The lessons in management and adaptation they had to share are particularly important at a time when technology can dramatically improve customer (or citizen) service and streamline operations if used effectively -- can frankly cause an expensive mess if not.
In case you missed it, here is the video of the opening session with the President, as well as links to the video of the five breakout sessions and the closing session. We also posted a sort of viewing guide to various videos for those who really want to dive deep.
- Breakout Session: Transforming Customer Service 1
- Breakout Session: Transforming Customer Service 2
- Breakout Session: Streamling Operations 1
- Breakout Session: Streamling Operations 2
- Breakout Session: Maximizing Technology Return on Investment
- Closing Session
And of course since the forum was about generating ideas and practices applicable to good government, we want to share our initial write-up of some of the best we heard and get even more input from the public (more to come on that next week):
Ideas from the Forum on Modernizing Government
- Business process reengineering must be done first and then technology can be used as a tool to make it work. Whenever technology leads efforts, the projects have failed.
- Senior management must continue to monitor progress through a project’s lifecycle. If the boss starts every meeting by asking about a project, that gets noticed.
- To gain commitment, the leader must create a “burning platform” – the idea that change must happen and the status-quo is unacceptable. In order to encourage new thinking, goals must be bold. Modest goals encourage incremental thinking.
- Detailed measurement and transparency of results can help focus efforts. What gets measured gets done, especially when it’s shared publicly.
- Small focused teams –one from each functional area – often can break bottlenecks and get better results than larger group efforts.
- There is a critical need for standardization (software, data centers). Focus for this must be from the top since functional teams and business units will not want it.
- Get to know the customers you serve and how every aspect of your work impacts them. To engage employees, explicitly make the link for them about how their job contributes to overall customer service.
- Organizations can use transparency to create a culture of service, both by committing to better service publicly and by sharing customer feedback openly to boost accountability.
- Serve customers via the channels they prefer. If the company wants customers to use self-service, it must make self-service the easiest way for customers to transact.
- With bad feedback data, organizations can fool themselves that they are doing better than they are. Work hard to get authentic customer feedback to the people who can do something about it. When asking for customer feedback, ask for free form responses, which are more actionable than basic numerical ratings.
- Focus on improving and making consistent the whole customer experience, not just each part. Create consistent service standards across channels to avoid disruption to the total experience you intend to provide.
- Even when a customer suggestion runs counter to your business model, find out why the customer is giving you a piece of feedback. Even if you can’t act on the specific suggestion, you are likely to be able to address the underlying motivation.
- The best way to reduce customer dissatisfaction is to focus on ease of interacting with you. Equip your customer service staff with tools to solve customer problems, and empower them to make decisions that will reduce customer effort, even if occasionally that results in a bit of waste.
- Engage managers in customer service. Require executives to put themselves in customer shoes by calling into call centers as customers, taking customer service calls directly, and consistently signaling that they pay attention to customer feedback.
- Reallocate service investments away from things customers don’t care about (e.g., brochures that contain mostly known information) and toward things that improve the customer experience.
- Use technology to empower customers to answer each other’s questions. With proper guidance, they are likely to do this very well and at lower costs.
- Before making a new investment, make sure there is a clear purpose and that end user needs are properly aligned to the purpose.
- Break big projects into small chunks – no longer than 12-18 months. If a project takes longer to complete, ROI decreases and obsolescence becomes an issue. Successes along the way help build momentum and continued focus.
- Each milestone must have a customer benefit. Otherwise, why are you doing it? If no customer benefit can be achieved in a year, do not do the project.
- Be wary of costly customization. Commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) solutions are often sufficient. Common solutions can be used to serve diverse needs of different business units.
- Put your best people on change efforts and dedicate 100% of their time– that means freeing them up from their day-to- day activities.
- Do not isolate employees working on long-term project efforts. There is a natural tendency to put these efforts to the side as you focus on day-to-day business. Make sure project teams are well-integrated into the actual business. Clear communication is key.
Jesse LeeJanuary 15, 2010
06:19 PM EDT
Earlier this afternoon the President gave another update on the situation in Haiti -- needless to say they still need help.
- Donate $10 to the Red Cross to be charged to your cell phone bill by texting "HAITI" to "90999."
- Contribute online to the Red Cross.
- Find more ways to help through the Center for International Disaster Information.
As we noted this morning, the President had the opportunity to talk with President Preval of Haiti, and that informed his remarks:
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. I wanted to just make a brief statement on the latest situation in Haiti so that the American people are fully up to date on our efforts there.
This morning I spoke with President Préval of Haiti, who has been in regular contact with our ambassador on the ground. I expressed to President Préval my deepest condolences for the people of Haiti and our strong support for the relief efforts that are underway.
Like so many Haitians, President Préval himself has lost his home, and his government is working under extraordinarily difficult conditions. Many communications are down and remain -- and many people remain unaccounted for. The scale of the devastation is extraordinary, as I think all of us are seeing on television, and the losses are heartbreaking.
I pledged America's continued commitment to the government and the people of Haiti -- in the immediate effort to save lives and deliver relief, and in the long-term effort to rebuild. President Préval and I agreed that it is absolutely essential that these efforts are well coordinated among the United States and the government of Haiti; with the United Nations, which continues to play a central role; and with the many international partners and aid organizations that are now on the ground.
Meanwhile, American resources continue to arrive in Haiti. Search and rescue efforts continue to work, pulling people out of the rubble. Our team has saved both the lives of American citizens and Haitian citizens, often under extraordinarily difficult circumstances.
This morning, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arrived, along with helicopters that will be critical in delivering assistance in the days to come. They are preparing to move badly needed water, food, and other life-saving supplies to priority areas in Port-au-Prince. Food, water, and medicine continues to arrive, along with doctors and aid workers.
At the airport, help continues to flow in, not just from the United States but from Brazil, Mexico, Canada, France, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic, among others. This underscores the point that I made to the President this morning: The entire world stands with the government and the people of Haiti, for in Haiti's devastation, we all see the common humanity that we share.
And as the international community continues to respond, I do believe that America has a continued responsibility to act. Our nation has a unique capacity to reach out quickly and broadly and to deliver assistance that can save lives.
That responsibility obviously is magnified when the devastation that's been suffered is so near to us. Haitians are our neighbors in the Americas, and for Americans they are family and friends. It's characteristic of the American people to help others in time of such severe need. That's the spirit that we will need to sustain this effort as it goes forward. There are going to be many difficult days ahead.
So, so many people are in need of assistance. The port continues to be closed, and the roads are damaged. Food is scarce and so is water. It will take time to establish distribution points so that we can ensure that resources are delivered safely and effectively and in an orderly fashion.
But I want the people of Haiti to know that we will do what it takes to save lives and to help them get back on their feet. In this effort I want to thank our people on the ground -- our men and women in uniform, who have moved so swiftly; our civilians and embassy staff, many of whom suffered their own losses in this tragedy; and those members of search and rescue teams from Florida and California and Virginia who have left their homes and their families behind to help others. To all of them I want you to know that you demonstrate the courage and decency of the American people, and we are extraordinarily proud of you.
I also want to thank the American people more broadly. In these tough times, you've shown extraordinary compassion, already donating millions of dollars. I encourage all of you who want to help to do so through whitehouse.gov where you can learn about how to contribute.
And tomorrow I will be meeting with President Clinton and President George W. Bush here at the White House to discuss how to enlist and help the American people in this recovery and rebuilding effort going forward.
I would note that as I ended my call with President Préval, he said that he has been extremely touched by the friendship and the generosity of the American people. It was an emotional moment. And this President, seeing the devastation around him, passed this message to the American people. He said, "From the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the people of Haiti, thank you, thank you, thank you."
As I told the President, we realize that he needs more help and his country needs more help -- much more. And in this difficult hour, we will continue to provide it.
Thank you very much.
Aneesh ChopraJanuary 15, 2010
03:36 PM EDT
During my relatively brief tenure in Washington, I have had the privilege of working with technology professionals who share a sense of purpose that often extends beyond corporate walls and into their local communities. This year, the Administration wants to tap into that spirit of generosity by collaborating with the Corporation for National and Community Service during the MLK Day of Service to launch the MLK Technology Challenge (on Twitter: #MLKTech). Our goal is to connect technologically thirsty schools and non-profits with IT and web professionals, developers, graphic designers, and new-media professionals who are willing to volunteer their skills for the common good.
As the nation’s Chief Technology Officer, I am posting this blog to encourage technology professionals to participate. Now is the time to take the MLK Tech Challenge and invest your talents in service to a local school or non-profit facing a technology hurdle.
Find a technology need in your community. If you don’t see a service project in your area, this is a great opportunity to reach out and ask the leaders at your neighborhood school if they need some tech or online assistance. Thousands of schools and other organizations need your skills to train students to write HTML or update a Web site. As inspiration, I’ve shared a partial list of ideas that are surfacing from schools and non-profits in just the past few days:
- Refurbish computers for schools
- Teach students how to use popular software or online services
- Build a database for a non-profit
- Help out in your school’s computer lab
- Become an online mentor for students across the country
Some of these projects can be completed on MLK Day -- others might take longer. That’s perfectly ok; the heart and soul of this initiative is to start a dialogue around collaboration. Let’s use the MLK Day of Service as an opportunity to kick off this conversation with schools and non-profits to let them know you want to help.
Your work can have a huge impact on kids and others in need across the country. Take the MLK Tech Challenge and make a difference in your community on MLK Day and throughout the year. Service is a solution, and together we can help overcome a technology hurdle for an organization built to serve others. Make MLK Day a day online, not a day offline.
Getting involved is easy – to register your tech need or to find a volunteer opportunity in your community, visit http://www.serve.gov/MLKTech.
A final word of thanks: Many in the tech community, personally and professionally, have graciously lent a hand to those struggling from the devastating earthquake in Haiti, from waiving text messaging fees to providing much needed tech equipment. We greatly appreciate your support.
Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer
Dan PfeifferJanuary 15, 2010
03:00 PM EDT
This morning we woke up to a confusing contradiction. Banking executives claiming that they simply can't afford to pay back taxpayers for their sacrifice in saving the industry while also increasing lending:
"The money to be collected is capital being pulled out of the banking system that could support ten times the amount in new lending. That's because $1 in capital supports $10 or more in lending. So the tax will pull not $90 billion in lending capacity out of the banking system, but nearly $1 trillion in potential lending."
On the same day, the front page of the Wall Street Journal blared "Banks Set for Record Pay," some $145 billion in bonuses and compensation at the very same firms.
Are we missing something?
Just to recap:
For months, Wall Street has told the American people they can't increase lending because there aren’t enough good loans to make – even as business owners with good credit apply every day and are denied the credit vital to recovery.
But now Wall Street executives and their special interest lobbyists have changed their tune: Now they say they won't be able to lend because they might have to pay the American people back for saving the financial sector from ruin.
But why didn't that logic apply when they were sitting in corporate broad rooms adding zeros to their bonus pools?
Let's do the math:
$145 billion = Estimated Bank Compensation and Bonuses in 2009, as reported by the Wall Street Journal
$1.45 trillion = the amount could hypothetically be available for lending based on the logic of the unnamed banking industry executives referenced above
The new signal seems clear: Wall Street is more interested in paying itself billions of dollars in bonuses than in paying back the American people.
There shouldn't be any confusion about where the President stands: The American people deserve to be repaid and that's exactly what's going to happen.
When the President announced the Financial Crisis Responsibility Fee yesterday, he warned that we might hear these complaints of dire impacts from Wall Street -- less than 24 hours later it is already ringing true.
"We cannot go back to business as usual. And when we see reports of firms once again engaging in risky bets to reap quick rewards, when we see a return to compensation practices that seem not to reflect what the country has been through, all that looks like business as usual to me. The financial industry has even launched a massive lobbying campaign, locking arms with the opposition party, to stand in the way of reforms to prevent another crisis. That, too, unfortunately, is business as usual. And we're already hearing a hue and cry from Wall Street suggesting that this proposed fee is not only unwelcome but unfair -- that by some twisted logic it is more appropriate for the American people to bear the costs of the bailout, rather than the industry that benefited from it, even though these executives are out there giving themselves huge bonuses."
The taxpayers did not rescue the financial system because they wanted to. They rescued the financial system because they had to stop its excessive risk and destructive power from pushing the economy from recession to depression. Wall Street captured enormous benefits as a result of that rescue. Now they are going to pay it back.
Dan Pfeiffer is White House Communications Director
Jesse LeeJanuary 15, 2010
11:13 AM EDT
A description of the call between President Obama and President Preval of Haiti that was just released:
President Obama spoke for roughly thirty minutes with President Preval of Haiti this morning. President Obama said that the world has been devastated by the loss and suffering in Haiti, and pledged the full support of the American people for the government and people of Haiti as it relates to both the immediate recovery effort, and the long-term rebuilding effort. President Preval said that he has been touched by the friendship of the American people, and expressed his condolences for the loss of American citizens in Haiti. He said that the needs are great, that relief is now flowing in to the people of Haiti, and noted the support that has come from both America and many other countries from the region and around the world. The two Presidents underscored the need to closely coordinate assistance efforts among the various parties, including the Haitian government, the United Nations, the United States and the many international partners and aid organizations on the ground. President Obama underscored his commitment to supporting the government and people of Haiti through his team on the ground. President Preval closed by passing a message to the American people, "from the bottom of my heart and on behalf of the Haitian people, thank you, thank you, thank you."
We're making sure the latest information on how to help is kept current at WhiteHouse.gov/HaitiEarthquake.